BPD and Pushing loved ones away

Probably one of the biggest ways to tell that your borderline loved one is experiencing BPD symptoms is when they start pushing you away.

This is sort of a hard one to explain, but I’m curious to hear feedback from other borderlines as to why you push people away, or from non’s as to what it feels like to be pushed away.

For myself, it usually goes something like this. I’m fine and life is great and then I start to feel “off”, sometimes by a trigger I am well aware of, and other times by a trigger that I never noticed happened. My symptoms start intensifying, my thinking gets more and more distorted, and things start hurting more. Little things like someone not responding to my text message quickly (especially if my text was something where I felt like I was opening up emotionally), will start to worsen my symptoms. For myself, I try to talk myself through those moments, but it doesn’t really seem to matter because once BPD sets in, its very hard to get out of it. These “little things” keep happening, everywhere, and heaven forbid other triggers occur, and the whole thing just grows and morphs and keeps gaining more strength.

On one hand, I want or need that person SO badly that I feel like I will literally die if I don’t get them close to me. I guess I already feel abandoned at this time. This need for them, however, hurts and is terrifying. It hurts because there is no possible way in the world that they could be there enough for me to ease the emptiness and the need that I have, because it’s just too big and too intense, and so any attempt they may make just causes me more pain because it feels like they’ve failed me because they must not have cared enough, etc, because I still hurt. It’s terrifying because what if they don’t try? Or what if my need burdens them? What if this need is what causes them to say “Goodbye” because it’s too much for them to handle? It’s also terrifying, because the hurt is already too overwhelming, and if accepting their love and care does not help, and therefore causes more hurt, I just don’t know if I will make it. Again, it feels like I will literally die. This is a time that is the epitome of Marsha Linehan’s saying that “People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.” This phase is like being one gigantic large severe open emotional wound.

This hurt and fear, and fear of more hurt and abandonment makes me extremely push people away, usually the very one(s) I need the most. I need loved, but I’m too sensitive, hurt, and afraid to accept it.

Another fear, at least for me, is that I worry I will hurt them. I know what I’m capable of. I know how sensitive I am. I know what I’m battling and the behavior I am trying to control, and what if that person gets close to me and I can’t control myself? I don’t want to hurt them.

So with all of these elements, I usually come to the destructive and counterproductive conclusion that I should just push them as far as away as possible until I’m “ok”.

And so now that leaves me with wondering about other borderlines; who relates, or who has things to add (I’m sure I missed stuff), but also wondering what this feels like for the non-borderline…for the loved one that’s being pushed away.

My boyfriend and I were sort of talking about this earlier today. He said he wants me to stop pushing him away and to let him in and let him help. I guess I have a hard time understanding that he would actually want to help. I tend to believe that no one wants to deal with this because no one ever has. My emotions were always a burden and I always got dismissed, ignored, and brushed off, or even verbally hurt for having the emotions and needs. However, I’m not sure how to let him in, how to communicate what I need, or…I just don’t know how. I also don’t want him to see me like that. He will think I’m crazy for sure. 😦

Is it more hurtful to push them away, or to let them in and to experience you like that suffering under the symptoms?????


