How to spot a borderline from a mile away

Before we get started, let me make a few things clear. What I have to say is not designed to demonize women, or men for that matter, who have personality disorders. The content here is designed to benefit those who have been victimized by personality disordered individuals and to arm those who may encounter them in the future.

If you look back at any of the previous work I’ve done on this subject, you will find comment areas saturated with complaints, many of them by people who identify as having personality disorders. There are claims that the work is stigmatizing. There are allegations that I am causing people with personality disorders to feel bad about themselves; that I am callously insensitive to those suffering from those disorders.

Allow me to make it clear here that I do not give a damn about those complaints. It is not because I am insensitive or callous. And it is not because I wish to demonize or stigmatize people with personality disorders or anyone else for that matter. The purpose of my work here is to offer support and information to the victims of personality disordered individuals, particularly male victims.

And if you look through the complaints levied against me, you will see that they validate what I have been saying all along. People with personality disorders have an unfortunate tendency to abuse people, then demand sympathy from their victims. They want to punch someone in the face and then complain that the victim’s face made their knuckles hurt.

That attitude will not get any sympathy here or any more of my time. There are countless online and real world resources for people with personality disorders, many of them an enabling part of the problem. That’s not my purpose here, so please consider that your trigger warning.

I am going to talk here in straightforward, blunt terms, to and about victims. And I mean real victims; namely, the people who endure physical and emotional abuse, false allegations, constant drama and hysteria, and the grinding tension that marks the lives of those who live with personality disordered individuals.

If you have a personality disorder, I wish you luck in getting the support and treatment you need. Look for it elsewhere. If you choose to come here demanding attention and sympathy in an environment designed to offer those things to the people you have victimized, then it is very likely that I will delete your comments and prevent you from commenting here in the future.

Now, let us proceed.

The best thing anyone can do to prevent the havoc a disordered personality can inflict on your life is to prevent contact with them as much as possible. Stay away from people with personality disorders much in the way you would stay away from heroin addicts, meth heads, pedophiles, and pyromaniacs.

In the same way you won’t let a junkie have access to your bank account, don’t let a BPD have access to your daily living. To do that reliably, you have to know one when you see one. As a baseline, I am going to use the diagnostic criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) 4. There is a different version of this in the DSM 5, but it has changed, I think for political reasons, so I am sticking with the old book.

Every man who still considers pair-bonding a natural part of his life should keep these things in mind every time he meets a prospective sexual or romantic partner. The borderline personality disorder is identified by some or all of the following nine traits.

1.  Frantic efforts to avoid being abandoned by friends and family.

Keep in mind here that the borderline’s capacity to feel abandoned is nothing short of staggering. She will be threatened by your friendships, family relationships, even by your hobbies and thoughts — if they do not focus on her. I conducted groups which had borderline members who felt abandoned if I did not take the seat next to them. Some borderlines are so extreme that they will feel abandoned and react irrationally to any need for autonomy or privacy you express.

Most are not quite that bad, but if you start seeing a tendency for a woman to cling to you in ways that are irrational, you are well advised to pay very close attention to it.

2.  A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.

What does this bit of word salad mean? It means that her relationships are freaking crazy. She loves you one moment, more than anyone else in the world. She idealizes you and puts you on a pedestal. Then, the moment she perceives anything in you that triggers her abandonment reflex, she knocks you off that pedestal and hates the ground you walk on. In this, she is capable of becoming vicious and retaliatory.

This is particularly dangerous. When she is in the devaluation state, she is capable of doing anything to punish you for disappointing her. This can include anything from verbal abuse to physical attacks and false allegations. If you see this pattern in her, you should not need more prompting to convince you to run. Get out, and quickly.

3.  Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

Translation: Borderlines tend not to know fuck all about who they are. This comes with its own problems, both for the BPD and those around them. The condition lends itself to wild mood swings that typically result in someone, like you for instance, taking the brunt. If you think you are the exception, you are being foolish.

The takeaway? If she seems unpredictable, it is because she is. You can never know when or where the sudden blowup is coming, just that it will. If that is a suitable arrangement for you in a relationship, I would advise therapy.

4.  Impulsive behaviors that can have dangerous outcomes, such as excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse or reckless driving.

Of course. This is bound to happen with borderlines. It’s where we just start getting into the deep end of the crazy pool. That wild, crazy sex that attracted you to her? Don’t kid yourself that you are the only pony she is going to ride.

