Borderline Personality Disorder, Bisexuality, and Empathic Capacity

(Over 2% of the population have some degree of BPD. Of this population 8 to 10% commit suicide – this rate is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population and ten times the rate of suicides due to depression alone. This does not even include high-risk behavior that can lead to drug overdose. Approximately one-third of people with BPD also identify themselves as bisexual. If we reversed that, the number of bisexuals who have BPD traits, I believe the numbers would be much higher.  This blog is an attempt to understand the nature of one of the sub traits of disinhibition – risk-taking.)

Pathological personality traits in Disinhibition – Risk taking: lack of concern for one’s limitations. (DSM5)

We now move on to pathological personality trait 21 – lack of concern for one’s limitations. According to Fonagy and Bateman (2006), people with BPD may lack insight into their deficiencies in impulse control and empathic capacity which can lead to distortions in perceptions relating to self and others. The theory led to an interesting study my Morey (2014) who gave course instruction to 104 psychology students and then asked them to estimate their trait levels on the Five Factor Model of Personality. They then completed the Personality Assessment Inventory-Borderline Features Scale (PAI-BOR). High BOR individuals dramatically overestimated their levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness. Morey concluded that a key feature of BPD involves marked perceptual distortions of various aspects of self in relationship to others. Morey purposed that such individuals may have distorted insight into their capacity for cooperative relationships. There are three factors suggested here – empathic capacity, agreeableness and conscientiousness. Let’s begin with deficiency in empathic capacity.

Empathy is the capacity to understand and feel what another person is experiencing. We may actually sense and feel someone else’s emotions as if they are part of our own. In other words, someone else’s pain or happiness can become our pain or happiness. If we lack the ability to sense another’s feelings, it is defined as an empathy deficit disorder (EDD). A person with EDD may believe that only their needs are important, and may lack the ability to sense and appreciate the needs of others. This can result in difficulty forming and maintaining relationships and living in harmony with friends and loved ones. I believe that this is probably at the root of narcissism and anti-social personality disorders, but not BPD.

But does empathic capacity have to be a deficiency? Those of us with BPD tend to be oversensitive and not under sensitive. Fertuck (2012) found that individuals with BPD showed a heightened sensitivity to non-verbal cues when compared with people without BPD. The BPD group was more able to correctly guess what emotions were being expressed in pictures of eyes. They concluded that this showed an enhanced sensitivity to the mental states of others. In other words those of us with BPD may be super-skilled in sensing non-verbal cues such as eye expression, body language, and verbal tones.

            It appears that our high empathy skills may be an outcome of growing up in a traumatic and unpredictable childhood environment. Indeed, many of us have a history of abuse and neglect. As a response to confusing or neglectful parenting, we may have had to rely on our empathic functioning in order to protect themselves. We may have been self-trained by our environment to become highly attuned to the subconscious cues given out by parents and caregivers so that we could prepare ourselves for their unconscious behaviours. If our primary caretakers did not have the capacity to attune to our heightened perceptions, or even resented or were threatened by them, we may have consciously or subconsciously sabotaged our own emotional development. If our parents either explicitly or implicitly rejected us, we may have internalised the shame of being rejected, and experienced ourselves as being profoundly unloved and unworthy of love; however, we did what we could to preserve a good image of our parents even though they were incompetent, abusive, or neglectful. We naturally blamed ourselves because we still depended on them for our physical and emotional survival. We may have even forced ourselves to grow up prematurely so we could take care of our fragile parents.  We may have become emotionally unstable and have struggled all our lives feeling lonely, misunderstood, with the belief that there was something deeply wrong with us, and with the belief that our only function was to please and serve others. All of these factors can lead to a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness often resulting in indulging in high-risk behaviors.

            So how does this affect us bisexuals with BPD? I believe that one of the reasons we are so sexually active, even to the point of sexual addiction, is because we are looking for love, or at least, if not love, some sign that we are indeed desirable. Many of us are also bound by trying to use our sexuality to please others. In many cases our opposite sex relationships may have reached a point where we can sense that their non-verbal communication indicates that sex no-longer seems to thrill them (rejection), so we look for same sex experiences, usually with new partners, so we can experience their extreme forbidden  pleasure as well as our own. We often dabble in kinky stuff such as humiliation and degradation and perhaps forms of role-play involving punishment in order to exercise the demon that keeps telling us that all our abuse and neglect and our inability to please others, including our partners, is really our own fault. We often engage in unsafe sex or combine sex with dangerous drugs to heighten our sexual experience believing that if we die or get some fatal disease it is what we deserve anyway.

            While our heightened empathic capacity may be extremely painful, we should not immediately assume that it is a defect. It may be a gift. Psychologists recognize that empathy is one of the factors in personal intelligence (Gardner, 1985) which makes it a gift or talent rather than a deficit. Not all children who are neglected or abused end up with bisexual BPD; therefore, there may also be a genetic trait that is common to many of us that results in this disorder. Under favourable, circumstances, we could have grown up to have amazing abilities. If we had had an environment where we could have learned to set healthy boundaries and experience secure attachment without exploitation, we could have had an extraordinary ability to self-soothe and regulate our own emotions, have a sense of emotional stability under all circumstances, and a deep sense of internal wholeness. While the history cannot be changed, we can re-write the story that we keep telling ourselves. We are indeed worthy; in fact, we are gifted. We have a high level of awareness and acuity to verbal and nonverbal cues that is extremely precious. We are sensitive, intuitive, individuals who have the ability and potential wisdom to apply the right kind of nourishment to ourselves as well as to others. We have an ability to perceive our partner’s sexual experience and keep adjusting our love making to please them so we can heighten our own sexual pleasure. Because of our innate perceptivity, we can heal ourselves and help others heal themselves.  

            Perhaps there is a little voice within us that has always been there telling us we are special. If we can begin to listen to that voice, we can heal ourselves. Our amazing body wants us to heal so we can feel the full pleasure of our sexuality without feelings of guilt, shame, and rejection. Our mind wants to heal so we can enjoy the attributes or our empathic gifts. Our heart wants us to heal so we can love ourselves and find true intimacy with others. Our soul wants us to heal so we can share our amazing gifts to help please, heal, and nurture others. Once we can begin to recognise and trust our own fundamental goodness, our so-called pathological traits can become powerful tools to create the kind of life we will truly love to live. 

My five suggestions for bisexual Borderliners:

1. We rewrite our story. We recognize that we are gifted. We do not have EDD or even BPD. We are not dysfunctional. We simply function on a different plain.

2. We begin to practice self-love. Every time we feel that old impulse to hate ourselves we stop the noise, soothe our precious mind that is trying to protect us from further abuse, thank our mind for its due diligence, and let our heart express that we do indeed  love our SELF and have this amazing capacity to love and please others.