148 thoughts on “BPD and Pushing loved ones away

  1. I need help, I am hurting a lot right now.

    She told me she has BPD before we started dating(march 2016), it was all good and happy for the first 6 months then our relationship was on and off , one day she will be so all over me like screaming her undying love for me then next day she’ll be so cold and numb. I always feel like I am in a maze with her, trying to crack the code. I know we truly love each other, we have this very deep connection with each other.We broke up last jan8 because she said she need time and space to have the pain away, i let her. Told her that I’ll wait and will always be there for here. After 3 weeks we got back together, so sweet and happy then boom, she break up with me again. She partied and drink, met new friends, she had a relationship last april then they broke up first week of june, the night after they broke up she contacted me and came back to me and opened up because I am the only person that knows her better than anyone, she told me that she cannot get over me and still love me and that her panic attacks is back and she told me that she was locked up for a week because she tried to commit suicide/harm herself, and said that it was all because of me. We agreed to take it slow this time, went well for few weeks but then she kept pushing me away for so many times after, i know her biggest fear is abandonment that’s why I always keep reassuring her that I won’t leave her and that I am willing to help her and do my best to understand her as much as i can. I spent months studying, reading articles about BPD, watched youtube videos and asked for some advices. Okay so skipped..Yesterday was her bday, I am away so i wouldn’t be there with her so instead I ordered her favourite food online and some cute stuffs and chocolates online to have it deliver at her door. I know she hates surprises so I informed her ahead of time that I ordered some food and it will be deliver at 5pm so she wouldn’t be shocked. She wasn’t responding to my messages but she was online and I was pretty sure that a notification popped out on her phone screen with the view of my message without even opening it.. Then the clock struck 5pm and then she replied saying “don’t” ‘holy fuck” “i don’t want this shit”, i told her sorry that she didn’t liked it and that she can throw it away in the garbage, then she started saying “I hate you for being like this” “you’re crossing my boundaries this is disrespecting”. i asked if it was already delivered, she said yes and that she refused it, and then she started again with “i don’t want any gifts”, I asked her if she can call the restaurant and inform them to deliver it back, I even begged her to accept those simple little things, but she was so stubborn saying “no” “I don’t need this shit” then she started saying ‘you’re not good for me” “I am soo stupid to have a good heart and always see the best from people” and started to pushed me away with more heart-wrenching words, I told her to stop and calm down and plead her not to throw more awful wwords at me because I am hurting. She bombarded me with hateful words like “leave me the fuck alone” “And this time I am serious, I’m leaving” . I asked her if she wants me gone she answwered yes and she told me that she still loves me but she hates it and she just can’t and she tried and she’s so done now this time. I told her that she’s breaking me into very tiny pieces again. She then said “I don’t fking give a shit, you brought that to yourself’ “do me a favour..and leave me the fuck alone” “I swear I’ll get a restraining order if I have to” “I’m done’. After those words, i never bother to reply and close my phone. She blocked me. And now here I am all devastated…feeling so down. I know I should walk away and heal myself but.. It’s just hard to leave and let go of someone that you have a very deep connection with.

    1. Hello. I am very sorry to hear about this. I can only imagine what it must be like for you. Does she go to therapy? It sounds like you’ve done everything you possibly can though I have to say that it does seem like the best thing right now would be to take care of yourself. I’m sorry.

    2. Shann, I’ve been there and understand your pain. My break up was three years ago, but she still calls me from random and spoofed numbers, strikes up anonymous text conversations and when she senses I know it’s her, she disappears,

      There is this strange connection that neither of us understands. I could easily change my number, but worry how she would react to a message saying this number is no longer in service. And I honestly don’t know how I would feel without the connection that has lingered for three years even through silence. This has been a colorful journey and I’ve learned so much…hurt so much…cried so much…healed so much.

      She is a waif and never said awful things, but the silence and numbing was devastating. We worked together and even after the breakup, I would randomly leave her favorite candy on her desk a few times. We would pass by each other and she’d look away like a frightened child. And when we were at the same work functions, I could see and feel her pain. It was like she was having a meltdown. My presence had that much of an impact on her. She was withdrawn at work and didn’t socialize much, but after the breakup she walked around like a zombie. I witnessed a dramatic difference in her and I felt responsible since I walked away after weeks/months of silence.

      I left the company a year ago, but right before I left, I came to work to find the candies and little trinkets that I had left for her months earlier on my desk with a typed note, that said something like, “This has to stop. Please stop leaving me things…if you don’t stop, I’m going to report you.”

      The note sealed the deal for me and I never responded, but I think that’s what she wanted–a response. The note came out of left field…I left her candy five months earlier. I don’t know what she was going to report, but I was saddened to think that she would even consider jeopardizing my job.

      A month later after I had left the company, I had a missed call from her. I’m assuming she forgot to spoof her number. My response to the missed call was a short email telling her that basically she threatened me for leaving candy…we have nothing to talk about. Of course she responded that she didn’t know what I was talking about and to please stop contacting her. I responded back with short email and called her a liar and told her “no contact goes both ways…borderline”. I called her out. We never discussed it, but her behavior had all the markings of BPD.

