Suspected BPD Partner and Reactions

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Hi everyone,

Just a quick one to see if anyone can undestand or relate.

I was going to go clothes shopping with my partner as he needs some new things but he hates shopping and says he doesn't know what is suitably trendy. I usually go shopping on my own and bring things back for him as I know what looks good on him and know he hates shopping but in this instance he needed to go.

When we discussed about going shopping I said that "he wanted to go to so and so to do the shopping and I'd go with him" he would correct me and say "No, I don't 'want' to go, I hate shopping but I need to go because I need new clothes." This caused him some frustration and I said "he doesn't need to take every word and statement I say literally." I knew what I meant, that he wanted to go and get some clothes but he would become slightly annoyed if I said this.

This happens with lot of conversations we have, I'm a laid back person and I might say things like "We will go to so and so if you like" not saying this as a question but more of a statement. If I speak to anyone else in the way I do it's not a problem. But anyway, he will then say "why don't you make a desicion" which I then do but then he 'forgets' what I decided or complains about what I have chosen in some way. It's like I can't win. This causes some frustration in both of us which can easily escalate into a bad mood from him and then an arguement. Then he will be like, I don't care anymore. I'm going to the pub to get drunk or I'm not eating now (even if he hasn't eaten all day and is actually hungry), or whatever it is he will deliberately sabatage like some sort of self punishment.

Does this kind of behaviour resonate with anyone else with BPD or someone living with a loved one with BPD? Do you have to be careful with how and when you say things?
This is no way for you to live your own life. If he doesn't respect you, what's the point?
Jenna, living with someone with any form of MH at all is always a tricky business.

It's so hard to decide just how much 'behavioural slack' to cut them. How much 'allowance' is to be made for their MH condition.

Sometimes, yes, it's a question of 'adapting' to how their mind operates (as in, cannot but operate, because of an 'incurable' mental condition that we - non-MH folk! - call 'ill' or 'unhealthy' or whatever word one chooses to say 'different' or 'pathological' etc etc) (trying to be 'neutral' here as you can tell!).

So, for example, if it's just a question of phrasing statements in a way that he can understand, with his 'limitations' (or, perhaps, 'bias'?) (I'm sort of her, using the same kind of attitude towards folk with MH issues as, from what - v little I know! - I've understood about autism, that autists are best referred to as 'non-neuro-typical' - as in, their brains simply don't work in the same way that neuro-typical brains do - ie, the majority of folk).....

anyway, if it's just a question of phrasing things in a way that your partner/caree can understand best, then maybe 'fine' - it's sort of like if his first language were not English, and you had to pick the English words that aren't too ambiguous or confusing to a non-native speaker, etc.

I'd say tha's probably 'OK'. Part of being the partner of someone with MH.

BUT, and this is the big, big but....if you find you are ending up watching what you are saying, fearful of 'setting him off' and generally 'walking on eggshells' lest he lose it/storm off/get angry etc etc then frankly NOT OK.

As I say, it comes down to how much 'slack' or 'allowance' we make for the behaviour of those with MH. Having MH is a tricky 'moral' situation - how much, looking at it now from their side of the fence, do they have to 'control themselves' in order to reap the benefits of what your partner is getting - ie, he's getting YOU!

It CANNOT be all one way! If it is, then he's not your partner, he's your patient - or your 'controller' (in a malign sense!). He MUST make as much effort as his condition permits him and the point is he's measured by the EFFORT, not the 'output'. for example, if being BPD makes it incredibly difficult to think about the impact of your behaviour on those who love you, then the amount of EFFORT he puts in is what counts. Even if he can change his behaviour very little, if he's TRIED TRIED TRIEF to do so, that allows you to yes, cut him that slack.

My point is that having MH is not a 'get out of responsibility free' card! Yes, it limits what a person can do to be a 'good partner' but it does NOT let them off the hook completely.

If you feel that your relationship with your partner is totally and entirely on HIS terms, what suits HIM, and he gets to behave any damn way he likes, irrespective of the negative impact on you, that he keeps you 'walking on eggshells' then, sorry, that's not on. He MUST 'make an effort for your sake' and if he doesn't, then, sorry, you haven't got a partnership at all.

I'm not saying 'dump him' but firstly assess just how much effort he does make for you, and compare it with how much effort you make for him, and if it's markedly less, then set out how much effort he SHOULD be putting in to make your relationship equitable IN TERMS OF EFFORT (not necessarily 'effect' as I grant his BPD will make it harder for him to be a 'good partner' for you!), and put that to him. Give him, say, six months to 'improve his behaviour to the point where you can consider it tolerable''.

if he won't - not if he can't - if he WON'T - then he is using his BPD, whether consciously or not, to get a 'free life' with you. And that's not on. He's not putting enough into this relationship, and you have every right then to call time on it.

Yes, you can feel sorry for him having BPD - but you cannot and should not spend your life walking on eggshells around him. It may not be 'his fault' he's got BPD, but it's not your fault either!

I do think, finally, that please don't regard personality disorders as 'irreperable' - from what I've read on the Internet it IS possible - hard, but possible - for those with PDs of any kind to 'relearn' how to behaviour. and to an extent, heal their personality to one that is a lot, lot nicer and easier and happier for them, and those they are with.

Don't give up on him - yet. But set boundaries and expectations. And be prepared to call time, if that time comes.

Wishing you all the best - don't le the BPD 'win'! It isn't happy for him, or you, if it does!!!!