BPD Love: Dating Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder

June 25, 2021

On their own, relationships are challenging. This is especially true during the teen years when many are exploring first loves, first bosses, and the other difficulties that come with forging new and lasting relationships throughout high school and beyond. Having a mental health condition that leads to frequent changes in emotions and mood adds a certain amount of difficulty to maintaining successful relationships. People with borderline personality disorder or BPD often have rocky, complicated relationships. This applies to both their personal relationships such as boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, or wives, as well as platonic relationships such as those with siblings and family. Romantic relationships, while indeed possible, present a unique set of challenges for both the individual with BPD and their romantic partners. 

As previously mentioned, someone with borderline personality disorder experiences frequent shifts (sometimes dramatic shifts) in the mood. One minute they may be doting, affectionate, and caring, but the next, their emotional state may change. They may suddenly feel overwhelmed and smothered and feel the need to getaway. This can lead them to push their partner away even though they had been working to draw them closer a few hours ago. With treatment at a teen-focused treatment center like Hillcrest and continual support from family and romantic partners, someone with BPD can have a successful, lasting, healthy relationship.

Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder or BPD is a mental health condition that affects how someone processes everyday emotions and reactions. A teen with borderline personality disorder is often impulsive and frequently emotionally unstable. They may alternate between intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety, sometimes unable to maintain one emotion for more than a few hours. Depending on the individual and their unique symptoms, these episodes of mood fluctuations can last several hours. They are often followed by a more stable period that may last for a day or two. Unfortunately, stable periods can sometimes be followed by volatile periods also lasting several days. The inability to predict or control the frequency of mood changes often negatively affects the person’s work, physical health, and relationships. A teen with a borderline personality disorder is also prone to accidents, fights, and sometimes self-harm. 

A teen with BPD will struggle to maintain a state of  “emotional neutral.” When something exciting or positive happens, they often experience greater joy for more extended periods than would traditionally be expected. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. When something negative or bad happens, they have difficulty bouncing back from deep periods of depression and anger. For family, friends, and romantic partners, these emotional highs and lows seem chaotic and unpredictable. This, unfortunately, leads to romantic relationships that are conflict-filled and sometimes too intense for both parties. 

Borderline Personality Disorder and Romantic Partners

Teen relationships are often bumpy. A romantic relationship with a teen with borderline personality disorder can be even more so. It is not uncommon for these relationships to be wrought with turmoil and sometimes dysfunctional. However, it is important to note that this is true of all relationships where borderline personality disorder is involved. The rocky characteristics of BPD relationships are not reserved simply for adolescents and teens. Despite the challenges, however, a teen with BPD can be exceptionally caring, affectionate, and deeply compassionate. They may also be very physical in their relationships (lovingly physical) in eager to spend as much time as possible with their partners. 

While some people may be eager for this level of attachment, it is also important to note that it comes with difficulties. Someone with BPD is often sensitive to abandonment or rejection. They are often hyper-focused on perceived signs (even if misguided or misunderstood) that their romantic interest is not happy or could find a reason to leave them. When someone with BPD believes they sense a change in their partner’s feelings, even if only imagined, they often withdraw or retreat from the relationship. They may become angry or hostile over things that someone without borderline personality disorder would not consider significant.

For the partner without BPD, these emotional twists and turns can become challenging to manage. Sometimes they can lead to dangerous behavior by the partner with BPD that puts their partner at risk or unfortunate public outburst that makes their partner uncomfortable. However, a supportive and stable partner often positively affects the emotional ups and downs of summerwood BPD. It usually requires work on the part of both partners. However, long-term, healthy, loving relationships in marriages are possible for someone with a borderline personality disorder. With treatment and a strong support network, teens and adults with BPD can find the emotional stability necessary to maintain healthy relationships. Although treatment at Hillcrest will not cure borderline personality disorder, it is possible to learn to better cope with symptoms in manage reactions in ways that are not as harmful to the individual, their partner, or their relationships.

