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Would a Non Borderline communicating his/her boundaries to a borderline (even he or she could) by attempting to speak the emotional language of the borderline be more successful?

Having had BPD, recovered, and subsequently had a relationship with someone with BPD/NPD in which I was in the non role, my answer is NO! Firstly, the language of BPD is not exactly the same for each and every person with BPD. Secondly, if one is trying to "speak BPD" if you will, one would more or less end up trying to play therapist. Or, one would end up essentially taking on the role of the parent that you are being experienced as by your borderline in his or her triggered repetition compulsions. I’d be concerned that trying to speak to a person with BPD in "BPD speak" would only increase enmeshment and strengthen the role of rescuer both of which really will not help out the borderline and both of which will increase the pain and suffering of the non borderline.



For most non borderlines trying to speak the emotional language of those with BPD would essentially twist your mind into a pretzel. It would take what you know to be average healthy relating and make it so complicated that you could easily lose your way in it alone – never mind trying to be both the communicator and the interpreter to the borderline. Non borderlines and those with BPD live in two separate emotional worlds and their communication styles and difficulties mirror that reality. It would likely be almost as difficult or impossible for the non borderline to truly speak the emotional language of the borderline as it would be for the borderline to suddenly clearly be able to speak the language of the non-personality-disordered.


A.J.’s Audio Program The Shame of Abandonment in BPD


Often non borderlines end up being enmeshed with those who have BPD. Many non borderlines have speculated that the enmeshment of being in the parent role may make what you say as opposed to how you say it more important. Many wonder if there is a way to put one’s limits and boundaries in "bpd-speak" so to say in the hopes that it would then somehow, magically, be better understood by the person with BPD. Many nons think that if they can back up their boundaries this also will help make those boundaries clear to those with BPD. This is often not the case however as borderline are not only very skilled at challenging boundaries but also at manipulating nons right out of the very boundary setting and boundaries they know they need and that they often do try to communicate about. Is there more risk involved in communicating boundaries to the borderline in "non-borderline-speak" versus "bpd-speak"?

I am not so sure it would be any more of a risk but it would be the same level of risk, in most cases, in my opinion, as any type of communication of limits and boundaries. What you say about the non borderline’s boundaries and backing them up and being clear mattering more than how they communicated makes sense to those who are thinking in logical ways (nons) but often will not make that same sense to those not thinking as logically or not experiencing the communication of limits and boundaries in the here and now.

The dilemma that exists for the non borderline trying to communicate his or her limits and boundaries to a borderline exists not because one is speaking "non-speak" or to the degree a non could try to "bpd-speak" but rather because the non and the borderline are trying to come to a meeting of the minds from what are parallel universes and uncommon experience. If even one can try to use "bpd-speak" it can backfire just as quickly because of the effect (triggers back to repetition compulsions of the borderline) of the "meat" of the communication itself.



The enmeshment or parent-role, in most cases, exists and unfolds in the experience of the borderline regardless of the message, delivery, or intent on the part of the non borderline. I think this is one aspect of BPD that still confuses a lot of nons. I offer this opinion based upon my experience in the years when I had BPD. Those entrenched in the active throes of BPD cannot and do not really know how to decipher the meaning of the message from its delivery anymore than they can receive its intent in age and situationally-appropriate ways that are common to the non borderline experience.

What a non says to a borderline can go awry as far and as fast as how that something is said. It is the nature of the communication gap between these two emotionally parallel universes.

© A.J. Mahari June 23, 2008 – All rights reserved.


A.J. Mahari is a Life Coach who, among other things, specializes in working with those with BPD and non borderlines. A.J. has 5 years experience as a life coach and has worked with hundreds of clients from all over the world.


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Can Non Borderlines Learn To Speak The Emotional Language of Those With BPD? – Nons