Can There be Any Upsides to Being with a Partner with BPD?

The Surprising Upsides, Advantages, Benefits of Having a Partner with BPD

Partners suffering from BPD are not monsters. They are frequently chastised, marginalized, and stigmatized, yet the truth is they deserve love and compassion just as much as everyone else.

BPD, or borderline personality disorder, is a clinical diagnostic indicating that an individual has difficulties controlling their emotions. A person with BPD fluctuates between calm and anger, happiness and sadness, affection and coldness, and empathy and anger. Their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors can change at any time. Their powerful emotions can be provoked by any incident, regardless of its seeming insignificance.

BPD in itself is certainly not positive. But maybe being with someone with BPD is not such a bad thing. Many people with borderline personality disorder are intuitive, empathetic, passionate, spontaneous, resilient, creative, curious, intense, intelligent, and courageous. When they are not triggered, they can love deeply and are committed to their partner and family.

In this post, we will examine the full spectrum of what it is like to be in a relationship with someone with BPD, including not only the frequently reported negative aspects, but also the potential upsides to being with someone with BPD.

First, we’re highly sensitive to emotional stimuli (meaning we experience social dynamics, the environment, and our own inner states with an acuteness similar to having exposed nerve endings). Second, we respond more intensely and much more quickly, than other people. And third, we don’t ‘come down’ from our emotions for a long time. One the nerves have been touched, the sensations keep peaking. Shock waves of emotion that might pass through others in minutes keep cresting in us for hours, sometimes days.”
― Kiera Van Gelder

Potential Upsides to Having a Partner with BPD

If you have a spouse with BPD and and are overly influenced by what the world and the internet say, you may overlook the life-giving, highly intimate, and joyous aspects of your relationship. If you shift your focus from the negative to the potential positive traits your BPD-afflicted partner may have, you will appreciate your partner for who they are much more.

Below are ways in which your partner’s highly sensitive, empathetic, and intuitive traits might be translated into good things for your relationship.

High intelligence

Research indicates that BPD is linked to above-average intelligence (IQ > 130) and exceptional artistic talent (Carver, 1997). Because your partner with BPD is exceptionally bright, they digest information and discover answers to problems more quickly than the average person. Their intelligence makes them lonely, and if others do not comprehend things fast enough, they may get irritated. Their voracious curiosity and analytical rigor also make them remarkable partners. Conversation with them is intellectually engaging and broadens your perspective. A companion with a high IQ can also assist you in gaining new knowledge and expanding your horizons.

They understand your suffering

Someone with BPD knows hurt, loneliness, and emotional distress better than the average person. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of people with BPD do not lack empathy. In actuality, the opposite is true, some of them possess “too much” empathy. If their empathic nature is not properly managed and regulated, they may be constantly overloaded to the point of burnout.

Many individuals with BPD have a remarkable ability to sense unspoken emotions. Even if you haven’t directly communicated how you’re feeling, your partner may appear as though they are able to read your mind. In a study, thirty persons with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and twenty-five without BPD were shown partial photographs of people’s faces, specifically the eyes. The BPD group performed significantly better than the non-BPD group in correctly detecting the facial expressions, demonstrating heightened sensitivity to others’ mental states. So even if you try to conceal or deny your distress, your partner with BPD will be aware that you are distressed. The combination of acute intuition and profound empathy enables your partner with BPD to develop a strong and personal relationship with you, and they can even help you become more emotionally aware.

Tackling issues head-on

Although this may be related to their anxious attachment and intolerance of ambiguity, individuals with BPD are frequently highly driven to work on their relationships and overcome any problems. When disagreements emerge, they will not simply let things go, but will push to investigate the source of the issue. This might be stressful if you have a tendency to avoid conflicts. The advantage is that you are forced to confront relationship challenges head-on, communicate effectively, and avoid falling into apathy or conflict avoidance.

Creativity

Individuals with borderline personality disorder are creative (Although empirical research has not been able to support this link, anecdotally, many have found a strong link between creativity and BPD). They may have an intense interest in the arts, be drawn to creative careers, or possess other creative abilities. Many individuals with BPD can utilize creativity to cope with emotional suffering and instability. They may motivate you to follow your artistic interests and express yourself. The best thing is that your spouse will bring the same level of strong creativity to the relationship and ward off monotony.

They are capable of being extremely empathetic and compassionate parents

While some people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) pass on the transgenerational trauma they had experienced (Stepps et al., 2012), many have pledged to do the reverse. Since your partner had a traumatic upbringing, they will fight to prevent a similar trajectory for your children. If they are ready to work on themselves and heal via counseling and personal growth, they can be quite competent at transforming their sorrow into a parenting strength. They will do their best to support your child’s needs and provide them with the affection they had not had. They may be more insecure than other parents, but they can be extremely receptive to the needs of their children. In addition, your partner will likely value the uniqueness, emotions, and aspirations of your child without forcing them to comply to cultural norms too much. Your spouse will likely encourage your child’s desire to make congruent professional decisions.

