Help Me Keep My Borderline Husband From Alienating My Friends
March 18, 2013 10:26 PM   Subscribe

My husband has many strong Borderline Personality Disorder traits. Many, many, many. We are separated. I believe he may have convinced some of our mutual friends to side with him and against me using blaming tactics, slick people skills, possibly some fake crying, and major cognitive distortions of reality. Pathologically motivated to avoid abandonment, he might say a great variety of untrue things in order to secure friendships for him and him alone. Please help me maintain and repair my friendships while being the kind and upstanding person I mean to be.

MeFites suggested the possibility of his being BPD when I posted recently about his behavior, and it's a good fit.

I am worried about his ability to alienate me from friends by presenting a BPD-distorted version of the "facts" to them, making it look like I am the angry/mean/crazy one.

Since separating, I think my husband may possibly have already alienated from me a couple we had both been friends with. They aren't avoiding him and weren't avoiding me until they spent time with him.

I had initially broken down and told the wife when we first separated that my husbad had been alcoholic for the length of our marriage and had engaged in way to much arguing with me (I didn't go over the full breadth of his abuse) and had finally kicked a door so a wall so hard he broke his foot when I refused him sex when he was drunk. (Sex was a bad idea when he was drunk, and he had been warned)

I said to the friend that I left the house when I couldn't locate all the guns in the house and I felt unsafe since his anger had become physical.

I followed up with the friends the next time I saw them by saying "My husband is in pain. We have both been in pain. But I care very much about him and I know he feels better with friends, so I am not going to insist that you exclude him socially when I am around. Please be friends if you want to be." I was on a kindness and caring kick.

My husband and I actually see each other frequently, and when I asked what he told them, noting that I had put in a good word for him, he was pretty cagey about what he had said.

Am I guilty of badmouthing? Am I merely guilty of spilling the beans (the truth) under stress? Am I guilty of TMI? These friends were not best friends, but I had previously shared personal information with the wife, and it had seemed fine.

I guess I was out being social that evening, trying that on for size, yet feeling super stressed because of the separation, yet not wanting to spend so much time by myself.

I feel self conscious about spilling these beans because I know I'm walking this weird line between hiding from everyone my husband's shenanigans and looking for support and connection for myself. I feel very unsure what is the "right" way to act. My closest friends live elsewhere. I have hidden my husband's behavior from everyone I know where I live until recently.

I had just come off of him lying and gaslighting me and fake crying in front of his parents, minimizing his alcohol abuse and bad behavior, successfully shifting blame to me and suggesting I was kind of nuts to feel unsafe.

He can be very persuasive. He had been cruel, unpredictable, and heavily blaming. You add in kicking something so hard you break your foot and guns lost in the house, and my gut said get out. Your gut may vary.

I am also worried that my husband will take advantage of my uncertainty in the area of friendship.

I am thinking about contacting people and issuing a generic statement if our marriage proceeds towards divorce, saying something like the road may get bumpy, you may hear things that surprise or shock you, please contact me if you have any questions. Will I look like the crazy one if I do this?

Do you think it's worth saying something like that to friends who have already been potentially alienated? It's so awkward because I don't know for certain what's going on with them. They are just not responding to emails and didn't show up at my party that they said they were coming to.

I would also, in general, like to take the high road, and not adopt his behavior as mine. I have had my fill of his bad behavior, but I recognize BPD comes from a deeply sad and injured place, and it is my wish to be kind, if in a detached way. But I don't know how to play nice with someone who will be nasty (and doesn't have the insight to realize that he is being nasty).

Do I just buck up, prepare to lose friendships, and have faith that I can make more friends?

posted by WelcomeCat to Human Relations (33 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
It's impossible to control what other people think of you. It may be that your husband succeeds in persuading friends that you're the nutty one. But, and this is NOT FAIR, even if you won the PR (and truth) battle in pinning the unravelling of the marriage on him, some people might make negative judgements about you anyway, for, e.g., not having left sooner, not having helped him better, etc. etc. etc., depending on who knows what.

The friendships you lose, if you do, won't be the ones you need. Focus your energy on connecting with people you are not only less worried about, but feel good around, even if they're far away.

