How to Date Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder

There are some beautiful, fascinating, magnetic people who just so happen to have borderline personality disorder (BD). That said, the disorder itself can pose unique challenges to a relationship. It is important at the onset to have a well-developed sense of what the disorder is and how it affects that special someone you are dating, before you decide to commit to him or her. BD is actually quite common, affecting tens of millions in the U.S. alone. It uniquely affects interpersonal relationships, so you will continually be in the line of fire. Those with BD have unstable emotions, behaviors, and an ever-changing self-image. They can be paranoid, moody, and impulsive and may take part in risky behavior or those that result in self-injury, such as cutting, substance abuse, suicide attempts, and risky sexual behavior. Usually, it begins in early adulthood. Those with BD are sensitive to environmental or social changes, and often equate them to a fear of rejection. They also carry a fear of abandonment, and experience intermittent and irrational outbursts of anger. Those with BD can have a series of intense and unstable romantic relationships. The condition is more prevalent in women. As one ages, symptoms generally decrease. By the time one is in their 40s or 50s the most extreme behaviors are usually, completely gone. Borderline is treated through medication and long-term psychotherapy.

Most people who have someone special in their life who has borderline say they do not care what the persons suffers, but just want to be there for them and support them. Realize that he or she is lucky to have you. Still, it is important to know what you are dealing with, and to see if the person needs more help than they are getting. For those moving forward with a relationship with someone who has borderline, here is some advice on how to make it as pleasurable as possible, and mitigate any possible situations that could arise. People with BD can take up all of your time and energy. Reserve some of each for yourself. Otherwise, you will feel drained all the time. You may even feel that you are losing your identity. You cannot truly be there for your partner if you yourself are in dire need of some TLC. Talk with your partner in depth about the time you need to yourself, and perhaps to spend with friends. Remind them that it is just to refresh your batteries. Keep in mind, you have to take extra special care so that they do not see it as abandonment. Still, don’t let them take that time away from you, either.

Establish boundaries early and consistently. BD sufferers can sometimes test boundaries. In any relationship boundaries are important, or else we carry resentment in our hearts, which will eventually leach into and poison the relationship itself. Do not over-react to your partner. Those with BD generally go straight to emotional extremes. But if you continually get caught up in this, you will be enabling them. This will devolve into a classic codependent relationship. When your partner approaches you in an emotional tizzy, take a step back. Stay calm. Establish the facts, and piece together the picture. Just because they have BD, doesn’t mean you can label them. Do not hold it over their head, or categorize everything as a symptom of the disorder. Each person is different. It is best to hang back at first and see what their patterns are, before you decide what is a symptom and what is part of who they are. When your partner says hurtful things to you, ignore them. Realize that this is the disorder talking. Consider whether you can handle such a relationship. You will have to have a high level of self-esteem, be able to handle situations, and not take things too personally. Everyone has their own issues, and these will always leak into a romantic relationship. You just have to consider which you can work with, and what you can’t. But for those who can handle a BD partner, having the right mindset and tools in your toolbox makes things so much easier.

For more pick up a copy ofI Hate You–Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus.

Men Have a Hard Time Understanding Women’s Emotions

Men Have a Hard Time Understanding Women’s Emotions

When a relationship is not going well, it is many times the woman who is dissatisfied. Ask any divorce lawyer or just look at the statistics and you will see the majority of divorces are filed by women. In these cases, they usually complain that their man does not care about them, or does not care about their emotional needs. But the problem is oftentimes not that he does not care, but that he does not understand what it is she wants. Men and women communicate differently. Men are very direct. Women come at issues from different angles. Men are problem-solvers. For women, the needs vary. Sometimes they need emotional validation or support, and at other times just some understanding. A gal does not necessarily want her guy to solve her problem, but just to listen. Women can usually read each other’s emotions quite easily, and they come to one another’s aide in sympathy and kind words without even being asked. But a man who can pick up on her general mood, may not notice all the nuances within it. Understand that communication is a skill in which we all learn. We are not limited by our gender. In fact, each partner should try earnestly to consider how the other person communicates, and tune in to their frequency.

This may mean that a man learns to not only hear but really listen to his girlfriend or wife. He should not be so quick to offer logical suggestions and advice. Instead, he should listen carefully, tell her in his own words how he understands the situation, and validates her feelings. Consider the difficulty of the problem and her capability of handling it, before offering advice. If you believe she is able to handle this one, keep the advice to yourself, or only extend it if she asks. For women if she has certain emotional needs her man is not getting, she needs to tell him directly, and learn to be more direct about her thoughts and feelings. Sometimes women have an attitude such like, “He should just know” Or “If he really loved me he would know.” But the majority of men communicate directly. So he has no hope in knowing. It also cuts out a woman’s responsibility to communicate her feelings to her man, in a way he can understand. But it too shows her anxiety surrounding these feelings. No matter how much alike you look at the onset, there are wide gulfs between any two individuals. If they are to stay together these chasms need crossing. Any worthwhile relationship is built on good communication. It is not a miracle simply arrived upon but the result of long, patient conversations and hard work.

