Understanding and Navigating Relationships with Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

At The Borderline …

All beginnings are lovely – or so the sage proclaims. Relationships per se are difficult. Two individuals come together – attraction, lust, love, personality styles, personal and family histories, attachment, and lifestyles collide – and there you are in the middle of a daring, challenging, and steamy relationship. If this ship becomes a timeless elegant regatta or a wrack is heavily determined by the personality styles of the involved partners’. Remember we all have personality traits, which does not make us personality disordered.

Notoriously famous personality disorders discussed in films, courts, and domestic disputes are all part of the dramatic-erratic cluster: The Narcissist, The Antisocial, The Individual with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or a combination of two: Antisocial Narcissistic and/or Borderline Narcissistic. The film Fatal Attraction (quite an excellent performance by Glenn Close) and the recent court case of Jodi Arias come to mind. What do all the films and print stories have in common? A bad ending! Dating a person with BPD is not part of your deal – or so you thought.
Jodi Arias – in my opinion, – a good example of a woman with quiet BPD (she functions superficially well but her chameleon-like façade breaks open once her relational views are challenged) murdered her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander; Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction attempted to murder her former lover but failed and found her own death. Most real-life relationships with a partner who has BPD are not deadly. Nevertheless the healthy mate wonders, “Why are we on these constant roller coaster rides?” Sooner rather than later he starts to resent walking on eggshells around his lover. I use the pronoun his because more women are diagnosed with BPD; men instead earn the label antisocial much easier.

Interesting enough, it is frequently the healthier mate seeking therapy to relieve himself from the immense relational pressures. The repertoire generally includes parasuicidal gestures – none life-threatening surface wrist, ankle and upper thigh cutting – or suicide threats that scare a person who never dealt with somebody who is unable to regulate her emotions. These behaviors are sometimes perceived as manipulative: To get attention and one’s needs met – “I need you here; you can’t leave; I show you why.”

Scared and emotionally drained partners generally seek advice on how to get out; others are still confused about their partner’s behavior. They wonder, “I know it’s wrong. What happened to her? How can I fix it.” Well the answer is easy, “You can’t fix it!”

When the partner with BPD travels the roller-coaster of emotions (it’s a habit and due to the lack of coping skills not because it feels good) the healthier partner feels overwhelmed and describes his situation as being “stuck between a rock and a hard place;” feeling bad and responsible hence unable to leave her, he states his partner gets “incredibly angry and sometimes physically and verbally abusive.” What follows is a pattern of submissive, self-loathing behaviors. “One day I’m her king the next moment I am no good. There is simply no consistency.”

My view: “Nice summary – exactly! What you see is what you get!”

An individual with BPD has a frantic fear of abandonment – which doesn’t help the relationship. Her heightened sense of emotions and difficulty to soothe herself leads to major drama even when a partner is willing to stay and work with her to overcome the challenges. Many individuals with BPD have a history of brief and intensive relationships that ended prematurely and badly. Imagine why? Quite often the healthy partner leaves (or runs); he can’t deal with the emotional outbursts and relational roller coaster. Often the individual with BPD threatens self-harm or cuts to release tension. She will relentlessly reach out and obsessively try to reestablish the broken bond if the healthy mate decides to break up with her.

I always ask my clients “What’s your partner’s most valuable asset – other than her portfolio?” The correct answer is “consistency” – and consistent is what people with a history of BPD  are not. They are very impulsive; volatile moods and angry outbursts are the norm; deficits in social perception and social skills become even more apparent when disappointments occur. Plus co-occurring disorders such as substance and eating disturbances, reckless spending and mood disorders add to the emotional burden. It’s overboard across the map: When it’s good it’s great – but when it’s bad it’s really bad. There is no middle ground when standing at the borderline.  

The individual with BPD does not have an inner center; she does not know who she is.  She tries to gauge her self-image at any given situation by interpreting the expressions of others (kind of the blind leading the blind    giving her over-sensibility). Basically, she is like a feather in the wind. Hopefully, this evokes some compassion – imagine how scary when you are just drifting at the mercy of what you believe others may do or think. As Marsha Linehan (1993), one of the foremost researchers in the treatment of BPD proclaims in her book Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder over 70% of patients with BPD present with histories of childhood sexual abuse. Even when this is not the case, the pairing of a child with a difficult temperament (a child that is fussy and easily excitable by nature and difficult to soothe) paired with unreceptive, stressed out, or normative parents contributes towards the maintenance and further development of a difficult personality; lashing out, suicidal gestures, and self-depreciation become the hallmark of the individual with BPD.

Constant feelings of emptiness prompt her to seek stimulation from the outside. The partner becomes the main outlet for her entertainment, self-respect, or self-loathing – an overwhelming job to handle! Remember you cannot make somebody happy – happiness is an inside job! This contributes to the feeling of being emotionally drained in a partnership. But love endures and can cure anything, correct? Well, no, not really!

Is there hope for change?

My German grandmother used to say, “ Hope is the last to die.” Yes, certainly there is always hope yet – baseline behavior aka normalcy as you and experience it is a long hike away for people with BPD.

The good news is that once in our thirties our energy level decreases naturally and hence even individuals with BPD will have less vigor at their disposal. What’s the major challenge of BPD: It comes seldom alone! Substance and eating disturbances co-occur and mood disorders such as Unipolar Depression and Bipolar disorder generally require a combined treatment consisting of a medication regime and therapy.

