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.