Bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder

ASHIRT & TIE [small] (final)s I was searching for something intelligent to write about, I revisited the research section on bisexuality. After reading yet another study on whether or not we exist, I asked myself why I was still looking at this stuff.  We know we exist, so where do we go from here? The answer, of course, is that we should be looking at the issues we face, so that we can somehow finally get past our sexual identity crisis and learn how to enjoy the lives we have been given.

Twenty years ago, I was having a mental meltdown, largely because of my bisexual orientation. I loved my wife and was very much attracted to her; we had a great sex life. But I also had developed an obsession and compulsion for engaging in gay sex. During one counselling session, my therapist conducted a survey in the DSM4 on Borderline Personality Disorder (the 5 had not yet come out). First of all, let me explain. Borderline Personality Disorder is not “borderline”; it is a dysfunction involving significant impairment of self-identity, the ability to relate to others, and difficulty with impulse control. When sexual identity issues are involved, self-loathing, feelings of emptiness and worthlessness, and unhealthy impulses are usually centered on our sexuality.  She looked up and said, “Amazing, you have all the symptoms except sexual identity issues.” She stared at me for a few seconds and said, “Oh my god, don’t tell me you are gay too.”  Well, I can now say I no longer have sexual identity issues. I know and understand my sexual orientation. I am not gay. I am bisexual.

Looking back, I think it is important to address the issue or borderline personality disorder.  In an analogue study[1], 141 psychologists evaluated a hypothetical client with problems that resembled borderline symptoms but were also consistent with a sexual identity crisis. In this study, client descriptions varied by sexual orientation and gender. Results revealed that male clients with bisexual attractions were more likely to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Therapists were more confident and willing to work with female bisexual clients and gave them a better prognosis. In other words, the clinical community believes that we bisexual males have severe issues in dealing with our bisexuality resulting in Borderline Personality Disorder. This means that our belief system makes it difficult to make changes through traditional therapy, and difficult to function in our society. Women on the other hand seem to be able to assimilate their bisexual desires into normal life patterns with or without therapy.

If we have indeed overcome our identity issues and we know and understand that we are bisexual, than what comes next? I think the answer may lie is taking a closer look at the borderline personality symptoms. In my case, I may still have a Borderline Personality Disorder, but I now understand it and have learned to live with it. Somewhat like in the movie, The Beautiful Mind, I now know when my disorder is throwing false information at me, and I can simply reject it and function with the truth: I know who I am; I love and care for myself, and I appreciate my mind and body with their bisexual desires. But that was a long and painful journey. The next few blogs will be devoted to the steps we can take to overcome our borderline personality symptoms.

My five suggestions for bisexuals:

  1. We accept the fact that we are psychologically and biologically bisexual. If we are sexually attracted to both males and females, then we are bisexual.
  2. We get comfortable with it. We keep telling ourselves its okay to be bisexual.
  3. We recognize our negative feelings, enter into a state of mindfulness, and allow our higher self to soothe our mind until we begin to see the amazing qualities we possess because of our bisexuality. It is truly a gift.
  4. We deal with negative thoughts. We don’t suppress them, we convert them to positive thoughts. We can do this by simply taking a negative statement and turning it into a positive. For example “I cannot control my sex drive” becomes “I can control my sex drive”.
  5. We look for ways to appreciate our bisexual body and brain. We keep an ever growing list of things we are thankful for. When we have doubts, we simply check out list and recite all the things we like about ourselves.

[1] Eubanks-Carter, Catherine and Goldfried, Marvin  R. . The impact of client sexual orientation and gender on clinical judgments and diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychology. March, 2006

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