The Borderline and Narcissist Love Relationship

December 5, 2011 by  : Filed under Relationships

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Of two personality types that are perpetually drawn together – the Borderline and Narcissist regularly find common attraction. Demystifying this attraction is no simple matter, but, for the purposes of this short and massively simplified article, let’s take a look at the attraction between the Borderline female and the male Narcissists. Obviously these roles can be, and are often reversed. By the same token, same-sex relationships contain the same universal attraction and often more regularly; but, why the attraction?

The basis for this, and in fact any attraction is mostly common ground. It is natural to be drawn to people of similar types. Both of these disordered personalities have incurred wounds to their developing ‘self’ in infancy or childhood. The attraction phenomena is generally thrilling at first but becomes dis-enchantingly pain producing. The big problem is that these patterns remain intact, despite any promise to do things differently.

Behavioral therapy and education can help, and help should really be sought, in particular in the cases where children to a marriage or relationship are involved. If parents are unaware of the fact that they are involved in a Borderline/Narcissistic love relationship, children inevitably get caught up in the crossfire of highly explosive episodes, and so, the cycle continues. Awareness then is obviously a key factor for dealing with this issue.

Because of the natural tendency to be drawn to a person who echo’s the same personality aspects, a similar frequency is shared – this leads these personality types to believe they have found their ‘soul-mate’. Infancy or childhood abandonment issues are the general cause, even if they eventually play out in different ways. Core-focused intervention is the only real way to deal with the scars formed from these early hardships. And never presume that a Narcissist and Borderline are unable to build a successful love match or marriage – what matters is resolving respective childhood traumas.

The Narcissist is often a giver of note – but genuine intimacy is regularly avoided due to fear of ‘engulfment’ – these are the ‘care-giver’ types. They are attracted to borderline personalities who match, this makes them feel ‘safe’. In this relationship, emotional intimacy is a non-issue. However the Borderline female will take the Narcissist male and turn him inside out – he is no match for her – it does not matter how intelligent or powerful he is.

He has self-worth issues, so any grandiosity works against him in this pairing. No matter what his desire to win – she is always much better at playing the game. If he is rich and powerful, he may wind up losing all of his money, become seriously ill, and literally fight to the death, and still lose. She will absolutely */@# him up!

This is a highly combustible mix; the Narcissist has long-standing wrong assumptions triggered by feelings of childhood shame of not being ‘wanted’, or not being ‘perfect’. They live with feelings of insecurity and or self-loathing, for the Borderline this is much the same, but the pathology differs. A Narcissist is a perfectionist who says ~ “I feel bad in this relationship – it must be my fault”. The Borderline, being better at the game says ~ “I feel bad in this relationship – it must be your fault”.

The Narcissist perpetually attempts to fix, rescue, and pursue in and attempt to flee the shame of his infancy or childhood abandonment; while the Borderline rages against him and retreats. It is this pulling and pushing which sets up an ongoing cycle of mutual harm.

There is also another interesting dynamic to these types of couplings. Borderlines and Narcissists often share mutual attractions to one-another, in other words the same types of pathology – and even more scary; any person involved with a Borderline – whether Narcissist or not, is subjected to proximal exposure. This means they adopt similar psychotic symptomology. Professionals sometimes refer to this as “crazy-making’. The same applies to the Narcissist, so in essence we wind up with people attracted to each other because of mutual dysfunction, where in most instances they are barely able to get around on their own steam.

* Please call 911 if you are experiencing a life threatening emergency and or go to the closest emergency room.

