Recover From Emotionally  abusive relationship

emotionally abusive relationship,borderline personality disorder,emotionally abusive relationship,emotional abuse

Recovering From Emotionally  abusive relationship often involves a person with Borderline Personality Disorder.

Emotionally Abusive Relationships often are with a person who has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  The main characteristic of this kind of personality disorder is  that the person  becomes very controlling in an attempt to avoid being rejected.  Rejection is the greatest fear of someone with BPD.

Emotional Abuse Relationships have these characteristics:

  • In the beginning the person thinks you are perfect and professes love for you that they have “never felt before for anyone” They alternate between this state and rage at you.  When they are in the rage state you rationalize their behavior by telling yourself how loving and adoring they can be and your longing for that keeps you in the relationship.  They will give you just enough of that to keep you around.  That adoring behavior is very powerful and addictive because they have an uncanny ability to read you and therefore can make you feel “seen” maybe for the first time in your life.  As good as this feels, it is a sign that you are with a person with BPD.
  • The other person demands that you to put aside your needs to tend to their needs and no matter how much you give, it’s never enough. Then they criticize you for not doing enough to fulfill their needs using verbal assaults belittling, screaming, threatening, humiliating you.  They use fear to control you threatening to end the relationship .  You start to feel helpless and trapped.
  • Being constantly put down and accused of doing things you never did, yet when you try to leave the relationship they will try to keep you there by declaring love or threatening you.
  • You can never plan or count on social engagements because the person will change the plan or refuse to go at the last minute.
  • The other person reacts differently at different times to the same behavior that you exhibit.

The one thing that a BPD (border personality disorder) person needs the most is for their partner to set clear and definite limits. When a partner enforces these boundaries, it helps the partner to become more confident and the BPD person to feel safer, by knowing how far they can go. The limits actually help people feel safe because it teaches them how to behave so that they aren’t rejected.  An abusive relationship cannot continue when the partner maintains clear and strong limits as to what is acceptable behavior.

In order to know if you are in an abusive relationship, one must first be aware of these warning signs.

 Stages of an Abusive Relationship

1)  The honeymoon stage- you experience limerence which lasts 3 months to a few years.  In this stage you are obsessed and infatuated by your partner.

2)  The obsessively controlling stage- the BPD will cut you off from family, friends and hobbies (anything you enjoy on your own).  This is because the BPD’s biggest fear is being left.  She/he will see all your friends and interests as competition for your attention and love.

3) The BPD will become more desperate to control you and will make threats, both to commit suicide or to harm you or your family members, if you threaten to leave.

Abusive Relationship Recovery for the partner

Treatment for partner recovery is best initiated by trauma work.  I use EMDR  which is very effective to get the victim connected to their resources again.

The partner of a person with Borderline Personality Disorder is  traumatized from living with the behavior and manipulation techniques used to attempt to control them and keep them form leaving.

Emotional abuse is like brainwashing- it systematically wears away the victim’s sense of self worth, and trust in their perceptions.  If  this feels like your relationship, please get the help of a therapist or life coach who is experienced in dealing with an abusive relationship.

There is Hope for moving forward

Many people rind themselves involved with a BPD because they are very charming and make you feel very desired and loved …at first.  It is natural and healthy to want to be loved.   They have an acute ability to tune in on the very things a person is most vulnerable about.  They use this in the beginning to get close to you and then later to threaten and control you.

In the Meantime the best thing to do:

In order to protect yourself from abuse you  must set and maintain clear boundaries.  Tell your BPD partner that you will not tolerate a particular behavior and that the next time they try it you will leave the house . The leaves the BPD with 2 choices,  either loose you or get help.  If you are afraid of inciting violence when you do this, then you need to have a heart to heart talk with yourself asking yourself why you are there.

Another effective approach is DBT…

There is  now a therapy modality that is very effective in helping a person heal from BPD.  It is called DBT and I work with several therapists who get excellent results in healing a person with BPD if the person is willing to make a commitment and do the work in therapy that is involved.

