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Relationship Health Message Board

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Em, I am sorry you are going through so much pain at your young age. Thank goodness the high school counselor helped you get out of that toxic relationship. Your exBF's abusive, jealous, and unstable behavior sounds like some of the classic traits of BPD (borderline personality disorder), which my exW suffers from. Whether the traits are so severe as to warrant a diagnosis of full-blown BPD is something that only a professional can determine.

I can think of two things that may help you. One is to go to a therapist who is highly recommended by a doctor or a friend you trust. Because therapists charge on a sliding scale for various income levels, it may not be as expensive as you think. I believe a therapist can teach you ways of building stronger personal boundaries so that you don't become so easily enmeshed with the feelings and problems of other people. Like you, I have had to learn how to do that -- after spending 15 years trying to save my exW from BPD -- an impossible task because I was incapable of fixing her.

A second thing that may help is to read about BPD traits. It will help you identify the red flags so that, when you are dating, you will feel more confident about your ability to avoid ending up with another abusive man. Recognizing the red flags is important because, for a honeymoon period of up to six months, BPDers typically hide all their abusive tendencies and, instead, will mirror all your likes and dislikes -- appearing to be your "soul mate."

Understanding the traits also will give you a new understanding of your exBF's behavior, thereby making it seem less frightening. His insistence on immediately resolving all arguments, for example, likely was due to his great fear of abandonment. Hence, unless an argument was resolved (even if it meant going to your home at 3:00 a.m.), he likely was in great pain at the thought of losing you. My exW, for example, would be awake all night when an argument went unresolved.

Moreover, his wanting you around 24/7 likely was due to two hallmark traits of BPD: the fear of being alone and the inability to trust. If you would like to read more about BPD, just Google for it online.

You will find that there was absolutely nothing you could have done to help your exBF. You will find that -- due to his inability to handle intimacy -- trying to heal him by loving him was as productive as trying to heal a burn patient by hugging him. You will find stories written by a world of people just like you -- and like me -- who suffered in such a toxic relationship.

And you will find -- as you learn why you lowered your personal boundaries to make yourself so vulnerable -- that you will be stronger than you were before the relationship. Indeed, you may gain an insight into basic human behavior that most other women don't achieve in a lifetime.

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