Linehan (1993) developed a treatment approach for BPD called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It’s a combination of Eastern Mindfulness Training and Western Cognitive Behavior Therapy.  It’s an intensive program consisting of both group sessions for skills training and individual therapy with focus on validation and change of thought patterns.

Does treatment work?

Treatment can only work when your partner
a) Is ready for treatment – not to please you but because life has become unmanageable;

b) Commits to a consistent 12-months treatment program consisting of individual and group therapy;

c) Commits to working on homework assignments to transfer what she learns in therapy to real life;

d) Agrees to life affirming actions in form of working on the difficulties rather than continuing down the path of self-destruction;

Yes, you heard right – it’s not you who has to be ready – it’s her!

Remember therapy is generally more about unlearning old behaviors than learning new ones but for the treatment of BPD you really have to unlearn and reprogram – which is challenging to say the least.

The patient learns:  

a) Emotion- regulation – how to deal with emotions without using drastic measures like cutting to decrease or avoid feelings;

b) Social skills – how to react and deal in a civil fashion with the partner and her surroundings;

c) Mindfulness – how to be in the moment without getting lost in a ‘constant head trip’ that leads into the past or future;

d) Distress Tolerance – how to increase tolerance for uncomfortable feelings and situations.

To say the least it is a challenge for both, the person in therapy and the partner who hopes for a quick change. It’s not easy to make a relationship work over the long run because it needs maintenance and most people ignore this fact. Imagine you never give your car a wash or oil change – here we go!

The degree of maintenance work and difficulty increases when one of the partners has BPD especially in combination with a mood, substance, or eating disturbance.

Remember it’s easy to end up in a relationship but it is very difficult to  leave it! And it will be more difficult to end a relationship with an individual who has BPD. Why? Their frantic fear of abandonment and furious outbursts don’t accept the end of a relationship without major attempts to maintain contact or reinitiated the romantic-erotic part of the relationship. If the attempts to reestablish rapport fail you’ll receive angry messages and threats of self-harm. Guilt, blame, and I should hang on are the major reasons for staying – also fear of the partner’s expressions of self-harm in form of cutting or suicide threat.

The roller coaster may even be exiting to the healthier mate of the duo – at times. Never a dull moment – often Adult Children Of Alcoholics and people who grew up in unstable households find familiarity in inconsistency and feel their role is to be the savior.

What to expect if you stay?

Relational challenges require a lifetime approach if you date somebody with BPD. It helps to implement a quiet and structured lifestyle. If you travel a lot for work or your work schedule is inconsistent it’s harder on yourself, your partner with BPD, and your relationship.

Demands on you will remain higher throughout the relationship compared to dating a non-afflicted partner. If you feel overwhelmed, I strongly recommend you seek assistance in form of counseling from a therapist who may even specialize in the treatment of BPD. Why? He or she will understand your struggles more intimately and can give you a pretty accurate overview of what to expect. Then you can make an informed decision. Joying a support group is helpful if you decide to stay.

Keep your intentions in mind – is this a serious relationship for you? Know the challenges that will come up. If it’s not that serious – don’t pursue it. Why? Because your partner will feel more let down if you stay on and then eventually leave or disappear– it repeats a pattern for her; remember she wants desperately a committed relationship yet appears to do anything to sabotage it. If your partner with BPD has family support it’s a bit easier on you in terms of requirements – yet remember you will be the main target of anger and out of control emotions and expected to deal with them. You will also be the premiere outlet to practice newly learned social skills.

A final thought: If you are somebody who constantly finds a partner who is a fixer-upper chance is that you have your own attachment and relational issues that need mending. There is a reason why you always end up with people who need you to take care of them. Hence why not address your own issues first and the decision process of “Shall I leave or shall I stay” will take care of itself.

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41 Comments

  1. People with BPD aren’t monsters, and as hard as it may be for their partners, it’s just as awful to experience that inner frantic turmoil.

  2. We do not cut for attention. You have NO idea! We cut out of sheer terror and torment. This is our outlet. We feel things gravely x 1000.
    If mild embarrassment feels like humiliation to us, can you imagine what heart break and ceaseless abandonment feel like? Your article encourages people to leave! Why can’t you encourage them to stay? We are not evil villains in movies; we are hurt, broken women. We ARE victims. We are still children of GOD and deserve utmost compassion. In fact, you should say a prayer right now to thank the Almighty that it is not you suffering! What is life but relationships? But relationships are what we can’t understand nor manage. It’s infinitely sad. It is a vicious cycle and a curse.

  3. @Andrea No you aren’t evil, but people with this disorder put people without BPD through soo much hell and emotional abuse. I just recently had a Lengthy relationship with a girl with BPD. I DID EVERYTHING in my power to love her, show her I care, be a gentleman, etc. We broke up once cause I was emotionally tired of the rollercoaster(she was very needy, bipolar and when I wasn’t available due to work/family events, she would threaten to see other people at the wee hours of night). Swore she hated me forever and A few days later she manipulated me back in. She used me for 2 whole months and was having sex/doing heavy drugs with other males while still having the “decency” to say she missed me and needed me. After a while, I found her out and exposed her lies. She admitted to them and became regretful. Then, not too long after she was threatening and saying very bad things but now I am just no longer replying to her. I encourage anyone with this to PLEASE get help and dont get into serious relationships. I am now trying to cope with the mental abuse I was put through and Its a long road ahead.

