While narcissist personality disorder (NPD) is difficult to diagnose and cure, people with borderline personality disorder or BPD are easier to diagnose due to the outwardly symptoms and the fact that borderlines do accept that they have a problem. Treatment like Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help BPDs to live a better and harmonious life.
10 ways to identify idealization-discard relationship cycle of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)-
1. BPD Idealization- Discard and Push-Pull Cycle-
A borderline can idealize you and make you feel like a god and then in a matter of few minutes declare you the reincarnation of Satan. It is very different from bipolar disorder. The core of the idealization and devaluation cycle is the push and pulls between feeling of abandonment and feeling of being engulfed by the emotional proximity. The abandonment might even not be actual but just a perceived one. A slightest feeling of abandonment can make them absolutely hate you. For example- You forgot to call them back or god forbid if you forget their birthday! They will hate you and want to never see you again but then after a few minutes they will cry and immediately want you to come back. It is a difficult conundrum to live with.
Push>>Feeling of Engulfment- You are emotionally too close to BPD which will suffocate them, and they would want to keep a distance for self preservation against the possible future feeling of abandonment. They will push you away.
Pull >> Feeling of Abandonment- BPD would want to pull you back towards them to avoid being feeling abandoned. It is too common for them to try and real back their ex, even though they are very much aware that the relationship is over.
Push>> You came back >> BPD feel emotionally suffocated > Push you back
Pull>> When pushed you leave> BPD feels abandoned > Pull you back
The cycle of Idealization and Devaluation continues. They can’t help but run this cycle in every relationship. They fear the abandonment the most, but can’t help but push people away and face the inevitable abandonment. The worst part is BPD will frequently and deliberately push their loved ones away just to test the limit of love and see if the people will abandon them. This makes BPD serial cheaters.
BPD cheating and discard
When the boredom sets in relationship especially after honeymoon phase, they crave for the drama and novelty. The fear that they will be abandoned once the honeymoon phase is over makes them frantically test the love of their partner. Meanwhile, they also actively look for back-up options or a shoulder to cry on, if they imagine that the relationship will end sooner than later. In a doomed relationship, BPD would cheat on their partner just for mental satisfaction, so they know that they abandoned their partner first before their partner got the opportunity to abandon them. They can literally say ‘I love you’ to you after having cheated on you an hour ago. They feel no remorse because they feel you deserve it and are punishing you for the pain you would cause them after your eventual future abandonment.
2. Risky Behavior of BPD-
During emotional turmoil BPDs tend to indulge in risky behavior like rash driving, unprotected sex, sexual promiscuity, getting involved in street fights, public indecency, trespassing, stalking or threatening and harassing people they believe have hurt them. The BPDs often run into law enforcement agencies during this time. It is impossible for them to control their emotions and behavior when severely hurt. They don’t know how to make the emotional pain go away and would indulge in risky behavior to somehow divert the pain and gain attention or get back at the person who has hurt or abandoned them. A BPD can go to any length to get the attention of the person whom they believe have abandoned them.
3. BPD Addictions-
BPDs tend to abuse substances such as drugs, alcohol or tobacco to numb the emotional pain and get rid of the feeling of emptiness. The use of addictive substance however aggravates some of the most dangerous symptoms of BPD like self harm, rage and depression. It is during this time they do things which makes them regret later. If you are dealing with a BPD, don’t let them make their addiction an excuse for their bad behavior. They try to avoid taking responsibility for their actions by blaming it on their addictions.
4. BPDs have Difficulty Keeping Job-
BPDs find it hard to stick to one job for long. They also change careers, college majors and field of interests frequently. This has partly to do with their fluctuating self image and inability to control their volatile emotions at work place. They can easily annoy the co-workers and supervisors with the ever changing mood and bouts of rage and depression. BPDs also tend to disappear from work, take long breaks or go on extended leaves to cope with their personal emotional crisis which happens quite often and inevitably makes the BPD lose the job or move to different career path.
5. BPD Appears Selfish-
BPDs can be the most empathetic among all cluster-b disorders namely narcissist (NPD), antisocial (ASPD) and histrionics (HPD). They can actually empathize with others, but the problem is they are so deep in their own pain that they can’t realize the pain of others. When they have the inner turmoil equivalent to category-5 hurricane winds swirling inside them, they simply cannot empathize with the hurt feelings of others or be compassionate with them. This makes BPDs look very selfish. When you are upset at the loss of your pet, they might shed a tear. But, make no mistake. It is not the sorrow or empathy for you, it’s just that the incident has reminded them of the loss of their own pet years ago. Their empathy is often misplaced.
