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Eveningstargazer, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 155
Experience:  Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
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So this girl and I had been seeing each other for 6 months.

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So this girl and I had been seeing each other for 6 months. Things got pretty heavy in this time - we went on an amazing holiday, lived together for a few weeks and spent almost all of our time together. She wa”s the first to say "I love you" and later regularly called me her “soulmate, discussed children and our future together (even said that she would be uncertain about an abortion if it was mine!)
Now, I had already realised that she wasn't the love of my life, nor was she particularly suitable for a long-term relationship given that she cheated on her ex-bf (as they didn't see one another enough). What compounded it was her saying she didn't feel guilty because she didn't love him anymore (he still loved her...) She has always seemed to love male attention (was insecure about weight and looks and loved to be admired) and adored sex.
Anyway, we both departed for university, promising to try to make things work but within 2 weeks things had gone quiet and snappy on her end. I visited her, only for her to ignore me the entire time and to say that she didn't have the emotional or time capacity to make a relationship work alongside her demanding course, for us to discuss how the LDR wasn't going to work and the break up to occur. She admitted she had slept in another guy's bed but promised that nothing happened. Even so, she was texting this guy in front of me the entire time I was there and got happy whenever he responded.
She often said that she thought of herself as an individual, not needing to be part of a group and not wanting to depend on people yet told me on several occasions in the weeks we were apart - "I need you to be here to tell me everything is going to be alright", "I miss everything about you, I think I actually need you" - need for reassurance of a present partner? Having said this, she was often seemingly happy to keep things at arms length.
Frequently said that she wished we had met after university because she often engages in "self-sabotaging behaviours" and was scared of messing things up - but now shows no apparent remorse for what has happened? Frequently said that she was afraid that I was going to meet someone at university.
I know what to do now, how to progress in terms of NC and self-improvement but just want some closure in my own mind. When we ended she was a mess, saying that she wished we had met after university so we could have had a future/still wanted a future etc, so she surely still cared? But at the same time, she said she rarely thought of me or her "old" life whilst at university. She is now seeing the guy she shared a bed with.
She seemed to switch haphazardly from very loving and affectionate (particularly during the latter stages) to cold, condescending and rude. She could also be very selfish, only thinking of her own needs. She said that before she met me she found it very difficult to open up to people emotionally, even to her previous bf of 2 years.
Then during that week her intensive course started and communication stopped. She then stayed with this guy on a night out. How could this change so rapidly? When I received drunken midnight phone calls saying how she "so wanted it to work" and how she was "so afraid" I was going to meet someone, was this an indication that she was grieving for the relationship, subconsciously knowing it wouldn't work, hence her apparent quick move on?
Or is she just finding it very easy to ignore the situation - she said she rarely thinks of home and doesn't miss it, wouldn't rather be anywhere else than her current university etc - feelings which I cannot empathise with.
She is doing her dream course, leading to her dream job of acting, has made numerous friends, goes out to exciting venues and clubbing often and now also has this chap showing her attention - is she just finding it easy to ignore the loss? Hence the show of emotion when we broke up - she was reminded of how she felt - her insistence that she still loved me etc. When I visited and she more or less ignored me to text this guy was this just ignoring the situation at hand? - surely she cannot have moved on in just a few weeks from something so intense?? Or is this consistent with a particular personality type?
HOW is it she could move on so quickly? Is she just blocking out the feelings by being with someone new? (word is she feels "empty”) Did she just become so comfortable having the intimacy and attention of a constant partner? Are there simply people who NEED someone to be there, to show them attention? (she has certain abandonment issues, was promiscuous when younger and has gone intoacting - perhaps an attention related decision?). Is it because she's young (20) and consumed with her new life? Do you think she’s really over me/misses me at all?

Hello, I can certainly attempt to help you with this today. In reading your question through, this sounds like a case of Bipolar Personality Disorder. People with Bipolar Personality Disorder tend to have very varying emotional states and within the scope of a romantic relationship this usually means periods of intense loving feelings (we'll call this a warm state going forward) followed by periods of cold and non-caring feelings (we'll call this a cold state going forward).

Furthermore people with this disorder tend to be remorseless about their cold states while in a cold state and then tend to regret their actions when they are out of their cold state, which is likely why you witnessed her feeling bad and regretful about how things turned out sometimes and other times she did not seem to care at all. Warm and cold states do not apply to everyone at once, either, so she could be in a cold state with you and a warm state with someone else at the same time. Cold states are also commonly triggered in these individuals when they are away from their partner for any extended period of time. So these individuals need their partner to constantly be around otherwise they will enter cold states far more often and then tend to cheat and find someone else who can be around as much as they need.

