45 thoughts on “Should You Stay With Someone Who Has Borderline Personality Disorder?

  • October 27, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    I’m in a new relationship with a man whose previous 2 1/2 year relationship was with someone with BPD. He is terrified of her and she has on several occations threatened him while we were together. Instead of handling her, he cowers. She has ruined a few of our dates and I’m supposed to be patient and understandind because I don’t understand the dynamics of their former relationship and am not aware of what she is capable of. Some comments and advise would be helpful.

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  • October 28, 2009 at 9:04 am

    @Bonnie: I think this situation really calls for the two of you to seek couple’s counseling. Someone needs to look closely at what’s going on and advise both of you on what to do. If that doesn’t go over with him or work out, see someone for yourself about the issue. Good luck!

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  • November 4, 2009 at 7:42 am

    A very useful article. As a parent of someone with BPD, I can’t exactly leave the relationship. I did learn another aspect of his behavior. Thank you.

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    • August 28, 2015 at 12:40 am

      Like i said on my comment. The only time i cannot leave is with my own children.
      As a parent you have all the power to say no to bs.
      The same cannot be said of any other relationship.
      So misbehaving personality disordered have to , all, go.

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  • November 4, 2009 at 8:19 am

    @Susan,
    Thanks for the comment. Although you “can’t exactly leave the relatioship,” perhaps you can figure out clear boundaries to preserve your sanity. Just a thought…

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  • December 6, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Hi Chuck!!! Albuquerque was so long ago, but you made a lasting impression. I hope you (and Sherri) are well!

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  • January 22, 2010 at 11:04 am

    I was in a relationship for 1 year with a 47 year old woman that I suspect (internet research)has bpd, with bi polar and add components. She has had 3 failed marriages.
    In the last 6 months she has had falling outs and lost 3 of her closest women friends (friendships of 15 years or more) and me. She was a prostitute before her now 15 year old daughter was born and has had more than just a few sexual encounters with other women. She smokes a pack a day and I discovered that she’s also been using small amounts of crystal meth. Bad diet and no exercise. When i told her her lifestyle seemed self destructive she refused to even talk about it and said I was wrong. When we first met, I had never experienced such quick and total idealization and thought I had found the woman of my dreams as I grew to love her. Within 2 months she would get angry with me in what felt like very disproportionate to the situation outbursts that would go on for 2 or sometimes 3 hours. She told me when I left “if anything happens to me, it’s on your shoulders” I offered to stay with her and help raise her daughter ONLY if we attended counseling together and she angrily refused telling me I’m the one that needs help, not her. She texted me the other day to say she has had 2 “panic attacks” in the last week. My question is, given all that has happened, how can she still refuse to even consider the possibility that she may have a problem that needs addressing. When her behavior is pointed out to her, she reacts angrily, saying that she’s being abused, abandoned and just a “lamb to the slaughter.”

    Thanks for any insight .

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  • January 26, 2010 at 11:40 am

    @Diane: Indeed, it’s been a long time! And many changes since then. But good ones. Glad to hear from you…
    @Steve: I wish I could give you real “insight” from a distance, but it just doesn’t work well on the Internet. However, refusal to acknowledge and take responsibility for one’s behavior is not as rare as we’d all like to think! Thanks for your comments.

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  • March 10, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    I’m 23 And I’ve been with my girl for 3 years and she’s definetly bpd. I need some serios help leaving her is a scary option because she goes crazy. I’m scared that she will get mad and I will hit her then she calls the police and I go to jail I am a broke college student. If I left her she would treaten legal problems and I have no money please help.

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  • March 16, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    @Art: Most local communities have half way houses and information about domestic violence that can give you good information and generally will do so for no money. Check around. Your college student mental health center may be able to help too.

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  • March 17, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Im sorry to put it this way but this is how it is I have been married to a wonderful nightmare of a handsome charming Drama king to whom I am addicted I have no other vices.I dont know whether to stay or go have tried to leave even by traveling to other states and he will get my family involved to where I look like the bad guy . I get extremely lonely without him and am not interested in any of the “nice guys” that ask me out .I question my sanity when these things are occuring and feel stuck really stuck because I long for and am addicted to the good man he can be and has been at times he says he will get help for borderline and tells everyone Im bipolar though I have never had any such daignoses. My diagnoses have been are P.T.S.D and anxiety and depression which all occured after during this marriage. Our child loves his dad and I am always the bad guy in this relationship i dont know what to do anymore I feel very confused and frustrated like an idiot who keeps going back for more.

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    • August 28, 2015 at 12:49 am

      Hope the bad guy is giving you all the pain and suffering you so much want.
      Good guys cannot give you that.So its good you have a bad ass guy to help you.

