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Borderline Personality Disorder Relationships

Read about borderline personality disorder relationships and how to deal with someone with borderline personality disorder.

Experts liken borderline personality disorder relationships to a roller coaster ride, but not the entertaining kind you go on at Six Flags or Disney World. BPD relationships of any kind are intense, chaotic, and full of conflict, but this is especially true for intimate relationships.

People with borderline personality disorder have severe issues with interpersonal relationships, whether they are romantic (BPD and Romantic Relationships), casual, or professional. These issues result in the chaos and upheaval that punctuate the inner and outer experience of the person with the disorder.

Please note, even though BPD affects men about as often as women, far more women are diagnosed with the condition. For this reason, and in the interest of simplicity, this article will use the pronouns “she” and “her” throughout.

Evolution of Borderline Personality Disorder Relationships

How do borderline personality disorder relationships evolve? They usually start out with excitement and fun, but end in turmoil and pain, leaving the non-BPD partner deeply hurt and confused.

Given this reality, why begin dating someone with borderline personality disorder in the first place?

First, understand that many people with BPD are kind, caring individuals with a lot of positives to offer in a relationship. That said, people are most frequently drawn to individuals with the disorder because of the initial excitement and passion they bring to a relationship. These relationships go through an intense honeymoon period – one in which the BPD partner puts you on a pedestal, claiming that she has found the perfect match. What she's really looking for is someone to rescue her from the emotional agony and chaos plaguing her inner life.

It's exciting and flattering for someone to feel so intensely about you. It makes you feel needed and purposeful. People who have been in these relationships often report incredibly passionate and exciting sex. But, once the short-lived honeymoon phase begins to fizzle out, problems start to emerge. It's during this phase that your partner begins to see that you are not, indeed, flawless. Her idealized view of you comes tumbling down. Since individuals with borderline personality disorder tend to see things in black and white (one of the symptoms of BPD), she may have trouble validating the fact that everyone makes mistakes and then forgiving you for yours.

Despite these disruptive cycles, it is possible to make these relationships work. It simply takes a generous amount of commitment, patience, and understanding to pull it off. At this point, you've got to step back and decide whether you're willing to go all in and do whatever it takes.

How To Deal With Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder

Once you've decided to move forward with the relationship, the next step involves learning how to deal with someone with borderline personality disorder.

  1. Learn all you can about the disorder by reading up on symptoms, triggers, possible causes, and treatments.
  2. Insist that your significant other seek borderline personality disorder treatment. Take steps to help her find a psychiatrist or psychologist with experience in treating BPD.
  3. Find a counselor for yourself who understands the disorder and who can help you cope during times of crisis with your partner.

When you move past just dating and are living with someone with borderline personality disorder, following these suggestions may help bring a modicum of peace and order to the relationship:

  1. Do what you say you'll do. Whatever you've told your significant other you'll do, do it. If you've told her you won't do something, don't do it. It's that simple. Staying consistent and predictable will help assuage her intense and excessive fear of abandonment. The best rule of thumb here is to keep your word. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you still end up the target of a tearful meltdown; don't get sucked into the drama.
  2. Give honest, gentle feedback. If she comes home and tells you about how her boss or coworker treated her unfairly at work, don't affirm her beliefs unless you believe her perception is accurate. People with borderline personalities often don't have any inkling about how their behavior impacts others. So, give honest feedback. You might say something like, "I know it sucks to get passed over for a promotion. I'm so sorry it made you feel so awful." That's a true statement and remains true regardless of what really happened. It does suck to get passed over!
  3. Don't play the rescuer. Encourage your loved one to take responsibility for her choices and actions. If she overspends and now can't afford that day at the nail salon, don't pony up the money for that manicure.
  4. Don't play into arguments. Since people with BPD have trouble with self-identity and self-awareness, they also frequently think comments are pointed at them, when, in fact, they are not. Bring home flowers, and she may wonder if you're cheating. Give a compliment about something she did, and she may say you're secretly making fun of her efforts. If your loved one misinterprets something you've said, you may bear the brunt of a raging fit about how disgusting and judgmental you are. Don't get involved. Explain your true intentions and stay calm.

It sounds exhausting and sometimes the struggle leaves you feeling powerless and defeated. When you feel this way, focus on the positive aspects and good days in your relationship. Whether you're just dating, or are in a borderline personality marriage, making the relationship work won't be easy, but it can be done.

article references

APA Reference
Gluck, S. (2014, December 4). Borderline Personality Disorder Relationships, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 14 from https://www.healthyplace.com/personality-disorders/borderline-personality-disorder/borderline-personality-disorder-relationships

Last Updated: May 30, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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