“Hello. I love you. Won’t you tell me your name?”  Boundaries and Borderline Personality Disorder — That’s what this post is about.



When I first meet someone, I know that all of my insecurities come up. I desperately want everyone to like and approve of me.  Of course, this probably stems from a childhood in an invalidating environment, but knowing that doesn’t make it much easier to navigate this world as an emotionally sensitive person.

When it comes to relationships (friendships, in particular), I tend to go through phases. I am just coming out of a phase where I had literally pushed all but one friend and my boyfriend away.  I had some close friendships, but I sabotaged them beyond repair, leaving myself all alone.  It’s interesting how someone who is so terrified of being abandoned has set the stage for it and orchestrated it so many times. 

The other extreme is that I can come on really strong.  It’s an issue of boundaries really.  

When it comes to complete strangers, I’ve gotten a lot better. I used to over-disclose my business (really personal things) within the first conversation I’d have with someone — even if I might never see that person again. Maybe, deep down inside, I hoped that the “right” person would hear my story and give me some wisdom to help me heal.

When I realized that most of the time, after revealing way too much of myself to someone I didn’t know, I would feel “dirty,” or embarrassed, I began to apply the skills I was learning in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) to such opportunities. That’s how I was able to get better around this.

As far as what I’m noticing nowadays, I have this new co-worker — the only other female on staff. We get along SO well and have a ton in common. We spent last Sunday together bowling and doing fun things (here’s that blog post), and every day at work we end up laughing and spending time together. 

The thing is, my emotions for her are becoming intense. I went so far as to jokingly say, “I love you!” today, to which she replied, “Me, too” and giggled…but I’ve been obsessing over it the entire afternoon. Why did I have to do that?  I was doing so well holding back and reigning in the intense emotions so as to know push her way, come off as a psycho, or do any other damage to this friendship we are building.

Yes, I am being harsh on myself. I’ve stepped back, taken a deep breath, and decided that I need to be more compassionate.  I am out of practice with this whole friendship thing — in fact, I’ve always had issues with being very intense, attaching very quickly, and having issues with boundaries. Being able to at least have a couple of true friends (and to capable of being a true friend in return) is part of my idea of “building a life worth living,” a phrase coined by DBT founder, Dr. Marsha Linehan.

My DBT group leader recommended this book to us before:


Click for more info…

It’s called “Boundaries Where You End And I Begin: How To Recognize And Set Healthy Boundaries.”  I think I am finally ready to order it this weekend and give it a good read. Have you read it? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m going to add it to the BPD Resources page right now.

I am then going to study up on my DBT Skills — specifically those around Interpersonal Effectiveness.

Can you relate? How do you handle when your emotions get intense around others?

Thanks for reading.
More soon.


40 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    You're doing amazing work Debbie, even in the slippery momnets, you are staying true to yourself and not letting the thoughts & emotions take control. I wish I could set better boundaries, too.. maybe better isn't the right word, but still!
    I'm having an issue right now where I'm attaching to a male school-friend, & my lusting is nearing out-of-control! I said something, playfully/jokingly to him a week ago & now we txt naughtyness almost everyday?! Its not just boundaries for me I guess :/ but I find myself thinking 'hes perfect'
    Ps: don't tell my bf!

    Reply
  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    You're doing amazing work Debbie, even in the slippery momnets, you are staying true to yourself and not letting the thoughts & emotions take control. I wish I could set better boundaries, too.. maybe better isn't the right word, but still!
    I'm having an issue right now where I'm attaching to a male school-friend, & my lusting is nearing out-of-control! I said something, playfully/jokingly to him a week ago & now we txt naughtyness almost everyday?! Its not just boundaries for me I guess :/ but I find myself thinking 'hes perfect'
    Ps: don't tell my bf!

