70 thoughts on “15 Things Not To Do With Someone With Borderline Personality

  • September 8, 2017 at 3:12 am

    I don’t know if my brother has borderline personality disorder or not but I do know that the more I’ve learned about it and considered his behavior over time, it would not surprise me if he does.
    That being said, I have noticed that he does several of the things you’ve described here. It is especially obvious when he talks to our mother lately. It is like he is seeking a specific reaction but then, even if she unknowingly GIVES that to him, he will pick it apart, deny he has an issue, blame her etc.
    I think I may have made a mistake a short while back? He doesn’t tend to pull the stuff with me that he does with my mom but that particular night, he did and I firmly but kindly asked him about what he gets out of talking about suicide if he then says he would “never do that.” I said something like “it feels like you are wanting help, then you deny it–almost like you are baiting me…” Well, THAT was the WRONG thing to say–at least in HIS mind! He got so angry! I do remember sharing some of that story here with you and your readers but I am reminded of it again because there was recently a similar event that escalated and did not turn out well for any of us.
    I think if I were a therapist, I would have a lot of inner angst when working with this disorder. It seems like these clients can become unstable VERY quickly and that sometimes even the best of intentions aren’t enough to prevent that!

    • September 12, 2017 at 11:26 pm

      Hi Lori,
      Thanks for sending your input along. I hope you are doing well.
      It can be really difficult to identify BPD in loved ones at times because we’re so close to them. I can readily see it in clients and other people I come across, but I don’t think I’d be that keen with family. Kudos to you if you can.
      I can see where your brother would fit most of the description of BPD. What do you think of bipolar disorder and anger management? And I do agree with the inner angst. I’ve been there many times but it isn’t necessarily because of the behaviors as much as it is about the lack of motivation to change…So draining for everyone involved.
      All the best

      • September 13, 2017 at 4:03 am

        I think bipolar disorder is another possibility for if and when my brother gets help and is diagnosed–and anger management is DEFINITELY something he needs help with! Ironically, he will fairly easily admit to us his family that he knows he has “a problem with anger” but it’s thus far been not at all productive trying to get him motivated enough to DO anything about it–or anything else for that matter!

      • September 16, 2017 at 12:49 am

        Hi Lori,
        He is either not ready for therapy or anger management, truly believes he doesn’t have a problem (even though he is telling his family he knows he needs help), or doesn’t believe anything could be done to change things. This is tough for everyone involved.

  • September 11, 2017 at 12:27 am

    Hi Ms. Hill,
    We adopted our daughter (I will call her Sue) when she was 2 days old. Her birthmother was raised in a very dysfunctional home, did not finish HS, fell into rages, and became a meth addict. Sue was a wonderful, happy child, very bright, very athletic. She learned to read quickly, asked very intelligent and insightful questions very young. She loved being a competitive cheerleader. Her teachers expressed concern that she socialized too much in class and in 3rd grade she began having problems in school. She worked with a tutor thru elementary school. Unfortunately, having been a authoritarian parent with my older son, I became a permissive parent and “friend” to Sue. I found myself spending more time with her than anyone else — I was completely besotted with her. I was a kid who longed to be part of the “cool” kids, and Sue and her friends made me feel like one. I also began doing too much of her homework — so much so that when I made inquiries about her having a learning disability in math the school would not investigate because her grades were too good. She had no clear bedtime and many times I was up with her, laughing and talking in her room on school nights and even sleeping with her. Our son recognized my lax parenting and tried to discipline her himself, and of course we shut him down, and she knew she could irritate him with no consequences for her. On the one hand she was delightful, on the other hand I began to notice she made enemies of former friends constantly. When she was 12 she began to rage at myself and my husband, run away for hours at a time. She began school refusal and became best friends with a girl from a dysfunctional family. She started seeing the first of many counselors. At 13 we actually moved so she could get out of the school where she said she was bullied. Then – without our knowledge — she began cutting and using marijuana. At 14 she was having sex regularly and lost interest in cheerleading. Again, we did not know. She became depressed and suicidal and spent a week in a mental hospital. She continued raging at us when she didn’t get her way. She spent another week in the mental hospital and as an outpatient. She attacked me when she learned I’d given away all her revealing clothing. Her dad moved away because he could not handle her rages or behavior. She and I moved to a condo, but things went downhill fast. She had drugs, drug dealers, miscellaneous sex partners over constantly and quit school completely at the end of 10th grade. I had fallen into a pattern of doing whatever it took to make her happy so we could get along and talk and laugh like in the old days, so if I bought her clothes, ice cream, took her out to eat, I might feel loved by her. But as soon as she didn’t need anything from me she was back to her rages, screaming obscenities and beating me up with words. I became a prisoner of my own room in the condo, while all manner of drug, alcohol and sex parties went on outside my door. My husband was living in another state, and I began leaving her alone to go stay with him. She became a drug dealer. When she came to visit us she accidentally burned his house down. Shortly after that she was arrested for stealing my car and having a gun. We moved where her dad was living while our house was being rebuilt, and she continued the same behavior. When we decided to place her in a therapeutic boarding school her birthmother — who was off drugs — begged us to let her take Sue and try to straighten her out. We reluctantly agreed — school we’d applied to said Sue’s complete disrespect of authority meant they could not work with her. So a year ago she went to live with her birthmother and extended family. She did get her GED. She was welcomed by all but now, a year later, she wants nothing to do with any of them — hates them, hates us, says she is only out for herself and is living with a drug dealer. She is now 18. MY THOUGHTS I have researched Borderline Personality Disorder and she has exhibited those traits for years now. So many sites say BPD is caused by sexual trauma, and brutal parenting. We learned recently she was raped by a neighbor when she was 11. She was raped again at 16 by a stranger giving her a ride. She says those events make no difference to her now. After reading your blog, I can now see my permissive parenting is likely the root of her issues, but suspect there is a genetic component, too, as her birth mother soon went back on drugs after Sue arrived, and was violent and abusive towards her. Sue LOVES weed — she always said it made her feel like there was nothing to worry about.
    Obviously I made terrible errors in judgement as a parent, but had no idea Sue had it in her to become so completely, well, almost demonic in her behavior. Her dad is a very high-functioning alcoholic, but he was a great dad to her. Our son is grown, employed, owns his own home. My husband and I are together and happy. But our hearts are broken at what has become of our daughter. We feel we have not only lost her, but that her life is in danger. The last time she was civil to us she said it turns out no matter where she goes she is unhappy and she is losing hope. From afar we have totally quit supporting her, cut off her phone the day she turned 18, and now she only connects with me sometimes through Facebook when I message her to tell me to leave her alone. Her birthfather has also cut her off. Her birthmother lives in a meth house.
    Is there anything you can say to me that will help? Thoughts about the future, what we should or should not do? Is it possibles she will mature out of this? How can we let her know we are for her, and if she wants psychological help we will get it for her. Otherwise, I think it will truly take a miracle to bring her back to what? sanity? normalcy? I’m sorry this is so long, but I am desperate to find answers or at least have someone acknowledge I might be right about the BPD and the causes.

