Dealing with someone who has BPD – dos and don’ts as I see them

This is my own, personal take on what I appreciate in people who deal with my BPD symptoms. Maybe it can help someone who has a relationship with someone who has BPD, so I’ll write it down.

  1. educate yourself – learn as much as you can about what Borderline Personality Disorder is, what the symptoms are, what motivates them. But also keep in mind that what is true for some people with BPD is not always true for everyone with BPD.
  2. see me as a person – I am more than a bunch of symptoms. I am a person, I am unique, I have good qualities and healthy parts that have nothing to do with BPD.
  3. take my feelings seriously – yes, I overreact and my reactions can be inappropriate to the situation. My feelings are real, though, and I have them for a reason, whether it’s a reason you can understand or not. The reason usually lies not within the situation, but in my own history. That doesn’t make my feelings any less valid.
  4. keep it cool and calm – good things happen, and I like it when they are acknowledged, but it’s not so good to make this big, giant fuss about them. Bad things happen, and it’s okay to acknowledge them and deal with them, but a big, giant fuss doesn’t help. I am more than capable of creating drama by myself, I don’t need anyone to aid me in escalating situations, thanks a lot.
  5. help me feel safe – most negative behavior is inspired by fear of one kind of another, and feeling safe is the best antidote. Now I am aware it’s not other people’s job to make me feel safe (except, in my case maybe, my mom’s) but it helps to know the other person is aware of things that frighten me and tries to avoid those things, or, alternately, explains to me why they can’t be avoided and what they mean or don’t mean for our relationship.
  6. try to talk with me – I am capable of reflecting on my behavior. Not always, not in every situation, and certainly not when I am being emotional about something, but it helps to have calm and non-judgmental talks when I am in a good place. Hear my side, too, and don’t just brush it away because I have BPD.
  7. don’t take it personally – I can get very hurtful, often over ridiculous and trivial things, but believe it or not, it’s not because of you. It’s because of me. Try to keep that in mind. If you are being extra capable of not taking it personal, you can try to figure out what my hurtful behavior says about my feelings, try to understand and gently validate them. Am I hurting? Am I afraid? Am I confused and helpless? It helps to be aware of what’s up.
  8. have reliable boundaries – I have issues with having healthy boundaries, so it’s important you have some, if you can. Know where you stand and what you want, what is okay for you and what you won’t put up with. Let me know about those things. It’s easier to define myself and find stability if I know where you are, rather than having to feel around in a fog because your boundaries are just as unreliable as mine.
  9. don’t let yourself be drawn into power games – this is not about winning anything. Where there are winners there are also losers, and that’s not a good basis for any kind of relationship. It’s better to figure a way to work together towards finding good solutions, with us working towards the same goal after our own individual abilities.
  10. try to be in touch with me – being emotionally in touch with the other is one form of safety. Try to be aware of small changes in my emotional availability, for they might be really meaningful and still solvable while they are small.
  11. be as non-threatening as possible – a lot of my issues have to do with fear. Appearing more threatening yourself (e.g. by yelling, making threatening gestures, blocking exits like by standing in the doorway, or being physically imposing) doesn’t make anything better. So if you speak with me, lower yourself to my level, keep a calm voice even when I can’t keep mine calm, and generally adopt body language and behavior that suggests that you are not a threat.
  12. accept help if it gets too much – just what it says. It’s not so good to let all the batteries run so dry and to deplete the last of the resources so that it’s hard to go anywhere without having the whole relationship fall apart. Accepting help early enough so that there still is time and room for improvement can be really important.
  13. keep on making good memories with me – not everything is a mess. Look for and value the normal, healthy, good parts and enjoy them with me. The road is a rocky one and being able to pause and breathe and enjoy the sunshine is really important. Memories of sunshine help with getting through periods of rain and thunderstorm.

Long list, isn’t it?  That’s all I can think of for now, but I might add more later. And yep, I am aware that it’s a big list of requirements, or whatever you want to call them. I am aware it’s not easy to have a good relationship with someone who has BPD. It’s probably just as challenging as having BPD.  No shit.

Feel free leave your thoughts to or suggest your own do’s and dont’s in the comments, too, if you think of some! 🙂

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68 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. prideinmadness
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 13:03:31

    I explained to my partner to do some of these things and he felt like he was doing all the work. I had to explain to him that I was doing all my work in my head to make sure I responded correctly as well. We’d still end up in a huge unvalidated emotional power struggle every time.

    It can be very hard to be with me and I think I need to accept that regardless sometimes someone shouldn’t stay with me. (I say that with acceptance, not defeat)

    • Lola
      Nov 13, 2012 @ 14:58:55

      I agree, it’s definitely no walk in the park, being with someone who struggles with BPD. Probably not any nicer than having borderline yourself at times. I must say personally, I am glad I’m not anywhere near having a partner, because I know t would be a mess.

      • prideinmadness
        Nov 13, 2012 @ 15:13:57

        I often find myself, like today for example, thinking I should be alone. At least until I can totally have my act together.

        You may be onto something!

  2. mightyplans
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 15:22:34

    you just hit the nail on the head.

