Monday, August 24, 2009

The Borderline Vengeance Switch -- Snap Your Fingers

I recently heard from someone who has BPD tendencies who told me what it's like to be borderline and to feel the intense anxiety. One thing that they mentioned was what they called the Vengeance Switch.

If you've ever been with a borderline, you know what I'm talking about.

It's like you could snap your fingers, and the borderline changes from being this sweet, loving person who cares so much about you to a person that hates you, is so full of anger and rage that they will destroy you.

When you experience the vengeance switch, if you've experienced the vengeance switch, it can be a terrible thing to witness.

My relationship with the BPD saw the vengeance switch occur quite regularly -- every day around 3 pm, she thought that I called her to 'screw with her.' I would end up having 30 to 45 minute conversations in an attempt to make her feel better. The conversation would then continue into the night where we would talk for hours until she felt better. Most every day was like this.

When we were first dating, this switch would occur approximately two hours after we separated and I went back to my home. Like clockwork, her anxiety would reach a point where she would just freak out and call me, accusing me of something, from watching transvestites to having many girlfriends sprinkled all around the country...some of the things were so outrageous that even thinking about them makes me tired.

Borderlines will be borderlines. She needed the drama, the excitement, and all of it. She once told me that her previous boyfriend was a narcissist. She told me that she studied them and that they like living a life that is like a movie, with all the drama. I then learned that borderlines are the most narcissistic of all people.

Bottom line -- she was the narcissist, projecting her feelings onto others.

Back to the Borderline Vengeance Switch. It seems to be quite prevalent for all borderlines, and I think it's because they get so fearful, so much anxiety that it needs an outlet. This switch allows them to get their anxiety out, but unfortunately, they lose control, big time. Their fears all come out, usually in the form of blame and anger on another person.

If you feel the vengeance switch on you, remember, you've done nothing to spark that. It's something within the Borderline that has made that happen. Borderlines cycle, so if it gets too bad, get yourself out of the situation for a while.

As long as you have the right awareness and knowledge of these kinds of events, you have the tools that you need to address them and, at least, protect yourself.

Be sure to protect yourself if you're dealing with a borderline when they have their vengeance switch.


  1. I experienced this vengeance shift. First everthing looks good, laughing, watching the television, preparing some food. The next moment I am treated like a dogg. I had to sit and listen. Watching my girlfriend become a monster. Its really crazy shit.

  2. Vengeance switch is a great name for it! Once every day must be tough, although I guess you at least saw it coming. With my wife (recently separated) it was once every few days to a few weeks - it would just hit out of the blue when I was least expecting it, and then lead to a meltdown that would take days to repair.

    But I'd like to add something to what you say: I don't think you CAN protect yourself. You can protect your conscious mind, but your subconscious just keeps taking it on the nose. Being told that everything in the world is entirely your fault, over and over and over again, gets through to the deeper parts of your brain and sets up conditioned reflexes. It WILL get to you and screw with your self-esteem, your confidence, your strength, etc. Even if you clear out and weather the storm in a hotel. So it's as well to be aware of that, I thinkk.

    Great blog! I'm recovering too, so thanks for sharing.

  3. I'm not completely sure, yet,if it is possible to protect yourself from the effects of someone with BPD or not. As more time passes from breaking up with my ex BPD I get further away from the emotional attachment. Breaking that attachment helps me to continue to support her in her life of constant fear and anxiety.
    It is very hard though and I have to be very careful because it is so easy to get caught up in her reality and side tracked from my own life. Strong boundaries are a must and I make considerable effort to communicate and hold my ground as I let her know that, even though I will not abandon her as a friend, I will not tolerate and accept being subjected to any raging, criticism, judgement, or disrespectful actions.

  4. I think you are very brave not abandoning her ! i had to abandon mine although i deff did not want to but after 3 yrs off this madness i had to choose and i chose to save myself as the previous 3yrs was about him and i was run ragged i couldnt sacrafise the rest off my life.
    i could not live my life anymore like this as it was making me very ill with his twisted ways
    i think iam nearly out off the woods now as in that he wont be able to contact me (i have takin that out off his hands ) hurt me to do it but i had no option left

  5. Wow - during the switch with my BDP friend her pupils would dilate and her face would contort and it would scare the hell out of me. Think I've had enough of this now, over 15 years of episodes that, even tho they were only 2-3 a year, left me feeling pretty wounded.