  4. I am currently in a relationship with a lady who has BPD. I found out she has BPD while doing some PD research online yesterday. The emotional rollercoaster’s been so intense (or usual) that I haven’t even had the chance to think about whether I love her or not let alone develop love for her. I do love her unconditionally… Like I would love a little child. But I have found that developing “love” as in attraction-love between two people has been sidetracked by the emotional distress. I see her as a little girl desperately needing help. Each time we “break up” (which never lasts more than 8 hours) she begs me to not leave her. After finding out her issue and realizing why she is acting the way she does, I texted her the symptoms and asked her if she knows what BPD is. She didn’t know what it was and after a brief panic, she said she thinks she has BPD and asked me, “So you think I am not normal?” I responded saying that she is normal, but that she has a condition that needs medical attention and that her doctor can diagnose her and help her. So when we get the chance, we plan to go through a deliverance ministry program if there is one around where she lives and get medical/counselling assistance.

  5. I’ve been dating a BPD for six month’s now, he was amazing at the beginning, sex was crazy, alway’s taking me out spoiling me, talking of marriage, booking holiday’s for us…. But suddenly if I was 5 min late I was in trouble, not be able to take my phone out with me, so my adult children could contact me…now he tell’s me I’m selfish etc etc… All my friends and family hate him as they see what his doing to me… Suddenly I’m nervous all the time, crying, as his made me loose my confidence with all his mental abuse on me…. My friends are constantly telling me I’m a good person, as he was so badly mentally abused me, I’m a mess… I’ve rang lifeline for help… But when I leave, he emails and texts me, come’s around and is all lovely again for maybe a week or two… His been violent with me twice, never apologising, it’s alway’s my fault…. I am now still trying to leave… The only reason I don’t is because I love him and think he can’t help it, if he didn’t have BPD I’d just think his arrogant!! Reading this I think how crazy am I as I’m a attractive, educated, financially secure women, who will loose her family and friends if not careful!!!

  6. Articles like this make me feel more shitty about my BPD. Like i don’t even deserve my boyfriend or anything what so ever! Like i don’t try to get better! Like a looser! Thanks!!

  7. I have a girlfriend with BPD. This article is true that it’s hard. Really, really hard. I never feel secure, I never quite know where I stand.

    But you know, I’m in love with her. It can’t be fixed, it can’t be helped. It could only be accepted.

    Eventually, I thought about this article I read. It might’ve been an amateur blog, or about celebrities? I’m not sure. I remember what it read though. The man’s wife had cancer, and she was horribly depressed, had mood swings, she was angry and abusive. She was horrible and then she felt bad for being horrible and nothing he could do can fix it. He couldn’t sit down and rationalize with her, reason with her. Tell her she needs to change. None of that.

    So, the man with his defeatist and nothing to lose attitude, said screw it, and He bought her flowers. Filled the house with them. Bought her flower’s, dresses, sent her things, read her things, told her all the things he loved about her, about his days about his life. Basically, he decided to just love her as hard as he could.

    So that’s what I do. I love as hard as I can, because with this disease I’m not allowed to get angry when she is. I’m not allowed to get sad when she is. I mean, I can if I want too but it won’t help anything or fix anything. I just have to cling to the fact that I love her. Cling to that, cling to the feeling I get when I’m happy, then act on it. I can’t stop my whole day and drop my whole life to cater too her, but I can do little things. So I do all the little things. All the little things I can. I buy her flowers, write her letters, write about movies and books and dream up conversations that might make her laugh. I cook or get her favorite foods. Sometimes, she might throw away the food, or the flowers, or rip up the letters. So, I cook extra, buy spare flowers, write spare letters. If she’s angry and yelling and I can’t stay anymore, I don’t. I leave, I leave the house, but not for too long, I come back with something I’ll think she loves.

    Doing all that, might sound a bit too submissive. That’s why it’s sometimes more than others, and it’s always more when she needs it, and always less when she doesn’t, but in between there’ll be a time when she’s stable and fine and I do something nice anyway, so it’s special and not always when she’s upset.

    There’s really little to do to help with BPD. But if you’re someone who falls in love with a condition holder and you can’t help it, then I just think you should love as hard as you can. Until you can’t anymore, and then it’s alright to give up when you try your best.

  8. Reading this was interesting to me. I grew up with a mom who I’m almost positive has BPD. Her rages, mood swings, and total hatred of me whenever I didn’t feel what she felt or shared her opinions (especially regarding my father, whom she hates to this day and says if it were not for me and my siblings she would’ve murdered him) … It was a nightmare.

    Unfortunately, I seem to have been attracted to people like her. She robbed me of practicing my ability to think independently, to feel confident in my choices, to feel my feelings, and to have my own experience in the relationship. That’s why the “Final Thought” piece in this article hit me so hard, and why Dart’s statement of just loving his BPD woman despite all his own feelings helped push me to writing my own comment.

