Is my boyfriend Borderline or Abusive?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Is my boyfriend Borderline or just abusive? My boyfriend has huge mood swings (Up and down almost daily) and wants to control who I see and what I do. He wasn’t like this in the beginning.

When he’s down, he imagines all sorts of terrible things and gets really angry. He gets upset if I see my friends and says that couples should do everything together. He thinks that the whole world is conspring against him and he doesn’t trust anyone. If I cancel plans or don’t want to make love he freaks out and says, are you seeing anyone else? He always thinks that i’m doing something wrong..If he’s sick it’s because of the “stress” of this relationship, or he’ll say, I know that I’m not in a safe place, I can feel it in my gut..He breaks up with me constantly and seems to feel better if I cry and become emotional. Then he’s affectionate. All problems are considered mine, though..

He has a terrible love resume, I’ve never been unfaithful but my world has become small and I doubt myself constantly, I think, could I be those terrible things that he says about me? He says I’m difficult and nebulous, secretive and that he doesn’t trust me..I am kind and supportive and loving with him but I always end up apologizing for someone that I didn’t do wrong..Recently when we were out he imagined that some guy in a bar was looking at him the wrong way and i had to talk him out of picking a fight with this man! I do not think this man was looking at him.

Last week he had a full hand scraped knuckes..I’d had enough..I just broke up with him and he won’t talk to me, wrote to me calling me all sorts of terrible things and said, “you will never hear from me again” I feel sad and, I am worried about him..I tried to explain that he needed some help. My friend has a brother with BPD and she says it sounds like my boyfriend. I’m very upset and i feel like, once again, I’ve done something wrong..Please help, I’m really struggling but i don’t want to get pulled back in, to all of that pain etc.

A: Love doesn’t grow in an atmosphere of fear. Love shouldn’t require constant explanations and confrontations. Love doesn’t exact “proof” in the form of emotional pain. To answer your question: I don’t know if your boyfriend is diagnosable as “borderline.” A diagnostic label doesn’t matter. It’s enough that he is controlling and demanding and suspicious. You are constantly walking on eggshells and second-guessing yourself. Instead of feeling cherished and excited, you feel upset and diminished.

I’m very, very sorry that your boyfriend is in such pain that he treats you this way. But whatever his pain, he doesn’t have the right to make you feel as bad as he does. You don’t deserve the anger and accusations. I hope you care enough about yourself to maintain the breakup. Unless he gets some solid therapeutic help and sticks with it, this is unlikely to change.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Mar 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). Is my boyfriend Borderline or Abusive?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/03/24/is-my-boyfriend-borderline-or-abusive/