The Average Length of BPD Relationship
The length of a relationship with someone with BPD can vary greatly. However, there’s also a lot of anecdotal proof from others’ experiences that suggest two-four years is more typical. So, if you’re wondering how long your relationships could continue if you have BPD, it truly depends on how severe your disorder is.
BPD and relationships can be challenging for the person with the condition and their partner. They will face unique challenges, such as intense emotional fluctuations, fear of abandonment, and difficulty regulating emotions. These challenges can impact the stability and longevity of the relationship. However, with proper understanding, effective communication, and professional support, couples can navigate these challenges and build healthy, fulfilling relationships.
Seeking couples therapy or therapy specifically focused on managing BPD in a relationship can be beneficial. Therapy can provide tools and strategies for both partners to enhance their communication, develop coping mechanisms, and create a more supportive and understanding relationship environment.
What is BPD?
Borderline personality disorder, commonly called BPD, is a well-known mental health disorder. BPD is a condition that affects others around you just as much as it does you. Someone with BPD has trouble interpreting emotions, causing constant fluctuations in one’s mood.
Along with the constant mood swings, someone suffering from BPD has intense behavioral problems. This consists of random outbursts of anger or episodes of severe anxiety and depression. Impulsive and extreme thoughts and behavior are the norms for someone living with BPD. It is tough living with BPD, but some may say it is harder on the ones around you.
Constant reckless behavior and not knowing what personality or emotion you will get from your partner or friend can be stressful. Someone living with borderline personality disorder experiences life and feelings to the extreme. If someone shares something happy, someone with BPD has a heightened and more extreme happiness sensation. The same goes for a bad or unhappy experience. This may seem chaotic for the others around you and can lead to a conflict-filled relationship.
BPD Symptoms in Relationships
BPD symptoms can significantly impact relationships. But with therapy, support, and effective communication, individuals with BPD can learn coping strategies, emotional regulation skills, and healthier relationship dynamics that can positively impact their relationships. It is beneficial if the partner also joins the programs and therapies that their loved ones have. It can help them be equipped to face the challenges in their relationships.
Here are some common symptoms of BPD that can affect relationships:
- Intense and Unstable Emotions: People with BPD often experience extreme emotional fluctuations, such as anger, sadness, anxiety, and irritability. These emotional swings can be unpredictable and overwhelming for the person with BPD and their partner, leading to frequent conflicts and misunderstandings.
- Fear of Abandonment: Individuals with BPD commonly have an intense fear of abandonment, which can manifest as a constant need for reassurance and a fear of being left alone. This fear can result in clingy or dependent behaviors, possessiveness, and difficulty tolerating separations, which can strain the relationship.
- Identity Issues and Self-Image Instability: BPD can involve a fragile sense of self and a lack of clear identity. Individuals with BPD may struggle with self-worth, constantly seeking validation and self-esteem issues. This can impact their relationships by seeking validation from their partner and experiencing difficulties with personal boundaries.
- Impulsivity and Self-Destructive Behaviors: Impulsive behaviors, such as substance abuse, self-harm, excessive spending, or risky sexual behaviors, can be present in individuals with BPD. These behaviors can significantly impact the relationship, causing distress and conflicts between partners.
- Idealization and Devaluation: People with BPD may initially have a pattern of idealizing their partner, perceiving them as perfect and meeting all their needs. However, this idealization can quickly shift to devaluation, where the person with BPD sees their partner as flawed or uncaring. This cycle of idealization and devaluation can create instability and strain in the relationship.
- Difficulty with Trust and Intimacy: Establishing and maintaining trust and intimacy can be challenging for individuals with BPD. Due to fear of abandonment and past experiences, they may have difficulties fully opening up and trusting their partner. This can lead to conflicts and emotional distance in the relationship.
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Tips To Cope With BPD in Relationships
Navigating relationships when one or both partners have borderline personality disorder can be challenging, but fostering healthier and more fulfilling relationships is possible with understanding, patience, and practical strategies. Here are some tips for BPD relationships:
- Educate Yourself.
