Does Borderline Personality Disorder Make You Codependent?

March 20, 2012 Becky Oberg

Codependency and borderline personality disorder complicate one another. Get help for codependency if you have BPD. Find out if you're codependent. Read this.

Codependency, like addiction, is a serious problem that can affect many people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Codependency is a behavioral and psychological condition in which a person sacrifices his/her own wants and needs in order to maintain an unhealthy relationship. It is also called "relationship addiction." Codependency is probably due to the intense fear and frantic efforts to avoid abandonment common in BPD.

Codependency Means You Don't Tell Anyone

One feature of codependency is "family secrets." These secrets can be due to isolation, denial, and "don't talk" rules.

Isolation may be due to a belief that the family's image must be protected. This can lead to restricting contacts with "outsiders," such as clergy, social workers, and therapists. Isolation prevents help from arriving. When a family isolates, things are kept in the family even when there are obvious problems.

Denial is a refusal to admit a problem. If there is no problem, help is not needed. If help is not needed, there is no problem. Denial can also include minimizing the severity of a problem, such as "he only beats me one day a week, it's a problem when there's a daily beating."

"Don't talk" rules are another way of keeping family secrets. However, in this situation, it is understood within the family that certain issues are not discussed. This leads to the metaphor of an elephant in the room--there is a huge problem no one talks about because no one wants to be the one to bring it up, but everyone knows it is there and navigates around it. This also prevents help from arriving.

How Codependency Affects a Person With BPD

A person with BPD can be affected by codependency in many ways. Some examples are over-responsibility, manipulation and control, and resentment and self-pity.

Over-responsibility is taking responsibility for someone else's problems. A person who is over-responsible will blame him/herself for the actions, feelings and thoughts of others. He or she then becomes a victim of the problems that the other person's lack of responsibility creates. An example would be lending money (without any hope of getting it back) to an alcoholic boyfriend who drank his rent because "I've got to take care of him."

Manipulation and control stem from over-responsibility. When a person feels responsible for others, he or she will try to influence their behavior. Manipulation occurs when the person with BPD tries to influence another without letting him/her know, such as giving the silent treatment. Control occurs when the person with BPD lets the other know, such as "If you don't do this I'll do that."

Resentment and self-pity stem from over-responsibility and manipulation and control. Because the codependent person is doing so much for others (whether voluntarily or involuntarily), he or she can feel unappreciated, resentful, and self-pitying. He or she is likely to burn out eventually.

Are You Codependent With BPD?

I recently saw a questionnaire which I've adapted for people with BPD.

  1. Do you have a hard time saying no to others, even when it's in your best interest to do so?
  2. Are you always sacrificing your own needs for others?
  3. Do you derive a feeling of self-worth from helping others?
  4. Would you feel guilty or worthless if you stopped helping others?
  5. Do you know how to have friendships that don't involve you in the "helper" role?
  6. Would you still be friends with friends who no longer needed your help?
  7. Do you feel resentful when others are not "grateful enough"?
  8. Do you feel uncomfortable when you are receiving help, rather than giving it?
  9. Do you think your friends have chaotic lives and drift from crisis to crisis?
  10. Did you grow up in a chaotic family?
  11. Did you think it was up to you to keep the family functioning when you were growing up?
  12. Are many of your friends plagued with severe social or emotional problems?
  13. Is it important for you to be "the dependable one"?

If you answered "yes" to a lot of these questions, you may have a problem with codependency.

A good therapist can help you work through codependency. There are also support groups such as Codependents Anonymous, and books such as Codependent No More by Melody Beattie.

There is nothing wrong with helping others. However, it's important to take care of yourself. If you have BPD, you have enough problems yourself--don't take on others' problems at the expense of your own health. Take care of yourself first--then you'll be able to help others in a healthy manner.