  3. depressedinbmore
    Nov 13, 2012 @ 17:37:23

    Reblogged this on Depressed In Baltimore and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  4. vwoopvwoop
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 05:20:27

    oh lola, you’re so smart. 🙂
    the more i read your entries the more i feel i understand my sister. i think what makes you so helpful is that you are actively working hard to change and grow, and though you have BPD, you are always trying to understand yourself. i think the frustration i have and probably a lot of people have, about dealing with people who have BPD, is that when the person is NOT actively trying to heal, they are quite awful to be around. i think perhaps, and please tell me your opinion about this, but the list you wrote above is fantastic, but do you think it applies even to the BPD’s who are not willing to heal? when they become manipulative and mean, and mainly, unapologetic for taking advantage of others and being selfish (i suppose this relates directly to your point of “don’t let yourself be drawn into power games).
    what about dealing with the BPD person who is so deep in their pain that they are toxic to be around?
    do you think in circumstances like that, that maybe not letting yourself get drawn into the power games can mean cutting off contact?
    i would really like your opinion, and i’m sorry if any of that seemed offensive or hurt your feelings because that’s the last thing i’d want to do. i respect you very much.

    • Lola
      Nov 14, 2012 @ 10:01:18

      Oh, no, please don’t worry, you didn’t seem offensive or hurtful at all. You actually asked some very clever questions. Even mom said so.

      First off, thanks for the good words. You make me blush. Smart isn’t usually among the words that I think of when I think of myself. But you are right that I’m working hard to change and grow and heal. Understanding what goes on is really helpful towards that. But I’m lucky to have my family by my side who help me a lot, so it’s probably them who should get the credit. lol Anyway, on to your questions…

      ~ Does the list apply to people with BPD who are not willing to heal?
      Well, in a reduced version, I would guess. I mean stuff like educating yourself about the disorder behind the behavior, being non-threatening, not adding to escalations, knowing your boundaries, and trying to avoid getting drawn into power games will probably help, even if the person who has BPD has no intentions to make an own effort. So that when he or she become manipulative and mean etc, you can at least understand what’s up, that it’s not about you as a person, but just their effort to cope with their inside mess, and that in that case it also helps if you know and communicate where you stand on the matter, what you are willing to put up with and what you won’t put up with and why.

      ~ Can ‘not lettting yourself get drawn into power games’ mean cutting off contact?
      Sad as it is, I suppose it can. BPD behavior can be very toxic, and I can see how it’s not fair to expect people to put up with it, especially if the person with BPD doesn’t contribute some own awareness and the willingness to make a serious effort after his or her abilities. That’s also where knowing your own boundaries can come in handy, I think. It’s probably important to know how much you can realistically put up with, and what you can’t. After all it helps nobody if the BPD behavior wrecks two people’s lives in the end. I think it’s important to explain the reasons for cutting off contact, though, if someone decides to do this. Explaining that it’s not about hating the person, not about wanting to push the person with BPD away, but that behaviors x,y,z have a toxic effect on you and in order to protect your own health, you need to cut off the contact. It suppose it would be nice to acknowledge that this probably upsets the person with BPD a lot and that you can understand that and are sorry for the pain your decision causes, but that a clean and honest cut is better than dragging on with making each other miserable until all that’s left of the relationship and the people who have it is torn apart bloody shreds. Or maybe include terms on which you’d like to continue contact, if you can think of reasonable ones. Gee, I don’t know. It’s a difficult thing. I’d be devastated if it happened to me, and my most terrible fear is that one day that’s what my family will do – cut off contact – but I suppose if I didn’t contribute my part and kept on being a thousand shades of terrible for a long period of time, it would be reasonable for them to make this decision, and I hope that by making an effort I can ward it off.

      Uh, anyway, this was a long reply, but I tried my best to give you my honest opinion. I hope it’s a little bit helpful?

      • vwoopvwoop
        Nov 14, 2012 @ 10:16:47

        thanks lola, that’s a wonderful answer. you’re right, it would be very upsetting and sad to be cut off from someone for being labeled too toxic. i think that would be extremely hurtful to anyone.
        i can understand why that would be your biggest fear. i think if you asked your mom about it, she would tell you that it is not going to happen because she loves you and understands you, and you’re all in it together. and of course, you try so hard to change, that makes an enormous difference to how people perceive you. i have found that people are willing to forgive just about anything as long as you are honestly making an effort to be better.
        you answered my questions perfectly, so thank you. but in thinking about how awful it must feel to be cut off from family members, and your suggestion that explaining the situation is so important, i can’t help but feel very guilty and connect this situation to the one i have with my dad. he definitely does not have BPD but i have cut off contact with him without a clear explanation of what he did to make me do so. i assumed it was clear, but perhaps it was not. and now i am worried that i should write him a letter explaining, as you said, the behaviors he has and the things he has said that make him too toxic to be around currently. i am also worried that it is a terrible idea, because it just plays into the game of continued contact. so now i’m confused! but i appreciate you giving me something to think about.

      • Lola
        Nov 14, 2012 @ 10:31:01

        Oh no, sorry to have confused you with regard to your dad. I didn’t mean to. I suppose when you already have cut off contact with someone, directly talking about it with the person wouldn’t be a good idea, as it just muddles and confuses the decision you have already made, for both of you.

        With a letter… hm… well, I suppose that might be a plan, if you feel like it’s what you want to do. In the case of your dad, who still seeks contact and confronts you with making decisions about how you want to deal with it (the texts) anyway, maybe writing a letter, stating your reasons for cutting off contact, and stating that it’s not about whether he understands those reasons or not, and not about his intentions, but solely about the effect his behavior has on you, whether he means it that way or not, and giving him the options about the consequences, like either contact in a safe environment with a therapist present or no contact, and maybe including that you are aware that it might and sorry if this causes him pain, but that it’s the decision you have to make to protect your own health… and that you are only going to keep on interacting from that letter on if he chooses one of the routes (or the one route) you can accept. But well, obviously only if you feel like it would be something you want. Only doing it because you feel guilty, hm… I don’t know, maybe looking at those guilty feelings and whether they are healthy guilty feelings or unhealthy ones would be a better option then? Gosh, but I don’t really know, that’s just me talking from the little experience I have. Do you have a therapist who can help you with figuring out which way would be a good one for you?

