Staying Committed

Staying Committed to a Partner who has a Personality Disorder

There are some people who believe that it is impossible, improbable, inadvisable, even inexcusable to remain in a committed relationship with someone who suffers from a personality disorder.

There are people who will tell you to "Run for the hills!"

And yet millions choose to stay committed every day.

At Out of the FOG, it is not our intent to dictate, preach or legislate how a person should make the relationship choices in their own life. Many of us have had important decisions made for us for years by people in our lives. The last thing many of us feel we need is more well-intentioned, yet misinformed, relationship advice.

Rather, it is the intent of the Out of the FOG site to offer resources, support and encouragement to all who are affected by being in a relationship with someone who suffers from a personality disorder - in whatever form of relationship that might take.

We want you to discover the power you have to control yourself - even from within a committed relationship.

We want you to be set free from the FOG - the Fear, Obligation and Guilt of feeling responsible for the actions, words, or poor choices of a relationship partner.

Thoughts From a Committed Member...

Here are few thoughts, about being committed in a relationship with someone suffering from a personality disorder, Contributed by Member Mark:

"IMO, Staying Committed is more about being committed to people first, then to the relationship.

First, I feel that we need to be committed to ourselves, not in a selfish way, but in a healthy way being the person we are supposed to be. It may involve some type of counseling, to figure out how we got to where we are, and where we want to go. Eating right and exercise, taking time to be alone and with family and friends, along with taking time for your own spirituality (whatever you are comfortable with).

Secondly, taking care of any children. Don't believe that children are not affected, make them a priority. They need a strong and healthy parent, and they need to feel safe and loved. They need to grow in an environment free from abuse.

Third, is being committed to our significant other (SO) and that is somewhat conditional. Our SO needs to see their own 50% of relationship and be willing to work on their own issues. We can be there to support them and cheer them on but we must let them do the work.

Finally is working on the relationship together with our SO, which is a long and rough road in itself and, in my opinion, can not be accomplished without having everything else in place.

Children Who Hurt Themselves and Others

"I blame the parents"

"This is obviously a cry for help."

"If the parents were just held responsible - this kind of thing would never happen."

"The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree"

"Teach a child in the way he should go and he will not deviate far from it"

Chances are you've heard one of the above phrases more than once in your life. You may even have said or thought the same thing yourself as you watched some child behave in a way that suggested that their parents had little or no control over them.

It's just common sense isn't it? Bad parents produce bad kids.

But if you are a parent of a personality-disordered child, those words do not sound like common sense. Those words echo with condemnation from a world that never considered, can't imagine or refuses to believe that children can suffer from the same personality disorders that afflict adults.

After all - we don't blame the parents when a child gets the measles - or a life threatening illness. On the contrary! We extend our support our sympathies and our prayers to parents whose children struggle with physical ailments. Why should we blame the parents when a child gets a mental illness?

But we do.

Who is the Personality Disordered Child?

  • She is the schoolgirl who teases a weaker child mercilessly.
  • He is the playground bully.
  • She is the friend of a child who turns into an enemy overnight, with no warning and no reason, only to become a best friend again the next day.
  • He is the child who breaks windows.
  • She is the pregnant teenager.
  • He is the boy who brings drugs to school.
  • She is the child who slaps her sister.
  • He is the kid who they call delinquent.
  • She is the sweet little girl who took a pill overdose
  • He is the quiet kid who is cruel to animals.
  • She is the 10 year old who shoplifts.

There are many forms and shapes of personality disordered kids - and there are many kids who misbehave who do not have a personality disorder. These examples are given as an illustration - not as a diagnosis.


Parenting a Child with a Personality Disorder

Contributed by member jrrr

There are extraordinary facets to parenting a person with the traits of a personality disorder.

Whether our child is - by chronological age - an adult, an adolescent, or younger, there just isn't some magic manual for dealing with the frustration, resentment, guilt, helplessness, and all the other states of mind that can overwhelm us and our lives. Then, of course, there is love - always love... even when it seems it may be all dried up, it's not.

One doesn't have to be a biological parent or have the 'traditional nuclear' family to find camaraderie, support, knowledge, and solace in the Parenting section of Out of the FOG [fear, obligation, and guilt]. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, adoptive and foster parents, step-parents, caretakers... all spectrums of those who are responsible for nurturing a child with personality disorder traits can benefit while also contributing to these conversations.

Here we find an opportunity to express ourselves in a special give and take. It's all good...