3. We let that voice from deep inside speak the truth that we are indeed worthy. In fact, we deserve to be treated as special because we are indeed special.

4. We take that painful trip back into our childhood and face the demons of the past. We acknowledge that our caregivers were weak and perhaps even abusive. We forgive and let go and then we pat ourselves on the back for surviving such a caustic situation.  

5. We begin to enjoy our sexuality without the negative feelings of being unloved and used and we stop trying to punish ourselves. We allow our empathic capacity to soothe our fragile self, grow, and enjoy our heightened sexual arousal and intimate pleasure for ourselves and our partner.

1. Fonagy P, Bateman AW: Mechanisms of change in mentalization‒based treatment of BPD. J Clin Psychol 2006,62(4):411–430. 10.1002/jclp.20241
2. Morey, Leslie C.. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation. Volume 1, Article number: 4. (2014)
3. Fertuck, Eric a.; Grinband, Jack; and Stanley, Barbara. Facial Trust Appraisal Negatively Biased in Borderline Personality Disorder. HHS Public Access. Published online 2013.

Bisexuality, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and At-Risk Behavior

(Over 2% of the population have some degree of BPD. Of this population 8 to 10% commit suicide – this rate is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population and ten times the rate of suicides due to depression alone. Approximately one-third of people with BPD also identify themselves as bisexual. The number of bisexuals who have BPD traits I believe would be much higher.  This blog is an attempt to understand the nature of one of the sub traits of disinhibition – risk-taking.)

Pathological personality traits in Disinhibition – Risk taking: Engagement in dangerous, risky, and potentially self-damaging activities, unnecessarily and without regard to consequences (DSM5).

                One of the sub traits of borderline personality disorder is risk-taking without regard to consequences. This trait shows up in several areas including drug abuse and at-risk sexual behavior. First of all let’s look at substance abuse.  Using a longitudinal study involving 1280 female adolescent twins from age 14 to 18, Bornovalovato and others[1] examined the developmental, genetic, and environmental factors underlying the co-occurrence of BPD traits and substance use. Shared environmental factors accounted for the association between BPD traits and substance use at age 14, but genetic factors accounted for the association at age 18.

                Looking at at-risk sexual behavior, Northey and others[2] asked 955 college students to fill out a questionnaire involving four BPD symptoms: affective instability, identity disturbance, negative relationships, and the tendency to self-harm. They then looked at the correlation of these four sub traits with sexual sensation seeking, sexual compulsivity, and sexual risk-taking. Sexual compulsivity was positively predicted by all four BPD symptoms. Sexual sensation seeking was positively predicted by negative relationships and self-harm. Sexual risk taking was not significantly predicted by any BPD symptoms. 

                So in plain English, what do these two studies tell us about risk taking for those of us with BPD. First of all we see that drug abuse seems to evolve during adolescence. Childhood is essentially a latent peaceful period with few outside traits or symptoms. However in adolescence we do not seem to have the eternal resources needed to withstand peer pressure – in this case, as it refers to drug use. In other words we use drugs because our friend use drugs. However by our late teen years when our friends are moving on, we seem to be stuck in drug use and drug abuse patterns because of our genetic predisposition. We use drugs perhaps because drugs fulfill an internal need for pleasure soothing and anxiety relief.

                When we look at sexual behavior, a similar pattern seems to exist. Because of our lack of self-esteem, we are vulnerable to the desire for the anxiety soothing and anxiety release provided by sexual pleasure and orgasm. This creates a situation where if it feels good we compulsively let ourselves become engaged without any concerns for the consequences often leading to risky casual unsafe sex. This also seems to be related to seeking the pleasure sensations as a kind of distraction from our inner turmoil rather than just for the excitement of risk taking itself. Once engaged, it appears that we may neglect the consequences simply because we feel we deserve to be treated badly and we may engage as a means to punish ourselves.

                When we look at us bisexuals with BPD, certainly at risk sexual behavior can be a major problem. There is still this desire out there for male bisexuals to have random sex without any condoms which can result in STD’s and even HIV and AIDS. Female bisexuals are not immune to unsafe sex either (particularly with males) but they do tend to listen to their brain and not just their genitals.

                These two studies indicate that some of our difficulties dealing with drug use and at-risk sexual behavior are related to genetic predisposition and our response to internal signals rather than external ones. Both drugs and sex appear to be our outlet for dealing with low self-esteem and the anxieties related to childhood issues. These behaviors appear to be impulsive because we either cannot or do not want to deal with the consequences because the pleasure involved is considered essential to our emotional survival, and we don’t give a damn if we die in the process.

My five suggestions for borderliner bisexuals:

1. We have to learn to deal with our compulsive behavior patterns by building in a reality check. I came across an experiment done a few years ago (sorry can’t find the reference) where overweight people tended to eat more shelled peanuts than non-overweight while waiting for an appointment, but the difference disappeared when the peanuts were still unshelled. This shows that compulsive behavior may be compulsive simply because it’s compulsive. For example I like to snack at night so I made a pact with myself to brush my teeth immediately after dinner and then remind myself that I should not snack because I would have to brush my teeth again. Sounds simple but it works. If we can build in a safety valve to give us time to think it through, and then make a conscious decision, then it is no longer compulsive.

2. We have to learn to care for ourselves including our beautiful brain. Drugs, even Maryjane, are mind-altering drugs. That means they alter the functioning of the brain by artificially changing the neurotransmitters and the neural circuits to the pleasure centers. If we love ourselves we will not do anything to harm our beautiful mind that is so well designed to find real ways to enjoy real pleasure.

3. Casual sex may provide a need for emotional and physical release and we can certainly make a case for allowing ourselves a little pleasure. However, this kind of behavior is usually based on not caring for ourselves and believing that no one truly could love us. This is not true. We can search for good sexual partners, either through partnership or on-going relationship, where we respect our sexual partner and we know they respect us (besides, the sex then is a hundred times better). Again this is a conscious decision which frees us from compulsive behavior.

4. Our sense of self-worth has to come from within. We can develop this like any other belief. We work at it. We make deals with ourselves. We recognize our achievements and our talents and gifts. We tell ourselves we love ourselves over and over again until we actually believe it. Then we start making conscious decisions based on that love.

5. We learn to love life, to get pleasure and satisfaction from the beauty of the world around us instead of drugs. We develop a true appreciation of the pleasures provided by wholesome sex with sexual partners who treat us as whole beings rather than just bodies or body parts.

Please Note: If you are serious about developing the skills needed to life a life free of anxieties that leads to at risk behavior, try my program – The Grounding Virtue – a Path to Self-Actualization.

[1] Bornovalova, M. A., Hicks, B. M., Iacono, W. G., & McGue, M. (2013). Longitudinal twin study of borderline personality disorder traits and substance use in adolescence: Developmental change, reciprocal effects, and genetic and environmental influences. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 4(1), 23–32.