    • Lola
      Nov 14, 2012 @ 10:14:07

      Oh, and one more thing I just thought of: if someone was toying with the idea of cutting off contact with me, it would probably be nice to get an advance warning. Like someone telling me ‘Lola, this and that behavior, even when you have inner valid reasons to behave that way, makes it next to impossible for me to be around you and if we don’t find a solution, I will not be able to put up with having you in my life any longer. We have time until X to find a way to deal with it…’ etc.

      I’d probably still think the person hates me and be devastated, but I might give it thought and I suppose it would be fairer to at least give me notice and a chance to still do something about it. Even when I’d not be able to change anything, I would at least know what’s coming and why. Or I would decide to cut off the contact myself, which would be equally sad, but, well, I guess there are no outcomes to this scenario that aren’t sad in a way.Tricky, shitty situation. 😦

  5. Trackback: Having BPD and dealing with the world – dos and don’ts as I see them « Who needs normal?!
  6. The Flat Girl
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 17:42:14

    Thank you for this…. I almost lost the love of my life because he simply could not deal with me and my symptoms anymore. My own children do not speak to me anymore, and, at times I feel like a fairly worthless person. This affliction can be overwhelming.

    I honestly do not know what else to say. It can be so exhausting. Today is one of those days.

    Always,
    Me

    • Lola
      Nov 14, 2012 @ 17:51:42

      Thank you for leaving a comment! 🙂

      I’m sorry you’re having a hard time and trouble with your children not speaking with you anymore. 😦 If you say you almost lost the life, does that mean it came close, but not quite? If that is the case, I’m glad for you that you still have him. Maybe there is room to improve together, baby step by baby step, by both making a coordinated effort? Anyway, I’m sorry it’s one of those days for you. I’m sending you good thoughts!

  7. Crisstian S
    Nov 18, 2012 @ 07:49:23

    Lola, thank you so much for this entry! From a non-BP perspective, this is solid gold. I know my BP is working hard, but sometimes can’t maintain control. This reminds me that I also have to work hard to keep my boundaries in place and keep myself calm in the face of a hurricane.

    • Lola
      Nov 19, 2012 @ 17:42:12

      Thank you for your words! 🙂 I’m happy if what I wrote is helpful to you. Figuring out personal boundaries is probably a tough job for non-BPs too, but from my experience it helps to know where they are and that they are there.

  8. Trackback: Dealing with someone who has BPD – dos and don’ts as I see them « CrisstianS
  9. kat
    Dec 04, 2012 @ 20:56:57

    My mother was my primary abuser growing up, probably mostly due to her BPD, which she refuses to get any therapy or treatment for. I tried many times in my adult life to reconnect with her, but each time she eventually becomes more abusive than the last, until I finally had to stop having her in my life. I too have mental health issues due to my childhood traumas with her. But I am working on repairing myself, finding myself. I have worked as a caregiver for a long time in the psychiatric long term centers for mentally ill teens. I have seen many of these teens also with BPD, but at least they are getting a stable environment and treatment, and are safe and not given up on and their positive traits are reinforced.
    I think its wonderful that you are improving, working on these issues. And anyone who knows anyone with BPD should have the list of do’s and don’ts. It is a great starting point and guiding hand.

    • Lola
      Dec 05, 2012 @ 14:33:04

      Thank you for sharing your story, kat! 🙂 I’m sorry you had to stop having your mother in your life, but sometimes it’s for the best. It’s the same with me. I haven’t seen, heard or spoken to my birth mother since 11 years, and even when it still isn’t easy, it’s for the best. Great that you are working on revocering from your traumas. I’m very much trying to do the same. I’m glad if you find the list helpful. Good luck and much strength to you on your journey to finding yourself! 🙂

  10. Trackback: What Having Boundaries is All About « Who needs normal?!
  11. Trackback: Dealing with someone who has BPD – dos and don’ts as I see them | BehindGreenEyes
  12. talia
    May 05, 2013 @ 01:04:45

    My girlfriend has BPD and I’ve been trying to for an extremely long time to gain knowledge of how I can keep our relationship healthy and this really helped me. Thank you.

  13. Delphina
    May 13, 2013 @ 10:12:15

    This site and the blog entry came on right time. My husband had very troubled childhood with potentially non diagnosed BP & Narcissistic abusive father and he also has all the signs and symptoms of BP. He is undiagnosed because clearly refuses to go to seek a therapy.

    Our home is like a warzone, I walk on eggshells to not do anything to trigger his rage but almost everytime it fails. In first month of the marriage verbal assaults escalated, from second month and onwards he started to physically abuse me too. Not hitting me but threatening with slapping me, cutting me into pieces, strangling me till my arms are all bruised and throwing me from one bed or another. When his rage episodes are gone, he doesnt remember any of the things he said and blames me of the reason of making him angry.

    I have moved into his country, atm being all alone here in Egypt. I have no access to money, he is taking every money I have and keeps in his possession. He tried to cut my communication with family and friends, anytime they called me or sent a message he attacked me with no mercy and then tried to scare me. I did scare and now planning my escape secretly with my family.

    I will leave him in 10 days, will go back to my country and seek for some therapy cos of the damages I got on this relationship. I have lost many in financial, emotional and spiritiual meaning and my friends and family are secretly helping me without him noticing. My phone, email, facebook and all kinds of means of communication are under his surveillance and he checks them regularly to see what I’m doing or talking with. My advantage is he doesnt know my native language and I use it to communicate with friends and family and they are also in contact all the time to let each other know how I am doing and when I can be saved from this situation.

