As I was reflecting on the BP/NP’s changeable, erratic, and frequent reversals in thoughts, feelings, and actions, it became clear to me that they are constantly and often suddenly changing things around. This creates much confusion and bewilderment for you.
For example: They’ll be fanatically focused on one thing, e.g. moving to the Baja, buying a new car, socializing with a certain person, and by the time you’re finally agreeable, the BP/NP seems to have forgotten about that passion and may even be embracing the opposite idea. Now you feel muddled, disoriented, and also annoyed or angry.
Why do they do this? Several symptoms of the disorder can help explain this.
BP/NPs are always in the NOW.
They frequently refuse to discuss or even think about anything in the past—which includes 5 minutes ago. They talk about the future but usually in fanciful and unrealistic ways. To the BP/NP this moment, this feeling, this idea right now is the only one that’s important. That’s why they have such passion, zeal, and emotional reactions. All their energy is focused on this moment. This can be very exciting, but also overwhelming and out of control. It also makes it hard to discuss anything else, make future plans, or trust anything they say.
BP/NPs have very poor memories.
Their extremely strong emotional reactions to things in the moment seem to result in fewer memories being put down. When one moment is over, they’re into the next moment. They can even contradict themselves in the same sentence, because they don’t remember what they just said. This is totally crazy-making to you. It’s deeply frustrating when you’re hurting from what they’ve said or done, and they seem to have completely forgotten it.
BP/NPs just want to feel good.
They spend almost all their energy trying to be in control, which they think will make them feel safer and happier. Their emotions are often so strong, variable, and unhappy that they spend tons of time on trying to feel good. They pay very little attention to how you’re feeling and what you want. They try hard to get you to go along with their ideas convinced that they’ll feel better if you do. If they can’t get your cooperation by being pleasant and appealing, they’ll flip to attacking and blaming, and then back and forth. Their focus is entirely on convincing you that they’re right and you should agree that they often forget what they really wanted in the first place—to feel good.
The BP/NP’s plans often fail.
BP/NPs are easily sidetracked by their changeable emotions, competing goals, lack of memories, and fears of looking bad. People with BPD are usually very poor at planning or following through. While those with NPD are often so single-minded that they forget about the other people and events that they need to arrange in order to reach their goal. So, they end up with a lot of failures. Their inner fears and vulnerabilities demand that they blame others for things that fail, and quickly move onto the next new thing—which they’re convinced will be fabulous.
BP/NPs have little empathy.
They’re barely aware that you’ve been inconvenienced, upset, or confused by their sudden changes of ideas, feelings, or reactions. They’re not good at reading body language or facial expressions in others. They typically misread others’ reactions as primarily negative and threatening. So, they’re always on the defensive, trying to save their own shaky self-esteem rather than tuning into what is happening for you.
What can you do?
- Remember that most of what BP/NPs say they want to do, or are going to do, will never materialize.
- Always have a plan B for yourself and your kids.
- Try not to take anything they say or do personally. They’re in their own peculiar fantasy world.
- Don’t attack back. That will only make things worse.
- Keep your eye on your own goals and keep moving toward them.