Dating someone with a borderline personality disorder

You may wonder whether you should let them borrow money again or answer the dozens of voicemails they left on your phone. Dealing with borderline personality disorder requires skills for deescalating crises and fostering independence in your loved one.


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With the right tools and community strategies, it is possible to help your loved one towards recovery. Only a doctor or mental health professional can officially provide an official diagnosis of a personality disorder, but there are several key symptoms you can observe that might indicate a person has BPD.

When Your Loved One Has Borderline Personality Disorder

Some studies suggest that there is a genetic component, meaning the disorder can be hereditary. Hostile family environments, childhood abuse and neglect, and separation from caregivers can also increase the risk. Some research indicates BPD can emerge when parts of the brain that help regulate emotions and aggressive impulses are not functioning well. Psychotherapy, otherwise known as talk therapy, can be incredibly valuable for treating BPD. In addition to learning about the signs and symptoms of the disorder, individuals can gain skills for managing difficult emotions, developing and maintaining relationships, reducing impulsive decision-making, and improving daily functioning.

The therapy helps people change unhealthy patterns of behavior by becoming more mindful about the emotions and reactions they are experiencing in the moment. To date there are no drugs approved by the FDA that have been specifically created to treat personality disorders.

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However, some people find that medications can help reduce anxiety or impulsivity in individuals. These might include antidepressants, mood-stabilizers, and antipsychotic medications. If an individual with BPD experience intense symptoms, such as self-injury or physically harming others, they may be in need of inpatient treatment at a hospital or other residential program.

People with BPD benefit from a home environment that is calm and relaxed. All involved family members including a boyfriend or girlfriend should know not to discuss important issues when the individual is in crisis mode.

What You Need to Know When Dating Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder

Stop to take a breath yourself when they do become emotionally reactive. People with BPD should have opportunities to talk about their interests and thoughts about the news, family events, and other leisure activities. Take the time to laugh at a funny joke or eat dinner together several times a week.

The less an individual feels like his or her mental illness is under the spotlight, the more opportunity they have to explore other aspects of themselves. When a loved one becomes reactive, they may become to insult you or make unfair accusations. The natural response is to become defensive and to match the level of reactivity.

They struggle to gauge what is a minor issue and what is a full blown catastrophe. They interpret your defensiveness as not being valued. Instead, when they become reactive, take the time to listen without pointing out the flaws in their argument. Try not to take it personally. If the person does point out something you could improve or have done wrong, acknowledge their point, apologize, and suggest a way you can improve on the matter in the future.

A crisis is escalating if a person with BPD begins to threaten to harm themselves. Those moments are what the person longs for.

Distorted Borderline Perceptions and Damaging Patterns

Still, to Paddy, it is worth it. But it is nowhere near as hard as being the one with BPD. My girlfriend is not a burden, her BPD is. For most, it may hold little that feels inspirational. Hearing someone else share your struggles and negotiate the realities of the illness can be both comforting and illuminating. Borderline Personality Disorder is a chronic and complex mental health disorder marked by instability, and interpersonal relationships are often the stage on which this instability plays out. Barbara Greenberg , a clinical psychologist who treats patients with BPD, explains:.

Often, this emptiness and intense fear of abandonment are the result of early childhood trauma and the absence of secure, healthy attachments in the vital formative years. Paradoxically, the overwhelming fear manifests in behaviors that deeply disrupt the relationship and pushes partners away rather than pulls them closer, resulting in a stormy and tumultuous dynamic that typically emerges in the early days of dating.

When they are in relationships they get very intensely involved way too quickly. But then what comes along with it, a couple of weeks later, is: Everything is done with passion, but it goes from being very happy and passionate to very disappointed and rageful. Prior to her diagnosis, her boyfriend, Thomas, used to blame himself for her hot and cold behavior. Although each person has their own unique experience, these are some common thought patterns people with BPD tend to have:. Nobody cares about me as much as I care about them, so I always lose everyone I care about—despite the desperate things I try to do to stop them from leaving me.

These thoughts may be completely at odds with your own perception of your partner, but it is imperative to understand that for them, they are very real, and can drive them toward extreme and seemingly irrational behavior.


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Navigating through this emotional minefield can be difficult and painful for both of you, but knowing that their thoughts and behaviors are the product of intensely powerful perceptional distortions deeply rooted in their mental health disorder, rather than a reflection of your own shortcomings, can bring some comfort.