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The Messy Art Of Living

Wife and mom of four diagnosed with major depression, bipolar 1 disorder, and borderline personality disorder; learning to live a beautiful life despite challenges.

BPD and Relationships; Cheating, Affairs, and Prevention Skills

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Each person with BPD is as different in thoughts, feelings, and action as those without this disorder. Those having BPD are not a “type” prone to all do the same things.  Are there behaviors we are prone to because of BPD? The simple answer is yes. Is sexual promiscuity always present in BPD? No. I personally don’t believe that aspect is a BPD behavior, I feel like it is more often related to things that created the BPD disorder in the first place. Feelings such as emptiness felt by most sufferers, issues of abandonment, fear, low self esteem, invalidating environment and thoughts, shame etc.,  these are the BPD issues that I feel most likely lead to sexual promiscuity, cheating, and affairs in the disorder. Does that make it acceptable or excusable when these issues happen? Absolutely not, it may provide understanding as to what went wrong or why but it will never excuse it. Having a better understanding will help all involved heal, change behaviors, allow us to learn and have recognition, but it will never erase or stop the pain caused by falling on such a negative coping behavior. Those of us having BPD may be prone to promiscuity and other negative skills, but we can learn to change that.

This topic as many of you may know is close to my heart. I have tried to explain my past actions to myself, to my husband and to others. During my research I have seen through searches, in conversations with both of the sides affected, where the issue of affairs, cheating, and promiscuity with this disorder is common. I have seen where people not having the disorder describe those with BPD almost as sirens, capturing the interest and hearts of innocent victims, so we can chew them up and spit them out after we get some sick pleasure from tormenting them. While I can’t speak for everyone, I can say I don’t feel that is accurate for most having BPD. Some lesser known disorders that could be the culprit for this behavior are; Histrionic personality disorder (HPD), or Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), to name a few. However, I am sure that there are a small number of men and women who have BPD that use the disorder to get away with or do things. This is true for many people with different illnesses and disorders as well.

At the end of the day I feel that it is a very small population which gives many with the disorder a bad name. I can also say in my case I never would have allowed what happened were I thinking and acting rationally.  So what is my “excuse”? Did BPD cause me to have an affair? No, BPD did not make me cheat; I do believe some of the thinking and issues related to it made it more likely. I know the improper treatment I received at Prairie St. Johns in Fargo,ND played a huge part, over medication from their doctors LaWana M. Burtnett, M.D. and Natalya Bronson, M.D., as well as a lack of testing to find out exactly what was going on, and the best ways to treat it.

So what the heck happened? What can you do to prevent this in your life? And is there hope in a relationship or marriage with BPD, even after an affair? Well to start here is the situation I was in; I was called by my mother and given information that the man who had assaulted me for years when I was a child was suddenly alive, when I was told he had died. This created a huge sudden emotional shock. At the time this all happened I was pretty sure I had BPD but never had it diagnosed, I was diagnosed with Bipolar and other disorders, and knew I had issues, but I sure wish I had known about BPD. Learning that information set me off balance and I struggled to right myself. I spun into chaos and went for help at a recommended hospital (Prairie St. John’s). The hospital never tested me or they would have (probably) found that I had borderline personality disorder. I was officially diagnosed after this issue at an independent and reputable facility. The medications given to me were not recommended for people who also have BPD. Some of the medications caused emotional detachment and numbness. Things just went out of control from there.

Looking back there are many things I wish I knew, things I wish I could go back and change, and then the reality of accepting what has happened and where to go from here. I am currently not on any medications, instead I am using DBT and other therapy techniques. This is not possible for all those having this disorder, and should only be done with careful consideration, and under guidance and observation of your chosen mental health clinician. I have been working hard on learning skills, and my chosen coping mechanisms to live a much better life.  So what can you or your loved ones do?

  • Learn about the disorder(s) and what they will mean to you and your life. If you are a loved one or support person please find a support group or counselor for you too. You are going to have hard times, bad days, and questions in relation to these disorders as well. Find education groups such as NAMI’s Family to Family Classes
  • Learn about situations that may trigger negative behaviors, perhaps to make a behavior journal so as you begin to have issues you can target people, places or activities to avoid or limit. Be aware of your friends and those you surround yourself with, be sure that most interactions are positive, encouraging, and with people who have your best interest in mind. Don’t be afraid to say enough is enough to a negative situation or people. Stand up for you!
  • If you are married or in a permanently committed relationship that is healthy and safe. Meaning you are with a stable, safe person who cares about your well being. Or if you have a trusted friend or family member aware of your disorder and is willing to be your support and or emergency person, consider putting together a mental/medical power of attorney  (please note the one listed here is an example and each state has its own form, you can usually find this through your states Attorney’s General office or their website) It is recommended to have two or three copies available one being in your car in case of emergency.
  • Be honest about your needs, your feelings, or things that may be going on in your life that may feel overwhelming.
  • Put together a list of counselors, psychiatrists, or any one you work with, a copy of your insurance information, any medication you may be taking and the dosages, a list of friends and family as well as contacts for them, and a list of emergency numbers such as the national suicide help line 1-800-273-8255, they also have an online chat available from 5 pm – 1 am eastern standard time  Keep this information in an easy to access location, have a back up on your computer, and send one to your partner, a friend , or family member for easy access as well.
  • Consider having a comfort bag or box for emergencies. Put in favorite books, teas (perhaps in plastic bags), scented candles, oils, bath products, lotions you find comforting, a journal for writing thoughts and feelings, a pen/pencil, your emergency contact list, comforting fabrics, and any other items you find comforting and helpful when you are under stress or sad. Place them in an easy to access location (I like to escape to my bathroom for example), if using DBT, perhaps some DBT skill cards  and a copy list of pleasant events or perhaps this pleasant events schedule

These are just a few thoughts and ideas that I feel would be valuable in maintaining a healthy and happy life, as well as a relationship. I hope you find them helpful and are able to use them to improve your life. I much prefer being over prepared rather than under prepared, especially when it comes to mental health.