[2] Northey, Lynnaea; Dunkley, Cara R.; Klonsky, David e.; and Gorzalka, Boris b.. Borderline personality disorder traits and sexuality: Bridging a gap in the literature. August 2016.

Bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder and Self-Harm Urgency

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Over 2% of the population have some degree of (BPD). Of this population 8 to 10% commit suicide – this rate is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population and ten times the rate of suicides due to depression alone. Approximately one-third of people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) also identify themselves as bisexual. The number of bisexuals who have BPD traits I believe would be much higher.  This blog is an attempt to understand the nature of one of the traits, disinhibition, so that we can survive and even thrive as bisexuals with BPD.

Pathological personality traits in Disinhibition -Impulsivity: A sense of urgency and self-harming behaviour under emotional distress (DSM5)

                Colle and other[1] looked at the relationship between self-harm and a sense of agency (feeling in control of the environment) in a small group of 20 BPD patients, nine of whom presented self-harming behaviors, and compared them with an age-matched control group. A sense of agency was evaluated through The Sensory Attenuation Paradigm, a comparison with externally generated sensations. The results of this study suggest that self-injurious actions constitute a coping strategy for increasing the sense of perceived control of the environment. The idea is that by inducing physical pain, patients may regulate feelings of distress related to loss of control, estrangement from reality, and experiences of numbness. Self-harm actions appear to enable a new set of emotional and physical sensations which allow the individual to feel alive or in control again by making a plan and carrying out an intentional action. However, the study suggests that the temporal relief afforded by NSSI behaviors is not effective for the long-term reduction of dissociative symptoms.

                 Fossati and others[2] looked at the relevance of emotion with negative and positive urgency (impulsivity) as it related to self-harm activities.  In their study involving 1,157 adolescents who were attending public high school in Italy, they used the Borderline Personality Inventory (a 53–item self–report questionnaire), the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), and the UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale (a 59-item self-report measure designed to assess five impulsivity-related traits). Their findings provide support for the tendency for adolescents to act impulsively when experiencing heightened emotional arousal, both negative and positive.  Negative urgency frequently led to self-harm activities. Their findings also suggest that Positive Urgency may be the dimension of an impulsive predispositionto experience a positive sense of well-being by engaging in reckless behaviors such as heavy drinking or sexual promiscuity “just to celebrate” or “just to have fun”. These results suggest that both negative and positive urgency may be emotion-driven based on underlying fears related to BPD.

                These studies indicate that there are several factors involved in self-harm activities stemming from the disinhibition trait for people with BPD. The first is a sense of dissociation from reality. According to Cole and others self-harm activities may be an attempt to get back into a sense control over our own bodies and therefore a sense of control over our lives in general. The study by Fossati and others suggests that disinhibition may also be due to a sense of negative (to avoid) or positive (to pursue) urgency and this sense of urgency appears to be created by out of control emotional forces. The goal is either to fight or flee in the case of a negative impulsive drive or to experience pleasure in the case of a positive one. It may be that the urge to experience pleasure could be to find an outlet to experience something positive in an otherwise negative world. However, we also realize that this source of high risk pleasure is just another way to harm ourselves.

                When it comes to us bisexuals with BPD, we may be using our sexuality as a means to break out of our otherwise cold and impersonal perceived reality. This positive urgency or impulsivity may be the result of pent up negative emotion, pain, or just a need to break out of the often restrictive heterosexual lifestyle we have created. We set out to supercharge our feelings so that we can feel real again. Our same-sex self then becomes our reality and our heterosexual life becomes some kind of trap that we have created to help us survive. However, once we come down from that high, we realize that our heterosexual self is our real self and the life we truly want to hang on to.  Once in this state the same sex excursion can become a kind of self-harm activity where we continue our dishonest behavior in the hopes of destroying the lives we can no longer maintain. If we are not honest with our partners and live in an honest relationship this duality can lead to a breakdown where suicidal thoughts may appear to be the only solution.

My Five Suggestions for Borderliners

1. Recognize that you are in a struggle to avoid some pain by substituting forms of pleasure that are tainted by inappropriate motivation. You do not necessarily have to change the behavior but you will have to change the motivation. If you are engaging in sex to escape pain or a perceived negative dissociative reality it can become a compulsive addictive pattern.

2. Make a conscious decision to seek pleasure just for the sake of pleasure rather than letting it take over subconsciously. Once in a conscious state your sexual pursuits become a matter of choice rather than a compulsion. You are now free to enjoy your sexual experiences without shame or guilt.

3. Honesty is always the best policy and that has to start with being honest with yourself. If bisexual experiences are important to you and you are not in a relationship then by all means engage and enjoy. No shame. No guilt.

4.  If you are in a relationship you will have to make a conscious decision on whether or not to tell your partner. But be honest with yourself. If you are just hanging on to the relationship because you feel co-dependent or are relying on them and your relationship to escape fears of abandonment then this is not the reason to stay together. You may choose to make a conscious decision to keep your two lives separate and secret but this seldom works.

5. If you are genuinely in love with this person you are now free to make a conscious decision to stay with this person in a monogamous relationship or to explain your need for bisexual experiences with the realization that it may result in the end of the relationship. Either way make the decision consciously, don’t just let it happen.

[1] Colle, Livia; Hilvio, Dize; Rossi, Roberta;  Garbarini, Francesca; and Fossataro, Carlotta.  Self-Harming and Sense of Agency in Patients With Borderline Personality Disorder. ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE Front. Psychiatry 2020.

[2] Fossati, Andrea; Gratz, Kim L; Maffei, Cesare; and Borroni, Serena. Impulsivity dimensions, emotion dysregulation, and borderline personality disorder features among Italian nonclinical adolescents. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation. 2014.


Bisexuality, BPD, and Planned Sexuality

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) – pathological personality traits in disinhibition – difficulty establishing or following plans (DSM5).

                Over 2% of the population have some degree of (BPD). Approximately a third of people with BPD are bisexual. Of the BPD population 8 to 10% commit suicide; this rate is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population and ten times the rate of suicides due to depression.  This blog is an attempt to understand the nature of one of the traits, disinhibition, so that we can survive and even thrive with BPD.

                As a society we seem to feel the need to label mental disorders so we can understand them and provide a platform for funding and treatment. In my case a suitable diagnosis was needed before I would qualify for long term disability. The danger of course is that we begin to become our labels which may interfere with the treatment we are attempting to obtain. However, labels can be useful if they give us a clear description of our traits so that we can create strategies to cope with them. I want to be perfectly clear. I no longer have BPD because I no longer have a disorder. I still have traits because they are part of my mental circuitry, but I now control them; they do not control me. I have gotten to this position through hard work, consistent self-analysis, and forcing changes upon my reluctant brain.   

