My Spouse Has Borderline Personality Disorder! — Backbone Power

When your spouse has a Borderline Personality Disorder (BP), whether it’s a sudden realization or a long-known fact, it can be challenging. Those in relationships with BP individuals may be subject to unique forms of manipulation or toxicity. Recognizing these habits of BP is the first step to liberation. I will address different toxic tools here so you can pick from both articles the toxicity that you are experiencing. You may not have all of them and I may not address all of the ones you are experiencing. I also am addressing emotionally leaving the damage of the BP. To leave the BP physically is a personal decision and might be best made after leaving emotionally.

It’s also important to note the difference between those with borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. While the two conditions manifest similarly, especially in relationships, there are differences in the tactics the NP and BP individuals use to manipulate their loved ones. This article will deal with leaving and recovery from BP individuals, not leaving and recovering from the NP.

One important distinction I’d like to address before we tackle a few of the toxic tools of BP is the difference between violence and anger. If you have a partner who is capable of violence, you need to do whatever is necessary to keep you safe. If you have a partner who is volatile and can demonstrate intense anger, but no violence, do not be intimidated by the anger. As you start to get healthy, be prepared for BP to get intensely angry. Do not stop getting healthy because BP has intense anger. This will take rigor and you can do it!

The Toxic Tools of a Borderline Spouse

Instill Anxiety

Unfortunately, the way the BP views life produces intense anxiety for the BP. Anxiety about someone getting too close or too far away. Anxiety about feeling self-hatred, rejected, lost, alone, unloved, invisible, and on and on. In a normal situation, any adult feeling this way would seek out help from a professional. BP seeks out people close to them to carry this anxiety and emotional pain. The BP wants to control every situation in order to have others feel these negative feelings for him/her.

Unfortunately, the caretaker is a wonderful victim. No adult is responsible for another adult’s pain. It is not our job to carry any one’s emotional pain. We are all responsible for healing our own wounds. The caretaker needs to understand more than likely he/she is enabling this dysfunctional behavior and the BP is not getting better. If there are children involved, you are teaching the children to enable and carry the anxiety and pain for the BP. Please for the family’s sake get professional help from someone trained in helping victims of the BP.

Negativity Projection

The simple definition of projection is “I will see in you the negativity that is really true about me.” The BP has such intense emotions, both positive and negative, and doesn’t want to experience the negative so will look for a “container” to hold these emotions. The spouse who is trying to take care of the BP will usually unconsciously agree to become this “container”. If you hear yourself saying “but I really am a good husband/wife, I do love you, I haven’t been unfaithful” then you have taken on these negative comments which are really the way the BP feels about the BP.

Most of us have these vulnerable places where we question ourselves or make ourselves wrong to keep the peace. The BP is masterful at finding and exploiting these places. (A healthy partner would help you heal these places.) Understanding how damaging Projection is, observing with rigor when it is happening to you, becoming emotionally strong enough to say to yourself: “this is not at all about me”, and having a tool to give the BP a response that is healthy and appropriate for your situation are all things the caretaker needs to learn to emotionally leave.

Projection Tactics

Continue reading this article at

Psychotherapist, Speaker, Coach, and Author of “Backbone Power The Science of Saying No”