- Learn about BPD and its symptoms to understand better what your partner may be experiencing. This knowledge can help you approach the BPD in relationships with empathy and reduce misunderstandings.
- Encourage Therapy.
- Encourage your partner to seek therapy, preferably a specialized form like Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) that focuses on BPD. Therapy can provide valuable tools and skills to manage emotions, improve communication, and foster healthier relationship dynamics.
- Develop Communication Skills.
- Effective communication is essential and becomes even more crucial in BPD relationships. Practice active listening, assertively express your needs and concerns, and encourage your partner to do the same. Use “I” statements to express your feelings and avoid blaming or criticizing each other.
- Establish and Respect Boundaries.
- Clear boundaries help maintain a sense of safety and stability in the relationship. Discuss and establish mutually agreed-upon boundaries and respect each other’s limits. Boundaries can help manage triggers, promote self-care, and reduce conflicts.
- Practice Emotional Regulation.
- Emotion dysregulation is a common symptom of BPD. Encourage your partner to develop and use healthy coping mechanisms to regulate their emotions, such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, or engaging in activities they enjoy. Please support them in finding strategies that work for them.
- Validate Emotions.
- Validating your partner’s emotions can go a long way in building trust and connection. Acknowledge their feelings, even if you don’t fully understand or agree. Show empathy and support, emphasizing that their emotions are valid and essential.
- Build a Support Network.
- Both partners benefit from having a support network. Encourage your partner to engage in support groups or therapy specifically for individuals with BPD. Seek your support through therapy, friends, or support groups to gain insight and strategies for managing the challenges of the relationship.
- Practice Self-Care.
- Taking care of your well-being is crucial, especially in a BPD relationship. Engage in activities that bring you joy, set boundaries for yourself, and seek support when needed. Prioritizing self-care allows you to be more present and supportive in the relationship.
Remember that every relationship is unique, and these tips may not apply to every situation. Tailoring these strategies to your specific circumstances and seeking professional guidance is crucial. BPD relationships can be challenging, but commitment, understanding, and support can be rewarding and fulfilling.
BPD Splitting in Relationships
It is challenging when having a relationship with someone with a mental health disorder. Whether that be a friendship, a family member, or an intimate relationship, it comes with its challenges. Many people who suffer from mental disorders experience good days and bad days.
Unfortunately, rather than having good days and bad, some experience a change in mood from hour to hour. It is very hot and cold and can be tough to manage for both parties in the relationship. This is a common condition with borderline personality disorder (BPD). When it comes to a relationship with someone suffering from BPD, it can seem like you’re constantly walking on eggshells.
BPD splitting, also known as black-and-white thinking or dichotomous thinking, is a symptom commonly associated with borderline personality disorder. It refers to the tendency to view people, situations, and relationships in extreme, polarized terms, with little or no middle ground. In the context of relationships, splitting can have a significant impact. Here’s how the BPD relationship stages may manifest:
During the idealization phase, someone with BPD may perceive their partner as perfect, putting them on a pedestal and seeing only their positive qualities. They may feel intense love and admiration, believing their partner can fulfill all their needs and make them whole.
In the devaluation phase, the same individual may suddenly shift to viewing their partner as entirely negative or flawed. They may focus on perceived shortcomings, become critical or dismissive, and struggle to see any positive aspects in their partner. This shift can occur rapidly and unpredictably, causing confusion and hurt in the relationship.
Splitting often involves an inability to see a person’s or situation’s complexities and nuances. Individuals with BPD may struggle with understanding and accepting the gray areas, leading to rigid and extreme judgments. This can make it challenging to navigate disagreements or conflicts within the relationship.
Splitting can lead to intense emotional reactions, as individuals with BPD may feel extreme anger, disappointment, or hurt when their idealized perception of their partner is shattered during the devaluation phase. These emotional reactions can strain the relationship and create a cycle of conflicts and reconciliations.
The pattern of idealization and devaluation can create instability within the relationship. Partners may feel uncertain about where they stand, as the person with BPD oscillates between extreme viewpoints. This instability can lead to difficulties in trust, intimacy, and overall relationship satisfaction.
How Does BPD Affect Relationships?