Best of luck.
posted by nelljie at 10:45 PM on March 18, 2013 [9 favorites]

You'll probably lose some friendships, but that's not the end of the world. You can always make new friends. I would avoid commenting on anything in your marriage except to the people that you know you can really lean on for support. Most people's instinctive reaction is when a relationship blows up like this is going to be 'don't involve me' and 'don't make me choose sides'. If your husband is going around badmouthing you to people, he'll alienate as many people from him as from you by doing it. Especially don't worry about what his family thinks. From this point forward, they no longer matter to you. They're going to side with their son, and there is nothing you can do about that.

You've done the right thing by leaving. You can't control how other people react to it. Hold on to the ones that treat you well and that you can lean on for support, and try not to get too upset worrying about what everyone else thinks.

Plus try and get into therapy, of course. Or maybe look up the local al-anon meeting.
posted by empath at 10:48 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

If the people your husband is talking to don't know you well enough to know how full of shit he is, if he is a flawless performer who easily lies to manipulate people, if they're fairly credulous/gullible/not invested in checking his veracity, I'm sorry to say it, but there's little to be done.

This is a lose/lose situation. If you don't say anything they only get his side, if you do it comes off weird and then people avoid you because they don't want to get dragged into someone else's marriage trouble, and you become "the woman who doesn't 'get' boundaries and always overshares" and is the bitter jilted ex. I sympathise with you. I really do. Having someone pull really heinous stuff and then go crying to mutual friends about how he is the real victim and what a bitch you are and oh how glad to be finally rid of you so he can just get on with his life etc. This has happened to me too - and it was really upsetting to think that anyone who met me could believe such awful stuff. But because there was nothing I could do about it, I had no choice but to let it go.

I am 100% sure you can find friends (and even acquaintances) who will have more faith in you than anyone who drops you because of this. FWIW I don't think you owe him as much consideration as you're giving him - make sure to look out for yourself first, as it seems he's going to be intentionally trying to hurt or sabotage you in subtle/not so subtle ways.
posted by everydayanewday at 10:57 PM on March 18, 2013 [18 favorites]

Don't mouth off to all and sundry, please. You cannot beat a BPD at their own game. They are SKILLED at convincing people over to their side, and much more convincing than you, no matter the truth. The only people who will understand what you're going through are other people who have been similarly treated by your BPD person, but even then, don't dwell too long on this lest you get sucked into a cycle of obsessing over it.

I have experience with a BPD person. It's the feeling that you are the crazy one that is so distressing. I had a couple of trusted people who assured me I wasn't crazy, but on the public face of it, there was nothing I could do, and it was frustrating but it also eventually went away and I got on with my life.

On preview, what empath says. Really. Best of luck to you, BPDs are the WORST.
posted by mooza at 10:58 PM on March 18, 2013 [8 favorites]

Am I guilty of TMI?

I think probably, if you aren't super close. Many people have difficulty when faced with emotionally fraught and difficult topics and situations with the closest of friends, let alone something like this when they are not super close to you.

am thinking about contacting people and issuing a generic statement if our marriage proceeds towards divorce, saying something like the road may get bumpy, you may hear things that surprise or shock you, please contact me if you have any questions. Will I look like the crazy one if I do this?

Sorry to say, but yes you will. Marriages don't begin or end with press releases. It will be viewed by many as a distasteful salvo in a dispute, a PR exercise to capture friends and "spin" the story a certain way, and an attention-seeking dramatic behaviour. I'm not saying it is those things, but it will be viewed as those things, for sure. For better or for worse, people don't want to know the ins and outs of your failed marriage - and frankly you should be careful around the ones who do. It's private stuff.

My sympathies, I can see what a number your husband has done on you. I think a lot of these anxious thoughts come from a deep and genuine need in you to be validated - and for your view of the marriage to be validated - probably because your husband worked you so long and hard to persuade you that your view and perhaps your person was not valid. Maybe you are struggling with feelings of residual guilt that you didn't do enough, or bought his behaviour on yourself. I get that sense from your determination to do the "right thing". None of this is true, and your feelings about yourself and the marriage are the only ones that matter.

Trust me, people - the people who matter - will understand what your husband is like, or even if they don't, they will have the maturity to appreciate there are sides to the story, and they will value you and your friendship regardless of what your husband says.

