Borderline Metamour

LauraJanae

New member
My partner’s partner was diagnosed with borderline a couple of years ago. My partner and I are preparing for a civil partnership for visa reasons. Naturally I have questions.

I met my partner 5 years ago on tinder. We hit it off instantly and had an amazing time together. But I was just passing through on my way to Oz so I didn’t think anything would come of it. Fast forward to now and we couldn’t be happier. We have an amazing relationship and we have built something truly beautiful. It is something I want to protect too.

Which brings me to the bpd partner. She was already on the scene when he and I met. They weren’t poly at the time but open. A few months after us meeting (and staying in contact), she decided that she wanted a poly relationship. The agreement was that all relationships would be equal in validity and would be allowed to progress and be whatever we wanted it to be. No primary/nesting partners.

However, about 8 months into our relationship, things went bad. I’m American and all this was happening in the UK for context. I was on my way to live in France to be closer to him but I had a whole thing with my passport which grounded me for over a month. This meant that what should have been 2 weeks together turned into a whole lot more. Now, we made sure that he and her spent time together. We shuffled me around to various friends while they did. Pretty complicated but we wanted it to be fair. Near the end of my time, we decided to go to an event in London that was a one weekend only. So he let her know that he and I were going to this thing. It was the first event she hadn’t gone to with him.

Well, that didn’t go down well for her. She called him, yelling at him and threatening to break up with him and telling him he was a bad partner all around. It devastated him and broke him down mentally. This happened again I believe. Both times, I was the one picking him back up and reassuring him and giving him a boost so he could confront her about it. It took some convincing but she finally took responsibility. But that was only the beginning. Over the next few months she would just fly off the handle for every little thing and again I would pick up the mess and send him back in to deal with it. Essentially I was carrying the weight of everyone’s trauma. He even let her move in with him thinking it would calm her down. It didn’t.

I grew up in an abusive home but hadn’t really delved into my feelings. Essentially my brain had separated my memories from my bad feelings so I could cope and thrive. After watching him go through that even once, things started to crack. Pretty soon I was in a full on mental breakdown because my brain wasn’t separating anything anymore. I started having all kinds of horrible effects and struggled even being functional. For a while I will admit I wasn’t a good partner. I was so triggered that I was sending him big long texts about how this was a dangerous situation and he needed to get out. He eventually communicated that that wasn’t good for him and set some boundaries.

I won’t bore you wit details but the March after all this started, I ended up without a job and a place to live in France so I came to the UK to regroup a bit. That ended up lasting a year and a half. I got myself a living situation where he could be with me. What started out as a few days a week turned into one week with me and one week with her. Over the course of that, she made some noise. It seemed that every little change would trigger her to get angry and then he’d get the brunt of it. However, over time her focus of contempt shifted from him to me. He’d still get the brunt of it but it was always about me. She even yelled at him for 4 hours about how he and I were “breaking the rules” because his other partner couldn’t live in the Uk according to her. This was of course not true. She blamed me for certain mutual friends distancing themselves. She even left me out of her plans for his 30th. We were going to do our own parties but she didn’t even check on dates with me. When I told her I wasn’t happy about tha, she just brushed me off. I felt disrespected to say the least but I didn’t have any fight in me so I just told her I wasn’t happy and moved on. Afterwards, she tried to tell my partner I had been awful to her. He obviously didn’t buy it but that stung. These are just a few examples of about a million others.

Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and after one time of her promising to never yell again, I said I wanted to talk to her about how her behavior was effecting me. So I was hopeful since she seemed open to it now. I laid out for her what had happened and how it had effected me. I admit I was blunt about it. It was a disaster. She owned up to the fights last summer, proceeded to trauma dump on me, and then refused to take responsibility for anything else. And me telling her that I didn’t want to talk to her about her trauma at the moment made her rage quit. I was able to try again but nothing came of it. And she was telling my partner all the while (the conversation was happening on messenger) that I was being “toxic and abusive” to her. Now I’ll admit that at the end I kind of lost it. I was so over her justifying being awful to and about me and I acted in anger. Something I deeply regret.

