If I had to summarize my Dad Starting Over world in 2018 (as far as my readers' stories and online postings are concerned), I could whittle it down to two things:
#1, Open Marriages, is a predictable and rapidly-growing social trend. It can easily be remedied if every man simply said, "No. We should divorce instead." Enforcing boundaries and knowing when to walk away from these situations would help to put an end to the trend.
#2, BPD, is an unfortunate reality that will become more and more common as the rate of broken homes, childhood abuse and absent father figures goes up. The bad news is that there is no cure for a woman with BPD.
BPD falls under the category of Cluster B personality disorders. People with Cluster B disorders are characterized by their "Overly emotional and unpredictable thoughts and behavior". Other disorders that fall under the category of Cluster B include Antisocial Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Of all the Cluster B disorders, BPD is probably the most widely studied. We know, in general, what causes it. We know that it usually begins with childhood trauma that leads to extreme fear of abandonment (in addition to possible genetic factors - like if mom was BPD). We know how these fears manifest themselves later in life.
We also know that they are VERY broken human beings that should be avoided at all costs.
COMMON BPD BEHAVIOR
BPD behavior is pretty damn obvious. As far as the BPD wife is concerned, it typically manifests itself in the following ways:
1. LOVE BOMBING
When that initial infatuation/falling in love/"I must procreate with this man" stage hits, it hits her hard. Really hard. She will do anything and everything to be with this man. She will shower him with praise. She will buy him things. She will submit to any and all sexual needs the man may have. She will lose weight. She will dress seductively. She will text or call incessently. For a man with little dating experience and/or feelings of low self-esteem , this is absolutely the most amazing feeling ever. This HAS to mean she is "the one", right?!
"I just knew she was the one from the first day we met." I've heard this more than a few times from my readers who have BPD wives.
All men want a woman who love bombs them. It's our dream. But when in the middle of an extreme BPD love bomb, what should be obvious warning signs of way-too-early and extreme attachment are drowned out by all the fantastic positive emotions we men feel (and the fantastic porn sex, of course).
"When wearing rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags."
2. EXTREME JEALOUSY
The BPD woman is extremely threatened by the emotional connections you make with others. This could be your attachment to your children, your coworkers, your platonic friends, your ex-girlfriends, etc. She will do all she can to separate you physically and emotionally from these people. She must eliminate all competition for her attention.
Her brain: "Stop all these other relationships! He's going to leave you!"
Women are naturally more agreeable and pliable than men. We all know the woman who takes on the personality traits, hobbies and interests of her new boyfriend. She didn't used to like football, now all of a sudden she's wearing a Bengals jersey and yelling at the TV during Monday Night Football.
The BPD woman takes this to the next level. She doesn't have that filter or boundary mechanism that says "Oh, I like you and all... but I'm not doing THAT." Instead, she will gladly put on the football jersey, snort the cocaine, pop the pills, get the tattoo, get the boob job, join the orgy, and ignore her kids for weeks at a time. This is all in an effort to keep the new man around.
What was once the best thing in the entire universe is now the equivalent of dog shit on the bottom of her shoe. This sudden change in thought, or "splitting", can seem to happen suddenly with no warning. Then, the dog shit goes back to being fantastic again... but only briefly. Then it's back to being awful again.
Usually that piece of dog shit is the unsuspecting male partner in her life. The husband or boyfriend she was once infatuated with becomes a laughable loser when she meets and bonds with a new man.
Again, this is common cheating woman behavior. Where the BPD woman takes it a step further is that she goes WAY BEYOND indifference towards her ex, and has to actively try to destroy him. She will reach out to her social circle to ruin his name. She may try to physically harm him or get others to do it. She may take all his money. She will randomly send him messages reminding him of just how worthless he is. She will tell the kids how awful he is. She will outright lie about him to anyone he cares about.
She won't stop until he is completely destroyed.
She's getting back at him for "abandoning" her. It doesn't matter that SHE cheated and broke up with him and attached to another man. In her reptilian brain, she was abandoned by her ex. He failed to play the role she needed. He must pay the price.
There is no grey area with a BPD woman. It's all or nothing. You're either the second coming of Jesus or the Devil himself.
The "Oh wow, this is really fucked up" moment comes when the ex finally gets wise and decides to stop all contact with the BPD woman. That is when she is left with her acute fear of abandonment. This is when she will lash out in more anger, sadness and may even self-harm or attempt suicide. This draws the ex back in... and then the cycle continues.
This is a term used when abusive people try to convince you that the red flags you are seeing are actually YOUR fault. YOU'RE the crazy/mean/cruel/abusive one. She's the victim.
It's never her fault. It never will be her fault. She can't see the rational side of things because she is incapable of doing so.
This just makes the "nice guy" husband want to try even harder. After all, he made vows to this woman. For better or for worse. Maybe she has a point. That one time he did say she was acting like a bitch... he shouldn't have done that. He can be a better husband.
She sees his groveling and attempts to fix the situation, and she grows more resentful and angry.
This form of abuse has lasting repercussions for the man and his subsequent relationships moving forward in life. He questions everything about himself and his already low self-esteem is completely flushed down the toilet.
"Maybe I AM the problem. I'm worthless."