      Reply
  • March 18, 2010 at 10:50 am

    @Jeanette My heart goes out to you. The pattern you describe is suprisingly common. People with BPD (or other personality disorders) can be unusually charming at times. They can make their partners feel unsteady, crazy, or incapable (look up the term gaslighting). I have two suggestions. First, get informed about the features of borderline personality so that you can fully understand what is going on. Then try individual therapy and deal with your own issues so that you can make a rational decision.

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  • June 1, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    I’ve been on/off seeing a woman who according to her has BPD? She has told me of how many men she’s slept with, and to me, she sleeps with someone now. When I told her her lifestyle seemed self destructive she refused to even talk about it and said I was wrong. Just like when she would call her mother out on things, her mom would do the same exact thing! When we first met, I had never experienced such quick and total passion and thought I had found the woman of my dreams as I grew to love her (I still do love her very much, but I can’t if I have to put up with this crap) She is a very sweet loving person but within 2 months she would get angry with me in what felt like very disproportionate to the situation outbursts that would go on for 2 or sometimes 3 hours even into the next day…I’m to blame for that due to my own anger reacting of how nerve-wracking she can be. I should’ve walked away but I feel the need to defend/explain myself which seems to make things worse. She tells me that she wants no contact with me but yet still wants me in her daughter’s life because I’m “a positive male role model”….HUH???? My question is, given all that has happened, how can she still refuse to even consider the possibility that she may have a problem that needs addressing. When her behavior is pointed out to her (mirroring in BPD terms), she reacts angrily and tells me to go away but yet she hasn’t told me to get my stuff or get my belongings out of storage….What do I do? Am I being used by her?

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  • June 4, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    @confused: This situation doesn’t sound very encouraging. However, as long as you have doubts, perhaps you should see a therapist to help you sort it out. Or a couple’s therapist. If she refuses to go with you, that may give you more useful information.

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  • June 11, 2011 at 5:39 am

    I want to say a few things. First, I am not sure, Dr. Eliot, if you missed this in Art’s post, but he said, “I’m scared that she will get mad and I will hit her then she calls the police and I go to jail I am a broke college student.” He is saying he is afraid HE will HIT his girlfriend because she will get mad and then she will take legal recourse. Why would he hit her or hit anyone? This relationship doesn’t sound healthy to me on either side. There is no mention of her hitting him, just of her getting “crazy.” If I had a boyfriend who hit me because I got mad he wanted to leave me, I might call the cops, too because I would be afraid of him. Nobody should HIT anybody. And I think anger is a common reaction to being left, not just among people who have bpd — nobody likes to feel abandoned. People with bpd might just take it harder because we feel things so deeply. Also, Art refers to her as “bpd” instead of as a person with bpd. People are not disorders. Nobody IS bpd.

    That being said, I also have a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and I have gone through years of outpatient group and individual treatment in various modalities (including mentalization, CBT, psychoanalytic) — I found DBT most helpful. It helped to explain the world to me. I knew how to mentalize, so that therapy wasn’t very revealing to me. I also liked psychodynamic therapy because the transference and insights gained fascinated me. It was intensely painful for me to handle all the emotions brought up by such therapy, but luckily I was learning DBT at the same time and that gave me some skills.

    I want to remind anyone reading this that people who have borderline personality disorder and other personality disorders are also individuals who cannot be diluted down to their diagnoses, even as that may be an easier way for us to be perceived. For instance, I don’t see myself in the portraits of people described here, in the black-and-whiteness that is emphasized. Most of the relationships described above, albeit in very few words and hence it is hard to get a whole picture, seem to be of people who seem very out-of-control at the expense of others. BPD can be treated, and I have seen in myself and in other group members that personality can change. It is terrifically hard work and it does require a large degree of insight into your own condition. And you have to be able to accept yourself the way you are, which means seeing some things you might not like to see and hearing some things from other people that you don’t want to hear about yourself.

    I had a different problem from the people described above — I was *too* controlled. My affect was restricted. My anger management problem was more that I had difficulty expressing any anger at all. And I certainly didn’t take it out on anyone. I’ve never wanted to hurt anyone.

    But I have been idealized by people who I have dated and I didn’t liked that at all because I couldn’t live up to an ideal. I felt as if I was misunderstood and not known at all and that depressed me and made me anxious around the other person. It became difficult to express myself when someone saw me as simply perfect when I knew I was not. When I was treated in this way, I withdrew from the person, which made them angry. And the more they got angry with me for not being who they thought I was, the more I withdrew. I felt angry, myself, that I was being pushed into a corner. I took this anger out on myself in destructive ways and my relationships never lasted long because I couldn’t handle the incongruity between who they thought I was and who I felt I was. They fell in love with a stranger, and I felt increasingly estranged and certainly not in love with them at all, for which I felt guilty. I always broke it off.