Photo credit: Adam Williams, Creative commons license


APA Reference
Oberg, B. (2012, March 20). Does Borderline Personality Disorder Make You Codependent?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 20 from

Author: Becky Oberg

Jane Doe
July, 25 2018 at 2:12 am

I've got BPD and codependency along with PTSD. Of course depression and anxiety come along with the territory. I've experienced pain that few have ever experienced. I had a Kundalini Awakening 4 years ago while dating an alcoholic who was also a narcisist. The awakening gave me the experience of complete unconditional love and a glimpse of eternity and ultimate knowledge that no matter what, everything would be okay for all eternity. But, I fell hard as most do after an awaking, as it ripped me apart, dissolving my being and sent me into a new reality. I went insane for a period of time having to be hospitalized twice in under 2 months. But even after a year after leaving the alcoholic and another not so healthy relationship, I became single for a year. I was incorporating my new reality hard as it was but being single made me happier than id been in years. Then, my sister got diagnosed with cancer and I got depressed. I got in another relationship after meeting someone I really liked and we had so much in common. This guy was also awakened and we both understood the universe and psychic stuff. At first it was no less than magical. We were on the same wavelength and experience duel synchronicity and connected energetically. I was still depressed and suicidal because life was still hard and has been my whole life. I looked to the relationship as a reason to live. He actually experienced the same stuff I did and I didn't feel like an outcast.
He ended up being the most abusive yet, physically and emotionally so severely. Although he was so kind and beautiful, I realized he also has BPD severely and psychotic outburst of rage. I have never been physically abused so badly or verbally. It wasn't emotional though and he hates himself for what he did. I felt his pain literally. He proposed and I accepted after we went on a long trip together and moved across the country. The abuse got lesser for a while but came back. He ended up attacking me and kicking me so badly he realized he had to leave me for my own good. He started punching himself and couldn't stand yet stop his behavior. I love him still so much and until today was so heartbroken. Now, I am learning how to create my reality and love myself. Its tough. I get help now when i ask for it. Literally. Anyway, through synchronicity, oracle cards, and intuition, I have been forced to see my own power. I didn't want to leave him because he is so hurt and needs unconditional love. I thought I could heal him but I see now I have to heal myself and that our relationship was toxic. I leave back home in two days, and after endless messages from spirit and common sense, I realize I've got to let go of him. He knows I love him And I forgive him. I've got to be single again to heal. Seeing the pattern was easier, changing it is harder.

June, 16 2021 at 3:28 am

i am so sorry for all that you have gone trough. i also am a codependent bpd and was in relationship with a covert narcissist. i also had a kundalini awakening. all of these things in the end led me to where i never would of thought they would - to Jesus. he is real, he loves you, cares about everything that is going on in your life. talk to him, tell him everything. he is what each and every one of us is searching for. the only one who can fufill us. i dont know what your relationship with church or christianity is, but please dont let that hinder you from seeking a relationship with him. i wish you all the best and am praying for you. 💗

January, 19 2018 at 8:54 am

For the peoole above and many other who will read this - guys it does get better. If you work on it it does. I didn't know whats wring with me and 2 therapist failed to diagnose me before it came all out, because I seem like a stable, strong, logical woman, but the strom inside...oh dear God it was so bad. My body has scars of deep cuts, I almost lost my left kidney as a result of drug abuse, my friends we heavily addicted and equally sick, my relationships were difficult and obsessive. But I never gave up guys I never accepted that this will be my life. I decided to fight to get better even if it take all life. What helped me - well I have been with a few therapists, I red books, forums, watched videos and were sharing with friends. So first is share and get info. Then your brain will process it all in few years it will start auto correcting and slowly dropping some of the toxic patterns. Yes meditation and spirituality. Yes science and studies. Yes hardcore work of general self development - work and workouts, university, money and so on. Sport, loads of sport. Dropping the bad substances or be balanced with them. Using is one thing addiction and abusing is another. 1 step forward 2 steps back, then 2 steps forward and so on. For the last 10 years I walked a long, crazy and quite often difficult way. I had love and I had fun but also a lot of drama, tears and difficulties. You need closure with the people who caused his as well if there are such people. Last but not least - you may find another way as well. I tried many many things and some helped a lot others a bit. I am 28 now. I am have been single for the last 3 years on and off, but I now feel way more complete and happy than before. Symptoms are often back but I know what causes them and I let then shake me for a while then I shake them off :) I have my BPD and codependency more or less under control. I laugh. I have great job, I am successful. I have good friends and significantly better relationship with my parents. I have lovers and I know a special someone will one day stick around for good and this time I will be way more mature and ready to engage in a healthy and beautiful love, hopefully even have family and kids in parallel to my career. So remember WORK HARD AND TAKE YOUR TIME LIFE IS A RIDE WITH UPS AND DOWNS. IT DOES GET BETTER FOR US BPD AND CODEPENDENCY FOLKS. IT REALLY DOES GET BETTER.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 13 2018 at 10:50 am

