Posted in Borderline Personality Disorder, Life, Mental Health

The Angel and Devil on my shoulder – A BPD defence mechanism for relationships – Part 1

Combining the Angel and Devil to become a whole person
Combining the Angel and Devil to become a whole person

When you live with BPD everything is black and white, there are no shades of grey.

Good or evil, nothing in between.

Everyone jokes about having an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other and them being stuck in the middle, with BPD the difference is there is no you in the middle, you are the angel and the devil at constant war with yourself to control you thoughts, feelings and emotions… it is a defence mechanism doomed to failure…

How does this impact on forming romantic relationships?

Let me take you on a journey through my world…

Today we’ll examine the Devil’s perspective, I’ll reveal the angel in another post…

It will take a very special man to capture my Angel.

My Devil protects her from harm by testing those would be suitors in the most obvious of ways.

The devil is most alive at the weekends, when I’m not working when I’m partying and socialising, the times when I am more likely to be approached by men…

You may get a glimpse of my Angel if our conversation is sparkling, intelligent and not just flirty and seductive – that would be the Devil you are talking to then, reeling you in for the test.

The devil knows the angel likes you but also that the angel is naïve and unable to defend her heart and so the test begins…

You sleep with me, you fail…

And before you say what man would turn it down if it’s offered on a plate, how about a ‘gentleman’ a ‘real man’ a man of integrity, the kind of man deserving of my angel, the kind of man who has ‘respect’ for a woman even when she appears to have none for herself!

But don’t be fooled by the angel either because if I don’t want to sleep with you it doesn’t mean you pass the test, you failed before things got that far because the angel doesn’t like you that way. Most likely both the angel and devil will happily be your friend but nothing more…

There are a few flaws in the devil’s scheme however…

Firstly, in behaving this way the impression given to others is that I am a slut, a whore, an easy lay. This means that potential angel winners stay well away from this wild girl. They may, if I’m lucky, notice my good qualities too (the angel) but due to the devil’s behaviour they will not wish to get involved with a woman so loose. The angel may notice and like these men too, but she cannot get near them because of the devils work.

The second flaw is that there are men who will repeatedly fall for both the devil and angel, they fail the test initially but because they grow to see more of the angel over time, or they enjoy the seductive charms of the devil they return for another try, and another, and another… In doing this the wall’s and armour surrounding the angel begin to crack and crumble, uncertainty reigns. Both the angel and devil argue ‘maybe this one is different after all’  both begin to believe  you may actually be worthy of the angel after all. They begin to open revealing themselves, as they do this the door is open for facing rejection when you decide that you don’t actually want the angel, it was the devil you enjoyed. But the Devil is actually as naïve as the angel as she never saw this coming.

Furthermore both the angel and the devil get bored easily if their differing needs are not being fulfilled, getting the balance right in feeding the devil to keep her off your back but not let her get bored and charming the angel without boring her to sleep is the next challenge for anyone who somehow finds themselves still in the game, still wanting the angel, the devil or both…

As a result the defence mechanism is fatally flawed, the chances of a special man being able to defeat the devil and capture the angel are slim to none and so the angel is destined to remain lost and alone…

Unless she can defeat the devil instead…

And this is where I am now, trying to defeat the devil, not play the game. Combine the angel and the devil to make a whole person once more – a real ‘me’…

I don’t do this intentionally, I don’t set out to test people in this way, I have figured out this is what happens subconsciously through monitoring my own behaviour and I don’t like what I see, no wonder I’m not happy…

And believe me, even I think that this behaviour appears selfish and manipulative! But before any ‘haters’ out there start saying this is proof of how BPD’s are manipulative my entire point is that this is not a way of choice – there is no intention to manipulate or be selfish, the intention is purely defence based so don’t cite this as proof of your believed rightful hatred, to hate so much means you are not a nice person yourself, I don’t go round hating people and I have BPD! but I’m not excusing this behaviour either, as I say with all my BPD issues it is something that first we must recognise within ourselves, then understand, then we can work on correcting this inherently inappropriate response. The one day maybe it will be me who is in control not the angel or the devil, and then maybe I can meet someone I deserve, who is deserving of me, without either of us having to dance around this defence mechanism… I working on it, and you can too…

What do you think? Does any of this remind you of yourself or a friend/partner?

