Replacing a sociopath with a borderline personality disordered man

Editor’s Note: Lovefraud received the following email from reader Victimcindy. Donna Andersen  responds after the letter.

My first relationship, after my 18-year marriage to a sociopath, was to a borderline personality disordered (BPD) man. Do you find this common as the disordered traits are opposite in some areas?  We think we are getting something new and healthy.

Spath vs BPD: sex

My spath-ex withheld sex as power. The borderline was highly sexual. My spath-ex was charming, but lacked empathy and was emotionally unavailable. He also abused substances, was opportunistic with casual sex outside marriage and secretive.

Spath vs BPD: love

The borderline was vulnerable, overly empathetic, very emotional and had undying loyalty in a clinging way. No alcohol or drug issues. The borderline needed to be in love to feel alive.

The sociopath is incapable of bonding, or love, because their goals are exploiting outside the marriage for personal pleasure. With the borderline, the lover is the center of their world. The sociopath has incredible confidence.  The borderline is insecure.

Do ex-spaths lead to borderlines?

I’m very interested to know if other readers of Lovefraud have gravitated magnetically to borderlines with a false belief that the new set of disordered traits were opposite, therefore healthier than the sociopath. Of course, there are similarities, too, but they are harder to detect because we can’t connect with a sociopath, while the borderline is overly connected to the idea of love with us trying desperately not to be abandoned.

The sociopath with a secret life abandons us past the love bombing stage. The sociopath is busy exploiting and manipulating.

Spath vs BPD: when it’s over

Ending the relationship with the borderline, for me, resulted in his stalking me, begging me, and love bombing. Actually I’m still not able to rid myself of the BPD he can’t take “no” or “I need space” or “it’s over” for an answer.

Ending the relationship with the sociopath resulted in his discarding our family and abandoning me.

The borderline refuses to go away. I’m sort of addicted to the poems, expressions of love that convince me no one will ever love me like that again. I know better.

He also plays the sociopath card reminding me that my ex never loved me. Black and white thinking, men with money and power are sociopaths (douche bags in his terms), and he is the good guy who never wins! Convinces me in his insecurity that anyone I go after will be a scumbag with a big wallet, unlike him.

Spath vs BPD: money

He justifies his lack of generosity. I pay for the borderline while my ex spath showered me with gifts. Of course, his unhealthy traits are my fault ”¦ i.e., I’m a gold digger. I’m shamed should I desire anything I had from the sociopath.

I know there are things in less excessive quantities for the right reasons in healthy men. Not all men with good jobs who buy dinner and travel periodically for their partners are sociopaths. Although I’ve not found one yet! I’m brainwashed by the borderline who tells me no one will ever love me like he does.


I just can’t seem to be attracted to anyone without a serious personality disorder. I’m terrified to open myself to anyone and I assume anyone I like has secrets. I am very educated and well read regarding the traits. The borderline took me by surprise while I was trying to avoid the sociopathic/narcissistic traits.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Information?

Thank you for your thoughts and experiences with thousands of Lovefraud readers. I wonder how many others filled the holes made by the Spath-ex with a borderline PD. You are welcome to paraphrase and post as a letter if you desire. I’d like to see if there’s a trend.

Donna Andersen responds

First, some background. Antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder are related. These two, along with narcissistic personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder, are referred to as “Cluster B personality disorders” in the DSM-4 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, volume 4.)

Lovefraud uses the term “sociopath” to describe people who live their lives by exploiting others. This includes people who would be clinically diagnosed as psychopaths, antisocial, narcissistic or borderline. In reality, these disorders overlap, so it’s difficult to tell one from the other.

But there are differences. A key point about borderline personality disorder is that its central feature is anxiety, which is virtually absent if someone has antisocial personality disorder.

Of all the people who are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, about 75% are women. Many of these women suffered sexual abuse while young.

However, Dr. Liane Leedom believes that many women diagnosed with borderline personality disorder actually have antisocial personality disorder, but clinicians are often reluctant to say a female is antisocial.

Males with borderline personality disorder

Interestingly, Dr. Donald G. Dutton, in his book, The Batterer A psychological profile, concludes that many men who assault their wives suffer from borderline personality disorder. Dutton writes:

The essential defining criteria for borderline personality disorder, in order of importance, are:

  • a proclivity for intense, unstable interpersonal relationships characterized by intermittent undermining of the significant other, manipulation, and masked dependence;
  • an unstable sense of self with intolerance of being alone and abandonment anxiety;
  • intense anger, demandingness, and impulsivity, usually tied to substance abuse or promiscuity.

Many of these men were abused and shamed as children, Dutton writes. They grow up feeling they can never entirely trust others or get the security or affection they need.

For more information, see Book Review: ‘The Batterer’ describes three types of male abusers.

It’s unfortunate that these abusive men suffered as children. But if they want to recover, it’s their responsibility to do it.

Women who become involved with borderline personality disordered men, initially lured by what appears to be loving attention, should not ruin their own lives by continuing to tolerate abusive behavior.

How to avoid disordered men

Here is the crux of the situation for VictimCindy. You wrote:

I just can’t seem to be attracted to anyone without a serious personality disorder. I’m terrified to open myself to anyone and I assume anyone I like has secrets. I am very educated and well read regarding the traits. The borderline took me by surprise while I was trying to avoid the sociopathic/narcissistic traits.

The best way to avoid disordered men is not to be on the lookout for sociopathic, narcissistic, or even borderline traits, although that is important.

The best way to avoid them is to work on personal recovery.

You mention your terror at opening yourself to anyone, and your assumption that potential love interests have secrets. It’s important to figure out why you feel this way.

Most likely it is because of some previous life experience or erroneous belief. Your marriage to the sociopath is certainly one of those experiences, but there may have been something before that.

Whatever happened to you to create fear and mistrust is creating the vulnerability that disordered men are so good at spotting. Whatever it is, it is still inside you, and you need to get it out.

Healing the vulnerability will enable you to trust yourself, trust that you’ll be able to sense when someone is bad news.

This, in turn, will enable open yourself to others. With your instincts working properly, you’ll know when a man is honest and authentic, and not antisocial, narcissistic or borderline.


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12 Comments on "Replacing a sociopath with a borderline personality disordered man"

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Hello to everyone her on Lovefraud.com!

I was married to an SP whom I’ll call exH. After my (dreadful, high conflict) divorce, I had a relationship with a coercive/controlling guy FWBex. FWBex was loving and attentive at first, but he was also very scared of abandonment. In hindsight, he seems BDP but with antisocial/SP traits. I am not sure if being married to exH set me up for FWBex, maybe its more that growing up in an abusive family then as a ward of the state in a series of foster homes set me up for exH, and after my divorce I was just more vulnerable to pathological guys in general. I do admit the lovely attentiveness and warmth many folks with BDP can show, and the fact FWBex came from a similar background, also drew me to FWBex.

What I think has been most helpful to realize is the following (quote from this thread):

I found there were differences. Many like the one’s you explained. But in the end what became really obvious and glaring and the most significant was that what mattered most to both of these men was their needs, their ’feelings’, their agendas, their ideas, their everything. Even though one seemed a lot more anxious to keep me, and the other discarded me like garbage, both of them had NO REAL concern for my well being, my needs, my ideas or interests.

I don’t know if I can have a healthy relationship at this (later) point in my life, but I do know I can become a healthier person and develop good friendships!! I believe there are second chances and I am praying for recovery and send my good wishes to everyone here on the site!!

🙂 Cat


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