If a person is willing to make a sincere commitment to therapy and stick with it for at least a year, there is a very good chance that healing can happen.  I have a colleague who specializes in DBT and has had much success working with BPD.  Let me know if I can help in this way.

Common questions people ask me are:

Am I crazy or sick to be with a BPD?  The answer is NO.  You are probably just a nice and trusting person (maybe co dependent).  BPD’s are drawn to trusting people because they know that they can be more easily manipulated.
Although you are not the sick one you do need to learn to nurture your inner child self so that you are not so vulnerable to flattery.  When you have a strong inner self you can more easily see and resist manipulation and flattery.  You are also able to be objective about other people because  you don’t need them to be a certain way.  You will start to notice when people lie or have no empathy for other human beings.  These are the major signs of a BPD.

As part of your recovery you will discover why you attracted this type of person. You will then be able to start to heal yourself fo that you can have the  healthy relationships that you deserve.


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  • Dave

    - 8:22 am

    What is described in this article sounds a lot like my current relationship and how I feel about my girlfriend. Our first year together was like nothing I have ever experienced. She treated me like a king! I was her Hero and could do no wrong. She waited on my hand and foot, which I have never expected or asked for this type of treatment from a partner, but admit I enjoyed it very much.

    But going into the second year together, everything changed. Her responses to my communications went from seconds to maybe the next day. Her availability to do things decreased as well. I would come see her, (invited) and she would hardly acknowledge I was there. It was so different than the way things were before that I began/continue to feel very disregarded in the relationship because she treats me so differently. I long for the way things used to be….I liked how that made me feel.

    When we are together, we can not have a conversation without her bringing up at least a half a dozen things that I could do better, typically the same things in the same order: my finances, my relationship with my daughter and how I should handle that, my church ( we used to attend the same church together every Sunday and that was very meaningful for the both of us, then she suddenly changed churches and insited I do the same, but I did not because I really enjoy my church), My health ( I don’t eat as healthy as her), my excercise regime, ( I don’t go to the gym and work out vigorously EVERY day like her- she claims she spends at least 3-5 hours a day on workout activities, I am comfortable with going ever other day or every three days). Note: she is not in a state of rage when she does this, but feels like more of a state of corrective action mode.

    When I talk to her I get angry, (not shouting angry or raging anger, but more like a “cornered” anger) because I don’t like the way I feel when I’m with her because of the barrage of things I could/should do better. She says only I can control how I feel, she can’t control that…I disagree somewhat. I believe I can control how I choose to feel, but feel that for there to be peace in our relationship, I have to reallign my goals with hers and believe she is causing these negative feelings to surface by continuing to bring these things up, letting me know that I am not living up to her standards in each of these areas and controlling me to live my life different than how I want to live it, to achieve her goals, not mine.

    I feel she is very controlling (reminds me of my father). Whenever we are together, I feel like there is something wrong with me, (I only feel this way around her, not with anyone else). I told her this, she said that was a very hurtful thing to say.

    I have broken off our relationship (or taken a break) a number of times since November of last year. Each time, after a week or two our paths will “mysteriously” cross and she will ask to talk, we do and we get back together (sort of), but it’s been a kinda a “in-limbo” relatrionship. I don’t feel she or I are “all in” anymore and things are certainly not like the first year together.

    I am wondering?… am I exhibiting emotionally abusive with borderline personality traits or is she?

    Also, It might be imortant to note she divorced her 3rd husband because he had Narcisist/Borderline Personality Disorder that she was able to identify/diagnose by working with him and his counselor…which has always scared the hell out of me.

  • Dave

    - 10:20 am

    Just to clarify…when I read this article, I saw statements that might describe how she might feel about me and how I feel about her in just about every other point presented. So I am very confused about whether it is me or it is her and what to do…

    • susan quinn

      - 8:23 pm

      The very fact that you are asking,”is it me or is it her” is very indicative of how a person comes to doubt their perceptions when they have been with someone with BPD or Borderline Traits. The BPD person’s constant criticisms, unpredictiblity, frequent displays of inappropriate anger, proclamations of love alternating with threats and hostility keep their partner off balance and doubting themselves. When the man( it’s usually a man who comes into therapy to get help with how to get unhooked from this merry go round, because about 75% of BPD occur in women) wants to get un hooked from this relationship they come to me for therapy and guidance. I help them understand the hopelessness of trying to be in a relationship with someone who has this disorder and I help them to disconnect inside so that they can stop obsessing. It doesn’t happen fast because BPD’s have an uncanny ability to see into another person and make that person feel “Seen” in a way that is very intoxicating.

