Recognizing Traits of Male Borderline Personality Disorder in Toxic Relationships
How to Recognize Traits of Male Borderline Personality Disorder in Toxic Relationships
For many years, the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder has been laden with assumptions and stigma. Some people have even gone so far as to say "she's borderline" just because they dislike a person! So what is it?
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder that manifests in the following ways—broken sense of self-identity, pattern of chaotic, volatile interpersonal relationships, persistent fear of abandonment, engagement in risky or impulsive behaviors without regard for the effect on self or others (speeding, drinking, other substance use, sexual behaviors), intensity of moods which change rapidly and unexpectedly, self-harming behaviors (cutting, plucking out hair or eyelashes, substance abuse), and at times suicidal thoughts or plans. BPD frequently stems from childhood trauma; however, in many cases of male BPD especially, no one has ever heard the full story of knows about the extent of this trauma that led to the fragility of identity and fear of abandonment.
Gender and BPD
Many women have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, but when was the last time you ever heard of a man with this diagnosis? Probably a long time ago...if ever. Just like women, men with BPD also have hope of improving their mental health and relationships if they choose to engage in treatment. Unfortunately, many men do not seek out therapy or other help, which can cause symptoms to persist in ways that dramatically impair their daily lives.
A Love Story Gone Wrong
Take a moment to pause and imagine this scenario. You find yourself caught up in the throes of the dream romance of your life. You have been swept off your feet, finally the lead role in the love story you've always wanted to star in. You are a princess on a tall, white pedestal, and the man who placed you there looks up at you from below, with eyes lit up in adoration, admiring you with every ounce of his being. Your relationship starts as a romantic whirlwind, rushed and passionate, with perhaps some slight thoughts of hesitation and concern along the way. (But you are not paying attention to that right now because you're on cloud nine!). Almost as quickly as it starts, you start to realize the ups come with some scary downs.
Suddenly you are face to face with his mood swings, unexplained impulsive breakups or being kicked out, cutting, hateful name-calling or other verbal abuse, threats of violence or self-harm, or explosions of rage. One minute you're on the world's highest roller coaster, and the adrenaline high is no joke. However, this rollercoaster is a wooden, creaking mess and has some painful, neck-snapping turns along the way. Almost as fast as you're emotionally hooked, your adoring prince turns a corner. Maybe he interrogates you about you cheating on him or leaving him when evidence of this does not exist. You’re criticized and abruptly yanked down off your pedestal. But then tomorrow he calls or texts and back up there you are. You're so into him, but it never quite seems to be enough. Somehow he is always afraid you will leave. Each day you find yourself walking on eggshells, not sure if tomorrow you will still be a couple or if you may find yourself single again. You’ve lost connection with friends and family because you’ve been so focused on making this relationship work.
This is the point where you may realize that you are entangled in the grip of a toxic, hot mess. You may realize that while the highs are so high that you prefer this to any other experience in your life, the lows bring intense mood swings from your partner including anxiety, depression, suicidal threats, alcohol or other drug abuse, rage, verbal abuse, and sometimes physical violence or threats of violence. It may also include impulsive breakups or kicking you out of the house without any explanation. And now you're faced with the reality that this rollercoaster is exhausting, and maybe you want to get off.
SIGNS OF MALE BPD IN ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS
1. Intense passion at the beginning of the relationship that may continue throughout the relationship, but will later be accompanied by just as intense anger and resentment.
2. Persistent fear of abandonment that does not go away no matter what you do.
3. Sudden, impulsive ending of a relationship or canceling plans for the night last minute with no good explanation.
4. Excessive interest in you, in some cases to the point of obsession.
5. Pedestal placing-you are his Queen or Goddess…until you are not.
6. Irrational jealousy-constant questioning of your loyalty despite your best attempts to prove yourself. This can also include exercising excessive controlling behaviors that may lead to you feeling isolated from others.
7. Sexual problems-in some cases you may encounter varying issues in the sexual aspect of the relationship, likely due to trauma the person has experienced.
8. Substance abuse-alcohol and marijuana are especially common.
9. Self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
10. Lack of any healthy friendships with other males.
It can be heart-breaking to realize that your relationship may not be healthy for you. Particularly in relationships with someone with BPD, this can be painful because many people with BPD are incredibly passionate, exciting, artistic, intelligent, and talented in many ways. However, if you recognize the above signs in your relationship, it may be time to get some professional help to explore if you want to continue in this dynamic. Counselors can provide a helpful and grounding space for you to see what you want to do next.