Treating Borderline Personality Disorder

Treatment for borderline personality disorder involves a combination approach that is designed to provide comprehensive care. The most common treatments for borderline personality disorder include therapies and medications.

Dialectical behavioral therapy or DBT is the most commonly used therapy model for teens and other individuals with borderline personality disorder. During therapy sessions, a mental health provider will help your teen learn healthier, safer ways to respond to emotional situations using reason and judgment. Dialectical behavioral therapy sessions aim to reduce so-called black and white thinking or the belief that everything is either one way or another way, but there is no middle ground. This is a common belief system for many people with borderline personality disorder. Learning to manage these thoughts and work on a successful way to find a “happy medium” in their thought process can help teens with BPD have happier, more successful relationships both romantically and with family and friends.

Depending on your teen’s unique symptoms and treatment needs and goals, their treatment team at Hillcrest may also suggest medication as part of their treatment program. Currently, the Federal Food and Drug Administration has not provided an approved medicine to treat borderline personality disorder. However, antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, and certain antipsychotics may help reduce the intensity and severity of some symptoms. With these symptoms better managed, it is possible for your teen to completely immerse themselves in therapy and begin their journey towards overcoming BPD symptoms.

It is crucial to note that self-harm and even suicidal ideations are symptoms of borderline personality disorder. If your teen begins showing signs of self-harm or suicidal ideations (attempting or openly discussing suicide), it is crucial to seek medical help immediately. Once the emergency has passed, your medical provider will refer your teen to a teen-focused treatment center like Hillcrest for further support and treatment.

Improving Relationships when BPD is Involved

If your teen or their partner has a borderline personality disorder, there are multiple ways to cope with and better manage the cycles of emotions which are the hallmark symptoms of BPD. 

First, learn more about borderline personality disorder. Part of caring for a partner with BPD understands what they are experiencing to better help them manage their symptoms. It is necessary to understand the severity of their emotional ups and downs so that the partner without BPD can react in a way that protects both partners. It is also important to offer emotional support to the partner with BPD as they may feel isolated due to past relationship failures. 

Offer understanding and patience whenever possible. Finally, encourage your partner to (or decide for yourself) to seek professional help. Therapy in treatment add a mental health treatment center like Hillcrest can help you learn how to better process emotions and events that historically lead to changes in emotion and mood. Partners of someone with borderline personality disorder can also benefit from therapy as it provides a way to learn about and understand what their partner is going through. A professional can also help partners learn how to react to emotional changes and provide support to their partner during the ups and downs brought about by borderline personality disorder.

Teens who struggle with a mental health disorder are sometimes victims of the misguided concept that mental health struggles mean you cannot have happy, healthy relationships. People with borderline personality disorder are compassionate, caring individuals capable of having healthy, long-lasting relationships. It does take work; however, so do all relationships. With treatment, your teen can learn how to successfully manage their symptoms and gain healthier coping skills to address borderline personality disorder’s emotional ups and downs. Although lifelong challenges will remain, it is possible to have borderline personality disorder while still receiving love and being in love. If you are a parent who is concerned that their teen may have a borderline personality disorder, contact your primary care provider, or reach out to the team here at Hillcrest today to learn more about our treatment programs. 

At Hillcrest, a treatment provider skilled in the unique needs of teen-focused treatment will work with you and your family to design a treatment plan focused on your teen’s specific physical, psychological, and spiritual needs while they are here. During therapy, your teen will work on addressing the BPD symptoms that are the most detrimental to their individual health and the health of their relationships. Although therapy is not a “cure,” it can help your teen have successful relationships now and into adulthood.  A diagnosis of borderline personality disorder does not prohibit or limit one’s ability to have romantic relationships. Although the symptoms of BPD, such as mood swings, and emotional changes, can present challenges to a relationship, with therapy and understanding, both partners can successfully navigate their relationship challenges borderline personality disorder presents.



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