    Still it breaks my heart to imagine the moment he will come back from work and won’t find me at home. I know this will cause big damage on his already tormented mind and I wish I had chance to end this in normal ways or him seeking for therapy and that I could stay with him. Things have been too wrong for both of us in many ways and now shit just hit the fan.

    Sorry for long post. I’m keeping such things inside for so long and not really talking about any of the abuses clearly to not make my close circle more worried than they already are. Thanks for your blog and helping out the BPD’s and Non BPD’s who are suffering because of this situation.

    • Lola
      May 13, 2013 @ 16:25:53

      Hi Delphina,
      I’m sorry to hear about what a tough situation you are in. Being all alone with your troubled and abusive husband in a foreign country with nobody supportive there with you must be awful. I’m glad you will leave him in 10 days and that you will look for therapy to get over the pain and trauma of it, and I am glad that you have family and friends who are helping you.

      I’m glad if you found my blog entry helpful. Stay strong and most of all do know that your husbands behavior is not about you, even when you were the unlucky one who triggered it at home with him. BPD is only about the person who has it and usually the past experiences this person carries in his or her heart and soul. At least that’s the way it is for me, and I think it is important to realize that.

      I wish you all the best and good luck coming home and leaving your BPD partner behind. Especially when violence, abuse and control are involved that’s sometimes the only thing you can do, sadly. Stay strong and take care!

  14. C
    May 20, 2013 @ 18:54:26

    Thanks for your website. It was a great read.

    I’m just learning about all of this, and although I know it’s not my fault, I think not knowing about BPD was the downfall of my marriage to my wife. I grew up in a very disciplined home with rules and boundaries, all sorts of stuff. I’m thankful for that. My wife on the other hand, not so much. Long story short, I never could understand why she couldn’t get common sense things to help out the family, and I fussed at times (not thinking about it). I often expected her to “just get things,” and I never explained in detail about tasks or stuff that needed to be done around the house, so things wouldn’t get done. After another disagreement, she ran off one morning while I was at work and aborted our 18 week old child without my knowledge, claiming I was going to abandon her (I had zero intention to do so). I was devastated, thinking who does things like this. Months later I divorced her.

    A friend of mine recently told me about BPD as his wife was recently diagnosed with it and she has recently started obtaining treatment. The more I learn about it, the more I understand my ex-wife and her behavior since I’ve known her (dating back to early 2000s).

    Since our divorce, she has been seeking male attention in the worst of ways, resorting to adult websites, online dating sites, randoms at parties and males who were suppose to be just guy friends. She doesn’t know I know any of this information, however. She also has a nice catalog of sexting to all of these guys, who all overlap each other. She has an alcohol problem, consuming shots periodically through the day, and takes anti-depressants and ADHD drugs on an almost daily basis (again, she doesn’t know I know any of this). My information is not from speculation btw.

    I probably inappropriately brought up BPD to her, sharing a documentary I found online, and a couple of articles. I’m trying to be supportive and demonstrating my commitment to her and our relationship. She claims she wants to work out and remarry, but her actions speak differently as she continues talking with the aforementioned guys and lying about having talked to any when I clearly know she has. On one day, she told me she didn’t want my help or support, and I needed to go give it to someone else and she said she would fight any of my support. My friend who has the wife with BPD suggests I should cease communication, which hurts because I don’t want to cut her off, but I really don’t see any options. I’m afraid her rock bottom is not going to be good as she is exceptionally stubborn and from what I’ve seen with the casual sex, sexting, alcohol and drugs, i’m really worried about her health. Her family won’t be of help, as I they just don’t talk about negative in their home, and she lies to her friends about who she really is and the pain she feels. I know through my snooping, and it is not a good picture. It breaks my heart.

    Is cutting communication really my only option now? I care and love her a lot still, but I am and my work are being affected by her now, so my stress level is doubling up on me. I can see it wearing me down.

    • Lola
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 17:31:55

      I’m sorry you’re going through such a hard time with your ex-wife, C. 😦 I don’t really know anything you could do but knowing what your boundaries are and acting accordingly, especially if you see it wearing you down. After all, once you are worn down you aren’t of any help to anyone either, so it’s important to look after yourself, too. Maybe also giving it time might be a good idea. Coming to terms with maybe having BPD can be a hard and difficult and painful process that can take time. I’m sorry it’s such a difficult situation. I’m sending you good thoughts! Take care of yourself!

  15. Leilah
    Jun 08, 2013 @ 01:23:59

    I stumbled across this page and am glad I did 😀 I am 28 yrs old now with one divorce, 2 kids, and a steady boyfriend and have struggled with borderline since my early teens. I often times feel that my boyfriend should just leave me because being with someone with borderline is a huge burden. I have been working on this and I plan on showing him this article! Thank you so much 🙂

    • Lola
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 17:17:56

      I wish you all the best, Leilah! I hope you and your boyfriend find a way to make it work. I’m glad if I could help you a little with what I wrote. If you and your partner work together as a team, I think it’s totally possible to make a relationship work even when someone has BPD! 🙂

  16. Connie raymond
    Jun 09, 2013 @ 02:17:19

    You have no idea how much hope this gives me, all i have read is stories about how noone can love someone with BPD, and being a 16 year old sufferer that scares the hell out of me, so thank you for providing something that doesnt make people want to run for the hills as soon as they hear the word borderline

