Borderline personality disorder or BPD relationships are often filled with emotional struggle, chaos, and conflict. So, if you are dating someone with a borderline personality disorder, you already know this.
You are probably wondering how to deal with someone with BPD, so your relationship is happier and more peaceful.
Loving someone with a borderline personality disorder differs from loving someone with intimacy issues, as BPD is a persistent personality trait that causes major distress.
If you are dating someone with BPD or considering dating them, investigate more about the effects it has on relationships. When you have more information, you can prepare better and help your partner manage the symptoms.
What is Borderline personality disorder?
Based on the American Psychiatric Association (APA), borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health disorder that includes difficulty managing emotions and behavior, unstable moods, patterns of erratic relationships, and issues with self-image.
It interferes with how you see yourself, others, and the world.
Signs & Symptoms of BPD
Being in a relationship with someone who has BPD can be quite challenging. BPD symptoms in relationships usually intensify over time.
Therefore, at the beginning of the relationship, you might see glances of it, and more as the relationship becomes more committed. Some of the key symptoms include:
Extreme mood swings
An overwhelming fear of rejection and abandonment
Black and white view of the world and others
Rapid changes in thinking someone is perfect to see them as evil
Self-harm and attempts of suicide
Difficulty seeing other’s perspective and understanding their emotions
Impulsive and risky behaviors (unprotected sex, gambling, drug abuse, etc.)
Severe changes in self-image ranging from worthless to worthy
As expected, the more severe the symptoms, the more dissatisfaction a borderline personality disorder marriage brings. So, what are some concrete effects to look out for?
Let’s explore what to expect in BPD relationships.
1. Frequent emotional rollercoaster
Since emotional instability is one of the critical features, living with someone with BPD means expecting a rapid shift in mood and emotions daily.
BPD and relationships equal emotional rollercoasters. They alternate between feeling insecure about your love and feeling smothered by it and withdrawing.
2. Walking on eggshells
After experiencing several episodes of severe emotional outbursts or conflicts, you begin to dread the next one.
Borderline personality disorder love relationships drive you to be extremely careful to avoid triggering a fight. However, even the slightest event can do this, one you can’t often predict.
3. Being tested constantly
Due to their deep-seated fear of abandonment, they will test you over and over again to check if you are going to leave them. Usually, this means they will expect you to accept them at their worst, while at the same time telling you to leave.
Being married to a man with a borderline personality disorder, or woman can feel as though they are pulling you closer with one hand, and pushing you away with the other.
Furthermore, when a borderline personality disorder ends a relationship, you are never sure if it might be another test to see what you will do and how much you will fight for them.
4. Empathizing means experiencing the same
BPD relationships are so turbulent, among other things, because people with BPD tend to communicate what they are going predominantly non-verbally.
To make sure that you understand them, they might lead you to experience a part of the suffering they feel.
They are not always trying to hurt you on purpose. They need to feel understood, and this is how they know you do.
5. Distressing over frequent acting outs
A deep sense of emptiness and darkness they deal with seldom gets the best of them.
Managing those emotions becomes too much, and in an attempt to vent and process them, they act out by destroying things or engaging in self-destructive behaviors like cutting.
In BPD relationships as their partner, you can feel worried, confused, and scared when this happens.
Learning how to deal with borderline personality disorder girlfriend or boyfriend, especially in acting out, needs to be a collaborative effort. Explore together what could be helpful in those times and how to help them refrain from self-harm.
Moreover, one of the key symptoms is sexual impulsivity in times of emotional turbulence.
This means borderline personality disorder relationships and cheating could come hand in hand, although not always.
There are other forms of impulsivity, such as overspending or substance abuse in BPD relationships. This can cause a great deal of stress for the partner since, in times of emotional eruptions, they tend to be more impulsive and unpredictable.
7. Effects intensify over time
The more intimate and important you become to a person with BPD, the more severe their fear of abandonment becomes. BPD relationship stages start with the ‘honeymoon phase’ where you feel irreplaceable, and they idealize you.
However, the black and white view of the world leads you to become a villain, eventually.
Therefore, borderline personality disorder dating can feel immensely different in the beginning, middle, and end of the relationship. Borderline personality disorder relationships break up can be especially ugly.
Ending a marriage with a borderline personality disorder will confirm their worst fears of abandonment, and they will attempt everything to keep you, including threatening with suicide.
How to get help if your partner/spouse is struggling with BPD?
BPD relationships can endure when both parties commit to working on understanding and managing the symptoms. Besides couples therapy, the person with BPD should attend individual therapy as well.
Therapy helps clients with BPD learn how to live with ambivalence and make sense of the world with ‘grey areas’ as well.
The most effective therapy for BPD is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). As a branch of Cognitive Behaviour therapy, it helps clients learn to:
Process emotions using logic and reason,
Uncover emotion-managing strategies
Decrease dichotomous thinking (black and white)
Understand and express their emotions better and through verbal channels
Learn impulse control
Manage self-destructive behaviors.
Be prepared for BPD relationships.
If you are or getting ready to be in a BPD relationship, get informed before you get involved. In the honeymoon phase of the relationship, you will hardly notice any symptoms.
However, when you become more intimate and significant to them, their fear of abandonment will re-surface and cause different effects.
They will test you, push you away while executing you to embrace them, and drag you into suffering they feel so they know you understand their pain better.
BPD relationships will cause a great deal of stress due to numerous emotional rollercoasters, acting outs, and impulsive behaviors. Albeit, BPD can have a positive outcome if partners commit to therapy and work on their relationship.
Furthermore, it is recommended for the person with BPD to have individual therapy as well. The aforementioned can increase the likelihood of a positive prognosis.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.