  • Pam

    - 5:03 pm

    Neither, and yet, both. The fact is that you DON’T measure up to her standards, what ever they are. Many women (and men) believe that if they shower someone with enough love it will motivate them to change. She keeps hoping that if she just sticks it out you will become the man she wants you to be, but you can’t. This is, frankly, making you both into terrible people. As much as you don’t like being a scolded child, she probably hates playing mom. This is no longer a relationship that works. Move on to someone who is a better fit.

  • Dave

    - 8:27 pm

    After I wrote this, I was thinking about it and yes you are correct…I am not willing to let her dictate how I live my life and she will not accept me for who I am. Niether of us can seem to do anything to please the other and it is making both of us into terrible people. I think it is time to end this relationship permanently, but no I am not interested in moving on to another relationship. I want to concentrate on me for a while and build up my self confidence so I don’t need reassurance from anyone that I’m a good guy.

  • lisa

    - 5:10 pm

    I have been in relationships since I was 16. my first was from.16 to 22, he cheated on me repeatedly which made me into a jealous controlling freak and neither of us wanted that so we ended the relationship. I wanted to forgive him and be happy but I couldn’t let go, we are still in contact and are friends. About 6 months after the split I got a new job and met my current boyfriend. At the time I was dating a couple of guys, nothing serious, I didn’t want anything serious I wasn’t ready. We got together and he let me know right away that he was not interested in seeing numerous people. I understood and agreed to just date him because I really liked him, he was so sweet. he treated me like a queen, like the ground I walked on turned to gold, I could do no wrong. Then the jealousy started, he couldn’t stand it when other guys talked to me, I even had to stop him from running after a male custumer/friend that had simply talked to me. he would never leave me alone, I couldn’t do my homework, take a bath do anything without him wanting to be there. he’d sit outside my apartment and call when he thought I had had efficient time to take my bath. this was all about 3 months into the relationship then I ended it. I started seeing someone else and he would show up at my place and make a scene. We still worked together and he would come in on my shifts.He called me begging me and said he only felt whole when I was with him. I wanted him to be happy, we got back together. I tried to introduce him to my friends and he was incredibly rude to them and to me when they were around. he’d always start a fight just before a party so that we didn’t end up going. My roommate and I weren’t getting along, in fact I wasn’t getting along with anyone at that time, I was so angry, I thought I was loosing my mind and he was the only one I could turn to. I moved out to another apartment closer to him and away from everyone else. he came over everynight and if I wanted to leave he’d steel my keys and chase me around. I broke up with him all of the time but then he’d take me to the movies buy me dinner and pamper me which is what I needed because I was so drained. this cycle of up and down continued. he wanted to move in together and I thought, hoped, that would make him happy, calm him down. It didn’t. I had a good job at the time and was doing well so I could buy nice food for us and take us out. this seemed to anger him and he never wanted to do anything even if it was free. I couldn’t do anything right, nothing was clean enough, organized enough. He would actually go through my pile of weeds when we would weed the garden to make sure I didn’t pull something I shouldn’t have. He was always afraid I would mess something up instead of doing it together and enjoying it. I had never doubted myself so much. He’d get so angry when I went out. I had gone to comfort a friend whose grandmother had passed and he flipped out and texted me the whole night that I was a slutt then showed up at my friends house and I quickly left with him to save them the awkwardness. he would kick me out of the house on a regular basis hed have friends over when he knew I had a big test. finally while he was gone for a few weeks I moved out with a friend of mine. I told him we could keep dating but I wasn’t happy living there and neither was he. I hoped the relationship would fizzle out but it just got worse. he’d show up all of the time, scare my roommate who called the cops on him twice. He stopped coming over until she moved out then he started showing up again. I was so depressed, started drinking alot, couldn’t get out of bed. I would sleep through two days if I didn’t have to work. then I decided to move back home and he moved across the country. I thought that was finally it, but now he’s back and I want to try it again, I know its crazy, I know I’m stupid. what is wrong with me. on top of that he’s cheated on me twice since he’s been back and I’m still planning on moving in with him. One minute he’s telling me he wants kids, then he won’t return my calls. I need him to want me the way he use to. I don’t feel like a real person if he doesn’t love me. I feel alone and scared and I think he knows this and that’s why he’s not calling me, why sometimes he won’t even respond to me when I say something. flat out ignore me right to my face. its making me crazy. I don’t know what to do.