                BPD is such a difficult mental condition to define as it covers a whole spectrum of negative and harmful thought and behavior patterns. Since the DSM5 has been published psychologists have been scrambling to put the traits listed in measurable terms to define a condition that seems to be too broad to define. However, it is generally acknowledged that detailed definition is needed before we can identify the specific patterns in order to make specific strategies to change them.

                One of the difficult areas to define is disinhibition, particularly being able to plan and live according to the plan. Whiteside and Lynam[1]  developed the UPPS-P Model of Impulsive Personality consisting of negative urgency, lack of premeditation, lack of perseveration, sensation seeking, and (lack of) positive urgency. The UPPS-P consists of 59 statements rated on a 1 to 4 scale from “agree strongly” to “disagree strongly.” In their attempt to establish reliability and validity they noted that lack of premeditation and lack of perseverance showed similar effect sizes across alcohol/substance use disorders, suicidality, and borderline personality disorder. Further research using the UPPS-P has indicated that lack of perseverance and lack of premeditation are considered key components of disinhibition[2].

                So what does this mean in practical terms? Let’s assume for a moment (highly unscientific) that we all have the mental capacity to plan; then the question is “Why are those of us with BPD having difficulty creating a better life plan and making better choices?” Speaking on a personal level, I have no difficulty making five year plans, one year plans, and following daily objectives when it comes to my professional and financial decision making. I even have a daily to-do list for organizing my daily routines. Where it tends to breakdown is on the highly emotional personal level. In the distant past, when my emotions entered the equation, I tended to panic, believing that the worst was about to happen (again) unless I took immediate actions to prevent the catastrophe which was about to hit me.

                So how does this relate to bisexuality? In the past, my failsafe outlet for dealing with my anxieties was sexual release and the only powerful enough sexual release was to engage with a new person in same sex encounters. Now having same-sex sex in itself is not necessarily a dysfunctional activity, but the thinking (or lack of thinking) pattern that goes with it certainly can be. Healthy sex is meant to be a positive experience leading to pleasure and shared intimacy. We should emerge from the experience feeling uplifted and refreshed not feeling guilty and depressed. If our sexual experiences have negative results we then may go back to an even worse situation. We have compounded the problem leading to deeper levels of anxiety and feelings of helplessness that can lead to suicidal thoughts.

                Now that I live in a much better space, I see the roots of those negative patterns. BPD engages the amygdala and the sympathetic system releasing fight, flee, freeze, or fond (new one meaning trying to appease others) mechanisms. For bisexuals who are trapped in a heterosexual life style with heterosexual partners, we may feel the need to flee our life circumstances for a few minutes totally detached from our “normal” patterns. The strategy now is not based on clear thinking or planning but slipping into escaping the immediate cause of our anxiety by running away from it or perhaps engaging in submissive behaviors.  Once the amygdala is engaged the rational self is shut down, hormones are in control, and things appear to have to ride to conclusion before returning to rational and productive thinking and behavior patterns. When we return to our “normal” patterns we return to the anxiety and now perhaps add guilt or shame. Continued failure to live up to our self-imposed impossible standards results in a feeling  that things will ever get better and sometimes the only solution may seem to be suicide.

My Five Suggestions for Borderliners:

1. Take your sexual patterns to a conscious level. Be in charge. Make a conscious decision on whether or not you may wish to engage in sex. If you feel the need to have a new sexual experience with a new partner, go ahead and enjoy, but do it consciously giving yourself permission to enjoy if fully.

2. Recognize when stressors are building up leading to feelings of generalized anxiety. Take a deep breath 4 seconds in, hold 4 seconds, deep breath out 4 seconds, and hold 4 seconds. Repeat until you feel calm. Then begin a conversation with yourself on why you feel this way.

3. Take control of your emotions. Recognize the feeling that lead to this urge leading to compulsive behavior.

4. Trace this back to the circumstances leading to these negative feeling of urgency. Concentrate of changing those circumstances.

5. if your anxieties are rooted in your broader life circumstances you may have to consider changing those circumstances whether it involves your work or your life partner. Whatever you decide, make it consciously. Take control of your life circumstances and give yourself the freedom to make the best decision for yourself given the circumstances.  

[1] Whiteside SP, & Lynam DR (2001). The five factor model and impulsivity: Using a structural model of personality to understand impulsivity. Personality and Individual Differences, 30, 669–689. [Google Scholar]

[2] Vaidya JG, Latzman RD, Markon KE, & Watson D (2010). Age differences on measures of disinhibition during young adulthood. Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 815–820. [Google Scholar]

Bisexuality and Labels – A Rose by any Other Name is Still a Rose

            Feeling sexually attracted to both men and women has garnered many different labels – bisexuality, sexual binary, pansexuality, sexually fluid, queer, and non-labeled. Then we seem to have to identify our gender to help explain our sexual preferences including the labels cisgender, bi-gender, and gender queer. We may even want to identify ourselves at the soul level by calling ourselves two-spirit people. Why do we do this?

I wonder, do we become our labels?

                There is certainly a danger in that. In one of the best articles I have found on the topic, Lauren Restivo [1] identified Self-Stigma as one of the problems with labeling. According to Restivo individuals may have a tendency to internalize labels resulting in negative perceptions and beliefs about themselves. I believe that when we identify ourselves as being different with a different genetic predisposition it can affect our belief systems. We may perceive ourselves as not being ‘normal’; we may never be ‘normal’, and not being ‘normal’ automatically makes us ‘different’ from significant others such as parents and siblings. If we lose our bonds with others or even live in fear of losing our bonds, it can make us vulnerable to mental pressures. The label can then lead to low self-esteem and feelings of helplessness.

                On the positive side, it can also help us identify with a specific group and therefore form a shield against discrimination from everyone else in the ‘other’ group. However, unlike ‘other’ groups within the LGBQT communities, we tend to go it alone often feeling further isolated. Case in point, I tried to form a friendship group for bisexuals with shared activities. We had over 60 members sign up but only two of us showed up for the scheduled events. When it comes to forming group bonds, on-line does not cut it. We have to be willing to dance and hug together. Finally, a bisexual label can also become a reason or perhaps an excuse to withdraw from living a life of mental and sexual freedom and the subsequent responsibility for honesty to ourselves and others that goes with it.

Is one kind of label more challenging than another kind?

Let’s have a quick look at the labels, what they mean, and why we choose them. If we are going to have a label, I think bisexuality is the best one. In other words we accept that we have sexual attractions to both men and women. We are NOT bisexuals (a noun) but we have bisexual desires (a verb phrase). Sexual binary is simply an attempt to sound and feel scientific which somehow justifies a behavior that does not need to be justified. Ditto for ‘sexually fluid’. Pansexual to me is getting close to the absurd. It suggests that we are free spirits constantly engaging in sex with anyone and anything (a bias we are already fighting against from some groups in society). We are just like everyone else. We are simply engaging in sex for the purpose of seeking intimate connection with other human beings. I do not like the term queer. I am not queer. I and my behaviors are natural and totally comprehensible within my own mind. I do not have to justify them or be in the face of others by playing on their negative terms for us.

