What if I were to tell you there could be a real, psychological reason behind why that guy ghosted you so brutally that one time?
I recently received a message from a reader who told me something I think could be of interest to a lot of you. She was an avid reader of my weekly column "Boom, Ghosted," and she had a feeling she knew why a lot of these guys were ghosting these girls.
She felt they suffered from the same personality disorder her own ex (who also ghosted her) has. The disorder is called "borderline personality disorder" (BPD), and she was certain it was the explanation behind lots of the installments in my column.
I was intrigued, so I reached out to Dr. Niloo Dardashti, a psychologist and relationship expert in New York City, to figure out if there was any truth to what this reader was talking about.
It turns out, she wasn't totally off. Dating someone with BPD comes with its own unique challenges —including, sometimes, an increased likelihood of being ghosted.
What BPD Is
Dr. Dardashti defines BPD as a "personality disorder characterized by people who experience emotions very intensely and often have trouble regulating their emotions and tolerating the stress."
People who suffer from BPD tend to see things as very black and white. They see people as either all good or all bad.
The disorder is what she calls a "bio-psycho-social issue," meaning that there are biological, psychological and social factors all playing into it
On the social front of the "bio-psycho-social" issue, lots of people with BPD have a history of chronic invalidation from someone who was around them a lot.
As a result, some people with BPD (There's a spectrum of severity when it comes to the disorder.) may be very sensitive to feeling invalidated.
How BPD Plays Into Ghosting
I asked Dr. Dardashti, straight up, "Do you think it's fair to say there's a link between ghosting and BPD?" She says that the link isn't a leap by any means.
It all roots back to their fear of invalidation. "If they're perceiving the situation as invalidating, it can be hard to communicate with them and get through to them because, now, they've gone to that place of 'you're all bad,'" Dr. Dardashti explains.
Essentially, they feel as though you've done something to them, so they're done. You're dead to them.
But, as we all know, ghosting might happen when we didn't even realize that anything had gone wrong in the first place. Is it possible for someone with BPD to feel totally invalidated and, as a result, ghost you when you had no idea you even did anything wrong?
Dr. Dardashti says, "That could happen too, where they just shut down completely."
It's also important to understand that people who suffer from BPD very often have an overwhelming fear of abandonment. If you don't spend time when them, they'll feel like you're abandoning them, so they'll ghost you before you can.
Also, they're unable to have a firm grasp over their own self-identity. Their sense of self changes so often that the minute you don't suit whatever self-definition they have, they'll ghost you.
How To Communicate With Your Partner Who Suffers From BPD
If you are dating someone with BPD, there are definitely ways to make the relationship work. So how do you do that?
Dr. Dardashti's got you covered:
Generally, if someone was honest enough to tell you, "Hey, I have borderline personality disorder," then it's good to know that it's likely that this person has had a history of invalidation — not a definite, but likely —and that they do feel sensitive to being invalidated. Most people feel sensitive to being invalidated, but for these people, it's more of a trigger.
Most people feel sensitive to being invalidated, but for these people, it's more of a trigger.
The only way to avoid this issue? Communication.
"There's so much power in just validating someone's feelings, even if you disagree with them," Dr. Dardashti explains. Yes, validation doesn't necessarily mean you have to agree with what the person is saying. It just means you express that you understand where they're coming from and that you hear them.
There's so much power in just validating someone's feelings, even if you disagree with them.
It's incredibly important that you make them feel validated, especially in difficult, confrontational conversations. Here's how to do that:
"When you're about to talk about something that's upsetting to you or something that you need — anything that you think might be triggering to them, you start out with a validation," Dr. Dardashti explains.
For example, let's say you were having a fight with your partner about your plans for tonight. You want to go out with your friends alone, but he doesn't like it when you go out without him. He'd rather be with you.
Instead of getting defensive (i.e "I don't understand why you're being like this. I can't be with you all the time."), say something like this: "It seems like you feel like I'm choosing them over you, and that's not the case. I want to be able to have both. I love the time I spend with you, and I love the time I spend alone with my friends."
When you try to argue with your partner and refute them with a bunch of "buts," you're just reinforcing their sense of black-and-white thinking. "By responding like this, you kind of model this process of integrating two things that are different but also can exist mutually," Dr. Dardashti says.
By responding in this way, you're essentially refuting your partner's assumption of "If you love me, why do you want to spend time with your friends?" by explaining, "Just because I love spending time with you, doesn't mean I don't also love spending time with my friends."
So, next time you're ghosted, instead of getting angry or hurt, maybe now you'll feel a little more sympathetic towards his potential medical condition.