    • May 30, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      Your story sounds all too familiar to me and the relationship with my daughter. I would never tell you to give up on her, however, I have had to step back away from any relationship with my adult daughter for my own sanity and survival. Since delusion seems to be symptomatic of the disorder, I have been accused of all sorts of things that never happened.
      I hope you find peace of mind and can “let go”. Until they find help for themselves, you will continually be in the path of a tornado. Good Luck Eve….

  • October 31, 2017 at 1:19 am

    I have BPD and I am very offended by some of the things written here. People with BPD aren’t inherently manipulative. I actually actively try to communicate in a way that is super open. Even if it means being overly vulnerable. There are so many things on the internet about how to “get away” from someone with BPD, or how to not get “too close”. This article feels like it fits into that as well. So many of my issues with surrounding folks would be a lot easier to deal with if a) I wasn’t afraid to tell people I have BPD due to stigma (this article fits into further stigmatizing BPD), b) people actually educated themselves on my disorder (rather than reading articles like this on how to “protect themselves” from us).

    • November 4, 2017 at 6:00 pm

      Thanks for your perspective. I do understand how you can personalize the topic and article. The purpose is to help families and friends (hence the title of this blog) identify with their feelings and have a place to feel validated. If we only spoke in terms that would appease those diagnosed with BPD, how then could we validate or reach a particular audience? Language is important. I strive to be careful with it.

      It’s also important that writers, primarily therapists who write, highlight that there are people with BPD who can be aggressive, harmful, hurtful, and even dangerous to others. This article speaks more to this group.
      Take care

      • May 19, 2018 at 6:02 pm

        I think the main thing I find worrying about your language in this article is that it is skewed towards dealing with viewing people with BPD as manipulative and abusive as a default every other point. It’s not simply presenting that it’s a real possibility to be aware and vigilant of when dealing with a loved one with BPD, its positioning it as an absolute. “Don’t allow present too much opens and closeness or you WILL open yourself up to their manipulation” ect. Its not an if, it’s a when. I have some people in my life who have BPD who do some of these things, but I also have people in my life with BPD that do none of these behaviours listed(at least not directed towards me).
        There is a very real stigma against BPD, and my psychiatrist is talking about a BPD diagnosis for myself and the big thing I worry about is stigma from mental health professionals if I end up with that diagnosis. I know attitudes toward the disorder have changed a lot in the last few decades but there’s still a lot of stigma.

      • May 20, 2018 at 3:27 pm

        Hi Elaine,
        Thanks for your comment. I do understand your view.
        I think it’s important to understand that language is powerful and it can change based on the direction of the article. This article was not written for someone like you but rather a family member or friend who is confused about what not to do. There are other articles (and videos) where language may be different because the target audience is different. We must also avoid denial in terms of the symptoms and behaviors of someone with BPD. As you point out, there are some who show very negative and dangerous behaviors while others may not. Everyone is different in how they exhibit their behaviors and symptoms. we must avoid personalization and over-simplified conceptualizations of BPD. It’s a tough diagnosis and yes, stigma remains. But in the fight against stigma, we must also avoid minimizing the challenging aspects of the disorder in favor of eradicating stigma.

      • February 15, 2019 at 11:13 pm

        Hi Tamara,

        I understand what your saying, but the way you have written this article tells people that BPDs ARE BAD PEOPLE WHO WILL HURT YOU!!

        You keep saying that “we mustn’t personalise BPD” however that’s EXACTLY what YOU are doing!!!

        Just because there are SOME people who behave this way, doesn’t mean that they ALL Do!!!

      • February 15, 2019 at 11:16 pm

        Hi Mary,

        “Just because there are SOME people who behave this way, doesn’t mean that they ALL Do!!!”

        Point well taken and I think most people, including me, would agree.
        Thanks for your input.

      • April 27, 2019 at 12:14 pm

        People with Borderline Personality Disorder are manipulative, chronic liars, disruptive, unable to relate in any way possible to every life situation, don’t care if you plead with them to be cooperative, lack empathy, exhibit constant attention seeking behavior, suck the living soul out of their partners, refuse to accept any type of constructive criticism, endanger others with reckless behavior, are incapable of doing any activity with another without sabatoging it, create far more stress for their partners than is anything resembling reasonable, will bilk you out of money after promising to pay bills,
        never give you a minute to yourself and make every day a fresh hell.
        This article is for those of us who have to deal with BPD folks and dang it, give us the common courtesy of having resources and needing help. Good Lord!

      • April 28, 2019 at 12:30 pm

        I agree with the commenter. None of these accuratly decribe bdp. I think only a tiny minority of ppl with bdp are this way. Highly disagree

      • April 28, 2019 at 12:44 pm

        Hi Katrina, I approved your comment because I think it’s going to be educational for people who have the same perspective that you do.

        It’s important to understand not everybody with BPD and other mental illness or personality disorders will present the same. No two people are the same. That’s the key word here!

        If it’s a familiar diagnosis (diagnosis you or someone else has), it’s not going to look the same. Most people haven’t met patients or even half the world with BPD so the view is biased.

        Take care

    • July 22, 2018 at 6:14 pm

      Very much agreed!