Borderlines are often attractive and highly sexual. You can see it in the woman who wears “come-fuck-me” pumps, excessive makeup and skin-tight clothing to the office. Hint, if she works in a law firm and dresses like she works in a brothel, add it to the diagnostic criteria. She is either a borderline or close enough that it doesn’t really matter.

Sex is the hook for so many of them. They lead with a highly sexualized persona and will be the first to allege sexual impropriety on your part, when, not if, you fall out of favor. It does not exactly take spidey-sense to figure this out. All you have to do is be thinking from the neck up.

By the way, don’t get in a car with a borderline driving. One nosedive into her feelings and you could end up as a hood ornament. Don’t even put it past her to pick a fight so she can turn into a deranged Dale Earnhardt behind the wheel.

If you are nuts enough to be attracted to this brand of insanity — and more than a few guys are — more power to you. But know it can end very badly. Please be kind enough to warn your friends and family that you are going down with the ship.

5.  Suicidal and self-harming behavior.

Suicidal ideation and self-mutilation aren’t just an expression of the borderline’s misery. They are also tools for manipulation and emotional blackmail. I once drove three hundred miles to visit a friend. We were going to watch the SuperBowl together in a sports bar two miles from his home. He showed up in the middle of the third quarter because his girlfriend was saying she would kill herself if he went. She finally relented and gave her blessings after she knew that she had ruined the event for him.

If you are more than 17 or 18, you have likely either experienced something like this or know someone who has. Controlling you with threats of self-harm is her ace in the hole. And yes, this is a nightmare for her, too, which she will remind you is the only thing you are allowed to talk about the moment you get tired of the manipulation.

If she tells you those marks on her forearms are chicken-pox scars, do yourself a favor by suspending belief, lest the scars will eventually make their way to you.

6.  Periods of intense depressed mood, irritability or anxiety lasting a few hours to a few days.

Since the focus here is on you, the only thing I have to say about this is to look at your life. Living with a borderline will produce exactly those results for you. Misery loves company is the borderline’s motto, and solemn oath. Expect to be depressed, on edge and anxious. Not for hours or days, but constantly. If you end up killing yourself after a few years living with a borderline, you would not be the first or last. Think about that, as I say it again, with feeling. If you end up killing yourself after a few years living with a borderline, you would not be the first or last.

7.  Chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness.

Which she will fill with one drama after another, mostly with her as the main character and you as supporting actor and emotional pincushion. She will have other ways of breaking that boredom, too, like doing drugs, drinking and driving, maybe banging your friends. That is if you have any friends left that she has not run off.

Borderlines are constantly plagued by emptiness and boredom, which is unfortunate because they don’t have any real tolerance for it.

8.  Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger—often followed by shame and guilt.

First of all, inappropriate and uncontrollable anger should be followed by shame and guilt. But don’t think her emotional experience of that guilt provides her the moral rudder that it does for most people. The guilt she feels isn’t corrective. It is as transient as her anger; just part of a mood swing, not a learning experience that comes with making mistakes. She will feel guilty for a brief period of time but will be capable of another identical tirade in 5 minutes.


9.  Dissociative feelings—disconnecting from a sense of identity, or “out of body” type of feelings—and stress-related paranoid thoughts. Severe cases of stress can also lead to brief psychotic episodes.

OK, now, this is wandering into the deepest end of the pool, but it is important to remember that you can drown in the shallow end. It is not the extreme ends of the borderlines condition that will get you, but the mildest of their symptoms chronically inflicted on your daily routine. It is a death by a thousand cuts.

The point here is not to make light of what is clearly a disorder that causes great suffering for the person afflicted but to point out to you that the suffering will not be contained to her. She will quietly blame the nearest target, again, that would be you, for all of her inner turmoil. Borderlines don’t just feel pain and suffering, they dish it out to anyone close to them. Again, I caution you about the folly of the fantasy that you will be an exception – or that by acting as her sacrificial savior that you will do her or you any good at all. Your tendency to white knight with this particular wounded bird should be invited to take a back seat to your better judgment.

You don’t have to hate her to get this, and any anger you have toward her is pointless, even if it is justified. Negative feelings about borderlines are worthless unless they serve to direct you out of their path.

The question is whether their condition mandates that someone like you tolerate their abuse. That, of course, is up to you. But my experience tells me that men who cling to this kind of relationship have their own psychological issues that warrant attention.

All we can do from here is to inform men of what to look for and leave them with the responsibility of making choices that don’t lead them to land in a ditch.


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