Video Library and Short Essays

For Family and Romantic Partners

When a loved-one has traits of Borderline Personality

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

BPD News: Is it a "Hoover" or is it "Relationship Recycling"

Posted by   on Pinterest

The support group reports that "hoovering" is a misleading slang term that some use to suggest that a relationship partner can "suck us back into a relationship" after we break it off.  “Hoovering” in this context falsely implies a premeditated malicious effort to hurt their partner on the part of the person with  Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  It also suggests that the partner is somewhat powerless to resist returning to the relationship.
This concept is in conflict with the primary characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder - most notably that people with the disorder are notoriously impulsive, weak and often too consumed in their own pain to be sensitive to others.  This concept also suggests that someone has power over another that they could not possibly have.

Most likely what is happening is relationship recycling by both parties - breaking up, getting back, breaking up, getting back.

Relationship Recycling Takes Two

Excessive relationship recycling, or break-up/make-ups are common in some “BPD” relationships. 70% of our members having unsuccessful relationships report having had 4 or more break-up/make-ups. 23% report an unbelievable 10 or more.

Recycling is about both parties. The real dynamic is that both parties return to a place they feel is safer/easier than being apart.  So, in effect, the couple struggles to work together and each struggles in weakness to be apart or alone.

Living with excessive recycling is an unhealthy place to be. When you repeatedly recycle, clearly something is very wrong.

Recycling can become the “norm” in a relationship. with both parties can becoming conditioned to it after a while. Accepting this “norm” is the ultimate boundary violation – you are not treating each other well - you are not treating yourself well.

If you have been through more than 3 break-up/make-ups in your relationship, it's important to recognize that it is unlikely to get better if something doesn't significantly change.  Repeated recycling will not go away on its own. One person can’t fix it unilaterally (stop the breakups).

Is Recycling Always Unhealthy?

Not always.  Let's break this down. Sixty-two (62%) of relationships do not end at the first break-up. For a wife to have second thoughts about a divorce is normal. Sometimes our own self doubt makes us want to try one more time. Sometimes one partner promises to change something. To reconnect with a person after a break-up 1-2 times is really not all that unusual.

When there are more than 3-4 "break-up/make-up" cycles in a relationship there is something seriously wrong.  And when this happens, the likelihood of a positive outcome are greatly diminished.

Why do we get caught up in cycles?

These are the questions we need to answer if we ever want the break-up/make-up cycle to end. Are we returning to this person because we are in love with them and the relationship has a chance, or are we returning to this person because they feel safe?

* Are we afraid to be alone?

* Do we have our own abandonment issues?

* Are we fearful that we cannot find someone as good as them again?

* Are we fearful of the next step (dating, financial issues, etc.)

Why do our "BPD" partners recycle?

It is hard for us to understand why our partner is expressing an interest after they left in a torrent of bad behavior (e.g., cheating, raging and telling us that we are a horrible people). "If they don't love me, why this?" The answer is much of the same reasons as we have... plus a few others that are related to the disorder.

* Inability to deal with acute loneliness

* Severe insecurity / needing validation (from someone that highly values them)

* Shame / wanting to prove they are a good person (to us or themselves)

* Immaturity/Manipulation/Control - the break-up was just a way to get their way.

If You Want to Stay in the Relationship

The ability to end break-up/make-up cycles and stay in a relationship takes a deep commitment by both partners. This often means structured rehabilitation (counseling, workshops, classes, self-help programs, etc.).

If you are both open to restarting the relationship, remember the problem isn't going to go away without work. Hope is not enough (on both sides).

You may believe that your partner has changed, will change, is sincere this time, will get into treatment if only you come back. They may believe that the you changed. But unless there is specific work on a serious level going on - don't count on it.

If You Want to Exit in Relationship

The power to end the relationship and end the toxic break-up/make-up cycles lies with you... not your partner. Don't avocate your responsibility here. It may be comforting to blame our partner - but it is simply denial on our part. This is a common problem in the last stage of BPD relationships.  You need to step up and deal with it - as hard as it is. And, it is hard. Just look at these numbers of break-up/make-up cycles in a recent poll.

Number of break-up/make-up cycles
12.8% had 1-2 recycles before it ended (not unheathy)
14.9% had 3-5 recycles before it ended (unhealthy)
38.3% had 6 - 10 recycles before it ended (very unhealthy)
8.5% had 10 or more recycles before it ended (wow)
23.4% still haven't broken up (still recycling)

If you are truly finished with the relationship, if you have expressed this to the ex and he/she continues to contact you, it is best to go to reduce your frequency, timing, and the personal nature of your communications (controlled contact) - possibly all the way to ending it  (no contact). If you stop engaging the other person will usually move on. It's not more complex than this.