      I never rage – on the contrary, I barely feel anger, even when I should. I’m extremely empathetic, and support others to the exclusion of my own needs. When I self-harm I never tell others – most people have no idea, although my partner sometimes finds out if they haven’t healed when I see him (we live in different cities). I usually deal with my emotional problems by myself (not necessarily healthily), although my partner and therapist have been teaching me to open up a bit more, and I will now occasionally ask for help from my partner or a good friend. I don’t “split” – I believe that my friends, acquaintances, and partners are generally better than me.

      I don’t see any of me in your characterization of BPD.

    • September 5, 2018 at 6:37 am

      You took the words out of my mouth, Kennedy – feel you! I was horrified to note the repeated implication – and explicit assertion – that BPD sufferers are out to manipulate or take you for a ride if you’re not careful. As a journalist, I realise articles require a narrow, specific focus and angle. I also appreciate that BPD can be extremely difficult for loved (and inevitably hated) ones and the usefulness of a guidebook of sorts. But I think it’s important and editorially feasible to write in a way that acknowledges heterogeneity (based on the DSM-V’s diagnostic criteria, there are some 256 possible combinations that may qualify) and the immense emotional pain that generally underscores behaviours herein proposed as manipulative. My experience, which I’m told is quite typical, is of being somewhat atemporal and tied to the impulsive peg of the moment – I can’t plan well enough to avoid utility disconnection let alone maoeuvre someone into a corner so I can have my wicked way with them or take over their lives. Hell, I’m too busy bunkering down, coveting death, bingeing and purging or inflicting self-injury in private – rarely visiting my turmoil and related rage upon the wider world.

    • June 12, 2019 at 2:20 am

      As a wife and a mother to family with very strong borderline traits, I feel the pain you are expressive as if my own family were speaking those words.

      It is very painful to feel as though people are trying to get away from oneself.

      Sometimes, I feel desperate to get away so that my tolerance and calmness can increase. My criticism becomes too much and doesn’t accomplish anything beyond alienating myself and busting them.

      If I had one wish, it would be to change the name simply to reflect a lack of emotional regulation. There isn’t another illness that creates stigma just with the name … it’s hurtful every time I see that name.

      When someone begins using drugs at a young age, nothing good comes from it in terms of brain health and emotional balance

      If I can give one piece of advice it would be to stop reading these negative things and create a life full of meditation, empathy for others and self compassion . You will always be sensitive, and because of this, you can develop many skills to be a very kind, helpful, loved and cherished person.

  • March 7, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    Támara, I found your article very helpful. I understand that not all people with BPD have all the behaviours you describe but your thoughts and tips are very useful for people like me. I have a family member with BPD and I have at times put my own health and well being and that of my immediate family unit at risk to ‘help’ this person. It has taken me some time to realise that I get sucked in because this family member is very good at knowing which of my buttons to push. After repeated chaotic and unsafe behaviour and choices, some in my house whilst my children were present, I decided to tell this family member that I needed to take care of myself and my family and have blocked nearly all means of him contacting me. I am prone to feeling ‘guilty’ for not helping when this person demands ‘help’ but I’ve now accepted that the ‘help’ I have given can be enabling and I have listened to the extreme anxiety I felt being around him. This person displays a number of manipulative behaviours you outline — I do appreciate that he is in pain but he has not got to the point where he is willing to engage with the type of help that would help him to help himself despite it being available and offered. I found your post when I was seeking understanding about my own choices in relation to this person and your post helps in this respect. Thank you.

    • March 10, 2018 at 4:06 pm

      Hi Angela,
      Thank you very much! I’m glad it was helpful.
      Living with someone who has BPD can be one of the most difficult things you do. As you point out, not everyone with BPD are this way, but most are. The problem is that many struggle to understand limitations and boundaries. The other issue is that because of their emotional instability and skewed perception of reality, it is easy for them to “triangulate” you in an attempt to be heard or “understood.” This can cause family chaos like you wouldn’t believe. But you are doing the right thing in researching this topic!
      Take care

  • April 21, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    Hi Tamara
    I myself have complex ptsd and find myself entangled with people with personality disorders in particular narcissistic and borderline. This has lead me to consider that my family members (the source of my traumas) have these conditions. I am thinking we are drawn in by that which is familiar. I have had to pack up and physically run from two friends one of whom had been diagnosed. The other definately had ocd (diagnosed) and had experienced psychotic episodes. So I wonder could you expand on this post to explain how to recognise, and therefore avoid forming relationships, with those with bpd in the early stages of connection? Also is a characteristic of bpd to be effusive in kindness and give too much, far more than expected, and then be enraged by a perceived lack of gratitude when the receiver can not give as much in return or is not validating or supportive as hoped. Thank you

    • May 9, 2018 at 10:20 pm

      Hi Amber,
      Thanks for commenting. I certainly can. I am actually focusing on the correlation between trauma and BPD next week with both an article and video here. Stay tuned for that. I will address these topics and if you’d like, I could point out your question.

      Take care

    • February 7, 2019 at 7:27 pm

      Yes please expound upon what Amber is talking about. I find myself in the same said situations over and over again.

  • May 2, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Hi there!
    I found your article very helpful. I didn’t see the signs in my BF until it was to late and it turned physical. I saw every symptom you wrote about in hi, but at the time, I didn’t know what was going on. The off and on relationship, jealousy…and when it looked like I had moved on…he would sweet talk me and it would be the same thing over again. We would get kicked out of restaurants from his rantings, and he even was barred from a couple of our chill out spots due to his quick temper. He would go into these rages and look like a child that has been sent to his room a few minutes later. The final straw for me was two weeks ago when it got physical. I have not seen him since, and if he knows I’m at a particular place, he wont come there…for now. It will be hard not to be around him at some point because we travel in the same circle. I now know not to entertain anything he says (oh, because he is notorious for acting like nothing ever happened .splicing..)..and showing emotion. This is when I started doing my research and start putting pieces of the puzzle together. I dug deeper and found out he goes to counseling at the VA (MI)…geesh!. I say to anyone in a relationship with someone like this..PLEASE do you research and look deep before you leap.