I didn’t realize other people had these two things going on as well. I am 28, and my attitude and willingness to believe that this chaos is not my fate as I will do whatever it takes to understand it - similar to yours. Though you are at a better place. I feel I am on my journey of recovery and hearing your story gives me hope. I would love to have friends again . I’m at the stage where I realize what’s going on with me, I’m dealing with the repercussions of my past poor choices and lots of embarrassment because of this. When bpd was at full strength around 20-26 I was so confident and didn’t care about my destructive ways and even felt empowered. Now I have values coming to the service and I am a little shameful. It’s a crazy thing! Looking forward to being content and working as a functioning adult with less of these symptoms and better relationships:)

Donna Loudermilk
January, 16 2018 at 2:44 am

Excellent article- as I was reading, had to take notes. Then I had to go back and plug myself in. Thank!!

May, 17 2016 at 7:20 pm

thanks for this information very helpful for me and really relevant at this time I struggle with these symptoms a lot and mainly with my grown up kids who are just fine but I have a lot of trouble discerning how much I try to fix things for them and offer advise so my psycoligist (sorry spelling bad)suggested to do opposite action to validate and to give myself some boundries the feelings of responsibility and guilt I find overwhelming but I have wonderful people with the local mental health team really supporting the strengthening of my mental bless them all

March, 1 2016 at 9:11 pm

This rings very true for me right now. Even though I've technically lost the diagnosis of bpd, in extreme stress and emotion the symptoms creep up on me. I fell in love with an addict and lost myself while trying to help him get well.
Now that he's in rehab I feel like I will no longer have a place in his life. I ended up hospitalised with old behaviours and thoughts and fighting my way from the bottom again sigh.

January, 28 2016 at 2:05 pm

I feel exactly the same. I don't know how to help I just thought you'd feel good about knowing someone else could relate..
Let me know if you find something that works!

November, 13 2015 at 4:25 am

I suffer greatly from co-dependency and borderline personality disorder ...drug addiction, bulimia, and self mutilation ..I've been to treatment 8 times now yet fall back to the same patterns .. Where I do well for a while get on too of things and then almost feels like over night I completely crumble ..-all the negative behaviours re appear re fuelled and stronger Why!? And please if anyone can help me understand Id like to hear about treatment successes? Options? Therapy types? Anything !:( thank you

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 8 2019 at 9:01 pm

First step> Stop helping others while you're in need of help your self.
Second step> Buy a whiteboard and write down all your daily and weekly "TO DO LIST" Also write down some good mantras on your whiteboard to remind you of some important things!
First quote/mantra on your whiteboard should be:
"Stop feeling sorry for your self and stop blaming the world for your own misery" - (you have the power to take control of your life and not feel offended by trolls/haters so please TAKE control of your own life and stop being a snowflake/drama queen on a pedestal that demands special treatment - some tips below)
Third step > Start to plan daily routines > Fitness / gym / run 30 min / long 60-90min walks (3-5) timers a week - Start out very easy, the importance is to have it as daily/weekly routines, to get out, be around other people and strangers without feeling weird/awkwards about it, and feel how you start to feel confident and pleased by your self.
Forth step > Clean your room / apartment - Organize everything and make it neat so you feel relaxed, safe and at home when you're home.
Fifth step > Make your food and snacks from bottom, basically eat healthy, even snacks can be healthy eating nuts and fruits (don't listen to people saying fruits also fattens you, it's bullshit).
Sixth step > Try to be more social, invite friends over (do activities with them, show them how neat your home has become, make food together, go to the gym together, play games together, go out and meet other people together)
Your identity is fragile with BPD, so you want stable and reliable relationships with other people - All identities are build and validated in your relationships, this is why being social and having relationships are important.
These simple steps can help you get started towards feelings better about your self, a stable self-perception/identity and having confidence regarding who you are setting boundaries in a normal civil way that people will respect.
Try it out.

Melissa Killeen
April, 27 2012 at 6:48 pm

Great blog, so was the grieving loosing a negative coping skill. I will visit again!

Jeanne M.
March, 22 2012 at 8:30 am

Thanks, Becky, for a very descript, well-written article re: codependency. The simplicity whereby you outlined many step-by-step identifiable variables/flaggers is great. Kudos~!
Jeanne Morrow, M.Ed.

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