First off, I’d like to say that this post is a reflection on my relationship with one undiagnosed person with NPD and is in no way a judgment against an entire group of people, especially individuals within that group who are self-aware and working on themselves.
That being said, writing this out offered me a glimmer of insight on why disillusioned “loved ones” of pwBPD act on the internet. As the marginalized in this situation, it hurts. We’re not all bunny boilers. I would never dream of calling the cops on my boyfriend and wrongfully accusing him. I am working hard and I am going to try my best to get better, damn you, and I do not appreciate you dismissing my efforts and saying I’m unsalvageable! I am not the woman who hurt you. I am someone who has never done anything to warrant your condemnation.
But the truth is, even now my brow furrows at the mention of a narcissist. I want to shake the people involved with them and tell them to run before their lives and sense of selves get royally screwed over. Even now I am still recovering, and to be honest, I don’t think I ever will completely. So I kind of get the vilification, although it still stings.
The events of this happened in high school and university, so it might sound a little childish at times. I don’t know. I’m only 21 now, which might be worth keeping in mind. At the point of time, I was also undiagnosed, although aware of my emotional volatility and reactivity.
There are always alarm bells, I’ve learned. One way or another, your subconscious recognizes that this person is bad news — survival instincts, maybe? But I was—and still am— stubborn, so I looked the red flags head-on and then very deliberately glanced away.
Red Flags | The Chase
- He was oddly charming. Not particularly good-looking (I’m half-laughing while typing this out because I recall a conversation when I said that to him and he flipped out and vehemently insisted he was) but cute in a fresh-faced sort of way.
- He was impetuous, reckless and childish. At the time I thought it was quirky and adorable.
- He was also infamous for being a huge flirt. In hindsight, this was probably a sign of his need for attention and admiration.
- He initiated conversations with me by telling me that he had a crush on this other girl, B, and coaxed me into helping him out. (Yes, this was high school, guys.) Later on he claimed that this was a lie and that he’d made it up so I would gain interest in him; until now, I have no idea whether this was true or not. In hindsight, triangulation, Goddammit.
I should have swallowed my budding crush down and walked away, but back then I don’t think I realized how bad things could be. I guess I thought the worst case scenario was I would just get my heart broken and led on……. little did I know.
Red Flags | Relationship (5 months)
- 2 weeks later, we were officially dating and in love. He told me that he thought we were meant to be together. Being borderline myself, I really didn’t think of it as a red flag at all. Super fast commitment was my jam, after all.
- A month in, he began to display jealousy. I danced with a gay friend during a high school event and he veered between putting the friend down with homophobic slurs and being prickly about our close contact. It literally made no sense—why would he be jealous if he genuinely believed Gay Friend was truly gay?! I will never understand how his mind worked.
- He told me that he thought he was the ruler of the universe and that other people were “sub human”. I thought it was adorable and a joke. Spoiler alert: I would be proven wrong.
- 1.5 months in, he began to grow distant, telling me he needed more time to himself. It was the most confusing situation I’d ever been placed in. He would strike up a conversation with me and then disappear 5 minutes later.
- He accused me of flirting with my friends. I asked him what he meant. He proceeded to threaten to show me what he really meant. He also told me that he had a “bad feeling” about my friends (even the girls) and that he wouldn’t talk to me if he ever saw me with them.
- He would constantly reference the girl B and gush about how she was his “ideal type” (never mind that he was dating me) and how I was basically the opposite of what he wanted.
- By 3-4 months, he had stopped saying anything affectionate — no “I love you”s or “good night”s.
- He told me about wanting to make other people “feel the pain” of losing to him in the upcoming exams.
- I cried daily. Lost a lot of weight. Friends got super worried. At the 5th month mark, I finally got the nerve to break up with him. He later revealed that he’d been withdrawing in hopes that I would get sick and dump him so he wouldn’t have to do the dirty work. And I still took that asshole back, ugh.
For the next 1.5 years, I lived my own life. It was an okay sort of life; I had fun with my friends and watched a ton of TV shows. He would contact me once every few months, and would especially ask me if I was seeing anyone. It was probably his way of maintaining some sort of control over me by hoovering me in every once in a while. And it worked.
He finally started talking to me regularly, and I was thrilled. The past year had been spent trying and failing to get over him, and now he was back and telling me that he made a mistake and he really wanted to be with me. I believed it.