    Reply
  3. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    Thank you for the kind and encouraging feedback and for sharing a bit of your story, too. I do the SAME thing with putting people on a pedestal. It's par for the course, but we can learn how to regulate. Thank you again. ♥

    Reply
  4. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    Thank you for the kind and encouraging feedback and for sharing a bit of your story, too. I do the SAME thing with putting people on a pedestal. It's par for the course, but we can learn how to regulate. Thank you again. ♥

    Reply
  5. My Meddling Mind
    My Meddling Mind says:

    Debbie, great post! I relate to a lot of what you wrote and the emotions too. I find it amazing how so many times I thought I was the only one who felt certain emotions, when in fact there are so many who feel or have felt the same, not only with this post, but many other mental health related issues. I never read the book, but sounds good, I will certainly stay tuned to your thoughts on it.
    Madison:)

    Reply
  6. My Meddling Mind
    My Meddling Mind says:

    Debbie, great post! I relate to a lot of what you wrote and the emotions too. I find it amazing how so many times I thought I was the only one who felt certain emotions, when in fact there are so many who feel or have felt the same, not only with this post, but many other mental health related issues. I never read the book, but sounds good, I will certainly stay tuned to your thoughts on it.
    Madison:)

    Reply
  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the post and book recommendation. You are not alone–I can definitely relate! For me, it's usually black or white with relationships/friendships–everyone I know is someone to whom I either I can *tell all* or *tell nothing*. And I get obsessed…reading and rereading e-mails and texts; getting nervous if a response takes to long; googling their exes, their jobs, their interests, and anything else google might help me with. I am in my first romantic relationship since starting DBT, and even though I still kinda do that stuff, I have been practicing trying to find middle ground and using wise mind with my outward behavior, levels of disclosure, timing, etc. It is very uncomfortable place to be. I feel like I need to disclose *everything* to make sure he *truly* likes "the real me", but I know it's the BPD telling me to do that. And then the identity issue works its way in (I know you've posted on that before) and it just feels like a confusing tangle of feelings… Anyhoo, I will have to check out the book. Good luck with your co-worker! 🙂

    Reply
  8. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the post and book recommendation. You are not alone–I can definitely relate! For me, it's usually black or white with relationships/friendships–everyone I know is someone to whom I either I can *tell all* or *tell nothing*. And I get obsessed…reading and rereading e-mails and texts; getting nervous if a response takes to long; googling their exes, their jobs, their interests, and anything else google might help me with. I am in my first romantic relationship since starting DBT, and even though I still kinda do that stuff, I have been practicing trying to find middle ground and using wise mind with my outward behavior, levels of disclosure, timing, etc. It is very uncomfortable place to be. I feel like I need to disclose *everything* to make sure he *truly* likes "the real me", but I know it's the BPD telling me to do that. And then the identity issue works its way in (I know you've posted on that before) and it just feels like a confusing tangle of feelings… Anyhoo, I will have to check out the book. Good luck with your co-worker! 🙂

    Reply
  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Wonderful post…I could REALLY relate. I had become really close to my dietitian during my recovery from anorexia last year, and my emotions became too intense for her too. I actually told her I loved her for helping me so much, and I know that pushed her away. She referred me back to my therapist for everything that is not food-related because she was feeling uncomfortable 🙁

    Reply
  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Wonderful post…I could REALLY relate. I had become really close to my dietitian during my recovery from anorexia last year, and my emotions became too intense for her too. I actually told her I loved her for helping me so much, and I know that pushed her away. She referred me back to my therapist for everything that is not food-related because she was feeling uncomfortable 🙁

    Reply
  11. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    When I first started this blog, I thought two things: either I am going to be pouring my heart out onto the web and I would be the only one who "got" what I was saying, or, perhaps, one other person here and there would relate, and I'd also be helping out someone else. Turns out, there are MANY of us around the WORLD who all "get" it…who all have the deep hope of finding wellness — who want to understand our condition and, more importantly, take the steps to get well. I am honored to be a part of this process with a worldwide group of people who understand…like you. ♥

    Reply
  12. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    When I first started this blog, I thought two things: either I am going to be pouring my heart out onto the web and I would be the only one who "got" what I was saying, or, perhaps, one other person here and there would relate, and I'd also be helping out someone else. Turns out, there are MANY of us around the WORLD who all "get" it…who all have the deep hope of finding wellness — who want to understand our condition and, more importantly, take the steps to get well. I am honored to be a part of this process with a worldwide group of people who understand…like you. ♥

    Reply
  13. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    You're welcome. I am looking forward to digging into this book and learning more skills to help in the area of Interpersonal Effectiveness. I think you hit on something important, and I have done it too — feeling like you have to disclose *everything* to be sure that the person truly likes all parts of you. One thing I've personally learned is that MOST people don't do this upfront…they reveal themselves over time…and that is probably the healthier way :)) Thanks for the great comment.