      I felt bad and relieved at the same time. I wanted her to know that I knew in hopes that she’d understand that I wanted to help and be there for her. But that is asking a lot from someone who has emotional arrested development. Meanwhile, the crank calls still continue. I downloaded WhatsApp and she watches me although she blocked me after I sent her a Happy Birthday text. When we worked together, she used to watch me on the company’s IM.

      Not sure when the madness will end. At times I’ve felt like I have FLEAS, so I’m continuing to work on me and taking care of me. The deep connection has lingered for three years…I’m working on closure.

      Her lifeline is her mother whom I suspect also has emotional arrested development (very childlike) and her dog. Sad, but true.

      Anyway, I wanted to reach out and offer my support by sharing a little of my story and letting you know I understand. Feel free to share more of your story. You will get through this…it will take time, but you will get through it. Today is the beginning of the rest of your life…


    3. The number one thing you have to remember is, this is not your fault. You are not the problem. Please do not blame yourself. You sounds like an amazing person and you deserve to be happy. When, and she will come back, you must encourage her to get help. If she cares about you and the relationship, she will want to get the help. If not, as hard as it will be, you have to move on because I can reassure you, this will never change and you will waste your time and life trying. I promise you, there is a relationship out there for you that will make you happy and it will normal. These relationships have a way of holding us down. We think it’s a connection, one unlike we have ever had, but it’s not, its a mind game and we keep going back, thinking this time it will be different. Please encourage her to get help and if you go back, hold her to it. Good luck!

  2. I am the mother of a borderline and the pushing away is almost inbareable. My heart breaks every time because I know she is hurting and she will not let me help her. The vile, mean things she says to me cut deeply and I get so confused as to where she ends and I begin. Being that she is my daughter, I can’t break up with her. However, I am coming to the conclusion I need to put me first so I can be healthy enough to deal with her.

    My question to you is what is the best thing to do when they push you away and say horrible things about you. You said you are hurting, but it seems when I try to help with her hurting she hates me even more. Advice is welcome.

    1. Hello. I wish I had a straight answer for you. I know for myself when I am in the midst of an “episode”, I am in so much pain there is nothing anyone can do that helps. Everything hurts even if it’s with good intentions. Have you tried talking to her about this when she is in a better place? I’ve made contracts with people before. In writing. Like when x happens or when I feel x way, this is what I will do. The goal then is to follow the written contract and avoid the destructive behavior. Having it in writing is key because there is no confusion. Just a thought.

  3. This describes me too well, the feelings I have when I push pull. It hurts so much to love someone so much but to also fear loving them. The fear you will be hurt. It’s like I’m on a emotional roller coaster. I been married 2 yrs and I push my husband away all the time. Soon as we’re happy I push him away when he get too close. I always keep my guard up out of fear he is going to leave me. I have low self esteem and is insecure. He go out his way to try to prove to me he’s not going to leave me and love me but no matter what he do I’m always paranoid that he will leave ke and can’t possibly mean it. Hew stay with me after I cuss him out,call him names,go in a rage and tell him I hate him. In my mind it’s not because he love me he must have another motive. My mind is my worst enemy. Sometimes I feel like he deserve better and I’m damaged. I abuse him and play mind games but it’s crazy because I know what I do but I can’t stop it. I apologize and ask for forgiveness and each time he knows It will happen again. As my FP he’s use to it now and he is my target. I really don’t like being like this. My mind says I don’t but soon as the BPD kick in I go in a trance and I become a mad women. I make up different thoughts on my head convincing myself he dont love me and hes evil. I hold anything he do wrong against him as amo to use when I black him. It make ke feel better about my decions to belittle him and leave him. I give him the silent treatment all the time emotionally detach myself but then I feel like he is the blame if he Doesn’t come running back to me. I test him to see if he love me all the time. Its like I need him to show me he want me all the time for me to feel happy. When he’s out of my sight I start to think he’s leaving me and if he doesn’t btext or call me right away I go in a rage. I feel hurt and angry thinking all kind of thoughts. I punish him for making me feel like that. He don’t do nothing wrong but in my mind he deserve it for not responding and making me scared and must wanted to hurt me. What is more important than talking to me. I really want to change and be happy. I love my husband I don’t want to push him away I want to allow him to love me but I don’t know how.

