Handling Conflict in Relationships with Someone with BPD
Are you in a romantic relationship with someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD)? I want to acknowledge that handling conflict within relationships where one person may have borderline personality disorder can be a sensitive topic for many, especially when talking about romantic relationships. It’s a challenging topic for those living with the diagnosis and those in close proximity to us. For me, making relationships work with borderline personality disorder is not about blaming and pointing the finger. It’s about both parties learning to relate to one another in a way that is healthy, reciprocal, and loving. Today, I’ll share a few suggestions in thinking about the conflict you may be having with your loved one with borderline and some tips in the video below for handling conflict within the context of BPD (Borderline Rage: What I Wish People Knew About BPD and Anger). I share just from my personal experience and what has worked for me.
Dos for Handling Conflict in Relationships with Someone with BPD
Do Consider Your Role in the Conflict
Relationships with someone with BPD can be difficult, so let’s be real. Those of us with BPD are easy targets. We can be manipulative and controlling. We may be prone to violent outbursts and struggle with regulating our emotions and impulsivity. So, it’s easy to see why in relationships with us, it can be easy to point the finger at us and say “Yep, she’s crazy.”
But, I offer you this: Relationships always take two to engage in conflict and dysfunction, whether family, friends, romantic or otherwise (What Are Abuse Victims Responsible for in the Abusive Relationship?). There’s no such thing as anything being all one person's fault. And I’m not excusing violent behavior. I’m not saying you "deserved" an attack or outburst by your loved one with borderline because of something you did. I’m just asking you to consider a few things.
- Do make promises or threats that you can’t keep? For example, do you threaten to call 9-1-1 when your loved one is suicidal? Do you follow up on things you say you’ll do?
- Do you engage the borderline drama and feed on it?
- Do you use your loved ones borderline diagnosis as a distraction from your own struggles or role in things?
- Are you constantly bailing your loved one out of crises?
Do Take Care of Yourself and Set Firm Boundaries
In any relationship with someone with a serious mental illness, it’s very easy to end up in a codependent relationship dynamic. It’s easy to spend time caring for the other person while not caring for ourselves. It’s easy to neglect our own needs while obsessing about someone else’s with "personality disorder" attached to them.
Lastly, are you setting boundaries firmly? Do you know what your boundaries are with this person? For example, do you yell and scream right back when your borderline loved one has something hurtful to say? Or do you firmly say “I will not tolerate X, Y, and Z in this relationship.”
If this is challenging for you, therapy can be helpful or join a 12-step program such as Al-Anon, which can help you to begin to take care of yourself and set firm boundaries with those you love (Setting Boundaries with Borderline Sufferers).
Do Watch These Tips for Conflict Resolution With BPD
In this video, I'll break down a few helpful dos and donts of navigating conflict management and conflict resolution in relationships with someone with borderline personality disorder.
Easton, W. (2018, June 3). Handling Conflict in Relationships with Someone with BPD, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, May 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2018/6/handling-conflict-in-relationships-with-someone-with-bpd
Author: Whitney Easton