    Reply
  14. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    You're welcome. I am looking forward to digging into this book and learning more skills to help in the area of Interpersonal Effectiveness. I think you hit on something important, and I have done it too — feeling like you have to disclose *everything* to be sure that the person truly likes all parts of you. One thing I've personally learned is that MOST people don't do this upfront…they reveal themselves over time…and that is probably the healthier way :)) Thanks for the great comment.

    Reply
  15. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    Oh my gosh. You just reminded me of the time I thought I was "in love" with my psychiatrist because I had been suffering so long and he (at the time) was the one who made me feel better (I thought) by prescribing the right medication. I totally get this. No shame — it's just part of boundaries and intense feelings. Thank you for sharing. ♥

    Reply
  16. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    Oh my gosh. You just reminded me of the time I thought I was "in love" with my psychiatrist because I had been suffering so long and he (at the time) was the one who made me feel better (I thought) by prescribing the right medication. I totally get this. No shame — it's just part of boundaries and intense feelings. Thank you for sharing. ♥

    Reply
  17. Cloud_Rabbit
    Cloud_Rabbit says:

    Ah as always your posts are amazing 🙂 I am catching up on some after being away from the computer for a few days. I hate feeling like I've missed out! (BPD thing?)

    I definitely share that trait of becoming suddenly intense with people, and also with things! Like an idea or a job or a project, I immediately think that it's perfect and I should drop everything and do that forever! And later those feelings lessen and I feel normal levels of interest or none. It makes it very hard to keep track of what I really like or who I truly am. I installed a notebook app on my phone so every time I can think of something that is real about me I can add it to a list I am keeping.

    So far I have down that I like staying up late, that I am artistic, and that I like sweet food. I hope there is more to me than that but maybe not! 🙂

    Reply
  18. Cloud_Rabbit
    Cloud_Rabbit says:

    Ah as always your posts are amazing 🙂 I am catching up on some after being away from the computer for a few days. I hate feeling like I've missed out! (BPD thing?)

    I definitely share that trait of becoming suddenly intense with people, and also with things! Like an idea or a job or a project, I immediately think that it's perfect and I should drop everything and do that forever! And later those feelings lessen and I feel normal levels of interest or none. It makes it very hard to keep track of what I really like or who I truly am. I installed a notebook app on my phone so every time I can think of something that is real about me I can add it to a list I am keeping.

    So far I have down that I like staying up late, that I am artistic, and that I like sweet food. I hope there is more to me than that but maybe not! 🙂

    Reply
  19. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    Hi Rabbit – I always look forward to reading your comments. 🙂 Thank you for sharing how you also go through this. I can also relate to the feelings then going to the other end of the spectrum. I *love* your idea with the notebook. I did something similar early on in DBT. It DOES help!!! I'm sure there is much more to you, but those qualities are wonderful in and of themselves. Good work. xo

    Reply
  20. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    Hi Rabbit – I always look forward to reading your comments. 🙂 Thank you for sharing how you also go through this. I can also relate to the feelings then going to the other end of the spectrum. I *love* your idea with the notebook. I did something similar early on in DBT. It DOES help!!! I'm sure there is much more to you, but those qualities are wonderful in and of themselves. Good work. xo

    Reply
  21. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Debbie,
    I just realized and self-diagnosed myself with BPD. I have a question for you and/or other readers…

    Do you ever feel a sense of overwhelming guilt knowing how you've put past friends/boyfriends through so much hell?

    I put these guys up on a pedestal and truly think they are amazing and I do everything to make them feel special right off the bat, and then I change my mind for some reason and push them away leaving them feeling confused, hurt, and abandoned…

    I know that shame is huge part of BPD and I need to let it go, but I feel I owe them something. Now that I know I put them through the BPD wringer… 🙁

    Reply
  22. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Debbie,
    I just realized and self-diagnosed myself with BPD. I have a question for you and/or other readers…

    Do you ever feel a sense of overwhelming guilt knowing how you've put past friends/boyfriends through so much hell?

