Being in a relationship is always a matter of effort and compromise, but this is especially true if you’re dating someone with BPD. Persons with BPD already have a hard time maintaining relationships, but their condition can negatively reflect on their partner too.
If your partner has BPD and sometimes you feel like you can’t take it any longer, don’t despair! We’ve prepared some helpful advice to overcome the challenges BPD poses and have a lasting relationship with the person you love.
What is BPD?
BPD stands for borderline personality disorder, and it’s a mental condition that causes a number of issues. The actions and emotions of BPD persons are often unpredictable. They go through frequent mood swings and typically have a distorted perception of reality. Even worse, BPD is often accompanied by other mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and various forms of self-destructive behavior.
How to Know You’re Dating Someone with BPD?
You might be having trouble handling your partner’s endless fits and impulsive behavior, but has it occurred to you that it might be a disorder out of their hands? If you’re still not sure whether you’re dealing with BPD, see if the following statements are true for you:
- Your relationship often feels like walking on eggshells so you wouldn’t trigger an abrupt reaction from your partner.
- Your partner has extreme and rapid mood swings.
- You’re always to blame for everything wrong that happens, without exception.
- Your partner perceives everything as black or white and irrationally shifts between the good and the bad.
- You’re never sure what your partner expects from you.
- You feel emotionally blackmailed and go through guilt trips caused by your partner’s episodes of depression, threats, or violent behavior.
If you’ve been nodding while reading this list, your partner potentially has a border personality disorder. Lucky for you, there are actions you can take to turn the situation around, so keep reading to find out how.
What Is It Like Dating Someone with BPD?
As we said earlier, BPD persons are struggling with a lot of mental issues that can seriously damage their partners. Let’s focus on the specific symptoms a BPD person displays in a relationship.
Fear of abandonment
Have you found yourself in the middle of an argument with your partner over wanting to go out with your friends alone or arriving late from work? Does it feel like your partner is watching every step you take and unjustly accusing you that you don’t love them anymore?
BPD persons have a deep-rooted fear of abandonment that triggers erratic behavior. They’re wracked with paranoia and will often try to manipulate you into staying by causing a scene, begging, or clinging to you physically.
On the other hand, they might threaten to leave you or even abruptly end the relationship after a fit of rage just so you wouldn’t do it first. They are driven by their insecurities which profoundly influence their interpretation of your feelings towards them.
Loving someone with BPD means having to cope with often nerve-wracking emotional rollercoasters. One minute you’re their soulmate, the next, you’re their arch enemy, and you can never be sure what you did to cause this.
A BPD person is constantly conflicted between thinking you’re the only one who can help them regain emotional stability and believing you’re the root cause of all problems in your relationship, which can be rather burdening.
It can feel like you’re taking one step forward and two steps back because your partner shifts between adoring you and suddenly withdrawing and isolating themselves from you. This repetitive cycle can emotionally drain both of you and make you question your relationship.
Inexplicable mood swings of your partner can also complicate your life because you have to be careful not to trigger a hissy fit seemingly for no reason. Intense anger management issues that often result in violence can leave severe trauma from dating someone with BPD.
Impulsiveness can also negatively reflect on your sex life. A BPD person is quick to engage in unsafe sex and prefers casual encounters and changing sexual partners, so they have trouble bonding and building intimacy. It’s not uncommon for BPD patients to have experienced sexual abuse, so their sexuality issues are understandable.
Other extreme actions include reckless driving, substance abuse, self-harm, etc. BPD persons can’t handle conflicts and unpleasant situations, so they turn to such destructive behaviors either as a form of manipulation or as an unhealthy coping mechanism.
Twisted perception of reality
Dating someone with borderline personality disorder can be particularly challenging if you don’t accept that their reality is different from yours. BPD persons perceive the world in extremes as well. In their eyes, everything is black and white, and there is no in-between.
A disorder commonly accompanying BPD is dissociation, so they often lose touch with reality. Your partner will misinterpret your actions and feelings and become doubtful and untrusting. The result is that they will lie and manipulate you to convince you that you’re wrong or guilty about something.
Another issue is their constantly changing self-image. They rapidly go from thinking very highly of themselves to utterly hating themselves. This causes instability in every aspect of their life. They tend to change careers and abandon their friends and partners quickly.
We’ve seen what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone with BPD; now, let’s focus on the steps you can take to help your partner on the one hand and preserve your well-being on the other.
How can I help my partner?
Accepting your BPD partner is the first step to a healthy and lasting relationship. Here are some tips on how to behave when faced with BPD.