    • Lola
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 17:14:18

      I’m glad I could give you a bit of hope, Connie! I know how depressing it can be to read all those “borderline people are awful” accounts. I think it can be truly awful to be with people who have BPD and refuse to acknowledge it, but I also think that as soon as someone realizes there’s a problem and tries her best to deal with it, it’s still hard, but totally realistic to make it work somehow! Sometimes you just need to be a bit creative about things and find solutions where BPD tries to ruin stuff, but it’s possible to find solutions and it’s possible to learn and grow! Good luck to you and I hope you know that you are not alone with this! 🙂

  17. Pheebee
    Jun 12, 2013 @ 18:41:39

    Lola, thank you so much for this list of Do’s & Dont’s and the blog. I was brought up by a mother who I think had undiagnosed BPD (probably a milder version than some but still extremely difficult to deal with). I left home at 16 and married a man who also had BPD. Eventually I had to leave as “the only way to win was to not play the game”. I really loved him but had to leave for my own sake and as I was so worried about the effects on my children. One of my children was especially affected by living with the situation and his abuse to me (although it was only me he was deliberately abusive to). That was 18 yrs ago and my poor (adult) child seems to have a combination of the genetics of both my mother and my ex-husband & her own internal issues due to her own experiences. She demonstrates many of the tendencies of both of them including isolating her own children from others and alcohol problems and blaming others (me) for everything that is wrong in her life. I dont think she would ever admit to having BPD. I know she frightens her children and is out of control often so I worry about her and them. I love my daughter so much and want to help her but its been a constant “walking a tightrope/on eggshells” trying not to offend her and ultimately it doesn’t work anyway(she wont say if shes upset but just dwells on it and adds it to a list until she falls out with me (and everyone else).
    The issue is that I also want to help my grandchildren to cope but she is very controlling of their every move and thought (as my mother was) and questions them so I cant even suggest she might not be doing everything perfectly or say to them that she is not always well and its about her not them. If she gets the feeling I am saying anything about her to the children she will not let me see them at all. It became so bad she moved away 6 months ago without telling any of the family where she was going and we were all worried sick about her mental health and the children having no-one to turn to. I worry for the effect on the children that they think its normal and I dont care about what they are coping with. It makes me feel Im colluding in her treatment of them. Dont get me wrong She is also very good with them in other ways but Its like a power struggle between us and I feel she uses the children to control me/keep me in my place.i.e. she knows I would do anything to stay in their lives… anyway (sorry its so long winded) Ive managed to reestablish contact and her & Im to visit this weekend. My problem is that I cannot go on the way we were with the constant power struggle over the children, I dont want them being stuck in the middle as its not good for them either. Im not well myself (physically) and its just too emotionally exhausting to go on as we were. I do want contact with my daughter but I need to try to establish new boundaries because I really cant go on as we were. How do I suggest to her that she may have BPD?
    How do I help my grandchildren realize she has some mental health problems and when she is mean or frightens them in her rages it is about her not them? How do I do that with the lowest risk of her cutting me off again?

    • Lola
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 17:08:44

      Hi Pheebee, I’m sorry you’re in such a difficult situation. I’m afraid there is no really good way to go about letting someone know they might have BPD when they are not open to hearing it. I guess maybe if you are just there for your grandkids if they approach you seeking for help or support, or if you suggest that their mom’s behavior isn’t about them when they are upset, that may already make a difference. Being too pushy about it is probably not going to help a lot when their mom gets defensive and stops the contact. Maybe it’s also good if you educate yourself as much as you can about BPD and also maybe find out where your boundaries are and what you are willing and not willing to put up with and how you want to react to situations. I’m sorry I can’t really suggest any more. It’s always hard when someone refuses to consider that they may be challenged by a disorder that affects relationships. 😦

  18. Kelly
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 16:05:39

    I dated a woman on and off for 3 years and finally had to walk away because her NPD traits overtook her manageable BPD traits. Well, at least I thought I walked away. A month after our breakup she texted me she was pregnant. I suppose she sensed I was leaving and tried to grasp at what she could.

    Well, nearly two years and a beautiful 14 month old baby girl in the picture, I have 50% custody and primary residence. This after I got a protective order, watched her violate it, get probation, violate probation, get put in jail, have court ordered psych exam, family violence classes, and crazy abuse in all forms. I stood up for myself and she did (does) not like it.

    I was a solid, understanding boyfriend who only wanted to be with her, take care of her, and love her, not to mention have kids with her. I drew the line at deceit, however, and I have fought hard for my daughter as this woman is very sick (I see it clearly now) and has no sense of healthy boundaries.

    So, while I can empathize with the BPD condition, the one thing I cannot tolerate is the lack of empathy. She brought a beautiful girl into chaos. I am a forgiving person, and I am getting to the point of forgiving her, but I still linger in the sadness of losing the woman I thought I would be with forever. And to this day, I cling to the belief that had she gotten help I would have stood by her side thru it all. Her denial was too strong, however, and everything was my fault as her projections were overwhelming.

    I give you credit for admitting you have the disorder and facing it head-on. Unfortunately those that don’t are cowards and, quite frankly, emotional vampires and flat out assholes. Sorry to use such a strong word, but that is how I see it thru first hand experience. Sad, but true. Ironically, if she came to me today with a sense of humility and a strong desire to get help I would pick up the pieces and do everything to make us whole. Unfortunately, she still does not think she has a problem. It is heartbreaking.