    • May 9, 2018 at 10:46 pm

      Hi Jenny,
      Thank you for your comment! Glad you found it helpful.
      He certainly has a problem and it’s clear to everyone. I wonder if he has ever considered anger management classes. It’s clear that he doesn’t care how he affects others and may use manipulation to get his way. It’s a cycle and it won’t end until he can change.
      You did the right thing, get out. Now…all you have to do, most likely, is stay out.
      Take good care

  • May 15, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    My wife and I adopted our son from South Korea when he was just under 4 months old. Growing up he was a sweet, bright and affectionate little boy. Then when he turned 11 he began to struggle in school and became very fixated on knowing the details of how his birth parents met in S. Korea. We had always shared that he was adopted (my wife and I are Italian and German respectively) but when we shared the little bit of information we had about his birth parents it was like flipping a switch and from that day forward our son and our relationship with him rapidly deteriorated.

    It began with rebellion, lying, poor grades, hanging around kids who were not on a good trajectory themselves and progressed to buying/using/selling drugs, cutting, a week inpatient at a mental health facility, some violence in our home and culminated in him packing up and leaving our house one night just after he turned 18. He lived on and off the streets for the next six months, crashing on couches and using up every childhood friend, church friend and neighbor who would take him in. Our son overdosed on Fentanyl back in September and it very nearly killed him; he was in the ICU on a vent for three days but the Lord spared his life and he unsuccessfully attempted outpatient treatment before ending a residential program about a month later. He is now in a program down in Florida that is staffed to address both his addiction and his BPD, which he denies as an accurate diagnosis. He has repeatedly asked to come back and live with my wife and I but we have not allowed that; he has refused any family therapy to try to heal the wounds that all three of have suffered through all of this and we know he only wants to come live with us because he doesn’t want to be in treatment anymore. My wife and I continue to try to support him and our insurance has paid for all of his treatment so far. We also have a daughter we adopted from S. Korea 18 months after we adopted our son and although they were very close when they were younger, our son has destroyed that relationship as well.
    It is so hard to see him struggle like he has and so many of his hardships have been self-inflicted because of impulsive choices and extreme emotional reactions to events in his life. We never imagined when we adopted him that we would end up where we are but we will continue to love him as best we can. This has really opened our eyes to how painful mental illness is for the sufferer but also for their whole family.

  • May 17, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    I broke up twice with my exGF with bpd .She then dumped me 3 weeks ago because she said she loved me but I caused her so much anxiety and didn’t want to leave me.Now last weekend we had lunch and she says she would like me to take her out,she wants to spend time with me now? And she said she loves and misses me ? What the?

    • May 20, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      Hi Seth,
      I encourage you to research the topic of BPD to see exactly what you are possibly working with. There are a variety of good videos on Youtube that explain the characteristics better than written articles.
      Take care

  • May 29, 2018 at 7:38 am

    My psych. diagnosed me with BPD.
    After reading your article it makes me depressed and sad and
    thinking I don’t even like myself. I am suicidal and depressed and this made me feel worse. I am going to stay to myself, away from my family as I live in another state because I don’t want to hurt anyone else.

    • June 3, 2018 at 5:30 pm

      Hi Yvonne,
      I am really sorry to hear this. The purpose of the article was to highlight the challenges family and friends deal with. I do want to add that there is hope for someone with BPD if treatment is appropriate and the therapist treating the person has developed a strong relationship with the client. Are you seeing a therapist to support you? If not, I encourage you to. It can be a great deal of help to someone who feels isolation is the key to avoiding the challenges of BPD. I encourage you to try http://www.psychologytoday.com and put your zipcode into “Find a therapist.” You will be led to a variety of listing in your area. You can certainly call them and ask for a free consultation.
      I wish you all the best

  • June 10, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    Hi Tàmara,

    I’ve been with my wife for 13 years. She has an anxiety disorder (general and hypochondria). I’ve long felt this is a big reason why she can be rather unpleasant at times, as she likes to be in control of things. For example, if I decide to take a different route on the road she’ll rudely ask why this way, criticise it, get me to justify my decision, etc. If things generally deviate from the plan, she can get quite nasty in response.

    However, anxiety doesn’t explain all her bad behaviour. She never says sorry, never admits any wrong doing, I have to change not her, gaslights me and holds grudges. I consider it at times to be emotional abuse. I feel trapped.

    Does this sound like a personality disorder to you?


    • June 16, 2018 at 9:33 pm

      Hi Matt,
      Thanks for your question.
      Individuals with hypochondria are often “controlling.” The manifestation of symptoms and the need to have “treatment” is a form of control over something they feel they can control which is their health and the treatment they may pursue. There may be some OCD tendencies in there as well. But having not seen her I cannot make this call, ethically. But it’s something you may want to research.
      The best approach to the example you gave is to refuse to explain yourself all of the time. That’s reinforcing it. Short, succinct answers may be enough. Not feeding the behavior is a good way to reduce it.

      I’m so sorry to hear you feel trapped. That’s not good at all.
      You may want to educate her to her own behavior by sharing some information with her on gaslighting and stonewalling. She may see herself.
      Take care

  • June 12, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    We are suffering enough already-being trouped in our mind-so stop this stigma!
    We are lost and lonely most have childhood trauma-i lost my mother at age 10-and then my father has his first heart attack.It was just me-crying in a dark room-nobody to turn too…
    So easy to judge not even knowing what this person went throe …

    • September 11, 2018 at 12:57 am

      Look up “radical acceptance” and DBT. No judgement. Radical acceptance. Providers and family members both act like they are the “victims” of our behavior. Believe me, I’ve been in an organization dominated by family members for many years now.

      Also, in recovery language, we say we have BPD. We don’t “suffer” as we are not victims. I have a mental health challenge. You may struggle, but you’re no victim.

  • July 14, 2018 at 9:56 pm

    I agree with some of the people on here that your article further pushes the stigma that people with BPD intentionally exhibit these “controlling” and “manipulative” behaviors. I have BPD and I in no way do these things on purpose. I don’t like how you insinuate that people should just keep their distance from us and not get too close, like we are not people, just like anyone else, also worthy of love and attention.

    • July 14, 2018 at 10:06 pm

      El Joan Adolphoson,
      Comments stimulate discussion of various points of view so I will use this opportunity to do so.
      BPD, as you know, is a very complicated disorder. Thankfully research now suggests that there is hope. But this does not erase the cases in which damage is often done to relationships.

      When I discuss BPD I often do so from various angles. This article does not intend to “push stigma” but rather speak in the language of those who feel hurt, unloved, and perplexed by the individual with BPD. We can’t forget their raw feelings, can we?

