Borderline Personality Disorder: Relationships

The average person’s first exposure to borderline personality disorder (BPD) is in the movies. It can be seen in movies like Fatal Attraction and Girl, Interrupted. The stereotype that has emerged from these portrayals is unfair and shows a crazy, erratic, and uncontrolled woman. While it is true that BPD affects more women than men, it is not a female exclusive disorder. 2% of the US population are affected by BPD. It is usually diagnosed by the time a person is in young adulthood after a pattern of impulsivity and instability in emotions, self-image, and relationships is seen.

Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder Relationships

Borderline personality relationships can be intense and chaotic with a lot of conflicts. This is especially true of romantic relationships. People can be very hurt in relationships with borderline personality disorder partners. It is possible for such relationships to work, though. If you are in or are considering a relationship with someone who has BPD you should educate yourself on the disorder and what you can expect.

Why Are BPD Relationships so Complicated?

Some of the features of borderline personality disorder are at the core of what makes a good interpersonal relationship, causing issues. These features are:

  • Low Emotional Intelligence

There are other ways to be intelligent besides traditional IQ. Emotional intelligence is monitoring of emotions in both yourself and others. This is then used to guide your thoughts and actions. It is often believed that people with BPD don’t have any empathy, they do but because their own emotions can be very intense and there is no room for them to be aware of the emotions of those around them.

  • Impulsive Aggression

This can be triggered by threats of abandonment or rejection combined with frustration. It is a kind of tug of war between the emotional and logical parts of the brain and can lead to aggression being turned inwards or outwards. Such tendencies can be inherited. This is one of the main things that keeps people at arm’s length from borderline personality disorder relationships.

  • Rejection Sensitivity

Along with being very fearful of abandonment, people who have BPD are often very sensitive to rejection. They are always waiting for it and can see it when it isn’t there. They will often overreact whether it is actually there or not. This is the reason that little issues can become big issues.

  • Child-Like Characteristics

People with BPD appear to be as mature as other adults in most situations. But when it comes to coping with their emotions they can react in a child-like state. Sadness may be similar to when a child is left out by others. When they are angry it can be like a teenager’s outburst at their parents. This can make borderline personality disorder relationships very complicated to deal with.

What's It Like to Date Someone with BPD?

If drama, intensity, and excitement are something you’re looking for, you may need to know that after that things will get very rocky and can include anger, controlling, jealousy, and break ups.

  • There is no such thing as a grey area in a borderline personality relationship. Everything for a person with BPD is black and white. They will often go between idealizing and devaluing you. And you never know what to expect from them.
  • Their emotions can shift from good spirits lifting you up to a bad mood that can crush you. If they are angry with you, all of their bad feelings will be projected onto you. They can be incredibly vindictive and hurt you with either words or silence.
  • Everything points to a very fragile and shame based image of themselves. This can be seen in the sudden shifts that they go through. They can be very dependent on others, and desperately want to be loved and taken care of. But they are also hyper vigilant for any signs of rejection and abandonment, often seeing it where it is not.
  • Trust is a constant issue. It often leads to distortions of reality and paranoia. You will be seen as either with them or against them. They might try to trick you into being angry and then accuse you of rejecting them. They can make you even doubt your sanity.
  • They can be very needy and clingy. They fear the romantic merger as well because the fear of being controlled or swallowed up with too much intimacy. This often comes out as controlling and manipulating behavior.

Tips on Maintaining a Borderline Personality Disorder Relationship

1. Set Boundaries

A person with BPD has extreme behavior patterns which can worsen if you do not respond to them. Set boundaries and follow up with consequences.

2. Take Care of Yourself

People with BPD often lack of empathy. They can be abusive and manipulative towards others. Think about what you are willing to give the person and when you need to protect yourself from their manipulative behavior.

3. Realize Your Partner’s Past

People who were abused or neglected as children have a higher chance of forming BPD. Keep this in mind when deciding to start a relationship. Make sure to stick to your boundaries so that you are not abused, but understand what your partner had experienced in his or her previous life.

4. Learn About the Disorder

Educate yourself about what BPD is and how it affects your loved one. This will help you to understand what it’s like to be with your loved one and make it easier to deal with the relationship.

5. The Four Ds

Use the four Ds to deal with difficult situations in your borderline personality disorder relationships.

  • Delay the person by telling them you will deal with it later.
  • Then distract them from the situation.
  • Depersonalize and detach by remembering that they are not personally attacking you no matter how personal it seems.

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