Can You Have a Healthy Relationship with Someone with BPD?

Can You Have a Healthy Relationship with Someone with BPD?

Living in a close relationship with someone who has borderline personality disorder (BPD) can blur the lines of what constitutes a healthy relationship. Individuals with BPD often create significant conflict and may engage in behaviours that are perceived as narcissistic. Here is a comparison of the hallmarks of healthy relationships versus behaviours typical of individuals with BPD.

Trust and Honesty

A cornerstone of a healthy relationship is mutual trust. Open and honest communication about feelings and expectations builds intimacy and security. Each partner feels confident in their knowledge of the other and trusts them with their deepest emotions. In contrast, dishonesty can quickly lead to relational breakdown. People with BPD may suddenly embarrass their partners in public, manipulate others (including children) against their partner and lie to friends and family to exert control.

Effective Communication

While everyone is taught language, only some learn to communicate effectively. In healthy relationships, both partners share intimate thoughts and emotions clearly and non-threateningly. They also understand non-verbal cues, adding depth to their communication. Conversely, individuals with BPD often need help with these social cues, either misinterpreting them or missing them entirely. This difficulty hampers their emotional regulation and non-verbal communication.

Can You Have a Healthy Relationship with Someone with BPD?

Mutual Respect

Mutual respect is essential in healthy relationships. Embracing differences, allowing personal preferences, and valuing these differences demonstrate regard for each other. Healthy relationships do not expect one partner to change to suit the other. The golden rule of treating others as one wishes to be treated ensures smooth relationships. However, individuals with BPD may demand excessive attention and admiration, cruelly disparage their partner, and alternate between idealising and devaluing them. This creates a one-sided dynamic with unpredictable behaviour.

Individuality and Unity

Healthy relationships balance a sense of oneness with individuality, including personal time. Partners in strong relationships look out for each other’s best interests and persevere through tough times. They recognise that problems are rarely one person’s fault and avoid keeping a record of past wrongs. These aspects can be particularly challenging for someone with BPD.

Relationships are not necessarily doomed when one partner has BPD, but it is crucial to be aware of the tendencies associated with the disorder. Both parties should strive towards the goal of a healthy relationship, keeping in mind the essential elements of trust, communication, respect, and balance. By focusing on these hallmarks, partners can work towards building a more stable and fulfilling relationship despite the challenges posed by BPD.

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