Of course, I'm basing all of this strictly based off of the information provided, and in order to know for sure, a proper diagnosis would have to be done by a professional in person. This could also fall under Borderline Personality Disorder since that shares a lot of the same symptoms as Bipolar Personality Disorder.

P.S. - If you'd like any further clarification on this please do not hesitate to keep the conversation going, and I will continue to assist you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks very much for your response.

I assume that bipolar personality disorder is on a scale? My gf would often display many of the traits mentioned but not to an extreme, frantic extent - she always seemed very laid back, even unenthusiastic, not terrified of abandonment - was often of the mindset "you can come over if you want to.... whatever", but then be very loving whilst I was there.

She often found it very difficult to communicate about troubles in her past - her father leaving the family when she was young - and about her eating disorders (linked to mother making comments about her weight), but talked with me more than she ever had anyone else.

She would switch from being unresponsive and quite rude (but not necessarily cold) to loving within the space of half an an hour - whenever I showed a reaction i.e. went cold on her, she would switch back to loving and start to console me, not knowing what had happened.

Do you think that a diagnosis of this type is more consistent with the above information than her simply being a dramatic individual with poor boundaries? It seems like she is displaying an extreme form of pragmatism - wanting us to work and be together but not seeing it as a possibility given the distance. Is it possible for a secure "normal" individual to experience such intensity of emotions with someone and then just seemingly move on when in a completely different environment with a lot of distraction, particularly when 20 years old? To say that she is loving her new life and not to think of her old within 3 weeks of parting!? Even if it is her dream lifestyle.

She often displayed a lack of enthusiasm and seemingly a lack of caring, particularly over the phone, but I wouldn't describe it as bad as cold on these occasions, just unconcerned - is that consistent? She could seem very distant sometimes, not seeming to be at all dependent upon me - a typical evening may start with me visiting, her seeming fairly unconcerned by my presence, then settling down for a meal with limited conversation and then cuddling on the sofa before bed - progressively getting more and more intimate as the evening went on.

What upsets me in addition is that she was apart from her bf of 2 years for 1 of those years yet did not cheat on him until the very end of the relationship - yet for us our time apart only lasted 3 weeks! Despite this, she told me that she loved me more than she ever had him and that our relationship redefined the emotion for her. Considering our discussions over children, marriage etc, surely she wasn't just caught up in things?

It is a correct statement to say that the behaviors are on a scale. It doesn't necessarily have to be frantic or extreme, but the main concept is that there are fluctuating and very differing changes in behavior and/or attitude (which is why it could also be borderline disorder as well).
Also the "cold phase" doesn't necessarily mean that she is acting cold, it simply means that she is acting contradictory to her warm phase, so being unresponsive and rude would certainly count as a cold phase.
For a typical individual, going from talking about children and marriage to forgetting about everything completely within 3 weeks is definitely outside of the norm, even for a young woman with many distractions in a new environment.
So to sum it up, her behavior still matches a typical diagnosis as mentioned above. Disorders like this one tend to get worse as the individual ages, which might explain why your window was 3 weeks and her previous boyfriend was a year.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for following that up.
My only concern with the diagnosis is that she seemed to act in way that might suggest unresponsive, slightly rude and unenthusiastic most of the time, yet still wanted to spend time with me during all of these periods.
Her affectionate times were few and far between and tended to follow sex.
Does this change anything?

The Bipolar and borderline personalities never want to push someone away completely. They want to try and make their significant other go through the same emotions they are going through. So she'd really want to keep you close and try to have you simulate that same emotional swing.

Her being affectionate after sex is a basic reaction to pleasant stimuli regardless of any disorders.

She may also be dealing with depression as well, which would further explain any irregular behavior. Depression can often times occur in individuals who have Bipolar or Borderline disorders.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I apologise for the repeated messages, but I an very confused about this entire situation and my depression is worsening by the day.

In my understanding, it seems that she was concerned that the relationship wouldn't work long term given the distance, was concerned that I might meet someone else and was also absorbed by her new life. She only thought of me on occasion and called crying when drunk several times - as though she was grieving the loss of the relationship. So perhaps she was, on some level, expecting the end. the new guy could just be making it easier for her to ignore the situation/could be a replacement - perhaps she just didn't want to be alone...? "Not having the emotional room or time" is understandable but then to be with someone SO soon afterwards!? And to tell him that she was finding conversation contrived with me!?

As previously mentioned, her normal personality on a day to day basis, whether with me or anyone else, was fairly dismissive, unenthusiastic and more often than not seemingly disinterested in everything around her, rather than showing these things during particular periods. She never seemed to be going through emotional turmoil and was often open with me about her emotions.

