by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMay 12, 2022 borderline personality disorder, BPD, BPD Relationships0 comments
There has been a lot of recent media attention surrounding Borderline Personality Disorder—Pete Davidson has been open about his diagnosis and more recently Amber Heard was evaluated to have Borderline Personality Disorder by a forensic psychologist who was hired by Johnny Depp’s legal team. I am hoping that I can show you the positive side of Borderline Personality Disorder and offer recommendations on loving someone with Borderline Personality Disorder and making your BPD relationships brighter and healthier.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can have features that include fear of abandonment, patterns of unstable relationships, rapid changes in self-image, and risky behavior.
With the pervasive nature of these mental health symptoms, treatment is essential, which includes a solid support network.
If you are a friend, family member, or partner of someone with BPD, you are probably well aware of the relationship challenges. Also, keep in mind those with BPD can (often unbeknownst to themselves) create the issues that cause abandonment, which they may fear the most.
Aside from these challenges, having a loved one with BPD can be enriching and rewarding. I can easily cite the positive aspects. I’ve frequently been motivated by the inspiring love for their passions. Their enthusiasm for life can be very contagious. They can offer dark humor and quick wit when you need to be cheered up from your own negative emotions.
In my experiences with clients and loved ones with BPD, I wanted to share some insight. I’ve learned that patience and empathy are the foundation for mutual growth.
I hope to offer some recommendations that can make BPD relationships brighter and healthier:
- First and most importantly, realize there are limits and boundaries to every relationship. Give and take isn’t always 50/50, but the relationship does not stay healthy if one’s time and energy is on a pattern of depletion.
- Clear communication of wants and needs are essential. Make sure you have your desires established early into the relationship, while also respecting those of your partner.
- Individual treatment. For your loved one, appropriate therapy is ideal. This clinician should be experienced in personality disorders. Even more importantly, this clinician should focus on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). DBT is a therapy specifically devised for Borderline individuals that focuses on healthier coping and inward reflection. To manage your emotions properly, consider therapy for yourself.
- Research and learning. Receiving this diagnosis can be overwhelming for the patient as well as their support network. Finding out a loved one has a BPD diagnosis can bring up an array of questions. Make sure you educate yourself using reputable resources.
- Self-care. Both you and your loved one need care and balance; it is highly important to carve time for yourself. Your health is just as crucial as those around you.
- Support in any relationship is crucial, but even more so to those living with BPD. Look into joining a “Friends and Family” DBT support group online.
- Be Aware of Love Languages. Part of BPD in relationships is fear of abandonment, and small gestures can go a long way. Find your love languages and keep these in mind when you want to express appreciation.
- Words of Affirmation: Telling the person they are loved or giving sincere compliments even via text.
- Gifts: Thoughtful doesn’t have to mean expensive; think about their special interests or even delivering them a treat.
- Quality Time: One-on-one, no phones/no distractions. Be present with each other.
- Acts of Service: Schedule time to work on tasks they find overwhelming, even if you find it mundane.
- Physical Touch: Even close proximity can express to your BPD loved one that you are near and dear.
The emotional connections we have in life take thoughtful cultivation. There is work required in every relationship, but elevated patience and effort are needed when it comes to those with personality disorders. I encourage you to have open conversations with loved ones with any and all mental health needs so that you can discover more joy.
Pruthi, S. Borderline Personality Disorder. (2022, May) The Mayo Clinic.