Dysfunctional Relational Habits of People with BPD
People with BPD have many subtle ways of getting people’s attention and controlling them in order to receive time and emotional energy from them. A few of the most common mechanisms are briefly described below. Most of these are learned from their childhood experiences. If one of these behaviors in childhood is not positively rewarded, then they might turn to one of the others, until they find one that works for them. Once finding a method that works within their particular social environment, then they stick with that method and further develop it.
One way is by sulking. At some point in their formative years, they learned that by sulking, they can attract the attention of a compassionate person who basically gives them whatever they want.
Self-harming types of behaviors have a similar effect as sulking, but can attract the attention of people who are less compassionate or less aware of their emotional state.
Very obvious forms of a seemingly self-defensive style of avoidance is another tactic employed by those with BPD, such as a sudden withdrawal in the middle of a conversation, or snatching personal belongings away from another’s presence. If they suspect that the person being targeted did not notice their withdrawal, then they may try to reestablish a connection and try the tactic again with greater emphasis, as if to remind the person by saying, in effect, “Haven’t you noticed that I am not talking to you?” Or if the target’s is somehow not aware of their own purported “wrong doing” against them, they may suddenly fly into a rage. People with BPD commonly display anger, rage, shocking behaviors, or make accusations, cutting verbal statements or insults in order to throw the other person into confusion and defensiveness, which gives them a measure of control over the interaction.
Ultimately, many of these behaviors can be summarily described as an abuse of personal boundaries. The person with BPD reacts strongly when others violate their own boundaries, especially those that are invented for the purpose of using the boundary as a tool to engage an emotionally manipulative tactic. Whereas, the person with BPD shows little respect for the boundaries of others, and no regard for the emotional needs of others whom they are in relationship with.
BPD’s also invent boundaries simply for the sake of creating a much-needed sense of control and domination.
What Kinds of People Do BPD’s Find Attractive?
Females with BPD are attracted to men who are very much older than they are, perhaps up to 15 to 20 years or more. This may be due to the fact that much older people are more likely to have a level of maturity that is capable of dealing with the BPD’s foibles. Also, much older people are more likely to accept their immaturity, and perhaps even see it as endearing or cute. The fact that the older, mature person can accept their unique social characteristics and not pressure them about changing their behavior, gives the BPD a sense of comfort and relief.
BPD’s and Social Interactions
Feelings of isolation can give rise to anger about perceived abandonment. But on the other hand, social interactions are often met with a feeling that others have a malicious intent, and are thus perceived as such. Nevertheless, BPD’s fight to make at least one good connection, and are frequently surprised that people are cordial and welcoming towards them in response. But if the social interaction is bad, they tend to stay in the bad situation longer, hoping to eventually find a sense of connection or contentment.
A formal environment may help the BPD to feel more secure and comfortable in its’ structured social atmosphere. A formal style often includes things like speaking softly, dressing well, having good posture, less talk about personal feelings and opinions. BPD’s love formality because it decreases emotionally charged interactions.
Many people with BPD learn to be very dominant among familiar groups of people, which gives them a greater sense of control over their fears, and also attracts positive attention.
They play on the fact that people don’t care that you are a bundle of nerves or are anxious. They like you because you are nice, courteous, treat them well consistently, give them a pleasant, enjoyable conversation and a positive social interaction. The BPD’s loving nature already holds the traits of goodness and kindness that will perfect their personality. They only need to become more consistent in managing their fears and spontaneous destructive coping mechanisms.
Coping Mechanisms for BPD’s
BPD’s have an unceasing habit of rumination. They ruminate over unfulfilled desires, such as falling in love, or being popular, with the conviction that they will never be so lucky. The things they ruminate over usually include traumatic experiences from their past which typically involve rejection, heartbreak, violence or rape. It is also common for BPD’s to ruminate over fears that those traumatic experiences might repeat themselves because of “fate”, or for other reasons out of their control. BPD’s feel like once those fearful thoughts come into their minds, they become consumed by those thoughts and cannot take their mind off of them. Part of the reason for this is because they have strong feelings of fear that accompany those thoughts. Psychiatrists have compared BPD with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), for these reasons.
Because BPD’s are so prone to fearful rumination, constant stimulation is a central part of their life. Stimulation can be anything that takes their mind off of their overwhelming fears and desires. Stimuli can be either positive or negative, such as watching TV or a movie, listening to music, exercise, sports, cooking, eating, playing games, sex, smoking, drinking, fighting, arguing, using recreational drugs, etc. Once they get tuned into one source of stimulation, they cannot stop it and start another source of stimulation. This is why it is difficult for BPD’s to get into reading a book, because they must shut out other sources of stimulation and also cease ruminating.
BPD’s often use alcohol or other substance abuse to help them assuage their fears and find courage to deal with life, but after they get drunk/high, they don’t care about the outcome of their behavior, and they say and do things because they feel like they need to “get it out”, not realizing that they often make their lives worse and more difficult through their words and actions.
BPD’s are very prone to sexual addiction for several reasons.
If BPD males perceive an imminent rejection from a love interest, they tend to withdraw and go cold emotionally. However, BPD females tend to become more sexually aggressive and pursue their love interest with greater fervor. This could be a learned behavior from the fact that women commonly reject men’s attempts to make an emotional connection with them, but men will rarely refuse the offer of sex from a female. Thus, their respective reactions are meant to minimize further exposure to rejection.