Living a “normal” and healthy life when suffering from BPD is extremely difficult. Living with this disorder is even more challenging for a stable and healthy relationship. Being in a relationship with someone who has a mental illness is nothing short of a rocky and dysfunctional road ahead. Each day you may experience a completely different person than the one you fell in love with.
Below are some common ways BPD can wreak havoc on one’s relationship:
- Unstable Self Image.
Self-identity and self-image are constantly changing for someone with borderline personality disorder. Your goals and values can be different from one day to the next. Loving your job and life but hours later feeling empty and without purpose is a constant battle.
When your values and goals change within hours, this can set you up for self-sabotage. Someone with BPD may be happy with their career choice but hate their job days later. This causes impulsive behavior of getting themselves fired. Sadly, and too often, these unstable thoughts lead to self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
- Fear of Rejection/Abandonment.
When suffering from BPD, the fear of abandonment and rejection is significantly heightened. They will analyze everything their partner does, and any sign of unhappy or changed behavior will cause destruction. This can be as little as not wanting to eat at the same restaurant. Unfortunately, this slight change can cause someone with BPD to believe their partner is unhappy and ready to abandon. In turn, it is causing them to withdraw from the situation and isolate themselves.
At the same time, this constant fear of rejection also comes with obsessive behavior. People with BPD tend to idolize their partners, which can become overbearing.
- Constant Mood Swings.
Imagine constantly tapping around any little trigger that could trigger your partner’s emotions. This could be your reality When in a relationship with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder. Intense mood swings from happiness to anger, or depression can last hours or even days. These episodes can be brutal for your loved ones and those around you.
This pendulum of ever-changing moods and emotions, especially anger, is a recipe for disaster. When someone with BPD feels angry, there is no such thing as a little tiff. These episodes result in outbursts of rage no matter where it takes place. This can be uncomfortable for your partner and the onlookers around you. The worst part is that most of the time, the person suffering from BPD does not think this behavior is wrong.
- Impulsive Thoughts and Behaviors.
Impulsive and risky behavior is not uncommon for someone living with BPD. With this comes unsafe and unhealthy behaviors such as gambling, unsafe sex, and substance abuse. These behaviors and ideas put themselves and their partners at risk. Often, when your partner begins with this reckless lifestyle, it never ends well.
Behaviors like these often lead to drug addiction, jail, and, worst case, death. The person suffering from BPD may get a handle on these problems, but as their emotions, it is an up-and-down battle. It is easier to get clean than stay clean.
BPD Relationship Fact Sheet
BPD Relationship Triggers
Certain situations or behaviors can act as triggers in BPD relationships, potentially intensifying emotions and leading to difficulties in managing and maintaining the relationship. Triggers can vary among individuals, but here are some common triggers in BPD relationships:
- Fear of abandonment.
- Criticism or rejection.
- Perceived betrayal.
- Emotional intensity.
- Feeling not understood or validated.
- Abandonment or separation.
- Rejection sensitivity.
Recognizing these triggers in BPD relationships is essential to foster understanding and develop coping strategies. Both partners can work together to communicate openly, set clear boundaries, practice empathy, and seek therapy to address these triggers effectively. Treatment, such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), can provide skills for emotion regulation, effective communication, and managing triggers in a relationship context.
Quiet BPD Relationship Cycle
A quiet borderline personality disorder is a subtype of BPD where individuals may internalize their emotions and exhibit more covert or subtle symptoms than other subtypes. In quiet BPD relationships, the cycle of emotions and behaviors can still occur, although it may be less overt and noticeable. Here’s a general outline of the cycle in quiet BPD relationships:
- Fear of abandonment.
- Self-doubt and self-criticism.
- Emotional withdrawal in response to their fear of abandonment and internal turmoil.
- Intense emotional turmoil.
- Return to idealization or self-sabotage.
It’s vital to remember that everyone’s experience with quiet BPD and romantic relationships is unique, and not all individuals with BPD will follow this exact cycle. If you or someone you know is in a quiet BPD relationship, seeking therapy or counseling can be beneficial in understanding and addressing the challenges specific to this subtype of BPD.