If they don't, they are credulous fools, not good friends, or both - and that is not what you want to be around in this delicate time. You need people who will support you without the hard sell, the context, the statements. People who just love you.

Obviously it's very hard when you are mixing in circles you previously mixed in together - many divorcing couples either move away or into quite different circles exactly because of this. It's not unusual, and it's nothing to be ashamed of, or afraid of. It is not an admission of guilt or "giving in".

Best of luck, OP. I feel for you.
posted by smoke at 11:01 PM on March 18, 2013 [18 favorites]

When someone is trying to frighten you into sex with him using violence and rage while drunk, and that person is also "losing" guns that are supposed to be secured, that changes the balance of things. This is not a normal situation where you try to avoid involving your friends in "drama", when you're in that kind of danger from someone.

It is not "unkind" towards your husband for you to protect yourself and have a support system. It's not taking the "low road" to let your friends know if you are in a dangerous situation and need to not be isolated.

I believe that most people are easily fooled by the lies of manipulative people, BUT at the same time, I also think it is somehow true that most people know on a gut level when someone is telling the truth.

I think you should truthfully tell your friends what has been going on, if you do it in a certain way, they will believe you.
-Short. Tell them in 6 sentences or less.
-Factual. Use objective fact like concrete actions, dates, and numbers.
-Consistent and easy to understand (no confusing timelines, random details).
-Above all, avoid seeming angry or grudge-holding. Showing fear is different though.

If you do this, the next step is that you will find out who your real friends are. Some of them will back off from you because they just cannot handle supporting others in a time of crisis. Someone of them will back off from you just because they don't want their social lives disrupted by a sense they might have to treat your husband differently if they acknowledge you are telling the truth. Anyway expect some people to drop away no matter what you do.

Finally, you can find friends who will believe you in a support group for people who have experienced domestic abuse. You don't need to have had anything extreme happen to you to attend, emotional abuse is more than enough. Please contact a women's center, they will be able to direct you to resources.
posted by cairdeas at 11:02 PM on March 18, 2013 [10 favorites]

I am so sorry this is happening.

Have you considered a support group for survivors of domestic violence? Many times, they are free. I would contact a local women's shelter to see what your options are. In my similar situation, the support group was a very big part of getting and staying out.

You might consider telling friends a generic statement about the breakup and leaving it at that. I did that with acquaintances that asked, but I didn't give details. I said this: "He yelled at me all the time" or "He was abusive" and followed it with "I do not want to get into it, but I am working through it and getting help." This might be what you have to do with your mutual friends.

Also, there is always a chance of your message to your mutual friends getting back to him, which may only serve to ramp up his abusive tactics. So, you may just want to leave it be and focus instead on finding new people to confide in. To me, it doesn't sound like these people are your absolute closest friends, which may make this process easier.

You could also ask them what is going on without involving your husband. "Hey, why haven't you responded to my emails/why did you miss my party?" If they don't respond, they are likely a very unfortunate casualty of the relationship.

Finally, notice how you are not alienating him in this way. This is just another thing he is doing to abuse you. He has very few options left, now, because you have walked out; this is one of the last places that he can try to exert some control over you.

Here are some more specific reactions to things you said:

I have hidden my husband's behavior from everyone I know where I live until recently.
I did this too, and it's very common. Making new friends has helped me here, too, because with people who know him there is a tendency for me to be afraid that it looks like I am rewriting history. With my new friends, I can be completely honest about what he did. This has been very important as I work through the trauma. Some of these new friends I made in group, so they really get what I am talking about; others, I made through various meetups like a local book club and a local knitting group.

You add in kicking something so hard you break your foot and guns lost in the house, and my gut said get out. Your gut may vary.
No, my ex did all sorts of things like this. He broke down a door when I didn't unlock it fast enough once. He bought a gun and threatened suicide with it. Your gut was right. You were not safe. I am so proud of you for getting out and for working on setting boundaries with this man. That is one of the hardest parts for me, and I wasn't perfect as I worked my way through the process of leaving.

I don't know how to play nice with someone who will be nasty
You don't play with them at all. You cut them out. It is devastating and difficult, but you're a survivor. So this: My husband and I actually see each other frequently - needs to not happen in order for you to move on and to heal, I think.