      I do hope you understand BPD is not the same in everyone and perhaps you are different. So this article doesn’t apply to you. But in many cases, untreated BPD can be the worst and the people who are hurt by those with untreated BPD appreciate this angle.
      Take care

  • July 31, 2018 at 9:06 am

    How typical is it for people diagnosed with BPD to complain about the published discussion of the established characteristics of BPD as causing normal people to shun them? When they read objective information about themselves such as this article, do they become angry and attempt to characterize normal people as toxic victims of their disorder? I note that several commenters here have done exactly that – blame the victim for their skewed and screwed up lives. They appear similar to narcissists in blaming everyone else for their mental issues, being angry when people avoid them (like the plague), and attempt to shame their victims as mistreating them!

    • July 31, 2018 at 12:52 pm

      Hi Mary from Terry,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Good question. It is quite common.
      The reason I allow these opposing comments to be posted is that I think it is helpful to understand the dynamics of someone with BPD. Not everyone is the same. And not everyone diagnosed with BPD is “toxic.” But it is interesting how commenters who state they have BPD take on a similar pattern of behavior when they feel “attacked.” This is a prime example of what happens in most relationships approached with a narrow lens.
      I do see how the terminology can be offensive. But again, as I’ve repeatedly stated, the article is using the language of laypeople and those who struggle with those who have BPD. If you do a simple Google search on this topic, the comments take on a similar negative pattern. It’s interesting.

  • August 8, 2018 at 9:55 am

    I knew something was wrong with me a long time ago, but was not permitted to seek help. I see intensity signs in my daughter towards her daughter and am a Christian who just did a bible study on life and death is in the tongue. Like others we are intelligent beings, I have to hold my tongue and learn boundaries even if she has not learned that yet, but draw the line when our words hurt the other person like punching them in the stomach. I will protect my Grandchildren, but gently teach my daughter as it is not her fault, I was deterred from leaving the fold of chaos as that is our families norm, but it offers little peace in the soul to walk on eggshells. I want to be free of this trait once and for all, so if you know of a good BED therapist in the area, please let me know. Mary

  • September 4, 2018 at 4:37 pm


    I’ve been with my significant other for about 3 years, and while the first few months were blissful (filled with intense passion, quick intimacy), the last two and a half years have been incredibly difficult due to ongoing cycles of really negative events. I first noticed that my boyfriend would become insanely upset with me for no reason. He would accuse me of “looking at something the wrong way” or “texting other men” when in fact, I hadn’t. Over time, his reactions became more and more severe, his mood swings more and more frequent. Once he made me get out of his car on the highway. Another time he kicked me out of his apartment at 3 in the morning after looking through my phone and finding things he deemed inappropriate (they weren’t).

    At one point he became so paranoid that he hacked into my social media platforms without my knowledge. He has, on multiple occasions, totally blocked me and shut me out for periods of time when he has felt I have not been there for him enough. To my knowledge, he has also not been able to maintain relationships with his family members or friends. He is particularly isolated. They all note that for one reason or another he has just shut them out.

    I have given him a lot, I have spent money on helping him with things he needs, I have visited him (he moved away for school and I visit as much as I can) and yet he continues to feel that he “doesn’t have a place in my life.” I can’t tell my family about him because he cheated on me very early in our relationship and my parents didn’t approve of me staying with him. Because of this, he accuses me of “being ashamed” or of “hiding him” and there are many times when he has broken up with me (and called me horrible horrible names, accused me of being
    evil) only to call me crying and apologizing. He becomes incredibly agitated and sometimes physical; he explains it away by saying he has “trouble controlling his rage.” He also uses marijuana heavily, and when he gets down, drinks heavily.

    His behavior is not normal. I feel controlled, unable to go out with my friends without receiving fifteen calls and texts threatening that he will cut me off. My partner says its depression and anxiety, but I believe he is struggling with something else, and I think it’s BPD. Does this sound consistent with this disorder, and if so, how do you suggest I work to encourage him to get the help he needs? Can someone have a romantic relationship with someone with BPD? This last argument left me feeling incredibly unloved, abandoned, and small.

    • March 15, 2019 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks for your insight. My husband of just over a year was wonderful at the beginning but as things progressed he would snap at me for no reason, talk about his ex all the time, and try to control my actions. There were times when things were good and suddenly out of the blue the constant criticism would start over the most petty things. I am trying to set limits , be loving and understanding, but sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it. Thank you

  • September 5, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    I just want to say that this is an excellent article – with rational analysis on how to maintain a relationship with BPD persons – there are too many of us try to be “good” persons, parents, friends, and many other roles and ended up being manipulated and drag ourselves into depressions. The fact is, these guys need to seek professional help and us normal persons could not do anything to help them. There are not many therapists out there would make these points public. Thank you for writing this articles.

    • September 5, 2018 at 9:46 pm

      Hi Tracy,
      Thank you for your kind comment. I appreciate that.
      I do agree that a lot of people who care and are loving do get manipulated and taken advantage of. As I’ve stated before to others here, not everyone with BPD are the same but the patterns in which relationships are treated tend to be detrimental to unsuspecting people.
      Take care

  • September 7, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    So as person with BPD I’m perceiving that people with BPD should be avoided. If I am wrong please explain. What I read in the article, you state that these BPD are stigmatized. You yourself have stigmatized these people. This is a mental disorder cause by many traumas that BPD people have be subjected to, so why is it so hard for therapist or psychiatrist to treat these patients. I feel that they are not trained adequately enough to help them or just avoid treating them because is considered useless. Wow! This is sad.

  • September 13, 2018 at 1:12 am

    “Flip the Script”

    Try reading this article as “15 Things Not To Do With ‘Normals’ When You Have Borderline Personality”. For people who are often overly kind, caring, and sensitive, setting boundaries can be difficult. These things should help when you have to deal with those ‘normals’.

    Many with BPD are very quiet and would never consider posting a reply here even though they might disagree with the tone of the article. Instead, they’ll try to conform and be a little more quiet so that no one can accuse them of being like the examples depicted in this article.

  • September 17, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Is this fear of abandonment towards friends and family? Or is it expressed if they’re facing discharge from MH services too?

