How Does BPD Splitting Destroy Relationships?

How does BPD splitting destroy relationships? Do you have a relationship filled with love and hate, where you want to leave, but then cannot imagine being without that person? Are you exhausted from leaving and coming back?  It can be draining to deal with the ups and downs.

Do you hold onto hurt and cannot let it go? Do you erupt into anger easily?

Those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) use the defense mechanism splitting, which causes them to feel extremes of either good or bad. This also causes them to view their partner in either the best possible light or the worst possible light. BPD splitting destroys relationships by causing the person to distort how they see themselves and others.

BPD relationships shift between highs and lows. BPD splitting destroy relationships in the way that the person defends against bad feelings within themselves so that they can feel good about themselves. Instead of feeling bad about themselves, their partner is considered bad for causing their feelings. In this way, they project their bad feelings onto their partner who is blamed for how they feel. This is because the person with BPD cannot tolerate the bad feelings within themselves and needs to discharge them in an attempt to feel good about themselves. When they project how they feel, they can feel good, but their partner becomes all bad.

Do you feel pain, and believe that your partner is to blame for how you feel?

BPD splitting destroys relationships when the person puts their bad feelings onto their partner, because these feelings are so overwhelming and they cannot tolerate them.  When a BPD person is splitting, they may distort how they see things. One moment they feel good and the next they feel low. One moment they feel loved and the next they feel unwanted or abandoned. Borderline Personality Disorder splitting can destroy your relationship by inflicting pain on the partner

Is the Borderline splitting destroying your relationship?

BPD splitting ruins relationships since the person can misconstrue the behaviours of others when their feelings are brought up in the relationship. Often, the borderline person is unaware of how they feel when their feelings surface, so they displace their feelings onto others as causing them. They may not realise that their feelings belong within them, so they think that their partner is responsible for hurting them and causing them to feel this way.

The BPD splitting defense mechanism prevents them from seeing both the good and bad aspects of a partner at the given time.  When you think that you’re treated well in your relationship you feel in love. Whereas if your partner arrives late, he is seen as uncaring or rejecting. Being late triggers past wounds of feeling unwanted, which becomes so overwhelming that they need to be projected outside of themselves.  In this moment the person with BPD see’s everything as bad in the triggering person as if they caused them to feel this way. When their partner stirs up underlying feelings, their partner is blamed for how they feel, becoming all bad.

When you believe that your partner is causing you pain, the relationship becomes unbearable. It becomes difficult to see any good in your partner if you are putting your past wounds onto them and making them the person who hurt you.

Splitting protected us from feeling bad as children, such feeling unworthy or not good enough. The feelings get pushed down, out of one’s awareness because they are painful. In extreme situations, these feelings become internalised and form the way that the person see’s themselves and others. Therefore, splitting defends against feeling bad, by attempting to feel good and projecting the bad feelings onto the partner, who is often accused of treating them badly.

People usually see their partner in the best possible light during the honeymoon stage of the relationship. Once their partner does something that brings up their feelings, they usually see them in the worst possible way. They may respond by blaming them, causing the splitting defense to destroy relationships. In this way, splitting magnifies the problem, making it seem far worse. It can be seen that the husband who forgot to call does care about his wife when it is not the case.  A wife may not think her spouse loves her, no matter what he says. When the BPD person is caught in the negative side of the split, anything her partner says will be seen as if he is bad (unloving or uncaring) because it brings up how bad she feels (not good enough). Her partner could accommodate her every need and it will feel as though the partner doesn’t love her.

Signs that the BPD splitting defence mechanism is sabotaging your relationship

  • The person with BPD often uses splitting when the feelings are so overwhelming that the person reacts to get rid of them; for instance sending abusive messages or breaking up in the heat of the moment. Often these splitting behaviours push the partner away.
  • Borderline splitting destroys relationships when a person accuses their partner of things because of how they feel, without examining the evidence.
  • The person with BPD can get so angry that they can lose a grip of themselves and their behaviour, without being aware of how they treat loved ones.
  • Often, the borderline who splits sees themselves as the victim, who is being mistreated. They may not see their actions as destructive.
  • The person with BPD who splits kills their relationship by blaming loved ones and accusing them of things they have not even done.
  • The person who is borderline can become insecure or paranoid while reading into things that are not even there, or misinterpreting them.
  • The person with borderline personality disorder can take things the wrong way, often thinking that their partner is putting them down when they are offering feedback.
  • BPD splitting destroys relationships because the behaviour can be impulsive or reckless in order to alleviate the pain, often hurting loved ones in the process.
  • It can feel like everyone abandons or hurts them, often causing them to look for evidence, and creating problems from nothing.
  • It hard to let go of that feeling, unless they do something reckless to unleash the anger, causing the borderline splitting to sabotage relationships.
  • Borderline splitting can burn bridges in relationships when they act in ways to make their partner pay for it or punish them, being spiteful when they perceive they are being hurt or mistreated.
  • When they break up, they often forget the positive things about their partner, until the partner has gone.
  • Relationships fall apart as splitting causes the borderline to say things in the heat of the moment and regret saying them afterward.
  • Often, the feelings are disproportionate to the actual situation.

Borderline splitting occurs when the person disowns their feelings so they do not get in touch with them. Therapy assists the borderline to deal with their feelings, instead of blaming their partner for their past wounds.

The borderline’s partner can feel blamed for being the problem. Often, whatever they say can be taken the wrong way, so they either give up or defend. In this way, the BPD splitting destroys the relationship. When their partner attempts to explain how they are taking them in the wrong way, the splitting person becomes more defensive, causing their partner to blame them in return. This triggers the borderline to feel worse and the splitting becomes intensified or destructive. In this way, the person that is splitting believes that their partner is at fault because of what they are feeling. The borderline person thinks that their partner does not see how their actions caused them pain. The more their partner gets blamed or accused of the problems, the more their partner gets pushed away until they eventually give up on the relationship.  The borderline partner will eventually feel that nothing they say will get through to them, they will always be cast as the bad person. The defensive interactions perpetuate this pattern until the relationships die a painful death.

Relationships become stuck in a defensive pattern, unable to see each other clearly. BPD splitting destroys relationships in this way.

In couples counselling, the borderline partner who is splitting will usually explain why their partner is the problem, in order to fix them. They usually attempt to split the therapist against their partner. This is exactly the reason the BPD splitting destroys relationships. The relationship will not change if they each blame each other. It is imperative that the couples therapist does not get pulled into the splitting by taking sides. Borderlines can be very convincing that their partner is the problem, often persuading the therapist that their partner is to blame for not putting more effort into the relationship. If the therapist does not recognize the splitting, the couple becomes stuck in blaming each other. Couples therapy requires a therapist who dismantles the splitting defense in order to illuminate the underlying feelings, so the person can be understood for how they feel, rather than pushing their partner away and blaming them.

All content is copyright Nancy Carbone 2018


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