Love And Borderline Personality Disorder

Love And Borderline Personality Disorder

As I wrote in my previous post, ‘What Is Romantic Love?‘ and in some of my other posts (The Difficulties Of Meeting My Partner and Partner Wants To Meet A Week Early), I have great difficulties with relationships. These difficulties may be the cause of my borderline personality disorder or a result of it. Thus, I thought I would take a look at the love and relationship issues of sufferers of borderline personality disorder.

 

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the main relationship characteristics of borderline personality disorder are: intense, unstable, and conflicted personal relationships.

 

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Rejection

 

One of the key characteristics of borderline personality disorder is the fear of rejection. People who suffer from borderline personality disorder are meant to be in constant fear of rejection, which can result in the sufferer leaving the relationship before their partner has a chance to leave them first, even though their partner might not have such an intention (Cleveland Clinic).

 

As I’ve talked about in my other posts, especially the previous post (What Is Romantic Love?), my borderline personality disorder has made relationships very difficult. From the times in my life when my emotions were unstable, to presently, where I’m largely emotionally numb all the time. Stable emotionally, through the lack of emotions.

 

My attachment issues were so bad that I eventually just gave up on having relationships. I hate the fact that after two and a half months, my feeling of lustful love would be replaced with not being able to stand the person touching me. This change would come out of nowhere, and there was nothing I could do about it.

 

I feel lust/love really intensely for the first two and a half months, and then it’s just gone. Due to this, I often ask what love is and look into finding out what love is and how it should make me feel. All because I really don’t know if I’ve ever felt it. I also wonder if my kind of love is just different to everyone else’s.

 

I don’t think my borderline personality disorder is rooted in any kind of fear of losing someone, as my attachment issues make it difficult to form attachments with people in the first place. I’ve never felt homesick and I’ve never missed anyone.

 

However, to avoid hurting people, I just stopped having relationships. I couldn’t cope with the pain I’d cause the people I would break up with when I broke up with them.

 

Somehow I’m in a relationship that’s been on and off over the last decade, and we’ve been together properly for two years or more now. But that’s only worked due to a lot of long conversations about my relationship and borderline personality disorder problems. We’ve established good personal boundaries, and my partner accepts that I’ll have repeated phrases where their mere touch will make me want to pull away.

 

We’ve agreed we wouldn’t live together and instead live nearby. That way we’re not under each other’s feet all the time, and my issues will come less into play. We still message each other everyday, but only meet once a fortnight over a weekend, and occasionally a few other times for lunch and stuff. It’s our weird way of getting around my issues, and somehow it works for others. Mainly because my partner is incredibly understanding and also loves their space.

 

According to Very Well Mind, some borderline personality disorder sufferers can suddenly switch between feeling smothered and fearful of intimacy, which leads them to withdraw from relationships. This means there’s a constant back-and-forth between wanting and expecting love and attention to suddenly withdrawing and wanting to isolate themselves.

 

This would kind of fit my issues better than me having a simple fear of rejection. Although I still don’t think I have a fear of rejection. But the switching between wanting to be loved and having an overwhelming need to be away from that same person does better account for my problems, looking back at them.

 

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Attachments

 

Attachment problems are probably the cause of borderline personality disorder sufferers having a fear of rejection in the first place. But that might depend on your attachment type.

 

A study conducted by Agrawal, Gunderson, Holmes, and Lyons-Ruth (2004), who reviewed 13 empirical studies to investigate the types of attachments borderline personality disorder sufferers had. They found a high percentage of highly insecure attachments among the borderline personality disorder suffering participants.

 

Agrawal, Gunderson, Holmes, and Lyons-Ruth (2004) findings aren’t that much of a surprise, as attachment problems are a big part of borderline personality disorder. Thus, attachment and rejection go hand-in-hand.

 

Codependency

 

According to Psych Central, it’s commonly believed that most people with borderline personality disorder are codependent and find other codependent people to match up with in order to help them.

 

Due to my borderline personality disorder I often fear that my current relationship is codependent (What Is Domestic Abuse?). So much so, that I’ve asked my partner a few times to check that it’s not. They don’t believe we are, so I have no reason to doubt their opinion on it. I guess we just balance each other out, rather than it being a codependency issue. But I hope we’re not really two different codependent people that have found each other.

 

Love And Borderline Personality Disorder

 

Suicidal

 

One of the more darker and common traits of borderline personality disorder are issues around being suicidal (Cleveland Clinic). I for one know I’ve had issues around thinking about dark thoughts and suicide almost as long as I’ve been alive (Suicidal Child #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek).

 

My issues with this does put a bit of a strain on my relationship, because my partner wants me to be more open about my suicidal thoughts. The problem is, I have them all the time, and that’s fine for me, I’m used to it. It only really matters when I become completely consumed by it. But even then I don’t tell my partner it’s happening, but I might do once that suicidal phase has passed.

 

If I tell my partner afterwards, then they get a little upset about not saying anything whilst it’s happening. But it’s not like they could do anything to help when I’m in that state, so I don’t see the point in burdening them with it when it’s happening. But because my partner also gets a bit upset after the fact, I also don’t really want to tell them afterwards either, because of the hassle.

 

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It Isn’t Easy

 

Loving someone, like me, with borderline personality disorder, isn’t easy (Bridges To Recovery). Being someone with borderline personality disorder isn’t easy either. In or out of a relationship.

 

But it is possible. It helps if you have some very honest conversations about how your borderline personality disorder affects you, your relationships, your needs, your issues, and your partner’s needs and wants. Then you need to work out boundaries to keep the relationship healthy.

 

Another way you could help maintain a relationship with someone who has borderline personality disorder is to acknowledge the sufferer’s emotions rather than dismissing them, and to keep your emotions in check when the sufferer is struggling with their emotions (CBS News).

