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  • Liz Fischer
    Liz Fischer

    Dating Someone With BPD: 5 Reasons To Think Twice

    The Intricacies of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

    Borderline Personality Disorder, often abbreviated as BPD, is a mental health condition characterized by a persistent pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These mood swings can lead to intense episodes of impulsivity, poor self-worth, and strained interpersonal relationships. While it's essential to remember that everyone deserves love and understanding, it's also crucial to recognize the unique challenges that arise when dating someone with BPD.

    There have been several studies examining the relationship dynamics when one partner has BPD. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in 2010 indicated that relationships involving someone with BPD tend to have higher levels of conflict, emotional upheaval, and dissatisfaction.

    Of course, this doesn't mean that every individual with BPD will present relationship difficulties. Everyone is unique, and generalizing isn't beneficial. However, there are certain common challenges to be aware of.

    As we delve into these, it's essential to keep in mind that knowledge and understanding are the keys. Rather than outright avoiding dating someone with BPD, it's more about being informed and making decisions that prioritize the well-being of both parties.

    Reason 1: The Emotional Rollercoaster

    One of the defining features of BPD is emotional instability. This can manifest as sudden mood shifts, which can be draining for both the person with BPD and their partner. Imagine being on an emotional rollercoaster without warning — that's what it can sometimes feel like.

    Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, a renowned psychologist, once said, "Being with someone with BPD can be like standing in the center of a hurricane. There are moments of calm, but you're constantly on alert for the next storm." This constant vigilance can lead to burnout and exhaustion.

    For someone dating a person with BPD, it can be challenging to differentiate between genuine relationship issues and those exacerbated by the disorder. It may require constant reassurance and understanding, which can be taxing over time.

    However, therapy and counseling can often help individuals with BPD manage their emotions better. But it requires a significant amount of commitment and patience from both partners.

    Reason 2: Fear of Abandonment

    Fear of abandonment is a profound concern for many people with BPD. They may constantly worry about their loved ones leaving them, which can lead to behaviors aimed at avoiding abandonment, whether real or imagined.

    This fear can manifest in various ways, from becoming overly clingy and needy to trying to push the partner away to 'test' their commitment. It's a defense mechanism, albeit a counterproductive one. Understanding this fear is crucial for partners, but it doesn't make it any easier to manage day-to-day.

    A study from the Archives of General Psychiatry in 2008 highlighted that the fear of abandonment in people with BPD often stems from childhood experiences. While this gives a context to the behavior, partners may still find it challenging to navigate the relationship without feeling overwhelmed.

    Reason 3: Impulsivity and Risky Behaviors

    Impulsivity is another hallmark of BPD. This can translate into a variety of risky behaviors such as reckless driving, binge eating, overspending, or even substance abuse. It's not just about thrill-seeking; it's often an attempt to cope with emotional pain or emptiness.

    For someone dating a person with BPD, this impulsivity can be alarming. The unpredictability associated with such behaviors can lead to significant stress and worry. Moreover, some of these behaviors can have direct consequences for the relationship, especially if they involve financial decisions or fidelity concerns.

    It's also worth noting that impulsivity can lead to rapid changes in life goals, career choices, and even relationships. This can be jarring for a partner who is looking for stability and consistency in their relationship.

    Reason 4: Intense but Unstable Relationships

    People with BPD often experience a pattern of intense and unstable relationships. One moment, they might idealize their partner, placing them on a pedestal. The next moment, they might devalue the same person, seeing them as worthless or even harmful.

    This intense love-hate relationship can be confusing for both parties involved. One day, the relationship might feel like a fairy tale, and the next, it might feel like a nightmare. The cyclical nature of these emotions can make it challenging to establish a stable and secure bond.

    It's crucial for partners to recognize that these rapid shifts aren't necessarily personal attacks or reflections of the actual state of the relationship. They are manifestations of the disorder. However, understanding this intellectually and managing it emotionally are two very different challenges.

    Reason 5: The Ongoing Challenge of Treatment

    BPD is a treatable condition, and many individuals with the disorder can lead fulfilling lives with the right therapeutic interventions. However, the path to recovery can be long and winding. Treatments like Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) have shown promise, but they require commitment and effort.

    For someone dating a person with BPD, being supportive during the treatment can be both rewarding and challenging. Therapy might bring up past traumas or trigger emotional upheavals, which can spill over into the relationship. Being patient and understanding during these times is essential, but it's also vital to ensure one's own emotional well-being.

    It's always recommended that partners of individuals with BPD seek counseling or support groups themselves. This not only helps in understanding the disorder better but also provides a platform to address personal feelings and challenges.

    While every individual deserves love and understanding, dating someone with BPD presents unique challenges. It's essential to be informed, prepared, and proactive in seeking support for both partners.


    • Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul T. Mason and Randi Kreger
    • I Hate You--Don't Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus
    • The Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Living with BPD by Alex L. Chapman and Kim L. Gratz

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