For some women crying is a way of venting. It makes certain men uncomfortable however. And women may feel ashamed afterward. But really they just want support from their partner, not for him to pull away. Men are taught never to cry in our society. Ladies, if you cry just let him know that this is emotional venting. Guys, hold her and be there for her and you will make the relationship stronger. Lastly, fellas if a woman wants to talk about an emotional problem you two are having, do not get defensive and start yelling at her. You should not just apologize and clam up either. Both may put stress on the relationship, rather than relieve it, and the first choice definitely will. Instead, listen to her and re-explain in your own words. When she feels you get it, show her that you care, validate her, and work together to find a solution. Lastly, men sometimes have a hard time communicating their emotions. Ladies, be patient. Guys, find a way to tell her how you feel, so she understands you better. Communication is not easy. But get it right and your relationship will be so much closer, and you will end up cherishing every moment together.

For more on what to do when the real work in a relationship begins pick up a copy of, Post-Romantic Stress Disorder: What to Do When the Honeymoon Is Overby John Bradshaw and Joe Barrett.

Dealing with your Partner’s Emotional Baggage

Dealing with your Partner’s Emotional Baggage

Even the most well-adjusted person in the world has emotional baggage. But chances are if you feel you are constantly dealing with your partner’s then they have had a rocky past, at least in some respects. The trouble is we are usually ensconced in the relationship by the time we get a sense of what their emotional baggage is. Most of us do not have a radar for these things. Of course, we love who we love and we need to act compassionately towards that person. But they don’t always make life easy. One thing to do is to evaluate this emotional baggage. Some people have a Florence Nightingale complex. They fall in love with someone but perhaps more so with the idea of saving them. But if the person does not want help, is in complete denial, or has too significant a problem to be in healthy relationship, they may just weigh you down instead of you holding them up. If this person is able to have a stable relationship, is working on their issues, and has the ability to support you and give back, the relationship may be worthwhile. If your interaction can be mutually beneficial, and you wish to move forward, here are some things to think about to help you deal with your partner’s emotional baggage.

The first part is to come and understand exactly what happened to them. Was it a sudden, traumatic incident or a long, protracted period of neglect? But do not pressure them into telling you. When we love someone and are motivated to help them, we may try and pry every aspect of the traumatic experience out of them. But this can do more harm than good. Reliving it alone can be very painful. Be patient and ready for when they feel comfortable enough to divulge. When they do open up be sure to listen closely and actively. You need to understand not only what happened, but how it impacted them, and the significance. There should be no judgment or criticism pointed at them, or they may never open up to you again. Instead, merely validate their feelings. If part of their condition includes bouts of anger or irrational fear, such as with PTSD, come to recognize what their triggers are and how best to avoid them. Understand why it is they get moody or clam up sometimes. Do not take such things personally. Realize that they are just part of their condition. When things are going in the wrong direction, be patient. Take a deep breath. Then step back and see if there is a better way to handle the situation.

Remember that you are there to support and love them, not to solve all their problems for them. Be emotionally available and empathetic. But if they need help and cannot handle things on their own, suggest seeking the aid of a mental health professional. Do not expect their recovery to happen overnight. Instead, celebrate even small accomplishments. Do not isolate them. If anything is going to make them better it is having good, strong relationships in their life. Encourage them to meet with friends and family and spend quality time with them. Remember their situation and if they go off on you for no reason, try not to take it seriously. Understand that some things you will have to let go. Don’t forget about yourself. Practice self-care. You need some time to unwind and re-center yourself, as well as spend time with your friends and family too. Some of the strongest, smartest, most caring people in the world have gone through some of life’s most traumatic situations. Remember always that it is not your job to fix them, but to be there for them.

To help your partner further get them to read Heal Your Life Workbook: Resources and Tools for Clearing Emotional Baggage so You Can Love Your Life by Sharon Whitewood

Forgive in a Relationship but Don’t Forget

Forgive in a Relationship but Don’t Forget

There can be no healthy relationship without forgiveness. Besides communication, forgiveness is perhaps the most important quality to be engaged by both partners. Use it unsparingly unless your partner has crossed an un-crossable line. For most, our transgressions can be forgiven, and amends made. We all push boundaries and go too far once in a while. It is after all human nature. Perhaps some do it without even realizing it. Forgiveness is a quality we usually learn as a child when our siblings or peers have gone too far, but when their misbehaviors are forgivable. It is a quality parents and teachers instill and reinforce within us. Everyone has a different capacity for forgiveness, and some need more time to do so than others. But everyone can learn to forgive. Though some say they do, in their heart they secretly carry anger and resentment. But this can be toxic both to the person themselves and the relationship. Psychologists say those who can actually forgive experience better mental health. It is not about justice but healing. Remember what Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Forgiveness is actually about ourselves, not the other person.