  6. I am so glad I stumbled across this blog. I have just ended a 2.5 year relationship with someone who I'm certain is BPD (not diagnosed). He'd go from telling me he couldn't live without me to seemingly hating me for some imaginary transgression all too often.

    I first noticed it when we went on our first holiday. The first day was great. The second he got very offhand but put it down to feeling guilty that he'd left his kids behind. I'd never encountered anything like this before so assumed I'd just reacted badly.

    The second holiday was worse. The first two days were utopia - him declaring how much he loved me etc etc. On the third, we met up with a few of his friends and, as I didn't know them, I went a bit quiet towards the end of the night when they all started talking about people (including his family) I didn't know. For the next four days I felt like I was poison. No physical affection and he was like a smiling assassin making cutting remarks but, when I called him on it, said I was imagining it.

    We came back not speaking. Four days later i heard from him and agreed to meet up for drinks. He asked when I wanted to do. I said end it. He said he agreed then started talking about how great it was. He said that it was my fault that things went pear-shaped because I went quiet and then told me that he couldn't handle rejection and, when he felt this, felt the "need to make you pay".

    Continue another 1 year of more of the same, each time with me leaving (except for once when he did) then two weeks later the hoovering starting. He promised to seek help, and, in the worst time, actually did - but never addressed his problems.

    Each time the recovery was shorter and the last time I took his psych's advice and played subservient - which just made him torment me worse.

    Something inside me clicked and, in a heartbeat I lost every feeling i had for him and have walked away, told him I've blocked my phone and am never looking back.

    He has problems but I'm not going to down with his ship.

    After feeling like I was going mad for two years and literally dozens of episodes like those described on this site, I feel like I've got my mojo back.

    I have no desire to speak, see or want him again. I feel like I've been given my life back. Thanks to you all for being brave enough to post these personal experiences. They've helped my on the road to recovery.

  7. i hate my situation with a BPD seems that i am always in stress, feel like i'm destroyed alreadyd, i would like to take revenge but i don't know how.

  8. Does anyone has a relationships with a BPD doing DBT?

    I would say mine has changed radically through the process - trusting herself, managing emotions, holding a job, making friends, taking critisism, being aware of what she says and does etc.

    Then again, my BPD was never violent in any way, or verbally abusive to me. So, perhaps may be at the lighter end of the spectrum.

    Also, if you want any relaitonship with anyone - BPD or not - you have to accept all that they are. I believe the challenge with BPDs is that that create a mirror (i.e. you see what you want to see). When that slips there is a lot of darkness behind it.

    Would be fascinated in the thinking of other nons.

  9. DBT ? What is this therapy? My ex BPD went for councilling/therapy. Did no good what so ever. Looking back i remember the first session which i attended with him to give him the initial support. The therapist/counsillor asked me what i liked in my partner and why i was with him. I think now she had recognised the co-dependency in me straight away.

  10. i never heard of the vengeance switch until now but when i'd complain to my ex (undiagnosed) about how erratic her behavior was, i'd always say it would be like a 'switch' was flipped from her being totally in love with me to hating my guts.

    Ang 'vengeance' is accurate. I would ask her why she said the horrible things she did, she would say something like, "you made me angry and you hurt me, so i should be allowed to hurt you back". I would tell her it shouldn't be that way since i never intended to hurt her (by for example, forgetting to make an appointment at a restaurant), but she would just tell me that she couldn't control it. She says she 'just' has a bad temper. She didn't see it as something wrong.

    Thank you for this blog, i'm trying to heal as well.

  11. Awesome! One minute we're engaged and she professes her undying love and she has "never been in love before." The next, the engagement is off with her telling me what a piece of shit I am and how she knew it was a mistake this whole time.

  12. Vengeance switch. Perfect description. It seemed every time I relaxed and was being open and myself - he would hear something wrong. In the beginning, it irritated me but I hung in there with him trying to help him out of his confusion. In the end, he got nasty and said mean things when I felt open and loving toward him. It literally crushed me and made me cry. The very last time I spent with him - he pulled this cruelty on me and then berated me for being so "fragile". He said I should be able to handle "correction".