    I have read the posts by BPD people on here, basically flipping out and accusing the author of making them stop their treatment, of fearing abandonment again, etc. It’s sad to see this, but it’s what my mom did for years and years to me and to my dad. She has no idea who she is. I feel so sorry for her, because I know some of the tragic things she suffered as a little girl. No one wants BPD. No one wants to know this is them. It’s so fucking hard to bear this truth, and the hardest part is that so many BPD never realize that IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. Your parents did this to you. No one is born this way. There is no evidence of this at all. Even in cases of a child with a bad temperament (and even these children are usually just defined this fishy way by unempathetic mothers), it takes at least one parent who doesn’t care about who they are but only about how well the child loves the mother … to push the child into BPD. Sadly, most BPD will never read this comment. They can’t suffer enough without rushing to comment their own thing blaming someone else for their pain … when all along it’s their parents … it’s their parents … it’s their parents. It takes a real hero with BPD to go through treatment, tell the truth about themselves instead of everyone else, and do the work when it seems that no one cares and everyone is out to get them.

    I have BPD traits, but I am pretty much a serial caretaker, and not BPD. For a while I wondered if I was just being arrogant saying I don’t have BPD myself, but it’s true that I don’t, thank God. I probably was, because my mom basically killed me on the inside. I felt dead and empty for so long, and I was in complete chaos. God healed me, but … I still have many coping problems.

    I just got out of a relationship with someone who was up and down all the time, who always had an issue with me. I had issues with her, too, and I wasn’t direct about it. I didn’t think she had BPD until I had a recent conversation with her. Yesterday. We were texting back and forth, and I asked her if she’d be kind enough to tell me what it felt like to be caretaken for (I define caretaking as “giving attention, listening, or warmth in order to get something back, but not tellin the person there’s this silent contract and then resenting the person when she doesn’t comply on her own”).

    She pretty much flipped out on me, shamed me, told me I’m a victim, that I deceive my and her family, that I leech off my parents, that I never put on my big boy pants, etc. It got me really angry, and I wanted to go after her, but I realized that she’s just a damaged person and there was no call to get that way. She wanted a reaction from me, and I just dropped it. I felt like I was submissive. I don’t like to seemingly get my ass kicked in an argument, but I can never win anything with her. And that is my problem: needing a reaction in her to “win” something.

    I won for myself by just walking away. I don’t need someone like her in my life. I gotta work on myself and my caretaking personality, my need to fix people like my mom. It’s hard to admit that I have a problem with problem-people, but looking at the past I just go from broken person to identity crisis person to whatever person. Always some kind of issue they’re struggling with. And all the while I have my own issues, too.

    Despite what the BPD people have written here, I’d encourage any reader what the author I think has tacitly recommended: leave. Just go. I have my own life. And it’s just as beautiful as my mom’s or my ex’s. It’s hard to see that now. Neither of them ever taught me that I matter, that I’m a real human being. And a real hero. I have done what i could for them, now it’s time for me. I myself need help. I don’t wear a big red S on my chest underneath my shirt. I’m an ordinary person. A boy who never really healed from a mom who beat him down every day of his life … my BPD ex and BPD mom tell me I just feel sorry for myself and ought to be ashamed for this. But I know what’s true. I know what happened to me. They know what they think. I know what I know. They weren’t there. They weren’t me. They didn’t experience things from my POV. Naturally, my ex told me that those are just excuses for me to blame people instead of moving on. But I am not gonna move on until I am good and god-damned ready. And no one is going to shame me for having been shamed.

    Anyway, leave a BPD. They’ll only destroy you just like they themselves were destroyed, and just like they destroy themselves. It’s rare to meet someone who really identifies their parents as the culprit, because the deception is so deep from a BPD or cluster-B mother or father. They will do everything they can and stop at nothing to keep you shut up about your feelings or to make you feel like it’s all your fault they are this way. Just go.

  9. i have recently come out of a 5 yr relationship with a girl who i just found out has BPD and it has left me not wanting to live, i don’t blame her but it has left me in a dark place

  10. I was diagnosed BPD at 23 and with anti-depressants I have had no symptoms for 15 years until entering a relationship with a troubled man recently. Often this is a disorder that therapist throw out just because we are female. If you are an attractive female and you have ever been raped (that’s 1 in 3 btw) you are often diagnosed with this condition simply because it’s convenient. I saw 4 of my girlfriends diagnosed with it on one month.

    The brain is an organ that is often broken, just like the lungs. To dismiss someone as “unlovable” for this reason is ignorant. There are about 25 character flaws or symptoms which are likely to exist in much of the population.

    We are not maliciously hurting anyone. I never noticed I did anything wrong. The only people I intentionally manipulated were my therapists. Sometimes we just date men we don’t love because it’s convenient and we are lonely. Sometimes we use men. Sounds a lot like males?
    If a man had 5 women on back up but really loved one. he would be labelled .. . . male. If we do the same we are borderline.

    This diagnosis is completely sexist and outdated. We do have intense emotions. Again, we are female and have been invalidated often. We do suffer from depression that can lead to destructive behavior, probably because we have not been properly treated from the sexual exploitation we endured.

    If you are dating a woman you suspect is borderline ask yourself if she’s really into you? If she is, and her emotions are erratic go to couples therapy with her and talk to her about her behavior. Borderlines are self-loathers and will gladly accept help and be open to therapy. Our egos are deflated and we are open to correcting our behavior. If she says “no”, she isn’t into you, nothing more.

