When long distance love crosses the borderline disorder.
November 6, 2011 3:28 PM   Subscribe

The girl I love, who wants to be my wife, is 3,000 miles away from me. She is/was a cutter, may have Borderline (BPD) and lives in a country that I don't trust their mental health system. What should I do until I get her to America and a qualified therapist? OR how do I let her go gently?

Quickly about me: I am unemployed and uninsured currently. I suffer from bi-polar, fully medicated (for now) and have had a lot of exposure to mental health situations, professionals, literature and mentally ill people. I know that I am NOT a qualified psychiatric professional. I fully intend to seek professional therapy or counseling for myself and her (if she arrives here) ASAP. But the situation does not allow that at the moment.

BUT - what I want to express is that if I am going forward into this it will be with eyes open. Even if parts of what I describe below were exhibiting bad judgement on my part

--The INITIAL Story--

I met a Girl while traveling in the South Pacific. She is a native of Fiji (Indo Fijian). We threw ourselves at each-other. For my part, I was somewhat manic at the time. But I love her. She wants to marry me.

Even before we became physically involved I could see she had cuts from cutting on her arm (none seemed recent). She said to me her life was miserable. She talked about being "half-cast". I told her knew what the cuts were but I didn't care, I just hope she never feels like she needs to do that again. I told her Half-cast doesn't matter to me and that she is beautiful. I wanted to make her feel happy. Rescuer Complex? You bet I've got that, no doubt.

I was manic and so when she said she wanted to sleep with me, very soon after meeting her, I took the opportunity. Things moved quickly from there. I never really thought about her cutting etc after that, we were just happy in our relationship and she seemed fine... for the most part.

Unfortunately my Visa expired, I ran out of money and I had to fly back home, leaving her behind. Now she has no job and spends most of the day thinking about me, wishing I was back with her. We talk and chat as much as possible. But it will likely be months before I can get her here.

The other day we got into a mock argument over her being beautiful. I obviously think she is beautiful. I think she is physically attractive (and a number of other people back me up on this) but more importantly, I think she is a beautiful person. I always tell her that she is strong and should feel empowered. She made a number of positive moves in her live that showed progress after I left (quit smoking, left some manipulative friends, moved away from family that she felt was not treating her well, started paperwork to get Passport and Visa, etc). I tell her when she comes to America she will be an equal partner in the relationship and I expect her to be her own person. I told her she deserves happiness in her life.

But she continually rejects and says she is not a beautiful person, inside or out. I was actually a little surprised at how adamant she is about this. I left it at "well you can't convince me otherwise, I think your beautiful no matter what you say". But this got me thinking... and putting the pieces together in my mind.

I remembered the following troubling incidents:
(EDIT - That's when I first wrote this question but decided not to post it. I have newer updates below)

A few months ago, soon after returning to the US, she called me drunk and kept saying she would kill herself if I ever left her. I told her point blank "I love you, but I regard talk about suicide very seriously and will not be emotionally manipulated or extorted like that." She was angry but backed off. She often says things like "I'd do anything for you" or (jokingly?) "I'll kill anyone that gets between us"

While I was still in Fiji her she would sometimes get angry about something and then storm out saying something to the effect of "fine do X but I'm thru with you." only to come back minutes later. I regarded that as just an opaquely childish move (she was 19 at the time) especially since most of the time it was about stuff I had not done. I just laughed. Some Fijians commented on it as "Indian drama"

Finally, I know she had some sort of very abusive relationship just before I entered the picture. She doesn't ever talk about this. As a matter of fact she doesn't ever want to talk about the past period. "The past is painful baby, but now it's behind me. I don't ever want to go back." It is very hard to get her to talk about herself.

The pattern seems obvious that she needs some therapy. But she cannot get that right now. I want to help, but more than anything I don't want to hurt. What else can I do from this distance other than talk?


I wrote this the first time in response to her continual "life is miserable" and "I'm not beautiful" mantra. I had no thought about leaving her. I thought the cutting and excessive drinking was just understandable (if misguided) release from her external misery, and perhaps cultural (the friends she had when I first met her had similar scars). However now I'm looking at this again and realizing: "Oh Fuck, she's Borderline. How did I miss that?"

I know borderline, it's probably more than I can handle. I say probably because two days ago when I thought it was just cutting, excessive drinking and response to a screwed up life I wanted to help her with all my heart. This new revelation gives me a sinking feeling of hopelessness. But is this really new information or just a new label on what I already decided I'm prepared to get involved with?

The other trigger is the recent series of events she's been involved with. It all revolves around drinking too much and then getting involved with dangerous behavior. Last week she wrecked a car (single car accident, the boy who owned the car took the blame which, looking back, strikes me as odd). She busted up her leg pretty bad and I was apoplectic because she said she didn't want to go to the Hospital (free hospital I might add). It was strange but I was more concerned over her injury and prospects for healing.

Last night (I discovered after her drunk phone call to me and my call to her roommate) she ditched her party of known friends to hang out with 3 guys she had never met in order to party way later then her friends wanted to. Putting aside my thoughts of jealousy (she asked me to talk to one of the guys because he's traveling to America) Her roommate and I were concerned for her safety. Similar safety related situation happened before, such as two months ago where she didn't come home after drinking and was found on the street (remember, Fiji, people walk everywhere). Another night she was targeted and harassed by some racists in the street. When I confronted her about it she took it as a jealous move on my part saying "I'm not cheating on you, why would I call you with guys I am cheating on you with. I want to hang out with these guys. My roommate is telling you what to think, you should date my roommate, I'm not your girlfriend anymore" and then when I stood my ground about safety she shouted me down with basically: "That's it, I'm going to kill myself" *click*

It gets worse. In talking to her roommate, who seems quite reasonable and rational and kind, she said that my girl was spending lots of HER MONEY (the roommate) that "would be better spent on groceries." This roommate already pays for her and does everything for her. Also, the roommate told me that money that I had sent my girlfriend last month for passport and visa fess, that I was told was stolen, was in fact used to fund a series of all night benders! I don't want to believe this, but I suspect it is true.

I'm currently waiting for word from Fiji to see what shoes drop where. I believe (I hope and prey) the suicide threat was a bluff induced by drinking. But this incident has caused me to seriously reconsider my position here. At the moment that bold face fraud is alleged trust is so far gone that there is a lot of grey area that I have to account for with my girl, and I simply cannot.

When she calms down I intend to confront her on 1) making sure she realizes my problem was not that she was partying with other friends (even guy friends) but that she was doing it in a dangerous way without her usual friends and 2) a discussion on exactly what happened with money and 3) a general discussion about her behavior and how it must change/she must seek help if she is to come to America. I doubt we'll get past #1. I still love her, but I don't know how this confrontation will go or how I will feel afterward.

So now I guess my question remains: I still love her. IF I wanted to continue this relationship and help her, what do I do? and if I decide to call it quits, for both our sakes, whats the best way; for her safety and mine?
posted by DaftMythic to Human Relations (38 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You need to talk to a qualified therapist about this.
posted by empath at 3:31 PM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

To be clear: for yourself, not her. The fact that you want to get involved is a gigantic cry for help for you. You need to talk to someone about your issues before you get involved with anyone.
posted by empath at 3:32 PM on November 6, 2011 [12 favorites]

Have had therapists and will have therapists in the future. If you know one that works for free please let me know. Right now all I can afford is to keep seeing my Psychiatrist so I can keep my blood levels in check.
posted by DaftMythic at 3:35 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

What state and county do you live in?

And does your psychiatrist know about how you've been responding to this young woman's situation (the mania while you were there, etc.)? By "blood levels" do you just mean that you're on lithium?
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 3:38 PM on November 6, 2011

A couple of quick resources on borderline specifically and mental illness from the POV of a loved one, while I wait to try and help you find free therapy (which you really really really need, now, before doing anything about this relationship.) If you haven't already read these, please do. You have time to go to the library.

Family Guidelines - Borderline Personality Disorder
How a Borderline Personality Disorder Love Relationship Evolves
How Can I Help a Loved One with Borderline Personality Disorder?
Leaving A Partner with Borderline Personality

Stop Walking on Eggshells
I Am Not Sick I Don't Need Help
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 3:49 PM on November 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

I am on Lithium among other things. I was traveling in the pacific when I had a seizure followed by a manic episode and essentially got dropped off in the Capital of Fiji, Suva, to recover at a hospital there. My Primary and my Psych both have all the files on this

"does your psychiatrist know about how you've been responding to this young woman's situation"

Does my Psychiatrist know that while traveling in Fiji I met a girl, we started a relationship and the we decided to continue that relationship long distance after I left? Yes, I told him 4 months ago when I returned. For that matter I've told my parents and the rest of my mental health support network.

Do they know the nitty gritty details that I discussed above that immune her character. They do not. Neither did I until I knew her for a few months, met her family, met her friends etc. Partially, if she does come to America, I want her to be looked on well by family and friends.

I must say it is cathartic to finally be able to write it all out.

As for my location, if you think its important please PM me
posted by DaftMythic at 3:51 PM on November 6, 2011

You are taking responsibility for her well-being when things are really unstable between the two of you. You don't know her very well. The last you heard from her was her saying she's going to kill herself. That really, really doesn't bode well for this relationship.

I can't see how you, who are dealing with your own serious psychiatric illness and who were manic when you met her, can seriously or responsibly want to "get her to America" or take a major role in getting psychiatric care for someone so unstable that she's partying with strangers, calling you to basically taunt you with it, and finally telling you "bye, I'm going to kill myself now."

There are lots and lots of great women out there, women who, even if they have psychiatric problems, will not come laden with enormous travel logistics and cultural barriers that you will have to negotiate before you can even get to know her enough to know whether you want to be with her. Find a woman here in the States that you can get to know in a gradual way, without taking on the woman's problems as your own.

Sorry, I think it's clear you should just STOP talking to her, don't take her calls, consider her in your past, and don't consider her very troubled life your burden to carry. I don't really think your limited experience with her requires you to let her go gently. You need to focus on caring for yourself.
posted by jayder at 3:54 PM on November 6, 2011 [21 favorites]

One more thing:

A few months ago, soon after returning to the US, she called me drunk and kept saying she would kill herself if I ever left her.... She often says things like ... "I'll kill anyone that gets between us"

I really think, based on these things alone, you should let her stay in Fiji.
posted by jayder at 3:57 PM on November 6, 2011 [9 favorites]

You're causing yourself great harm by not being upfront with your prescribing physician. The first thing you should do is print out this webpage and bring it to him.
posted by facetious at 3:57 PM on November 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

This young woman's instability puts your mental health at greater risk.

This is one of those moments when you are served by allowing self preservation to kick in. You cannot save someone else. Let her go, stop sending her money and invest your energy in your own health and safety.
posted by 26.2 at 4:04 PM on November 6, 2011 [6 favorites]

Purely practically, having nothing to do with any mental health issues, this:

I am unemployed and uninsured currently.

is a problem. For immigration purposes you will be required to show that you can support your wife at a specific financial level - and yes, they do require proof. That means you have to show either that you have a job that generates sufficient income which they specify (I don't know what it is currently, but it's above poverty level), or you'll be required to deposit a bond.

Of course, if she's independently wealthy, there are ways to have her immigrate.
posted by VikingSword at 4:12 PM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Okay, I'll start with the technical side of things. I've gone through the US visa process with my now-husband. It's not only long and arduous, but requires A) shitloads of money, and B) a full health exam and medical sign-off. It doesn't sound like either of those things are possible right now.

I've also done long distance relationships several times and if there's no trust, you have nothing. You can't trust her, and she's far too unstable to bulid back trust with you. It may be painful, but you need to cut contact. I'm sorry. It sounds like she's been a focus area in your life that has brought you joy and when that's gone, you will have a difficult adjustment. Be kind to yourself. Open up to friends and family members so they can fully support you.

I'm really sorry. Good luck.
posted by guster4lovers at 4:18 PM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Well, since you asked. I think you let her go.

Because there is a difference between loving someone and them being good for you. 'Good' includes that they are able to take care of themselves, and are a healthy influence in your life.

This person isn't either one of those. You may love her. She may love you. You may wish that she was better, and that you could be a stabilizing, healthy influence in her life, but you can't. No one could, really. She needs to find her own support system and take responsibility for her own wellbeing and actions, and both of those really require local solutions.

Also, taking her away from her life as she knows it isn't necessarily the best idea. Your support system works for you (wherever you are), but it isn't clear that it would work for her. You just wish it would, and you could envelop her in the support and gifts you have, and save her. But it doesn't always work that way. People can grow resentful, particularly when this is sort of your intervention. You might turn into the bad guy. Or the disappointed one, if she rejects your friends and family and therapy, which you believe would help.

In the end, you're fighting harder to take care of her than she is to take care of herself. You can't do this for her. It is so hard to watch someone harm themselves, or push you and everything good away, but she's doing it with the suicide threats, etc.. Tell her you love her. Tell her you wish her well. Tell her that for your own health and well being, you need to distance yourself. And then grieve, but distance yourself. This isn't about you and your health issues specifically - her behavior would probably drag down the healthiest, best trained psychiatrist who specialized in international patients, if they were somehow going to be responsible for her as a friend as you are suggesting (moving her away from friends and family, getting her set up with mental health care, connecting her with your family, etc.). It's too much. You're carrying her.

Let her go.
posted by anitanita at 4:19 PM on November 6, 2011 [7 favorites]

It is all scary, to me, but the thing that stood out was the fact that the money you sent her for visa fees may have gone towards something else. In my mind, if she really wanted to come to you, she'd have spent the money you sent her on the passport and visa, or she would have borrowed it from the roommate, or whatever.

The other scary part is that if she comes to you, then you're her only source of support. What if you can't handle it? How does she get back to Fiji?

I guess I agree with everyone else who says that it's too much. It'd be too much even if she lived down the street, honestly.
posted by cabingirl at 4:24 PM on November 6, 2011 [4 favorites]

* I meant "impugn" not "immune" above

I appreciate the concern. I'm taking the advice.

As far as the calls for getting me a shrink are concerned: I'm not sure if your implying that I have lost touch to the point I was asking for it or I should have known better? Listen, the last 24 hours have certainly crystallized a number of concerns that I have had brewing for some time in hindsight. It took 6 months to collect all what I put above.

But take away the truths learned in the last 24 hours and you have a relationship that was full of love that I think (or at least thought) was sincere and very little intentional hardship created by her, drinking aside. Of the whole 6 months minus yesterday, it's been almost entirely positive aside from long distance sux. I feel I created a worse case picture of her that is unfair.

In fairness I want to point out Fijian drinking age is 18 (and she's 20 so judging from how I've seen some American 20yr old's drink, that was not an immediate red flag), and the Hindi Pop Culture (from what I absorbed) is very stark about romantic terms. Saying lovingly "I love you, I'd die without you, I'd kill for you" is very different from the turn of using it in an emotionally extorting kind of way.

But yes, now that it's reared its head, looking back that seemingly loving stuff looks ominous. The sincere and directed suicide threat changes everything. The practical side of things comes into stark relief, everything falls apart. It was childish and fanciful to think that I could get her here and support her. I didn't know about the financial and health considerations they impose.

I want to think there is something I could do. I want to think that I could make someone's dreams come true, and mine in the process. But like I said, I know Borderline. If this is it, than nothing changes when she gets here or gets help. It probably gets worse being ripped away from her home. I get that. There is no choice.

Any ideas on what to say or how to say nothing?
posted by DaftMythic at 4:44 PM on November 6, 2011

Seems to me that you have a lot on your plate even without her - being unemployed can be quite taxing and depressing and intense without any added drama. And the most auspicious start to a relationship is when both partners, or at least one of them, are at a somewhat OK point in their life. Neither of you is there, really. And whilst you sound like you might be going through a rough patch, at least employment-wise, and therefore financially, she sounds - well, she sounds like really hard, mind-blowing work.

So I'd say approach this methodically:

1. Work on yourself first. Really concentate on getting back into the world of employment and health insurance - both for your sake, and for hers, should this relationship survive.

2. Try to forge a comfortable space for yourself, inducive to reflecting, and try to figure out what is important to you in relationships. And make it about all kinds of relationships, not just amorous ones. What would attract you to a new friend now, what would make you elect somebody as a long-term friends? Is it excitement? Is it their charisma? The fact that they give you the time of day? The fact that you can help them? Their reliability, honesty, qualities as a partner? etc. Try to really envision what it would mean to have someone in you life pretty much for ever - what kind of person would you like them to be? Could you maintain you relationship for many, many years? How would they behave towards you if you saw them day-in, day-out? Really take your time to figure this out, even ask for help - from people who know you, your therapist, etc. And then, once you know what you value and what you need in a relationship, try to determine how your Fijian friend measures up against this - which is really a minimum requirement when allowing new people to enter our intimacy. In your circumstances, it will be even more important to be aware of this, because, being made vulnerable by your unemployed, non-insured situation, you might be more likely to skip weighing things and just give in to your longing to have someone by your side - even if that someone is more like a day-dream than a real person.

3. Once you figured out what you want from an intimate relationship, and to what extent your girlfriend is it: if she is nowhere close (and this is my guess), do you think she could get there? If yes, what would it take? Write it out for her, and try to open a line of communication with her on these issues. Tell her that if she wants to keep talking with you she's gotta stop with the suicide threats (and my advice is that, once you said that to her, you interrupt any communication with her if she bings it up again, completely and for good - that is an awful move on her part). Tell her that you need someone who is able to take responsibility for themselves - so no more drama about who she goes out with and when or where. Tell her that you cannot keep sending her money intended for her trip to America without seeing some clear evidence that she is taking steps to make it happen. Whatever it is that you have figured out about yourself and your own needs.

4. If her response does not acknowledge the stuff that has happened, if she threatens anything again - suicide or anything else, if she attacks you for putting down boundaries, or if it becomes obvious that she merely pays lip-service to the issues you raised, I'd say back off. I'd send her another letter/email, telling her you care about her a lot and you would have liked for the two of you to have a future together, but unless xyz issue are sorted (on your side and on hers) you are now longer a couple. And if she comes back after a while, make sure that whatever you do doesn't trap you in an unwanted situation - such as you being responsible for an ultimately unreformed her once she is in the US. Moving to a different country is difficult enough without so many problems attached to it.

5. If you feel guilty for having jilted her, what with all her problems and precarious mental state - go volunteer somewhere, help somehwere where your emotional involvement is not so intense. It sounds to me like you are in equal measure in love with her and emotionally blackmailing yourself (or allowing yourself to be blackmailed - sometimes it amounts to the same) into this relationship. Help someone else, and tell yourself that if you have to let go of this one, so be it and such is life. She is making it very difficult on you, and, in my opinion, it would be a bad mistake to keep this going as it has so far.
posted by miorita at 4:52 PM on November 6, 2011 [9 favorites]

Look, I know this is hard. You love her, she says she loves you. Listen to the very wise advice above.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:53 PM on November 6, 2011

As far as how to let her down gently -- it's impossible to let someone with BPD down gently. Just stop taking her calls, responding to IMs, emails, etc. She'll rage for a while, but she'll bounce back as soon as she finds someone else she can direct her attention to.
posted by empath at 5:03 PM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

I think you should probably leave her.

"I say probably because two days ago when I thought it was just cutting, excessive drinking and response to a screwed up life"

Lets assume there's no material difference between this and Borderline Personality Disorder -- that'd still be a ton to deal with.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 5:09 PM on November 6, 2011

I know nothing - nothing - about the culture of Fiji except what I've read in Eat, Pray, Love. There was actually a lot in that narrative about the very, very different attitude towards money and particularly the money that comes from abroad. Her abuse of your money may not a) be seen as an abuse by her, b) seen as an abuse of you or an indication of her feelings for you.

There's also just a lot of drama that goes on with being 20. Have you mentioned yet your own age?
posted by DarlingBri at 5:10 PM on November 6, 2011

I'm 25. I am not drama free, I admit that.
posted by DaftMythic at 5:12 PM on November 6, 2011

As far as the calls for getting me a shrink are concerned: I'm not sure if your implying that I have lost touch to the point I was asking for it or I should have known better? Listen, the last 24 hours have certainly crystallized a number of concerns that I have had brewing for some time in hindsight. It took 6 months to collect all what I put above.

No one implied that. I think what people are suggesting is that maybe if you met someone while you were manic and she's also somehow mentally ill, you maybe don't know each other nearly as well as you think you do.
posted by liketitanic at 5:34 PM on November 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

There's a lot of good advice here. I just want to point out that you're spending a LOT of time thinking about what's going on in Fiji, what you can possibly do about it, how you should respond, etc. but the truth is, you have no idea what's going on there. You only have her story, and some input from the roommate. You're working with versions of events--not the actual events themselves.

She's going to have to live a life there, without you. Until she's not there anymore. You can't really impact that life from where you're sitting,... not very much, anyway.
posted by vitabellosi at 5:47 PM on November 6, 2011

I don't have much to add to the sound advice given above. I just wanted to address the one thing I can speak to.

Based not only on her behavior but specifically on her behavior toward you, she sounds like the last person you should invite into your life if you love and respect yourself. Certainly, if you do invite her into your life in a permanent way, you should be clear with yourself that your role will NOT be a husband but a therapist/caretaker/parent for her. Ask yourself: is that a role you are willing, prepared, and indeed qualified, to take? Is that the role you want to play with the woman you intend to marry?

Of equal concern to me, since you are the one asking this question, are your attempts to make sense of it as a "natural" product of her circumstances or the culture with which she identifies. This is really the line that made me go the reply box:

the Hindi Pop Culture (from what I absorbed) is very stark about romantic terms. Saying lovingly "I love you, I'd die without you, I'd kill for you" is very different from the turn of using it in an emotionally extorting kind of way.