Links to relevant books:

New Hope for People with Borderline Personality Disorder: Your Friendly, Authoritative Guide to the Latest in Traditional and Complementary Solutions, by Neil R. Bockian, PhD; Nora Elizabeth Villagran; and Valerie Porr

Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescents: A Complete Guide to Understanding and Coping When Your Adolescent Has BPD, by Blaise A. Aguirre, MD

Borderline Personality Disorder Demystified: An Essential Guide for Understanding and Living with BPD, by Robert O. Friedel, MD

Borderline Personality Disorder by John G. Gunderson, MD

Understanding and Treating Borderline Personality Disorder: A Guide for Professionals and Families by John G. Gunderson, MD

Other informational sites:

The DBT Clinical Resource Directory of Behavioral Tech LLC, founded by Dr. Marsha Linehan, PhD, ABPP.

TARA - The Treatment and Research Advancements Association for Personality Disorder, headed by Valerie Porr.

DBT Program at McLean Hospital of Harvard Medical School in Belmont, MA.

An article from Psychiatric Times, February 1996:Antecedents of Personality Disorders in Young Adultsby Joseph M. Rey, MD.

A comprehensive overview of BPD in the Pediatrics portion of eMedicine, by Elizabeth A Finley-Belgrad, MD(last updated May 3, 2006).

The Ten Forms of Twisted Thinking from "The Feeling Good Handbook" by David D. Burns, MD.

Ten Ways to Untwist Your Thinking, also from "The Feeling Good Handbook".

Fathers Who Hurt Their Children

Gender roles are changing. The classical model of a family with a father as the breadwinner who is not emotionally involved in the children's lives is becoming obsolete. As more mothers join the workforce, as more families are fragmented through divorce and as traditional roles are more gender neutral, fathers are increasingly providing more than just a paycheck in the home.

But the benefits of increased paternal participation in children's lives are not universal. In cases where a father suffers from a personality disorder, increased involvement is not always a good thing.

Paternal Child Abuse can come in many forms:

  • Emotional / Psychological
  • Verbal
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Neglect / Absenteeism

A child’s relationship (or lack of same) with his/her father is just as vital to its development as the mother-child relationship.

Gender Roles

For girls: the father-daughter relationship has an astounding influence on how girls feel about themselves as women; on their choice of romantic partners, and even on how they tolerate / handle abuse in the work-place. As adults, daughters of abusive fathers may be more susceptible to alcoholism or drug abuse, eating disorders, sexual promiscuity and domestic violence.

For boys: the father-son relationship plays a vital role in how, as men, boys grow up to treat their own romantic partners, workmates, employees and of course, their own children. As adults, sons of abusive fathers may be more susceptible to alcoholism or drug abuse, criminal activities, thrill-seeking and violent behavior.

These observations, along gender lines, have been applied in a very broad, traditional sense. Daughters can certainly grow up to adopt the abusive traits modeled by their abusive parent; Sons may become passive in adulthood, developing co-dependence and becoming chronic “rescuers.”

Effects of Paternal Abuse on Children

Being abused as a child cripples self-worth and may result in lowered expectations of yourself and how you allow others to treat you. This can make the survivor of childhood abuse an easy mark for even more abuse as an adult.

Antagonistic or abusive men (and women) prefer passive partners who are malleable and whom they can easily manipulate, even dominate. The adult survivor may unconsciously (and repeatedly) seek out partners who share those same destructive qualities with “Daddy”; partners they are always trying to please, who may physically or emotionally abuse them, sexually or financially exploit them, and whom they can never really trust.

Adult survivors may develop a thick-skin which allows them to ‘endure’ the abuse heaped on them by their partners, relatives, employers, co-workers and others. They may also become co-dependent as a coping mechanism, often assuming the role of enabler, in a misguided attempt to “fix” or “rescue” the other person or the relationship. The motivation behind this behavior is “If I can just make ______ happy, then I can finally be happy, too.”

In some instances, the abused child grows up to manifest the same (or similar) abusive traits modeled for them by their fathers. They never learn empathy for others and instead, try to control every circumstance of their lives by controlling everyone and everything around them. These survivors make for poor partners, parents, friends, bosses and co-workers.

How you feel about yourself (and relate to others) as an adult, grows directly out of how you were treated (or mistreated) by the adults who cared for you in childhood.

