People with Borderline Personality Disorders (BPD) are difficult – difficult to live with, difficult to get along with, and difficult to treat. Symptoms can include a history of unstable relationships, a fear of abandonment, impulsivity, suicidal or self-mutilating behavior, mood swings and anger management problems, among others.
As an author, the symptom that I think is so wonderful is their ability to first idealize and then to devalue. A woman meets a man, fawns all over him, is overtly seductive and sexual, tells him that he’s the most perfect guy she’s ever met, and proceeds to do everything in her power to show her love.
But, it doesn’t take long for Mr. Perfect to disappoint Ms. Borderline. He goes out with his buddies, watches a little too much basketball on TV, or stares a little too long at Angelina’s tattoo. Ms. Borderline goes bonkers. She becomes overtly depressed, explosively angry, and can’t stop telling Mr. Perfect that he’s a jerk. When Mr. Perfect can’t take it anymore and decides to end the relationship, Ms. Borderline becomes clingy, sexually seductive, and tells Mr. Perfect how sorry she is and that she really loves him.
So Mr. Perfect changes his mind and decides to stay. Two days later, he comes home ten minutes late, and Ms. Borderline again goes nuts. She rants, she threatens, and she’s verbally and even physically abusive. When he again decides to leave, she becomes suicidal and threatens that if he leaves, she’ll kill herself. Then Mr. Perfect feels sorry for her and decides to stay.
So what’s the wonderful part of this nightmare? USE MS. BORDERLINE AS A CHARACTER IN ONE OF YOUR NOVELS! She’ll make a wonderful, homicidal, jilted lover, like The Glenn Close character in Fatal Attraction, or a wonderful, difficult heroine, like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, or a hostile, bully father, like Bull Meecham in The Great Santini.
Since the heart of a novel is the tension and conflict that the author creates between his characters, Borderline Personalities are built for conflict. Their all-or-nothing, black or white, approach to life is the perfect way to drive another person crazy. Since you hopefully don’t have to live with one, have her, or him, torture your protagonist.
If you’re living with a person suffering from a BPD, stop being an enabler and seek therapy. If she refuses, make an independent decision to do what you need to do to have a better life.
Art Smukler MD is the author of Skin Dance, a mystery, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, The Man with a Microphone in his Ear, and the blog, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist.