St. Valentine’s Day is coming up–or, as some of us prefer to call it, “Singles Awareness Day” or “Half-Price Chocolate Day”.
One of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder is a history of intense, unstable relationships. We alternate between idolizing and loathing other people. We also have a tendency to stay in relationships longer than we should, out of fear of being abandoned. This is especially true for romantic relationships.
Our culture places a lot of emphasis on being in a romantic relationship. From a Facebook status to “chick flicks” to that garbage sold as “entertainment news”, it’s easy to feel pressured to be in a romantic relationship.
Nothing could be more dangerous.
Relationship Question 1: Is it safe?
Broken hearts heal faster than broken bones.
People with BPD–especially those who have survived abuse–may stay in an unsafe relationship because they would rather be in a familiar situation with someone than be alone in an unfamiliar situation.
Hindsight is always 20-20. Learn from my mistake: break off a relationship at any sign of violent behavior.
My ex-fiance was court-ordered to be in treatment for BPD. He refused, and started to become violent.
First, he would tell stories–which I believe and hope are false–implying he had a hand in several murders. If true, the problem is obvious. If not, what kind of person would make up a story like that.
Second, he began shooting me with a pellet gun–and continued to do so when I asked him to stop. It was a disregard for my own well-being.
Finally, he grabbed a knife one night and went off “to save Jennifer from that drug dealer”. I was terrified; I believed he would kill me if I didn’t break off the relationship. When he returned, I gave him the ring and told him to leave me alone.
It hurt like fire, but I felt tremendous relief within minutes.
Relationship Question 2: Is it healthy?
After that disaster, I concluded “Better happily single than unhappily married.”
He’d given me a plaque with a Bible verse on it: 1 Corinthians 13, also known as “the lover chapter” or “the wedding chapter” due to its popularity in marriage ceremonies. This 2,000-year-old letter to the Roman Empire’s Las Vegas is still an effective “relationship checkup.”
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Replace “love” with the name of the person you’re romantically involved with. The less accurate the description, the more unhealthy the relationship.
“Don’t date anyone you meet in therapy.”
An Alcoholics Anonymous saying is “Two sickos don’t equal a well-o.” As angry as that may make us, it’s true.
Two people with BPD should not form a romantic relationship. Don’t make my mistake. A person with BPD should also not form a relationship with someone in an active addiction (as I was) or someone refusing treatment.
There are advantages to being single. As the late Ann Landers told TIME in 1989, “This may sound terribly selfish, but I love the freedom that I have. I don’t have to worry about anybody but myself. I don’t have to worry about a man’s wardrobe, or his relatives, or his schedule, or his menu, or his allergies. I would not be married again.”
Singleness is an incredible advantage for me. Journalism requires odd hours since news rarely happens from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. It can require travel–I went to Canada on three days’ notice and post-Katrina Mississipi on five days notice. Not surprisingly, journalists have a high rate of divorce.
Regardless of what anyone says, you don’t have to be in a romantic relationship. No other person will fill you; trying to fill a void with someone else makes that void worse. You have to find completeness within yourself. You have to find your own happiness, regardless of relationship status.
Meditate on that while munching the chocolate you bought on clearance from the drug store.