Intersectionality: Polyamory and Borderline Personality Disorder May 6, 2014Posted by shaunphilly in Culture and Society, Polyamory.
Tags: Borderline Personality Disorder, Mental Health
This is not a real post. This is more of an overture to future posts about the intersection of being polyamorous and having Borderline Personality Disorder.
Ginny pointed out to me today that I have a fair amount of experience being polyamorous, and while I was diagnosed about 4 years ago, all of my adult relationships have existed within the milieu of having the symptoms consistent with BPD. I have had relationships of varying degrees of intimacy, seriousness, and spans of time. I can say that I’ve honestly failed as a partner, been failed as a partner, been very good to partners, and had partners be very good to me.
The more I read and think about my disorder, the more I think about how the factors which play into making relationships more difficult for me are actually quite central to a borderline diagnosis. And this makes me want to delve into, chart, and analyze these waters where polyamory and BPD meet, not only for my own sake (of understanding myself better), but to possibly make some observations about the relationship between intimacy, fear, communication, and the nature of relationships in our culture.
I have already said much about how our culture views relationships in general, commenting on the expectations of monogamy and the perceived “perversion” of sex-positivity and non-monogamy. And while I agree with much of that cultural criticism still (I’m sure I could find many of my previous posts which I would disagree with now), I think there is more to be said about those issues.
I think the direction for me to go, in the future, is to take a closer look at the “emotional” and “dramatic” personality disorders, specifically Borderline but also Narcissistic, Antisocial, and Histrionic as well (which all have similarities), and take a look at how the symptoms which affect relationships might tell us more about mental health, social expectations, and relationship structures.
For now, I don’t want to say too much more. Instead, I might want to go back and take some notes about how the literature documents how BPD (and the others, perhaps) affects relationship health, and take a look at some of the things that polyamory might have to help, hinder, or perhaps be neutral concerning those struggles. I have certainly been able to understand (usually after the fact, unfortunately) how the symptoms of BPD were triggered, not communicated well enough, and were significant causes of the problems in a number of relationships (even the ones that didn’t end badly). I have a feeling that charting such things might tease out some patterns, and I might be able to tentatively conclude some philosophical and social implications of non-monogamy on some of the personality disorders as well as vice-versa.
I’ll admit that this is a challenging and terrifying project, and I hope not to get blown away by the potential scope of it. I know that each day I don’t succeed in brilliantly mapping out and explaining everything, perfectly, deep inside I will try to punish myself for this failure.
Because that’s part of being a borderline.
But I hope that I am able to work through those feelings and help myself (and hopefully some of you) understand a little more about the world. I’ll try and remain optimistic.