Consider reading Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft. I understand that your ex-husband may have an illness that aids him in behaving this way, but that does not excuse his behavior. His horrible behavior should be a red flag to him, showing him that he needs help. He has decided, instead, to continue behaving this way - a way that hurts you very deeply in any way that he can.

I am so, so sorry. If you'd like to talk, you can MeMail me.
posted by sockermom at 11:07 PM on March 18, 2013 [8 favorites]

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wall of Drama!!!

Hey. Slow down. I've been divorced. PLEASE take a deep breath with me.

You are already OK. This is normal. You are OK.

Fuck this noise. Some people are going to side with your husband, but honestly, most people will opt for shunning you both because of the DRAMA.

You should accept now that your ex is going to shit-talk you, and be determined to ignore this and any consequences of his shit-talking ENTIRELY.

That's how divorce with someone on the BPD spectrum works.

Suck it up. Whatevs. Really.

If my reading of your AskMe is correct....

Count your blessings for getting away from this malestrom of a disaster with your life ahead of you, and move on.

This is so unimportant in the larger scheme of things. And NO - you can not win these people back. They (among others, trust me) were the collateral damage in the dissolvement of your marriage.

That is SO normal.

Move On.
posted by jbenben at 11:38 PM on March 18, 2013 [11 favorites]

The universe is giving you a tremendously valuable chance to get away from your husband and anyone who is foolish enough to side with him. Don't give up this incredible blessing by fighting tooth and nail to retain friends that aren't really your friends. Let this go (I know that's easier said than done) but in letting go you will be gaining so, so much.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:56 PM on March 18, 2013 [15 favorites]

Do I just buck up, prepare to lose friendships, and have faith that I can make more friends?


I've dealt with several "friends" with BPD, one of whom I had a sort of relationship with, and later sucked me and my partner deep in to their mess and caused innumerable instances of drama, violence, hospitalization, gaslighting, etc.

Anyone who sides with him is not your friend. Do not battle with them on this, it's simply not worth it. I like the idea above of short sentences explaining the facts. If you get any "but they said X!" Or "they told me you would say YZ..." Kind of responses then fuck it.

There will also be people who will nope out of friendship with you hot potatoeing you and him as a package, not wanting to split down what to believe and just wanting nothing to do with either of you or the whole situation.

Some of them will come back eventually, if you let them. There's two problems though.

Firstly, especially with the first group of people, will you really want them as friends again anyways after they let you down in such a fucked situation? Not to mention the fact that they've shown that they'll consider his side as "plausible" and be all "the truth is somewhere inbetween" about it.

Secondly, more than a few people will remain friends with him. Several will probably try and remain friends with both of you and just make a point of kind of sand boxing the two friendships and not really mentioning this to you(or him), or even worse ferrying things you said or about you back to him. I've literally never seen the BPD situations I can think of, or abusive/toxic relationships end where there were mutual friends who tried to "split the difference" where this drama llama "double agent" shit didn't happen.

Pretty much, the people who just step out and don't want anything to do with it might come back later and have the highest chance of being ok. The people engaged right now, especially with him? You probably don't want them as friends anymore anyways.

Your quote is pretty much the answer. Be prepared to write off a lot of mutual friends. Focus your energy on moving on, not trying to salvage things.

And it'll feel a lot easier when you find out via some random conversation or the Internet that a couple of them were out getting drinks with him the night before or something.

It sucks, but part of cutting a toxic person out of your life is also disconnecting from people who are still connected to that person.
posted by emptythought at 2:27 AM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Good grief, don't worry about 'alienating' friends or what he's saying to them, get OUT of there immediately. Per this and your previous question, even though you're separated, he's verbally and emotionally abusive, he's sexually abusive, he threatens you often (that bit about hiding guns? scary!), he's heading into physical abuse, and you still what? Don't want to hurt his precious feelings?!?

