The Aspie - Borderline Couple

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AnnaRyan
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16 Aug 2014, 4:45 am

The Aspie - Borderline Couple

I'm wondering if anyone here has had experience with this?

We were discussing relationships on a different thread-- http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt264532.html --and this topic came up, so I decided to post a new thread on it.

(For anyone unfamiliar with Borderline Personality Disorder, wiki has a good description, and includes some info on Millon's subtypes as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borderline ... y_disorder .)

Anyone been in an Aspie - Borderline relationship?

If so, what were/are your experiences? Any thoughts on common issues?

If you stayed together, how have you learned to function within the relationship?

...Or just anything you'd like to share on the topic!


My husband is has mild Aspergers and I have mild Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). We have been together for five years. We have an *incredible* bond, and I don't believe either of us will ever break it. But? it is no smooth ride!

(Me) The Borderline half of the relationship:
So, I have overcome a lot and consider myself mild. I no longer meet the criteria for BPD, but the dynamics are definitely still present enough that it causes problems. (You also could say "tendencies toward" or "a leaning toward," but I simply say "mild.") Furthermore, I was never at the worst end of the Borderline spectrum, and never did things like cutting, for instance.

I've known about my disorder for half my life, and I've worked very, VERY hard to overcome it. Not only with years of therapy, taking just about every med out there (none worked for me, though that doesn't mean they don't/won't work for others), and reading countless self-help books, but also just in daily life-- regularly working on:
- Not indulging in sour moods
- Learning to self-soothe
- Controlling anger
- Treating the person closest to me with respect
- Holding my tongue
- Letting things go
- Being less hyper-sensitive
- Realizing how massive the damage is when I'm cruel
- Becoming less selfish, and more helpful and supportive
- Learning who I am and valuing that person/ Getting over self-loathing
- Ceasing to be manipulative
- Becoming a more consistent and stable person
- Learning accountability
- Overcoming abandonment issues
- And overcoming an accompanying anxiety disorder, which included generalized anxiety as well as anxiety attacks (thankful I'm over this disorder completely!)

I'm different from some Borderlines in that I only have ever behaved 'Borderline' with the one person I'm closest to. I believe this is because I'm an introvert, and because I'm very centered on a single primary relationship. When I was a child and young teen, that single primary relationship was with my mother (this wasn't a romantic relationship obviously! she was just the person closest to me and we had a negative symbiotic relationship), and then it became a succession of boyfriends (one at a time, and some lasting for as long as a few years). I'm also different from some Borderlines in that my fear of abandonment is exceptionally high. Although I was always less extreme in the other areas of the disorder, that one aspect was *very* disproportionally intense. (There was a horrible trauma from a freak accident when I was a young child, my mother nearly died, lots of blood all over me and her, and then I didn't see her for a relatively long time and was left alone with my Aspie father, who unfortunately had not a clue how to bond with me.)

Us together:
The first two years of my relationship with my husband were _daily_ tumultuous, with great highs (me idolizing him, a great deal of affection and bed-romping, us sharing every detail of ourselves and being deeply in love) and great lows (some examples: us both having screaming fights, him punching holes in walls, my negativity and seemingly spontaneous anger and sorrow, us both threatening to leave or kill ourselves, my abandonment fears, mutual emotional abuse? generally just a bunch of crazy sh*t!). The third year was _weekly_ tumultuous, though with his anger worsening a great deal. The forth year we weren't as close, both felt bitter and distanced ourselves emotionally, both behaved passive-aggresively, but we fought less, probably _monthly_. This fifth and most recent year we've returned to our emotional closeness (though without that initial euphoria of new love), discovered his Aspergers, and both have been working harder than ever to forgive, get over our bitterness toward one another, and be gentler. And I, of course, have been working as hard as I always have on overcoming the Borderline.

We do have many happy times, and we love one another very much.

One of the ways we've learned to function together (and survive! :) ) is for me to try to relinquish control and let him be the main decision-maker. He is more rational, better at predicting outcomes, and has a good track record. He also has more responsibilities than I do (one being that he has children from a previous marriage), and he is the main bread-winner. Sure, it's not easy to not have things my way, and it does lead to arguments-- stemming both from my desire to have more control and his habit of lack of communication-- but it does work.

(Him) The Aspie half of the relationship:
I've read a bit about "Asperger rages," and I'm not sure if anyone has had experience with this? My husband is a very rational person (and generally very kind), but when we have a disagreement and he feels that he is right (which is always!), he believes he can scream, berate, make demands-- all to get me to succumb to his will. He has good intentions, and wants to guide us the best way possible through life, but still? his delivery can be impassioned, angry, and emotionally abusive. I'm not sure if this is what is meant by "Asperger rages"? Obviously though, it can be common for people to become this way in response to having a Borderline partner! And we both believe he has developed Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome from the intensity of the turmoil in our earlier years together. ...That being said though, he has been an opinionated person his whole life, who becomes impassioned and often angry over others irrational actions, his sports teams losing, his mother, etc.. His temper was always there, it just got worse (more frequent and intense) with me.

