bpd · mental health

BPD Traits: Difficulty Being Alone & Image Instability

OR: Why I’m obsessed with every person i meet

I had a revelation this morning that I think I’ve probably seen before in myself but refused to really look in the eyes. My words exactly, confided to my best friends and now shared with the internet: “Growing up is accepting that my borderline brain will always have some unattainable side person as a fixation.”


I’m sure I’ll struggle against accepting this in the future. No, I’ll protest, this isn’t idealization! This person really is perfect!! What do you mean they voted for Trump!?!

Yeah. That happened recently.

In addition to thinking every woman I meet is a new potential girlfriend, I’ve had some variation of the Unattainable Interest on the backburner with virtually no gap since I hit puberty. I used to jokingly say, “My life is a series of men.” Joke or not, I can tell when something happened in the timeline of my life by who I was dating at the time. Past 14, I never went more than three months single. A bulk of my personality was built around being That Chick Everyone Wanted To Date.

Yesterday on stream, Caitlyn and I discussed this in reference to a dear mutual friend with whom is the only person neither of us have ever had any sexual tension with, (though we have been having a lot of sex dreams about him lately collectively as a group so, who knows what’s up with that). So surely this isn’t an experience unique to me, though at a younger age I certainly thought that I was the most desirable Hot Alternative Girl. The people wanting to get into my plaid, pleated skirt definitely didn’t help this delusion. Poems, songs, love letters, drawings, paintings, and the classic sweet nothings whispered in my ear all supported my belief that no one else could possibly compete with me. I thirsted for this attention relentlessly. My pursuit of admiration is the true cornerstone of my entire life.

In contrast with most people who have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), I’ve had several long term relationships. In middle school, my briefest dating stint was something like two months, (I didn’t like his fake lip ring but rather than telling him to get rid of it I yadda yadda’d some excuse and dumped him – the ensuing Good Charlotte song lyrics in his MSN Messenger name were… memorable). My longest, aside from my present marriage, was two and a half years. In between these were three months, six months, a year and nine months, three months, another three months, and various side relationships with no official time stamp. I won’t name names since I’m sure no one really cares that much anyway but I can recall all of them easily. Every time I was certain it was true love. Very seldomly was I right. Not too long ago I sat and really thought about it and came to the conclusion that while I certainly had some amount of love for each of these people, I was only ever truly in love with two of them, not including my husband. It’s pretty easy to guess which ones based on duration of our relationship. Turns out time is a relatively important factor in these sorts of feelings developing properly.

This is where I display a lot of commonality with my BPD diagnosis: each of these relationships were turbulent, generally just by my own doing. Either I would get bored and stir something up (infidelity played a part in almost every single relationship I was in), or I would become convinced that this person no longer loved me, how could they?, I’m a monster, I’m a wreck, they just don’t want to hurt me because they’re perfect and sweet, I can’t believe this, oh God! The frustrating duality of my personality would rip and tear at every romantic interest I ever encountered. Sometimes I believed their beautiful words, that I was smart, attractive, funny, interesting. I would believe them to the fullest extent and become drunk on the idea of my own allure. But then suddenly, I would crash down and realize “the truth”: that it was all a charade, I was tricking them, they couldn’t possibly ever love someone as broken as me.

The same would happen with my perception of them: though most of the time they existed in an all-good state of being my safe person, my one confidant, my destiny, they would do something and fall from grace. Suddenly this person I had thought was perfect despite the impossibility of this would do something utterly human and make some sort of very normal mistake and my brain could not reconcile this with the image I had created of them. All at once, they were the all-bad person, hateful, evil, conceited, uncaring.

The interconnectedness of all the traits I’ve covered so far should become increasingly apparent with each installation of the BPD Trait Series. Turbulent relationships with the ever back-and-forth of black and white thinking? Yep, splitting. The exhausting explosion of rage that would come forth, either in reaction to my insecurity, boredom, or some mistake made by my partner? Yep, inappropriate anger. So what’s new today? Specifically how my serial dating was triggered by my intense fear of being alone and the ever-shifting state of my personality as a result of who I was with.