If you haven't already, move out at once. Don't tell him ahead of time, just LEAVE. Don't worry about him or how he's living, don't worry about his parents or friends or anyone else. Don't keep going back: you are not responsible for him and his alcohol abuse, you are ONLY responsible for yourself. And it's not doing EITHER of you a favor to drag this out.
posted by easily confused at 3:10 AM on March 19, 2013

I pretty much agree with everything that everyone has said so far. Now personally I would take the scorched earth approach because experience tells me it's just a shortcut to where you are going to end up anyway. But cairdeas makes a good point that you have a right to talk about this because it's true and it's a matter of danger to yourself and others, not "drama".

However, I'd like to consider what this might look like to your friends as well. If I were friends with both of you, and you told me you had left your husband because he had become violent, had taken one or more of your guns, had a disorder which caused him to see others as black/white, agin him or for him, and was driven to avoid abandonment above all else in life and at any cost... And not only that but you then you told me to stay friends with him and were clearly in continuing contact with him yourself... I would be distancing myself from both of you. And not necessarily because I didn't believe you. It might make me a crappy friend, but I wouldn't think it was safe to associate with you.

Now I agree that a good friend might be investigating ways to support you without risking their own personal safety, but I don't know off the top of my head how I'd do that. You are confused about how to handle this, and without thinking in terms of good friend/unworthy friend you can see that others might not know how to handle it either. There's more to it than "if they're my friend they'll understand".
posted by tel3path at 3:55 AM on March 19, 2013 [8 favorites]

Hey, glad you looked into BPD. It's astonishing to read the commonalities in the stories of anyone who's had a relationship with someone with untreated BPD traits. Other people's stories can be really comforting, and confirm that you're not actually losing your mind, so I recommend you lurk on some support forums like

That said, the common thread in any BPD relationship story with a sense of finality to it is that at some point, the abused party went completely no contact and cut the BPD sufferer out of their life. This can be really difficult if you have intertwined lives, with friends and possessions in common; you're probably going to take some damage here. What's more difficult yet, I think, is giving up on the hope of any kind of closure. You're not going to get some neat relationship post-mortem where you both coolly examine the mistakes you each made; your partner will never take responsibility for their actions. I get where you want to be kind and help this person who has meant so much to you, but you can do nothing for them until they have their own road to Damascus moment and realise they need to change. It's like alcoholism in that way. The kindest thing you can do is cut your partner out completely so as to stop perpetuating the poisonous discourse you're both engaged in.

Some good news is that in a lot of failed BPD relationships, it doesn't take too long after having gone no contact for the BPD sufferer to realise you're no longer a useful source of emotional release and move on to other sources. Two months or so, maybe. The no contact needs to be absolute, however, and you have to do whatever it takes to achieve that, even if you must cut out certain friends for a while.

Message me if you want to talk more, I feel for you.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 5:13 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm licensed to diagnose people with mental disorders. Neither what you have written here nor what you have written in the other thread makes me particularly think your husband has Borderline Personality Disorder. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't, and I certainly don't diagnose people over the internet, but based on what you've written I would not leap to that diagnosis. People mistakenly, even when reading the criteria, tend to equate volatile and inter-personally difficult with having Borderline Personality Disorder, when it suits them. This is problematic for all kinds of reasons, but on the internet it's primarily problematic because it forecloses many of our natural ways of dealing with difficulty when we can attribute the problems to something "other." Not to put too fine a point on it, but your descriptions of your behavior in this question read much more like behavior motivated by Borderline Personality DO than do your husband's. That doesn't mean you have Borderline PD, it means actions performed in anguish look a lot like actions motivated by the anguish of Borderline PD.

Why is this important? Because Borderline is a red herring here. Your husband is acting like a jerk, and like a dangerous jerk at that, regardless of the reason. He is likely to attempt to alienate people from you, in part because he's acting jerky and in part because that's something that some ex's do. The way through that is not to be an over-anxious over-sharer, but to take the high road. Be frank about your own pain, share more with those you have well-established relationships with, recognize that lost friendships are one of the costs of breakups, and generally play it cool while your husband runs hot and causes people to question his equanimity. It doesn't matter why your husband it doing what he's doing, and your response should not change whatever the reason. Keep yourself safe, and do not join your husband in being overly dramatic and creating a folie a deux.
posted by OmieWise at 5:42 AM on March 19, 2013 [33 favorites]

Been there, done that. It sucks. Leaving him was the nicest, best thing that I ever did for myself. The friendship thing hurt. He took someone that I thought was my best friend. He tried to take all of my friends and even my family. I pulled back, I stayed quiet and honest and I let them decide. The ones that know me the best are the ones that I kept, so I'm okay. I allow him 'safe zones.' There are groups of people that I have no contact with whatsoever, that are all his. This seems to help ease his aggression level towards me.
It is creepy that he still contacts people in my life. He goes to my church when he is in town. He has emailed past boyfriends of mine, that he has never met. He has shown up at and/or contacted someone at every place that I have worked for the past 5 years.