BPD and NPD Relationship
The relationship between borderline personality disorder (BPD) and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) can be complex and challenging. Both conditions involve difficulties in emotional regulation, self-image, and relationship dynamics but manifest differently. Here are some key points to consider regarding NPD and BPD relationships:
- Idealization and Devaluation: Individuals with BPD oscillate between idealization and devaluation of others, including their partners. On the other hand, individuals with NPD often have an inflated sense of self and may expect constant admiration and special treatment from their partners.
- Emotional Intensity and Emotional Avoidance: BPD is characterized by intense and fluctuating emotions, while individuals with NPD may struggle with empathy and have difficulty understanding or connecting with others’ feelings.
- Fear of Abandonment and Need for Validation: Individuals with BPD often have a profound fear of abandonment and a strong need for validation and reassurance from their partners. In contrast, individuals with NPD may have an excessive need for admiration and may exploit others to maintain their self-esteem.
- Boundary Issues and Manipulation: BPD and NPD can both involve boundary challenges. Individuals with BPD may have difficulties establishing and maintaining boundaries, while those with NPD may disregard or violate boundaries to meet their needs.
- Self-Esteem and Identity Issues: BPD and NPD can involve struggles with self-esteem and identity. Individuals with BPD may have an unstable self-image, while individuals with NPD often have an exaggerated or grandiose self-image.
- Treatment and Support: Both BPD and NPD can benefit from therapy. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is commonly used for treating BPD, focusing on emotional regulation and interpersonal skills. NPD treatment often involves therapy that addresses underlying self-esteem issues and promotes empathy and self-awareness. However, individuals with NPD may resist seeking help due to their sense of superiority or lack of insight into their behavior.
How to cope with BPD NPD relationships? Navigating a BPD-NPD relationship can be challenging, and seeking professional help from therapists experienced in personality disorders can guide and support both individuals involved.
Borderline Personality Disorder Fact Sheet
Download the below “Borderline Personality Disorder” pdf for more information. This file has been made publicly available for download by the National Institute of Mental Health in helping BPD awareness.
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BPD is a mental health condition characterized by emotional instability, impulsive behavior, relationship difficulties, and a distorted self-image. Here are some statistics related to borderline personality disorder:
It is estimated that approximately 1.6% of adults in the United States have BPD.
Individuals with BPD have a significantly higher risk of suicidal behaviors. Approximately 10% of individuals with BPD die by suicide. Up to 75% report self-harming behaviors at some point.
BPD commonly co-occurs with other mental health disorders. Roughly 75% of individuals with BPD meet the criteria for at least one other psychiatric disorder. The most common comorbid conditions include major depressive disorder, substance use disorders, and other personality disorders.
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How to Make BPD Relationship Works?
When finding out your partner or loved one has BPD, convincing yourself to walk away is much easier. Having a relationship with someone with this mental disorder can be a daily battle to make it work. People with BPD deserve love and happiness and will return these emotions, but patience and knowledge are essential.
Of course, your loved one living with BPD can seek treatment and psychotherapy to help with their emotional state. Medications can also be prescribed to help alleviate these symptoms. Consider getting involved in therapy to learn how to cope and adapt to your partner’s mental disorder. Not only does this help you learn more about mental illness, but it also shows your support for your partner with BPD.
Sadly, people suffering from BPD will have to battle this disorder for the remainder of their lives. These constant uncertainties and emotional battles make life hard to bear. Support from family or a partner will make the road a bit easier.
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Top 5 BPD in Relationships FAQs
Why BPD relationships never work?
It is inaccurate to say that relationships involving borderline personality disorder never work. While relationships with individuals with BPD can face unique challenges, they can be successful and fulfilling with both partners’ proper support, understanding, and commitment. It’s crucial to approach BPD relationships with empathy, patience, and a commitment to personal growth and learning.
How does BPD affect relationships?
BPD can contribute to a pattern of intense, stormy, and unstable relationships. The fear of abandonment, emotional volatility, and impulsive behaviors can create a cycle of tumultuous interactions, making establishing and maintaining healthy relationships challenging.