    • September 25, 2018 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Michael,
      I’m not sure I fully understand your question but I will take a shot at answering it.
      I think individuals with BPD often struggle with fear of abandonment in any situation where they have to depart from something they are attached to. Codependency is something that is very common among individuals with BPD. In some cases, individuals who have been in therapy for a long time with a therapist may feel abandoned when they are being discharged or passed on to other services. The fear of abandonment is often at the core of every relationship the individual is in.

  • September 19, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    This sounds like it’s more about narcissists than BPD patients…

    • April 5, 2019 at 3:39 pm

      Ding ding ding! Thank you.

  • September 29, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    My partner has recently been diagnosed with bpd and I have suspected it of myself for years but have ignored it and blamed other people or factors in my life. We have a very dramatic relationship and I need help…. we are both very destructive, and i have a need to feel loved yet my partner is very unempathetic (think that’s the wrong word) he shows he cares with physical effort ie decorating, I need physical contact…. do we have any chance to make this work… were both either loving or hating but I am the instigator of the rows. My partner would ignore everything and trundle through… we or I need help.

  • October 12, 2018 at 11:19 am

    Just read this article, and I agree with parts of it, but not sure about other parts. I was recently diagnosed with BPD and PTSD, after spending two days in a psychiatric hospital. I went from suicidal ideation to actually having a plan. Scary for myself and everyone around me! In no way was I being manipulative.

    I’ve known for a long time that something was wrong with me. Now I know what it is, and why. I didn’t choose this, and I don’t like being this way. I also know it’s going to take a lot of hard work to change. As one of my doctors said, “this is who you are, there’s no cure, our goal is to help you have a better quality of life.”

    I am very fortunate to be in a long-term, stable marriage to a man to works in the mental health field, and who has had experience with BPD patients over the years. He says it’s sad to see many of them whose families have become so frustrated with them, or given up on them entirely. I’m very thankful my husband is so kind and loving and understanding of me. Some of my family members, and his, have been unkind and downright cruel at times.

    My biggest challenges with this illness have been my black and white thinking, difficulty controlling emotions, and self-harm (cutting, pill-swallowing, suicidal thoughts) Perhaps for some patients, their behavior has an element of manipulation, but not me. The thoughts and feelings are real and overwhelming. My husband says I have good insight into my condition, as some BPD people don’t even recognize they have a problem. I can understand this. I get angry (rage!) when I feel so strongly about something, and others don’t, or dismiss my pain. Life is painful for me. I don’t bounce back from hurt or grief, and I don’t trust other people. So, yes, those of us with BPD can be challenging to deal with or relate to. But as my husband often tells me, “it’s not all that you are.” I agree!

    • February 27, 2019 at 3:52 pm

      Did you come to the diagnosis on your own or did your husband or other love one offer insight?
      I feel my wife has this; I only came to understand BPD recently. I’ve been setting boundaries and slowly trying to show how some of her extreme reactions are impacting our entire family in a very negative way.
      My question is, how do I let her know not all her problems are external? I feel she will react in a very severe way.. but I need to help her get out of this cycle we’ve been going thru for 12+ years.

      • March 2, 2019 at 5:52 pm

        Hi JR, was your question directed at me? If it was, this was my experience: I didn’t accept that I was the one with the problem. I still have a hard time with that notion. My feelings are so real and so powerful that it’s all too easy for me to convince myself that others are/have the problem, even when I am being told that my thinking/emotions are irrational. That’s what makes this illness so tough to deal with, for everyone concerned. Knowing I am upsetting other people sometimes makes me feel worse, and sometimes it makes me angrier at them for “triggering” me. It’s complicated and messy.

        My diagnosis was from a combination of people–my therapist, my family doctor, the mental health hospital, and finally from a psychiatric nurse practitioner, who reviewed all the others’ notes, and interviewed me for about two hours. My husband is familiar with this disorder, but he is not qualified to make diagnoses, so I had to see the professionals. If your wife is willing to see someone, she might benefit. I am slowly improving and getting more stable, with the support of my husband and some close friends, and professional help, but honestly, it’s been a long, hard road with many setbacks. I wish you both all the best!

  • November 4, 2018 at 4:39 am

    It’s hard to discuss this topic without hurting the feelings of people with BPD. I totally understand that but still think it needs to be done.

    Right now I am exhausted from listening to my partner with BPD going on about how terrible and empty his life is and how I could have tried harder to save him from boredom and sadness yesterday. He can go on for hours and hours, expecting me to just sit down and listen. If I cough or need to go to the bathroom he will think I’m rejecting him and/or insulting him because I don’t pay full attention.

    This may sound rude, but I am really tired of the fact that our lives revolve around his mood swings, his triggers and his negativity. I am also tired om him not listening to me, abrupting me when I speak and telling me what I can and can not talk about. And when I say I’m tired I mean exhausted.

    If I would tell him all of this he would say something like: “Oh, so YOU are tired of my mood swings. You have no idea how hard it is for ME! I was born into a dysfunctional family and can not help how I behave!”

    Guess what? My family is pretty dysfunctional too and I am a human being with feelings and needs. I do understand that it is painful to suffer from BPD and that I can not expect my partner to “snap out of it” and regulate his emotions the way I regulate mine – but I don’t think this means that his feelings and his life are more important than mine.

    For now I am trying my best to begin to set healthier boundaries, but in the long run I don’t know if I will stay in a relationship where I have to struggle so hard with that.

  • November 14, 2018 at 6:32 am

    Thanks for the article. I think it is very helpful for people looking for ways to deal with people with BPD. I have been married to my husband for almost ten years. His ex wife has BPD and I have been the target for all of these years. I have been in counseling to deal with the PTSD of being the target of a BPD. My step daughters are almost out of high school and I look forward to the day of having less interaction with the ex-wife. I now stay silent any time I have to be around her. I am thankful that my marriage has survived this. My stepdaughters are under their mom’s control. Is it ever ok (when they are older) to give them a book to read about BPD or do they need to figure out on their own what their mom has? Thanks!

    • November 20, 2018 at 11:29 pm

      Hi Christa,
      Thank you. I appreciate that. Glad you found it helpful.
      It’s so hard to be in the position that you are in. Kudos to you! I’m sure it has been difficult but you will most likely face less difficulty as your step-daughters grow-up and leave the “nest.”

