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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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Dr. Michael, Heres an update and further question on original

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Dr. Michael,
Here's an update and further question on original material. Our couple's counselor has just instructed my partner to get a workbook generally used by sufferers of Borderline Personality Disorder. If her affair partner had this disorder and my partner also has it, I'm feeling like this doesn't bode well for our chances of righting our relationship. One of the most horrible aspects of her infidelity was the sneaky and callous nature of the other woman and that none of this factored into my partner's choice of her for a new romance. Even when accompanied by tears my partner's apologies have seemed strangely hollow and as I read more about BPD many of her responses make sense. I'm not sure what kind of depth of feeling there has been on my parnter's part for either me or the affair partner. Can you enlighten me more on this issue?
Hello. There is a fair amount of controversy about whether people with BPD experience normal empathy for others. I suspect that they can empathize with how others feel. HOWEVER, they are typically so self-absorbed in their own intense emotions and have such poor emotion regulation skills that they cannot use their executive functions (ability to pause, plan, think, step outside of their experience in the moment) to actually engage in empathy. The greater problem beyond empathy is a BPD persons' tendency to be preoccupied or narcissisticly focused on their needs and wants, so again, they seem un-empathic on many occasions. I'm going to pause here and make sure I'm addressing your concern. Rephrase your question please, if I'm missing your point, please.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Your answer is helpful. But what I guess I'm thinking is that I've known my partner for over 13 years and it seems that only in the last 3 years since infidelity disclosure has she seemed to take on the qualitites of Borderline personality. Is it possible that by being involved with a Borderline lover for several months that she adopted some BPD symptomology or that affiliation exacerbated tendencies she already had?
Yes, in general, people are HEAVILY influence in their behaviors by those around them; we know that even in an evening out of partying, people pace their drinking based on how much others drink; they talk loudly if others talk loudly, etc Kids for example, probably learn about 80% of their social skills by observational learning and social modeling. Adults are not much different---they are influenced far more than they realize by the attitudes, behavior and values of others. People with borderline personality features especially, and others with a less-than-adequately defined sense of self are more prone to be 'chameleon like' around others---readily adopting the expressions, behaviors, emotional reactions etc., of those they admire. This is a very prominent feature of borderline personality disorder; these individuals gradually 'borrow' part of the identity of the person they are with in an intimate relationship. I knew of a college student who was borderline, and she adopted the jewelry, socks, sweaters, mannerisms, and handwriting style of a girl she idealized. So it is quite likely for someone to be influenced by, and adopt BPD symptoms by affiliating with someone who has them. This is most likely if the person has a few BPD characteristics themselves, in mild form to begin with.

I hope this helps.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

You've been very helpful. The area of least transparency is our sexlife. I feel if lacks the depth of feeling that I thought was there prior to infidelity. My therapist says that sexlife in a relationship is very fragile and is the first to go and last to return in many cases. What do you think is our prognosis from what I've told you.?


If you and your partner can begin talking more honestly, openly and comfortably about your sexlife, then the prognosis for improving it is really quite good. If your partner seems to want to escape or avoid talking about where your level of intimacy is today, compared to how it was historically, and you sense she is simply uncomfortable about the topic or talking explicitly about your sexual behavior together, then the prognosis is probably poor. It is most definitely true that the quality of the sexlife in a relationship is one of the first things to 'go' and one of the last to return. This reflects how emotionally sensitive and highly personal it is for both partners in the relationship. It is an area of the highest level of 'self protection' and vulnerability. So you can guage where your relationship is headed or its status, based on your attempts to communicate more deeply about this aspect of your relationship, and how she responds.
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