Examples of Paternal Child Abuse

Did your Father:

  • Discount your thoughts, opinions and contributions?
  • Perceive his wife/children as his personal property, to command as he wished?
  • Disrespect family members
  • Withhold affection?
  • Treat your mother as less than an equal partner?
  • Avoid participation in family /school functions?
  • Usually put work and his own interests ahead of those of the family?
  • Make promises, only to routinely disappoint?
  • Was he aggressive or abusive toward family members?
  • Need to be right / in control at all times?
  • Rage?
  • "Disown” you for disappointing him?
  • Shame you privately or in front of others?
  • Was he there for his family and friends when they needed him?
  • Embarrass you, humiliate you or ignore you?
  • Ever abuse you - psychologically, verbally, physically or sexually?
  • Blame his failures on others or make excuses for his bad behavior?

Child Abuse Statistics

The US department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) groups child abuse and child neglect into the same category. In other words - in the eyes of the US government - child neglect is the same thing as child abuse. In 2001 57% of recorded and substantiated child abuse cases were categorized as neglect.

These statistics show that the majority of reported child abuse cases occur at the hands of a biological parent.

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services Child Maltreatment Report 2001

How Common is Child Abuse?

In the US, an estimated 903,000 children (1.2%) of Children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2001.

  • 57.2 percent of victims suffered neglect (including medical neglect),
  • 18.6 percent were physically abused
  • 9.6 percent were sexually abused;
  • 26.6 percent of victims were associated with additional types of maltreatment.

Percentages of victims are similar for males and females (48.0% and 51.5% respectively).

Children in the age group of birth to 3 years account for 27.7% of victims. Victimization percentages decline as age increases.

In the US, more than half of all child abuse victims are White (50.2%); one-quarter (25.0%) are African American; and one-sixth (14.5%) are Hispanic. American Indians and Alaska Natives account for 2% of victims, and Asian-Pacific Islanders accounted for 1.3% of victims.

19% of reported and substantiated child abuse cases result in the child being removed from the home.

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services Child Maltreatment Report 2001

Qualifications for becoming a Father

In the US, there are laws to protect all sorts of individuals from reckless behavior of others. For example, you must pass an exam before you may:

  • Drive a car
  • Fly a plane
  • Operate a crane
  • Run a restaurant
  • Educate school children
  • Become a social worker or any kind of therapist
  • Diagnose an ailment or prescribe, dispense or administer any kind of medicine or medical treatment

But there is no qualification for becoming a father other than being male. Nor is there any review of your performance except in the most severe cases of physical violence and neglect.

When it comes to your treatment of strangers you may be prosecuted for:

  • hitting
  • slandering
  • harassing
  • stalking
  • invading their privacy
  • confiscating their property

When it comes to treatment of minors, parents are held almost completely unaccountable. Minor children of abusive parents are completely trapped in their environment - dependent totally on an overwhelmed legal system to take action - after the abuse has been witnessed and reported by a neighbor, teacher, doctor or social worker. Many cases go unreported.

A Sacred Rite

What is equally surprising is that child abuse often extends long into adulthood. Adult children of abusive parents often feel trapped between maintaining an unhealthy relationship with an aging, yet disrespectful, stalking, slandering, harassing parent and being judged by extended family, friends and acquaintances if they choose to cut off all contact with the abusive parent.

“Honor thy father and thy mother:that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”

- Exodus -

“He who wisheth to enter Paradise at the best door must please his father and mother.

- Prophet Muhammad -

We're told again and again that we're not supposed to hate, resent, fear or discard our parents. We're supposed to honor them, love them, cherish them, be loyal to them, take care of them in their old age.

Because of these traditions, adult survivors of child abuse ultimately suffer in three distinct ways:

  1. They suffer the abuse itself
  2. They suffer the loss of knowing what should have been - the loss of a supportive parent, of a loving home and a safe refuge.
  3. They suffer the consequences of protecting themselves from that abuse. They are often left feeling guilty, judged, condemned by society, religion, their communities and their families.

Mothers Who Hurt Their Children

Mother knows best - right?

It's reinforced in our literature, movies, books, our laws, our religion. Mother m knows best. There is no love greater than that of a mother for her children.

A Mother's Love

A Mother's love is something that no one can explain,
It is made of deep devotion and of sacrifice and pain,
It is endless and unselfish and enduring come what may
For nothing can destroy it or take that love away . . .
It is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking,
And it never fails or falters even though the heart is breaking . . .
It believes beyond believing when the world around condemns,
And it glows with all the beauty of the rarest, brightest gems . . .
It is far beyond defining, it defies all explanation,
And it still remains a secret like the mysteries of creation . . . 
A many splendoured miracle man cannot understand
And another wondrous evidence of God's tender guiding hand.

