BPD and Romantic Relationships: If You Really Loved Me
Romantic relationships are difficult enough without mental illness entering the equation. But when one or both of the people involved has borderline personality disorder (BPD), relationships can become sheer hell. I live with BPD and was once in a romantic relationship with a man who had BPD and bipolar disorder; it was probably the biggest mistake I ever made. That said, I learned a lot from it.
With Borderline Personality Disorder - Be Prepared for Manipulation
Not only can people with BPD be manipulative, but they can be easily manipulated. My ex controlled my life, and I let it happen because I thought I was in love with him. He had a facial expression that caused me to give in every time. He also convinced me I was trying to manipulate him. He was a master con artist who referred to me as "the fiancee from hell"--and I believed it. I put up with a lot from him because he had me convinced I was the problem.
People with BPD may not always realize they're being manipulative. It may not even be their intention. I sincerely believe my ex was trying to meet his needs the only way he knew how. It is important to establish some rules if you're entering a relationship with someone with borderline personality disorder. Set healthy limits. Most people with BPD will initially be angry, but will eventually respect that.
For example, tell a person who self-injures that you will automatically take them to the hospital if they self-harm. Tell an alcoholic that you will not give them money for their addiction. Refuse to be taken advantage of. State clearly how you feel about a request. Be gentle, but firm. Let them know that while they are not responsible for their diagnosis and that they are not bad people, they are responsible for how they manage their symptoms.
When I broke off the relationship, he called me to blame me for his suicide attempt. I refused to talk to him and told him that unless he went back on his meds and back into therapy, it was over. He didn't respect that, so I got a restraining order against him. That got the message through to him.
You may need to take extreme action in a relationship with a person with borderline personality disorder. Know your limits, make them clear, then stick to them!
Remember, You're Dealing with a Sick Person
People with BPD often stopped developing emotionally in childhood. This carries over into adulthood as unhealthy coping skills such as substance abuse and self-injury. You are dealing with a sick person and should adjust your attitude accordingly. Be patient, but don't be a doormat.
My ex was fond of pointing out my symptoms while denying his. He eventually went off his medication, saying, "Medication don't do nothing Jesus can't." He denied he was sick and told me I was the one who was sick. He was fond of telling me, "If you don't calm down I'll have you I.D.ed!" (An I.D. is a 24-hour psychiatric hold.) Healthy relationships do not have this element of fear. Healthy relationships face conflict and work to overcome it. Thus, a relationship with a non-mentally ill person can be unhealthy, and a relationship with someone with a mental illness can be healthy. It all comes down to how you handle conflict.
Learn What You Can About Borderline Personality Disorder
If you're going to enter into a relationship with someone with BPD, learn what you can about the illness. HealthyPlace.com is an excellent resource with pages ranging from the symptoms of BPD to types of treatment to information about medication. Knowledge is power, and the more that you know, the more you'll be able to prepare for the highs and lows of the relationship.
Oberg, B. (2014, June 10). BPD and Romantic Relationships: If You Really Loved Me, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, October 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2014/06/if-you-really-loved-me-bpd-and-romantic-relationships
Author: Becky Oberg
I'm there with you brother. Same story. Are you me? In trying to find help for this scenario I came upon this years ago. Then in made the mistake of v suggesting she has this (psychiatrists and counselors were aware of her mood swings but couldn't classify it as bipolar because it didn't fit) they wouldnt go down the path of BPD because she actually hadn't followed through on any of her suicide threats). She's starting to get physically abusive and I'm starting to believe all of her accusations of me being abusive and manipulative)
I feel like I'm losing my mind. She stopped being intimate years ago and says I've got to continue for 3 more years and fix myself before she'll even consider a future, while trying to get me to leave, and then not wanting me to leave when I finally do.
Each of these rages are shit test. Unfortunately I've been failing them more than I'm passing them.