Are there successful BPD relationships?
Yes, it is possible to have successful and fulfilling relationships when one or both partners have BPD. While BPD can present challenges in relationships, with understanding, support, and appropriate treatment, individuals with BPD can develop healthier coping mechanisms and improve their ability to engage in positive and stable relationships.
What is it like to have a relationship with BPD female?
BPD in relationships, regardless of gender, can be challenging and require patience, understanding, and support.
What is it like to have a relationship with BPD male?
Like females with BPD, males with BPD may strongly fear abandonment. This fear can manifest in clingy or dependent behaviors, as well as attempts to test the loyalty and commitment of their partner. Providing reassurance, communicating your responsibility, and establishing healthy boundaries to address these fears is crucial.
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Tips For an Emotionally Healthy Heart Video Transcript
1: Find out who your true friends are.
Many of us rotate between various social circles and groups of people, and everyone seems nice on the surface. But everyone who smiles at you does not necessarily have your best interests at heart. Pay attention to how people you consider your friends act when you’re high and when you’re low when you get a promotion or lose a job, enter a new relationship or end one. Their initial response will be their authentic one. To keep a healthy heart, you want to surround yourself with people who are on your team and will be solid like roots, not wavy like leaves.
2: Find a way to express your feelings.
One of the best and most effective ways to maintain a healthy heart is never to hold your emotions inside. When you swallow your feelings, they have nowhere to go but your mind. You can easily create a negative narrative about how loved and valued you are. So find a way to express your emotions by journaling, meditating, praying, writing poetry, writing music, talking to a friend, or talking to a therapist. Finding an outlet for your emotions will make it easier for you to understand and manage them.
3: Be kinder to yourself.
Our last and personal favorite strategy for maintaining a healthy heart is being kinder to yourself. You are a human, which means you will make mistakes. You will mess up. But your mistakes and your past do not define who you are. We are constantly evolving and growing, and that takes time and patience. Like plants, we need water and nutrients to help us inside and sunlight to warm us outside. Learn how to rest; do not drive yourself into the ground trying to meet deadlines. If someone offers to take care of you or bring you food because they’re worried about you, let them.
We hope you find these strategies useful!
“How could she do that to me—and herself—over and over?” “Why would anyone act like that?” “I don’t know how much more I can take. But I’ve left before, and I keep coming back. What’s wrong with me?” “How can I help him when I do not know where to start?” If you love someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD), you’ve probably asked all of these questions at some point or other, maybe repeatedly” – Shari Y. Manning
“What were you thinking?” is something you may have asked your loved one time and time again. Baffling behavior, emotional reactions, interpersonal gaffes, and much doubt about who they are can leave onlookers flabbergasted by how people with BPD lead their lives. The answer to your question is that your loved one may very well not be thinking exactly the same way you do.” – Shari Y. Manning
— BPD Relationship Quotes
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 Chapman J, Jamil RT, Fleisher C. Borderline Personality Disorder. [Updated 2022 Oct 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430883/
 National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). Borderline Personality Disorder: Treatment and Management. Leicester (UK): British Psychological Society (UK); 2009. (NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 78.) 2, BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK55415/
 Learn More About BPD in Relationships. Choi-Kain LW, Finch EF, Masland SR, Jenkins JA, Unruh BT. What Works in the Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. Curr Behav Neurosci Rep. 2017;4(1):21-30. DOI: 10.1007/s40473-017-0103-z. Epub 2017 Feb 3. PMID: 28331780; PMCID: PMC5340835.
 Borderline Personality Disorder – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Learn More About BPD in Relationships.
 Borderline Personality Disorder – Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
 About Mental Health – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
 12.00-Mental Disorders-Adult – Social Security Administration (SSA)
 An Introduction to Co-Occurring Borderline Personality Disorder and Substance Use Disorders – Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Learn More About BPD in Relationships.
 Olabi B, Hall J. Borderline personality disorder: current drug treatments and future prospects. Ther Adv Chronic Dis. 2010 Mar;1(2):59-66. DOI: 10.1177/2040622310368455. PMID: 23251729; PMCID: PMC3513859.
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