Have you been able to overcome this twisted battle of self-defence?



Self-published author whose first book Coffee Break Companion, a collection of short stories and poems is now available on Amazon. S.L.Grigg lives in Bromsgrove with her family. Working in the NHS and enjoying reading, Pilates and travel, amongst other things when she isn't too busy writing.

18 thoughts on “The Angel and Devil on my shoulder – A BPD defence mechanism for relationships – Part 1

  1. What do you mean _thankfully_ not done any dancing on tables? What are you trying to say about my ‘dancing on tables’ student days???? 😉 I think you have to be really good at pool (which I’m not) to pull off dancing provocatively with a pool cue (I almost wrote ‘cube’, that’s how much I know about pool…..) 🙂


    1. hehe nothing wrong with dancing on tables, but if I did I’m pretty sure it would result in serious injury! lol 😉
      Dunno about ‘really’ good but, dirty dancing with a pool cue is one of my specialities! lmao x


  2. Sharon, I would love you to read my novel. This isn’t a sales pitch, but it is so relevant to the things you are saying/feeling/doing. I’m so glad you led me here. The unconditional love of a few friends has been invaluable to me through the years. I know from experience that there are creative people out there, who will love both your angel and your devil, and enable them to appreciate each other too. Peace is possible x


    1. Thanks Julia, I will have to check out your novel. I’m finding more people who can connect with both my angel and devil and appreciate both without prejudice – but more importantly the real ‘me’ beneath them both! 🙂 x


  3. I read a small amount about Transactional Analysis years ago, but if you find it helpful for understanding BPD, then I think I’ll go back and read a bit more, as anything that helps and provides a good model for understanding, is worth a try!

    Oh yes, can relate (though more in days gone by!) to the more outrageous devil under the influence. Done any dancing on tables recently? 😉 Glad the weekend had a good start to it 🙂 .

    I’m still on ‘Love the Way you lie Part II’ (and Diamonds, when requested by my children!). I’m so boring – I really need to quite literally, ‘change the record’. It will start to form actual Rihanna-shaped pathways in my brain soon…… x


    1. Yeah, I just ordered a couple of TA books actually lol

      Hehe, thankfully not done any dancing on tables but dancing round the pool table and provocatively with a pool cue, plenty of that! 😉

      I keep replaying the same Coldplay CD over and over at the moment, just like when ‘someone’ was here last year… must stop! :/ x


  4. Glad you’re managing to enjoy the flirtations without the temporarily intense but sometimes crushing after-effects! 😉 Hope you manage to keep the devil in her place over the weekend too – I know I find these the most challenging times, without the distracting influence of work.

    The parent/child analogy is an interesting one, and again not one I’d considered before. Definite food for thought – I’ll let that one go round in my brain for a while with the same old Rihanna song on in the car as background (driving is where I do a lot of my thinking!) and see what happens….!

    You hit the nail on the head with ‘would I want to be her now’ – this is EXACTLY where I am right now, and right now the answer is ‘no’, and I know that needs to change, but I have no idea how to change it. And it’s not because I ‘want to be ill’ but because it would feel like losing myself, and because I believe it would feel like a sort of death, and I can’t cope with that thought right now.

    I’ve read one of your other posts on black and white thinking, which was really helpful as well – for me, it used to be something that I didn’t feel I related to very strongly, until a few weeks ago when I had one of those lightbulb moments where I suddenly understood what black and white thinking actually meant, and I was SO wrong about it not being as relevant for me!

    I always used to think of ‘black and white thinking’ as a purely intellectual thing – i.e. because I feel I can see different angles to an argument and can appreciate different points of view and can argue from different perspectives (if required), I can’t possibly be a ‘black and white thinker’. Whereas now I believe that black and white thinking, despite its name, is a matter of the heart, rather than the head.