Is He/She Sincere or is this just More Toxic Recycling?

Many of us spend much time trying to figure out if the attempted "re-engagement" is sincere by the other party.

To understand this, it's important to understand the emotional make-up of someone with BPD. They are not crazy/insane - their behaviors are often predictable - especially if we understand the disorder and their history with us. So it is reasonable to accept that the person with BPD is sincere in wanting to reconnect. It is important to consider, however,  that pwBPD can be highly impulsive and those impulses can change quickly. So sincerity is not the issue. The issue is whether the person with BPD (as well as you) can follow through with the commitment.

It's also important to look at ourselves and question whether we are doing the same thing;  often we are.

Author: Skip provides support, education, tools, and perspective to individuals with a loved one affected by Borderline Personality Disorder. BPFamily is a non-profit, co-op of nearly 75,000 volunteer members and alumni formed in 1998. We welcome you to join our free 24 hour on-line support community with its nearly 3 million postings and grow with us as we learn to live better lives in the shadow of this disorder. For more information or to register, please click here.

Write comments
  1. This really says it all.

    First I went through the stage of disbelief that wasn't the most important thing in her life. How had I blown it? What was wrong with me?

    Then I went through the stage that she was mentally ill. The issue is her! Poor me for getting innocently caught up in this.

    Now I'm getting to understand a more balanced reality of all this. Yes she has a bunch of issues. And yes, I have issues too or I wouldn't be be in this position.

    Thanks for writing such a crisp article.


  2. "Hoover" is such a victim's term.

    If we go back into a relationship - that is on us.

    It may not be healthy. Our partner may be encouraging us back more out of fear more than love and we may be reading that wrong, but this just more of why the relationship (and the participants) are flawed.

    When we see things for what they are, we can make healthier decisions. If we buy into these myths, we will struggle.

  3. Well for me - I am in the "WOW" category definitely!!!

    I've been in a relationship only the past 14 months - A GAY one btw, My Partner is an Alcoholic, suffers Anxiety Disorder and has suffered full blown depression. When I met him he disclosed none of this too me, It took several months for him to even tell me he had a drinking problem, let alone about the other issues. Initially he would walk out on me like clock work every fortnight usually for a day perhaps slightly longer no ryhme or reason for his actions, then he would ring and text obsessively - I had NO idea at that stage what the hell was going on or why he did it, he did it so many times and yet i persisted....

    Now i find its me that walks out on him as his drinking gets so bad and abusive at times i cant stand it, he attacks me personally is verbally abusive and the list goes on. He attacks everyone even his own parents.

    I've recently decided to give it a once last ditch go, and I'm committed to this being the last opportunity for us. He has spent several weeks detoxing in hospital as he was drinking upwards of 30 beers a day just prior to the last incident is attending A.A. regularly is being medicated with Baclofen to help with cravings, and is seeing both a psychologist and psychiatrist weekly. When he doesn't drink he becomes the person I fell in love with

    I sometimes question why I persist at all, but after going to A.A with him I've discovered that all Alcoholics suffer with variants of the same characteristic. I guess the one I dislike the most is what he terms "Self Obsessiveness", others call it "Selfishness", I just call it "self pity" "why oh why me!!!" is what i hear a lot. Ive been through I love you like no other before you, I never truly understood what real love was too you came along, and I hate the sight of you, sometimes all in the same day

    I guess I am posting this because at times i wonder if he suffers from BDP or Bipolar, I try research not only the known issues that afflict him but also how I can be better partner and find some understanding of how to deal, live and accept these disabilities.

    i don't seriously know if I imagine there is an under lying personality issue undiagnosed or simply he become a different person due to the affects of alcoholism and he truly is the person I see today, Sober, Calm, rational and loving

    If anyone out there has some experiences themselves, Id like to hear


  4. In my opinion, "hoover" is a legitimate term for a certain BPD behavior. It perfectly describes a type of manipulation BPD people exercise over their "prey". I have a unique perspective on the situation . . .
    I recently finalized a divorce with an alcoholic BPD woman that ended a 12 year marriage. During the last 1 1/2 years of the marriage I became aware of BPD and gained a reasonable understanding of the behaviors. My understanding enabled me to connect the dots and then understand the bizarre dynamics of our relationship. The unique perspective is that during the same period I worked closely with a woman, clearly BPD, who freely shared aspects of her life. In short I lived with a woman (wife) who showed me the front side of BPD people, and worked with a woman who gave me insight into the back-side of the BPD mind. The coworker experience gave me massive insight into how the wife thinks. In fact, the coworker precisely predicted some of the behaviors and actions of the wife.