I really recognise what the blog poster wrote here, but feel that the explanation of one of the responses above to be more accurate.
thank you Ted and Malcom...gives me hope of some day finding a partner.something yearned for my whole life, a real family. I'm nearly 60, my BPD is recently being triggered by hormonal changes, yup, hormone replacement for bone loss, going thru menopause and extreme stress over a back injury, loss of income, endless debt and no solid support with relationships. personally I'd rather see the positive on here from people with BPD, not the negatives from those who have never lived it, and are speculating at best on other people's motivations.
i love hearing how awful and evil i am bc of my disorders. love it
I have had BPD, for as long as I can remember and one thing I use to regulate it is music and having a partner who also has BPD. When she goes ballistic, it makes me feel more loved and needed, which brings inner peace to me and BPD is easy to calm if you know the buttons. I think one of the major problems that the comments here highlight is someone with BPD attempting to date someone without the condition which is living hell. There are certain types of people that will threaten our condition much more than others so understanding this is paramount.
While many are pointing out negative attributes to BDP, there are many benefits of it as well, which is living in a complex, multi=faceted world of emotion and imagination that the real world simply cannot compete with. I really would perish in what most consider a normal, healthy relationship and honestly want no part of that linear existence. I go to work as a means to an end, my relationship is my fantasy and life. I do not want realism; I want a constructed stage than my partner, and I build together where we stand against the universe. Anything less is pointless and easily dismissed. We have been together nearly ten years now; I didn't honestly think before her that I would ever last in a relationship more than six months to a year. I went through about 200+ to find the woman I idealize and love. The idealization of love is the most important part, in the same way, the covers of DVDs and how they look are much more important than the film. I am fortunate to have learned to find happiness within this chaos. Once you have a better understanding of how to manipulate it and develop it, you stand a chance of finding happiness. I empathize with those that have not found the path I have and hope you find peace within your journey.
I enjoyed all comments. I was diagnosed only about 4 yrs ago & I am 51. To the 50 yr old - better late than never for sure. I chose not to look at this as a sickness! But all of a sudden things in my past made sense, I understood myself better. That said, my work had just begun! I used the symptoms of the disorder that I seemed to manifest & most & worked on those, in group therapy using DBT. I had a private therapist as well. I believe this is something I have to stay on top of though! I read everything i can get my hands on. People that r very negative, or use this against me or bring me down, well, i just cant b around them. I haven,t had a love relationship work yet but thank u Ted, u give me hope! I can slip though, like falling off the wagon - in fact happened recently! I am still trying to get back to a better place & I intend to but negativity certainly doesnt help! We r all works in progress. Bless each & every one of u wherever u may b in ur personal struggle! B
But it isn't MY fault either. Take action to fight the disorder will get you further with me than baming ME for YOUR behavior. Tell me you feel insecure. I might surprise you and care. Scream at me? Not so much.
Alexia, thank you.
Are views on here one sided? Probably. After three years of dealing with my very abusive stepdaughter, I am glad she ran to her grandparents home. Yes, glad. She can say we abused her, she can say we enslaved her. She can say whatever she wants. Enough people know the truth and she can live in her world of absolute untruths (not accepting abuse is NOT abuse to her, unloading a dishwasher once a week is not enslavement)
This girl knowingly and intentionally triggered service connected PTSD. She gleefully admitted trying to destroy my marriage because daddy would not take her mother back for countless acts of infediltity. I fought hard to recover from my own abuse and military service. My compassion for her had dried up. At what point with BPD is it okay for others to walk away? How much assistance, explanations and effort does someone have to put in before leaving the ABUSE is okay???? This is not the first person with these behaviors that have gotten angry for my having had ENOUGH. The cry is the same even if it has been YEARS. ENOUGH.
It is not someone's fault for the bod
It's sort of horrifying to see some of the remarks people have left, and mostly so because their reactions are completely other-sided, maybe they have BPD themselves (that would definitely explain hating on this article) or maybe it's somebody they love. I actually HAVE BPD, confirmed and diagnosed, perhaps I am further along in my treatment but we need to learn to understand what we're doing and why. Substance abuse is a big one, and I found myself 'requesting' substances from my dearest person. One of the biggest problems is finding issues with the world (someone you love, a rainy day, this article) when honestly we need to look inward, not for blame- but for reasoning. Never did she once say to dump them, that the relationship couldn't work etc. All she said is that you need to set boundaries (as is the same with any relationship) and stick to them because people with BPD DO, and I repeat DO have manipulative ways of dealing with things. Please look inside yourself today instead of hating on internet dabble and searching google for tips and clues about your illness that you're simply dying to ignore.
