A Reader asks:
My BPD gf and I broke up recently but I still want to be friends. She won’t even talk to me though! She said we could be friends but she won’t return any of my texts or calls. It’s been 2 months! How can I get her to stop ignoring me?
First, congratulations on having a breakup that didn’t end in mutual hatred and loathing. That’s the dream.
Second. You need to back off a little bit. You may be ready to be friends right away, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of reading in between the lines to see that she’s not. If you keep pushing you’re going to push away any hopes of a friendship completely.
There are a lot of reasons why we need space and maybe not the ones you’re thinking of.
1. We need time to really get over you. Even if you say it’s over, even if we want it to be over, doesn’t mean feelings are spontaneously resolved. Unless there were no feelings there at all (and I’ve certainly had those relationships) then there are still things that need to be overcome. If we don’t have the space to move on, those feelings don’t just dissipate. They sit there, somewhere between our stomach and our throat threatening to compress our heart into a shriveled ball of resentment.
2. Hope remains. Especially if we’re not the one that ends it there may still be some small spark of hope. That’s only further stoked by the constant affirmation that we’re a good enough person to still keep in your life as a friend. Every kindness, every kind word, every decently human gesture is a question mark asking whether or not that means feelings are still there for something to be rebuilt upon. Being a constant presence just keeps those embers stoked. That’s not in a good way if the goal is to move on.
3. Even if you know in your heart of hearts and at the very front of your brain that you don’t want to be with that person, because you broke up for all of the right very valid reasons, if they’re constantly in your personal sphere – feelings can inexplicably creep in and lead to the desire for impulsive bad decisions. And a relationship relapse that will only end in regret.
4. Pain doesn’t end with good-bye. Regardless of who broke up with who, she may still be in a lot of pain. My last break up was very painful for me, even though it was my decision. It took me a month to build myself up to seeing him in person, and that was only because the situation wasn’t avoidable. Just because the relationship is resolved doesn’t mean the heartache is. That takes time to recover from…
5. Just because you’re ready doesn’t mean she is. People, even people without the emotional sensitivity of BPD, need time to get over a break up before they feel functionally capable of seeing their ex. With BPD, that time frame should probably be extended x3. The longer and more intense the feelings of the relationship, the longer the recovery time. You need to recognize that her feelings are probably different than yours.
6. She may have just been being nice. Saying you can be friends is a time honored tradition of break up lies for the sake of decency. It’s just what people say when they break up.
7. I’ve said it before and it may be the object constancy talking, but absence makes the heart grow colder. When you’re trying to squelch the flames of relationships past, this is exactly what you need. Take time apart. Wait til she’s rebound. Allow her to move on. You can’t truly be friends if those feelings haven’t chilled out.
You don’t get to choose for her when she’s ready. You don’t “get to make her stop” ignoring you. The best thing you can do is let her know you’re there as a friend when and if she’s ready, and step away. Give her the space she needs.