Want or Need?

“Don’t get me wrong. I know that you want me. Or at least, I think I do.” (Because, of course, no borderline conversation comes without a qualification, an escape route, an allowance for departure)

There was a beat of silence, punctuated mostly only by my own short gasps for breath in between sobs.

“I just,” I said, voice hitching. “I don’t think you really need me.”

“And is that really so bad?” He asked. “Isn’t that better? To know that someone has other choices, but they still choose you anyway?”

I thought about it. Turned the question over in my head. “I guess,” I admitted. “I don’t know.”

The answer, I think, comes typically Borderline: I want both, or I want none of it.

A relationship with want but without need keeps my fear of abandonment alarms on a constant standby. I hear it in every trickle of laughter he breaks into when I’m not around, in every text he sends that isn’t directed to me: he doesn’t need you, he doesn’t need you, he can leave you at any moment.

And why is that scary?

Maybe because I don’t believe anyone would want me. Not for long, anyway. Even before the BPD diagnosis I was well aware of the fact that I was clingy and needy and insecure — traits so unattractive that no amount of my looks or wit or sense of humor could ever hope to compensate for. Post-diagnosis, I’ve been made even more well aware that I am disordered and flawed and there are hundreds of articles out there screaming for the Boyfriend to cut and run before I destroy his life.

Even if I don’t do anything quite as dramatic as ruining his entire life, I suppose I crack it in small little ways. He has to participate in innumerable fights and disagreements with me, has to tolerate my rage/sadness/helplessness over the smallest of things, has to constantly clothe himself in patience and kindness and forbearance.

Don’t you think, possibly, that’s why we borderlines idealize our loved ones? Subconsciously we figure, only a perfect person could love us for who we are. Only a saint could willingly spend their lives with us. And if our partner isn’t perfect, isn’t a saint, surely it’s only a matter of time before they realize they can’t stand it anymore and leave.

Because I figure he won’t want me forever, a part of me wants the assurance that he will still need me enough to stick around.

And sure, maybe that’s straightforward enough.

But there is another part of me that resists this. Need, without want, suggests that I am not loved, not desired, not hoped for. That I am a burden — worthless, unlovable, awful. All things that I do not ever want to associate with who I am.

Both, or none of it.

Yet, ironically, it is my own confirmation biases getting in the way of allowing myself to receive anything. I refuse to recognize that I am wanted; I decide the other person must be deluded, or that it will never last. I am scared to acknowledge that I am needed because I am afraid of being nothing but an obligation.

And if I keep this up, I guess I will end up with nothing.


6 thoughts on “Want or Need?

  1. Just wanted to say you’re a great writer! My wife has BPD and your posts help put things into perspective for me. I wish you the best in your recovery!


  2. This really breaks my heart and puts a lot into perspective. My ex fiance ended things days after I told her that I had we pretty much didn’t have to worry about money anymore due to great things happening at my company. Could she have thought that me making all this money meant that I was going to eventually leave her? I make a very good living but this would have been an entirely different situation.


    • I can’t say for sure because I don’t know her, but based on my experience, it’s possible. Whenever good things happen in my boyfriend’s life, as much as I really wish I had the capacity to be genuinely happy for him, my first instinct is to feel afraid — fear that because he’s doing so much better in life, he’ll realize he can do better than me and leave.


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