      I think it’s okay to educate the girls on how you view their mother and why things don’t work (if it is “visible”) between you two. I’m not sure I would bring it up out of the blue but if the situation warrants it, I think it’s okay to share it. You don’t have to tell them you think their mom has this but just that she displays some behaviors. It might actually answer some questions they have.
      Take care

  • December 20, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    I’m retired after 30 plus tears and an addiction and mental health therapist. I have recently become friends with a group of 11 women who have been friends for 10 or so years. The interaction of this group is unique; i.e. it has continued for as long as it has. However, one woman has been a curiosity to me. I have struggled with figuring out what ‘it’ is.
    My grad thesis was Alcoholism and Borderline a Personality Disorder . I COMPLETELY FORGOT! It dawned on me! Thank you for your article…clearly and well written about the ‘workings’ of those with BPD. I remember the challenge and the pleasure of helping those who needed/need much care.

  • December 28, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    Hi there,

    I know your a psychologist and all, but I believe you are WAY off with your first point. Attention and validation are 2 TOTALLY different things, and to say that a loved one shouldn’t validate the BPD too much is in my opinion and I’m sure a lot of others, wrong.

    People with BPD don’t seek attention. They seek UNDERSTANDING and VALIDATION of their feelings, and they NEED the reassurance that they are loved and wanted. Most importantly, people with BPD seek and need these things because most of them were deprived of them from a very young age.
    I could continue however, your the psychologist, you know exactly WHY a person with BPD is the way they are, and it’s not because they are manipulative and bad people like you make out they are in this article.

  • January 10, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    Thank you for this article! I was looking up ways to deal with my current situation. I’ve experienced about all the situations you listed. I can think of three people in my life who had BPD. The third person is the coworker who I’m dealing with currently.

    One former coworker was brilliant. She kept to herself most of the time. I got along with her. She cut off all contact when I left the job. I was not surprised.

    The second was a roommate with BPD. Living with her was all right until she took my late nights at the library one week (professional school finals) as a personal rejection. It quickly became nightmarish after that. At one point she physically cornered me and demanded that I explain why I wasn’t hanging out as often. Looking back I was a bit too understanding of her odd behavior and ridiculous assertions over time; it escalated. She accused me of lying, as if I had reason to do so. She compared me to someone in her past who “left” her similarly. I have never seen anyone sink a friendly relationship as quickly, dramatically, or pointlessly as she did. The rest of the year was stressful for me–not because of my difficult school work, but because of her presence… her hovering and manipulative behavior.

    Now I work with a woman who has BPD. She makes everyone around her miserable, some more than others. There is no avoiding her. She is highly manipulative and talks about suicide and her wish to die frequently and in the brightest terms to any coworker or administrator, at any random time (never to clients… she can control that). No one laughs, of course. She wants people to engage her in the middle of the workday and will use these suicide jokes to force interaction. She enjoys making others uncomfortable in the name of being “honest.” Most recently she’s started making racial comments that she perceives to be jokes and saying that she’s “allowed” to do so because of some tangential relative she has. I am amazed at how one person can so poison the atmosphere of a workplace. It affects everyone. For me, she is worse than my former roommate because she’s often assigned to help me and I have to deal with her whenever we’re both at work. I would rather not deal with her. When she’s in a good mood, she’s tolerable. When she’s feeling foul, she’s horrible. Because of my previous civility to her she is far too comfortable with me in either mood. I have been setting firmer boundaries, but at this point I’m just tired.

    You almost can’t be nice around certain people who have BPD because it attracts their abuse. I’m glad I met the one woman who was high-functioning and treated people with respect, for the most part (I know it was hard for her but she was civil). My roommate was also high-functioning, but was consciously manipulative, hating anyone who she perceived to be “superior” to her in any way. She also frequently turned conversations to suicide for no reason. She would have been outright abusive had I not demonstrated I wouldn’t tolerate it. My current coworker is a problem in what should be a pleasant work experience. I don’t know if she’ll be at this job much longer, since she is increasingly disrespectful to our employer, who has provided her with work when I doubt anyone else will. She’s been warned to be more respectful to her coworkers, but knows the rules are lax for her. Thank you for providing this resource, because I do not want to vent at work. This article has provided needed perspective.

    • January 20, 2019 at 10:58 pm

      Hi Jaye,
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience. I like what you say here:

      “You almost can’t be nice around certain people who have BPD because it attracts their abuse.”

      This is very true and I think the first step toward protecting yourself is knowing the kind of person you are dealing with. Not everyone with BPD, as you know, is like this but most are. It’s the lack of understanding of how relationships operate that creates the problem. It’s only healthy that you, as you have, recognize this and move away.
      Take care

      • April 4, 2019 at 1:22 pm

        “It’s the lack of understanding of how relationships operate that creates the problem.”

        I had never considered something so simple. My coworker is brutal to others, but will cling to the smallest slight against her as cause for a meltdown. She really doesn’t understand how relationships work. Offenses against others have cumulative consequences. You can’t curse someone out on one day and expect sunshine and roses from them the next day–not normally. She doesn’t get this.

        Thank you for your insight and response!

