Welcome to J&J Chats! A series of advice and discourse discussions from J (Jess) & J (Jas, aka, my girlfriend). Topics sent anonymously via curious cat. Current topic: Should you work through a bad BPD moment via text?
[Jas] I would probably suggest not trying to work it out through texting because you’re still angry about something, and you’re still interpreting a negative tone. Whatever they say, even it’s, “I love you and I didn’t mean it,” you’re still going to interpret a negative tone because you’re still angry or upset about whatever happened. At this point, you’re already bothered; there’s no up from it.
[Jess] Okay, it’s hilarious you say this because when we have arguments, I always always always ask to call you because I know you’re misinterpreting my tone which it makes things worse, and you never never never let me call you.
[Jas] I don’t like phone calls when I’m angry, what can I say? I’m too angry to even want to have a conversation with you. If I’m upset or only starting to get bothered by what you’re saying, then yeah a phone call might work, but I would rather you send a voice note or something like that. That’s a good thing to send, voice notes. Or if you feel less angry in a moment, you might want to Facetime.
[Jess] I think it depends on exactly what point in the argument this is. If it’s before the person with BPD splits, you can probably work it out via text if you’re careful. But if it’s after the split, don’t text. Just don’t even bother; it’s not going to work. You probably won’t be able to work it out quickly. (You can read more about splitting in the first section of this BPD post.)
[Jas] You’re already hyper-sensitive to everything at this point. But I did read something on a BPD support page and it recommended the voice notes. The person with BPD’s “favorite person” (a term used to describe someone that borderlines heavily rely on) sent her voice notes instead of texting, so the intended tone came across more accurately to the person with BPD.
[Jess] Yes, so I actually think this is very important. Jas sent this to me a few weeks ago, and we haven’t really had any big arguments since I read this, so we haven’t had a chance to test it, but that is something I’ve had in the back in my mind after reading it. Because when I read it, I was like, “Wow! This is the best idea I’ve heard in a long time!” and probably the best advice about managing loved one’s BPD that I’ve ever read. It just seemed so obvious after reading it. I was mad at myself that I hadn’t thought of it before.
[Jas] Or if you don’t have access to voice notes, you can always film a video with a black background and send it.
[Jess] I also want to add, if you have a friend with BPD and you’re getting to this point regularly where you’re arguing after they split, that relationship might not be very healthy. I feel like—maybe this inaccurate—but I just can’t imagine you, Jas, arguing and splitting with someone who isn’t me on a regular basis.
[Jas] That’s quite true. I tend to only split with people I’m very much attached too. It’s funny saying this because I recently had an argument–well, not really an argument–with my friends the other day, but they were testing me. And if it was Jess saying it, I probably would’ve split. But with them, I didn’t. And I’m not saying they don’t mean a lot to me, but it’s not like it is with Jess.
[Jess] Yeah so, I feel like, I hope you are in a relationship with this person and that’s why you’re asking because I get the impression from the request that this is happening kind of regularly. So, if it’s happening a lot and you’re not in a relationship with this person, or not romantically involved, I’m a little concerned.
[Jas] Yeah, I mean, I get that Jess is telling you it could be unhealthy if they are splitting all the time, but it only might be the case because there’s no boundaries, or a lack of boundaries. Like I wouldn’t say just write off the friendship or relationship or whatever it is, but there needs to boundaries. And that isn’t to say that the boundaries won’t ever be broken or they won’t take time to develop, but it’s something to work on between you, especially before writing them off. I’m just saying that they are probably splitting on you for a reason. Not saying that you are the reason, but they are probably very much attached to you.
[Jess] Yeah, no, the reason they are splitting is not your fault, but there is a reason.
[Jas] Yeah, and they split on you because they love you a lot, which could be in a friendship way or not. So, whatever you say, even if it’s only slightly negative, they’ll likely read this as, “Oh my god, they don’t like me. They hate me. They’re going to abandon me.”
[Jess] Exactly. And bottom line, try to judge whether or not they have split yet, and try to figure out what to do from there. I would recommend to try to FaceTime or phone call. If the person with BPD won’t, then definitely do voice notes instead of text. They can text you back, but you should send voice notes so they aren’t misinterpreting the tone.
[Jas] The tone is a huge thing. Any slight adjustment in tone can just make someone split very easily because they go in defense mode.
[Jess] I would say that your tone doesn’t even have to change for it to be misinterpreted. I would say that my tone doesn’t even change that much, but if Jas has already split, then her mind will take anything and make it fit the narrative that her BPD has already twisted. So, that’s why it’s really important to eliminate any ways that the tone could be misinterpreted and instead be “overly” reassuring. It’s not really “overly” because that’s what that person needs, but it might feel like “overly” to you, especially if you’re also getting frustrated or angry. So the voice notes—I think—will be very useful, and I 100% intend to use them the next time Jas splits during an argument.
[Jas] And it’s important if you are the person with BPD and you get very angry about perceived tone shifts, just try to be mindful about it. I’m not saying that you can’t be angry about it, but if you’re so fuming that you can’t talk to this person, then don’t talk to this person. Don’t storm off and be like, “I’m so fucking angry I can’t talk to you,” but just tell them you need a break, otherwise you’re just going to be going at it for a while. Try to take a step back, and don’t react with the reaction when possible, because that’s just the BPD.
[Jess] That’s a good point I didn’t even consider that the person writing this could be the person with BPD. I just automatically put my blinders on and—
[Jas] Well, I’m still talking about even if the person doesn’t have BPD. Because if the person with BPD is accusing them of something they didn’t do, then I’m sure they’re angry, it can also apply.
[Jess] Absolutely. Another thing to consider is that the request said, “until they can FaceTime,” which makes me think you are unable to for whatever reason. I don’t know if the person with BPD doesn’t want to, or you’re at work, I’m not sure what the situation is. But, back to the boundaries thing is, what Jas and I do is use a cool off period. (You can read about cool off period tips here.) This can be really helpful until you both calm down a little bit and then use the voice notes if it’s a post-split situation.
Advice summary: Try to keep anger in check with a cool-off break when necessary. To work through a split, or “bad BPD moment,” try working through it with voice notes, not through text messages.
If you need advice when it comes to BPD, send an anonymous request to my curious cat.