Thnnk you ted.
Thank you, Becky.
I ended a relationship with a BPD male a few months ago. I also have a sister who was given the diagnosis back in '02.
I thought I knew what BPD was, that is, until I got into a relationship with this man. Given the relationship I am able to have with my sister, I underestimated how difficult it would be to be in an intimate paring with this man.
He became dangerous and abusive. He ran around telling other people that I was abusing him. At this point, I felt that I had no choice but to break up with him and go no-contact.
A break-up doesn't really mean that things are over, so I am finding myself adjusting my life around avoiding triggering another suicide threat. This means avoiding social media, refusing to talk to his friends when they contact me on his behalf, or letting anyone know what is going on in my life. I truly believe him when he texts or leaves messages saying that he will kill himself.
I just want to say that I appreciate your articles on bullying and standing your ground. I find them inspiring, helpful and thought provoking.
For instance, it never dawned on me that I could get a restraining order if he continues to violate my boundaries pertaining to no-contact.
I'll keep reading. It helps in ways I'm having trouble explaining.
Thank you, again.
I wish you the best.
Hi ted, thank you so much for your post.
It sounds like you truly understand what your wife is experiencing and that you have empathy for her. Sounds like you love her and respect her, even.
I have bpd, I'm a woman in my early 30's and I'm longing for a partner. Thanks for giving me hope that I might be able to find someone able to see me for who I am... all parts of me.
This described exactly what my father had to deal with in my Mother. She raged, manipulated, frightened, traumatized, criticized, emotionally battered and scarred all of us, mostly our Father. He was a saint, I will NEVER know how he survived her to his passing. Not only did she have BPD, but extreme panic attack, severe anxiety and depression. She is still living but in a care center now. She got so bad during my father's ongoing illness in thier later years that we had to move her out of thier home into a care center concentrating on mental health care besides her increasing physical inability perhaps due to her lifelong history of mental illness. She was like an only child that never grew up. My mother always had to be the center of attention, demanded to be taken care of in so many indirect ways. Manipulation, guilt, selfishness...the list goes on. She drove a wedge between us and our father when we were just children. Like I said earlier I do not know how my Father survived, he went thru things that no one should ever have to. She physically and emotionally abused my Dad, emasculated him and abused my younger brother. It was a mess. I have dealt and had ongoing management of anxiety/ depression most of my life and battled with my mother all my life. If any of you out there has this and is in a good place, consider yourselves unbelievably lucky and give yourself a truckload of credit. My family is in a ground zero place due to all the turmoil my mother caused, and trust me it was bad. My father as since passed in 2011 and he was the most important person in my life. I miss him dearly and still endure his pain from the past and wonder how he did it. I always hated the behavior and have come to be compassionate towards my mother in her end years now. She drives me crazy, even as she is on psychiatric drugs, it still comes thru.
Thanks for listening. It's a devastating illness.
I have spent years in and out of relationships,all have the same beginning's and ending's....All have left me in the most traumatic state of complete abandonment,fear and crippling anxiety....I am now 50years old and mentally exhausted,but have treatment starting in the new year,of which I am going to embrace with both arms...never too late..
This must be based on experience rather than research. Very negative and inaccurate. 'Remember, you're dealing with a sick person' - recent research has suggested it is in fact MORE of a learned behaviour rather than hereditary. It's like having two diabetic parents having a child - the child would have a vulnerability to diabetes but whether or not that person develops diabetes ultimately is determined by lifestyle ie. nutrition, exercise etc. The same can be said for BPD. Calling people with BPD makes it sound like a life sentence, something that's 'incurable'. That's untrue. All learned behaviour can be unlearned - it just takes effort and persistence. Please inform yourself before you decide to put down a whole subgroup of people.
A well-educated, healthy, happy BPD 'sufferer' in a stable, loving relationship.