    I have always seen myself as a sweet, caring, rational woman. I loved people and he tried to take everyone away from me - wanted me all to himself - but then proceeded to try to destroy me. He was unemployed, undereducated, spoiled, pill popping, wino, lazy. I was working and getting a masters degree in business. Why did I even listen to him?

    Sometimes I still want to know WHY? And why did I put up with it for so long. I wish I was like the woman above where something just switched off and she walked away with no more feelings.

    I was told by a therapist that my reaction to him isn't him - but my young emotions about my mother. So many times with my ex, he would remind me of my mother with the weird ways he would act. My mother had cut me off for several years - after he cut me off - I called her and demanded to know why. She said she had a lot of problems - and had been in therapy - and her psychologist said she was Borderline Personality.

    Duh - so its true that we recreate situations to try to get over them - driving ourselves nuts over and over again... The therapist said the key to recovery is to get in touch with those feelings inside me as a very young child.

    My mother today is fine - I know how to handle her. The mother inside my mind at about age 2 and 3, now that probably still needs healing. Unfortunately, a 2 year old does not have the vocabulary to talk about her feelings - so Im still kind of stuck.

  13. BTW - I have a lot of anxiety from sharing all I did in the comments section, almost like he's going to read it and yell at me and berate me and blame me and turn it around like i deserved all his bad treatment, but I know it is therapeutic for me to tell the truth. And I am sure for others to read that they are not alone.

  14. I am in the same situations as most people above, the penny dropped for me when my lover was diagnosed with BPD, problem is im still stuck in that vengence stage with her as I had to report to her doctors that she was self harming and I am being given the silent treatment, that I have betrayed her and stuck in the cycle of do i stay? do i go?
    I find it hard as her projections onto me have left me with guilt and mourning the pre break up stage, i feel its the right thing to do but continuously remember the beuatiful woman yet inside lies the fragile child. I wonder does she see me the way i see her, i anguish at her pain and want to help more and more but feel I am prolonging her pain with my involvement in her life, do i let her go so she can heal? will she heal? is there recovery from this or is it a forever disorder? So many questions. Please help?

  15. 2 weeks ago, after 2 & half years, I decided to end my relationship with my partner who, after coming across this blog & researching BPD, I definately think this was her real problem & not all down to her being a recovering alcoholic with 6 years sobriety & working the AA programme.

    I decided enough was enough as I was fed up with the mood swings, constant need for attention & reassurance, insecurites, paranoia, the infamous switching & all the other stuff that goes with it. Luckily things never got to verbally abusive & there was never any physically abuse but there was a lot of mind games & manipulation involved. It was draining the life out of me.

    She ended the relationship back in Jan last year & I heard nothing from her for 6 months & then bam just as I was getting back on track with my life, she came back out of the blue with apologies & all the rest. I resisted but after being pursued I decided I needed to go back for my own peace of mind to see if it could actually work.

    First few 6 weeks were great & I really thought things had changed but then it all came back slowly but surely until my life had once again became unmanagable & I felt I was living under a negative black cloud.

    Its a shame & I am deeply saddened that I had to end it but it had to be done to protect myself & regain my own sanity. I do love & miss her dearly & its hard because she is a beautiful person with a lot of lovely qualities but inside lies a dark hidden fearful child desperate for love & attention.

    I have tried to make sense of it all & reason things out in my head about why she behaved the way she did & it was only until I came across this blog that it all began to make sense.

    I was on the verge of emailing her the other day, despite protests from my close friends, to go back for another attempt as my head had starting making excuses for her behaviour but this blog put a stop to that as I realised that this was out of my control & there was nothing I could do about this condition & it had absolutely nothing to with me.

    Thank to this blog I have had the wake up call I needed & come to realise that as hard as it is returning to the relationship is NOT an option for me as I have to protect myself & my self-worth.