                What about gender? Again, there is no need to try to explain or justify our sexual behavior by claiming it is somehow part of our genetic being. This may apply to submissive gays and dominant lesbians but it does not apply to us. There are some of us that feel we may be more comfortable in our ‘other’ gender but I would argue that this would make us transgender rather than bisexual. Transgender is not about sexual behavior; it is about being psychologically more comfortable in our gender feelings rather than our biological bodies. Being bisexual we are more concerned about the expression of our sexuality rather than the characteristics of our being. Some of us like to play either dominant or submissive roles. We like the feel of things like clothing and mannerisms that go along with these roles; they enhance our sexual experiences. Finally, it gets absurd when we have to give a label like cisgender to describe our physical reality. As bisexuals, as opposed to other members of the LGBQT community, we are (or should be) equally comfortable with our heterosexual, gay or lesbian masculine, or gay or lesbian feminine roles. As a conscious human being who happens to be bisexual, I see myself as having whole and complete access to all so called feminine and masculine traits.

                Finally regarding two spirit, I think this applies more to indigenous people. I sympathize with their desires to understand their sexuality within the parameters of their cultural experiences. I also sympathize with their historical and cultural openness to embracing the softer feminine traits that I believe are common to all but particularly shunned by our white culture as being a sign of masculine weakness, a problem that female bisexuals do not have to deal with.  Again I think we have to look at whether this is a transgender issue rather than our bisexual need to explain and justify our sexual desires and behavior. As bisexuals we all share our humanity, and the nature of our sexual desires and sexual identities are common to all of us. We need to accept ourselves based on our similarities rather than our cultural differences. Personally, I feel I have one spirit. That spirit is not sexual. It is the ‘me’ in me beyond my sexual physical desires and beyond the nature of my masculine and feminine characteristics.

Can labels be harmful within society?

                I believe labels can all have the same impact and results when it comes to Self-Stigma; however, different labels certainly create different responses when it comes to how they are perceived by society. Restivo identified another issue that she refers to as Public-Stigma. She states that the public in general has a tendency to engage in stereotypes (which I believe also applies to sexual behavior). She also believes that Public-Stigma can be unintentionally propagated by government and public institutions in the process of trying to define, help, and support people in need (which, again, I think applies to the LGBQT community) resulting in a lot of negative and mostly unfounded public attention.  In my opinion it is better to simply enjoy our sexuality without drawing unnecessary attention to ourselves by seeking some label for some form of justification through group identity. If there are legal issues then by all means we should stand up for our rights. Discrimination and abuse based on our sexuality should never be tolerated. But for the most part, why kick the dog when it is sleeping? By its nature, when aroused, society will react when it feels threatened by people to whom they have been assigned negative stereotypes.

                Then there is the tendency in the social sciences to try to form correlations with sexual behavior and personality disorders such as borderline, histrionic, avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and perhaps bipolar disorder. These attempts to explain why we seem to be so uncomfortable with our sexuality create a double label linking our bisexuality with mental disorders which can cause a public reaction. For example, people with bi-polar and borderline personality disorders are often viewed as having wild mood swings resulting in sex binges and engagement in extremely high risk behavior. This association of our sexuality with some kind of abnormal behavior can result is discrimination in the workforce and even in the process of finding life partners.

If I am diagnosed with cancer, am I “my cancer?” Am I diabetic and not human? Small-minded, rich, poor, black, alien, alienated?

No, you are not your negative label. Why limit ourselves? We are beautiful and powerful spirit beings.

Are there good labels? “Health-conscious”?  Loving? Curious? Interested? BFF (best friend forever)? Spiritual? 

Yes. Not all labels are bad. In fact, even labels dealing with our sexuality can be positive. Some of these labels help us understand our feelings and our thinking and behavior patterns. Once we recognize and accept them, we can take steps to live with them and even turn them into positive aspects of our being. The key is to not view the labels as something permanent leading to helplessness, but something temporary that leads to greater self-awareness and understanding. The goal is always to eventually lead more powerful and productive lives.

My Recommendations

1.     Do not wear your labels proudly or with shame. Recognize them for what they are, verbs not nouns, evolving not static. They are thought patterns and behavior patterns that can be changed. Do not overthink your sexuality. Just enjoy and find others who also like to enjoy their sexuality in ways that complement your desires.

2. Words do matter. health care providers, educators, and people in entertainment who have a tremendous influence on the minds of the general population should work to try and choose their words more carefully and avoid inadvertent labels and potential negative terminology. And please no jokes. This is not funny.

3. Avoid Self-Stigma by focusing on building your self-esteem and gaining self-control. The goal is to take control of your own sexual behaviors and the thought processes that go along with them. Sex is sex. Enjoy it without self-judgement.

4. If you are having mental issues, it probably is because of your mental issues, not your sexuality. It is what it is. If you need help getting to the root of why you are having trouble with your sexuality deal with the mental issues behind that feeling.

5. If you feel you need to use a label to help others, by all means do so. Just remember that you do not need a label for yourself to justify your sexual preferences. If you feel you have something to contribute to your fellow human beings who are struggling with their sexuality, then by all means knock yourself out and go for it. Just be sure that you are part of the solution and not part of the problem.

[1] Restivo, Lauren. Words Matter: The Effect of Stigma and Labeling on Mental Health Care in the MilitaryPsychological Health Center of Excellence. March 19, 2018.



Bisexuality, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Impulsivity

Pathological personality traits in Disinhibition – Impulsivity: acting on the spur of the moment in response to immediate stimuli. (DSM5)

                Joel Nigg [1] in a comprehensive study on impulsivity defined it as “a rash response in situations where considerate response is more appropriate”. Nigg identified three factors contributing to impulsivity: not planning and thinking carefully (non-planning), not focusing on the task at hand (inattentiveness), and acting on the spur of moment (motor activation). In another review of the literature by Turner and others[2], they discovered that BPD patients demonstrated delays in discounting the dangers, an inability to make proactive adjustments, and evidence of altered brain activation patterns. However, according to Turner and others, there was less difficulty with motor activation, unless influenced by high levels of stress.

                So what do these studies tell us in plain English for us bisexuals with BPD? As Nigg suggests, there appears to be little preplanning to avoid high risk behavior, and there seems to be an inability to attend to the potential danger factors. As a result, we go ahead and engage regardless of the dangers involved. This is typical in our tendencies to engage in unsafe sex with strangers. Turner and others provided a direct link between BPD and impulsivity which included the tendency to not just ignore, but to actually discount dangers. Again, for us bisexuals, we focus on our same sex behavior to alleviate the stresses of   living a so-called normal life with our opposite sex partners. These studies suggest that if there is any thought involved it is used to rationalize and discount the risks. We give ourselves all the old excuses including that these are natural tendencies and that our behaviors will not affect our partners, that what they do not know cannot hurt them, and we ignore the mental and emotional damage it is doing to ourselves. These studies also indicate that there seems to be a mental buffer to actually engaging in the high risk activity itself. As a result, we may tend to live our normal lives and try to control our other life behaviors, usually attempting to control or eliminate our same sex encounters.