6. BPDs have History of Abusive Relationships-
BPDs relationships are filled with extreme highs and lows. They are quick to jump into the relationship, idealize the partner and subsequently devalue them. Borderlines (BPDs) tend to gravitate towards (NPDs) and vice versa due to the unique characteristics of their personality. NPD and BPD relationships are like yin and yang. BPDs act as the ever overflowing well of emotions and NPDs act as the bottomless pit of the emotional well.
BPD provides NPD all the attention and admiration they need and in return NPD take on all the emotional discharge of BPD nonchalantly. Imagine the NPDs like black holes for emotions and BPDs like white holes continuously emitting emotions. At the beginning they find each other perfect for each other but at the end the inevitable cycle of idealization, devaluation and discard follows. BPDs generally make poor choices in terms of life partners and get stuck in abusive relationships. They are very well aware of the harm they can cause to themselves and to the others.
7. Emotional Disorientation of BPD-
BPDs suffer from mood swings and emotional disorientation. Imagine a scale from 1 to 10. Normal people usually have the emotional stability at 5 and seldom touch 1 or 10. BPDs on the other hand keep fluctuating from 1 to 10 throughout the day multiple times. They can go from being happy to sad and then from excited to angry in a matter of minutes. One moment you are the love of their life and next moment you are a curse. For this reason it is like walking on egg shells around them, you never know which action or words can trigger them.
For example, you told them that your friend’s cousin is in France, now this is a harmless statement. But unknown to you, 6 years back they had a french friend who blocked them on Facebook, and 2 years back they failed the job interview for a french company. Mentioning France, will bring all the bad feelings and painful emotions which would pull BPD down in abyss of emotional mess. And you are responsible for it because you said something about France.
8. BPD Rage-
You never want to go close to a raging BPD. It is like a volcanic eruption of emotions and abuse. When a BPD rages they become completely unreasonable and are incapable of thinking or making a rational decision. They can get violent and cause physical harm to themselves and the others with the probability of self harm being higher. The best thing to do is withdraw yourself and let the BPD cool down a bit, making sure that they don’t self harm.
9. BPD Self Harm-
The amount of emotional pain and depression the BPD suffers sometimes becomes unbearable. To alleviate the emotional pain they take extreme steps and one of them is self harm. In their head the physical pain will get them the relief from the emotional pain they are feeling. You might notice the scars on their hands or other body parts as the sign of self harm and mutilation. Quite often BPDs also use self harm to draw attention towards them or as a manipulation tool to force you to comply with their demands. They can behave like a rebel as in give me what I want or I will shoot myself. Cheating and infidelity (excessive or unprotected sex) is also one of the way self harm manifest in BPD.
10. Non Existent Self Image of BPD-
At the core of the BPD is the absent self image. They don’t know who they are. Unlike NPD who mask a fake image, BPD tries to get their self image from others. This is the reason they hate abandonment and act clingy. Your abandonment is literally equivalent to losing self image for them. They rely on others to tell them who they are. Their hobbies, interests, speech patterns, dressing style everything changes according to the person they are with. If their ex boyfriend likes diet coke they like diet coke, if their new boyfriend hates diet coke, they hate diet coke. It is not uncommon for BPDs to have multiple names, identities and personas.
Do borderlines come back after discard?
A person with BPD would chase you after discard depending on lots of factors. For example, who initiated the break-up? If a BPD initiates the break up and insist that you never contact them again, most likely they would not come chasing after you any time soon. It is especially true if something or someone else have caught their attention. BPD in general cannot stand to be alone. They initiate the discard after making sure they have a back-up option to rely on. At this point they don’t want to see you because they want to be with someone else.
If BPD person feels bored, during the time when they are with someone else, they might message you or call you out of the blue, just out of feeling of excitement and curiosity. At most, they just want to test the water and see if they still got hold of your emotions. If they drop by to meet you, it is more likely that for a short duration, they want to re-live the fantasy of you. They don’t have any intention to get back with you or genuinely care about you. At this point it is all about how much trouble you are willing to take for them.
If you initiated the break-up, the perceived abandonment would deeply affect the BPD. It doesn’t matter if it was them who constantly pushed you away. You broke the BPD push pull cycle, and abandoned them. If they cannot handle the abandonment, it would trigger them to chase you, stalk you and reel you back in. They would play victim and would go to unimaginable lengths to get back your attention.
BPD Identity Problems
Some BPDs do not connect or associate their identity with their name at all. BPDs also suffer from chronic feeling of emptiness regularly. They feel themselves out of touch with reality and completely dissociate. The symptoms of dissociation become severe during depression. They completely depersonalize and zone out. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help them build self esteem.
Emily is an INFP who believes that people should always live their lives to the fullest everyday. She loves her dog JiJi. Emily has graduated from University of Michigan and is a passionate relationship blogger who is looking forward to her career as relationship and dating coach. She is an avid book reader with special liking for romance, horror and sci-fi genre. You can find her on Tumbler.