For those who have gone through a bitter divorce, or some other trauma, therapists say that when we are ready, we should forgive, whether the perpetrator deserves it or not, and whether they accept it or not. That is not for their benefit, but our own, so we can let go of the bitterness that is poisoning our heart, and be able to heal and move on. The reason you should not forget is that we learn from examining past experiences. We find out more about ourselves, our partner, and how best to handle the same or a similar situation in the future. We learn what we are sensitive about, what are buttons are and how they can be pushed, and if we delve deeper we can learn about the origins of these things too. What exactly are you set off by and why? Does it lead to past, undealt with trauma? And what was it about your partner that made them go there? Was it an accident or did they do it on purpose? By examining these, you can get to know yourself better, your partner, and your relationship too.

After the honeymoon phase, couples are met with a series of inconsistencies or incongruities that they must negotiate in order to stay together. It is from here that many transgressions arise. Another area can be the emotional baggage one or both partners carry. Forgiveness is important to bring things back to center. But using the knowledge of what occurred can help you to create some ways of operating or develop some basic rules, to keep the same problem from happening again. Out of this you grow stronger, and closer, and your relationship develops. This improves the overall health of the relationship, strengthens commitment, and allows the couple to avoid such problems in the future. It can be very difficult to forgive, especially for the proud and hot heated, and those who tend to hold a grudge. But whether you are planning to stay in this relationship, or your lovers wrongdoings have been too great, forgiveness is the most important step toward healing. Remember that forgiveness is not allowing mistreatment to go on. Instead, it is understanding what happened to you, and coming to terms with it.

For more pick up a copy of Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything by Iyanla Vanzant.

How to Get Your Partner to Give You Some Time to Yourself

How to Get Your Partner to Give You Some Time to Yourself

Most of us whether consciously or not come to love with all sorts of presuppositions. We have a preconceived notion of what it is like to be in the perfect relationship, what the opposite sex is really like, what a marriage should be, and so on. But living it, that’s a whole other thing. Though we often assume that being together all of the time is a sign of a healthy relationship, after the honeymoon phase is over our needs change. That is only natural. In this next phase, each of us needs some time apart from our partner. Coupledom comes with all different kinds of interactions. You do not have to be Siamese twins to share your love. In fact, it is unhealthy if you never spend time apart. When we are with our partner all the time, we cannot appreciate them as much. Things get stale. We take them for granted, get irritated more easily by them, which increases the chances of relationship strife. Then there are identity issues that come with coupledom. You have to always think in terms of “we.” You have to take your partner’s feelings into consideration. You have to constantly accommodate them. Sometimes we just need time away from our lover or spouse to be who we are without them, to get in touch with our feelings, digest the complex goings on in our lives, and just feel who we are without our blending into someone else.

Some people feel guilty asking for time alone. But realize that you are a big part of this relationship. If it is good for your mental health, it will be good for your partner too. In truth, getting a little time to yourself will actually rejuvenate the relationship. You will have thoughts, experiences, and insights to share. Remember that self-love is just as important as loving your partner. Every once in a while go on an adventure by yourself, or at least without your partner. A day trip, a biking tour, an afternoon at a museum, an evening with a good book, or a few hours at a coffee shop can really help you center yourself again. You will come back to your partner refreshed. Explain to them all of this so they understand. Be sure that they see that you just need a little me-time. It has nothing to do with them. Make sure they don’t feel rejected or lonesome. If so, help them find something to do, and encourage them to take part in personally fulfilling activities by themselves, or with friends.

Asking for some time alone can feel as though you are rejecting your partner. Instead, you are asking for exactly what you need. Anyone in a solid relationship should be able to openly and honestly communicate their needs and have them met. If your partner is resistant, take a good long look at them. Are they needy or clingy? They may have self-esteem issues. Reassure them that this is perfectly natural and reasonable. But also help them to build up their self-esteem over time. Reflect on their positive qualities and accomplishments. Encourage them to take part in interests, hobbies, and spend time with friends. If they are overbearing, manipulative, and try and guilt you into not having some time to yourself, rethink this relationship. This person may not be healthy for you. But a good partner will understand where you are coming from and support you. They may even be dying for a little time to themselves.

For more on how to run your romantic life smoothly read, Managing Relationships: Bridging The Communication Divide by Jemayne L. King.