                Apparently under stress we may have an actual alteration in brain patterns, almost like something inside our BPD mind snaps and bypasses the control mechanisms of the frontal cortex and responds directly through the amygdala and the pleasure centers of our brain. It’s as if we actually gain a heightened sense of pleasure by shutting down our rational mind and setting fire to our nervous system through the engagement of our sympathetic system. This usually involves leaving behind our normal life to engage in the other life resulting in a heightened sense of sensory awareness and heightened sexual pleasure with same sex partners. In addition, we may actually seek out and create our own stresses so we can release our built up tensions. In other words, we use our same sex encounters as a way to relieve all the stresses in our lives that come from our BPD traits. We will trigger our heightened sense of pleasure perhaps to demonstrate to ourselves that we are in control of ourselves in spite of all the emotional downers we face that lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

                This appears to result in some kind of fatalistic desire to engage in the activity knowing full well the dangers involved. It may be a means of escape from our relationship knowing that our partner will eventually find out and release us from the life we find so stressful. It would appear that there may also be a latent death wish. We seem to act upon a desire to experience the added rush from knowing that this activity may lead to STDs and possible HIV. It seems as though we may be nurturing a desire for suicide by risk.

My Five Suggests For Borderliners

1. Be proactive. Realize that you have these tendencies and make a commitment to change them.

2. Practice sound mental and spiritual wellness. Meditate every day. During these times focus of love for yourself. Let the feeling of love, well-being, and gratitude, flood your mind and soul. Keep telling yourself that you love yourself and you love the life you have been given. You can use these statements as a mantra during the day. When you feel one of your downers you can simply say “I love myself. I love my life”.

3. Do an assessment and make a list of the risk factors in your life. Then make plans on how to deal with each stress. When you find yourself involved with these stress circumstances and the feelings that go with them, activate your plan until you sense a change in your feelings.

4. Change your life patterns. Instead of being dishonest with yourself and your partner, make a commitment to being honest and working out the issues if and when they arise. Be sure you understand all the consequences and that you are prepared to live with them no matter what that may mean.

5. Instead of trying to fix your old life, plan to build a new one. This includes creating a low stress life style and finding new friends who will support you in your positive choices.

En”joy” the day

[1] Nigg, Joel T.. Annual Research Review: On the relations among self‐regulation, self‐control, executive functioning, effortful control, cognitive control, impulsivity, risk‐taking, and inhibition for developmental psychopathology. The Journal of Psychology and Psychiatry. 2016.

[2] Turner, Daniel; Sebastian, Alexander; and Tuscher, Oliver. Impulsivity and Cluster B Personality Disorders. Springer Link; Current Psychiatry Reports volume 19, Article number: 15.  2017.

Borderline Personality Disorder , Bisexuality, and Suicide

(Because of the high correlation between bisexuality and borderline personality disorder we are continuing to look at some of the traits that we may possess and ways to use these traits to not only survive but to thrive.)

Pathological personality traits in negative affectivity – Depressivity: Thoughts of suicide and suicidal behavior.        

                Black and others[1] in an extensive look at the data about the relationship between BPD, suicides, and suicide attempts, discovered that at least three-quarters of diagnosed BPD patients attempted suicide and approximately ten percent succeeded. The ones at greatest risk were those with previous suicidal behavior, depressive disorder, and substance abuse. They concluded that repeated attempts are not a call for attention but a genuine wish to die. A study my Brodsky and others[2] divided suicide attempts into two categories. Low lethal attempts were a triggered response to minor incidences, and high lethal attempts were more likely due to impulsiveness and comorbidity with major depression. People in the higher risk group made their first attempt at a younger age, responded more to negative social interactions, and demonstrated more aggression, hostility and impulsivity.

                So what can we take for this data? First of all let’s remind ourselves once again that we are looking at traits rather than a full blown pathological disorder. If we are in this category, that means it has not yet descended into major depression and we can still cope with the stressors in life; however, we also have to admit that we are at risk. Three out of every four of us who have allowed our traits to get out of hand have attempted suicide. We have to recognize that one of those traits is to become overwhelmed to the point that we have a tendency to wish to end it all.

                So what should we do about it while we still have the resources to prevent it? Let’s take a look at the three leading triggers: impulsivity, depressive disorder, and substance abuse. First of all impulsivity. The question is – why are we so prone to engage in high risk activity without considering the consequences? Why are we bisexuals willing to risk everything including our relationships with our life-mates and children or even our lives for a few moments of pleasure? Why do we sometimes engage in unsafe sex with people who are practically strangers?  The obvious answer is that we do not value our life and we place no value on ourselves. That pleasure has become all-consuming offering us a few moments way from all our fears and pain.  We are willing to risk everything for an emotional high that can take us out of the stresses of the life we live. We have to somehow change that. We have to begin to see life as a gift. We have to see our bisexuality as a gift.  We have to find a way to get past feeling sorry for ourselves, begin to see the positives, and learn to appreciate the gifts we have and the gifts around us provided my nature and the spirit world of our souls.

                If we do not try to fight it, most of us bisexuals with BPD traits will eventually experience depression. We can fight depression by exchanging hopelessness for hope and helplessness for power. Hope is readily available once we start changing our perspective. When we begin to see ourselves as being capable of loving and being loved, we can then allow others into our lives without fear of abandonment and rejection. We avoid one-night stands and encounters with strangers and find real people to love us so we can in turn love them. These people are out there. All we have to do is make a commitment to go out and find them. We surround ourselves with positive people. We allow positive people to love us. We allow ourselves the sensations of feeling loved.

                The third area is substance abuse. We have to face the fact that our mind is fragile but at the same time powerful. We do not need chemical crutches. We acknowledge that others may be able to enjoy drugs but our brain is predispositioned to be profoundly affected leading to drug abuse and psychological and physical dependence. It is a path that we cannot risk walking. We have to look at our brain as being capable of providing all the highs we need just by breathing and becoming conscious of the beauty and the positive energies around us. We find out what makes us tick; we avoid drugs because we know they will lead to depression and suicide; we accept our bisexuality as one of our greatest sources of pleasure, and  we diligently seek this pleasure in all the right places.

Mt Five Suggestions for Bisexuals with BPD

1. Begin to think positively about your bisexuality. Every time you experience a negative feeling recognize where it is coming from and reject it knowing that these feeling will eventually lead to disorders and suicide. Surround yourself with other bisexuals whom you know care about you.