A month or so later, my partner had a come to Jesus talk with her about everything and told her that if I broke up with him because of her, they were over too. She agreed to apologize to me as a result. It was very disappointing. She essentially listed off a bunch of things like a child apologizing to their friend because their mom made them. I didn’t really accept it but took a “wait and see” approach. Maybe it was just the beginning.

Once Covid started we ended up stuck in a holiday let of one of our clients who let us rent it for cheap. Time was split evenly between us and we got into a routine. I even was able to have a very restrained chat with her about a few boundaries she’d been violating. She was diagnosed and medicated at this point so I think that helped. I also made a real effort to communicate as positively as I could.

For a few glorious months we had some level of stability. I was actually starting to think things were turning around. But then my visitor visa was running out and we needed a more permanent plan. We talked to a lawyer and decided that we would get a civil partnership so I could move over full time. You can imagine she didn’t take that well. Thankfully because of everything that happened, my partner made sure she didn’t unload on him but she still made a stir in an already stressful time and trying to butt in where she didn’t belong. He finally talked to her about it, calmed her down as usual and that was that. I was massively triggered though which took time away from us. Time that was precious.

In the end, I came stateside while we saved up for the visa which has taken a much longer time than we wanted. Things were pretty bad there for a while and my mental health took more hits just because of my unstable situation and not seeing him much. I finally was able to get some help this year from a psych. I’ve been on meds which have changed my life. I am emotionally regulated, I am losing weight, and my executive functioning is so much better. I got a remote job which means I can spend more time overseas now that Covid is dying down. We’re actually starting to save up for the visa and cushion money to start us out. Things are good. And on the poly front things have also been good. She hasn’t really kicked up a fuss about anything and things have been pretty good.

Here’s my issue though. She is sing ok according to my partner and is getting therapy but it is limited due to the NHS being under funded. I am concerned because I know personally how one really bad incident can set you back ages. Without her therapist, what happens when a massive trigger happens? There will be so many triggers happening for her: I see a land mine if triggers coming up and it makes me very nervous. I feel like the peace we have is because I’m not living in the country so he and she has mental health support for now. I worry that when she loses that, it will be harder for her to maintain stability.

I plan on trying to have a conversation with her about things-everything. One on which she has no pressure to agree with my POV. I want to know where she’s at, and what I’m looking at going forward.

My question(s) are: what am I looking at going forward? How likely is it she might have a bad enough trigger would set her back? Does anyone have any experience in this? Am I just catastrophicing?
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I hope you feel better for the vent.

The agreement was that all relationships would be equal in validity and would be allowed to progress and be whatever we wanted it to be. No primary/nesting partners.

Is that still the agreement? Maybe you want to be "a very separate V."

His relationship with her is valid.

His relationship with you is valid.

Do you want your relationship with her to be less?

Do you and he want to be nesting partners? If so, make her aware. If that is a dealbreaker for her? Well, it's time to disband rather than renegotiate agreements for this next chapter.

My question(s) are: what am I looking at going forward? How likely is it she might have a bad enough trigger would set her back? Does anyone have any experience in this? Am I just catastrophicing?

You are not catastrophizing. You are trying to figure out a plan to cope. It's not the "sexy" side of poly -- having to deal with partners and metas getting sick, getting old, dying, etc. People tend to just think about the "fun" parts. But every patient situation is different. I can only share what my BPD experiences have been like. It's not the same because it's a parent not a meta.

I have a personal boundary. It is this: "I will not hang around mentally ill people who aren't doing their management plan."

I'm helping with eldercare for a dementia parent who is also BPD. Like the BPD before wasn't enough, here's some dementia fun on top! And not just this elder, but my in-laws too. While wrapping up raising kids, so caregiving has been the main theme of my life for at least the last 12 years.

BPD for Dad comes with a lot of emotional disregulation -- up and down moods, anger outbursts, rejection sensitivity, trying to be controlling, anxiety, irrational thinking, all kinds of things.

I don't need more patients in my life. Not because I think they are bad people. They can't help whatever it is they have. But I need my down time to actually BE down time for my OWN mental health to stay decent. I work at keeping mine steady. So I skip things I can skip.