  16. I have been married to someone I believe is BPD. I have been researching constantly since Jan 2011 about this mental disorder. Everything fits perfectly and as I read these blogs it seems as if I could have written them myself. The endless accusations, the blaming, the mirroring, rages of anger over simple things. We sperated for 9 months and then I allowed her the opportunity to come back it lasted 3 days, she never even got her suitcases unzipped. I have been told many horrible things, she threatened divorce just 30 days after we got married. That still hurts to think about. I filed for divorce May 5th and she blamed me for being sneaky and that I was to blame for 90 percent of our problems. My kids want nothing to do with her and have told their friends and mom that she is mean to their dad. She has isolated me from ym friends and tried to isolate me from my family kids, mom, etc. the double standards she seems to hold me to a higher standard than she is willing to hold. She goes from sweet and nice to raging in like 3 seconds and them blames me for getting mad whenever she says something or tells me how she feels. Goes through my phone, email, facebook, garbage etc. Less than an hour after she was served papers she was talking and asking for material things like DVD player, Treadmill, house etc. Amazing to me that she was more concerned with those things than her marriage ending. Over the past couple years she has had many collection actions against her, fired from a job,the list goes on and on. Even blaming me for a doctor bill that went to collections. Still I love her with all my heart and soul, but I know I can't help her, I told her that I felt that she may be suffering from BPD and she promptly told me I was Narcassistic and that I had the issues. She immediately left. Now she wants everything we have as a couple, I offered the house to her and she said she didn't know if she wanted it but if she took it I wouldn't get anything, if I keep the house she wants $10,000.00 everything is always black or white. Good or evil, never a grey are open for negotiation. Scary stuff.

  17. I recently ended or rather took a "break" from my BPD bf,and in under 2 weeks he was courting someone else. I am healing and realizing everyhting I put up with was so unhealthy. Like many other the other posts, the verbal/emotional and psychological abuse has taken its toll and there is a lot of healing to take place. Stay strong and maintain NC (no contact) as much as you can.

    I truly loved him and thought with my support, that he would get the help he needs, but he doesn't want to get help. And I have to save myself. Best choice ever!

  18. OMG I have been on and off with this crazy woman for 3 or 4 years. The problems started within 3 weeks of meeting, we would be talking on the phone, and she would hang up, and I wouldnt know it for a couple of minutes! I was like wtf? Well a month or two later she went to get help, and told me she had been diagnosed with BPD when she was much younger. She told me it made her display intense anger....well, I didnt understand it at the time, thought she was just a little goofy...well, she told the shrink to fk off and walked out after a few sessions, guess the shrink said she couldnt help her....then the nightmare really began. I didnt understand it at all, the mood swings, the blaming, the cruel behaviour and twisted view of reality, the paranoia....I thought I was losing my mind. We broke up several times, for a month or two, and she would always become the waif again and promise to be good, sucking me back for another ride on the Crazy Train. One time we were broke up for like 4 months and i found some books on BPD. When I read the books, it was unbelievable because all her weird behaviour was right there on the page! Anyway, I joined the OZ forum and met some other nons, who I keep in touch with...I thought I had it beat, because I had done No Contact for 1 year.....but then she started sending messages...I thought I could just see what she wanted....well then I thought why not see her? Of course you know how it went, she seduced me and it was back to BP Hell again , in short order! The sweet loving and cool person who turns into a mfing monster like a switch! Vengance switch is a good name. I think these people are very addictive, its like a drug, and they get you high with the splitting to white part.....then its split to black and its like Satan has possessed their body. Very Very disturbing.....and very dangerous to us NONs!

  19. I have a child with my BPD so the "no contact" thing is impossible. He insisted that we live together and then acted like he loathed me. (Prior to my pregnancy he was wonderful.) Every day was a new form of abuse - ignoring, belittling, it seemed he went out of his way to make me feel bad. Especially on a special occasion or intimate moment. Yet he refused to leave. I thought I was in hell. It finally ended (on his terms of course). I found out later he was diagnosed with BPD. I wish I'd known it at the time, instead of always feeling there was something wrong with ME.

    Also I recently ended close friendship with a BPD. We had a blow out one day as I was starting to feel like she was taking advantage of me and ever since then it seemed like she would constantly try to humiliate me infront of people. Finally I'd had enough and told her what a rude person I thought she was. I really let her have it. The next day I found out that an "anonomous" person had phoned my place of employment and tried to get me fired by use of slander. It was 3 weeks before my gut instinct suddenly screamed to me that is was she who had made the call. I cut all ties immediately. This was BPD vengence at its finest. And once again I didn't know she had been diagnosed with this disorder until after I'd ended the relationship. Does any of this ring a bell with anyone?