As an avid Hindi film fan and a person with several friends born, raised, and living in India, let me assure you: Hindi films, and Indian pop culture, do not explain her attitudes or behavior. None of my friends who were raised on this cinema (and still watch it) would think this behavior is acceptable.

Stop trying to rationalize or understand her behavior in ways that make it more acceptable. Before you make any decisions about her, you should be honest with YOURSELF, even and especially if you fear that self-honesty is going to lead you to make decisions and conclusions that you dread.
posted by artemisia at 6:12 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

the Hindi Pop Culture (from what I absorbed) is very stark about romantic terms. Saying lovingly "I love you, I'd die without you, I'd kill for you" is very different from the turn of using it in an emotionally extorting kind of way.

As an avid Hindi film fan and a person with several friends born, raised, and living in India, let me assure you: Hindi films, and Indian pop culture, do not explain her attitudes or behavior. None of my friends who were raised on this cinema (and still watch it) would think this behavior is acceptable.

To add to this, my parents are from India, and my family history is from that culture and -- no, I have never heard it being OK to behave that way. Bollywood movies are not an excuse for this type of behavior.
posted by sweetkid at 6:24 PM on November 6, 2011

she called me drunk and kept saying she would kill herself if I ever left her. I told her point blank "I love you, but I regard talk about suicide very seriously and will not be emotionally manipulated or extorted like that."

This. Stick to your guns on this. Threatening suicide is a really unfair thing to do to a partner, and even after you told her so, she did it again. Even if you could get her the US, it doesn't sound like you should.

People like this will attempt to drag you back into their lives over and over if you let them. The only way to make them stop is to completely cut off contact.
posted by naoko at 7:19 PM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

I married a woman with BPD, although I didn't know it at the time. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:

1) Do I want to deal with unpredictable emotional chaos, frequently, and for the rest of my life?
2) If I ever choose to have kids, do I want them to see their mother attempting suicide or emotionally blackmailing them with threats of suicide?
3) Am I prepared for money to go missing from my back account for frivolous purchases, or for no good reason whatsoever?
4) Am I ready to stay with her when, inevitably, she goes through a phase where she decides that I am evil and the source of all the problems, and despises me with as much irrational fervor as she loves me right now?

So things might not happen, but given how things are going right now, they probably will. And let me tell you, as someone with a bit of a rescue complex myself, stopping your wife from killing herself seems noble and romantic the first 15 or 20 times that you take the pills from her hands, throw the razors away, call 911 or do a two day vigil until she calms down. After that it just gets old. Caregiver burn-out is a real thing.

And BPD sufferers don't do nuance. It feels great when she thinks your an angel, but it's no fun when she decides that you're the devil. And that phase can last...well, at least four years, I can tell you from personal experience.

My advice: let her go. Marriage is hard enough with healthy people. Find one of them.
posted by cute little Billy Henderson, age 4 at 7:48 PM on November 6, 2011 [7 favorites]

I skimmed your post, because I don't want to stir up the difficult times I've been through. I have two craters in my life where I should have family, happiness and contentment. I saw the same kinds of signs you've seen, and I was naive enough to think that people change more than they do. I went through relationships with borderline people twice, and wasted what might have been the best years of my life in the process. The most important thing in my life — my fatherhood, will always persist, but even that was a near thing, and took an enormous amount of energy and heartache to defend.

I encourage you to contemplate in the most real and vivid way the worst-case scenarios, and stretch them out over a lifetime. I wish I had done so 15 years ago.

It seems easy and obvious to state, but I've learned in a profound way that love is the basis for a successful relationship. Your efforts to be supportive, understanding, and patient will buttress you and your relationship through a lot of difficult times, but do not mistake those for the composition of a relationship: love, friendship, and respect.
posted by huron at 8:55 PM on November 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

I appreciate everyone's feedback. It has really been sincerely helpful today since I've literally just been feeling sick and stewing over this and your feedback, and the chance to open what was bottled up inside, is better than what it being left in my head alone.

What happened last night put into stark relief the "vivid... worst case scenarios" I face, as well as other realities, and they were much worse than previous calculations had been.

I also humbly retract anything that could be construed as insinuation that Hindi films as a specific genre provoke this type of behavior. That is clearly ludicrous. If I even have a valid point to be made there it has more to do with my notions of romance and the stark versions that can be found in any medium if one chooses to interpret in those ways (Romeo & Juliet, etc). But mostly those are my notions of love, they need to be addressed thru me, not another person or movies.
posted by DaftMythic at 9:07 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

It sounds like everything is happening really fast - not just the new information but trying to get your head around the new perspective on your relationship that this new information opens for you. At the same time, you also sound like you are thinking rationally, even though you might be feeling like an emotional mess. My advice is to give yourself a few days to absorb all of this before you make any decisions (or even get in touch with her again). My guess is that it will all settle out fairly quickly.

