If you live with borderline personality disorder (BPD), “splitting” may be something you can relate to.
For those who may not know, splitting is essentially categorizing things (or people) as good or bad — your classic all-or-nothing situation. With splitting, there is no gray area. For example, a “bad” person does “bad” things, a “good” person does “good” things.
While splitting is common in folks with BPD, it’s important to remember not everyone with BPD “splits” and not everyone who experiences splitting has BPD (this can manifest in people who experienced childhood trauma and/or live with other mental illnesses). Splitting is often a response to to the fear of rejection, abandonment or any other potential emotional trauma. It’s a common reaction and is often a subconscious layer of protection for the person so they can avoid feeling hurt or being rejected/abandoned.
We wanted to know what things people with BPD do that mean they are splitting, so we turned to our BPD community. Below you can read what they shared with us.
Here are some things people with BPD do that mean, “I’m splitting”:
1. Saying Hurtful Things
“I say hurtful things to get out my pain, then almost immediately apologize and beg them not to leave.” — Megan G.
“I become vile to them. I say horrible things that will make them want to leave me. So that way I don’t have to muster up the courage to leave myself and I’d have someone to blame other than myself.” — Kady L.
“Being a complete ass and then feeling way worse about it later when I realize I overreacted. Then I just dwell on it.” — Mercedes R.
2. Being Emotionally Detached From Others
“My replies become cold and one-worded or I just straight up end up ignoring the person because I feel so hurt and offended. I have learned to notice it so now I take a step back and get my mind straight before saying another word.” — Kristina J.
“I get distant and cold, and I don’t want to be touched. I get an attitude and act out sometimes. Or I’ll simply shut them out for a couple minutes/hours to avoid saying something I’ll regret. Other times I’m way too nice and I feel really really obligated to please other people and I have tons of energy. My mood tracker app that I use has captured my extreme highs and lows and it looks like a heart monitor almost.” — Holly B.
“I become extremely detached from people around me, especially my girlfriend. She seems to [be able to] tell something is off and pushes to be near me to keep the connection. After I start to come back, it’s like I’m discovering love for the first time and it’s extremely intense.” — Carol J.
“I start over-correcting everything. Every tiny thing that’s happening. And I never feel like I’m understood, so I explain everything three times over. It just turns into me stating facts on different ways until I notice that I’m doing it at all.” — Amy H.
“I start to overthink everything when I am splitting. Everything has to be wrong, even if it’s not I find a way to convince myself it is.” — Molly S.
4. “Ghosting” People
“If I’m splitting on someone, I typically stop associating and stop talking to them altogether, and sometimes [go] so far as to ghost them. As I would rather cut it off then be snappy or irritable to them, which typically if I don’t cut it off at that point, I’ll end up sabotaging things in worse ways anyway. So cutting off and ghosting spares and prevents the sabotage and shame spiral that might otherwise occur… Splitting means my walls go up full force.” — David M.
5. Getting Irritable
“I get very quiet because I get a sudden wave of annoyance or irritability and I know that if I don’t remove myself from their presence, I’ll say something I definitely do not mean.” — Shanny J.
“I start even hating how they breathe, walk, talk, their voice grates my ears. It’s like I want to punch the person really bad no matter what they do. Then I feel guilty because I know it’s not their fault that I’m reacting so violently to something that could’ve been simple.” — Marie L.
6. Exploding at Little Things
“I’ll explode at something little. One day, I was watching TV with my fiance and baby, and I missed a part of the show and he said he would rewind it and I told him not to and when he started to (trying to be nice), I just broke and started screaming ‘no’ and crying. I don’t even know if it was because of the show.” — Hannah H.
“I yell and punch things! I’ve broken my hand more than once because of it!” — Amber G.
“My anger. Sensory overload is the worst for me. Once I hit my breaking point, it’s like a runaway train.” — Kristy H.
7. Blocking People on Social Media
“I tend to block their Facebook, phone number, etc. And once I ‘get over’ my anger, I apologize and undo those things.” — Tara M.
“My favorite person will suddenly become someone I don’t want in my life anymore so I’ll delete him off Facebook and stop all communication until the flip switches again. When it does, I’ll send him a friend request again and a message saying ‘Hey, Add me back already.’ He always does and we continue like nothing happened.” — Kristin H.
8. Canceling Plans
“Have them reduce hours they want to hang out or have them cancel plans so then I’ll push them away but after a few hours at worst, pull them back in to hang out again and telling them how much I love them and how much they mean to me.” — Beau B.
“I withdraw contact for days/weeks until I feel I am through the worst of it. I literally just go quiet and avoid the person until I feel it’s passed.” — Sammie P.
“If I feel myself splitting, I feel and back off and figure that s*** out, before I react verbally or and other behaviors. I try to work my skills, and I don’t want to end up on any of the edges on the BPD spectrum.” — Bill G.
10. Jumping to Conclusions
“I start to panic and have racing thoughts about the reason I’m splitting (i.e. ‘Why don’t they want to hang out?’ ‘What did I do?’ ‘I know why! I’m not a good person! I hate myself.’ ‘They’re better off without me.’) A snowball from hell.” — Mackenzie C.
“Having difficulty separating reality and fiction. Making assumptions in my head. Jumping to conclusions about things and feeling like they are real. Example: ‘[My] boyfriend hasn’t texted me all day, he must not love me anymore or I must be annoying him.’ Jumping from extremes. Idolizing someone you care about and loving them so intensely that it triggers your fear of abandonment and then you start devaluing the same person you love so much out of fear, thinking they are going to leave you.” — Cassy R.
11. Feeling Physically Repulsed By Someone
“When I split on someone, I get physically disgusted by them. Just repulsed; don’t want them sitting by me, touching me or talking. Sometimes it only lasts a couple hours, but one time it lasted two months.” — Raylene C.
If you “split” because of your BPD, or even your childhood trauma, know that you’re not alone and your thoughts do not define you. Splitting is a very real and common part of living with BPD for many people. If you’re struggling, we encourage you to gain support from a community that cares by sharing a Thought or Question about it on the site.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.