    • Susan

      - 9:16 am

      Lisa, look up Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Also you are addicted to this person because of chemicals in our brains, i felt the same with the ex narc i was with but the more you have no contact, which is the only thing you can do with these people the less you feel addicted, read up on NPD and you will see him for what he really is.

      • Susan Quinn

        - 5:57 pm

        That’s good advice!

  • Bobby

    - 2:11 pm

    Hello! Thank you for your article. When I read it, it’s like you’ve met my husband. I have to admit, it scared me a little! For the first time I realized he might have a disorder.

    I have a question. Is BPD a type of permanent disability? Is it true that counseling does not work for someone with BPD? I’ve suggested counseling for my husband and I, and he refuses because he thinks I have the problem, everything is my fault, etc., and so he doesn’t need to go. Is this why? He can’t see that he has a problem? Is there any hope for treatment, or do I just need to accept that this is the way he will always be?

    I’ve been working on our relationship for over twenty years, and finally had to go to counseling myself because the emotional abuse had taken it’s toll. I am staying in the relationship, for various reasons. This is not changing. So what can I do to keep from losing myself? Do you have any strategies or tips that can help me tolerate the situation? And why is it that he can’t change? This might help me stop hoping that all will be “normal” some day, and I can get a grip with reality… or is there hope?

    • susan quinn

      - 6:05 pm

      The first thing I am struck by in your post is that you say “he refuses counseling because he thinks I have the problem” How do you think think there would be any hope for improvement when the person is not willing to look at themselves or their part in the relationship issues. Where can you go from there? My recommendation would be that you do accept that this is the way he will always be.

      I commend you for going to therapy and that is where you can learn strategies to take care of yourself (how to talk to him, set limits with him, etc). I also recommend that you google Borderline Personality . You will find much information on the internet that will help you understand why he cant/won’t change. Alos a good book about this is “STOP WALKING ON EGGSHELLS”. Best of luck to you!

  • Mary

    - 3:40 am

    I just left a relationship about 6 or so months ago with a man who had this disorder very badly. On top of that he was an alcoholic, physically abusive, and sexually abusive. He even gave me herpes and I didn’t even know he had it.He lied about the places he’s lived and his family and friends. I found out later he has warrants in 3 states. He did every thing you can imagine. I became so broken from this. I quit school, my job, and came very close to suicide. I am a very strong person and I have been through so much in my life. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. and that some one could actually break me down in such a way. I am very familiar with psychological disorders. It runs very deep in my family. My mother has BPD. I’ve dealt with that sort of behavior my whole life with her. I’ve been around therapists and medications my whole life. My mother has always made me believe I was the issue not her.

    I finally took the little part of me I had left and ran as far away from this man as fast as I could. I became homeless for a while. I had to live in my car till my brother finally took me in. I had to move, change my email address, and block his number. He would wait for me at night. call and text me at least 9 times a day. I lived in constant fear. But now I am so damaged from this I don’t know what to do. I don’t have insurance so seeing a therapist is out of the question. I contacted a women’s center in hopes of a cheaper means and they told me that since I wasn’t in the abusive relationship anymore that I had to pay for the sessions. the lady I spoke with completely belittled me and made it sound like I was wasting her time. and she would have been my therapist if I did go. I am in desperate need of help from someone. I have no one to turn to. I need help with the repercussions of this disaster…what do I do? Where do I go from here. I how do I get over all this?