Comments

24 Responses to “The Borderline and Narcissist Love Relationship”
  1. sandy says:

    Interesting. I myself have borderline traits. I agree completely that these two types should never get together but are drawn to each other. I think from my experience that the borderline suffers greatly in this union. Because the bpd is a people pleaser esp to their lover, the npd is also a charmer. The bpd will charm to impress their npd lover, but rather than be impressed the npd sees the bpd’s charm as a treat, he must be the center of attention, and the npd will attack his bpd lover as he becomes competitive. The bpd will react to this as being rejected, causing great pain to the bpd. The bpd will then see the npd as a monster and completely remove npd from their affections in defense. The npd doesn’t know how to handle this loss of great narcissistic supply and freak out, he must be in control. So if the bpd will not, and they won’t, go back to adoring him he will attempt to bully bpd to at least have control thru fear. This pushes him further away and confirms the monster label the bpd has given him. The bpd will mourn the relationship and then become indifferent. Once a bpd’s love is lost it can not be regained in my experience. But the npd will not let go, they will have great rage towards her and go to sadistic lengths to punish her. Which is where I stop understanding the npd. Its as though the npd only wants what is denied to them. But the bpd will worship and return if not out do a lovers attention. Seems to me the npd is the worse of the two, but admittedly I am bias.

  2. Me says:

    I have BPD and my husband is a narcissist. We have been together almost 13 years. As I am also a therapist, I try to explain to my husband that it is a miracle we have stayed together so long as I can be very tumultuous. Interesting article.

  3. JOHN says:

    can these two people traits survive within a full blown relationship without proffesional support?

  4. Jonathan says:

    I don’t have narcissistic traits, but I was in a relationship with a Borderline for close to a year. It was a terrible experience. So terrible, in fact, that I resolved to face whatever it was inside me that drew me to such a person. (As they say, water seeks its own level.) I went to a great therapist and faced what I had to face. I did the hard searching, dealt with the shame, the guilt, the codependency. It took being in a relationship with a borderline to finally wake me up. And boy did it ever. I will NEVER go through that again.

    A year later, and my life is pretty cool. She’s tried to Hoover me back in twice. NO CHANCE. I didn’t even respond. She sent me a letter, I tossed it down a sewer grate unread. She sent me a package, I threw it in the Hudson River.

    • People pleaser says:

      My x of 23yrs was a domineering, misogynistic, narcissistic psychopath. My highly patient and tolerant self possesses an intense need to please that allowed me to tolerate his cruel, selfish,unrelenting ways. His constant “I love you come here” contrasted drastically by his “I hate you stay away” could occur within the same day without a fair warning notice.
      He felt superior to all others and carried his demeanor as if he was a greater gift blessed beyond all others. He would unpredictably become belligerent. He was a “Steal Joy”. He cursed. He cursed his parents with his loud, rude mouth and, the next day, would take everyone out for an expensive dinner. Chaos and confusion was the albatross he slung around my throat while shoving darts into my heart. The words I am sorry are not in his vocabulary.
      Because he gave me so very much unpleasantness to remember, I have suffered with PTSD for many years and have been divorced for twelve yrs of them, thankfully.
      BTW~ His otherwise normal childhood was traumatizing for him when, at 10yo, he accidentally discovered he was adopted as a baby when his neighbor, rather teasingly, informed him.
      These days peace and tranquility are paramount.

      • Dr. Wendy says:

        Thank you for sharing. Counseling or life coaching could be very helpful in making new goals and focusing on yourself in the new year! Happy & Healthy Holidays. Let me know if I can assists further. All my best, Dr. Wendy

    • Dr. Wendy says:

      Thank you for sharing! Great boundaries… good for you! Happy & Healthy & SAFE holidays! Dr. Wendy

  5. Suzy says:

    I was diagnosed BPD, and pretty sure my husband is a narcissist. I had to be the one to calm the storm within myself to make our relationship sustainable. The way in which I raged made any point or hurt I had moot. I finally was able to convince him how he manipulated, too. After some therapy, things are much better but nowhere as passionate as in the beginning.

  6. Joyce says:

    This article couldn’t possibly be more backwards! As someone in recovery from BPD, I find it highly insulting. Everything I’ve read indicated that Narcissists have no empathy for others. Being a Borderline, I can tell you that we have IMMENSE empathy for others. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy or DBT is the best treatment for BPD. If you would like to know what BPD is really like, please go to my website: http://makebpdstigmafree.wordpress.com/

  7. Dr. Wendy says:

    Thank you for sharing! Maybe life coaching would be helpful in supporting small goals towards feeling more in control. Just a thought. All my best… Stay Strong! Dr. Wendy

  8. P&I says:

    I’m just wondering if a borderline can */@# a narc up. Which I can confirm she can. And the narc is just watching his own life happening from outside. Cannot even resist. A bord is drug to a narc.