2. Turn self-loathing into self-love. Get into the practice of stopping and taking a deep breath whenever you recognize self-hate. Go to a mirror, look yourself in the eye, and repeat “I love you” over and over again until you actually feel it. If your self-loathing is associated with your sexuality – stop it. Tell yourself that it is a gift and you have a right to seek pleasure through it.

3. Avoid impulsive behavior. When you first become aware of that negative powerless feeling stop it immediately before it becomes a compulsion. Talk to yourself, telling yourself all the reasons you should not do it. Make a conscious rational decision not to engage.  Give yourself permission to seek out a pleasure activity with a person who loves you or for just some good heart to heart talk.

4. Avoid all drugs. Remember that all drugs are attractive because they promise release from anxiety and a path to pleasure. Acknowledge the pleasure but realize that they are mind altering drugs and that your mind is not capable of dealing with the consequences. Make a conscious decision to love and protect your beautiful mind. If you want a cold beer on a hot day or a glass of wine with a special meal give yourself the pleasure of having it but know your limits and your reactions. Make a commitment to stay within your limitations. In the case of Mary Jane and other drugs, know that these are indeed mind altering drugs and the only reason you are taking them is to alter your mind or enhance your sexual pleasure. Your nervous system under control of your mind can reach all the levels of pleasure you can stand without any help from drugs.

5. If you find yourself slipping out of control, get help. Remind yourself that the path through depression for those of us with BPD will probably lead to suicide attempts and possible death.

[1] Black, Donald W.; Pfohl, Bruce; and Hale, Nancy. Suicidal Behavior in Borderline Personality Disorder: Prevalence, Risk Factors, Prediction, and Prevention. Gilford Press Periodicals. 2005.

[2] Brodsky. Beth S.; Groves, Maria A.; Mann, John J.; and Stanley Barbara. Interpersonal Precipitants and Suicide Attempts in Borderline Personality Disorder. Guilford Press Periodicals. 2006

Bisexuality and BPD

          During this Christmas season it may be particularly difficult for some of you in dealing with the borderline personality symptoms that many of us bisexuals have to deal with on a daily basis. If you are like me, this pandemic is making it even more difficult to get the support we need to keep on going. Today I just want you to know that you are indeed special. Hang in there. You have the potential to live a life beyond your wildest dreams.

            I have borderline personality disorder (BPD). If you do not have BPD, you may not understand where I am coming from. Let me clarify. For most people fear, anger, and the other emotions protect the person from harm. For me my emotions do not protect me from harm; if I let them, they will destroy me. There is no middle ground. If I give into fear, any fear, it will immobilize me. Having BPD means that those fears are not just fears, they are potential catastrophes. Life threatening. Likewise my anger is not just anger. It is an explosion; IF I LET THIS CAT OUT OF THE BAG, IT BECOMES A MOUNTAIN LION that will consume me and anything or anyone in its path. Likewise shame is not just shame, it takes over my whole body with a depth of despair that leads me down the path of self-loathing and self-destruction where the only escape is drugs or death. I can’t entertain these thoughts because they will reconnect me to the old feelings and that path leads back to depression and suicidal thoughts. There is only one way for me to experience the joys of life and that is to focus only on the joys of life. The only way to keep that focus is to take complete control of my mind and live continuously from my heart and soul. So to me mental health is not about changing my thoughts and beliefs, it is about finding a whole new way of life.

I have walked this path back from the edge of self-destruction. It started with intense therapy – five hours a day, five days a week, for eighteen weeks, along with heavy medication. It restored my chemical balance and gave me some strategies for dealing with my self-destructive thoughts but it did not deal with the pain that existed just below the surface. It took me two years in a mountain village in Costa Rica with daily meditations that took hours a day but I have eventually healed the wounds behind the pain. No anger. No fear. No anxiety. No chemical imbalance. No medication. No negative thought and behavior patterns. No dysfunction. No disorder. No symptoms of BPD. No therapy. I am living proof of the power of miracles that quietly waits to be awakened within each one of us.

Bruce Lipton in his book, The Biology of Belief, made an interesting comment about physiology and treatment of so-called disorders through medication: “they identify deviations in physiology (psychology) from some hypothetical norm as unique disorders or dysfunctions, and then they educate the public about the dangers of these menacing disorders, and then they medicate the symptoms.” Bruce has a point about how BPD is treated; however, I disagree with the underlying premise that  many people have that there is no real problem and we just have to get over it or learn to think better thoughts. In the case of those of us with BPD, we have been led to believe that the leading cause of our BPD is a combination of anxieties, and the best way to deal with these anxieties is through medication. There is a problem with that; it does not address the cause of the anxiety. Cognitive therapy has an answer to that, a better one, but still based on the premise that our BPD is a combination of dysfunctional thought processes and the answer is therefore cognitive therapy. These strategies come from people who may have experienced other disorders like PTSD and depression, but they do not understand BPD. It is much more complex than that.

This is where our BPD mind comes in. Our conscious mind is our rational self, and our subconscious mind runs the programs we have developed since we were babes. Our conscious mind creates negative energy in the form of negative thoughts and our subconscious mind creates negative energy in the form of negative feelings. These together form my negative mind states. Another name for these mind states is beliefs. My beliefs are complex bodies of neural pathways that involve multiple parts of my brain including the amygdala (emotion) and the hippocampus (memory) and as such contain a hundred times more energy than my individual thoughts. When it comes to an argument between my conscious mind and my subconscious mind, my rational mind, even with all the new cognitive strategies, will lose every time. Getting rid of symptoms of BPD and other mental disorders is not just learning to think good thoughts. To truly live a life free of anxiety, I have to change my subconscious mind that is saying I am not good enough, or I can never do anything right, and I am unworthy of anything good happening in my life.

How do I do this? It is a simple one-step process but one that is so hard to do. There is comfort in wearing a label and just letting ourselves flow with conventional thought. We have a reason and perhaps an excuse for our thoughts and behaviors but it does not heal the pain that is inside us. To have true healing, I have to accept that I have a third level of consciousness beyond just my rational and subconscious mind – a super consciousness, my higher self, my soul – where I can experience a world full of love and joy rather than a world of fear, anger, and shame. Whenever I experience powerful negative feelings attached to my subconscious beliefs, I do not argue with them; I accept them for what they are. In my new reality there is nothing to fear, no Sabre toothed Tiger. There is no real danger out there that can harm me, except my own thoughts. There is no battle that needs to be fought except the one created by my own mind, created by negative thoughts fueled by negative feelings. I simply turn over the situation to my higher self. I do not suppress; I accept my fears and shame; I embrace them; and I thank my mind for its due diligence. Then I reconnect the present situation to new feelings powered by my heart which has an electromagnetic energy a hundred times more powerful than the energy of my conscious and subconscious minds combined. This creates a powerful surge of energy that activates the pleasure center of my brain producing feelings of elation throughout my whole nervous system resulting in tears of joy. I use this joy to create the building blocks of a new mind state. I fill this mind state with the belief that I am a truly powerful and beautiful creature. I use these feeling of joy to reattach the feelings of fear to feelings of power, to reattach feelings of anger to feelings of compassion, to reattach feelings of guilt and shame to feelings of pride and love for who I am and for the person I have grown to be. At first it is not easy, but if I am consistent, daily, and sometimes moment by moment, seeking the good in what seems hopeless, I begin to build and reinforce these new pathways until they become the automatic response of my subconscious mind. Then my brain gets the message and voila! Homeostasis. Peace.