    People who suffer from bpd really do *suffer*. It is an incredibly painful disorder. When I read about all the chaos people with bpd cause in the lives of those around them, I have to say it takes two (or more) to tango. I didn’t ask for a personality disorder. There are reasons, very horrible and painful reasons, that my personality developed in the way it did. Ways that I strive daily to undo. I understand it is hard to “walk on eggshells” around someone with bpd — they can be manipulative, unpredictable, and destructive. But just remember, while you crunch your eggshells, they are walking on sharp knives and trying their best to cope with a world in which they feel they do not fit in, can never fit in, do not understand at all, and in which they feel completely misunderstood, in which they feel they can do nothing right — they ruin everything. And the tragic fact is, they, we do ruin things for ourselves — self-destructive behavior is sometimes the only way people with bpd know how to act. And when you want to reach out to stroke a rose petal, and you end up crushing and killing the whole plant, and bleeding from it besides, that hurts really really bad.

    But not everyone with bpd acts like those in the portraits described here. It can be a largely hidden disorder.

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    • May 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      I agree with you about how people with BPD are seen and treated. It seems that as forming humans we are not allowed to develope normally, then as adults we are wrong for being what we were taught to be. Nothing needs to be explained to us, we’re wrong for not automatically understanding what others were taught, but we weren’t. As children we’re punished for being alive and as adults we’re punished for being alive, but it’s wrong to not want to be punished.

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  • June 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    @Red: Thanks much for the clarification. I did misread that post. And you make some great points overall.

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  • August 31, 2011 at 3:55 am

    Thank you Red. People who don’t have BPD truly have no idea what it’s like to suffer this illness. That goes for any doctor too.

    I have been married for 14 yrs and was diagnosed 6 years ago. Not everyone has relationships doomed to fail. Maybe a little more compassion, therapy and understanding would go a long way….

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  • June 12, 2014 at 8:54 am

    I have bpd, and i fear that, from what i’ve read here and other sites, that i should probably leave people alone, from what i understand i am hurting the people i care about most, so on my part, would it be better for them if i just leave them alone..?
    i want an honest answer, because i feel like they wont tell me to go because they are scared of my reaction, as am i.. I know that in my case there is little chance of improvement,so would it be healthier for them if i leave them alone..

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  • June 12, 2014 at 8:55 am

    You’re answer will only inform of what I should do, not what I must, I simply seek an honest professional opinion, no pity..

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    • August 28, 2015 at 12:54 am

      But you sure are taking responsibility for this.
      Addictions and mental illness are never really the problem.
      Refusal for accountability and responsibility are.

      You sound good to go if you ask me.

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  • October 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    I think in response to Chris you need to shave this back a bit. There is a duty of care to yourself first and foremost and to others. Now if our behaviour is causing waves we need to troubleshoot that so that we can have an understanding who to converse with and why. Through therapy a parting of bad forming habits can happen. It rerequires total dedication but it can transform your life and when you have been given the tools to operate more effectively you can transfer this on. So if people in your life understand ans accept your willingness to work hard at your condition then why part company.there are boundaries. If your friends have educated themselves in this condition they will be in,place they will be effective and they will support and protect you in the process. It’s called caring but not hand holding. It’s really down to the non and the sufferer to see whether the condition can be worked through or whether it’s better to engage in counselling first and make steps to change and operate more effectively. That’s what I think

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  • October 5, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    I am speaking as a non bpd sufferer but someone who is in a,relationship with a bpd sufferer who is currently in a counselling therapy group for the last year.

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  • November 26, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    I’ve read all of these comments and there are several opinions here, which we are all entitled to; I’m glad folks who experience this have had a chance to write about their perspective.. What I find most troubling is how this article was written. It leans more toward an opinion piece than a neutral professional’s medical findings. Yes, not everyone experiences BPD the same but to enter in the only positive side to a BPD patient using the example that they are likely to be so kind and try so hard because they’re afraid of abandonment, is friggin twisted. Is it not possible to assume someone with BPD might be compassionate and kind until their (roughly 80) consistent baseline is interfered with? Seriously. BPD doesn’t make someone a week and insecure malicious devil.

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  • August 28, 2015 at 12:37 am

    The only time i will entertain BPD and other personality disorders (PD) is when IT IS MY OWN CHILD. All other cases the PD has to leave.very fast. without looking back and be completely gone.

    This makes sense. The only relationship in which i am the one with the power is the one of me and my children. every one else has their own power or power over me.

    I have only one life and a pd cannot be allowed to mess it.
    So to stay or not?
    If my child is yes stay. Everyone else is adios my good amigo.
    Will never compromise on that.

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  • October 14, 2015 at 12:56 am

    Run! Like from a Jurassic park dinasour. They will make your whole life a nightmare. You are bad and you are to blame for every one of their dumb, thousand-million needs. They are jilted…for life! There is no cure, let them go or you will become a insane lunatic full of guilt and confusion. All you want is a nice life and they are incapable of acting with one ounce of human decency, they are actors when they are nice but you are just a pawn in their game and you mean nothing more than that ever,ever,ever! If they are west go east save yourself before you jump off a building.