    What would she be able to do to a normal personality partner?

  9. Tracy says:

    Suzy’s point about her rages neutralized the points she tried to make while raging is very helpful. People with Borderline features often have very valid points to make, but their anger and rage keep them from productively communicating and making a difference sometimes. Having to hold things in is pretty tough, and can lead to another set of problems. If Suzy could share about any other help she may have received with dealing with her situation it would be really appreciated.

    Dr. Wendy, it does seem like you are a bit biased toward the Narcissist in this relationship. Advising someone to get a life coach who already says they are getting DBT and working on issues is a bit, well, narcissistic sounding.

    Best and thanks for sharing,

    Tracy

  10. Scorp gal says:

    I am BPD and Recent X bf is Narcissist the first comment describes our relationship to the T. My Narcissist cannot handle the fact that i am done with his game and have rejected/ignored him when he is the one who “chose to leave” he is now harassing me and have removed the plates from my car so i am unable to get to work crippling my income so “i will need him and talk to him” the relationship is toxic and i keep telling him this yet doesnt care..

  11. Chloe says:

    I have bpd and I suspect my partner has npd, at first all was amazing but as soon as I knew he loved me my feelings drastically changed and it’s like I feel empty, bored and he repulses me. He’s so self centered and literally thinks the world revolves around him. He’s constantly fixed on how HE feels and if I even mention problems in the relationship he just acts like nothing has been said! He cut his hand open when I said I wanted to end it, tells me he’s taken over doses after argument just standard emotional blackmail. I can’t bare to be with him anymore so I ended it yesterday but he turned up at my door and won’t stop ringing me, I’m worried he’s going to get nasty like Iv read about, any advice on how to avoid it all? Should I just carry on with the relationship even though I don’t feel anything but anger towards him?

  12. Paige says:

    I disagree with this completely. As someone with BPD and am currently trying to get away from my NPD I can say this article has everything backwards. All I have done our entire relationship is try to please him and try to do better. You were right when you said we feel abandoned, empty, Ect. Because we are in this situation. You try constantly being told that you aren’t good enough no matter what you do and abused physically, mentally, and emotionally. When your whole world revolves around someone who doesn’t appreciate you and is never loving even after begging to be treated like a human being for just a minutes at least but instead you re an object then yes it leaves you feeling horrible. It would make anyone even normal people feel horrible.

  13. Deana says:

    I agree, Joyce. “This couldn’t be more backwards”. I have researched Narcissist and BPD (of which I am BPD married to a Narcissist). Almost all information pertaining to Narcissist and BPD clearly indicates the narcissist partner blame shifts/side steps/averts almost 100% of the time in order to avoid taking responsibility/ admitting failure, mistake, wrong-doings. Whereas the BPD partner has feelings of guilt & shame regularly for failures/ mistakes, etc. and then some. I didn’t quite finish reading this article because after reading that part I immediately wanted to jump down here to the comments to see how many people commented on how backward this article is. (At least the part I read.) I’m not trying to bad mouth the author in any way…I just think it vital for the information displayed on the topic to be as accurate as possible being that this could be a matter of life or death to someone reading.
    A tiny bit on the subject- Are you with a Narcissist? “Something’s just not right” but you can’t put your finger on it. It’s called emotional abuse and it will eat you alive. You are always to blame? Feel like your going crazy because of everything being your fault? If you have BPD you already blame yourself so it’s even worse for you to be being blamed. Get out if he is unwilling to seek help along with you… Please take it very seriously! BPD is more obvious… NPD is really confusing to figure out. If your BPD you may be suicidal by the time the NPD is done with you (narcissist’s love themselves too much to take their lives) get help… You can and will make it through!

