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Mood may be entirely dependent on my love life: can anyone relate?


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For as long as I can remember, I've had a huge problem keeping my emotions (and thus behavior) in check. I haven't been diagnosed by a doctor with Borderline Personality Disorder, but I and many loved ones think that I'm a textbook case of BPD, and my therapist seems to agree. My therapist helps me stay in control of myself and deal with day-to-day crises, so we haven't been focusing much on broad questions, like what labels we can attribute to my behavior and its causes.

I'm pretty sure that my extreme volatility and reactivity are the roots of my relationship problems, but sometimes I wonder if I'm missing an important cause-and-effect relationship that goes the other way: perhaps my mood, broadly, is dependent on my intimate romantic connections.

Since I started dating at 15 (I'm almost 20), I've engaged in a series of intense (and ultimately painful) relationships, and I haven't been alone for more than a couple months at a time. In addition, I tend to attach to people even before I date them, sometimes (eek) overlapping in my feelings toward two people.

After a breakup in early 2010, I remember trying to articulate how alone I felt. I remember saying that when I wasn't in a relationship, I enjoyed hanging out with friends on a superficial level, but I didn't feel like I was really there - I felt like I was in my own world, walking among other people in a sort of daze. But when I was in a relationship, I felt connected to the world - tethered, even. Like my SO was keeping me in the real world.

I know that feelings like this are normal to an extent - romantic relationships are a different sort of thing from ordinary friendships, and it makes sense to feel alone after a breakup. But the extent to which I become attached to my SO in relationships and the enormity of my despair when I'm alone are certainly unhealthy. And I'm working through these issues with my therapist. But I guess what I'm wondering is whether I'm underestimating the... cyclicalness... of the vicious cycle (emotional disregulation -> relationship troubles -> emotional disregulation). I'm afraid that my entire sense of self-worth and therefore my mood might be entirely dictated by how loved/wanted I feel. And that scares me.

Can anyone relate?

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I think a lot of people (here and elsewhere) can relate to feeling this way at one point or another in their lives. I know I have felt that way at times when I was younger, particularly in the wake of a breakup with an SO.

That this is (by your report) *THE* major feature of your emotional landscape at this point in time does point to this being perhaps more of a problem for you than for some. These things can and do change though so there is plenty of reason to think that your situation can improve.

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