    • Lola
      Jun 20, 2013 @ 17:01:43

      I’m sorry you’re going through such a difficult situation with the mother of your child, Kelly. I agree that someone who doesn’t acknowledge that she has BPD (or any other Personality Disorder) and doesn’t make an effort to deal with it in a good way can be very hard to impossible to live with. I think that’s where the “have healthy boundaries” thing is very important, unfortunately (as well as heartbreaking, yes 😦 ). Sometimes that means that you can’t live with someone or need to protect children from someone. I’m glad that you’re protecting your daughter.

  19. Kelly
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 17:47:12

    Thanks for the empathy.

    If mom is in denial and is going through all this chaos knowing that I will be taking her back to court for full custody (not to mention pressing invasion of privacy felony charges for installing eblaster spyware on my computer and invading my email accounts and back account), how is she processing all this? She is still stalking me (I have file almost 10 police reports against her in the past 18 months), and when one of my friends sees her I always hear the same thing—she looks pale and has lost considerable weight (and yes, history of cutting–scars are there–and eating issues).

    I pray for her but I know I need to rescue my daughter–I can’t save mom at this point, although I would if there was a ray of hope to do so.

    Any insight as to how she is coping? What does she think/feel? I guess the empathetic side of me wants to relate on some level…..silly me.

    • Lola
      Jul 11, 2013 @ 12:31:54

      You’re welcome, Kelly. It’s always hard to tell how someone is feeling or what they think, but it sounds like she is struggling with her life. What exactly I can’t tell, obviously, but I would make an effort to not take it personally or feel too bad about not being able to save her, if I were in your place. But it’s hard. I wish you all the best. Take care!

  20. Aimz
    Jun 26, 2013 @ 19:48:20

    I have bpd too. Been suffering wi5h mental illnesses since the age of 4. But I had to deal with it by myself for 11 years. I started talking about my problems when I was 15. I’m now 18 and I came across this. It’s nice to feel like I’m not the only one. I live in a house with my mum and brother and there’s so much yelling in the household, that I drink to get by.

    • Lola
      Jul 06, 2013 @ 08:12:21

      Hi Aimz,

      thanks for leaving a comment. I’m sorry you’re struggling with BPD, too. Living in a household with lots of yelling etc. is really hard. Maybe you can try to find a way to find yourself a healthier living environment? If that’s not possible at the moment, do know that you are not alone and also that you are not doomed to a lifetime of misery. It’s a tough struggle at times and it can be sprinkled with setbacks and awful moments, but there is also lots out there that is worth fighting and improving for.

      Sending you good vibes! Take care! xx
      Lola

  21. Brenda Rodriguez
    Jul 01, 2013 @ 14:51:29

    My husband has BPD its good to know how he feels.

  22. pleasehelp
    Jul 02, 2013 @ 17:59:00

    Hi Lola,

    Your website has been very helpful for me in understanding more about the behaviour of my BPD friend yet I have a couple of questions, if you’re be kind enough to answer them, i’d appreciate the help.

    Firstly, how do i respond when/if my BPD gets in contact with me again, acting all hyper and as if nothing has happened? (I’ve been split black twice before, both the times I was super caring towards her when she split me white again- the only difference is that I assume that this TIME around she’ll contact me through facebook, so what exactly do i say to her? Mind you, i love her to bits and I want to support her in all possible ways)

    Second, the explaination that she gave me for splitting me black both the times was that “she got bored of me” and that “I hate talking about myself, it makes me frustrated, I couldn’t take that out on myself so I took it out on u”

    This third time I had been very frank with her and always cracked jokes and didnt talk about her personal feelings at all (unless she herself brought them up, in which case I’d listen, I thought we had a break through in making things work) so my question is if/when she gets in touch again, what do i do? should I talk to her about her feelings or not or just stick to being a good listener?

    I would like to mention that our contact is limited to facebook mainly on which im blocked. i will get to meet up with her soon (Im hoping she’ll contact me through fb prior to that). What do i do? the more I read about it or try to catch on clues, the more lost i become.

    Thanks

    • Lola
      Jul 06, 2013 @ 07:49:12

      Hi pleasehelp,

      I’m glad you found my blog helpful. As for your questions, it’s really hard for me to answer them, because I don’t know your friend and everyone is different. So what works great for me may work awfully for your friend. In general I can’t emphasise enough how important having healthy boundaries yourself is. I know that I have a strong tendency to wreak havoc on people who don’t provide firm ground in the sense that I know exactly and reliably where they stand and what their position is. If I notice people being “squishy”, trying this and trying that, being one way today and taking another direction tomorrow, it makes me feel afraid (and it makes me feel superior, I’m afraid to say, because I can sense that they’re at a loss) and I try hard to push them any way I want them to. Not because I have ill intentions, but because I can’t cope well with this kind of insecurity, with feeling like they’re even weaker than I am. So I can really only recommend everyone to figure out what their boundaries are. What are you willing and able to put up with? What won’t you put up with? How are you going to realistically and reliably react to behavior you won’t put up with? Etc. Figuring all those things out, finding out what suits yourself, your personality, your own coping abilities and those of the person you’re dealing with is really the most helpful thing to do, in my opinion. But really, I’m no shrink or anything. I’m just saying what’s good for me, because that’s all I know about. Sorry I can’t give you any more specific ideas.

      I wish you all the best, though. Good luck with the situation and take care. xx
      Lola

  23. pleasehelp
    Jul 02, 2013 @ 18:10:25

    Also, whenever she splits me black, is having someone else, a replacement a must?

    And BPD is characterized by the “I hate you, dont leave me” notion, then what is the no contact policy all about? is it some sort of a punishment or wanting their personal space or?

