You could argue that many people without BPD have unstable relationships and its nothing more than yourself trying to find the right ‘One’ or growing out a relationship. But that is not what this symptom is about. In short, with BPD you feel other people (like your friends, family members or partners) will simply abandon you when you most need them. While this fear is often unfounded and based on nothing more than your own mind splitting into black and white thinking. It often causes you to push everyone away, making any form of relationship possible. Let’s take a deeper look at what this symptom is and how you might learn to live with it…
What is the BPD Symptom of Unstable Relationships?
This symptom isn’t just about your relationship with loved ones, it is about ALL relationships. Be it with your friends, family members or just your work colleges. To put it simply it is the act of pushing people away when you really need them most. My own therapist once described people like myself with BPD as the Doctor Dolittle character ‘The pushmi-pullyu‘. One half of you wants to go one way, when the other half goes the other, with neither side talking to each other. So what happens is a daily battle between making essential relationships because you need people close to you, but pushing them away because you feel they will only walk away themselves when you need them most.
What Can Trigger the Symptom of Unstable Relationships?
While the simple explanation is our Black and White thinking (otherwise known as ‘Splitting’) it is a little more complicated than that. In fact, it has more to do with the symptom of ‘Fear of Abandonment‘ than anything else. Sadly just about anything can trigger it from someone not replying instantly to a message or simply someone changing their hairstyle. Of course, neither of those things means people will abandon you, but that is the way your brain thinks with BPD.
How Bad Can the Symptom of Unstable Relationships be?
Surly it just causes you to push people away right? No real harm then. Well…if only that was the case. There are two main things that happen when people suffer from this ‘unstable relationships’ symptom. The first one is yourself making frantic efforts to get them back on your side. You might start by phoning them, then it is phoning them a lot, then it is following them, nagging them to the point they ring the police and sadly that can be just the start of things. The other thing that happens is you often beat yourself up about what happened to the point that you start to self-harm or even to the point that you have suicidal thoughts.
How Can I Stop the Symptom of Unstable Relationships?
Because there are so many factors with the symptom there are also no easy answers as to how to stop yourself from doing it. How well you cope with the symptom of unstable relationships largely depends on the nature of your relationship and the person impacted by it. Someone who loves you deeply will often be more understanding (as long as you explain to them that you have BPD and that causes you to have unstable relationships with everyone)
The easiest way to deal with the symptom is to cultivate a lot of empathy for yourself. By reminding yourself that this is just part of having BPD and that it is neither intentional nor manipulative in any way. Try to talk to the other person involved and explain why you do what you do during a flare-up of this unstable relationships symptom.
If you are lucky enough to have access to therapy/counselling services do ask them about dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) as that will indeed help you to deal with these situations far better, even if they might still happen after years of that said therapy. Always remember that you can never really cure BPD, only learn to live with it.
Well, I hope this has answered your question. As always with any posts/pages on this site, we would love to hear from you in the comments below. Is this a question you wanted answering? Are there any questions you have relating to BPD that we have not covered? If so please leave a comment to if you want more privacy do please to get in touch with us via the Contact page.