  20. Yes, I think we stay out of loyalty and we really want to understand how a very high functioning person can be like this..mine held a masters degree in psychology and yet was such a contaminated mirror who would not listen to to how shaming and raging was killing our relationship....oh no, it was all on me for my issues.
    Well after 10 years and 3 kick outs I wound up in jail for the night and a DV charge for pushing back when she assaulted me....its a huge price to pay but the no-contact order saved me, I'm starting to be me again.
    PS......I really appreciate your site and the opportunity to share experiences

  21. How does one handle the friends who do not believe you when you decide to end a long term marriage to a BPD? They never saw the bad stuff (or if they did it was very minor) and feel sympathetic to the BPD that you left them devastated. The BPD literally gathers all the old friends around him and played the victim so well I lost all but three of my closest friends. It has been two years now and I am in a new non BPD healing relationship, but it still haunts me how some of my closest friends deserted me and judged me.

  22. wow reading these blogs has given me some comort in knowing there is others who have experienced the same craziness i have experienced with my ex husband i fled my home with my three children pregnant with my forth a year ago today. I thought i was going to have a breakdown i had been through 12years of emotional rollercoaster rides therapy and drug and alcohol rehabilitation only to be abused raged at have our home smashed up near the end on a daily basis i look back now and wonder how i have survived. I have been through every court there is lost my home all my furniture and he is seeking custody of the children he is on a mission to destroy me for leaving but i loved him and i still to this day wish him to get well but i know there is nothing i can do to save him, he even moved in with another women only four weeks after i left him and has told the world he hates me on facebook. I find peace in knowing it is about him and his problems that he feels and acts this way i today have my own place with four healthy children and i have my sanity i have calm and one day i will be truly happy again he almost destroyed me completley.

  23. Hi,

    My story is a little different. This was a roommate. After going through some majorly bad living situations, as well as finding out my bf had cheated on me, I answered an ad to see a place.

    The place was gorgeous, beyond well priced and the roommate seemed lovely. I do remember feeling a pit in my stomach though as it seemed too perfect. She was also very intense. I got a sense of that. However I was so exhausted, distraught and depressed on what was going on in my life, I took the place and disregarded my gut feelings.

    Everything was great at first (first 3 months)- too perfect, too close. That is when the crazy train arrived. Vengenace Switch - boom! The neediness, paranoia, lies, manipulations. Insanity!!!! Like everyone else here says. I ended up messing myself up by binge drinking as I couldn't take the verbal abuse, stress, and crying anymore.

    She also told me early on that her bf and the landlord were best friends. It turned into "I will ruin you" if anyone finds out. Most brutal experience ever and it lasted 8 months. It has been 2 years and I am still not over the nightmares. I held everything in for so long and I need to heal. Unless someone else has dealt with these vile creatures, no one understands. Does anyone have any tips they can help with please to put this behind me and get my self esteem back? It would be so greatly appreciated!

    I also realize how codependent I can be and am working on that. I didn't realize being a caring, nice person could lead to such trauma.

    Does anyone else feel angry for putting up with it? For having their feelings stuffed for so long? I am so ready to get me back!

    Btw - she has all the traits besides cutting. Her family has little contact with her and I know why. They are all very normal, conservative people who sweep everything under the rug. There should be a label that warns people of the damage they do!

    The relationship ended with the police being called and too much drama to explain as you all know. Please let me know how you heal.


  24. i was with my undiagnosed bpd ex for 4 years on and off lol.
    she was obsessed with me at first although the crazy behaviour didnt take long to start.
    2nd last time we split i got the vengeance switch after a miserable 2 years or so of living with her ignoring me and sarcasm etc.
    came to a head and needless to say i ended up in a cell for the night then in court.
    after a 3 month split she hoovered me. this time i thought i would give it 1 last chance after her promises of change etc.
    it got bad again very quickly i was going to end it and told her so, and she seemed to take on board the things i said, ie cut down drinking, stop ignoring my calls for days cause youre making me feel we were going backwards.
    had the best few weeks over the christmas period together all the time then the vengeance switch again but this time worse.
    had never realised she could hate me and try to hurt me so much.
    dumped me out of the blue, threatened to get me beaten up, stole from me, accused me of allsorts, told me she had cheated on me, and that she wanted me dead basically.
    tried to get in touch with my friends and blacken my name. friends she doesnt know incidentally. luckily they know what she is like and also trust me.
    was glad to get away anyway by this time as she was like a psycopath i didnt know anymore.
    no contact now for about 3 months, but have heard she is dating a druggy, lost her job, smashed up her home, had court injuction against her seeing her granddaughter after getting her own daughter arrested. also tried to smash up a pub!
    despite all hope she can do something to help herself but cant ever go back after things have just gone too far and she was too nasty this time.