She could still be affectionate when we were alone but only said things such as "I want to spend the rest of my life with you" after sex.

Could it be anything other than Bipolar personality disorder do you think?

Well, given the facts there is definitely some kind of disorder in play. As mentioned previously a proper diagnosis can only be achieved with a professional in person. It could be Borderline personality disorder, Histrionic personality disorder, or even Dependent personality disorder. The important thing to note here is that it is not typical or normal behavior to have such a change in emotions and to move on to someone else so quickly. Nor is it typical or normal to go from loving and affectionate one day to rude and condescending another and on a frequent basis. The same goes for being much colder over the phone vs. in person.

Your description of her normal personality may be just that - her normal personality. That would be when she is not in a warm nor cold state (in the case of Bipolar or Borderline). Bear in mind that what you hear about these disorders, or what you read about them on the internet, tend to be the most extreme cases and not the typical case. Being borderline or bipolar does not entail an explosive mood swing one second followed by an extreme calm the next. That would be the extreme case. The typical case is that they occasionally (every couple of days or maybe even once per day) have changes in emotional state. The change might be a warm phase or a cold phase. These phases can last several hours to several days.

Also concerning the drunken phone calls, you really can't make anything out of that because the influence of alcohol affects the brain chemistry greatly, and emotions felt when drunk may or may not be real.

P.S. - Don't worry about the "repeated messages." It is my goal to provide you with the answers you seek, so I am more than happy to help!
Did you still need any further clarification or did you have any follow ups?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Further clarification would be great.

I've spoken to another therapist who suggested a personality disorder test, taken on her behalf. The results came out in favour of either narcissistic, histrionic or borderline personality disorder - all seem to share common traits in self-image issues, short and intense relationships, lack of empathy, selfishness and an overwhelming need for attention i.e. her promiscuity, acting, abandonment issues, middle-child, need for a constant partner etc. Seems to make sense.

Could you outline some more of the traits you might expect to see from such an individual?

I'm just trying to cement the verdict as another portion of my mind says that she simply overestimated her feelings for me/decided across the course of our time apart that it wasn't going to work, she couldn't devote her time to it and detract from her course and that she met someone she really liked/wanted constant intimacy after our time together. What do you think?

Sure, I can detail the symptoms for each of those. I'm definitely glad to see that there is overlap between my preliminary diagnosis and the results of your test. It looks like it was indeed Borderline over Bipolar, in addition to the possibility of Histrionic disorder (which was mentioned as a possibility, too) or narcissistic disorder (which I had originally thought about, but some of the small details you gave made me eliminate that).

Now, what you are saying about her maybe just thinking that she "overestimated her feelings for me/decided across the course of our time apart that it wasn't going to work, she couldn't devote her time to it and detract from her course and that she met someone she really liked/wanted constant intimacy after our time together" is definitely a ration thought and would normally be within the realm of possibilities. However, all of that would normally take place over a much broader scope of time. With the time frames you mentioned she would not have had the normal amount of time needed to truly think about the situation, gauge her own feelings, and then make a decision based on those feelings. Communication would have also normally been much higher. Finally, given her stated feelings for you, normally she would have felt very torn emotionally and would have never even thought about being with someone else regardless of distractions and a new environment.

Now, for the symptoms for each of those disorders:

A pervasive pattern of excessive emotional display and attention-seeking. Individuals with this personality are excessively dramatic and are often viewed by the public as the “Queen of drama” type of individual. They are often sexually seductive and highly manipulative in relationships.

In addition to my description of warm and cold phases from above, the following also applies:
A pervasive pattern of intense yet unstable relationships, mood, and self-perception. Impulse control is severely impaired. Common characteristics include panic and fear of abandonment, unstable social relationships, unstable self-image, impulsive/self-damaging acts such as promiscuity/substance abuse/alcohol use, chronic feelings of emptiness, inappropriate mild to intense anger, and fleeting paranoia.

A pervasive preoccupation with admiration, entitlement, and egotism. Individuals with this personality exaggerate their accomplishments/talents, have a sense of entitlement, lack empathy or concern for others, are preoccupied with envy and jealousy, and have an arrogant attitude. Their sense of entitlement and inflated self-esteem are unrelated to real talent or accomplishments. They feel entitled to special attention, privileges, and consideration in social settings. This sense of entitlement also produces a feeling that they are entitled to punish those who do not provide their required respect, admiration, or attention.

P.S. If you are happy with my service up until this point please be sure to accept my answer as a show of good faith. We will continue to communicate even after you have accepted.

