coping with BPD in romantic relationships


Romantic relationships have been a tremendous struggle for me my entire life. I was diagnosed with BPD (borderline personality disorder) at age 24, and that seemed to make sense for many of my failed relationships, especially the one I was in at the time. Emotional instability, chronic mood swings, fear of abandonment, impulsive tendencies – those traits all did their part to dismantle every attempt at a successful, long-term romantic relationship. With many mental illnesses, especially one as complicated as BPD, it’s hard to walk the line between “blaming” my actions on my illness and taking responsibility – especially when my impulses can be extremely hard to control. I’ve been in recovery for over three years now and it continues to be a battle. Though I am now in a loving, healthy, adult relationship for the first time ever, my BPD symptoms still come up quite often. Luckily, my partner is patient and understanding, which helps minimize my “outbursts” when they do occur.

Identity disturbance is listed as one of the 9 identifying traits when diagosing borderline personality disorder. That, above almost all else, is the most pronounced trait that I can identify within myself as a borderline.

“People with an identity disturbance may speak, think or act in ways which are contradictory to themselves. They may think the world of themselves one day and think nothing of themselves the next. Their actions or thoughts may seem self-serving one day and flip into self-effacing, or self-destructive patterns the next. They may excel in one activity and appear incompetent in another. They may have impressive energy and enthusiasm for a season and be lethargic and withdrawn in another…People who suffer from personality disorders are sometimes prone to think emotionally, rather than logically, and apply this kind of emotional shorthand or “splitting” to situations that ultimately hurt themselves and those around them. This can lead to extreme emotional highs and lows in response to the natural ebb and flow of life’s circumstances that can lead them to make unsubstantiated, grandiose claims of superiority one day and self-condemning statements of worthlessness the next.” (Source:

I really do feel like I have a war in my mind sometimes. I feel myself becoming purposely difficult, belligerent, even downright mean – and seem to have no control over what’s coming out of my mouth; I’m in my right mind. I feel like I’m always “testing” him and even though he always “passes,” I don’t want to put that stress on him. Being borderline is basically being the most difficult person to be with – I crave intimacy yet sometimes act in a way that pushes people away. No matter how loving, caring, supportive, and willing my romantic partner may be – BPD still continues to rear its ugly head. I’ve accepted that to some extent, I will always have to live with this inside of me. (Although many books and websites I’ve read say that the symptoms do lessen when the individual enters her thirties and forties.) It’s a part of who I am, and my partner has acknowledged this as well. I’m eternally grateful for his willingness and understanding, but in the end, I have to help myself.


People don’t often realize that a seemingly “put-together” individual – with a job, a driver’s license, a 401k – can be “crazy.” The more intelligent and vibrant the individual, the more extreme the psychological effects of a mental disorder can be. I’ve been with my current beau for a little less than five months. While I’m trying desperately not to let often-crippling anxiety and BPD symptoms inform our relationship, I have to admit, I fear for its longevity. This is the love of my life. I don’t want my crazy to make it crumble.

Feel free to share your own experiences (if any) with BPD, mental illness, and how it has impacted your romantic relationships in the comments.


8 thoughts on “coping with BPD in romantic relationships

  1. I’ve known you for relatively a short time and have spent relatively little time with you, but from my experience you are such a wonderful woman that I would see no lack of motivation in a real man to do his part in upholding a relationship with you. You’re so worth it.

    • That’s such a nice thing of you to say! I think he would agree with you, although I’m not entirely sure, he definitely accepts me and embraces me as I am. Couldn’t ask for more.

  2. Thank you for sharing all this with us. I chose to research BPD for a psych class a couple years ago and did the interview with my therapist at the time. As knowledgeable as she was on the topic, I’ve never gotten a full grasp of what it is like to have BPD. Were you introduced to DBT?
    I’m not 100% certain on this, but I think all personality disorders except narcissistic personality disorder will no longer be included in the new edition of the DSM, which comes out in May. Does this mean your diagnosis goes away!? 😛 I don’t understand how all that is going to work out.
    I’ve dealt with bipolar disorder for 8 years, and I genuinely believe that my current relationship is only able to function because I’m on medication. Before I started taking lithium, I had plenty of bad days. When I got into my down moods, I would start seeing things in a really pessimistic way. It would seem like there was no point in carrying on with anything, including a relationship. It would be really tough if my bf had to deal with all that crap. We probably would have already broken up a few times by now, and I probably would have contemplated suicide at least twice. But because I got help before we even met, he’s never had to see me as the unstable train wreck that I used to be. Without meds, I’d be ill-prepared to sustain a long-term relationship. My moods still shift a little these days, but it’s much milder and he can usually sense when I’m in a depressed/dissatisfied mood. He understands that I can’t control these things and that I’m going to have bad days, so I think all you really need is a man who understands that some days will be a little more difficult than others. As long as you’re both motivated to make it work, I think it’s very possible to make the relationship last.

    • Thanks for commenting Manda, and for the encouraging words. 🙂 It’s always nice to hear from someone who has experience in psychology and has a deeper understanding of the disorder. It definitely isn’t easy. I’m not medicated – now and then I toy with the idea of going back to something but a) I’m not really sure where to start and b) I’m not sure how the medications are going to affect my libido or moods. Last time I took antidepressants I felt like an empty shell; ended up being easier to cope with the ups and downs than the all around “whatever” feeling that the pills gave me.

      • Yeah, medication can be so tricky. Then there’s the worry about what kind of long-term effects you may encounter after using the drug for years. I frequently worry about possible damage to my organs from taking lithium, but I actually think I need it to function and survive. If you can cope pretty well without the meds, I’d encourage you to keep doing that.

  3. That’s not even something I considered, to be honest… there is some sort of herbal supplement my therapist recommended once. 5HTP – have you heard of it? I need to find some from the health food/vitamin store. May be worth a try.

  4. Thank you for this post.

    I’ve been blogging about my experiences with BPD men and after a couple of years of therapy, I have put together some tips on how identify them. It’s not based purely on the “symptoms,” but focuses more on you feel around them.

    Plenty of people may have these symptoms, but not the actual disorder. I’ve found it helpful to learn how to listen to my own reaction to someone, rather than trying to make a list of their faults and personality traits. It’s a much better system, in my opinion.

    If you have BPD, this article might upset you. If you’ve been involved with someone with this disorder, you will relate.

    Boderline Boys (and 6 Ways to Spot Them)

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