I'm telling you all of this not to scare you but to let you know, you can't control him. You can't control your friends. You have to just let go. He is a bomb that has gone off in your life. The destruction is ongoing. There is no clean up that can be safely done. Move on as best you can. Leave the state if possible. Re-make your life.

My situation was so bad that giving up everything and living in poverty in a state that I do not like, sharing 1 bathroom with 3 kids (that I have full time), is wonderful. I feel so free. I wake up every morning knowing that I no longer have to carry his illness. I can move freely through my day. I can be happy.

He still tries to tell me, the kids, and everyone he knows that I am the crazy one. Sometimes, when I'm really low, I almost believe him. But the proof is in the pudding. People really like me, for long periods of time. He can't even get a real job. Men want to date me, marry me even (I pull back, I'm still afraid). His current girlfriend is 15 years older than him and has been married 4 times before. His life is still a mess. His finances are still a mess. I am happy in my life.

You can be happy to. In a few years time, all of his lies will fall apart. You will be fine and he will still be a mess. And the friends that you kept through all of this will be the friends that you will always have.
posted by myselfasme at 5:44 AM on March 19, 2013 [7 favorites]

You've separated, and may be heading for divorce.

The best thing you can do for yourself it take the high road. Don't talk about your ex, don't badmouth him, don't ask mutual friends about him. You are moving on and he is dead weight in that endeavor.

The folks you SHOULD talk to about this? Your lawyer and your therapist.

The sad fact of the matter is that unless you are super-close with a friend most of them don't want to hear that the two people they thought were nice enough and happy together, were in fact acting out "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe" in three acts.

As you move forward, being classy and not acting like a nut, up to and including sending weird emails addressing the things you think your ex is saying about you, your friends will start to wonder about what he is saying, because you're not acting weird, or crazy or anything else he's describing. But, if you send pre-emptive emails, call them up and ask them questions, and other things of that ilk, well...then you're dancing to his tune.

If any of these "friends" stop talking to you, well now you know, they weren't your friends. It sucks, but since you can't do anything about it, and since they're clearly not worth your effort, let them go and find a better class of people to be friends with.

Hang in there, it's hard, but at the end of it, you'll feel such relief!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:04 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Regardless of what personality your husband has, the way to keep the maximum number of friends is to tell people "It's been a rough divorce," wince sadly, and then talk about happier things that have nothing to do with the divorce.

This will give them a reason to stay friends with you, and will incidentally convince most sane people that you're the sane, decent one. I think most people write off most of what spouses say about each other during a divorce, so the less you say, the better.

Bear in mind that in any divorce, you almost always split up the friends along with the furniture. That's just how it goes. Some will feel your husband is the wronged one. Some will choose you. Don't try to rack up a score, just stay close to the friends who really care about you and only get into the details if they really, really want to know.
posted by musofire at 6:06 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I know it feels better being able to put a label on your husbands awful treatment of you, to have a name for why you think he's being petty, vindictive and hurtful, but can you not use a mental illness willy nilly to come to terms with how you're feeling hurt and alienated?

You know what they say about wrestling with pigs? Yeah that. Take the high road.
posted by redindiaink at 6:32 AM on March 19, 2013

I would just assume that, given that your husband reacted violently when you refused to "give him" drunk sex, that, yeah, he's talking a whole bunch of shit about you behind your back. Count on it. Proceed from this point forward as if he has completely fouled your well of mutual friends. There's no two ways about it - a person who thinks that they're owed sex because they want sex and breaks their foot kicking something because they don't get sex cannot be counted on to exercise discretion in polite company when asked how their ex is doing since the separation.