  11. I agree with Kate. It actually kills me to read all the hate. I also don’t like that it would be called a “disorder” Its a personality… that is who we are. I too blame my mom. I’m 100% positive she has BPD. I’m one of 5 and I just wasn’t good enough. If i was mad at her she favored one of the other children and made you feel like complete shit. Its difficult for me to wrap my head around because I never had any sexual abuse or trauma like that. My disorder is completely caused by how I was raised and how I was never taught properly how to cope with emotions because my mom herself couldn’t even cope with hers. To this day she will not admit to having a problem but she does. We don’t have to be in bad relationships. The best thing that will work is to find someone that has a strong personality and strong confident sense of self worth because they will be the one to tell you no and put their foot down. The weaker ones are the ones I took advantage of and not completely. I loved them I did. My most recent relationship was a roller coaster of breaking up and getting back together. I always just wanted to spend time with him because he was the center of my world. I loved him with all of my heart. I did feel awful if I made him upset but I would get angry when I felt like he didn’t care. Until recently I thought that we just were not connecting properly. We watched a documentary about BPD and it was frightening how accurate it was. I reflected on this movie and turned to my psychiatrist right away. I had all of the symptoms. I never knew what was wrong with me. Because I am a high functioning BPD I should be able to help myself a lot. I told my boyfriend to tell me when my emotions were getting out of control to just point it out. Giving him that permission will help me feel like he is helping me and not just saying it whenever he feels like it. When he points these out to me I will be able to regroup and chill out for a second. When I’m caught up in the moment everything else doesn’t matter. I’m hoping he can take steps to help me help us and myself. I honestly think that this is key. Again, you have to become aware of your condition and want to help. I was never aware so when he pointed out that i was being unreasonable in the past I took it personally and was pissed that he would say I was over reacting because in my head it was completely valid. Now, if he told me that I would most likely take a step back.

    Its real. Its sad. But we are all people so we do need to be loved as well. That is one of the biggest wants from someone with BPD. After being diagnosed I read through my old diary entries and just kept seeing every sign…. how was this missed. I had entries saying “he just doesn’t care about me” ” all i ever wanted in life was to be loved” “I’m not good enough” Thus, compliment her…. don’t give her a reason to not trust you… be there for her… and if you have to break bad news to her then do it gently and with heart. Our biggest fights were because I felt like he didn’t care. I just needed him to have a little more heart and emotion when delivering news I wont like. Cancelling plans was a big one or being late. Give me enough heads up and tell me like you really are upset your cancelling too because if I feel like it was no big deal to you i will be upset because EVERYTHING to a BPD is a big deal. Accept that and treat situations like that and you will be okay. We don’t want to feel like this. We really cant help it. Only get out of the relationship if you are weak minded. I always was apologizing after I had time to think. He would leave to calm down and being left alone killed me but it made me reflect on the situation and I would be the one apologizing when he came back. I always felt the need for him to apologize for some of his behavior too but that rarely happened. Which kind of made me feel crazy for always being the mess up. but IDK.

    Be strong and self confident – love unconditionally – and have a heart

  12. I just got out of a relationship with a bpd female. We moved in with one another and she had a kid from another marriage. I loved her more than anyone I’ve ever met. I did everything for her, I would still do anything for her, except sacrifice my sanity and my health.

    These people are clueless when it comes to relationships. They are blinded by their own pain. They have zero idea how their behaviours affect people. The amount of pain they cause is staggering. They simply cannot offer any emotional nourishment for their partner, and so slowly drain you of your soul. If bpd was a person, I’d kill him. Happily. I hate it. It took away the love of my life, and has caused her so much pain.

    My advice is to keep loving her, until you see the faultlines emerge in your own sanity and health. Then explain to her how this is bad for you, as best you can, tell her you aren’t abandoning her, but how you’re setting yourselves both free. Then leave forever and don’t cave in. It’s better to leave with fond and loving memories than the experience of it all burned, torn, ripped down by hate and madness.

    They are not bad people, and you are not a bad person for leaving. You are saving two people if you leave at the right time. I wish I were wrong.

  13. I happen to be male and suffer from bpd,it sucks feeling abandoned,not only am I adopted ,but even after finding my biological parents at age 31 and establishing a relationship.after 10 years mother dies and father says he’s never had so many problems in their life until they found me..I haven’t spoke to him in 6 months.i currently married for the 2nd time and yes my first wife left me due to my behavior.BPD. yes I get sad and due harm to myself by taking huge amounts of prescription narcotics like 60 morphine at once or 90 Norco at once because I feel as I’m might as well,because break ups are even worse..only to my amazement I wake up and have to go to work ….I really love my wife and if I do pass I can only hope she will get my life insurance paid to her…I wish there was a cure because I like it when life is good and happiness is a norm

  14. This article made me feel completely hopeless about my affliction and pretty much made me feel like I shouldn’t get involved with anyone in fear that I will ruin their life.

    I wish there was a different ending to our stories…

  15. Wow….DART is gone, his post is a year old, but dang. If I had someone willing to do all of that for me, I’d probably be the biggest GD tyrant ever. Knowing you’d bend over backwards…I’d probably be just that much more cruel. Of course, I’d feel that much more horrible and hate myself on another level that would probably be unbearable.

    My ex used to compare me to a werewolf, heh. It was true. That’s how it feels. Like the full moon comes out and there is no more me, I don’t have that control. All I have are claws and fangs and the thirst for hate and blood. Then when the moon has gone away and the werewolf skips town, I’m left with all this gore and chaos I as it has created. The blood spattered walls, the violence, the words I’ve done my best to cut your heart out with…I can’t breathe from my horror…. And I weep for you, but only after I’ve wept for myself.