    I may be able to take a middle ground when it comes to ideas and abstract concepts, but when it comes to how I think and FEEL about PEOPLE, the story is completely different. Looking back, I can see numerous examples of friends/individuals adored and then hated, backwards and forwards of emotions, the flipping of a switch in how I thought and felt about them, very often dependent on whether they were actually present or not. Those feelings are concurrent with thoughts, but it’s an emotional, interpersonal thing – it’s not about ‘radical opinions’. 🙂

    Sorry, once again, for the length of comment! 🙂 x


    1. Well last night I managed to enjoy some flirtations and still get home alone, so good start to the weekend there! lol The addition of alcohol certainly makes it more challenging, I don’t drink a huge amount but I like to have a little to unwind so I have to learn to manage the devil who is always a little wilder under the influence! hehe

      Yeah, the parent/adult/child thing is from Transactional Analysis, I find it very useful for helping me unravel lots of my behaviours. I have a very strong ‘free-child’ and ‘critical parent’ but not so much ‘nurturing parent’ (self-love) and I think my ‘adaptive child’ is also quite strong. the Adult on the other hand is that part of me that is real, rational, the non-BP part of me trying to balance out the rest, logical and free of emotion.

      Which Rihanna song do you keep playing?

      Indeed, I would feel like I had ‘killed’ a part of myself that actually has some very good characteristics (as well as the bad ones) if I could eradicate the BPD me and that ‘old’ me was very boring, lonely, isolated and unhappy in some ways, so would she really be someone worth getting back?

      I think you are right about the black and white thinking, it is a very emotion fuelled state but I guess that’s why it is a key BPD trait…

      Don’t worry about lengthy comments, it’s fine! 😀 x


  5. Thank you Sharon, really thought provoking! Its taken me a few days to comment because I’ve been trying to process exactly how it relates to my experience. I recognise a lot of what you’ve written about, although id never thought about it in quite that way.I certainly recognise the flirty and outrageous devil who reels people in…..I think the way I have started to make sense of it for me is that the devil craves intensity and the angel craves perfect care. One is transient, and the other does not exist. Therefore, although they’re opposites, they work together to perpetuate black and white thinking, to keep the cycle going and to keep you trapped in restlessness and unhappiness. In that sense, they both need defeating, but how? Is it a case of repression, annihilation, negotiation? How do you make a whole person out of that? In typical BPD fashion (sorry to generalise), I made a different person, taking on a set of values, beliefs and a partner designed to ensure that after a year of free reign, the devil would be put away for ever. I reinvented myself, and perhaps I even thought I was making a bit of a deal with the angel,to get some of that perfect care, although I think by that stage id fooled myself into redefining ‘perfect’ to mean ‘safe’. But then something happens to upset the careful balance, and before you know it, black and white thinking rules again. And in that state, the balanced, tempered persona feels very far from being a ‘real me’ – she feels like the interloper, and the angel and the devil feel like the only reality I know – the dichotomous me that can’t be reconciled to herself or her recent life. Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound quite so negative! I’m thinking of you in the battle with your devil, and hoping you find that special someone soon, and that your angel gives them a break from having to be perfect 😉


    1. Exactly, intensity and perfect care, yes definitely! I guess it’s a bit of the ‘parent/adult/child’ scenario although both the angel and devil seem to be childlike, the parent would have me lock myself away and never sleep with anyone ever and what needs to happen is for the adult to take control and set realistic expectations on acceptable behaviour and also what is ‘healthy’, realistic and attainable in relationships… I fully agree that seeing the ‘me’ of other times when not in a BPD cycle I look at her and think, who was that person? and can I ever get her back? but if I did would I want to be her now? Since writing that I have been managing to allow the devil to indulge in her flirtations but NOT take them home,lol and it feels quite good… 😉


  6. Confusing. No one ever explained the black and white thinking and though I´ve read so many books on BPD, this is a new explanation I must do some pondering over to understand. Some of the experinces you wrote about, I experienced also and could never figure it out (like why many men think I am easy). Gives me lots to think about and try to understand. Thank you!



    1. I’ve done a few posts in the past on black and white thinking, it’s one of the things that affects me strongly even if I’m coping well in other areas!


  7. BPD… it’s not evil or angel deciding relationship… follow what is in your heart… who know the person you are looking for is also fighting BPD… Cheers!!!


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