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  • December 4, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Wow. I’ve read some very harsh and then some more balanced views on here. I’ve been experiencing issues in my own life recently and when I look back I could not understand why I would behave in such a destructive manner, hurting the ones I love most. Through web searching and talking to an online acquaintance I suspect I do have BDP. Why would I go through all the time, sitting nights researching, if I’m really such a bad person? I am not. I am not that person who deliberately damages people. I am not that person who treats people nicely only because I don’t want them to leave me. I do tread lightly to get close to people because I believe they will eventually leave me. Everyone in my life has done so. Not because of me, but of various other reasons. But I still at those times experienced it as abandonment. I’m a caring person who will go the extra mile for any of my friends and even further for the ones close to me. But I do have this issue that some situations trigger an unwanted reaction in me and I battle, and mostly am unable, to contain my fear driven anger. Does my mistakes make me a bad person that must just be left? I am right now in the process of seeking solutions to this problem, that’s how I landed on this page. I’ve been prescribed with several medications to address my depression and sleep disorder. I’ve hurt a close friend through my irrational behaviour but even before that I was seeking help. BPD is not a very well known disorder in this region and when I shared with the people close to me that I suspect I might have this condition, they disagreed and felt I was paranoid. And I don’t hide behind the suspected condition for my behaviour. I know I have the power to address my emotions and prevent them from hijacking my mind, but I do not have the tools. That is what I am seeking. But reading through all this it just seems people don’t want to put up with someone regardless of whether they seek help or not. Another article states that someone with BPD will never really recover and will always have some kind of episode even if they’ve had therapy. I can’t agree with that. BPD is not an excuse for treating people badly, but it is a reality and if people actually really cared for you, why would they abandon you when you most need them? When you disclose this condition to them and ask them to help you in certain ways so you don’t go into that state where you just cannot rationalise and just keep rolling down that emotional spiral? I’ve been there for my friends in their darkest hours, sacrificing my energy and time because they needed help. Now I’m not worth the little effort to help even though I have always accepted responsibility for my wrong behaviour and have been seeking help and solutions for so long? Should people suffering be stigmatised and labelled with “Stay away” stuck on their foreheads because they’re good intentions and behaviour is apparently fake and manipulative so that they can once in a while flip out and hurt you? I’m sorry but if that is the case, the BPD sufferer isn’t the bad person. And perhaps its better for the BPD sufferer to stay away from these fair weathered friends and find people who actually really care for them, help them through their recovery and therapy, and enjoy them for the good times, stop them when they start drifting into the spiral and have a wonderful relationship. Not everyone is perfect.

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  • October 3, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    My estranged spouse was diagnosed with BPD shortly after I asked them to leave as I was struggling with various aspects of our relationship. We are a year on and currently managing amicable discussions about whether there is a chance we may be able to make a go of the marriage again or eventually divorce and they are about to start their own counselling as well as saying they would go to couples counselling later down the line if relevant. It would definitely have helped me to know my partner had BPD whilst we were together as some of the behaviour I struggled with would have made a lot more sense – things I thought were inconsiderate, impulsive and downright thoughtless now make a lot more sense in the context of BPD and I think the diagnosis has actually helped them make sense of some of their feelings too and they are managing not to self harm at present. What I would say is that whilst some elements of BPD are undoubtedly very challenging, people are still individuals and I would not want to write someone off purely for this reason. A previous ex of mine has Narcissistic Personality Disorder and I can honestly say that relationship was something I experienced as horrendous, completely debilitating and would never consider going back to.

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    • November 1, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      People are not just a “disorder.” They are human. Perhaps your particular relationship did not work out, but others may. The issues are: what are the qualities of a person’s life? No two people are a like. YOU never know- she might say the same about you!

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      • November 2, 2016 at 11:21 am

        Your point is not something I would argue against, nor was I implying I was perfect, (far from it!) just provide a personal experience in relation to the question of should you stay with someone with BDP or not. I agree that people are not just disorders – my experience of two people with two different disorders was very different because they are individuals first and foremost. But in the case of my partner with BDP, the diagnosis has helped both of us to some extent. My experience with the other person was shared by two of their other ex partners and we left for similar reasons in terms of their behaviour and were similarly affected. I am not trying to say that any condition rules anyone out of a healthy relationship; it depends on the individuals involved, how they work things out and how things affect both parties in the relationship – it was just a personal experience that perhaps detracted from the more positive feelings I was expressing in relation to the fact that yes, I would consider reconciling with an individual who I still love, regardless of any condition but in this case the diagnosis of BDP has helped us both in terms of potentially working towards that.

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