    1. I think I should start a BPD Recovery story blog too.

      Vengeance switch.. never heard of it, but I can relate. One particular event comes to mind. I love Leonard Cohen - and introduced my ex to his music. Wasn't it an amazing thing to discover he was on tour?

      I remember the time well.. talking with her the moment the tickets went on sale, getting them, being so excited about it, making travel arrangements with her... and we had a lot of fun planning for the concert. We even decided to dress up for it and everyone around though we were the most amazing couple. it seemed like we were too!

      We did have an awesome evening. But.. this is where some things get personal... but some background: I used to have an expression that I would reserve for the most special people in my life, but ever since this night, I don't think I've ever used it. I used tell me kids often, "You're the best!!" I say it to clients that are great clients.

      So, we go back to the hotel, we have some Amazing sex... and I'm holding her, I tell her I love her, and then I say, "You're the best, baby!"

      What happened next was so furious, fast and crazy. She immediately jumped up, began punching me, hard, against my chest and started screaming, "Who are you comparing me to? Who??"

      Over and over again.

      I was.. stunned! I could not believe what was happening. I got out of bed, and she was calling me all kinds of horrible names, and in a rage, and she just wouldn't stop. I felt totally hurt, I should say even traumatized by the whole thing.

      After a while, she seemed to lose her energy and went back to bed.. and I ended up sleeping on the couch in the hotel room that we had.. and she got pissed off at me for that, the next day!

      She seemed to expect that after her verbal and physical abuse of me, that I was supposed to go and crawl in beside her and hug her or something, as if there was nothing wrong.

  25. I am very happy to be reading this. I have been going crazy for the last 3 years. I met my now X undiagnosed BPD and things were amazing in the beginning. The conversation was great, she made me feel like a king. The first switch was when we broke up, and two days later she lept with another guy. I had no idea for 3 months after. I had even spoke to her on the phone the day she slept with this guy. She was using Facebook to coordinate and not her phone. Numerous shady events using facebook, I am even blocked from seeing her page. She would disappear, phone goe on silent and random break ups. Every 3 to 4 weeks I was told to get the F**ck out, I am a piece of crap. She has said i am narcasistic, have paranoia and I am abusive. I have enver laid a hand on her, however she has slapped my several times, thrown computers out the door, phones, jewelry, ripped shrubs out of the yard and smashed pictures, kicked holes in the wall. Eventually she would calm down, and I would go back. I even saw her in a guys car and when they saw me she took off. One guy she said was a stalker and she was scared of him, but they are now friends on Facebook. Every guy she spoke of was suddenly really "smart" amazing, then somehow my relationship would end. She always kept comming back and I would take her back. I took all the problems as mine and have kept trying to change, thinking I could stop the madness. Now last week on Thursday she sent me a text stating how thankful she was to have me. At lunch the same day she stopped speaking to me and when she came home had taken off her ring. Friday she said she no longer wants to be with me and to stay out of her life. I am the one left like a doormat now, a switch turned off like 3 years of my life do not matter. Her family also has no contact and everyone in her life she has issues with. She would always tell me I am controlling. The facebook stuff is shady, seeing her in a car, she even lied right to my face saying she was at work on friday she kicked me out. I called her desk 5 times she never answered. Parking lot only had a couple of cars in it. This hurts alot, this ride has been hell.

  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  27. I really just want to talk to someone else who has had a long term relationship with someone that has been diagnosed (or not) with BPD

  28. I agree with the FACEBOOK stuff as well! I just want to talk to someone about all of, what do you think the connection is between BPD people and blocking their fiancees or loved ones from their FACEBOOK? this really really really destroyed me, I cannot believe it happened to another.


Please tell me your story and how it relates to Borderline Personality Disorder. I appreciate any and all comments that you leave on this blog, and as long as they do not contain inappropriate language or are not on-topic, will publish them. Please note that I cannot respond to blogs as this is an anonymous blog. However, I will publish all appropropriate comments.