By Bharat Hegde
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental illness where individuals experience constant shifts in their perception of the world. This leaves them scared and defensive. Emotional instability in their lives is the governing factor for individuals with BPD. This can manifest into unstable relationships, mood swings, anxious thinking, behavior, and even an unstable sense of identity.
Among other signs and symptoms, serious relationship problems are an important characteristic of BPD. Individuals living with BPD have intense and unstable relationships marked by frequent flickering between extreme dependency and sudden withdrawal. Other symptoms of BPD like suicidal and impulsive behavior can also bring about stress in relationships.
Idealization and disillusionment about perceived relationship with a partner
Individuals with BPD tend to idealize their partners and put them on a ‘pedestal’. Doing this allows them to believe, however fleetingly, that they have found their soulmate. The problems arise when reality doesn’t match up to their idealized version of the partner.
People with BPD think in binaries. They believe people are either good or bad. Once they start realizing that the partner is imperfect, their idealized image comes crashing down. They struggle to come to terms with reality and the fact that people make mistakes.
Individuals with BPD tend to have poor emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence helps you monitor your emotions, and the emotions of people around you, and helps guide your social interactions. Most people with BPD have problems with empathy as well.
Disagreements in interpersonal relationships occur due to repeated negative emotional experiences in their lives. This leads to anger which is mostly manifested towards self and others in the form of invalidating their care and concern. It also leads to feelings of emptiness, a sense of void, and sadness.
These tendencies can be inherited from parents. People suffering from BPD usually develop anxious attachment styles in their childhood. Family life, family members, and environment play a major role in this. Impulsive aggression is so strong and overwhelming that it can become difficult to control and contain. This impulsiveness turns into barriers that prevent a person with BPD from forming close and trusting relationships with their partner.
Individuals who have BPD are overly sensitive to rejection in addition to fearing abandonment from their loved ones. They would anticipate anxiously, to see if their partners would leave them; constantly doubting them in this process. Once they sense or perceive rejection, they react strongly to it regardless of whether that rejection is present in reality or not. Hence small misunderstandings end up being amplified.
Individuals diagnosed with BPD display symptoms relating to erratic sexual behavior and struggle with issues of sexuality. They are more likely to engage in reckless sexual behaviors. They also tend to have negative attitudes towards sex and would be more prone to sexual promiscuity.
A large reason for this behavior is due to unfortunate experiences in childhood such as sexual abuse. Individuals who have negative attitudes towards sex are likely to feel pressured into having sex and would be ambivalent about sex.
The reason for sexual promiscuity and reckless sexual behaviors is to combat feelings of emptiness and loneliness associated with BPD. They would also engage in these behaviors when they experience intense negative emotions like jealousy, sadness, or fear of abandonment.
Fear of abandonment is a prominent symptom of BPD. Individuals are terrified of being abandoned by their partners and this leads to feelings of desperation and devastation. An unhealthy relationship or break-up could even lead to people with BPD threatening partners not to leave through suicidal behavior.
The stigma around symptoms of BPD is high compared to other personality disorders. This stigma manifests in the form of mockery, making fun of the maladaptive coping mechanisms associated with BPD. Unfortunately, even in relationships, individuals with BPD are judged for their emotional vulnerabilities by their partners. This may be due to stereotyping of people with BPD. This reinforces their negative social cognitions in interpersonal relationships. Maintaining a relationship with someone who suffers from BPD is very much possible, but requires effort and care on the partner’s part.
The key to having healthy relationships is to cope with BPD symptoms and supporting a person suffering from BPD. Seeking help for your partner from mental health professionals through various therapies is also beneficial. For BPD treatment options, call us now on +91 9611194949.