Update: I wrote this post over five years ago and it still receives traffic and comments. I am so thankful that my blog is still being used as a tool for healing. I do want to clear something up – In my post, I use the word “Borderline” very vaguely and that has caused some confusion. Much of the behavior I described can fall under a diagnosis known as “Borderline Sociopathy” (which falls under Borderline Personality Disorder), also other diagnosis such Narcissistic Personality Disorder, traditional Sociopathy and Psychopathy can be applicable as well.
The point I hope I made is that getting caught up in what may be wrong with someone does not help you if that person is unwilling to take a look at their behavior themselves. And in many cases, the best thing I know to do is put some distance in between you and the repeat emotional offender.
Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone and the error in their actions were as clear as night and day, but yet they would not acknowledge it? They made excuses or had a reason for everything they did, no matter who they violated in the process. Or it was never their fault, it is ALWAYS somebody else. Most of their relationships are chaotic. They glorify and then quickly demonize someone and have a strong case of grandiose delusions. In psycho therapy this is often labeled as borderline personality disorder (a very, very close cousin to this could be Antisocial personality disorder or the more popular name, a “Sociopath”). One of the main characteristics is the unwillingness of them to see the part they play in conflict or take responsibility for their actions. Most of us know someone like this or perhaps have done this ourselves.
Taking responsibility is very tough because often times an abundance of shame comes with that. Who wants to be the culprit or the reason someone else is hurt or some conflict is going on? It’s easy to point the finger at others, it is tougher to point the finger back at ourselves. I talked to my Life Coach about this the other day. This is something I have struggled with – people who cannot see their part in a conflict. It burns me up, sends me into a fucking rage and I had to work through this. He shared with me that he too has been caught up in dealing with people like this and all you can really do is let go. You don’t have to like it, but you can’t control them or their behavior. And if other people choose to believe this person without further investigation, there really isn’t much you can do about that either. However, you can take some lessons. Now you know these people are easily persuaded, probably meddle in gossip, and you’ll do better to stay away from them.
My father and I had a long conversation about this last night. We know quite a few people who fall into the category of a Borderline. My life coach also shared with me the traits many Borderlines carry and the similarity in them are quite eery. Usually they are quite friendly, charming, a cheerleader who constantly sings your praises, they form an instant connection with you and your family. They quickly share personal details about their life and if you are off guard, you feel comfortable enough to start doing the same. A few things start to happen after this induction – first they may start taking side swipes at you, all in good-natured fun of course. You may find yourself actually having to think about what they said because you don’t realize they have just insulted you until a few hours later. They may be very helpful, volunteering to assist you with things you need to get done (even when you don’t ask) and if you accept their charity, they then expect you to be available at their every beck and call. The moment you say, “No,” they turn on you.
In romantic relationships, they may be very charming in the beginning, but if this is not their core, it won’t last. And you notice this because once they have you, it’s as if another person takes over their body; a completely different personality emerges.
Another way to identify a Borderline is if they are constantly involved in conflict with someone else. Now, just because someone is constantly involved in conflict does not mean they are Borderline, but if the conflict is NEVER the result of their own actions – you may be dealing with a Borderline.
When you determine that you may potentially be dealing with a Borderline, PROCEED WITH CAUTION! I can’t emphasize that enough. They WILL turn on you and in their minds, it will be all your fault. They are vampires, they have no reflection and are either unable or unwilling to take responsibility for how they show up.
One of my sisters just dealt with a situation like this. The other person just lashed out at her, without getting all of the data. In the beginning, she and this person were cool, but every time my sister looked around, this person’s name kept coming up in drama. Even then, my sister tried to give this person the benefit of the doubt, because she saw a different side to this person. I remarked that it was only a matter of time before this person turned on her as well based off of their past behavior. And sure enough, it happened. The person never went directly to my sister to get clarity, they instead handled it in a very passive aggressive way and just like a Borderline, in their mind, they played no part in the conflict. It was ALL MY SISTER’S FAULT. This person even went as far as to “accidentally” push her. When we shared these series of incidents with my father his response was, “That’s some real nigga shit and a real wounded human being you’re dealing with. You’ll do best to leave that shit alone.” A Borderline is what I call them.
I dealt with this too, as is well chronicled on this blog with my Ex and his now wife. She took no responsibility in anything that happened and really neither did he as far as I know. Everything was because of me. He cheated because of me. She threatened to kill me because of me. She emailed me this year because of me. She read personal letters I had given him because of me. He came on to me last year because of me. Everything was my fault in their heads, they played no part in anything and when I struck back, her feelings got hurt and of course it was because of me. She never once acknowledged how she cyber-stalked me, called me names on her social media pages, called me from blocked numbers, sent folks past my house, sent threatening messages to my phone when she was THE OTHER WOMAN, but as soon as I took a strike back, she went victim.
But that’s what Borderlines do, they attack and attack and attack and when you strike back, it is your fault. Some welcome the adversity because they are always looking for a brawl; they feed off of conflict and negativity. That is a defining point in all of this. If you don’t remember anything else about their behavior, remember that. No matter how wrong they are, how clear the violation is, it will ALWAYS be for another reason other than their own actions. Always! IT WILL NEVER EVER, EVER BE THEIR FAULT! EVER!
There’s a little more you’ve got to watch out for, because many Borderlines know how to pretend especially if you’ve trumped their card. They may apologize, but it won’t be genuine. How do you know? Listen to the apology. In reality, it really won’t be one. It will go something like this, “I’m sorry for what I did but I only did it because you did this.” See how they flip it? It will never be about them.
Now let me add some clarity to this, people can and often apologize and will tell you why they did what they did. But often times it will go something like, “I’m sorry for what I did, I did it because I felt sad, hurt and attacked. I thought you were coming at me unfairly and I just went on the offense. I do apologize for how I handled that situation and in the future will commit to asking for clarity instead of assuming.” That’s a real apology. The person acknowledged their behavior and what triggered it. They didn’t blame you for any of it, instead they spoke for the part of themselves that was hurt and judged they were violated. Now you very well may have said or done something that caused that person to react the way that they did. The difference is, the person recognizes that their feelings are their feelings and you are not responsible for how they feel.
I hope this has helped some of you who may be dealing with this have some cognizability about exactly what you are dealing with. These are very, very wounded people and there is nothing you will be able to say or do to get them to see how they show up. If you try, it will be exhausting, because no matter how genuine they seem about accepting responsibility, it will always go back to it being someone else’s fault. I don’t think I can emphasize that enough. I would suggest that you keep your distance or sever times with them completely because they can be highly manipulative, are skilled liars and can potentially cost you some relationships. It is almost sociopathic and it is very dangerous to try to “save” them. They can only save themselves and in order to do that, they have to be willing to see themselves first.
Leave a comment and forward this post to your friends! Also for more the characteristics of toxic and manipulative people, check out the post “The Addiction to Playing God.” Thank you for reading!