I can understand having a slip up, but if the patient isn't doing whatever their management plan is supposed to be? Therapy? Meds? Whatever it is?

Then I can't be friends with them or hang out with them up close. If they do their plan? I can forgive a slip. If they aren't? I want some distance then. I don't need to be in the line of fire. Pass. I will skip all that.

My well being comes first. Not because I'm selfish. But because that's just how it goes with self care. One puts on their own oxygen mask on first before trying to assist others.

You sound like you did a lot of work on YOUR health. So maintain that.

I suggest you think about strong personal boundaries. Work with a BPD support group for family and friends or a counselor to help you deal with whatever "overflow" leaks on to you.

Also take steps to minimize it. Remember that she's your meta, not your partner. So your partner can deal with being her partner.

All you have to do is be basic polite like you would a grocery clerk or bank teller or mailman should you happen to cross paths. You could do a very separate poly V. And no. She doesn't have to like how you want to run YOUR life.

It is possible to kindly and firmly say "No, thanks" to unreasonable or irrational requests from your meta patient OR your partner. And let them feel whatever it is they feel about hearing a "No."

It's ok not to JADE. You do not have to (J)ustify, (A)rgue, (D)efend, or (E)xplain and get into long, windy circle conversations that go round and round and really don't go anywhere. It sucks up your time and energy for WHAT?

Sooner or later there's gonna be another wigginz for the patient. So why spend the time and energy HERE doing circle talk? Or at least, that's been my experience.

I've found https://outofthefog.website/ helpful when I need to remind myself to keep my strong boundaries. I don't know if it might help you. The BPD page is here.

FWIW, these stuck out to me.

For a while I will admit I wasn’t a good partner. I was so triggered that I was sending him big long texts about how this was a dangerous situation and he needed to get out. He eventually communicated that that wasn’t good for him and set some boundaries.

I could be wrong, but that sounds like you trying to help him put on his oxygen mask on before you even did your own. If you were triggered? Could have taken a time out. Let him deal with his partner himself.

So good for him. Exercising his personal boundaries and tell you that you text whooshing at him about her is not good. Stop.

However, over time her focus of contempt shifted from him to me. He’d still get the brunt of it but it was always about me. She even yelled at him for 4 hours about how he and I were “breaking the rules” because his other partner couldn’t live in the Uk according to her.

Was he telling you about this? If so, you could exercise your personal boundaries in the same way he did. "I'm sorry she yelled at you for 4 hours. I do wonder why you didn't check out sooner but no thank you. Actually sorting that out is between you and her. Nothing to do with me."

Her yelling whooshies at him about you? Not cool. But it is on him to enforce his personal boundaries with her and either walk away or hang up.

If he made the choice to listen to all that, and he comes at you like "pass the buck" stress whooshies? Not cool. You could tell him to stop that behavior.

If she was whooshing at you directly? Say "No, thank you. I don't like whooshing. Bye." Walk away or hang up.

Could stop talking to her unless you happen to bump into each other. Be pleasant bank teller polite. Hold your personal boundaries. Good enough. Cuz you aren't dating her.

I even was able to have a very restrained chat with her about a few boundaries she’d been violating.

Like a long chat? I prefer short.

You make your personal boundaries for YOU to obey and enforce. Not for other people to obey or enforce.

If my personal boundary is "I don't lend my things to careless people" and the neighbor who broke my lawn mower last time and didn't offer to fix or replace comes asking for my weed eater this time? It's not on him to respect my boundary. Or to stop asking me things. He can't know unless he asks. People are not mind readers.

It's on ME to respect my own personal boundary and enforce it. It's on ME to say "Nope. Sorry. Not loaning things right now. Try a different neighbor." Pleasant enough, short, and NO.

And it has to be right then and there at the time of happening with my patient if I'm going to enforce a personal boundary. Otherwise he's forgotten it, and me bringing it up again later is creating a new source of upset. With other people I might be able to go "Hey, remember last month when X happened? I was thinking on it and I wish I'd told you..." and sort something out. But nope. Not with my patient.

