People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) often have rocky relationships, both romantic and platonic. Romantic relationships present a unique set of challenges for people with BPD and for their partners.
Symptoms of BPD can cause constant changes in emotions.
For example, a person with BPD may be affectionate and doting, but within a few hours, their emotional state may switch. They may feel smothered or overwhelmed. This can lead them to push away the partner they had just been drawing closer.
With treatment and continual support from family and partners, people with BPD can have successful relationships. Read on to find out how it’s possible and what you can do if you or your partner has BPD.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a condition that affects the way a person processes everyday emotions and reactions.
People with BPD are often impulsive and emotionally unstable. They may have intense episodes of anger, anxiety, and depression. These episodes can last several hours and be followed by a more stable period.
These episodes could also last several days and negatively affect the person’s work, relationships, or physical health. Some people with BPD are prone to self-injury, accidents, and fights. Suicide is also more common among people with BPD.
Another way to understand how a person with BPD experiences life is to realize they have a more difficult time returning to an emotional baseline.
When something exciting or positive happens, they may experience greater joy for longer. But the opposite is also true: If something bad happens, they may have trouble bouncing back.
For friends, family members, and potential partners of someone with BPD, these emotional peaks and valleys may seem chaotic, which can lead to intense, conflict-filled relationships.
A romantic relationship with someone with BPD can be, in a word, stormy. It’s not uncommon to experience a great deal of turmoil and dysfunction.
However, people with BPD can be exceptionally caring, compassionate, and affectionate. In fact, some people find this level of devotion from a partner pleasant. A person with BPD may also be very physical and eager to spend a lot of time with their partner.
At the same time, people with BPD are sensitive to abandonment or rejection. Many are hyperfocused on perceived signs that a romantic partner isn’t happy or may leave them.
When a person with BPD senses a shift in their partner’s feelings, whether real or imagined, they may immediately withdraw. They can become angry and hurt over something a person without BPD would not react to. They can even become obsessive.
These emotional switchbacks can be difficult to handle. Sometimes they can lead to uncomfortable public scenes. The impulsive behavior of a person with BPD may put that person or their partner at risk, too.
However, the stability of a partner may have a positive effect on the emotional sensitivities people with BPD experience. It may require a great deal of work from both partners, but long-term relationships and marriages are possible for people with BPD.
The most common BPD behaviors and symptoms could be detrimental to any relationship. If you have been diagnosed with the condition, you likely know this already. People with BPD are more likely to have many romantic relationships, which are often short-lived.
This could be because you purposefully broke off the relationship for fear your partner might do it first. It could also be because your partner wasn’t comfortable facing so much difficulty.
It’s important to know that you can have a healthy relationship despite your personality disorder. Treatment, along with a strong support network, can help you find stability in your emotional state and in your relationships.
Treatment won’t cure BPD, but these options can help you learn to cope with the symptoms and react in ways that aren’t as harmful to you or your partner.
treatment for bpd
The most common treatments for BPD include:
- Therapy. Dialectical behavioral therapy is commonly used with people who have BPD. A therapist will help you learn to respond to emotional situations with reason and proper judgment. This will reduce the dichotomous thinking (the belief that everything is black and white) that so many people with BPD have.
- Medication. There is no medication that can treat BPD, but antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, and antipsychotics may help treat some of the symptoms.
- Hospitalization. If you begin showing signs of self-harm or suicidal ideation, a doctor may hospitalize you for observation and intensive therapy.
If you or your partner has BPD, you can find ways to cope with the cycles of emotions that the condition causes. This can help you build a stronger, more resilient connection.
ways to improve bpd relationships
- Learn about BPD. Part of caring for a partner with BPD is understanding what they’re experiencing. Understanding the level of emotional disorder they experience can help you respond in a way that protects both of you from additional chaos.
- Seek professional help. Therapy can help people with BPD learn to better process emotions and events that upset them. Partners of people with BPD can also benefit from therapy. A professional can help a partner understand how to react, understand, and be supportive.
- Offer emotional support. Someone with BPD may feel very isolated because of their past. Offer your partner understanding and patience. It is possible for them to learn and have better behaviors.
People with BPD are good and compassionate, and they can have healthy relationships. It takes work, and lifelong challenges will remain.
Therapists and doctors can work with you or your partner to develop a treatment plan. These healthcare providers can help you address the BPD symptoms that are most damaging to you and to your relationship.