  24. marietta
    Jul 03, 2013 @ 14:41:15

    This helped- I feel like I cant win nomattr what I say or do relating to my BPD relative. My counselor thinks the whole fam has it as well as other disorders. I don’t have it but theyve just about destroyed me with all their anger rage meanness and ugly vicious behavior.
    If I back off they say I don’t care and if im around theyre cold and act like they don’t even want me there. I feel like saying F you and erasjng them.

    • Lola
      Jul 06, 2013 @ 07:36:24

      Hi Marietta,
      I’m glad if what I wrote helped. For people dealing with others who have BPD the boundaries are important. It can be very hard, especially when you’re not working at it together, but having healthy boundaries is what keeps people healthy, in my experience. I wish you all the best.
      Lola

  25. wuweigranola
    Jul 05, 2013 @ 12:50:35

    Thanks for sharing your “own, personal take on what [you] appreciate in people who deal with [your] BPD symptoms. Maybe it can help someone who has a relationship with someone who has BPD.” So many things you describe have happened to my wife and I, and I things clicked with me in your list, such as not being imposing and standing in the doorway. I’ve wanted to talk with my wife before, but this was not the way to get her to communicate.
    There were many other suggestions on your list that are helpful. I will have to remember all these things best I can. Thanks for your honesty and sharing.

    • Lola
      Jul 06, 2013 @ 07:34:06

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad my list was helpful to you. I wish and your wife all the best and that together you can find a way to make it work and to have a good life. Keep on trying and keep learning.
      Take care,
      Lola

  26. achurch
    Jul 06, 2013 @ 21:32:46

    Hi Lola, first I wanted to thank you for posting this, and your blog in general. I’ve only recently found it during my search for information about BPD. I’ve entered into a relationship with someone who displays the symptoms of BPD and I’ve been really concerned lately. I really care about them, but it’s been very difficult. Reading this has helped me realize ways I can be more supportive to them.
    I also wanted to ask your opinion on something… See, I don’t think that my partner fully realizes he has BPD, but it is painfully obvious to those closest to him. I’m afraid to confront him on the matter, but I think he might need some help beyond my support. Do you have any advice for how I can go about this? Thanks

    • Lola
      Jul 11, 2013 @ 12:23:25

      Thank you for your reply, achurch. I’m happy if I could help you. As for your question, it’s a hard one. It’s difficult to tell someone you think they have BPD, especially if this person is likely to get defensive and aggressive about it. I don’t have any advice I can shake out of my sleeve, but I will think about it and once I have collected some thoughts I’ll write a blog post on the issue.

  27. pleasehelp
    Jul 07, 2013 @ 20:02:00

    thank u for ur input Lola, i’ll work on setting healthy boundaries and learn more about BPD in general..

    • Lola
      Jul 08, 2013 @ 06:19:37

      You’re welcome, pleasehelp, and I thinking working on setting healthy boundaries and keeping on learning are a really good start. The best of luck to you. Take care! xx

  28. wernerfamilyacademy
    Jul 14, 2013 @ 04:11:56

    I thnk this is a GREAT list! From some of your comments I assume you are still quite young. I wish I had the insight into BPD when I was you age and could articulate it so well to others. I’m 42 and I still have trouble explaining this crappy disease to people. Sadly I have pushed a lot of good people away for no good reason other than fear of them eventually leaving. I just wanted you to know I’m so proud of you and your progress! You will go far! Best of luck!!! ❤

    • Lola
      Jul 14, 2013 @ 13:16:32

      Thank you for your kind words! 🙂 I’m glad you liked the list. Yes, I’m still young. I’m lucky that I have found a great family and a mom who help me understand and cope with my issues. I wish you all the best and take care!! ❤

  29. Andy
    Jul 15, 2013 @ 00:52:54

    Hello Lola. I have stumbled across your blog.

    I believe my ex has BPD. I broke up with her nearly 3 years ago, but I still think about her and miss her. That’s why I’m here.

    During our relationship she did a number on me. That’s an understatement. One school year she was suicidal, and I spent the school year dropping everything and running to her every plea. She never attempted suicide, or did anything close that I knew of.

    The next year she created a cult centered around me. It is hard for me to talk about this, but it lasted for about a year as well, and ended.

    She struggled with having basically no self-esteem, a permanent identity crisis even to the point of changing her handwriting.

    I tried to soothe her. I made my life about her, but she still always found something to be upset about.

    She wanted all of my attention, every moment, to the point of not letting me have family or friends. One time she took sleeping pills and said she couldn’t bear to be around unless I was with her. She slept almost 3 whole days. Her mother was scared, furious… she blamed me… but I swear she knew it wasn’t my fault…

    When talking with her mother’s boyfriend she jumped out a 2nd or 3rd story window. She said if I was there to protect her she wouldn’t have. It made me feel awful, of course.

    Despite this, and more, I miss her. I don’t know why. We had a passionate affair. You’d think I wouldn’t, and I don’t miss the abuse. But something else, I guess I do.

    I never wanted it to be over, but I just couldn’t let things be like this. I tried to tell her I thought she had BPD, but she wouldn’t listen.

    I stay away because logically, I think it’s best. Emotionally, I miss her so much. She was all I had for so many years. She made it that way.

    I wonder how she feels about me. I wonder what could be done.

    Do you have any advice? Thanks.

    Andy

    • Lola
      Jul 31, 2013 @ 07:41:23

      Hello Andy, I’m sorry to hear you struggled with your last relationship and that you’re torn between missing her and needing to protect yourself from the dysfunctionality. Being with someone who has BPD and isn’t aware of it or not willing to do some serious work, too, can be hard. I’m afraid I don’t have any general advice, as everyone is different and what works beautifully for one person can be really bad for another. Maybe working on yourself so you can find out why you feel drawn to her and what it is that you are seeking for emotionally and how you could get this in a healthy relationship might be a good start, though?

