Borderline Personality Disorder Relationships (A Guide)

Borderline Personality Disorder Relationships

In this blog post, we will discuss what it means to be in a relationship with someone that has borderline personality disorder and how it can potentially affect or harm the relationship.

Borderline Personality Disorder: How can it affect my relationship?

People who suffer from or live with Borderline Personality Disorder or (BPD) can be quite challenging for them, having difficulties when establishing relationships since they have frequent mood swings.

For instance, someone that suffers from Borderline personality disorder can be completely devoted and caring and change their emotional state within a few minutes and can become unpredictable.

Borderline Personality Disorder Relationships

Borderline personality disorder relationships are very intense, rocky and are prone to constant conflict, in comparison to normal relationships.

There will be continuous mood swings that tend to escalate quickly, depression and explosive anger. 

 Some studies have demonstrated that women with BPD symptoms report greater chronic relationship stress and more frequent conflicts.

Additionally, the more severe BPD symptoms are, their partners tend to report less satisfaction.

Other researchers suggest that BPD symptoms correlate with a greater number of romantic relationships over time and higher incidence of unexpected pregnancies. 

It’s always advised to get informed or seek professional advice if you are going to start a Borderline personality disorder relationships or if you are already in one, this will improve the chances of a long-lasting relationship.

Even if it’s the same disorder, it can vary in each person so for people starting or in Borderline personality disorder relationships, there are many factors that can affect it and it’s extremely important for people with this disorder to rely on professional guidance as well as their loved ones, this requires a lot of patience and needs a lot of support from family and close friends.

But what is BPD?

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can be described as the incapacity to control emotions and situations.

People that suffer or experience BDP feel and experience emotions more intensely and for extended periods of time, without the ability to control their emotions.

This can ultimately lead to stress and severe depression that can last from a couple of hours up to several days.

Border Personality disorder or BPD can be in most cases is characterized by specific signs and symptoms like depression, low self-esteem, impulsiveness, commitment issues, extreme fear of loneliness, explosive aggressiveness (than can lead to suicide attempts) and unpredictable mood swings, leaving them very confused and isolated.

Common symptoms of BPD can be recognized and can be treated with professional help if they are detected and treatment is provided.

People that suffer from borderline personality disorder, can often be misdiagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder due to the similarities and overlap of the symptoms between one condition and the other. 

They can be identified by the following seven key behaviors or symptoms and they are:

1. Explosive aggressiveness

If you suffer from borderline personality disorder, you might experience extreme anger and the inability to control it, this can start from simple verbal abuse and elevated tone of voice and can quickly escalate to physical abuse, like breaking things or throwing them, this can continue until you are completely consumed by rage.

The episodes of anger can vary, they can last for a couple of hours up to a few days. 

Borderline Personality Disorder Relationships

2. Self-injury

This behavior relates to the alarming tendency to cause inflicted wounds and the most common are lacerations or cuts.

Also, there might be verbalizations about suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts.

3. Fear of being alone or abandoned

This is one most prominent signs since it can cause a full spectrum of emotions.

They are basically terrified of being left alone or abandoned even in most trivial scenarios. 

This can trigger feelings of betrayal, for example, if your partner goes to the store and is taking more time than usual, this will immediately cause an intense panic attack. 

This could make the person with BPD adopt certain behaviors like extreme jealousy, being controlling and manipulative, followed by a constant clinginess and conflict, just to keep the other person with them.

Borderline Personality Disorder Relationships

4. Severe drug and alcohol abuse: 

Often, to cope with the constant mood swings and to escape extreme anxiety and depression, people that suffer from BPD tend to abuse alcohol, drugs or other substances in seeking to partially relieve their emotional pain and distress.

5. Constant feeling of “Emptiness”: 

There is always a constant feeling of not being enough or complete, most of the time caused by low self-esteem and fear of commitment, that can be followed by an unusual feeling of detachment, impulsive reactions and loss of the meaning of life. 

6. Unstable relationships

People with BPD are prone to suffer from more intense and unstable relationships, their mood swings can make them love their partner and then hate them within a short period of time.

They might believe they don’t deserve you and start disliking them intensively, this is most of the times accompanied by clinginess and feeling that your partner cannot make you whole. 

7. Psychotic episodes 

There are reported cases of patients suffering auditory hallucinations (hearing voices) or having paranoid delusions that someone is trying to harm them when it is not the case.

This, if not treated, can escalate to severe psychosis.

Borderline Personality Disorder Relationships

Tips when in a Borderline Personality Disorder Relationship

Being in Borderline personality disorder relationships can be quite challenging but it is not impossible, there are certain steps or tips that can be used to improve or increase the chances of a life-long relationship with someone suffering from BPD.

