How To Cope When Someone You Love Has BPD

someone you love has bpd

This becomes clear if you can see beyond their hurtful words and volatile behavior, and look at their body language— the screaming, the shrinking, the shaking. They may say things that they later regret, just like children might throw a tantrum when they do not get their way.

It is hard to remain calm when you are attacked. But imagining that you are dealing with a hurt child may help. Just like a child, they have not yet learned the language to express their wants and needs, so the screaming and shouting is a cry for help.

See if you can take a step back and think about the emotional needs that are behind the surface behaviors. You may then see deep longings that come from deprivation in their past.

Try to remember that your loved ones’ behaviors are often there to shield them from intense emotional pain, not to hurt or manipulate you. The biggest skill you can develop when loving someone with BPD is to transcend beyond the immediate situation and see the pain behind the reactions, and the love behind the conflicts. 

Loving Someone With BPD With Kind But Firm Boundaries

Being compassionate and seeing someone’s inner child does not mean you have to be a doormat or tolerate abuse. Loving someone with BPD does not mean being a yes-person all the time. 

There is a middle ground in which you can set healthy boundaries with compassion. Just like when you are dealing with a young person, you can be loving but firm at the same time.

Trying to reason with someone in the heat of the moment is often not possible, but you do not have to use logic and reason, you simply have to firmly and calmly reiterate your bottom line.

As much as possible, don’t walk away. Leaving them on their own may be the worst fuel for their fear of abandonment. See if you can start by clearly stating consequences in a non-punishing way, for instance, you may say: “I understand you feel ____, and I want to be here for you. But if you continue to shout or throw things, I will have to leave the room for five minutes.” Don’t pose an empty threat, and execute what you say. At the same time, don’t aim to punish or counter-attack.

Later, when they come back to calm and can have an adult conversation with you, sit down together to make a plan.

A good ‘crisis plan’ involves identifying their worst triggers, what could support them during those times, and what not to do. This is not just about them— you can also state your needs, and you can negotiate. The goal of this exercise is to plan ahead, so both of your needs are met and honored.

Related: Loving Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder

Loving Someone With BPD While Honouring Yourself

Loving someone with BPD should not mean you lose yourself. You may love them, you may feel bad for what they have to go through, but you cannot save them.

You may feel manipulated, resentful, or guilty, but being locked into an unhealthy relationship dance with them is not going to resolve anything.

You are your own person, and they are theirs. Loving someone with BPD should not lead to codependency.  You can never go back to erase their painful past, nor could you be their savior. Please do not blame yourself for not being able to rescue. You can be their best ally and supporter, but you are not responsible for their healing or growth.

If you feel resentful about being in this relationship, remember it is your choice to stay or leave. If you choose to stay, try not to punish them for your decision.

Some people say BPD can never be ‘cured’, but this is not true. Research after research, story after story, have proven otherwise.

Even though they can be challenging to be with, many people with BPD are highly empathic, intuitive, loving, and powerful. Loving someone with BPD requires strengths and skills, but it comes with its own gifts and reward. 

If you decide to walk this journey together, your love and commitment will help them heal. And the reward at the end of this road will be worth it.

Written by IMI LO

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Living with BPD day after day can be mentally and emotionally exhausting, and this stands true even for the people close to them. Yes, dealing with your loved one’s BPD might seem impossible sometimes, but you need to be there for them so that they can fight this. Make sure that they know how much you love them, and that you are not going anywhere, and see how it helps them in the long run.

How To Cope When Someone You Love Has BPD
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How To Cope When Someone You Love Has BPD
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Imi Lo

Imi Lo is a consultant for emotionally intense and highly sensitive people. She is the author of Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity, available in multiple languages, and The Gift of Intensity. Imi is the founder of Eggshell Therapy and Coaching, working with intense people from around the world. Imi has practiced as a social worker and therapist in London (U.K). She has trained in mental health, psychotherapy, art therapy, philosophical counseling, and mindfulness-based modalities. She works holistically, combining psychological insights with Eastern and Western philosophies such as Buddhism. Imi’s credentials include a Master in Mental Health, Master of Buddhist Studies, Graduate Diploma in Psychology, Bachelor of Social Science in Social Work, Certificate in Logic-based Therapy, and an Advanced Diploma in Contemporary Psychotherapy. She has received multiple scholarships and awards including the Endeavour Award by the Australian Government. She has been consulted by and appeared in publications such as The Psychologies Magazine, The Telegraph, Marie Claire,and The Daily Mail.View Author posts