Saturday, September 9, 2017

How to deal with an abusive so-called "borderline" girlfriend

Subsequent to our conversation, my friend from the previous post asked me as a therapist, "How should I have dealt with my girlfriend?"

It is challenging, if not impossible, to deal with someone who is not well-differentiated, i.e. anyone who does not see herself or appreciate you as a separate human being. You will be blamed for how they feel and, the more narcissistic they are, the more frantically they will attempt to empower themselves by degrading you.

At the beginning of his relationship, my friend's girlfriend would say "you upgrade me". A more narcissitic person would never admit that she felt inferior. She would just flatter you... until she flipped, and then she'd begin to degrade and discard you. These are very primitive defenses that even professionals have a hard time disturbing.

How to deal with someone like this in a relationship... Well, in my opinion, the only way to respond is to draw very clean lines while reminding yourself constantly, like my friend tried to do, what is "mine" and what is "yours". People in abusive relationships tend to be empaths who get caught up in the abusive person's projections, so it is good practice for us to step back and not take the verbal abuse too personally. Calling out "criticism", "blame", "swearing" helps you identify where someone is crossing the line. You can also put up your hand and say "stop" (as recommended by Beverly Engel; author of the best book on emotional abuse IMHO). 

Finally, drawing boundaries may help you deal with abuse, but it may not help your abuser. He or she is the one who needs to deal with their abuse. 

As a friend reminded me last night: abusive individuals are like vampires who can suck their victims dry. They don't need your help.  What they need is a stake through the heart, preferrably driven by someone they can be accountable to. And since you will almost always be seen through the smoke of their own projections, that person is unlikely to be you...

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