Normally the hardest part will be accepting the person an understanding of what it means to have Borderline Personality Disorder.

Studies have shown that implementing certain strategies at home can improve the relationship as well as help relieve the distress for each partner.

Here are some of the helpful tips that can be followed:

Breath:

When you feel that your partner is having an emotional crisis and is starting to. become emotionally reactive, stop for a minute and breath, in most cases, this will decrease the emotional stress and lower the tension.

Listen:

in a borderline personality disorder relationship is very important to listen to your partner since they are highly sensitive to feeling abandoned, just talk with him/her, ask him/her about his/her day, family or friends.

Offer emotional support:

most people that suffer from BPD tend to feel isolated and empty, so it is important to be understanding and empathetic about what it means to be living with this disorder and the feelings they may be experiencing,  as something that can affect the relationship, it’s possible for the person to learn and improve over time the behaviors that are causing distress and conflict. 

Over-praise:

it has been proven that praise on progress can be counterproductive since the person can self-sabotage their own progress.

They tend to feel their significant other does it out of compassion.

Don’t leave them alone:

people that suffer from BPD tend to feel abandoned if they are left alone for a prolonged period of time, even if you are just leaving them because you are going to the store to buy groceries or if you intend to go for a longer period, for example, on vacations. 

Do not take it personally: when your partner is going through an emotional crisis, they can become aggressive and be rude to you.

Try to lower your guard down, calmly listen and acknowledge if they point out a flaw or weakness, this will help reduce the tension.

Couple counselling:

you can seek professional advice from a health professional if you are in a Borderline Personality Disorder relationship.

They will assess the relationship, the situation and will attempt to provide assistance by educating you and guiding on how to handle certain situations.

Be informed:

some research shows an improvement in symptoms like anxiety and depression when the patient, family and significant others are encouraged researching and doing new things, do not be afraid of being in a Borderline Personality Disorder relationship.

Following these steps can improve the situation at home and in the relationship,  but it’s needed that the person suffering from BPD acknowledges the disorder and works to improve it.

Why is this Blog about Borderline Personality Disorder Relationships important?

 Being borderline personality disorder relationship can be quite a challenge but it is not impossible, here we presented some tips that can help you improve or work in your relationship.

In addition, we presented important information about Borderline Personality Disorder to be able to understand this condition and the people who suffer from it. 

As we discussed, people with BPD tend to be very sensitive to abandonment and prone to emotional crisis, leading to anger outbursts and conflict.

However, this does not mean that the person cannot have a romantic or a normal relationship.

Not everything is negative while being in borderline personality disorder relationship. You will also experience that they tend to be extremely caring, affectionate and devoted and want would like to spend as much time as possible with their partner.

The best way to work with BPD is not to run from it but to acknowledge it and get as much information and tips as possible with books, videos or professionals to improve affected people and patients life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What triggers a person with borderline personality disorder?

Borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder are mood disorders, they can be triggered by interpersonal or relationship distress, the patient experiences intense emotions like anger, fear, anxiety, abandonment and many others, they can be triggered by the most minimal sign of stress.

How can you tell if someone has borderline personality disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder has a couple of symptoms that can be identified in someone’s behavior and currently there are some of them that can be even be confused with other types of disorders.

They need to be assessed by a professional health advisor but you can also observe in their behavior if they fear being abandonment, harm themselves, have anger outbursts, are impulsive, engage in self destructive behaviors and are constantly feeling empty.

Can someone with BPD change?

Current studies and research on patients diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder can remit and improve their daily life with early treatment or medication.

In various cases patients with BDP over time can show an improvement, but can still fit a diagnosis even though with change of the magnitude of the symptom’s.

Does bpd get worse with age?

The Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms may get worse with aging.

This is also the case for people with histrionic and narcissistic personalities.

 Is bpd worse than bipolar?

BPD is not better or worse than Bipolar disorder. They belong to different categories, BPD is categorized as a personality disorder and Bipolar disorder is classed as a mood disorder.

However, they both can have suicidal thoughts and are at a higher risk of suicide than the general population.

Recommended reading

1. Mindfulness for Borderline Personality Disorder: Relieve Your Suffering Using the Core Skill of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

2. The Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Living with BPD

3 Borderline Personality Disorder: The Ultimate Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide How To Live With Someone With BPD With Your Sanity Intact 

4 Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder: How to Keep Out-of-Control Emotions from Destroying Your Relationship

5. Coping with BPD: DBT and CBT Skills to Soothe the Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder

References

Borderline personality disorder Demystified

BDP Central

US national library of medicine

NHS

Psychology Today

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Borderline Personality Disorder Relationships (A Guide)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.