    I put these guys up on a pedestal and truly think they are amazing and I do everything to make them feel special right off the bat, and then I change my mind for some reason and push them away leaving them feeling confused, hurt, and abandoned…

    I know that shame is huge part of BPD and I need to let it go, but I feel I owe them something. Now that I know I put them through the BPD wringer… 🙁

    Reply
  23. Cassandra Lenhart
    Cassandra Lenhart says:

    As a person who has been recently diagnosed with BPD… I feel that what you would said in the blog was very true to what our thoughts are about our emotions towards relationships and boundaries.

    I have been through phases of my friends some stayed and some left feeling hurt It's like one moment thinking the world of them and I would give my non stop attention to them. Once I realized that they are not the person that I perceived them to be, I start drifting and seeking someone knew to help me heal.

    All along, it took me a tremendous amount of pain and self awareness to see that the pain that I was trying to avoid and seek help for, was the pain that I brought onto others.

    There are several ex's of mine that I treated TERRIBLY, and it was not because of revenge or evil intentions, I just did not get the love that I wanted from them.

    Either way, I can relate and its gratifying to know that I dont feel so along… granted I would never want this disorder upon anyone, but to be able to come together and heal ourselves is a beautiful gift that life brings.

    Thank you for your courage of sharing such information.

    Reply
  24. Cassandra Lenhart
    Cassandra Lenhart says:

    As a person who has been recently diagnosed with BPD… I feel that what you would said in the blog was very true to what our thoughts are about our emotions towards relationships and boundaries.

    I have been through phases of my friends some stayed and some left feeling hurt It's like one moment thinking the world of them and I would give my non stop attention to them. Once I realized that they are not the person that I perceived them to be, I start drifting and seeking someone knew to help me heal.

    All along, it took me a tremendous amount of pain and self awareness to see that the pain that I was trying to avoid and seek help for, was the pain that I brought onto others.

    There are several ex's of mine that I treated TERRIBLY, and it was not because of revenge or evil intentions, I just did not get the love that I wanted from them.

    Either way, I can relate and its gratifying to know that I dont feel so along… granted I would never want this disorder upon anyone, but to be able to come together and heal ourselves is a beautiful gift that life brings.

    Thank you for your courage of sharing such information.

    Reply
  25. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    Hello Cassandra,

    Thank you so much for sharing your perspective and experience and for taking the time to comment after reading this post. Please be kind to yourself. As Maya Angelou says, "When you know better, you do better." Huge hugs as you walk your healing journey. Remember, you are never alone.

    ♥ Debbie

    Reply
  26. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    Hello Cassandra,

    Thank you so much for sharing your perspective and experience and for taking the time to comment after reading this post. Please be kind to yourself. As Maya Angelou says, "When you know better, you do better." Huge hugs as you walk your healing journey. Remember, you are never alone.

    ♥ Debbie

    Reply
  27. sadgirl
    sadgirl says:

    Hi Debbie. I often spill my life story to others then feel like an idiot. I wish I could find DBT in my area. I'm gonna order that book on boundaries. I also read this book Boundaries by Cloud/Townsend. Good book. Thanks Amy

    Reply
  28. sadgirl
    sadgirl says:

    Hi Debbie. I often spill my life story to others then feel like an idiot. I wish I could find DBT in my area. I'm gonna order that book on boundaries. I also read this book Boundaries by Cloud/Townsend. Good book. Thanks Amy

    Reply
  29. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    Hello there. It does get better with time, practice, and in my experience, DBT. Amy, therapist Alicia Paz and I teach DBT classes entirely online at DBT Path. That might be an option to consider. I'll also look into the book you mentioned. Hugs! ♥

    Reply
  30. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    Hello there. It does get better with time, practice, and in my experience, DBT. Amy, therapist Alicia Paz and I teach DBT classes entirely online at DBT Path. That might be an option to consider. I'll also look into the book you mentioned. Hugs! ♥

    Reply
  31. Lisa Chalkley
    Lisa Chalkley says:

