If you’re in a relationship with someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD), I’m sure you’re aware of how challenging it is.
The average length of BPD relationships is much shorter than regular relationships, often somewhere in the range of 1-2 years.
This is because people with BPD struggle to form strong bonds, they are needy, compulsive, have emotional swings, and more.
Here is a look at what you can expect when in a relationship with someone who has BPD:
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder (BDP)?
Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness that causes people to have a hard time managing their emotions.
They may also struggle with drug or alcohol abuse, eating disorders, and self-harm.
The cause of BPD is not fully understood, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
People with BPD often have a history of trauma, such as suffering abuse or neglect as children.
What Is The Average Length of BPD Relationship?
The average length of BPD relationships is much shorter than regular relationships.
One study found that the average length of a BPD relationship is between one and two years.
They may be needy and compulsive, have emotional swings, and more.
This obviously puts a strain on a relationship and it’s a known characteristic of borderline personality disorder to have difficulty maintaining relationships.
Something else you’ll notice about dating someone with BPD is how quickly they can go from idolizing you to hating you.
People with BPD often have a “black and white” thinking pattern, meaning they see people and things as either all good or all bad.
This can make it hard for them to see the middle ground, which is often where relationships reside.
Challenges of Being in A Relationship When Your Partner Has BPD
Some of the main challenges of being in a relationship with someone with BPD are:
Extreme Emotional Swings
You never know what mood your partner will be in from one day to the next, and that’s tough to deal with.
One minute they could be happy and content, and the next they could be angry and destructive.
This can make it hard to have a healthy relationship because you’re always walking on eggshells, never knowing what might trigger their emotions.
You may also blame yourself for triggering them, even though it’s not really your fault.
Compulsive and Needy Behaviors
People with BPD often have compulsive and needy behaviors.
They may need constant attention and reassurance, and they may become possessive or jealous.
This can be suffocating for you and it’s hard to maintain your own identity in the relationship.
You may start to feel like you’re not good enough or that you’re not doing enough to make them happy.
People with BPD often have explosive anger.
They may say and do things that they later regret, and they may resort to violence as a way to express their anger.
This obviously creates a lot of tension and conflict in the relationship, and it can be scary to be on the receiving end of their anger.
You may start to feel like you’re in danger of physical harm, and you may even start to doubt your own sanity.
Trust is everything in a relationship, but people with BPD often lie or withhold information.
They may do this to protect themselves, or they may do it to avoid conflict.
Either way, it creates a lot of mistrust and can make it hard to have a healthy relationship.
People with BPD are often unreliable due to their compulsive behavior.
They may make plans and then not follow through, or they may say one thing and do another.
This can make it hard to rely on them and can leave you feeling frustrated and alone.
If you’re in a relationship with someone with BPD, it’s important to understand that it’s not your fault and that you didn’t do anything to cause their disorder.
It’s also important to seek help from a mental health professional to learn how to deal with the challenges of being in a relationship with someone with BPD if you want to make it work.
Can BPD Relationships Work Long Term?
Despite having a much shorter than average relationship expectancy, relationships with someone with BPD can absolutely work.
There are plenty of couples that are happily married where one or even both parties have a borderline personality disorder.
This is because with the right treatment BPD is manageable for most people.
It’s important to remember that people with BPD are just like everyone else, they just have a disorder that causes them to act in certain ways.
With the right treatment, they can learn how to manage their disorder and have healthy, long-term relationships.
If you’re in a relationship with someone with BPD, the best thing you can do is educate yourself about the disorder and seek professional help to learn how to deal with it.
There are no medications as such, but methods like Dialectal behavior therapy (DBT) and Mentalization-based therapy (MBT) are often used alongside couples therapy to help with the condition.
The Issue with Ending a BPD Relationship
If you have to end a relationship with a BPD partner, it’s important to do it in a way that is respectful and considerate.
People with BPD often have a very fragile sense of self and extreme fear of abandonment, and they may react to rejection in a very extreme way.
It’s important to avoid anything that could trigger them, such as being cold or heartless, as this could push them over the edge.
The best thing to do is to communicate with them every step of the way and explain why it’s best for both of you to end the relationship.
With the right approach, it is possible to end a relationship with someone with BPD in a way that is respectful and considerate and will minimize their discomfort.
Image credits – Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.