Are You in a Relationship with Someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder?

The DSM-IV-TR, or Diagnostic Statistical Manuel used by Mental Health Professionals, Borderline Personality Disorder is ” A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects (moods), and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood”.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) occurs in about 2% of the general population. By that accounting, we all have exposure to people with this personality disorder. While casual encounter with these individuals may be frustrating and somewhat upsetting, it is nothing compared to the emotional turmoil those involved in relationship with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder encounters.

A person engaged in this type relationship never knows where they stand with this person. One minute they may be considered the greatest individual on the universe, and the next shut out and accused of all types of acts. Many describe those in this type relationship as having to “Walk on Eggshells”.

Because those with Borderline Personality Disorder have often come from a home or situation where they experienced abuse or abandonment, their view of others is often that of distrust. They may make frantic efforts to avoid abandonment with others. While one partner may think all is well, the one with BPD may begin to have unreal fears of their partner leaving, so they put up barriers to keep their partner at a distance, or they leave the relationship entirely.

No matter how much those in a BPD relationship praises and reassures their mate, it is never enough. The BPD individual seems to have an emotional bucket with a hole in it. They have an unstable self image or feeling of self worth. Their need to feel they they are of value in a relationship needs to be reinforced continually.

Because the BPD individual tends to impulsivity, they may be more prone to engage in excessive spending, substance abuse, unhealthy relationships, sex, shoplifting, reckless driving, or binge eating. Perhaps their “chronic feelings of emptiness”, combined with the impulsivity, prompts them to engage in these behaviors in an attempt to “fill that empty bucket”. When they do not feel their emotional needs are met by their loved ones or associates, they look to external means to get their “emotional fix”.

Due to the BPD feeling things more intensely and having difficulty regulating their emotions and behaviors, these individual may rage out of control for the least provocation. Abusive relationships may occur with the Borderline Individual due to intense anger and difficulty controlling this anger. Temper tantrums and fights are not uncommon. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behaviors are symptoms associated with the Borderline Individual.

Mood instability is often seen in the BPD. Episodes of sadness, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours to a few days may be seen in these individuals. Many are prescribed medication for these symptoms, yet still complain that they are not helped by taking it.

Living with, or being involved with someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder can be an emotional roller coaster. Not only does the BPD individual need professional help, but so does those who love them. If you are in such a relationship, I strongly encourage you to seek help though a qualified Mental Health Professional such as a Licensed Psychologist. Even if the BPD mate does not want to become involved in therapy, it can help you to set boundaries and deal with the reality of the relationship you are in.