  4. Thank you so very much for sharing this. as a non who was shut out a day after were were telling each-other that we loved and adored each-other more than words. I was broken up with via email the night before the love of my life’s birthday, the night before i was going to propose.

    So i have been searching for answers far and wide reading everything that i can get my hands on, meeting with specialists so that i can learn how to support her better and comfort her in a way that might lighten her pain. so thank you for your article it has been eye opening.

    But to answer your question, how does it feel for a non when being shut out. It nothing less than agonizing, it literally feels as though your heart has been ripped out and you are dying. but you get past the initial loss the real pain setts in, and i’ll call that hopelessness, when you don’t know how to help the one you care most for you search. you search for anything that could possibly provide some form of anything that could help. and when you fain and fail again and worry that you are making it worse it is more terrifying than i can put into words with out breaking down and bursting into tears. so thank you again for your insight I will always be devoted to her as she is my person and i can only hope that one day i will be hers again. but until that time, i will love and support her as best i can as her friend.

    Can i ask all of you that have vastly more experience than me. I have been reaching out each day with little encouragements and or telling her i love her and am and will always be devoted to her. sometimes she responds sometimes not and sometimes pushes me away further. am i going about this wrong should i give her space? my only fear is that she might think i am giving up if i do that. and i will never give up on her. but i also don’t want to make it worse or cause her any more pain. any suggestions? all would be greatly appreciated.


    1. Hello. I’m glad this post has been helpful for you. I agree that if you stop texting her she may view that as abandonment. It’s such a fine line though to know for sure. She hasn’t given you a sold response to leave her alone so I guess it can’t hurt. Never forget to take care of yourself also. I wish you both the best. Some jobs will tell you to run…that makes me sad because I know we can be difficult but we deserve to be loved and unfortunately just need taught how to be.

    2. Sorry that you are going through this Simon, I can definitely relate: mine ‘ghosted me’. We had a great relationship and never argued or really even disagreed. There was little if any stress between us. We had decided to get married….she moved in….we ordered our rings (all on her prompt)….and then a couple of weeks later she disappeared when I was out of town for work. She blocked my phone, email and every other way to contact her including social media (she went as far as to nix each and every last person that she met through me AND convince all of the people that I met through her to do the same!!!). When I tried to circumvent her block to talk to her and ask her why she had done this she called the cops and threatened to file a RO against me (even though I have no history of violence, criminal history nor had I so much as raised my voice to her during the 2 years that I was with her!).

      This happened 3 years ago and I have never spoken with her since……its a brutal disorder.

  5. I was recently diagnosed with borderline which came as a massive shock, but considering my actions, impulses and everything else I do and find I have no control over, I’m actually not surprised at the diagnosis!
    I push people away because I fear they will push me away. My greatest fear is rejection and i avoid getting involved in relationships as I feel that as the person gets to know me more they will begin to dislike me and invariably rejet me. In fact, to me this is inevitable. I feel like I’ll never be good enough and in order to avoid their rejecting me and dealing with the hurt i would rather push them away. The strange thing though is that I do this subconsciously.

  6. To Simon Johnson above: as we always say, no two people with BPD are the same, however I used to keep in touch with my BPDex to reassure her she was still loved and that I was there for her. The last time she left I pointed out she was the one leaving & told her I was not abandoning her – she was choosing to end it. I would be there for her but would not be the one to make first contact with her anymore. The decsion to contact is hers and I think that is best as you are showing them respect and if it is really over it allows them to move on. That may come across as me not loving her but nothing could be further from the truth. I love her enough to let her go & if being in a relationship is going to hurt her I’d rather someone else did the hurting. Beautifully Borderline says above that she “simply can’t be in relationships” and as much as it hurts those of us who love them this is true of most people with BPD.