  14. Nh says:

    Wendy.
    Please help! I feel I just discovered I’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist. When I feel abandoned or rejected which is quite often I can freak out entirely like a bpd but I strongly feel is because of his crazy making! Yes I take responsibility for how I react.. And I want to react better.. But how can u not freak out when I’ve been lied to so many times, I find out he’s on sex chats and I’ve found TWO PROSTITUTE EMAILS IN HIS PHONE WHICH BE DENIES ARE EVEN THERE WHEN I’VE SEEM THEM WITH MY OWN EYES! when I saw this I Completely lost it…I was hitting him.. Screaming flipping out. I’ve told him hundred of times not to lie.. He keeps doing it Why did I really lose it ? Because he used to be an Indian monk type.. And he’s been denying me sex love and kissing for months while doing this behind my back!! How nuts is this? And how’s nuts am I for still holding onto him? He can’t even speak about what he’s done. HE SITS IN SILENCE AND WON’T ANSWER WHEN I QUESTION WHY THESE PROSTITUTE EMAILS ARE IN HIS PHONE.. HIS silence MAKES ME EVEN MORE INSANE! Them ione begin to curse and he rejects again and won’t answer verbally or on chats!!! One day he wants to marry me then not, then he loves me, then not. I’ve watched him use some young girl while we were broken up and he lied to her about him ever having a girlfriend.. When we lived together for two years! When I question him about her he says ‘she didn’t mean anything.. I was just passing time. He is a pathological liar. I’m obsessively thinking of him… And this pain I feel and loss of someone I thought I’d marry. We went to tell him family a few days before he refused to kiss me that we’d get married!! . I want him to admit what he’s done.. And apologize. I want him to see how he’s screwed up and get help.. But he won’t even speak to me now since I’ve moved out!! When I saw these sex chats when he puts on a show that he’s so pure and is like a monk and will live a celibate marriage and denies me intimacy and does this behind my back.. It’s just too much… And I feel so empty and sad that someone could repeatedly betray me and abandon me. The attachment is there.. The love died about two weeks ago, when he denied kissing me. Who does this? One week before I find these chats.. He says it is one time but he had a whole list of girls in his email…he can’t tell the truth! Finally he admitted he had a double mind after his of me Screaming at him. One week before he refused to kiss me. I felt like id kill myself for about four days. I told him I could be celibate but not go without French kiss. When I told him this then he immediately denied my needs and refused to kiss me telling me hell kill himself in a few years if he had to live this way with me!! BUT HE CAN WRITE TO PROSTITUTE AND have SEX CHATS? it’s like he can’t even deal with himself. I feel so much pain. I just want to say goodbye lovingly. I’m leaving the city where he lives. I’ve given all to this man. What do I do. Please help me. I feel crushed. How can I get myself through this? I have no friends here and people don’t want to hear me. I feel so alone.

  15. Lost says:

    Oh boy! I’m really lost now.
    Who’s the bad guy and who’s the good guy? The BPD or the NPD?
    And weren’t all BPD narcissists gone 3 levels “up”?

    I say this because I’m deeply in love with a BPD and I recognize some traits of NPD in myself. I’m the rescuer, fixer type, that’s for sure. I try to be “perfect” and project this composed controlled put together image that’s not what gooes on inside. But I do feel empathy and it’s not that everything revolves around me. Au contraire, I revolve around my BPD and foget about myself taking care of him. But he does the same! He can be quite a narcissist too!

    Sometimes he makes me feel a lot of pain and shame. I’ve made him feel ashamed in payback, like revenge, to try to make him taste his own medicine. So it’s a vicious circle. We are both in therapy, and trying to make it work, because there is still love. But I’m starting to feel exhausted and if there are issues I have to resolve about myself, core traumas to be resolved, it’s pretty difficult doing so with someone belittleling me around.

    So I’m totally confused now. If I’m NPD, then I’m the bad guy, but my BPD has been far worse with me. So how is it? Who is right and who is wrong?
    And after reading all the posts, I may say that I agree with those saying that labels are really dehumanizing.
    Because, after all, the person I love is him, not the BPD condition, but him, the guy who suffered a lot and is still angry, but also has a great personality and positive aspects.

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