“Initially, you may be taken with his unique openness and vulnerability, since you haven’t encountered this in other males you’ve known. It’s refreshing to find a guy who doesn’t censor his feelings/thoughts, and seems emotionally accessible! It’s incredible that this man appears so completely without guile, he almost instantly puts you at ease and inspires your trust.”
S. Schreiber, M.A.
Borderline personality disorder in males is sometimes referred to as the Casanova Disorder, and it is one of psychiatry’s best-kept secrets. There may be several reasons for this. Perhaps because the behaviors/symptoms in males, which are nearly identical to those in women, are considered more acceptable by the culture making it more difficult to recognize and to diagnose.
It is referred to as the Casanova Disorder because these men tend to be highly romantic, and addicted to love, seduction, and sex.
The disorder has a strong link to early childhood and the mother child relationship. As an adult the male borderline is searching for the female nurturing and affection which he never received as a boy. This is not to negate the biological or genetic component that also seems to play a role in the development of this disorder.
“A hallmark trait of BPD, the inability to manage inner feelings, is just as present in the male, but it often manifests as spousal abuse or other violent acts rather than the self-directed anger more often seen in the female borderline” Rex Cowdry, MD
Symptoms of borderline personality disorder in males
Very romantic. Borderline men are obsessed with romance and love. They tend to be very open when speaking about feelings and romance and they will often proclaim their love early on in a relationship. It is not real love of course but for him it is.
Short-lived intense relationships. Borderline men have a difficult time forming long-lasting romantic relationships due to fears of intimacy and abandonment. As a result, they tend to have many short-term unstable even volatile relationships. As soon as one relationship ends, the borderline male will begin pursuing a new one. For these men it is all about the rebound and the chase. They are often sex addicted and cannot differentiate intimacy from the physical sex act.
Mood Swings. Borderlines experience mood swings frequently, and unlike bipolar disorder, they can happen within a few hours. He can go from being narcissistic and arrogant to being depressed or angry and back to confident again within hours.
Love Addict / Love Phobic. The borderline male is a walking contradiction; he is a true paradox. He is both addicted to love in terms of the chase, the romance, and the sex, and fearful of it because of his underlying fears of intimacy and commitment. He will be incredibly romantic and sensitive initially, seemingly too good to be true. However once the chase is over and he has secured a woman’s heart his backpedaling will begin.
Narcissistic / Insecure. Once again, the borderline male is a paradox. He can appear to be incredibly confident, dashing, cavalier and quite full of himself. However beneath this thin veil of vanity lives a very insecure man who feels both unworthy and unlovable.
Substance Abuse. Like women, borderline men also tend to abuse alcohol and/or drugs. Because of their inability to self-soothe or deal with their emotional pain in healthy ways, drugs and alcohol are quick and easy escapes for them.
Sensitive to Criticism. Borderline men are hypersensitive to real or perceived criticism or negative remarks. They are incredibly “thin skinned”. Criticism whether real or perceived can send them into a state of rage or depression.
Suspicious, untrusting, and jealous. Because their internal dialogue is that, “they are unworthy” and “unlovable” borderline men tend to be very jealous in relationships. No matter how much they are reassured, they are simply incapable of trusting. They will often test women, sometimes repeatedly, in an attempt to reassure themselves.
Recklessness. Borderline men engage is risky, impulsive, or reckless behavior. This can include things such as reckless driving, drinking, drug use, promiscuous sex, gambling, overspending, etc.
“Borderline men frequently engage in addictive, sexually compulsive behaviors, including regularly hiring prostitutes, having serial affairs, going to strip clubs, obsessively viewing pornography, engaging in voyeurism or exhibitionism, and compulsive masturbation. Some borderline men even use high-risk sex as a form of self-harm.” Mary Gay, PhD.
Low self-esteem. At the heart of this disorder is a man who feels incredibly insecure, inadequate, and unworthy. This comes from being the product of an emotionally unavailable mother or caregiver who never met his boyhood needs for affection and love.
Inappropriate intense anger. Anger is common to all borderlines, and it is often extreme and “out of proportion” for the situation. Real or perceived slights, criticisms, or fear of being left alone are some of the things that can cause this male to go off the deep end. Physical violence is not uncommon in borderline males.
Suicidal thoughts. Borderline men often engage in suicidal thoughts or ideation. Half of all borderlines attempt suicide at least once, and 10% go on to complete suicide.
There is no cure for borderline personality disorder. However, with the proper treatment and time, patients can make significant improvements. Many of the symptoms such as anxiety and depression can be managed with medication.
Like most personality disorders, borderline personality disorder typically will decrease in intensity with age, with many people experiencing few of the extreme symptoms by the time they are in the 40s or 50s.
Source material: APA 2000, DSM-IV, Gettinbetter.com, Psychology Today