If you’ve decided to persist and fix a BPD torn relationship, the first question you should ask yourself is whether you understand what your partner is going through. For example, if you have a female partner, you might assign her mood swings to PMS or a bad phase she is going through. However, dating a girl with BPD goes way beyond having a bad day or being in “that time of the month.”
Read as much as you can about BPD and seek professional consultations if necessary. Understanding this disorder and its implications will save you a lot of trouble and help you learn how to respond in critical situations.
Support is crucial in maintaining a BPD relationship. BPD is a persistent illness that’s hard to deal with, so your partner will expect you to be their rock. In a relationship full of turmoil and uncertainty, you have to be the stable one and restore balance.
Even during the roughest phases, try to emphasize your partner’s virtues instead of blaming them for how they feel or act. Aim for positive reinforcement when you feel your partner is losing their grip on reality.
A BPD person is more likely to recover with the help of a stable partner who knows how to bring them back on track. Acknowledging their struggles and helping them cope will help you build a stronger bond and overcome difficulties more quickly.
Learn how to communicate
Everyday communication when dating someone with a borderline personality disorder is difficult if you can’t find a way of isolating their emotions from their words. You will often want to fight back and defend yourself or simply lose patience and end the whole thing.
Being aware of their volatility, try to remain stable and help them settle down during their outbursts. Don’t try to defend yourself if they start throwing accusations at you because this will only enrage them further. Keep calm, or isolate yourself until you regain composure.
Attentive listening is the way to a BPD person’s heart. Give them your undivided attention and put your phone away when you talk. Always acknowledge what they’re saying, even when you disagree, and encourage transparent conversation about feelings.
Find a distraction
In the heat of the moment, it’s not easy to stay composed, but when dating someone with BPD, you should have a few distracting activities up your sleeve to ease the tension. Considering the intensity of your partner’s emotions, choosing something relaxing will help, such as listening to music or walking in nature.
You should avoid bringing up the subject of BPD with your partner. They don’t like to be defined by their illness, and you shouldn’t view them that way either. Instead, make conversation about shared interests and light topics.
What Can I Do for Myself?
Maintaining a BPD relationship takes courage, strength, and devotion. All of this can leave you emotionally drained and dissatisfied. If you feel being with a BPD partner would be biting off more than you can chew, never date someone with BPD. In turn, if you choose to stay in the relationship, you will have to find ways to preserve your well-being. Let’s talk about your side of the story and what you can do to help yourself.
As discussed, being an emotional pillar to a BPD person soon takes its toll. You shouldn’t let your partner overstep and expose you to irreversible emotional trauma. This is why it’s vital to set your limits and not fold under pressure.
Establishing boundaries in your relationship means you’ll have to be straightforward about expressing your feelings and expectations to your partner. In addition, you’ll have to keep a cool head, persist, and have them take responsibility for their actions.
This process will likely be challenging for both of you — your partner might misinterpret your behavior as rejection, and you might be guilt-ridden for having to push them away. However, this process will eventually shape a healthy relationship full of mutual understanding.
Remember the three C’s
As far as borderline personality disorder dating goes, you as the non-BPD partner should remember three crucial points, also known as the three C’s:
- You didn’t cause it.
- You can’t cure it.
- You can’t control it.
The main idea is to accept that you’re not the one to blame for your partner’s issues caused by their disorder. It won’t do you any good to beat yourself up and live with this burden, so try to let go of it as soon as possible for the benefit of you both.
Take care of your mental health
Physical activity, meditation, the pursuit of hobbies and interests — all of these can be a lifesaver and a stress relief you need to wind down and isolate yourself from the hardships you will experience when dating a borderline person.
BPD relationships are stressful and bumpy, so find a way to care for yourself. Consider therapy and even couple counseling, create a support group of family members and friends, and don’t forget to take all the time and space you need to process your feelings.
Live your life
Don’t bail out on your friends and family for your partner’s sake. In addition, don’t let your partner prevent you from pursuing your career and your hobbies. This is a one-way ticket to a toxic and unhappy relationship.
Spend time with other people and do things apart, especially if you live together with a BPD partner. Some time off can bring a new perspective and level your head, so be sure to use it.
Acceptance and support are the keys to happiness when loving someone with BPD. We hope this guide has encouraged you to invest effort in your relationship and make it last. It does take a lot of work on both sides, but if you’re willing to persist, you might create an amazing bond stronger than the difficulties posed by BPD.