I’ve read a few other BPD blogs, and some of them talk about how BPD affects their relationships. Overall, most comment on the mood swings, rages, idealization/devaluation, and falling in or out of love quickly. Most of these people appear to be generally extroverted. For them finding a relationship is not a problem, it is just navigating the relationship through BPD that is.
In my case, I’m also handicapped by shyness and a broad gap in social experience. In Junior High and High School, I rarely spent time socializing with peers or going to parties. Most all of my socializing took place at extra-curricular activities, such as track, music, or clubs. I never developed any deep and lasting relationships, however, because I was deeply focused on trying to make myself the best at each respective activity. If it was music, I wanted regional and state honors; if it was sports, I wanted to be lead runner and team captain; if it was a club, I wanted to be President and lead the group.
It may seem like I’m not shy, since it takes some degree of comfort in social settings to become respected amongst a group. I quickly found out, however, that my lack of social skills was not in structured, or guided settings such as a track meet, music concert, or restaraunt shift washing dishes: it was in “loose” social settings, such as parties, dates, or gatherings where there was no specific purpose or schedule other than to talk and have fun. These situations were threatening to me because they carried the risk of social rejection with them.
As a result, because my parents required me to work in high school, and also because I had high expectations for myself in terms of post secondary education, I fell into the “structured” activities rut and never took time out to hang loose with people.
Weekends were occupied by track meets, shifts at the restauraunt, and intense studying. Week days were of course occupied by school, but in the evenings sports practice, music rehersals, and even more studying took up time.
So, when it came time to enter College, I naively thought that my experience in structured social settings would carry forward and allow me to fit right in.
Well, as I found out over the course of my college education, the percentage of structured social activities (where there is a time, date, purpose, setting, schedule, and defined conclusion) was tiny compared to what is was in High School.
In College, most ALL socializing, unless you were heavily involved with studies or off-campus activities, happens in unstructured social settings. Guys and Girls don’t “hook up” after the student government meeting is over and people don’t spend their Saturday nights in a lecture room or club meetings. More importantly, when seeking a romantic relationship, ties of this nature may see a spark at a music rehersal or club event, but ultimately the love game is played during off hours and at dorm parties, attempting to “close the deal” on a prospective romantic partner through friends and other acquaintances.
In the end, because of a combination of naive decision making, general lack of experience, and a tendancy to gravitate towards only structured activities, my intimate relationships in college were basically zero. I put off introducing myself to women around me out of fear of rejection and loss of what fantasies I had about having a relationship with a particular girl.
Yes, I did have some good friendships – with people I knew through clubs and sports. In terms of meeting a girl, or just finding the time and guts to approach a girl I found attractive, however, I had zero experience to work with from my formative years.
Moreover, attending parties in College was awkward and scary, because I did not know what to do, how to act, or how to forge relationships with others when the idea is to simply enjoy the presence of other human beings.
In the end, to make myself “escape” from painful shyness and zero social experience, I tended to get drunk and act “loose” in my own way. Even though this was worth a laugh to others around me, and in some ways did allow me to enjoy myself, it was not truly an authentic case of social interaction because the alcohol got in the way of who I actually was.
Add BPD to all of that, and I quickly became socially “acquainted” with many, but close to very few.
Much of this had to do with my social decisions in Junior High and High School, and also with the decisions I initially made starting from the very first day of College.
More on the specifics of those decisions later…
If you know someone with BPD and shyness, encourage them to start out early and learn the ropes of social interactions at the very first opportunity. If you yourself have BPD and are shy, have honest talks with a certified therapist as you go through your Junior High and High School years about ways you can meet people outside of the routine environment that runs our school systems.
It’s bad enough to have BPD, but to be crippled with shyness is truly frightening, painful, and ultimately leads to nothing but disappointment and regrets.