In broad terms, BPD women feel two things:
1. An intense need for love and acceptance
2. A need to engage in impulsive and risky behavior. Cheating fits in perfectly with their psyche.
You, the nice/normal guy with low self-esteem, will never be enough for the BPD woman. NOBODY will be enough for her. This is the grand irony of BPD. She is frightened to the core about the chance of abandonment by her partner, but she does everything in her power to drive him away... including abuse and actually running into the arms of another man (or multiple men). A BPD woman will often rationalize her frequent infidelities by saying, "Hey, we all know you were going to cheat on me, anyway."
Yes, "normal" women cheat all the time. The BPD difference is that they often like to rub it in the face of the ex partner. There are stories of women sending photos of them engaging in sex with their new man, sharing graphic details, explaining how the new partner is physically better/more endowed, etc. This is just part of the "must punish the old partner for not doing what he was supposed to" pathology. Whatever she can do to chip away at the confidence and happiness of the ex partner, she will do.
WHY IT'S SO HARD TO BREAK FREE
Let's just get one obvious but uncomfortable observation out of the way: Borderline behavior seems to be "typical" female behavior amplified about a million times. It is true that an estimated 80% of BPD sufferers are female. This isn't a condemnation of women. This isn't "Haha... all women are crazy!" This is just recognizing that men and women are different animals, and we differ in how we process psychological trauma in our lives. BPD shows us how many women (and some men) typically act out childhood trauma and fears of abandonment.
Not only is the bad "crazy" stuff amplified, but so is all the good stuff. Everything early on in the relationship is wild and turned up to eleven.
"Crazy in the head, crazy in bed." We've all heard it. It's true. For most men, the most intoxicating sexual traits in women are submissiveness and sexual openness/experimentation. BPD women will flat out do it all for you (and for the next guy). Nothing is off the table. They radiate a sexuality that most have never experienced before. They are living wet dreams. They are porn stars in real life. This is especially true early on in the relationship (pre-kids).
This level of open sexuality is completely intoxicating and addicting for many men.
Not only does she have the physical attributes covered, but she also knows the psychological buttons to push to keep you coming back for more. Early in the relationship, she gave you a taste of feeling like a king. She focused all of her attention and energy on YOU. For a guy who has probably never received this level of attention and validation, it pushes him over the top. He will paint his woman with the "perfect angel that can do no wrong" brush. Once she earns that distinction, it's very hard for the man to put the genie back in the bottle.
Men are the hopeless romantics, after all.
More often than not, the man has very little experience with "truly crazy" female behavior. He sees red flags and moments of concern (probably in the form of oddly-timed angry outbursts and jealousy rages), but he doesn't dare tell her to cool it out of fear of rocking the boat and losing the sexual and emotional validation buffet she's been providing.
The combination of rewarding her for all her positives and trying to keep her negatives to a minimum means A LOT of giving and more giving from the man. She just has to say "jump" and he says "how high?!" She now has a slave.
Then it gets worse. And worse. And worse. The sex usually gets cut off. The cheating begins (or she is just no longer hiding it). The man is left feeling like a complete and total failure. His giving didn't pay off. He seems to be punished for his unconditional love. He doubles down on his love and she pushes away even more. If he dares show signs of giving up on her, she may become suicidal.
During her more coherent/evil moments, she may actually spell out to the man the consequences for trying to leave her. She will outline how she will take his money, ruin his reputation, and physically harm him. If she fully attaches to another man, she may do all those things and more.
After years of this torture, everyone he confides in says the same thing: "Dude... why don't you just leave?!"
He doesn't see a way out. Not without endangering himself, his money, his children and the relationship he STILL holds out hope for.
After all, he's worthless in his own mind. She's probably the best he can ever do. How can he ever get a woman like HER again?
IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT
Yes, you fucked up. We've all been there one way or another. You learn from your mistakes and you move on. No, you didn't cause her issues. No, you're not responsible for her behavior. No, you can't fix the relationship if you just [insert stupid idea here].
You fucked up because you allowed your damaged sense of self to dictate your relationship with a woman. You succumbed to your childhood baggage and allowed the absolute perfect storm of a bad human being to push your buttons. You saw flags but you didn't act appropriately. You just went with the flow and let the tidal wave of "love" wash you away.
You attached far too soon. You "put the pussy on a pedestal" in the absolute biggest way possible.
You can't fix this relationship. This is just a sad and scary chapter in the big book of your life. You must learn from this and move on.
Easier said than done, I know.
Man are fixers and just can't accept that they actually grew to love and care for such a crazy person. "Nope... this is fixable. It's not her. It's just her drinking, drugs, the other guy, stress from having a kid, midlife crisis, etc.."
No, dude... it's her. Always been her. There's zero you can do to turn this relationship around. You are not the first, nor will you be the last man to fall for the lure of the sexy but crazy woman. You just have to figure out why you stuck around so long.
What I can tell you is that EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY guy in these situations has SOME kind of baggage from their childhood that they haven't dealt with. Lots of men just give a knee-jerk reaction when questioned. "Nope! My family life was awesome. Parents were great. No complaints!" After a lot of back and forth... "I mean, I WAS molested by my uncle and my mom was caught in an affair when I was 9..."
Be honest with yourself. Dig deep and figure out why you didn't have the skills you needed to say, "Whoa... this is one crazy woman. Time to pull the ejection handle and get the F outta dodge!" If you don't figure that out, I can absolutely guarantee that will be right back where you are now with a completely different woman.
In the single post-divorce world, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a BPD woman.