    As for the hoovering, the co-worker went through several guys in a year. Each breakup was filled with tales that made her seem like a victim, BUT she had one guy she would always pull back in for a short time. The new guys would come in on a white horse and she would say how they were so wonderful. She would have the "main guy" thrown out of their apartment, once arrested, and flaunt the new relationship. The new guys would quickly sense the craziness and run. She would speak of needing money, someone to work on her car, etc. and tell us how she was going to get "main guy" to come back. She deliberately did this at least six times in 18 months - and with no sincere intention of staying with him. She just lured him back for her benefit and amusement until she found a new mouse to kill.

    YES, they will intentionally draw you back in to satisfy their selfish wants. They will use emotional, sexual and other tactics to lure you into position. They have a list of people in their head that fall for their game. When they are down, hurt, or need something they will work back down the list to "hoover" a person in to get what they want.

    The thing to remember is they are emotional vampires, manipulative types who play the victim to use people. When you get away from BPD people and don't provide support or a safe haven for them to regenerate after their latest screw up they will largely disappear from your life - you serve no purpose to them.

    Go NC as much as possible. Their problems are not your problems. Do not believe the lies, tears, sexual temptations or other emotional tactics they use to "hoover" you into their plots. Hoovering is real and, if you're not alert, you will be pulled in before you realize it has happened.

  5. I could not believe i was sucked into this vortex 15 months ago. What started out as the most amazing relationship of my life ended a year later when I was dumped like fecal waste, abandoned with no explanation, and overlapped by 2 months and eventually replaced by another unassuming sucker. These people may have a disease, but they don't have immunity. They are still people that should be held responsible for their own actions. It is not acceptable that friends and family turn a blind eye to their continuous ability to destroy others. Simply chalking this up as a learning experience is unacceptable. Someone needs to write an article about how to mess with your ex bpd's head like she did yours.

    1. OMG I am right there with you! I would love to mess with my ex the way she did me!!

  6. I now how you feel. But believe me when I say this. Your playing with fire, maybe even taking your life into your own hands. They don't think like we do. Trying to get even, or get payback can get you hurt. And not just emotionally. They will get theirs when they grow old alone, with nothing but regret to keep them company after so many good people they hurt. One day they will look back and remember how you were there for her. And how she hurt you and ran. PS. Never try to make them jealous. You will not get the result you hope for. It could end your life.

  7. Thats charming guys!! I have been diagnosed with BPD and we are all not that bad you know. Have you guys ever wondered how bpd is for us? I am sure you all had a part to play is those relationships too.

    1. Don't, don't you even dare saying we've all had a part to play in those relationships!

      I've been there, and no, I'm not perfect and sure, I've could of handled things better at moments, said better things at moments, but...
      I ALWAYS treated her with honesty, respect, love and a lot of understanding. ALWAYS. At moments my understanding even led me to go beyond my own borders as i respected her feelings more than my own.
      And what did it get me? After 1,5 years I got dumped and replaced in 13 days. And that was only 2 weeks after she told me at her counselor how far we had gotten and how much she loved me!

      I've read sooo goddamn many similar stories online while trying to figure out why the heck she utterly obliterated such a thing of beauty we had in such a traumatizing display of destruction.

      So don't tell me we all had a part in it, because I know every day some of the most caring and loving men are being core-damaged by a person with BPD or NPD.

      (I'm definitelly not implying BPD or NPD people are all the same or evil or whatever)

  8. Bowen says we often mate with someone of our own level of emotional intelligence. There are two levels of emotional intelligence exhibited in these comments. I encourage the reader to ask themselves which group they belong to.

  9. If we know we are functioning in true personal integrity, even if others around us don't like it or want us to change, we continue to be who we are watch this

  10. It is a secret each of us seeks to unravel from the day we are aware there is more than one of us around. Why do interpersonal interactions -- something we are all engaged in every day, every minute, every second of our lives -- sometimes seem so challenging, complicated, confusing, difficult, and mysterious?Melbourne escorts