Once you accept this and proceed accordingly, you'll only be pleasantly surprised when your true friends start calling and checking in on you, once they feel the dust has settled sufficiently enough in your personal life to reach out. Most people distance themselves from couples in crisis because they want to be respectful of that couple's privacy. Also, unlike what you've been led to believe, most people can still be really good, supportive, loving friends without taking on your personal struggle. That you're having trouble with how this works just points up how badly in need of some help establishing and recognizing healthy boundaries you really are. A therapist can help you with this.

My husband and I actually see each other frequently, and when I asked what he told them, noting that I had put in a good word for him, he was pretty cagey about what he had said.

Instead of seeing your husband frequently, see a therapist. Unless you're raising kids together and have to see one another for their sake, you're still only playing games with him if you continue to see him. Cut off all contact. Let your lawyer communicate with his and nothing more.

Lastly, you're hung up on this idea that taking the high road and being "kind" are one in the same. Your husband is a very, very sick person. He's mean and dangerous. You don't have to be a "good" person for him to be a "bad" person. You just have to get in the lifeboat and start rowing to shore. This sounds, to me, like the sort of black and white thinking that got you involved with your husband in the first place. Again, therapy. Therapy to start seeing how to take the high road without needing to be "kind" and "nice".

Really lastly, OmieWise has some important advice. Please read and re-read. And best of luck to you.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 6:38 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Disengage, cut your losses, move on.

Another city is better.

Change your phone number. Ensure you are not liable for his debts.

I've been where you are and compassion will only make your own healing worse, though at this time it feels as though you're on a higher path.
posted by infini at 6:41 AM on March 19, 2013

If our marriage proceeds towards divorce...

I just caught what you wrote here. Which, is, divorce is *not* inevitable and you may still be trying to work on your marriage. This is a big point.

In light of this, your husband's actions should be viewed in a different light, and I would guess have nothing to do with BPD. These are machinations of a man who is dispossessed from what was once his closest relationship. We hurt the ones closest to us, because we know their weaknesses. He knows how the alienation of your friends will hurt you - which is exactly what you came to Askmefi with. He's doing this to counter the alienation you delivered on him by separating. It's manipulation borne from a desire to make you feel his pain.

Take the high road - but more importantly, if you still love him and want to explore reconciliation, then you would need to find a safe, 3rd party mediator through which you can convey your care and love for him, and at the same time, see if divorce is the only way, or there is a chance for a healthy, stable reconciliation.
posted by Kruger5 at 6:58 AM on March 19, 2013

Mod note: Take comments not directed towards the OP to MeMail, not here, thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:06 AM on March 19, 2013

This is tough. Depending on how close your respective relationships with people are, some of them might actually eventually understand - once/if your ex's BPD behaviors exhibit themselves.

Although we didn't have any mutual friends that I cared to preserve friendships with (I was very isolated in my relationship with my ex with BDP), I did spend a good deal of time worrying what he was saying about me to his friends and potential future girlfriends, as he had badmouthed former girlfriends to me. I worried that he was going to look like the injured good guy.

But then, I realized it was 99% likely that he had invented/exaggerated the stories about his exes (the bitch ex that cheated - he accused me of the same - etc). So, for the period of time that I felt self-conscious about how others might view me though the ex's lens, that was a comfort. And then, of course, I stopped caring altogether.

My point is that it's likely that these people will understand what's going on without some dramatic reveal on your part (not that that's what you would plan) and with people with BDP, the less contact/words/drama the better (none, if possible).
posted by Pax at 7:14 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Don't want to crosstalk, but wanted to make a clarification. He didn't hide the gun(s). I just knew they were in the house, but didn't know where he put them at a much earlier date. I knew where one was, but not all. He declined to find it/them for me when I said I felt unsafe due to him kicking the door and asked him to find them. He just told me felt insulted and did not find them for me but told me they were somewhere in a very packed/messy area of the house. Upon looking there, I couldn't find it. I had wanted to put it/them somewhere away from the house.
posted by WelcomeCat at 7:20 AM on March 19, 2013

Aside from lawyer/safety issues, I'm going to offer this:

I am in similar situation, of sorts. I have resorted many times to the prayer of St. Francis Assisi: God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