    I would run away from me if I could.

  16. This article was awful. People with BPD aren’t doing things to manipulate others. They are struggling with their own emotions and don’t have the skills to behave differently. Dating is ALWAYS hard regardless of mental health issues. How dare you encourage people to run away from anyone with BPD. Try to have a little compassion for the suffering of others.

  17. I fell in love. My girl friend has this. We broke up. She never told me she had it. Now we are back together. She was afraid I would think she was crazy. I have studyed hard I m learning. I’m stroung she is to now we together are getting help and she is getting back on her meds. We love each outher and together we will overcome.

  18. This article not only was written in a negative light but is super misleading. Which makes me feel like Your interpretation was based only on YOUR negative situation regarding BPD. Your article sucks all the hope that ppl with BPD such as myself will have no hope in a relationship.. Should be supported with FACTS.

  19. To all the girls with BPD upset about this article, thank you. Thank you for showing us the heart of this disorder, self centeredness. BPDs spend 95% of the time thinking about themselves and 5% thinking about how they can get what they want from others.

    Instead of complaining about the truth in this article, how about admitting you have a problem, go get help, and stop dating men until you are healthy enough to have an adult relationship.

  20. This is so generalizing. To all those people that defended this article remember this is being spewed out to the masses. When people generalize it causes fear. I myself was diagnosed with BPD. It really peeves me because I live also as an incredibly self aware person. I am not at all as bad as most, but I do have it. Seeing this made me so scared for the individuals like me. Are you all saying we don’t need love? That we are that disposable? I pray to god my fiancé doesn’t ever see this. I know I put him through trauma, and it only adds to my own! I feel like the worst human being ever seeing him go through my “Roller-coaster” The moment you generalize and take one side over the other you put stress on both sides. We are not all MONSTERS. I hope all that read this are able to pick that out. There is no human being that is perfect. Remember that!!!!

  21. so if i had this or various behavioral and mental illnesses. if a guy dosen’t want to date me it is abelism, like when guys don’t want women who weigh 800 pounds.

    and if i had behavioral quirks I can’t help. it is everyone else’s problem. because it’s like blaming someone with a physical impairment for not being able to do a thing

    and what happens if people with some personality disorders keep getting banned from websites.

    that is discrimination

  22. all the people whinging on this, and more that might come.

    do the right thing

    make a superhero comic about someone with BPD, and if you and people you know have more than BPD, a plethora of 5 co-morbid conditions.

    make your protagonist with bpd.
    make them a superhero, not an anti hero

    make them the admirable good-guy that everyone would wish was real so they can date them or turn them into their sex puppet

    do it or you are as bad as someone who won’t date you. do this for education, do this to change hearts. otherwise “what good are you?” in terms of changing the world.

  23. It’s amazing to see everyone in here with BPD lash out at the author and validate everything in this article.

    Rather than acknowledge that you have a proble, you double down and continue to blame others. Even more amazing, are the ones that say your week if you don’t stay and endure physical and mental abuse.

    Sorry guys, nobody needs to sit around and endure your bull crap and to be mentally and physically abused.
    Just because you have a disorder doesn’t give you a green pass to be able to abuse others. You are still accountable and you need to own up to it.

    My wife of 12 years was just diagnosed with this condition, and I have lost her to this disorder.
    She doesn’t believe it exists, and she’s convinced that I somehow manipulated the doctor into diagnosing her.
    This disorder has ruined my life. Now I’m starting over trying to pick up the broken pieces and watching somebody that I love more than anything completely implode from the inside out and refused to get the help she needs.

    every single article out there that points out the truth of this disorder, you’re sure to find a whole response of angry people with BPD go on and on about how they’re not monsters and rationalize their behavior. How sad.

  24. Wow, i feel like this was written about my relationship its almost scary! Thank you for this, it is helpful.

  25. Many people with BPD seem to be making comments about how this article offended them. I did not read it that way. I was diagnosed with BPD almost 5 years ago and it’s a daily struggle. I am very aware of my issues and I try VERY hard to overcome them. When I read this article, I was actually about to copy the link and send it to my husband so he could read it. I felt that it explained BPD fairly accurately. My husband knows I have BPD, but sometimes it’s hard to explain certain things.

    I have been married for 10 years with BPD. My husband is very grounded in who he is, which helps. He doesn’t put up with my crap – which also helps tremendously. He helps me calm down when he can see that my voice is starting to elevate and I start speaking in a frantic-like tone. I can’t explain our dynamic, but it’s working for us. He helps me…but it’s me that is responsible. I don’t want to live like this anymore, and that’s my motivation. I want healthy relationships – I’ve lost nearly all my friends over the years. I’m thankful for a husband that is patient, kind, and loving. I know many of the men that have commented here are also probably patient, kind, and loving. It is important that the person with BPD is aware of their symptoms and what’s going on. How can someone “get better” when they don’t believe that anything is wrong?? They can’t – and they won’t! If the person is aware of their BPD and truly wants to get better, then I think it’s great to move forward with them in the relationship while they work on developing skills, but only if that’s what the non-bpd person wants.

    The important thing to remember is that no two people with BPD are going to be the same. They are not going to be at the same point in their “journey” or recovery. A bad experience with someone with BPD doesn’t mean that all experiences will be that way. Good luck to all of you with BPD and all who are struggling in a bpd relationship or the aftermath of a bpd relationship!