Ted, I am a married woman with bpd. That was just one of the nicest things I have read so far about a person struggling with this diagnosis. It describes my relationship with my husband very well! Thank you for posting!
Thank you so much Ted.
I feel that this is an extremely unfair explanation of a BPD relationship. My wife has been diagnosed with BPD and we have many challenges. Our fights are like watching the movie Groundhog Day - "You don't love me. Why don't you just leave. I know you want to divorce me" over and over again. When she fights with me, it's like the girl I fell in love with is missing. Her eyes show no emotion as she rages uncontrollably about my need to rake the yard instead of cuddling with her. All she is doing though is seeking for love and acceptance and it comes off rather controlling and, when angry, child-like. To say that her emotional development stopped in childhood, is incredibly insulting. It isn't halted, she is completely capable of acting like an adult. It's the overwhelming amount of emotions constantly switching. At first she is disappointed. Then extremely sad. Suddenly, it switches into a blind rage. After the rage, however, she is capable of being the most loving human being in the world. Her emotional development isn't stunted. It's overwhelming. There is a difference. Everyone with BPD is different, and they all handle it differently. You cannot say "be prepared for manipulation" because everyone with BPD isn't a manipulative person. Try being married to someone with this personality disorder, and watch them be fearful to the point of insanity that the thing they care the most about is going to leave. Try watching them struggle to express their emotions "like a normal person", it's painful. There aren't words to describe how heartbroken she looks when I wake up and get out of bed before her. She doesn't want to make me miserable or to be cruel, she wants to be loved to the fullest capacity a human being can be loved.
I know it's quite late but thank you for defending your wife against that article. I'm a woman with BPD, I have the same behavior of her, I know most of the time I'm not being easy with my partner, but I want to cry by the thought I have hurt him. Everyone isn't manipulative, that article made a global remark quite unfair.
This made me cry because you are so understanding to your wife, and I know it has to be hard for you. It's hard for her to! I suffer from BPD and I can so understand why someone who is with BPD can be frustrated, but we are frustrated too because we don't want to hurt anyone! We just want to be normal, we can't help it we feel things more than others. Your wife is so very lucky to have you! She knows this is and is probably trying very hard and it's hard for her because she is afraid she will lose you, and you're afraid I am sure because you don't want to hurt her either. You are a wonderful person I want you to know that. Thank you!
Dear god if you think this article is unfair and that her emotional maturity is not stunted, then you are a victim of the saddest sort of all.
And thank you Miss Elizabeth, for your comment. I can relate to your experiences, most definitely. I'm still in a low place right now, trying to deal with my own BPD and crumbling relationship. I wonder if I can ever be in a good enough place to have a healthy relationship. It's this very doubt that triggers my suicidal thoughts.
This blog isn't about how to help, it's about how to shun people that need help. No one asks to have BPD. I have it. I don't want to manipulate anyone. I just want to be loved and wanted. This is more about bashing your ex than trying to come to a greater understanding of the unlucky people who developed this disease. Would you blog about how much it sucks to be with a blind person or someone in a wheelchair?
hi. i was involved with a man that has bpd. he was mental cruel and abusive to me. that is not a judgment. it's a fact. he was also very good to me. that too is a fact. i loved this person very much, but felt that it could be dangerous for me to stick around. he was also rejecting. push, pull, push, pull. i wish i had known more about bpd. maybe if i would have been like the woman whose article is being criticized right now -- firm with boundaries, and unwilling to put up with his BS, we might still be together. i still love this man. so, i would ask people on here that have bpd, please don't be insulted. just like we don't know what it's like to be on your side, you don't know what it's like to be on the receiving end of your hurtful rage and behaviors. if there's no honest communication, and changes, and just pretty stories, how can we ever come together? i wish so much that i could've stayed with my bpd. just because nons see your faults, and you certainly see ours, doesn't mean we don't love you.
I completely understand. I'm a codependent woman with a BPD man...I completely empathize. ?