All you can do is be a good person and treat your ex (and your mutual friends) as you would want to be treated. I suppose in this case, it means reaching out to friends who seem to be manipulated by your ex, but not badmouthing your ex (unless you really think that he might be endangering THEM). Ultimately, as others noted, if folks want to believe your ex, there's only so much you can do to change it. Then it's cutting your losses time, and finding new friends time.
posted by angrycat at 8:50 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would really recommend a counselor or support group for you. Part of healing from abuse like this is absolutely needing to talk about it and have your view of reality validated, because you've been living in distortions for so long. Many survivors, because they've been hiding the abuse, go through a phase of feeling like they need to continue hiding it, then like they need to tell everyone, then, as they continue to work through the healing process, come to a place where they find a good balance and don't feel compelled to hide the abusive past but also don't mention it to anyone and everyone.

The vacillation between "Never talk about it!" and "Tell everyone!" is a normal part of the process, in other words, and I suspect you'll have a much easier time of it if you have other, non-mutual-friend people with whom you can work through that part of your healing.
posted by jaguar at 8:54 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

The universe is giving you a tremendously valuable chance to get away from your husband and anyone who is foolish enough to side with him.

This is excellent advice. There's not much you can do that won't make the situation worse except take the high road.

Unfortunately, you might already be guilty by association in some people's minds, e.g. "There must be something wrong with her if she was married to that wackjob." By going around and making claims (even true ones) about all the crazy and abusive things your husband did, you two look like birds of a feather who are trying to smear each other. Your acquaintances aren't going to take the time to sort out who's telling the truth and who's not. It's too much drama and it's not their business.

The best thing would be to distance yourself from your husband, keep these matters private except with your close friends, and demonstrate by your calm and dignified behavior that there's no way that what your husband is saying could be true.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 9:21 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

The more distance you can get from this whole situation, the better.
posted by BibiRose at 9:31 AM on March 19, 2013

Think about his shittalking this way - imagine you are a person who knows a couple who are splitting up. You run into each of them separately on the street.

CONVERSATION A: Yeah, we're in the middle of some stuff. It's hard, obviously. But how are you? How's that local sport hobby of yours?

CONVERSATION B: That crazy bitch locked me in a closet so I had to kick my way out, stole all my money, is sleeping with her boss and all his friends, put a hex on me, and gave me lice. By the way, can you loan me some money?

The only people who want anything to do with Conversation B are people who thrive on drama and don't care about you. You don't need them. Now there may be some people so horrified by Conversation B that they avoid you for fear of getting sucked into things, but a calm reasonable demeanor on your part can go a long way toward calming them.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:56 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're making the assumption that your friends care who is to blame when your marriage ends. Trust me...they don't.

If the situation is awkward then that's what your friends are's not you or your ex-spouse.
posted by MoJoPokeyBlue at 12:35 PM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

If I were friends with both of you, and you told me you had left your husband because he had become violent, had taken one or more of your guns, had a disorder which caused him to see others as black/white, agin him or for him, and was driven to avoid abandonment above all else in life and at any cost... And not only that but you then you told me to stay friends with him and were clearly in touch

I just wanted to highlight this. In my life I have heard several stories like this and my response is to smile, nod and run the fuck away. This does not mean I don't believe you or that I don'h care, it means I do not want to get involved in whatever fuckery the two of you engage in. And from my point of view you are equally complicit in keeping the fuckery going once you say "if we get back together".

The only time it's appropriate to cast aspersions like that on another person's character is immediately before cutting all ties to them and never speaking of it again. In other words, if you're going to say stuff like "my ex is crazy" you need to then act as if they are, not act like everything's hunky dory or you look crazy too. If you're not ready for that then only talk to your mom, your therapist and your bff who lives in another town.
posted by fshgrl at 12:48 PM on March 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

People with BPD don't tend to retain friends for long. Either they're already on to his crap or they will be within a matter of months and come running back to your side. I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by Jess the Mess at 5:32 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to add that your husband sounds maddening in your first question and I do not think you are imagining it nor do I want to in any way say you're responsible for his behavior. I'm just giving practical advice for coming out smelling of roses.
posted by fshgrl at 9:53 PM on March 19, 2013

« Older an AskMe named Desire   |   Backup an image of a boot drive to a RAID 1 &... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.