                                                      - Helen Steiner Rice

Our governments, schools, churches, courts bend over backwards to protect and support the rights of mothers. Mothers are encouraged and empowered to home school their children, diagnose their illnesses, control their activities, choose their friendships, dictate their living conditions, even select their religion.

Parenthood isn't easy and many mothers do an excellent job of what is a very challenging assignment. But not all.

Who Is Abusing the Kids?

The answer may surprise you. It is most commonly not the proverbial "stranger" that most children are warned to avoid - it is more likely to be someone much closer to home:

Forms of Abuse

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services Child Maltreatment Report 2001

Percentages of victims are similar for males and females (48.0% and 51.5% respectively).

How Common is Child Abuse?

In the US, an estimated 903,000 children (1.2% of all children) were victims of abuse and neglect in 2001. 19% of reported and substantiated child abuse cases result in the child being removed from the home.

Children in the age group of birth to 3 years account for 27.7% of victims. Victimization percentages decline as age increases.

Child Abuse Victims by Ethnicity

Child Abuse Fatalities by Industrialized Country and US State

Child fatalities from abuse is more prevalent in the US than in other industrialized nations and there is significant variation state by state.

Chosen Relationships

Chosen Relationships is the term that we use to describe those of us who are in a marriage, partnership or romantic relationship with someone who suffers from a personality disorder. We call these relationships "chosen" relationships because they are relationships which we choose (or at one time chose) to participate in and to distinguish them from family relationships which are known as "unchosen relationships".

Chosen relationships with an individual who suffers from a personality disorder presents its own unique challenges and issues. There are no two people who are identical - therefore there are no two relationships that are identical. However, there are some common problems and situations that most "Chosen's" find themselves dealing with.

  1. Staying Committed to someone who suffers from a personality disorder.
  2. Separating or Divorcing someone who suffers from a personality disorder


More than any other section here, "Chosen Relationships" is a potpourri. We have people in friendships, dating situations, and marriages. Many people are committed, some aren't sure, and others are on the brink of separation.

We are all here to support each other and we try to refrain from telling people to "RUN FOR THE HILLS!!!" We understand the hurt and we understand that everyone needs to choose their own path.

It's a delicate balance, as most of us are so used to being patient and trying to change something about ourselves to try to bring about the change we want to see in others. Part of getting through these situations is discovering that our situation is not as unusual as we may think it is, discovering that others have faced similar struggles and recognizing our own anger and our need to Work on Ourselves rather than just trying to change our partners.

The Chosen Relationship

To be in an unchosen relationship can be a frightening and frustrating experience.

We are the husbands who drive home from work afraid of what awaits us when we get home.

We are the wives who dare not make any friends without asking first for approval from our partner.

We are the boyfriends who have been cheated on and told it was our fault.

We are the girlfriends who are frightened of our partners but are afraid to leave because we fear what will happen to us after we do.

We are the fathers whose children are verbally harassed by our wives.

We are the mothers whose husbands are addicted.

We are the healers, the fixers, the debt payers, the rebuilders, those who hope against hope. We are the loyal, long suffering silent ones who try to hold things together while our partner behaves destructively.

We are lonely from inside a relationship.

We have put off taking care of ourselves because of the overwhelming "needs" or demands of our partners. We live in a FOG - full of Fear, Obligation and Guilt.

People on the outside of our relationships often have no idea what we live with. Some of us are constantly torn between trying to protect and heal ourselves, and trying to take care of a demanding partner. Others have decided that they no longer want a relationship but don't know how to protect themselves on the way out. So many of us have been subjected to years of emotional, verbal, physical and sometimes sexual abuse. Sometimes, the worst scars cannot be seen.

The Wall of Silence

It's very common for those of us who find ourselves in Chosen relationships to construct an invisible wall of silence. It's a wall that tries to hide from the outside world the embarrassing truths about what is going on in our lives behind closed doors.

Our society does not encourage us to be forthcoming about the situations we may find ourselves in. To be a social success we sometimes think that we need to be successful in the world of personal relationships.

We sometimes fear that any sign of failure in our marriage or partnership could be interpreted as a sign of weakness.

Some of us fear to leave our abusive partners because of what others - friends, family, neighbors, churchgoers, might think.

Some of us are afraid to speak out about what is wrong because we don't believe our partner will really change and instead we think we will just make matters worse.