By believing that we have a higher self that is in complete control of our lives, we get complete control of our lives. By believing that life is good and we have the power to enjoy it without changing it, we begin to appreciate the life we now live. En”joy” the day.

Genetics? Maybe? Maybe Not

                Since the mapping of the human genome, the LGBQT communities have been searching for the gay gene. They have not found it. The next genetic supposition was that we may have a genetic predisposition created by a combination of some of the twenty-five thousand genes in every nucleus of every one of the trillions of cells in our human body. Again there has been no solid evidence to support that theory. Perhaps it is not about genetics after all. Bruce H, Lipton (Lipton 2010) in his book The Biology of Belief, makes a strong case for the role of the environment in shaping our beliefs which in turn shape or genetic expression. In the relatively new emphasis on epigenetics, we see the human being as a complex set of pieces of information contained in our genes that express themselves in a trillion different ways through the production of strands of one hundred thousand different proteins that are combined in different ways to shape our response to the environment. In other words we are not bisexual because of genetic predisposition, but rather due to a set of circumstances and beliefs that has shaped our genetic expression.

                Why is that so important? Because our beliefs shape our feelings and our feelings shape our thoughts and our thoughts shape our actions. In other words, let’s admit it, we indulge in our sexual references because we want to and we prefer some expressions of our sexuality over others. We want certain kinds of sex based on the pleasure we experience rather than some form of genetic predisposition. We have formulated that expression of pleasure for a thousand different reasons, many of them based on the situations we experienced as children and teens in our environment. This also means we have the power to control our sexuality and how we express it. If you prefer same sex pleasure that go ahead and enjoy it. If you prefer opposite sex pleasure than go ahead and enjoy it. You do not have to explain yourself to anyone including yourself.  As a bisexual, I may prefer to have sex with a man at certain points in my life and at other times I may prefer to seek the love of a woman. I refuse to beat myself up because of the inconsistencies of my preferences and choices. I refuse to have to justify those preferences and choices to anyone.

                Our sexuality is what it is. Why fight it? Why try to label it? Why look for a cause? Why try to justify it? Why indeed. It is a source of pleasure and this world knows there is so little of that these days.

Bisexuality and Feelings of Inferior self-worth

Because of the high correlation between bisexuality and borderline personality disorder we are continuing to look at some of the traits that we may possess and ways to use these traits to not only survive but to thrive.

Pathological personality traits in negative affectivity – Depressivity: Feelings of inferior self-worth (DSM5)

Perhaps the most defining trait associated with BPD is a feeling of inferior self-worth. To get a better understanding of self-worth for us bisexuals with this BPD trait we want to take a look at two studies that show how our inferior feelings may differ from others.

                Lynum and others[1] compared self-esteem in patients with avoidant personality disorder (APD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD) using the Index of Self Esteem. Subjects from both disorders had self-esteem levels associated with clinical problems. Patients with higher levels of depression reported lower levels of self-esteem in both groups. Hedrick and Berlin[2] looked at the difference in feelings of self-worth with 18 subjects with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and 18 subjects with depersonalization disorder (DPD) using the Implicit Association Test. They discovered that BPD participants had significantly lower self-esteem and less self-directedness and cooperativeness. They also had higher harm probabilities and impulsivity.

The first study states the obvious; we share feelings of inferior self-worth with other personality disorder groups; however our low self-esteem is clinical in nature and often associated with depression.  When we apply this to our bisexuality we see an easy blame target for our inferior feelings. We are often consciously or perhaps subconsciously feeling we are somehow lesser human beings because of our bisexuality.  This feeling has its roots in low self-esteem that seems to be part of our sometimes warped and twisted self-concept and may have the potential to lead to dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns. The study by Hedrick and Berlin is particularly interesting as it sheds more light on the nature of this pathological trait.  It would appear that those of us bisexuals with BPD have a deeper sense of unworthiness leading to difficulty making good life decisions.  This lack of self-worth appears to make us more defensive often leading to conflicts with others. We tend to say to hell with caution and just barrel ahead with unsafe sexual experiences often leading to dangerous and self-defeating behaviors. If it goes unchecked, it may eventually lead to high risk and self-harm behaviors.

So what can we take from these studies? First and foremost, it places feelings of unworthiness and the core of our self-defeating behaviors at a clinical level. The flip side, again, is that at this point it is just a trait and traits can be changed by changing our thought patterns before they become behavior patterns. Secondly, it narrows our focus. Instead of looking at all the dysfunctional behaviors, we can focus on one issue – improving our self-concept.

I suggest the following:

1. Instead of letting your sexual desires dictate feelings of inferior self-worth, you can look at your sexuality as a gift. You have no inhibitions or limitations. You can find sexual pleasure with men or women.

2. Being bisexual is more than just sexual freedom. You can also look at the other aspects of your personality. As bisexuals we often are creative. Many of us are dancers, poets or artists. We can see the world in a different way and pass our insights on to our fellow human beings. Make a list of your gifts and post it somewhere to remind yourself just how amazing you are.

3. Meditate for at least fifteen minutes each day. During mediation focus your attention on a positive aspect of your body or your life and become mindful of how amazing this gift is. Do not rationalize it. Just develop a feeling of profound gratitude and appreciation and let that positive vibration occupy your whole mind and body.

4. Begin to see yourself as special. When you look in the mirror look yourself in the eye and keep looking until you feel appreciation for the person you are.

5. Beings gay or lesbian is not a matter of choice, but being bisexual is. We can choose whom we love and whom we want to be with. We can choose to have monogamous relationships with either a man or a women or we can choose to live alone or with an understanding partner and have different relationships with different people. Celebrate your ability to choose. Begin to structure your life to reflect this new self-concept. Determine what you really want and make a plan to create the kind of life you truly want to live.

[1] Lynum, L; Wilberg, Theresa; and Karternd, Sigmund. Self-esteem in patients with borderline and avoidant personality disorders. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. 2008.

[2] Hedrick, Alexis N.; and Berlin, Heather A.. Implicit Self-Esteem in Borderline Personality and Depersonalization Disorder. Frontier Psychology. 2012