6 comments on “BPD and Relationships; Cheating, Affairs, and Prevention Skills

  1. Sexual promiscurity is one of the diagnostic classifications of BPD so you are completely wrong with your thinking sorry.

    • Sexual promiscuity is not directly a result of BPD, it is listed as a known issue involved and one that we are more prone to being engaging in. What I stated was an opinion, on my disorder from my perspective having it. I did not pass it off as a “fact” which then could be called into question, however you are free to disagree with me. My opinion is that the invalidation we suffer, the impulsiveness, the pain and emptiness push us toward negative and more damaging behaviors. This comes from a person who lived through it as the acting party, and so I know what I saw and the root feelings attached to my own behaviors. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  2. Bevan on said:

    Hi There.
    I too have bpd and I am currently receiving dbt as an outpatient at an inner city private psychiatric hospital located in Melbourne, Australia.
    Whilst I was diagnosed as a sex addict prior to my diagnosis with bpd, I do not consider myself promiscuous. I crave intimacy not sex. Due to my choice of partners – usually women I have met when an inpatient at the aforementioned psychiatric facilty – the relationships are usually intense, crashing and burning all too quickly. My bpd, the beatification-demonising dialectic, doesn’t help. I regard the rate of relationship turnover as a cosequence, not a sympton, of my bpd.
    Currently I am single and resisting the urge to approach women clandestinely from my weekly dbt group session. I hope finally that I have learnt from passed mistakes.
    Whilst I do not cheat (I don’t like that word), I have in recent years had relationships with three women who were married. The last one fell preganant and confessed about her infidelity to her husband. The baby couldn’t have been his as he had undergone sterilisation after the birth of their third child. When she miscarried the next day … the messes I have made.
    Please don’t judge me too harshly. Without sounding pathetic, I am doing what I can.
    Bevan.

    • admin on said:

      I had to really consider whether or not I wanted to even add this comment or respond to it. Honestly I did find it upsetting as well as triggering for both myself and my husband, largely due to issues we have had to deal with in our own life. While my feelings and related issues are by no means your fault or responsibility I still struggled in knowing how to address your comments. It has been a huge struggle for me to understand what happened when I suffered a breakdown, let alone express it to others. I do know I was unable to think clearly, I was extremely detached from reality and consequences of my actions on my life and the lives of those around me. Suffice it to say, I was in no place to be in the situations I ended up in and there is plenty of blame to go around, a good deal belonging to the person who constantly approached me and pursued me in a place where I should have been safe from such advances (obviously I harbor a bit of anger here).
      Perhaps you may not consider yourself promiscuous, however your actions speak to a slightly different story. You even speak about resisting urges, which point to you struggling with and issue regarding sexual impulses, not relationship impulses. It is hard for me to be as objective as I usually try to be here, I feel that you are struggling with issues and yet you are obviously unwilling to really face some of your problems. Men, or women, who go into treatment centers where people are at their weakest emotionally, and psychologically have predatory issues in my opinion. After going through an ordeal regarding facilities and the issues that go on in there, more so when people are not in a mindset to actually understand their thoughts and emotions. The fact that they are unwell would most likely be why the “relationships” crash and burn so fast, because they are created most often whilst the person is in a sick and sometimes delusional mindset, outside of their comfort zone and away from those who they often depend on emotionally. I agree that erratic and tumultuous relationships are most often a consequence, although at times I am sure it may be related more than we are aware.
      Not really trying to judge you I do have some things to say to you. Being involved with people who are married, even if you are not, is in fact cheating. You are willingly involved in a relationship with someone you acknowledge whom you were aware of as being in a committed relationship, not having any regard to the harm you are doing not only to the person you are involved with, but their partner and family as well. I just can’t sit back and say, its not wrong or a big deal….it is period no exception no excuses. I think I would really sit down and explore why you feel a need to seek out someone, more so someone who is unavailable and attempt a relationship that by default is destined to crash and burn causing harm to everyone involved and ruining peoples lives for your own personal gain. I feel as though you really need to work on you much more before attempting a relationship with anyone, the first relationship you need to build and grow is the one with yourself, in my opinion. Another word of advice would be to stay away from people who are in ANY type of relationship. Thanks for reading, and for sharing your own struggles and perspective.

  3. Karl Knight (@karlknight79 ) on said:

    Promiscuous isn’t down to bpd I hate cheating and sleeping around, like you say its the start of the process towards bpd. If I hadn’t found love I would probably sleep around because i’d be looking for love.

  4. Randi Kreger on said:

    I am trying to determine whether people with BPD are more likely to have affairs and why. I am not clearly seeing your opinion. Would you say yes or no and why? This is often talked about by partners. Please send yr answer to Randi@BPDCentral.com

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