If you do break up with her, realize that you will probably trigger some incredible drama. If breaking up is the right thing to do (for you) then it is best for the relationship, even if she doesn't agree. There is lots of breakup advice on Metafilter - my summary would be to be very clear, do not offer false hope and then break off communication for a while - not try to be friends, at least at first. You are not responsible for her response to the break up. The most you might want to do is to call the roomate and/or family and let them know what happened in case they want to keep on eye on her. But that would need to be the end of your involvement - the person who causes the breakup is not the right one to help the other one through the grief and recovery.

Finally, in terms of free therapy - check out NAMI. They have some very good support groups and peer mentoring programs that are free.
posted by metahawk at 9:54 PM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

empath: "it's impossible to let someone with BPD down gently"

It's very hard to let someone who is currently suffering severe BPD symptoms down gently.


Please understand whether or not you break up with her, that there is hope for people with BPD. It is NOT untreatable and it IS possible to get better. I was diagnosed with BPD in 2003. I'm doing much better now and no longer fit the diagnostic criteria. The person who has it needs to want to get better, though. Also, you acknowledge you're not a doctor, so you can't definitively diagnose her.

cute little Billy Henderson, age 4: " Caregiver burn-out is a real thing."

Indeed. While not all people with BPD have the same symptoms (there are over 200 combinations of 5-9 of the 9 diagnostic criteria), I have had burnout with a suicidal friend recently... when she starts to play games I just don't talk to her.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:17 AM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Agree with IndigoRain - my diagnosis has veered between bipolar and BPD. I've been in a mostly stable relationship for four years, and I'm fairly aware of what is and isn't acceptable (I come from a country where drinking starts before the legal age of 18, and it is common for people to drink a lot when young, but I also know that drinking without a clear head is rarely a good idea). However, it took a lot of work to get there and I didn't have the added issue of moving to a very different country and culture where I knew only my partner - that would be hard work even for a 'sane' person. And then there's the added low self-esteem and her issues with being mixed-race that affect her too.
posted by mippy at 7:43 AM on November 7, 2011

Update: After not hearing from her and not contacting her for 48 hours she spontaneously IMed me on Facebook completely apologetically, saying sorry for arguing, she realized it was her fault that she was arguing with me that she was acting unreasonably and she didn't want to lose me. She said it was because she was drunk and seemed very sincerely sorry.

We continued to talk. I was actually surprised at how contrite she was and started to think that maybe I over-reacted to the BPD diagnosis. She said she had been to the embasy and gotten the ball rolling with the money I had sent her last week (it just got there) to get her passport. But then, she did subtly drop the "I don't know what I might do to myself if i lost you" line. She said she was feeling totally confused and not sure what to do. Also the reason for her explosion is that she had was feeling jealous towards her roommate (I contacted the roommate to get her address to send my girl a package) and was staying with different friends now.

I told her we needed to talk over Skype Video and I told her that what was totally unacceptable was the emotional extortion and threats of killing herself. I told her that her threatening suicide is admitting that she planned to kill a person I loved and it would cause me to lose the one I love and hate the murderer who remained. I told her (this took some time since she was crying and believed I was about to break up with her, which I guess I was) if she ever said or even hinted at hurting herself (or anyone for that matter) again I would brake up, completely disconnect and she would never hear from me again. I repeated this many times.

I don't know exactly what happened, but I still feel for her and I still love her. I couldn't break up. And I didn't really know what to say. I tried to convey to her that I thought she has BPD (though she doesn't know what that is, I gave her some links), I told her that the type of person I wanted to spend my life with was someone who was empowered, their own person, not dependent on me. I told her she needed to recognize that practical improbability of our relationship. I told her I think she should seek help there, realize that she doesn't need me to be happy... I know it was sort of talking into a black hole.

I still think she has BPD, I read one of the links about the evolution of a BPD relationship, it's really close. But I don't see how breaking up with her at this point helps. We are still in a long distance relationship and I feel like I should wait until she is with friends she trusts and maybe she can start seeing SOMEONE to help her. It also so happens that there is a gift package in transit to her right now. It would send a mixed message.

