Setting Boundaries with Borderline Sufferers
It’s okay -- and sometimes necessary -- to set functional boundaries with people suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD). Read about setting boundaries with borderline personality disorder sufferers (Setting Functional Boundaries).
Understand Borderline Symptoms Before Setting Boundaries
I used to be the girl your friends warned you about. My new friends were told to “be careful” if they planned to associate with me. People agreed that I was “nice, but crazy.” I was called "irrational," "unpredictable," and "too intense."
I didn't know how to stop being that person. It’s not as if I woke up and decided, "I think today I will deeply disturb my loved ones and push my friends away.”
I hated it. I was constantly fighting off shame, despair, and humiliation (Living With A Mental Illness And Self-Stigma).
Our emotional intensity is not a choice. It's impossible to understand this until you’ve experienced enormous and uncontrollable emotions yourself. If your emotions are ripples on a lake, ours are tidal waves. BPD is what happens when we get sucked under the waves and can’t breathe.
That said, it makes sense that people occasionally need to set boundaries with us. Unskilled borderline sufferers can be a lot to handle and some BPD behaviors necessitate separation. The borderline diagnosis is not an acceptable excuse for physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal threats, or the use of self-harm and suicidality as manipulative tactics (Is Mental Illness An Excuse For Bad Behavior?). Acting on these behaviors does not make us bad people, but we must learn to live with the negative consequences.
The Benefits of Setting Boundaries With Borderline Sufferers
Many of our loved ones will give us second chances when we hurt them, understanding that our actions often result from abuse histories, but some will cut us from their lives completely. I have experienced both outcomes. Though being removed from someone’s life feels awful, it can be the greatest impetus for change.
I first sought sobriety after my brother threatened to remove me from his life. I joined a dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) group when my therapist refused to see me until I addressed my BPD. These experiences were embarrassing and hurtful, but they may have saved my life.
How and When to Set Boundaries With Borderline Sufferers
There are so many variations in circumstances, it’s impossible to set a strict rule about how and when to set boundaries with borderline sufferers. The general idea is this: you get to decide what you can and cannot handle. If someone with BPD is “too much” for you, you are free to distance yourself. If someone with BPD has intentionally or inadvertently abused you, it's probably best to cut ties until they seek help.
In either case, please be conscious of how you talk about this person and his or her diagnosis once the boundary is set, as BPD doesn’t need any additional stigma. Try to resist making assumptions about a diverse group of people based on negative experiences with a single person.
How to Cope When Someone Sets Boundaries With You
If you’re a borderline sufferer whose loved ones have distanced themselves, don't let yourself be swallowed by shame. Shame rarely serves a purpose beyond increasing self-destructive behaviors. But guilt and embarrassment -- reflections of our actions rather than our overall selves -- can motivate change. You can accept those feelings without falling victim to self-hatred.
I know it’s hard to sit with criticism or perceived judgment, especially when you’re already sensitive. Something that helps me when I’ve made a BPD-related mistake is to tell myself, “I am unhappy with my choices, but it makes sense that I acted this way. These are symptoms of trauma and BPD. I will try to do better next time.”
And you might not “do better” next time. You might fall back down. You might lose another friend (remember: this isn’t always your fault). You might face more negative consequences. The point is that you’re trying. You’re seeking help, learning new skills, and addressing instead of running from your mistakes.
Be kind to yourself throughout this process. It sucks to be told that people can't handle you, especially when your emotions and actions are unintentional (Fear of Abandonment Due to Mental Illness). But trust me: you are not a bad person, you’re not crazy, and you aren’t hopeless. The people who truly love you will stick by you no matter what, even if that means having to set a few boundaries.
Eveland, E. (2016, May 3). Setting Boundaries with Borderline Sufferers, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2016/05/creating-boundaries-with-borderline-personality-disorder-sufferers
Author: Emily Eveland
This is not true my best friend with BPD pushes away her friends and is in a cycle of self fulfilling abandonment prophecy. I still love her so much but I had to walk away for my own sanity and mental health. Now I am being painted as a bad person who is fake and has never loved her. It's so hurtful. I just keep hoping she will get help and we can reconcile.