I have just come to the realization ...I am too involved with a BPD man for the last 6 years with 3 of those years living together in a house we bought together....the last 3 years the toughest in my life....the on and off again relationship has been brutal on my own mental health....i wish I had been strong enough to set limits in the beginning of the relationship, I just didn't know what I was dealing with; now it seems it is just too late to set those boundaries. I love him so much but my own ability to sustain mental wellness is in jeopardy....he keeps ending the relationship and implicating me as the problem.
I am in a similar situation and it is tragic. I have been looking for someone else in my shoes to share with. For me it’s like dealing with the most beautiful human, who has an invisible dragon that bites.
Same!! 2 years of the best of my life followed by 2 years of the worst. I tried to help the best I could. I had to pull out of anything we had left just to save myself. And now he is eternally mad at me. I love him more than anyone ever, but have never been treated so badly. It’s brutal. It’s now been 6 weeks since our last fight. 6 peaceful weeks...with a broken heart. Love is not always enough. He refused to get any help. It cost him me.
Thanks Sally. I'm going through this right now with my bf . He hasn't been diagnosed but has all the symptoms of BPD . He turns into Mr. hyde especially when he drinks hard liquor or drinks a lot . He becomes a Narcissist when he is in this state, and then he will feel badly for his behavior when he is sober and will go into a depression. His life situation is also a difficult one at the moment . I have learned to walk away when he is in a bad state and appreciate the good days , but the up and down turmoil is stressful , but the good days make up for it. He pushes me away frequently.. He doesnt want to hurt me.
As I was reading I had to keep reminding myself, of how much of yourself you have given in your blogs.
This one may not have been the best worded, but it was an honest perspective of what you went through.
I often do not like to face my own 'manipulation' of my ex-partner. I would 'get sick-ill' when he wanted time out with friends or to be alone. I would cry and shout that I am not well enough to be alone!
I often do not want to face my own 'responsibility' for my self harm: my ex, he did the right thing, to refuse, to be involved with this behavior, past calling an ambulance or my GP, he would then walk away. Through his strength, suffering, and pain, I eventually found ways to cope with mine.
I could not have become, stronger, more loving to self and others, if this man did not stand firm, he eventually had to leave me, for me to become, who I am now: a woman in constant recovery process, functioning with BPD, a women worth a little suffering for! I no longer 'manipulate' in such negative ways, or become suicidal when alone. For many of us this. Is/was a brutal truth.
I was also very easily manipulated, my second relationship, cost me, every penny of savings, contents of my flat. This was for similar reasons that you described, another person, telling me, how 'crazy-mental-over reacting' that I was, which would trigger a guilt cycle, I would give-do-buy anything he wanted to make it up to him.
Between these two people, I finally found a way, to start to learn, how to grow myself emotionally, and cope with my symptoms.
If none of this applies to others with BPD, that is wonderful for you, celebrate your fortune, your strength, and please try not to judge those of us, that didn't have your qualities, or your power of expression.
Never give up-we are more than our suffering.
Thanks for your honesty. You are clearly doing the work to recover.
Thanks for sharing your story. I have just started a blog about loving one who is an alcoholic with a personality disorder. Blogs like yours help sustain me. I'd love any feedback or comments you might have on my story: dearjohnnarron.wordpress.com
This is very discouraging and I don't know the positive msg in this. I have bpd and I believe though I have my flaws I still have a lot to offer on the table. This makes it sound like we don't deserve to be loved. I am sure if the other person is more aware thrn he or she can be more understanding to find a way to make it healthy
Bad article! Putting down people with BPD and bashing your ex... Terrible! Can't believe this was allowed to be posted!
You apparently have never been victimized ny these [people]
If you admit to being involved with someone who has a mental disorder -unable to control nor dismiss extreme emotions and thoughts (which i think is a disability) then how can you call yourself the victim? If you are the stable one, how could you let yourself be a victim? People with BPD are not in control of their life. Their fear, anger, misery, depression, anxiety etc controls them. You’re not a victim. Dont call yourself that.
The subject of relationships for people with mental illness has the potential to be so positive, but this seems to miss the mark. One bad experience does not make a great picture of anything, especially of people with BPD. People with BPD have so many different attributes as well as challenges that it is hard to get a good picture when you take such a narrow approach.