  30. Heather
    Jul 30, 2013 @ 21:41:44

    Oh yea because when dealing with a borderline it’s so easy to care how your coming across to them when they couldgive two shits about you! The only way to deal with a borderline is to leave their abusive ass. That will get them back for the tremendous hurt and chaos they bring into your life because they all have massive abandment issues. After coming in contact and being abused by many borderlines I have no respect for these filthy people, they are dangerous and should be avoided ! They are nothing but emotional feeding predators who don’t deserve to be understood or dealt with as this article suggests.

    • Lola
      Jul 31, 2013 @ 05:10:46

      I’m sorry you have had such negative experiences that make you feel that way, Heather, but even so I believe it is extremely rude to come to someone’s blog – someone who has BDP and is doing her best to deal with it somehow – and basically say ‘sorry, but everyone with BPD is a dangerous asshole, all anyone can do is get the hell out’. Believe it or not, that’s the kind of black and white thinking people with BPD themselves are prone to, and making generalizing statements like this that assume that everyone with BPD is the same is NOT healthy and it is NOT what a mature, psychologically capable person would do.

      It’s one thing saying “I found this was too much for me and healthy boundaries for me meant I could not be with people who have BPD”. That’s cool. Go for it, or rather don’t. It’s hard and it’s definitely not for everyone, and I am well aware that there are people with BPD, especially undiagnosed ones or ones who aren’t aware of the fact that they need to try really hard, too, to deal with the effects of BPD, who can be hard or impossible to live with at times. Sometimes ‘have healthy boundaries’ means, ‘get out of the relationship and stay out’. But what kind of boundaries are necessary and healthy varies with who is involved.

      The same things are not the case for EVERYONE. There are people with BPD who are trying their best to improve. People with BPD who are working their asses off in therapy to get on top of their behavior, to gain insight in the way they tick and who struggle every day to get to a point where BPD doesn’t rule their life and the lives of the people they live with anymore. There also are people like my mom, who are able to deal with living with someone who has BPD without letting themselves be emotionally damaged by it.

      As an aside, I believe everyone deserves to be understood, because believe it or not, even when someone with BPD inflicts pain and damage on other people, it is not because they are those evil non-humans, but because they are people like everyone else is who have been hurt in major ways themselves and who are trying their best to live their lives in the best way they know how. If someone with BPD had the choice to live a happy and adjusted life, trust me, they’d do it. Nobody gets up in the morning and thinks ‘my, I really want to make myself the miserablest I can be today and take everyone else with me’ if they have a real choice to behave otherwise. That’s not an excuse for the behavior, and that’s not saying that people should let themselves be abused because someone with BPD has got a good reason, but it’s saying that everyone deserves the same respect, even when ultimately you are unable to deal with their behavior and need to keep yourself safe by terminating your relationship to them. Being rude and respectless about it is just as emotionally immature as the behavior you’re trying to get away from.

  31. Travis
    Aug 15, 2013 @ 01:40:08

    I dated someone from work who later I found out has BPD. For most guys the verbal abuse can be tough but reckless sex and lying end up being the deal breakers. Emotional vampires indeed. Never did have sex because her sexual aggressiveness in the beginning was a warning sign. I had my health to think about and did not want to give my soul in the process of going that far. I feel bad for anyone who has this disorder I truly do as its extremely hard to live a normal life. Having said that I feel good that I was probably the one guy who did not take advantage of her even though she thinks otherwise. Do BPD women actually care more for a guy who does not sleep with them? Or remember them over other guys who do? I often wonder. I told her from the beginning I only had pure attentions unfortunately the feelings were not mutual. My advice is like the previous reply above that if your unable to deal with the behavior walk away. I did but I look at the positives as I did learn a lot not only about the disorder but also about myself. Indeed education is key. Thank you for your blog!

    • travis
      Sep 17, 2013 @ 02:13:56

      back from vacation? need your response please.

    • Lola
      Sep 18, 2013 @ 07:53:23

      Hi Travis. 🙂

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with the emotional aftermath of dating the girl from work. Relationships are tricky for someone with BPD and in order for them to work it seems to require a lot of mutual effort and especially if someone with BPD is not ready for this, it’s hard to make it work. I’m glad you didn’t take advantage of her.

      It’s hard to say if BPD women in general care more for a guy who does not sleep with them or remember them over the guys who do. BPD is only one part that makes up the person and there are so many other factors that play into who we care for and who we remember that I’m afraid it’s impossible to tell. Maybe she remembers that you were not taking advatage of her and will value it in the future like by remembering that not all men are only too happy to take what they can get regardless of how they come by it and who they take it from. Maybe she just noticed that you didn’t fit her patterns and didn’t go with what she expected and filed you under ‘weird guy’ and that was that. But no matter what she did, you should be proud of yourself for not taking advantage of her because that’s a great thing that sets you apart from many other guys and makes you a good person.

      I wish you good luck. 🙂

  32. travis
    Aug 18, 2013 @ 01:12:54

    Hi what happened to my comments? I was respectful.

    • Lola
      Aug 19, 2013 @ 05:44:01

      No worries, travis, your comment is still here, waiting for my reply. 🙂 I am on vacation at the moment and only checking in briefly, but will reply when I’m back.

      Lola

  33. Martha
    Aug 30, 2013 @ 16:13:52

    Lola, thank you so much for your thoughtful articulation. I have found this list to be extremely helpful and comforting. Thanks again!

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