  • February 12, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    Hi Tamara,
    I’ve been dating a woman for about 3 years that is undiagnosed as a BPD, but exhibits all of the traits in the DSM. There are times in our relationship where she is a joy to be around. But, when she gets triggered, it gets ugly.
    When we first started dating, it was awesome. Great chemistry, lots of fun, relatively few issues. But, after we became exclusive, she started exhibiting BPD behavior, although, at that time, I had no clue what BPD was. She’d flip out at the littlest thing… calling my adult daughter honey, answering my phone when we were out enjoying the afternoon, arriving home 30 minutes late from a golf tournament, getting distracted by a home run on the TV while we were at a restaurant, etc. Because she immediately blamed me for egregious offense and raged about what an uncaring, self-centered, unaware, and selfish person I was, I would always try harder to make sure I didn’t offend her. Over time, she became very critical of everything I do when we’re together that didn’t fit her idea of what I should do (park here, not here, why I walk a certain way, why did I talk to my friend about some obscure thing I mentioned to her yesterday, the fact that I need to use the restroom while we were at a store, etc. etc, etc.
    Now, she suffers from depression, anxiety, and OCD.. which becomes much worse during the winter months. She’s on Lithium and Prozac to deal with those things. She’s highly functional outside of our relationship and at work, although she eventually gets angry and pushes away many of her friends, especially if she gets close to them or goes on vacation with them.
    I thought all these problems were related to these issues. Then, I started doing some of my own research as this weekly cycle of anger, rage, and meltdowns was wearing me out. I felt like there was nothing I could do to satisfy her needs. I had become her caregiver and was expected to be there for her whenever she needed me, independent of what I might be doing or where I am.
    After reading MANY books on BPD and realizing that she exhibits all 9 of the required traits, I realized that she’s likely a high functioning borderline who turns into a raging, 6-year old narcissist when I fail to meet her expectations, which are many.
    Against her wishes, we don’t live together. She desperately wants that. I feel like I would be completely losing my “safe zone” if I let her move in.
    With all of this said, I have to admit that I have a very difficult time just leaving her. I’ve stopped having sex with her in an attempt to keep her in the friend zone where she shouldn’t feel entitled to micromanage my life. When I tell her that I don’t want to see her anymore, she claims to be suicidal and goes into a very dark place and begs me to help her, guilts me for being selfish, tells me I need therapy to learn how to give, reminds me of how she has been there for me when I needed her or my dad when he was sick, etc.
    Tamara, my question is… will she ever get better or am I in love with the person I think she can become? Is it cruel of me to institute a no-contact rule with her when she can’t drive or throw things in the garbage due to her anxiety and OCD? (She takes Uber to work or I drive her since I’m a young retiree) I know I’ve lost patience to deal with the drama and have learned to set boundaries that protect myself from verbal and physical abuse, but I also worry about the damage this relationship is doing to me and how it will affect me in future relationships.
    Can you comment on this?
    I appreciated your article and responses to others. I would value any feedback or insights you have for me.
    Thank you!

  • April 22, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Tamara
    Thank you so much for writing this article. I recognize that not all bpd sufferers manipulate or hurt their friends and loved ones but I am in a relationship with someone who does. When people do point out, or she realizes than she has done it, she blames it on the bpd and says that she cannot control it and thus takes no responsibility. While that might be a fair reason for such behaviors, I do not think that I should (or can for my own sake) allow this any longer. I have my own mental disorder which is being triggered and aggravated by the relationship. The relationship is is toxic to me. It seems most of the pieces on the internet agrees that it is the case that the sufferer is just doing what he/she thinks is necessary to cope and therefore should not be blamed. They do not, however, suggest how loved ones should deal with it. I have been considering whether I should end the relationship completely. I feel that that would not be fair to her if she genuinely is not able to change and that a good friend should stick by you during your worst times. I will try dealing with it using these suggestions before I do walk away and cut all ties to her.

  • May 4, 2019 at 8:17 pm

    Hi Tamara,
    Thank you for this website. My husband and I are in counseling and everything you’ve written our therapist has said to us about our daughter-in-law. She appears on the basis of her behavior to have BPD. She accuses or lies about other family members, tries to triangulate and is very good at splitting. She can break-up a friendship by turning one friend against another.

    Our son is either unaware of her behavior or a tortured soul who feels imprisoned because he doesn’t want to leave their kids. She will be lovely to my face, but then gossip lies about me to my daughters or other son. All of them know I would never do the things she’s accused me of but none of them confront her on her lies, which bothers me. I do understand they want to keep communication open to their brother (which my husband I wish as well) and don’t want to burn bridges, so I don’t say anything and pretend nothing is wrong; I won’t confront her on her gossip as it would uncover my other kids (which in a twisted way is what I think she wants – for them to tell me, which they do but since I don’t react she doesn’t know that). She clearly lives in a different reality.

    My husband and I take extra care to have clear boundaries and not be available at her beck and call, and completely ignore her anger or sullenness when we don’t do what she wants us to do (like last minute babysitting or picking the kids up from school with 10 minutes’ notice). She will stop speaking to us, which again, I ignore. When she’s tried to triangulate us into her drama with another family member or friend, we decline by saying this is none of our business – if you have a problem with that person you should speak to them directly.

    It feels good to vent – I really appreciate your blog and your suggestions were very helpful. I wish she would go into counseling but she does not think she needs it at this point. In the meantime we will continue learning about how to navigate this behavior from a close family member. Thanks again, E.

  • May 6, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Hello Tamara,

    I am a survivor of a mother who I believe has BPD. Thank you for writing an article about how to set appropriate boundaries with BPD persons. In my situation I have gone no contact but I have considered possibly opening the door to my mother on some level after 5 years of not speaking to her. A big part of me tells me that I should stay no contact, but should I change my view then your article could be a good source to help me navigate the rough waters of dealing with a mother who is emotionally handicapped. But beyond that, I find that dealing with my family members who have been manipulated by her as a result of triangulation harder to deal with. They clearly have taken sides based on false information and it is so hard for me to even feel validated about my experiences with my mother because they can’t or wont’ see the truth.

    I would love to see an article on how to deal with family members who are under the BPD’s spell, how it affects the “bad child”, and how to have relations with extended family inspite of the smearing done by the BPD parent. My now grown children feel like they have been put into the middle of this and are having difficulties with “loyalty” because unlike my mother, I have expressed to them that it’s okay for them to have a relationship with her and with me at the same time. They feel like my mother is making them choose sides. The rest of my family just avoids me because my mother is a very convincing victim of me the “bad child”. Just to clarify, I know I’m not the “bad child”, I’m just using the terminology that you described in your article of the black and white thinking of BPD. Thanks again Tamara!

    • May 19, 2019 at 10:53 am

      Hi Chasity,
      Thank you for your comment app for sharing your story. And you’re welcome! Thank you for sharing your story with us.

      I think sometimes going no contact is the healthiest move you can make for yourself like yours. I’m sure going no contact conjured up feelings of guilt second-guessing yourself. But if you have someone who is unhealthy and jeopardizing your psychological and emotional health, you have to back away. And it takes great courage to do that.

      If you’d like to see more on this topic you can visit my YouTube channel.
      Take care!

      • May 30, 2019 at 10:12 am

        Thanks for taking the time to reply!


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