People with BPD can have successful and good relationships... just like anyone else. Maybe we have a few more challenges but let's not have the world thinking that it's not a good thing.
My other issue is the point you make about people with BPS being "sick people". Maybe some, but definitely not all are "sick". Many function very well in spite of the challenges they face. I have BPD but don't see myself as sick. I know many more who are of the same mindset and it is something that enables us to stay well.
What I find most sad about this post is that it strengthens the stigma that exists around BPD. That is the last thing we need and personally I expect better of Healthy Place.
Yet another post stigmatising bpd. Disappointing!
so I've been going out with this girl for 14 months but I've actually known her for 20 years and it is hell it's really bad people don't realize that you have no soul you feel your unjustly stigmatized your not these blogs predict almost to a t my girlfriend's Behavior terrible unacceptable, you talking somebody's been to prison and shot in the face I'd have to say this is by far worse than any of those things.
Same here, my boyfriend to the TEE. LITERALLY IT IS written about him,
i feel relieved to verify my suspicions that he has BPD, he wasn't diagnosed(as far as I know) but his mom has it,
Im guaranteed he has it. People who don't have this mental illness, don't act like this, it's so foreign for me because of all the violence and ups and downs, and literally arguing in circles about the same things over and over and over, just to validate his feelings, and use projection identification as his defense.
I HAD to figure out why I was being treated like this by him, and WHY I am feeling like I'm crazy, or like I'm a horrible nasty BAD person , because I never felt like this before I started dating him (5 years ago)
I needed this. This isn't stigmatizing the disorder, this is showing how an "episode" really is for most BPD. I needed this to even still remember I care and love my boyfriend. Thank you.
Not all people with BPD are violent. Maybe the 2 in your experience have been. However I'm not. I NEVER have been a violent person yet I have BPD. I have been the victim of violence all of my life. That is why I can't imagine ever inflicting that sort of pain on someone else.
But that it the stigma, you saying that we are all violent.
Sara I was just going to say that same thing. When people find out that I am divorced mom of 5 but I don't have custody of my kids, they look at me like I have an alein on my head. I try to explain how my ex was abusive and didn't follow court orders and has accomplished to allienaite me from my children over the past 10+ yrs people seem to try to understand. If I talk about some of my issues with PTSD anxiety depression even addictions they understand people can change and get help. But if the fact that I have BPD comes out it's almost like they are saying " oh that's why you lost your kids" "that's why he treated you like that". Like that diagnosis makes it ok for the treatment I got from him and the pain my kids had been through.
That's completely messed up! For many reasons. I am an awesome mom. I had a wonderful relationship with all of my kids. I made it a point to raise my children differently than I was. Just because I knew I didn't want them to feel like I did. I was 23 by the time I had all of them and just barely got diagnosed with depression. About a year after the separation he started seeing someone else. I never got to meet her. My step mom started taking over my role because he called her and not me. So not being self aware of this and how it was affecting me and
because of the symptoms of what I now know to be my 2 different kinds of PTSD, Social & generalized anxiety, agoraphobia, and BPD I had my run with alcohol got my DUI quit drinking with the threat of loosing my only home. Divorce was final lost med insurance including the little psych meds I was on. And after about 6;months met a guy I ended up doing drugs with. By this time the cycle of the ex n stepmom decreasing my time with the kids went up so I did it more often it went on for a couple years till I hit rock bottom and wound up in jail. Did rehab. I did struggle with alcohol again but 6 yrs later I struggle with the relationships with my kids, my ex husband let me see them for the first time Christmas 2018 2 kids had been kicked out of his house (20 &18 now) 18 yr old dropped out of highschool. The other 3 are 15 & twins that are 14.
I know my issues. My kids know my issues. I am was and always will be ready and willing to work on my issues. I've wanted from day one to have a professional to help me reunite with my kids to help heal any hurts I caused. My ex was ordered to allow it. It never happened .
This man believes there is nothing wrong with how he parents that thearapy is a crock, and no one can ever tell him anything different.
But because of this one diagnosis I'm the " Monster"