And honestly, there is clearly a part of myself that wants to be with her. I had a long uncensored conversation with a friend here in the US about the relationship (she's been a good "free therapist" for me over the years). This was before my girl IM'ed me and so I was talking to my friend as though the relationship was already over. She asked me "what did you dislike about the relationship" I really couldn't think of anything (present conversation excluded)... there is lots that I did, and still do find attractive about her and our relationship.

I know I'm not thinking straight. I don't know the best thing to do next. Not breaking up seems like the safe thing to do for now. I hope I will be able to see a therapist soon (in the next month or so) but I need to qualify for free help, it's not clear how quick or easy that will be. But I figure while we are at a distance I have just as much opportunity to disengage now as I will in a few weeks.

We'll see
posted by DaftMythic at 3:59 PM on November 8, 2011

Breaking up with a BPD person is the hardest thing in the worldl to do, so I feel for you.

I went out with a girl who had BPD that I met on OKcupid for about 2 months, before she lost her shit. I can't tell you how amazing it is to have someone so hyperfocused and loving towards you, especially if you have low self esteem. But holy shit, when she turned was it terrible. I posted an anonymous AskMe thread about it and everyone told me to Run Don't Walk Away.

I took the advice and broke up with her. Over the phone. Then she begged me to meet her at her apartment because I had a DVD I borrowed from her and she said she really wanted it back.

I met her in the hotel lobby and she was incredibly contrite, seemed entirely rational, but I wouldn't change my mind, and she got more and more upset, until finally I left the lobby with her screaming "WHY CAN'T YOU LOVE ME?" in front of a half dozen people.

I've never cried so hard in my life as I did driving home after that. The raw naked need was so powerful and emotional that I didn't know how to process it.

Then a day later she was IMing me and texting me talking about pregnancy tests and STD's.. then she left vaguely threatening notes at my house. I didn't return any of her messages or answer the phone. Then after 2 weeks, she just stopped. Never heard from her again.

Out of curiosity, I looked at her facebook page a couple weeks later and she was already seriously dating some other guy.

Be strong, man. There is absolutely nothing in this for you but pain if she really has BPD, and there is nothing you can really do for her that she can't find some where else. If she's going to ever get over it (and people with BPD do often get over it as they get older), she's going to do it on her own. Find someone who lives near you who doesn't have the baggage. You deserve it.
posted by empath at 4:13 PM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Final (?) update:

the day after she begged for forgiveness (above) she asked me to fix something on her facebook account. I've had her login info for a while but never used it. So I was doing as told and fixing the thing and I noticed some interesting posts from this new friend of hers. I read their conversation that was just an hour old. She asks him to come home to have sex with her. It was put in such a blatant way that I double checked and re-read the entire conversation and all contact with this guy to make sure it wasn't a joke or something. Long story short, it appears this was the new guy she met when she blew up at me on Sunday. She is most likely staying with him since Sunday based on the conversation (I corroborated this from her former roommate). There was some other lover like language between them and some things in Hindi which I can't read but suspect were her saying in effect "I'm nothing without you" from from few words I could translate. Sounds familiar

It all becomes clear.

I impulsively sent a message to this guy from her account saying who I was, that he should tell her goodbye from me, and that he should look up borderline and get her help if possible. I gave him a link about the evolution of a borderline relationship. Later I cleared my head and sent her a message from my facebook and said I saw the convo, goodbye, "I don't hate you but you have to be out of my life. good luck". I've deactivated my facebook for now and blocked all calls from numbers she has access to.

The only x factor is a package that is en-rout to her but it seems she will never get it since now she is not staying with that roommate and seems to have abandoned her as well. The roommate was sad that she left and didn't understand. I do now but I could not explain it to her.

I believe I will stay in contact with the roommate just until the package arrives and determine what best to do with it then. But for the most part, I am erasing her from my life and moving on.
posted by DaftMythic at 2:10 PM on November 9, 2011

Hope you're doing okay, DaftMythic. Sorry it ended the way it did, but it seems far best for you that it ended. Take care of yourself.
posted by Jezebella at 10:43 AM on November 13, 2011

How awful for you DaftMystic.

Hope you're ok. You did the right thing, and I hope there's a relationship around the corner for you that has the love and trust you deserve.
posted by guster4lovers at 7:55 PM on November 20, 2011

Oh DaftMystic, what a crappy way to discover someone has been treating you crappily. I am sorry. May your next relationship be positive and healthy.
posted by anitanita at 10:22 PM on November 26, 2011

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