  26. This is one of the bleakest and demeaning articles I have ever read about BPD. I finally came out with the courage to tell my boyfriend my diagnoses and next thing I know he’s sending me this crap? Fatal Attraction is one of the worst depictions of what standard Borderline Personality Disorder really is….unless you are taking into account the countless other disorder’s the fictional character can conceivably have. I got on A on an assignment explaining that in high school entry level Psychology for heaven’s sake. In all your education, have you never heard of extraneous variables? For example testing a drug on someone, who is on other drugs, would not be an entirely accurate depiction of the effects of the drug itself.

    That being said,
    All I can do is hope is that you are not counseling people who are at risk for self-harm.

  27. I have done my research on this. I was with my ex about a year and a half. My story is much like everyone else’s. The first 3 months were fantastic. Then the lying, cheating, not keeping promises, the plethora of inconceivable behaviors….

    I tried breaking up soooo many times….but I was not strong enough to resist her attempts to come back. 80 text a day without reply sometimes. How many times are you going to tell me you don’t want anything to do with me?? Her baiting was pretty effective too. How many guys on the side are you going to have. How many times are you going to still my prescriptions? Are you going to lie about going to therapy again?

    Yep, I saw your message logs. So when you told me you were out with your sister, you were at your ex’s place? Thanks for texting me back ” I love you, and miss you ” when you were in his bed at midnight.

    I feel sorry for BPDs. I have seen the REAL selective amnesia in place. I have seen you alter your reality…your memory…to fit your emotions. I have seen it first hand. It’s scary and sad. I would not wish BPD on anyone. Yes I do thank God that I don’t have it. I admire anyone who goes full throttle in therapy, that much is for sure.

    I only offer one bit of advice for the NonBPD person out there. RUN….RUN….RUN…DON’T walk. They should not be in a relationship. They will make your life hell by a death of a thousand cuts. They will break you. They will make you think you are crazy and bad. The damage this causes to your life is just too much…They need to fix themselves before they ruin more lives.
    .
    RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN. Do you get the picture. GO GO GO.

    So

  28. The shaming of those with BPD in both the article and in the comments (“the Thankyouforprovingmypoint crowd”) is appalling. It seems obvious to me that such words are meant to intentionally bait people. Nobody likes to be taunted or be patronized or face condescending know-it-alls. I don’t have BPD or even know of any, but it seems like if you know they react negatively out of these fears, that if you care about them, why make it harder for them by causing more fear and anger? Compassion, people, please.

  29. Oh my, after thankfully finding this article, I have some clarity in my life.

    As a widow, I began dating a gentleman who really was quite charming and wonderful – until he wasn’t.

    My marriage was a wonderful experience and I know what it is like to be loved, to work together as a couple, to compromise, to care and be cared about.

    But this man and I have been on an emotional roller coaster for over two years. Perhaps this article can help me understand. At first I was frankly shocked…who does the things he did? Taking a small thing and turning it into a real war of ugly words. I wondered how it was he could not discuss things logically.

    Last summer he became physical and that was not acceptable. I told him its over and our separation lasted for eleven weeks. I missed him a lot but peace was in my life. Then we started emailing and his apologies and kindness allowed me to put down my defenses and begin dating again. Our calm period lasted almost six months.

    Now, after the latest verbally abusive episode, I again decided its over and then found this article.

    Were I younger, I would defiantly not be involved with him. To think of a future trying to always side step his hostility only to be adored a week later, is too much drama. It’s just not healthy.

    But, I am older and far more secure and assured in my life. One more time – maybe I can try. Knowing this is an illness of sorts I am hoping that maybe I will see the beginning of his episodes and be able to not take it so personally.

    Not sure if I can manage this but right now if we can find a common ground, he accepts responsibility, then there may be a chance.

    I do wish that where I live there would be a support group to help me out. I will check that out.

  30. This article is very problematic and adds to the negative stigma of an illness. Good job.

  31. I’m male and was diagnosed with BPD five years ago. The pain and turmoil I have created in the lives of others, as well as in myself, has at times been overwhelming. I did not feel in any way offended by this article and I think those that are will quite happily play the role of victim till the inevitable violent end comes. Never really attempting to improve themselves in any meaningful way, always expecting everybody else to put in all the leg work.

    I think those of you suffering from BPD need to wake up and realise as I have come to realise that the only way you are ever going to get better, or at the very least experience substantial improvements in the thoughts and feelings of everyday living, is to accept these flaws in your personality. Excessive mood swings are not healthy, uncontrollable bouts of anger and hate are not healthy. Splitting, idealisation, obsession with a prospective partner, promiscuity, wantom spending, none of this stuff is good for US as BPD sufferers and yet we want people to not only turn a blind eye to this behavior but at the same time accept and embrace it because none of it is really our fault?

    We all feel empty, we feel depressed, we cannot cope with boredom. Most of us do not know who we really are or what we want. But we do have the power to acknowledge repetitive patterns of thought and behavior that leads to these dark places. I’ve been through three very serious suicide attempts, each resulting in hospitalisation and have required days of life support equipment to keep me alive. If I did absolutely nothing about my own ways of thinking and reacting to the actions and behaviors of others up to this point then I would most likely have passed by now. It’s been three years since I have attempted anything, and I don’t plan to die a victim. I don’t want people to remember me as the victim, with nothing but feelings of pity for me.