Another thing I find helps is "Last three words." People on high emotions can't parse too many things. People with memory problems also can't parse too many things. Dad struggles to parse long, windy, things. And not being able to keep up or understand just makes him mad. Mom does long, windy talking. I told her to stop it. If what she wants is for him to take out the trash, just say pleasantly "Trash out, please!" and make the last 3 words be the directions because usually he can hang on to last 3 words in short term memory.

What does he do? Complain she's being bossy while he gets up to do the thing.

Where before she'd be like "Don't you remember it is trash day? (No, cuz dementia. He doesn't even know what year it is.) We have to remember to take the trash out on wednesday and the recycle out on friday. (Extra data, confusing.)"

24 words he has to parse and STILL no directions for actions. So from his POV, she's interrupting him from the sky, springing a bunch of "word bullets" at him he cannot follow, and leaving him hanging with a mysterio last three words of "out on friday." WHAT is out on friday? Just pisses him off.

So you could think about keeping your communications with meta minimal, pleasant but firm, and SHORTER. Make the last 3 words count.

Might also consider Non-Violent Communication. Marshall Rosenberg did many books but this one is my fav.

I plan on trying to have a conversation with her about things-everything. One on which she has no pressure to agree with my POV. I want to know where she’s at, and what I’m looking at going forward.

WHY? She might not even know where she's at or what's coming with her BPD. And why is this conversation even your job to do?

I think you could have a conversation with your HINGE about a medical emergency plan, and then expect him to deal with his other partner himself should a medical emergency actually arise.

And if she has some kind of break down in future? You know already know what the emergency plan is gonna be ahead of time so your own anxiety around that can chill some.

You make space for hinge to attend to his other partner. You don't have to go attend her. You aren't dating her. All you have to be is polite, and share his time. And if you feel like it, walk his dog, water his plants, etc to help free up some of his time in emergency. (Or whatever chores he actually has.)

Galagirl
 
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Evie

Kaitiaki
Staff member
Listen to Gala very much on this one. I know that it's a lot to wade through, but you've got a lot to deal with of someone else's crap that's taking way too much of your energy when actually, the bottom line is, she really doesn't have to be your problem.

But I get it, I have a meta who has undiagnosed mental health challenges. I actually have zero interaction with her so I only know what I know through our hinge, and I could tell him to go tell a therapist when she's being mental health high maintenance. But I choose to listen, for now, and we are totally parallel which insulates me from the actual drama, so I don't take it on board as my issue if she's melting down over this or that. We'll see what happens when the time comes that I'm actually in the same time and place as her, but forewarned is forearmed. I can make a plan to act rather than react if she fires in my direction.

How parallel can you go with your meta? Can bf vent on someone else who is not you? Can you block her everywhere? It's certainly not ideal if something was to happen to bf...but perhaps she could nominate a contact person for you to reach her through in case of emergency (i.e. if bf can't call her.) That way you can avoid her screaming down the phone at you if you call to say bf has had an accident and is in the hospital, for example.

I hope you find a comfortable way to move forward with your plans to relocate permanently/until you are ready for the next change.

Out of curiosity, once in the Civil Union, are you intending to live separately to maintain the maximum balance of hierarchy?
 

SEASONEDpolyAgain

Active member
The agreement was that all relationships would be equal in validity and would be allowed to progress and be whatever we wanted it to be. No primary/nesting partners.
But now you're essentially marrying him?
Now, we made sure that he and her spent time together. We shuffled me around to various friends while they did. Pretty complicated but we wanted it to be fair.

Your language is consistently you and him vs her. It's like you take great comfort in the belief that you and he share the same desires and she is the one putting her foot in the door.

Experience tells me that people, especially men, are excellent at making several people feel like this at once.
Both times, I was the one picking him back up and reassuring him and giving him a boost so he could confront her about it.

Again, your language is so combative: "confront". I'd think of it more like he had to discuss this further change he had sprung on her*.
It took some convincing but she finally took responsibility.

Took responsibility for what?

In his case, I'd be wanting her to be accountable for the damage she may have caused by doing something aggressive or violent. I wouldn't expect her to "take responsibility" if she felt like my actions were outside what we had agreed or were otherwise problematic to our relationship. She's allowed to point that out. It's how she points that out which could be an issue.*


He even let her move in with him thinking it would calm her down.