And we hide it behind a wall of silence.

Support for Chosen's

Everyone who comes to Out of the FOG is at a different stage in their relationship and their personal journey. Here, we try to respect those differences and exercise patience and tolerance. Sometimes we learn the most about ourselves by reaching out to others in similar situations.

There is a section of our Support Forum dedicated to supporting people who find themselves in Chosen Relationships - relationships with spouses, partners and significant others who suffer from personality disorders.

Click here for more recommended Links for those in Chosen Relationships or browse our Books for Chosen's

Unchosen Relationships

Unchosen relationships are relationships with family members who suffer from personality disorders.

Unchosen is a term used to describe those of us who did not choose their relationship to a person with a personality disorder. Some of us have parents with this disorder; others have a sibling, in-laws, or other familial relationships. We did not choose this relationship the same way a person chooses a relationship to a partner with or a friend with a personality disorder.

For instance: someone who grew up with a personality disordered parent will have had a vastly different struggle than someone who had a relatively normal childhood, but ended up with a disordered partner. That doesn't mean the "Unchosen" person's pain is any greater or any less than the "Chosen" person's pain, but very often, the abuse and inappropriate behaviors modeled during his or her formative years will have deeply affected the Unchosen Non child's core sense of being (and well-being), and may have long-lasting impacts on trust, self-esteem and the ability to form or maintain healthy relationships in adulthood.

When the personality disordered individual is a child, the pain and disruption is experienced by the entire family. Adults feel responsible, trapped, frustrated and depressed. Non-personality-disordered siblings feel fearful and neglected as their parents focus on the problems created by the disordered individual.

The Unchosen Relationship

To be in an unchosen relationship is difficult and often traumatizing. We are told repeatedly by society and well-meaning people that we "must," "should," "have to" (fill in the blank) because they - the personality disordered - are family.

We are often asked to overlook continued abuses because the person is ill. In other instances we are expected to “be the bigger person” and stuff our emotions so as not to upset the ill family member. We are asked to parent our parent while still trying to have a life of our own.

People who haven’t been where we have been truly have no idea what we live with. Some of us are constantly torn between trying to protect and heal ourselves and trying to have some sort of relationship with our families, however dysfunctional they may be. Others have decided that they no longer want a relationship with the ill family member. Many of us have been subjected to a lifetime of emotional, verbal, physical, and sometimes sexual abuse. These abuses do not disappear just because time has passed or because we are adults. Sometimes the worst scars cannot be seen.

In this section, you may see terms like NC (no contact) or LC (limited contact). Many people choose one or the other, or drift back and forth between them trying to find a balance with which they are comfortable. Some choose to try and tolerate what they can, when they can, knowing they are unable to completely remove themselves from a parent or other relative. Understand that what works for one simply does not work for everyone.

Everyone who comes to the Out of the FOG web site is at a different stage in their relationship and their personal journey. Here, we try to respect those differences and exercise patience and tolerance. Sometimes we learn the most about ourselves by reaching out to others in similar situations.

An Unchosen Perspective on Boundaries

It can be difficult to maintain or define boundaries when you are involved in a familial or otherwise unchosen relationship. Often, we are taught as children "not to make waves" or to “just get along;” that is, to not assert or define our own boundaries. As children we want to please our disordered parent and get along with a disordered sibling or relative; however, a personality disordered individual lacks appropriate personal boundaries of their own. This can result in inappropriate affectionate gestures and lack of personal privacy for the child.

When our own personal boundaries are routinely broken, the message we learn is that our own needs and feelings don’t count - we are required to accept how others treat us without question. As we grow into adults, these lessons can become our way of life. We often feel taken advantage of, feel used or feel that our desires are unimportant. We become frustrated and angry that our boundaries are violated yet we are unable to express what, exactly, our boundaries are.

Constant yielding to a parent, sibling or relative becomes second nature. We lose our own sense of self and often find ourselves in unhappy relationships, jobs and life situations. The early lessons - that our feelings, views and opinions don’t count - continue to dominate our lives, sometimes subconsciously.

This can result in poor life choices, from entering into careers or occupations that are a poor fit for us, to marrying the person we “should” rather than the person we love. The yielding to others we were taught as children can spill over into every relationship we have as adults. The consequences can be disastrous and painful. It sometimes feels as if we are living someone else’s life.

Learning to enforce boundaries takes practice and patience. Yet it can be done - and lead us to a healthier, happier life. You can read some more ideas on setting healthy boundaries in our boundaries section.