    Hey,
    an old post response here! I looked at 'boundaries and borderline' in google to look for some practices and forgot what that led to, with 'us' being the 'problem' so just quickly looked for a Debbie post on the subject. My therapist wants to help me get a sense of having some boundaries that is flexible. I'm black and white around this – utterly open & overwhelmed or shutdown isolating. It's my last therapy in a fortnight, so it's going to be a beginning of a process. She's suggested making a circle with a sheet or blanket and sitting in the middle – then to make it close to me and further away – hoping that a practical thing will start giving me a mental and emotional sensation to relate to. Although this sounds really fun (not!) I wondered what other practical things people have tried to start getting a sense of flexible boundaries – I haven't done any DBT interpersonal stuff yet, so it's very new. I do have a copy of the boundaries book mentioned above, any top tips on pages or exercises that anyone has found helpful would be much appreciated, thank you!

    Reply
  32. Lisa Chalkley
    Lisa Chalkley says:

    Hey,
    an old post response here! I looked at 'boundaries and borderline' in google to look for some practices and forgot what that led to, with 'us' being the 'problem' so just quickly looked for a Debbie post on the subject. My therapist wants to help me get a sense of having some boundaries that is flexible. I'm black and white around this – utterly open & overwhelmed or shutdown isolating. It's my last therapy in a fortnight, so it's going to be a beginning of a process. She's suggested making a circle with a sheet or blanket and sitting in the middle – then to make it close to me and further away – hoping that a practical thing will start giving me a mental and emotional sensation to relate to. Although this sounds really fun (not!) I wondered what other practical things people have tried to start getting a sense of flexible boundaries – I haven't done any DBT interpersonal stuff yet, so it's very new. I do have a copy of the boundaries book mentioned above, any top tips on pages or exercises that anyone has found helpful would be much appreciated, thank you!

    Reply
  33. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    Hey Lisa! Your experience is precisely one of the reasons I created this site — to bring compassionate, helpful information. ♥ Your description of your black/white experience with boundaries (open & overwhelmed or shutdown isolating) sounds very familiar to me, and I'm sure to others. Boundaries are a tricky one. One thing I did was thought about how I could improve and enrich my life by having more balanced relationships with people. I would sometimes tell my whole life story at the bus stop and other times would run out of yoga classes at the end for fear that someone might strike up a conversation with me. Finding the middle ground hasn't been easy, but it has involved me noticing the thoughts, feelings and urges when it comes to connecting with others (wanting them to like me – used to be desperate for this, wanting them to know my whole story right away so they would "understand" me – which usually freaked people out, overloaded them, and pushed them away, and not wanting to connect for fear of being hurt.) I then took each situation on an individual basis, noticing the thoughts, feelings, and urges, remembering that not all of them are true, and asking myself what step would be in alignment with my overall goals of (truly) wanting quality connection and relationships, self-respect, and growth. I hope this helps. I will screenshot your question and share with the HFBPD community on Facebook in a few moments. Huge hugs Lisa, and so glad to have you in class at DBT Path! ♥ Debbie

    Reply
  34. Healing From BPD
    Healing From BPD says:

    Hey Lisa! Your experience is precisely one of the reasons I created this site — to bring compassionate, helpful information. ♥ Your description of your black/white experience with boundaries (open & overwhelmed or shutdown isolating) sounds very familiar to me, and I'm sure to others. Boundaries are a tricky one. One thing I did was thought about how I could improve and enrich my life by having more balanced relationships with people. I would sometimes tell my whole life story at the bus stop and other times would run out of yoga classes at the end for fear that someone might strike up a conversation with me. Finding the middle ground hasn't been easy, but it has involved me noticing the thoughts, feelings and urges when it comes to connecting with others (wanting them to like me – used to be desperate for this, wanting them to know my whole story right away so they would "understand" me – which usually freaked people out, overloaded them, and pushed them away, and not wanting to connect for fear of being hurt.) I then took each situation on an individual basis, noticing the thoughts, feelings, and urges, remembering that not all of them are true, and asking myself what step would be in alignment with my overall goals of (truly) wanting quality connection and relationships, self-respect, and growth. I hope this helps. I will screenshot your question and share with the HFBPD community on Facebook in a few moments. Huge hugs Lisa, and so glad to have you in class at DBT Path! ♥ Debbie

    Reply

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