Walk away if you need to give yourself time and space to cool down.
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Seek to distract your loved one when emotions rise. Try exercising, sipping hot tea, listening to music, grooming a pet, painting, gardening, or completing household chores. Talk about things other than the disorder.
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Discussions about light subjects can help to diffuse the conflict between you and may encourage your loved one to discover new interests or resume old hobbies. If you believe your loved one is at an immediate risk for suicide Do NOT leave the person alone. One of the most effective ways to help a loved one with BPD gain control over his or her behavior is to set and enforce healthy limits or boundaries.
Setting limits can help your loved one better handle the demands of the outside world, where schools, work, and the legal system, for example, all set and enforce strict limits on what constitutes acceptable behavior. Establishing boundaries in your relationship can replace the chaos and instability of your current situation with an important sense of structure and provide you with more choices about how to react when confronted by negative behavior.
Setting boundaries is not a magic fix for a relationship, though. In fact, things may initially get worse before they get better.
The person with BPD fears rejection and is sensitive to any perceived slight. But, remaining firm and standing by your decisions can be empowering to you, benefit your loved one, and ultimately transform your relationship.
Helping Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder
Decide what behavior you will and will not tolerate from the person and make those expectations clear. Even if this is the case with your loved one, you can still offer support, improve communication, and set boundaries while continuing to encourage your friend or family member to seek professional help. BPD therapies, such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy DBT and schema-focused therapy, can help your loved one work through their relationship and trust issues and explore new coping techniques, learning how to calm the emotional storm and self-soothe in healthy ways.
Your partner may more readily agree to this and eventually consider pursuing BPD therapy in the future. Encourage your loved one to explore healthy ways of handling stress and emotions by practicing mindfulness, employing relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, meditation, or sensory-based stimulation to relieve stress in the moment.
Again, you can participate in any of these therapies with your loved one, which can strengthen your bond and may encourage them to pursue other avenues of treatment as well.
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By developing an ability to tolerate distress, your loved one can learn how to press pause when the urge to act out or behave impulsively strikes. Change can and does happen but, as with reversing any kind of behavior pattern, it takes time. Borderline Personality Disorder Resource Center. National Institute of Mental Health. Out of the Fog. Calmly reassure the person with BPD when setting limits. I need you to make this change for me.
Tips for Couples Living With Borderline Personality Disorder | Everyday Health
Think of setting boundaries as a process rather than a single event. Instead of hitting your loved one with a long list of boundaries all at once, introduce them gradually, one or two at a time. One minute the person with BPD may idealize their partner and feel very close to him or her and the next, the person with BPD can get angry and put down his or her partner whether the partner did something wrong or failed to do something desired.
Surrency and other experts say that despite the challenges BPD can bring to a relationship, communication skills and self-care are important for both partners. Here are some other tips for partners dealing with BPD: Learning as much as possible about BPD can increase empathy in a partnership. Seeking support from a mental health counselor or therapist — separately or as a couple — can help people affected by BPD gain insight, communicate more effectively, resolve conflict, and strengthen their relationships. Weighing the Pros and Cons. Nothing is gray or gradual.
For people with BPD, things are black and white. They have the quintessential Jekyll and Hyde personality. They fluctuate dramatically between idealizing and devaluing you and may suddenly and sporadically shift throughout the day. You never know what or whom to expect. They can be vindictive and punish you with words, silence, or other manipulations, which can be very destructive to your self-esteem. What you see is their norm. Their emotions, behavior, and unstable relationships, including work history, reflect a fragile, shame-based self-image.
This is often marked by sudden shifts, sometimes to the extent that they feel nonexistent. For them, trust is always an issue, often leading to distortions of reality and paranoia. They may try to bait you into anger, then falsely accuse you of rejecting them, make you doubt reality and your sanity, or even brainwash you as emotional manipulation. It is not unusual for them to cut off friends and relatives who they feel have betrayed them.
They react to their profound fears of abandonment with needy and clingy behavior or anger and fury that reflect their own skewed reality and self-image.
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In a close relationship, they must walk a tightrope to balance the fear of being alone or of being too close. To do so, they try to control with commands or manipulation, including flattery and seduction. Whereas narcissists enjoy being understood, too much understanding frightens the borderline. Generally, borderlines are codependent, and find another codependent to merge with and to help them. They seek someone to provide stability and balance their changeable emotions.
A codependent or narcissist who acts self-sufficient and controls his or her feelings can provide a perfect match. The person with BPD may appear to be the underdog in the relationship, while his or her partner is the steady, needless and caretaking top dog.
Distorted Borderline Perceptions and Damaging Patterns
They each exercise control in different ways. The non-BPD may do it through caretaking.
Passion and intense emotions are enlivening to the person without BPD, who finds being alone depressing or experiences healthy people as boring.
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