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  • Michael White

    - 8:40 pm

    There is a certain numbness that goes hand in hand with being in an emotionally abusive relationship. And when it’s in your body, you know the death of your being… the stifling of your personality… the annihilation of your soul.

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    • Susan Quinn

      - 8:36 am

      Yes you are welcome to copy the article for your forum as long as you cite me as the author and include a link to my website. BTW what is the name of your forum?

  • Sad girl

    - 8:27 am

    I have finally ended a relationship of almost 5 years with a man who when I met I thought was my dream come true everything Id ever wanted in a man, slowly the real person bagan to appear – after all it is very hard to kive a pretense for too long.

    It seems like every article about women who have endured a relationship with a man suffering from BPD is like they are writing about my life so similar are the behaviours described.

    The mental abuse, verbal abuse the discounting passive agressive behaviour total lack of care and empathy. my ex created so much drama it was like riding a roller coaster.

    My family begged me so many times to leave as they could see through him. my sons refused to visit they said he was crazy, they could see i was just a shadow of my previous self, I was literally like an empty shell so exhausted from all his abuse.

    Every time I found the courage to leave he would turn on the charm the I cant live without you, you are perfect I love you and reel me back in. But so soon the terrible behaviour would start again often within a day, yet he would still profess love. I was confused devastated drained so many times. I longed for the man I fisrt met, but I knew this wasnt the real him the angry abuser was the real him.

    Why did I stay when I had always been a strong intelligent woman, I had never in my life experienced anything like this I heard words of abuse I didnt know exisited. His behaviour was so irrational I began to doubt myself how could someone possibly act this way. Just a few examples telling me my car had been stolen to see if it would upset me, buying things then breaking them just because he could as he said, telling me he owned me, laughing when my mum became ill with cancer.

    My ex never once apologised never once admitted he had a problem refused to get help, instead he blamed me , I just felt whatever I did was not enough it would always be wrong not right i was stupid not good at anything.

    I finally after reading so many articles and books realised that I had to accept he would never change, and that I could not help him he even told me he treated his ex of 14 years badly yet thought he treated me great.

    I now feel more at ease yet he still tries to control me via texts, calls driving nearby I still feel my life is not my own.

    I would urge ladies or men in this situation to value yourself and leave I know its hard but he will not stop until you feel as bad as he does and you have nothing left of your personality.

    • Susan Quinn

      - 2:13 pm

      Tracey, Your final sentence is excellent advice for anyone dealing with this type of partner, as you said,’I would urge ladies or men in this situation to value yourself and leave I know its hard but he will not stop until you feel as bad as he does and you have nothing left of your personality.” This is exactly what happens and the reason that I try to educate people about the seriousness of staying in a relationship with a person with BPD.
      The sooner you leave, the more chance you have to retain some of your self esteem. The hardest part is to accept the fact that he will never change. I would also suggest that definitely block his calls and texts. This will make your life much easier. Best of luck, Susan

  • Lucy

    - 12:38 am

    I have BPD & have tried numerous therapies time & time again to try & recover from the disorder. All, of course, have not helped & I am still suffering with BPD. It’s been over ten years now & I’m just so tired of having failed relationships that I keep sabotaging. Plus the extreme & constant draining feeling from the emotional rollercoaster of my life, it’s just too much.

    I read that most women with BPD “grow out” of the disorder sometime in their thirties occasionally. Since no therapy, self help, medication, hospitalization or combination of these things have helped me whatsoever; do I have any hope of recovering by maybe “growing out” of this damaging & horrific disorder?

    Im going through, yet again, another horrific self-induced breakup & am losing hope I’ll ever be normal nor have a healthy long lasting relationship.

    Is there any hope?

    • Susan Quinn

      - 1:45 pm

      Yes there is always hope. It sounds like you have tried a lot of different ways to get help. Since I don’t know exactly what you’ve tried I would be glad to talk with you and see if I could give you some resources. Feel free to call me for a free consultation on the phone.

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