My son most likely has BLD. It's only been in the last few years I have put up some boundaries. It's been a roller coaster since. It most definitely fuels his anger, and makes him much more impulsive. We ve been to so many Councillors, and all ask if he s had a pych eval. I did look into that, but it s $1000. out of pocket. Any suggestions? My brain races thinking about how this 17 and half year old kid is going to survive in the near future. I even thought about an outbound program. I don't want him to feel abandonment. , but I'm at the end of my rope with finding solutions. His father is also a Narc, which does not help matters. My son has become physical with me in the past, and was caught by my boyfriend, who released him from harming me. Its sad I can't get through to him, but also healthier for me to put my boundaries up. It's a double edge sword, he has a significant learning disability especially with processing information. At the same time , on an anti depressant, but refuses to take ADHD med. I have a court date coming up soon. I'm not sure what to ask the judge. Should I insist on treatment ?
My friend's BPD is most apparent to me in her abandonment fears, and her absolute unwillingness to take responsibility for any of her problems, which are putting her and her daughter in financial jeopardy, and are risking homelessness.
So my problem is that she tells me things like "you're our only friends" and "my daughter thinks your daughter only plays with her because she's being forced to" - which is utterly untrue, my daughter loves spending time with her daughter.
My friend she wants to relocate to live closer to us, and she wants me to commit to spending more time with them. She asked us to set aside twice-monthly hikes together. I told her that would be hard because I have 3 kids and a complicated schedule. So I pushed back on that, but I'm really uncomfortable about the "you're our only friend" statement. I see how she causes her own re-abandonment with others. She absolutely refuses to see her role in the many disconnections and push-back that she gets from people she seeks help from.
What should I do to stay connected but not be manipulated to do so out of guilt that we're their only friends?
Do NOT confront her!! She sounds like my older sister who is a malignant BPD...like the character Alex in Fatal Attraction. My sister does the CPS threat as well. She gets triggered from her perception of being abused as a child. She is highly sensitive to any type of correction she sees parents give children. The best thing you can do is work with CPS through an attorney, if possible, and then have no contact with her. None. You could discuss with your attorney filing a malicious prosecution complaint against her, but that might escalate the situation depending on how malignant she is. Once again, as the sister of a malignant BPD, I advise NO CONFRONTATION. No contact. Hire a good attorney and let them deal with her through legal measures. It is against the law to file false complaints to government authorities.
Do BPD's have regrets?
Do they need to change things up every 4 years (he ended things with HIS ex after 4 years too...time too...hmmm...seeing a pattern here!).
Is there any hope for a classic BPD, with inflated self ego and grandios visions of his "importance"?
being abandoned sucks and we understand that the most/others just don't want to understand), we often overthink, over -analyze (we might want/really abandon someone (before they do) coz we don't feel secure.
We don't have mental timelines (measuring when it will end) but there is a pattern when circumstances occur, a lot of random things may happen, it varies per person. Some would do it in shorter timespan, some would cling. Its an emotional and mental roller coaster drama.
We do feel regret (who doesn't) there is a deep stigma that eat us up and we have different responses.
There is no exact "classic" BPD, with inflated self ego and grandios visions of his "importance". People with bpd, have varying other little to major issues , like bipolar, splitting, dissociation etc. ( lets also not talk about cultural, moral and environmental differences etc. its mind blowing I tell you.) You can picture it as living in one house but with different rooms, the rooms have different styles. The point is there is always hope. We fight, struggle, fail/win, fight again. Its an unending cycle. I'm sorry, I tried to explain what we may or may not feel but Im not an expert. This is just my point of view. (Hope other bpd's like me would try to be more open-minded in accepting another person's view on us, its hard but we can always change our selves for the better anyways ; we fail and try and fail and try, we're stuck to fight inner turmoils, but continue fighting, fellow warriors, you are not alone in this fight.)
This isn't my mother tongue so forgive me for i don't know what T_T