  7. Hi, I’m here because for the two last years, I’m in love with a person who surely have BPD (we can’t be sure because she can’t have a therapist and a diagnostic) and I really don’t know how to do anymore..
    We were dating since february last year, and she broke up in december. I know she loves me, but she wasn’t sure and wanted time to think about it, so I just let her the time she asked. However we’re not dating anymore, we stil talk every day. Sometimes she’s excited, happy, needy. Everything seems perfect, but at other times, she’s cold, angry at me, she pushes me away, saying me things like “juste leave me alone”, “you don’t understand” or “you’re like everyone” “I hate people”, and she isolates herself, making bad things like selfharm or juste laying and crying in bed for hours. So now when she asks me to let her alone, I really don’t want, but it can make her angrier. When she’s angry or depressed, everything I say make the situation worse. In this moments, I maybe should let her, taking time for myself too because it’s so stressful, but I just can’t. And if I say something bad, or if she doesn’t understand what I meant, she’ll think about it for days and months.
    If I take time to answer, don’t answer to a call or have to stop talking (for example to make food or anything), she will start isolating, thinking I don’t care about her. She often thinks I’m not honest, that I’m egoist and I’ve never loved her. And even if I repeat that I love her everyday, it still happen. I want to help her but she doesn’t believe me..
    There are a lot of things about boundaries when you search about BPD, but I don’t know how to put them, and I’m too scared of letting her alone. I am scared that one day, I stops talking with her, and she kills herself. She often says things like “I can’t anymore” “I juste wanna die” “I’m tired of being alive” and I’m so stressed.
    I try everyday to distract her, but it’s difficult. We don’t have a lot of things to do, and she easily get annoyed by the rut. She has difficulties to starts new activities or to focus a long time. I always am scared that she hurts or ruins herself.
    We can’t have help from her parents, and then she can’t have therapy. Futhermore, she isolates herself so she doesn’t talk with other people when she’s down, and I don’t have anyone to talk about these things. Everything I try fail, and I just am seeing her dying little by little.
    I’m sorry if there are mistakes, I’m french and here because I don’t find BPD communities in french.
    Thank you for your attention.

  8. Nons spend months and years yearning for their borderline person, their hearts breaking anew every time a little push-pull game is played all over again, never seeing their dream come true. I was married to a borderline man for 10 years and after that, he confided in me for several years about his new loves. I believe he is not capable of any real love. I was thrown away at the drop of a hat, and his subsequent girlfriend too. She fared even worse than me, a lovely sweet lady whose only crime was to love this cold-hearted, selfish man. Put-downs and rejection all the time. I saw her being eroded from a bubbly, pretty, confident girl into a depressed, hopeless old woman.
    She suffered a severe breakdown and years of depression, spending two years in a clinic. No wonder, he told me he did not love her at all, but her financial contribution was what he needed. For years, she passed her entire pay check on to him, but when she became ill and unable to work, what did he do? Threw her out and immediately started looking for his next financial resource, dating a series of women and telling me that he was madly in love after the first date every time. All the while complaining to me about “all these women” who keep “dumping” him.
    Let’s be sane and realistic. Love is not something that you switch on and off as it suits you. It does not play hurtful games with the partner. It is enduring, honest and giving. It is not all about “me”. The hurtful stuff is not love, it is the borderline’s damaged psyche compelling him to play little games to feed some emotional need. It is not love. Please note, it is not love. Not even close. If you are hanging on to your borderline waiting for that so-called love and deep connection to shine forth again, the sun to break through again, let me explain to you: there was no love in the first place. You met his primitive emotional need in the beginning, but the likes of a mature, enduring, mutually giving relationship based on trust and respect will never materialise.
    My ex is a master at wearing a mask, he can pretend deep love very easily (for a short while). To manipulate women.
    I guess there can be no normal relationship with a borderline unless he gets years of therapy and shows real change. Number one, the ability to love positively, honestly, healingly and enduringly, without blame, even in the bad times. No more games, not more push-pull. My ex did not once realise in the slightest how much he hurt me or his girlfiend.
    My heart bleeds for all the nons who hang on for such a long time, hoping against hope for a few crumbs of acceptance and affection. My ex’s girlfriend spent about 15 years hanging on, deeply unhappy in the relationship, only to end up as an aged, rejected, lonely, destitute woman finally understanding that she was used – taken for a ride – for 15 years. In that time, she could have been with some great guy who is not scared to love openly, deeply, persistently and positively. She used to be a most loveable, cheerful woman who is now basically destroyed.
    As for me, my self-esteem was also destroyed and I wasted the best years of my life on someone who saw me as nothing more than a bundle of bucks.

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