    You don’t have to become your personality disorder. You can’t make it go away and you can’t become someone entirely different. You can however study the disorder, moniter your own thoughts, and work on the aspects of yourself that cause you further pain. You don’t have to become a perpetual victim, that is a choice however hard that is to accept it is the truth. People without a cluster B disorder are not your saviors, they cannot fix you, they do not need to tolerate you and do not intrinsically owe us anything. Just like people without anything ‘wrong’ with them. If you really want that love, affection and understanding that relationships can offer then it has to be earned the hard way. We can’t keep screwing up and expecting free passes and universal acceptance simply because ‘hey I have BPD it’s not my fault’.

    I think the author has every right to inform prospective partners of the potential pitfalls of a relationship with someone who suffers from BPD. I think the onus is on us, the sufferers of BPD to prove them otherwise through our positive behavior. Demands and threats do the opposite. If you genuinely want real relationships with people then you need to learn from past mistakes, examine yourself, and make the necessary changes. None of this can be forced, you have to want to do it.

  32. If you’re a woman with BPD complaining about this article, have you ever once thought about what you can do for your partner’s benefit? Or are you just afraid of being abandoned, and are aware of nothing else?

  33. Nothing like making people including myself look like monsters. Yes we have trouble with relationships.. Its not our faults at all.. Like the article said 70% of us were sexually abused when we were younger. I was by both my brother and step brother. I have been in different counseling and what not.. I have now been with this therapist for almost 3 years now. I was diagnosed at the age of 20. I just turned 25 on the 25th of August. Yes I have mood swings but it doesn’t always mean its the BPD acting up. It could be that I am on my period, that I got into a little argument with my friends, or I’m just tired. Simple things like that. This stupid article makes me so freaking angry. We do not act like people in the movies. They are actors. We are regular people who put up with it everyday. This freaking article is a joke. Do some more research before you write another article about BPD because I can promise you I am not freaking monster and neither are the other people diagnosed with BPD.

  34. I’m in love with a girl with bpd. The worst part is that I wish I had the skills at the time to manage the situation, but I did all the wrong things and we broke up. I’m trying to get her back with my new found knowledge that I can adapt to her condition while she gets help. She’s dating someone else but it’s new and she’s been coming around to being back with me. Yes, she is worth it, even with bpd.

  35. I agree. No one is bashing anyone with Bpd. I’m sure it’s terrible living like that, however I have been on and off with someone I’m pretty positive has this disorder. I saw a therapist and she told me to leave him. I forced him to seek therapy like 5 years ago and the person I’m with called for an emergency meeting screaming at the top of his lungs. When I met the therapist he asked me if I studied psychology and knew his history, why would I pick someone like him? At that point I had taken maybe 2 psych courses at a community college so I did not understand. Today I’m about to graduate with my BA and understand so much more. My partner recently saw his therapist once in the last year and he was shocked that I didn’t leave him. All I can say, is that I’m a very encouraging, hard working person and I seriously contemplated killing myself a few times. I feel so bad for people with BPD, however innocent bystanders are not punching bags, and a lot of you on here talk about women with BPD. Men with BPD I’m assuming is a lot worse. I had to call the cops on him the day before Christmas eve, and probably 4 -5 times in my relationship. He’s threatened to kill my male friends, tried to unlock my phone with my own thumb while asleep, cheated, pushed, shoved, chased, and blocked my vehicle in at numerous places. My advice if you are researching this, is LEAVE. Don’t let someone make you feel worthless and depressed bc of their lack to deal with their own personal issues. A person with BPD and who is aware should already be making steps to treat that if they know it is affecting their partner, and if their not, there’s your answer. I feel as though this individual has ruined my life and all of my relationships that were very important to me. With his it is constant control and if you dating someone with BPD the roller coaster is exhausting and damaging your health, happiness and life. He almost killed us on separate occasions on a volatile insecure, jealousy rage, almost crashing us into a suburb community, and on the freeway 2 other times, one while his child was in the car. This disorder is no joke. Leave.

  36. This article is really not what people who suffer from borderline personality disorder are about and linking us to Jodi Arias makes us all look like raving murderous lunatics. Articles like yours is the reason so many people with borderline personality disorders are so misunderstood!

  37. Laura, I can completely relate to what you said in your post. You are describing the man I was dating and living with off and on between constant breakups for four years.

    After the first eight months of bliss, and thinking I had met my soul mate, I have endured name-calling, emotional, physical abuse where I lost track of the domestic violence, destroying of my property.

    My final “ah-ha” moment was when in his fit of a rage over absolutely nothing, he brought a knife out of the kitchen and sat the knife on the desk in front of me as he raged—I was just so mentally exhausted, scared, sick of being man-handled, pushed, shoved into walls, delusional jealousy over any and everyone, and the list goes on–I made a decision to try and safely leave (and not return anymore), and began making a plan.

    Just a side note: He went through close to a year of DBT (he did it for me because I did not want to return to him because of the rages and violence). BUT….months after the DBT, when he was no longer in the program, he resorted back to the originally abusive raging behavior.

    It is sad because leaving a person that you love, and I really wanted to stay, to the point that I was actually putting myself in serious harm—not to mention by being with him I gave up friends, family, outside interests that didn’t include him—-I finally saw that I was a shadow of myself—it made me not enjoy life anymore.

    I am no longer in the relationship. I agree with you—when it gets to this point—Leave.

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