Another issue my husband has is that he's not good at saying verbally supportive things, paying compliments, or saying loving-type things. He doesn't think it's necessary to say these things, because he's already said them at some point, and because he thinks they're obvious. He's also not good at initiating affection, like giving me a hug when I'm sad a elderly relative died, and he's uncomfortable with PDAs (public displays of affection). (As you can imagine, it's not easy for a Borderline to deal with limited displays of affection and validating words.) He gets really uncomfortable with me coming anywhere near his face when he's eating, and me kissing him when he hasn't shaved or recently brushed his teeth/used mouth wash. He also gets awkward and rigid when family members or friends give him a hug. So he's just generally uncomfortable with being touched-- unless it has an obvious activity-driven goal (for example: sex or giving him a massage because of his back pain issues). I think this is a fairly common Aspie issue?


I won't be offended if you think the worst of Borderlines; there are certainly enough reasons out there! Over and over again, I read doctors, families, and friends advising people in a relationship with a Borderline to RUN, and in many cases I don't disagree! We can drain you emotionally, ruin your self-esteem and even your life, cause permanent damage to your psyche, destroy your relationships with your family and friends, and so on. But, the disorder can be recovered from, and after the age of 30 Borderlines tend to begin to significantly calm down and stable out. We improve with age. Not all, but many. However, there has to be a desire to change, the will power to work very very hard to change, and it takes a long time. There is no quick fix. Just saying it's possible! And although my husband and I don't regret getting together, I'm not in any way advocating that Borderlines and Aspies are a good pairing! :)

Anyway, really would like to know more about the Aspie - Borderline couples out there, present and past.



em_tsuj
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16 Aug 2014, 10:21 am

I have both (AS and BPD) and I am really only attracted to really NT women who tend to be borderline. Every love relationship I've had has been an AS + BPD relationship. None of the relationships worked. Perhaps it's because both partners are borderline. Intimacy and love are extremely uncomfortable, bringing up powerful, scary, conflicting emotions that reflexively, we both run from. It's like to magnetic poles switching periodically. There's an intense bond followed by an intense repulsion. The relationships don't survive all the back and forth and turmoil. I'm in therapy, have been for years, also go to self-help groups for people like me, have been for years. I am not yet ready for a love relationship. I don't want to deal with all those crazy emotions that come up when I care about someone. Perhaps sometime in the future. I don't know how my AS has affected the relationship, other than causing a lot of misunderstands, because lIke I said, I am only attracted to women who are on the opposite side of the spectrum "Super NT's".



Alyosha
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16 Aug 2014, 10:48 am

i don't have aspergers i have classic autism but i have dated a BPD person. the problem with the relationship wasn't that she had bpd it was that i was 13 and she was 18 and the age gap was widely inappropriate and i realise now that i was preyed upon. so, not bpd but her being a sexual predator was the problem. i don't think theres a corollation between being bpd and being a sexual predator though. sexual predators can be disabled nondisabled mentally ill or not mentally ill rich or poor. theyre kind of everywhere



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16 Aug 2014, 11:25 am

I dated someone off and on for a couple months who I'm pretty sure had BPD.

The intense attraction was great, but then she would go through patterns of wanting to see me, and then not having anything to do with me for a few days. I could have become used to that (I like having "me" time), but we had very little in common...she didn't even really have any hobbies.

So...yeah...I broke that off. I feel bad for her because she keeps having relationship problems and probably has no idea why, but I'm pretty sure it would be rude to tell her I think she has a mental disorder.


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vanille
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16 Aug 2014, 2:38 pm

I am BPD and my boyfriend is Aspie. We've been together for six months and we are still learning how to communicate. We have both read a lot about these two conditions.

I realized that if I wanted or needed something, I had to directly ask for it and stop playing ''games''. One one hand, he supports me when I act out (read drama queen mode activated) and he helps me with his logical thinking. To help me deal with my fear of abandonment, he gave me some of his t-shirts to sleep with. One the other hand, I try to be understanding like when he says there are too much people, light, noise or other kind of stimuli. He also prefers to chat rather than calling me and I respect that.



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16 Aug 2014, 3:08 pm

I don't think I'd actively pursue Borderline, it is pretty much not compatible with my personality.

But then again I'd want something with less dependency than your average relationship.

For those who get a lot out less, and survive well on low dependency, Borderline is a poor match. Even many people who wouldn't have any clinical dx, but want typically level dependency, this would be challenging match.

For those that have some social understanding issue but don't mind typically dependency and in fact actively seek it, they might be more compatible, but given the Borderline it is a bit of an advanced topic as far as social understanding is concerned this would be a learning curve.

However many people who have inherent deficit in social understanding, have compensated with their conscious mind and years of experience and analysis. So actually is somewhat so a myth that people on the spectrum cannot understand, it is just not the same or instant as instinct. In fact you could argue those with instinct don't understand their social interactions that well necessarily.

So you would need to line up all those things. Or bridge each other's gaps somehow.

That said these "conditions" aren't as fixed as some people make out and as set of traits isn't the whole person.



AnnaRyan
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16 Aug 2014, 7:46 pm

em_tsuj wrote:
I have both (AS and BPD) and I am really only attracted to really NT women who tend to be borderline. Every love relationship I've had has been an AS + BPD relationship.

