It can be very difficult to be in a romantic relationship with someone with a borderline personality disorder. For anyone with this condition, it can be hard to understand how others experience their often erratic and risky behaviour, and they can lash out when anyone tries to rein them in, not realising on any level how much they are hurting the people they care about most.
However, there are many coping mechanisms that can make life with someone with borderline personality disorder a lot easier, and help them move towards a happier, healthier future in which they are better equipped with the behavioural tools they need to manage their relationships more effectively.
How to establish boundaries
First of all, if you suspect that someone you love might have borderline personality disorder, they should see a psychologist or psychotherapist who can carry out a diagnosis, and help them to develop some coping skills that will make it easier for them to manage their condition. Support them by telling them that you know how hard it can be to confront emotional problems, and that it is brave and wise to seek out therapy. The first step is acknowledging that there is a problem, and giving it a name.
You can also support your loved one at home by gaining a greater understanding of their symptoms, which might include mood swings, problems with temper, and expressing a deep fear of rejection or abandonment. If they are in the midst of an emotional crisis, do whatever you can to maintain a calm environment at home that will make it easier for them to manage their symptoms. If important issues need to be discussed, wait until the crisis has dissipated, and communicate with them then. When they are calm, invite them to engage in dialogue about what is happening in their life to cause them to feel as they do, and try to discuss the impact of their behaviour on you in a non-judgemental way, if possible.
Whatever happens, respect your own need to be safe. If your loved one is lashing out at you verbally or physically, take whatever steps you need to ensure your own well-being before you to try to help them. You can’t help them unless you are also in a safe space! If your relationship is going to survive and thrive, you both need to be cared for and well.
Remember the advice given to any airline passenger: In case of turbulence, take care of yourself before turning to those who are more vulnerable. The same applies to those who love, and live with, people with borderline personality disorder. For many in this situation, they may themselves find it useful to attend therapy, as living with someone with this condition can be extremely challenging, and even cause us to doubt ourselves to the point whereby we can develop emotional ill-health. If both you and your loved one engage with the process of helping them to develop better coping mechanisms, your relationship will benefit immeasurably!
Where can I get help establishing boundaries with Borderline Personality Disorder?
For help establishing boundaries with Borderline Personality Disorder, speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.