Eveningstargazer and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

May I ask what details made you discount narcissistic personality disorder? i have consulted with another therapist and this was his suggestion, alongside ambivalent attachment disorder.

Is there any other detail I can provide in order for us to make a more definitive diagnosis?

This line was the biggest reason that I discounted Narcissistic:
"Frequently said that she wished we had met after university because she often engages in 'self-sabotaging behaviours' and was scared of messing things up."
The Narcissistic personality would never have feelings of fear that they might "mess things up." Their opinions of themselves are too high to consider that an option.
Ambivalent Attachment Disorder relates only to attachment issues, and in this particular case there is more going on than just attachment issues. She could have this as well.
To ultimately answer your question, regardless of the details you give to me or any other therapist, we would not be able to give a proper nor definitive diagnosis without actually seeing her and spending a bit of time with her. There are small details that make all the difference diagnosis-wise in the way she speaks, her tone, her body language, and her facial expressions. Plus we are going based on third hand information. So, no, we would not be able to give a definitive diagnosis unfortunately.
Now, given just the facts as they were presented, I am still convinced that it is Borderline Personality Disorder, and that is my professional opinion without having met her. That COULD all change if I saw her in person, but all I have to work off of is the facts.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for all of your advice and assistance - I am still trying to fully understand her capacity to move on so very quickly - it seems so alien to me - I have come to the conclusion that the pace of the breakup following separation being so much faster than in her last relationship, despite the higher intensity of ours, must be due to the university environment - pressure to perform, self-esteem issues heightened due to competition - thus greater need for attention.

Would you mind summarising your thoughts and diagnosis for the case so that I can read it in particularly low times and remind myself of the causes of the break-up.

It is perfectly understandable for it to feel "alien" to you. That's because it is indeed outside of the normal social rules that society tends to follow. And that's how we define a disorder. Now, it's important to note that while the university setting MAY have expedited things, The borderline personality tends to get worse as time goes on, especially in the early 20's and early 30's. So she broke up after three weeks separated, as opposed to even more time in her previous relationship. Her current relationship may have a period of one week after separation, and the one after that could be a day.
The diagnosis I am most drawn to in this case is the Borderline Personality Disorder, which I concluded based off the intense periods within the relationship (loving, talking about children, marriage) followed by periods of a complete change in behavior (non-caring, unresponsive, rude). These seemed to cycle which fits the mold. Furthermore, she would panic when you were away and was scared of being alone, another symptom that is common to Borderline. Impulse control also seems to be impaired (sleeping in the other guy's bed, drinking too much and then calling you) which, again, is quite common in the Borderline personality. Finally, her love for male attention (and the fact that she "adores sex") fits in with that diagnosis as well. She literally hits every symptom from the DSM V (the book we use for diagnosis) for this disorder.
With that being said, what's important for you to know is that you thought you were in a normal relationship, but in fact you were in a relationship with a girl who has a severely destructive personality disorder when it comes to relationships. It's important to understand that because it implies that this wasn't your fault. You didn't do anything wrong here. She needs, at the very least, professional help if not medication as well. If this had come to light before hand and she got the help she needed, then you might have stood a chance, but unfortunately that was not the case. The guy she is with right now does not stand much of a chance, either.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I suppose the part which is hardest for me to comprehend is the fact that she always seemed so mellow (I can't her panicking about me not being around, she just said she rarely thought of home or anything associated with it) - no anger, no arguments, no jealousy - often said she never felt jealousy - and the fact that her cycles were not on the scale of bipolar pronounced but always just came across as an individual who didn't show enthusiasm, like myself. She would just be fairly unenthused/unaffected until we were in an intimate situation, when things would change.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Is it also important to note that when we discussed a future together, it was never serious planning, more hypothetical i.e. "We'll come back to Barcelona in the future, we'll leave the kids with my family", "If you go to Australia after university, I'll come with you".

When she said things like "I feel as though I've met my soulmate", "You're my world" and "I want to spend the rest of my life with you", it almost always came after sex. Does this mean she might have overstated her feelings?

I would certainly classify some of the things she's said and done as panicking:

-"I need you to be here to tell me everything is going to be alright"
-"she often engages in 'self-sabotaging behaviours' and was scared of messing things up"
-"I received drunken midnight phone calls saying how she 'so wanted it to work' and how she was 'so afraid' I was going to meet someone"

And to answer your question about being more affectionate after sex: A Borderline's warm phase can be triggered or affected by external stimuli including sex. So in essence, she was stating things exactly as she felt them in the moment.

A Borderline personality doesn't have a fixed set of emotions that can be under or over stated, they actually fluctuate heavily depending on mood and external stimuli, and this is sort of the definition of the disorder when all is said and done.