...I am only attracted to women who are on the opposite side of the spectrum "Super NT's".


So you think in your case it's an opposites attract sort of thing? That would make sense. Sometimes people seek out in someone else the qualities they themselves lack.

I've never thought about someone having both BPD and Aspergers! How does that play out? I mean: What's that like? They're so different, that it must be confusing for you to deal with! All of those conflicting emotions.

Sounds good you're working on yourself more before entering another relationship. I've heard that advice given a lot-- to fix you're maladaptive issues before starting a relationship, as it can be harder to fix yourself when you're in a relationship.

Quote:
There's an intense bond followed by an intense repulsion.


I've read that about most Borderlines, that they go from clingy to feeling smothered, and back and forth over and over again. I'm a little different in that regard, as I've never felt smothered. My abandonment fear issue is too high for that I think! My whole life I've wanted some _superclose_.



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16 Aug 2014, 7:53 pm

Alyosha wrote:
i don't have aspergers i have classic autism but i have dated a BPD person. the problem with the relationship wasn't that she had bpd it was that i was 13 and she was 18 and the age gap was widely inappropriate and i realise now that i was preyed upon. so, not bpd but her being a sexual predator was the problem. i don't think theres a corollation between being bpd and being a sexual predator though. sexual predators can be disabled nondisabled mentally ill or not mentally ill rich or poor. theyre kind of everywhere


Sorry to hear that happened to you! Yeah, Borderlines can be very promiscuous and also do destructive things, so that would fit in with how she took advantage of you sexually. I agree though, that it's not necessarily common for Borderlines to prey on underage children/teens.

I have a cousin with classic autism. He's about eighteen or nineteen now. I'm not sure if he's dated anyone yet, but I could see him being taken advantage of. He's very kind and trusting, and his social skills aren't the best, so he has a hard time detecting what people are thinking, as well as things like sarcasm.



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16 Aug 2014, 8:10 pm

I don't really believe in controlling anger and all that? It's more healthy to be angry, you shouldn't 'teach' yourself to be passive, but maybe it's because I have less stock in the diagnosis of BPD anyway, it punishes people for not behaving nicely.


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16 Aug 2014, 9:50 pm

I dated a woman once with BPD (she told me so herself). She was very manipulative (and continued to be so after she learned about my Asperger's syndrome), and thanks to her, I'm never dating anyone with BPD again.


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em_tsuj
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16 Aug 2014, 11:26 pm

AnnaRyan wrote:

I've never thought about someone having both BPD and Aspergers! How does that play out? I mean: What's that like? They're so different, that it must be confusing for you to deal with! All of those conflicting emotions.


I don't know. I never considered them opposites although many people do. BPD is a result of childhood trauma. I can work through the effects of the trauma in therapy and by taking medication. AS is a neurological condition that results in me having deficits in certain brain functions. The two are totally independent of each other. The AS is part of who I am. The BPD is less about who I am fundamentally. It is how I reacted to early experiences. My BPD symptoms are going away very slowly as I mature and consciously work on it.



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17 Aug 2014, 12:37 pm

People with BPD probably shouldn't be in a relationship with someone who's also emotionally disordered.

Both need stability. Both are far from [emotionally] stable by definition.



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17 Aug 2014, 3:52 pm

Dillogic wrote:
People with BPD probably shouldn't be in a relationship with someone who's also emotionally disordered.

Both need stability. Both are far from [emotionally] stable by definition.

While I agree with this in theory, there aren't really any perfect people and one does need things in common with ones partner. It's not infrequent that both partners have ASD. Maybe creates attraction, I don't know.



AnnaRyan
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17 Aug 2014, 8:20 pm

em_tsuj wrote:
AnnaRyan wrote:

I've never thought about someone having both BPD and Aspergers! How does that play out? I mean: What's that like? They're so different, that it must be confusing for you to deal with! All of those conflicting emotions.


I don't know. I never considered them opposites although many people do. BPD is a result of childhood trauma. I can work through the effects of the trauma in therapy and by taking medication. AS is a neurological condition that results in me having deficits in certain brain functions. The two are totally independent of each other. The AS is part of who I am. The BPD is less about who I am fundamentally. It is how I reacted to early experiences. My BPD symptoms are going away very slowly as I mature and consciously work on it.


That's interesting. I've read that too, that BPD can improve and eventually go away. Not like the mental disorders Manic-Depression or Schizophrenia. Or the neurological condition Aspergers, as you said. That's nice the BPD characteristics are improving for you!



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17 Aug 2014, 8:25 pm

Bun wrote:
I don't really believe in controlling anger and all that? It's more healthy to be angry, you shouldn't 'teach' yourself to be passive, but maybe it's because I have less stock in the diagnosis of BPD anyway, it punishes people for not behaving nicely.


I definitely think it feels good, in the moment, to release all that pent-up anger. But what about the people around you? They're trying to function and be happy and productive, and getting yelled at or called names is disruptive to them, and destructive to them emotionally.

Plus, after you release your anger, how do you feel after? Because if you feel guilty or bad about yourself after, then releasing the anger only led to replacing it with other negative emotions.