How Do People With BPD Act In Relationships?

Unlike me, Navabi has had a healthy dating history since being diagnosed in July 2020 and has been using any negative experiences to inform her next steps. “My desire for companionship overcame my fears around dating successfully,” she says. People with BPD can see those with NPD representing everything they are not — being with them validates their character and self-esteem. In comparison, those with NPD receive continuing validation and attention, which provides constant affirmation of their idealised sense of self. In short, those with NPD want continuous affirmation of their self-esteem, whereas those with BPD want continuous reassurance that they are loved. During his 40 years of practising psychiatry, Secrest has seen some people overlook reflecting on how a potential partner’s personality dynamics complements theirs.

They may seek advice frequently, sometimes from several people on the same day, asking the same question. Borderline personality disorder usually manifests in the late teen years through early adulthood. We don’t fully understand what causes borderline personality disorder in teens or young adults, but it’s believed that it stems from multiple factors. People with borderline personality disorder often find it difficult to trust other people . This, along with their fear of abandonment and tendency to idealize or devalue relationships, may make it difficult to ensure that this condition does not negatively impact relationships.

A professional can help a partner understand how to react, understand, and be supportive. 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.

To learn more about the experience of dating with BPD, we spoke to Debbie Longsdale, Therapy Services Director at Priory. Finding professional help to manage your mental health can be difficult… It’s easy to neglect your own personal needs when looking after someone else. Never ignore what you’re feeling or thinking, and always seek help, especially from people you trust the most.

For Karla, a 29-year old woman recently diagnosed with BPD, Dr. Greenberg’s description is right on point. “When I feel as though someone is secretly attacking me, I will get on the defense, become overly emotional, moody, and dramatic, and perhaps will call them out on it. In reality, may have just not been aware whatsoever,” she says. Prior to her diagnosis, her boyfriend, Thomas, used to blame himself for her hot and cold behavior.

#1. Accept that You Can’t Change the Borderline Person

Substantial research estimates that between 40% – 70% of adults with BPD survived some type of sexual abuse during their childhood. It’s not believed that childhood sexual abuse is the sole cause of BPD. However, it is widely accepted that when combined with other risk factors, CSA is likely an important risk factor. Sexual abuse can cause life-long complications in relationships.

Dating Someone with BPD

Consider talking to your partner about how they feel and ways you could support their mental health. Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feels about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes self-image issues, difficulty managing emotions and behaviour, and a pattern of unstable relationships. No matter how much you may reassure your partner that you love them, the BPDer harbors a constant fear that you will leave them. At the same time, their tendency towards mood swings will have them shifting from feeling totally in love with you, to feeling smothered and intimacy-avoidant. Therefore, borderline personality disorder dating can feel immensely different in the beginning, middle, and end of the relationship.


He explains how the effort needed to make relationships work is not dependent on the labels attached to an individual’s personal experience. “It only comes down to what it is that allows a relationship to fit,” he adds. “It’s the willingness to be honest and patient with each other that’s important.” For example, I have a habit of internalising and avoiding my emotions. When this happens, I disengage from the situation completely.

This is something that can seriously break us even more than we already are and set massive amounts of progress far back. “Clinicians should know that people with BPD can successfully marry or live with a partner in a stable relationship and become parents. Borderline personality disorder impacts the way someone thinks and feels. As long as they’re not taking their shit out on me, and they’re doing to work they need to do then yes.

One of the biggest issues couples face in a BPD relationship is the ongoing turbulence arising from the frequency and intensity of the emotional needs of the borderline. This can be made all the more difficult if one of the partners involved isn’t aware of the condition. Or, even worse if both individuals aren’t aware, as there hasn’t been a proper diagnosis, yet. However, it is important to note that some average length of bpd relationship couples may stay together for over 20 years. In contrast, other anecdotal evidence from personal experiences suggests that relationships lasting between 2-4 years are more common.

How to Help a Loved One Find BPD Treatment

The emotional instability of those with BPD creates a vicious cycle whereby actions to cope with the burden of stigma exacerbate the condition. For example, some may isolate, neglect treatment, and skip their medication. There are strategies that can help people with BPD get the emotional attachments they deserve. These lessons can also be helpful to daters without the disorder should they enter a relationship with someone who has BPD. It can also help others more generally not to misperceive the disorder.

If you do decide to end the relationship, take note that your partner may not react appropriately and you may feel threatened. Let’s say you are tied up at work and can’t respond to a text message from your significant other for several hours. A person without BPD might understand, but a person with BPD might blow this gesture out of proportion. They might label you as inattentive, uncaring, or dismissive of the relationship, when in fact nothing could be farther from the truth. In the initial phases, a relationship with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder can be exhilarating.