I would date through circles. Start with one and work my way through a group of friends until I had the ones I was curious about. I wouldn’t try to go for the ones that posed too high of a difficulty – stand-offish, already happily taken, heavy competition. I ignored the “low hanging fruit”, as well. Somewhere in the middle, with the appropriately attentive was where I tended to cruise. Nerds have been a lifelong favorite, not just because of my gaming habit that started as soon as I could hold a Sega Genesis controller but their eagerness to please. I enjoyed artists and musicians as well, after all they understood my desire to create beautiful things from the inspiration of our love, but they tended to be slightly more challenging so I only ventured in that direction a few times.

Who I was with determined how I spent the bulk of my time. Aside from writing, most all other interests were transient. Boyfriend plays Magic: The Gathering? Time to drop eight dollars on a zombie deck. He wants to start a band? This Christmas it’s an electric bass and an amp. Teach me how to draw. Tell me about the evolution of metal. Show me that obscure movie you like. I love indie films. I love big budget movies. I love industrial. I love jazz.

Whether or not you take any stock in astrology, at least my Gemini Sun goes along with the ever-changing and forever fickle nature of my BPD heart. It’s hard to determine whether or not I was genuinely interested in these things. I’ve learned a lot from the series of romantic interests in my life and every single one of them has left me a souvenir in the form of music, movies, TV shows, or games. This is not too dissimilar from the average person – surely our interests evolve over time as a result of the exposure we receive. I would go the extra mile, though, and would pick up and drop things just as quickly as the people who showed them to me.

As for the Unattainable Interest? I’m forever trying to impress them. Whether it be through my singing voice, my low cut shirt, my teasing words, or high effort oral, it’s the number one thing on my mind. When I see the dialogue options show up, I’d rather say the right thing than the true thing to them.

With age, this aspect of my personality, (along with all other traits of BPD), has mellowed out. Being free of adolescent’s hormones certainly was a big first step. Years of therapy made a big difference. And while there’s no medication for BPD, keeping my comorbid anxiety and depression (mostly) in check via an SSRI helps as well.

Mellowed, but not gone. And I’m not sure that it ever will be gone. I’ve gotten better at not reacting to my irrational urges but I’m not sure if it’s because my current interest is truly and utterly unattainable. I tend to favor an Unattainable person who is in fact actually temporarily attainable, through a brief illicit relationship or even a night of cheap thrills but impossible in the long term due to my loyalty to my spouse, but this is not the case this time. For once, I’ve chosen someone who has the fucking audacity to tell me “no” – to everything! Not even the lowest level of temptation is possible and it’s absolutely infuriating. I’ve been desperate to find someone to replace this endlessly frustrating fixation yet I’ve had zero luck. And as much as I try to bury my feelings – I’ve tried harder than I’ve ever tried before – I’ve had no luck whatsoever.

In truth, I want very much to write more about this person but I have a deep seated fear that they’ll read this, know it’s about them, and fucking disappear off the face of the earth “for my own good”. Oh, God, how I hate when people do that to me. HI! I HAVE ABANDONMENT ISSUES!! PLEASE DON’T EXACERBATE THEM BY REALIZING I’M “TOO MUCH” FOR YOU!!!

If there’s an interest in hearing more about the prickly pinings of my heart, maybe you should consider becoming a Patreon. Just an idea.

In the meantime, it’s been overall pretty healthy for me to spend a majority of the last year alone. Nothing like some time by yourself to really understand who you are and what you like to do. It’s definitely caused some struggle and anxiety but all in all I’m grateful for the solitude I’ve gotten to experience. Though I’m deeply dreading it once we leave Michigan and hit the road again. Until that time, I’ll express my gratitude every day for being able to see people I love more than once every six months. I may not find being alone to be as intolerable as I used to, but I still definitely prefer periodic socialization.

2 thoughts on “BPD Traits: Difficulty Being Alone & Image Instability

  1. The magic of writing out your feelings. After I wrote this, my romantic feelings toward that person have lessened *considerably*. Thank fuck, honestly.


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