I'm going to sound like the ultimate Boomer here but "honey", this really sounds like he's telling you what he wants you to hear and he felt moving in together was the next step for them.

At best, moving in with someone to keep them calm shows a horrific lack of boundaries and sense that doesn't indicate a good poly partner. Well a good partner, but especially where you're having to navigate intimate boundaries with various partners.
She even yelled at him for 4 hours about how he and I were “breaking the rules” because his other partner couldn’t live in the Uk according to her.

Again, my experience tells me that he, at some point, reassured her that your relationship had a ceiling due to your distance and your more recent plans have opposed that.

At best, he didn't pick up that she believed this until far too late. Again, that's a common but important mistake to learn from. For him.
She blamed me for certain mutual friends distancing themselves

Well it sounds like this competition between you (yes you're very competitive too) is awkward drama for those close to you.
What started out as a few days a week turned into one week with me and one week with her. Over the course of that, she made some noise.

Has he changed other things? Like I knew of a guy who just told his nesting partner he will be living half of the time elsewhere and therefore will be paying less of the expenses in the home. So he basically bailed on their financial agreement.

Other people shirk on other things around the home for time with new partners. Are you sure any of this type of thing isn't happening?
and told her that if I broke up with him because of her, they were over too

This was a disgusting thing for him to say! His mismanagement of boundaries is not her fault! If you walk away from him because he caused this mess, that's on him, not on either of the women!




even was able to have a very restrained chat with her about a few boundaries she’d been violating.

Is she ever allowed to talk about how all this change has impacted on her*? Or is it just about you, him, and your relationship?
We talked to a lawyer and decided that we would get a civil partnership so I could move over full time.

I mentioned this previously. This must have been a blindsider for her.
She hasn’t really kicked up a fuss about anything

The way you talk about her is really telling, you know.
plan on trying to have a conversation with her about things-everything. One on which she has no pressure to agree with my POV. I want to know where she’s at, and what I’m looking at going forward.

My question(s) are: what am I looking at going forward? How likely is it she might have a bad enough trigger would set her back? Does anyone have any experience in this? Am I just catastrophicing?

You need to leave this poor woman alone and speak to your partner about his hinge skills which are severely lacking.


* Your partner decided to sustain a relationship with someone who has a personality disorder. HE needs to take responsibility for that by either opting out, or managing his boundaries so well that he doesn't cause her or other partners lasying damage. He has chosen this. Put the responsibility on him. Not her.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello LauraJanae,

Borderline personality disorder is really, really hard to deal with at times. I should know, I was diagnosed with it at one time. Sometimes the person with the disorder is okay, perhaps even downright cheerful, and idealistic, but then there's a trigger and the whole world turns upside down. It's a Jekyll and Hyde situation.

The disorder manifests somewhat differently with different people. Your metamour needs meds and therapy, may need to cycle through a number of meds before she finds one that works, and needs super good, super expert therapy. It sounds like the National Health System in the United Kingdom is struggling, which is going to make it hard for your metamour to get the kind of help she needs. You are justified in being worried about the situation. She may have a bad enough trigger to set her back, although someone with borderline is usually already pretty close to rock bottom. So things probably won't get a lot worse, but they might get as bad as they've been in the past, which you already know is intolerable.

You can distance yourself from her rages as long as you don't actually live with her. Right now you don't live with her, you don't even live in the same country. I don't know how much that is going to change in the future. Is the plan to have all three of you living in the same domicile? That could make a huge difference on what you are looking at with her going forward. As long as you don't live with her, you can avoid her most of the time and you can tell your partner not to talk to you about her latest rages.

Just some thoughts,
Sympathetically,
Kevin T.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
I agree with GG and Seasoned. You are spending way too much time trying to reason with a BPD patient. It's not your responsibility to keep a metamour in line, no, not even if she were mentally well. It is her bf's job to love her and deal with her issues. He can't improve his hinge skills if you're trying to do his job for him. Step back from your meta. Stop talking to her. You're just making things worse.
 
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