Red Flags | Relationship 2.0 (2 years)
- He enlisted my help to tutor him for the national exams and to write his college essays. I got him into fucking medical school. He would later turn it against me and say that: a) he would have done well anyway; and b) he had dated me just to “make use” of me and that I was his “tool”. Good times.
- He still hated my friends. If my friends commented on my Instagram pictures, he would message them to hurl profanities at them. It eventually escalated to him yelling at some of my random male acquaintances.
- He emotionally cheated on me. I caught him and asked for a break-up. He apologized profusely. Months later, he would change his tune to “it wasn’t even a big deal”, “why can’t you just get over it”, and “even your dad did it” (yeah, thanks).
- My control issues escalated furiously after the cheating incident. I grew paranoid about the girl (who was still in his friend group) and attempted to limit his contact with the friend group. He would lie and just go out with them anyway. Admittedly, I did the same because he, likewise, tried to prevent me from going out with my friends… let’s not forget that I am borderline, after all. The difference was, he didn’t actually give enough of a shit to hide his activities. It sounds a little sick to say this, but I brought my A game. I made sure my phone was completely devoid of any trace of my friends and that no pictures would be taken and/or posted online. He, on the other hand, only went through the trouble of verbally promising something and then reneging on it, then casually offering me an apology and a perfunctory promise not to do it again.
- He started off being verbally abusive to me, calling me a cunt or a slut or a whore. If I was out late, he would accuse me of fucking another guy. He also very kindly informed me that if I got myself raped, he would dump me because I would be a used good and he wouldn’t want me anymore.
- Would occasionally tell me, as mentioned, that I was a worthless piece of shit that nobody would love, that he never really loved me, and that I was his “tool”. Then would proceed to deny all of it and chalk it down to anger. I still don’t know the truth.
- Insisted that I had to go to therapy to “fix myself”. I don’t know whether to call this gaslighting or not because… I did actually turn out to have BPD, so.
- If I ended the conversation over the phone, he would repeatedly call me. I once woke up to a hundred missed calls. If I tried to leave in person, he would grab my arm and forcefully pull me backwards.
- The abuse escalated to physical violence. He shoved and grabbed me in a chokehold. Once, I had a wound on my arm, and I remember the cool, calculated look in his eyes when he reached out and twisted it, hard. He also proceeded to pin me down on the floor and clamp his palm over my mouth so I wouldn’t scream.
- Regarding all the abusive behavior? a) It was “my fault” for making him angry (NOTE: this has, on the bright side, made me extremely sensitive towards avoiding this stupid fucking excuse); b) He could and would control it (any insinuation that he should seek professional help was ignored); and c) “Everyone does it”.
There’s more, but I don’t really want to think about it.
I don’t know, it was just such a crazy period of time in my life. I had never felt so crazy. His behavior really caused whatever BPD tendencies I had to escalate (I responded to his verbal abuse by cussing back at him, and his physical abuse by slapping him to get him to let go) and I won’t ever forget how utterly out of control I felt.
And I think the most awful part is that until now, I will never know the truth. Did he really love me, in his own strange way? I know he still believes he does, although I don’t know if that’s persisted simply because I discarded him, rather than the other way round. Which was the real truth: what he said in the heat of his anger, what he said when he was happy, or what he said when he was neutral? Which was the real him: Jekyll, or Hyde?
As a pwBPD, I guess the answer is that… they were all truths, in varying points of time. The cruel irony is that it really is extremely disorienting and debilitating when you’re the one bearing the brunt of it.
I dated a narcissist, and all I got was a truck load of insecurities and issues. Yes, a lot of them had their foundational roots laid by BPD, but I can say with certainty that they definitely would not have been as pervasive had I not dated him. I also sometimes wonder if I’d actually picked up FLEAS, and if it affects my behavior today.
The one bright spot is that the experience has really helped me gain a better stronghold on myself and my behavior. Because I refuse to be the way he was, or to treat someone else the way he treated me, I guess I put a lot more pressure on myself to “behave”.
And until now, I don’t know—I might be able to forgive him for the abuse, now that I’m acutely aware of how difficult it is to wrestle your PD into submission. But I don’t think I will ever forgive him for not truly putting in effort, for not getting professional help, for not caring enough about me to become self-aware.
Or maybe that’s just silly talk.