 

If you have any tips for being in a relationship with someone with borderline personality disorder, then let us know in the comments below.

 

As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences of mental health, borderline personality disorder, relationships, and love in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up to my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications of new posts by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom left corner.

 

Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog then you can make a donation of any size below also. Until next time, Unwanted Life readers.

 

 

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References

 

Agrawal, H. R., Gunderson, J., Holmes, B. M., & Lyons-Ruth, K. (2004). Attachment studies with borderline patients: a review. Harvard review of psychiatry12(2), 94–104. doi:10.1080/10673220490447218 Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1857277/

53 thoughts on “Love And Borderline Personality Disorder

  1. This makes a lot of sense to me. My relationships always start out highly passionate and intense, but then I start to feel smothered but paranoid that they are going to leave me, which ends up causing the end of the relationship. It’s like a self fulfilling prophecy. I haven’t been in a relationship for 8 years now, I probably never will be again, but at least I won’t be hurting anybody else.

    1. I use to think like that, that it was better for me to be single so I don’t hurt other people, but then often you’re just hurting yourself due to isolation. Going into treatment might help, but also finding someone who has a lot of patience and understanding is just as important, if not more so

      1. Yes, I can understand that too. I think if I was alone I would probably go down the CBT or DBT route again. At the moment, I have too many children living at home, and crazy pets, so that limits my isolation.

  2. I really appreciate your honesty and vulnerability in writing this post to help others who can relate. And I really admire your self-awareness. We all work differently, so it’s crucial to develop mindfulness and awareness of how we work. 🙂 It’s the only way we can grow.

            1. It’s possible she’s self-medicating to deal with some kind of trauma, that’s pretty common for substance abusers. If there was a way to help resolve that, if that was the reason, she might be more open to tackling their substance abuse issue

  3. I had not previously had a name for some of the cycles that occur within relationships, but I love how you explore how relationships begin, dawdle, and often spiral into smothering circles. Learning and being conscious is the first step to stepping outside the circle, if that is the step you need to take.
    I love how honest you have been about your personal experiences; that lends a lot of emotion to the writing.

  4. I wish you the best on your love life. Love can be difficult, even without mental health issues thrown in the mix. I’ve had difficulties since getting out of a longterm emotionally and verbally abusive relationship. It took me two years to be able to say I love you to the man I’m with now. He’s good to me and patient with me.

    1. I’m glad you’ve found yourself someone who is caring and patient, as absuive relationships can leave there mark on you, and it can take a while to recover from them

  5. I was in awe reading your post on love and borderline personality disorder. I felt proud of your awareness of how this disorder affects you and your decision to abstain from relationships. I was even more intrigued later by your decade long relationship. To me, what you two have is a powerful example of the power of love. You two respect each other enough to respect your limits and boundaries and create new norms. I wish you all the best and thank you for teaching me about love and borderline personality disorder.

  6. Thank you so much for educating those of us (including me) about BPD! I honestly don’t know too much about it, and I know a lot of people don’t either. I’m glad you’ve found a partner who understands and respects your boundaries. I know all relationships aren’t perfect, but I’m glad you both have found way to work through things. I hope I can find someone like that one day who understands my mental health issues, or at least tries to. It hasn’t always been the easiest being in a relationship when my mental health wasn’t the best, so thank you for sharing your experience with love and BPD. 🙂 It’s given me a bit of hope and has helped me understand BPD a bit more!

    Emily | http://www.thatweirdgirllife.com

    1. It can be hard to find someone who’s understanding about mental health, but you certainly shouldn’t settle for someone who isn’t willing to be understanding. I’m sure you’ll find that person, just takes a bit of time and patience

      1. Thank you for the kind words! And you’re absolutely right! I did end up learning that the hard way with an ex :/ One of the reasons I’m currently single right now, but you’re right, with time and patience maybe I’ll find someone who’ll understand 🙂

  7. I can relate alot to this.. feeling of rejection ect, but Ive been with my husband almost 6 years now and although I know he loves me to absolute bits, I still fear he will leave one day. Im glad you’ve found a routine with your partner that works!! Xx

  8. I think one of the scarier parts of BPD TO ME, is the difficulty you have within your relationships. I think this because not everyone has suicidality but for those that do those negative thoughts can often be stopped by a distraction, going to therapy or having anyone to speak to. Not having anyone to go to can be a trigger of itself.

  9. It helps to have a partner who you can talk to and who is understanding of your mental health issues.

    That said, I’m guilty of not following my own advice. I rarely talk to my partner about my suicidal thoughts, because it’s an almost daily problem I’ve lived with since I was in primary. I’m use to having these constant thoughts, but I’m not sure my partner could handle the constant worry if I told them every time I had them. My suicidal thoughts are as normal to me as having lunch. But my partner doesn’t see it that way, and they will worry

  10. I always learn so much from your posts and your struggles break my heart. Through your writings I sort of feel like I’ve come to know you and care about the person you are because your posts are so genuine and insightful. I love your attitude, bravery in sharing your story, and your strength.

  11. It sounds like you struggle a lot with coping with bipolar disorder and your love life but the part about you and your current partner finding ways that work for you both made me super happy. The fact that they’re understanding of everything you’re going through must make things a lot easier for you. Sounds like you’ve got a special one.

  12. Thank you so much for this post. I am not diagnosed with BPD but I do understand the on and off lust you were mentioning in your post. I would say I’m pretty difficult to date at times as well with my depression and anxiety. I’m an empath and draw narcissists so I’m currently on a dating break.

  13. I think, no matter, what we are having – disorder, depression, illness etc. Every relationship on its base is different and complicated. And it’s an art, to find a balance between our problems and accepting other persons problems or habbits. But as you said – everything is possible! We just need to find the right way!

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