Loyal and Devoted

Because many individuals with BPD have difficulties managing their emotions, their relationships tend to be chaotic and intense. Nevertheless, despite their difficulties, persons with BPD frequently have a great deal of love to give. Yes, some BPD partners may be unfaithful, particularly if they act impulsively when emotionally dysregulated. The majority of the time, though, if they feel safe and loved in a committed relationship, they will value the safe haven you have created and they have sought their entire lives. Once your spouse commits to you, they will be devoted to you and do all possible to make the relationship successful.

Your BPD partner is more resilient than you think

People with borderline personality disorder are frequently viewed as mentally fragile and incapable of dealing with life’s obstacles. Nevertheless, some individuals with borderline personality disorder are exceptionally robust and resilient (Paris et al., 2014). They are able to overcome life’s obstacles and painful experiences in ways that the majority of individuals cannot. When you consider their horrible childhood traumas, you will be astounded by their resilience. Paradoxically, while they frequently exhibit strong reactions to relatively insignificant everyday occurrences, they may be remarkably composed when life-altering events occur. Therefore, when big family crisis happens, they may be in the best position to provide their loved ones with support. People with BPD have demonstrated that even the most horrific experiences cannot entirely ruin one’s life. Because they know what it’s like to be a survivor, they may be a tremendous source of support for others.

Spontaneous and fun

Many individuals with BPD enjoy social interaction and making others laugh. Their high energy and spontaneity make it a delight to be with them. They are prone to being impulsive and taking excessive risks. However, if they are able to channel their daring nature in a healthy manner and incorporate it into their relationship, it can lead to interesting and unforgettable experiences.

Deep passion

People with BPD have a high need for intimate relationships. This is due in part to their fear of abandonment, but also to their love of people and desire for intimate ties. Consequently, people with BPD tend to have extremely passionate relationships. They are frequently affectionate and will go to considerable efforts to deepen their relationships. They may lavish you with compliments, affection, and attention. If you have felt alone or neglected in previous relationships, this can be a pleasant change.

People who are in a relationship with a person with BPD frequently find that they become gradually more emotionally expressive. Because your partner with BPD demonstrates these skills, you may also find it easier to express your emotions and discuss hard things.

You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity. -Epicurus

The Challenges of Having a BPD Partner

The above is not intended to minimize the challenges you may experience when it comes to Borderline Personality Disorder. Indeed, BPD is an incapacitating mental disorder.

Even under the best of circumstances, relationships are stressful and require patience, consideration, and understanding from both parties. When you have a spouse with BPD who is unpredictable and frequently exceeds your emotional limits, the difficulties can have a significant impact on your life.

The features that make your BPD-afflicted partner so delightful can cause you to feel confused and attacked. You may have been drawn to your BPD partner’s energy, inventiveness, and profound capacity for love, but their hypersensitivity makes the relationship unstable and volatile.

Your spouse with BPD may have a “black and white” way of thinking that causes them to idolize and detest you at different times. Any decision that defies their expectations or excludes them can ignite their deepest fears of rejection and abandonment. Your spouse with BPD may say or do things in the heat of the moment that they subsequently regret.

Healthy relationships require personal space. Everyone should keep their identity, regardless of how much they love the other person, but a partner with BPD is frequently unable to provide much space for others. Your partner may scrutinize your every action and word. Even the slightest of actions or inactions might provoke an outburst. Attempting to have a serious talk to resolve a disagreement with a partner who has BPD can spark a days-long emotional storm. Their vacillating between extremes and sudden mood swings might render you helpless.

Unfortunately, due of an unstable upbringing or emotionally absent parents, your BPD-afflicted partner is prone to a lingering dread of abandonment and rejection, even when things are going well. They may continually search for indications that you are dissatisfied with them, even if their concern is baseless. Your partner may be violent, make dramatic claims, and act irresponsibly. Their insecurity encourages them to be obsessive and to want additional attention and closeness. Additionally, they may become possessive and jealous when you spend time with others.

When you are with a spouse who has BPD, you may feel as if you are incapable of doing anything correctly. Unconsciously, your partner may expect you to fill the gap they experienced as a child when it comes to love and attention. Thus, occasional slips in your attentiveness might spark the most intense conflicts. You can feel as though everything you say or do is being twisted and used against you. They may not recognise their genuine emotions and blame you unjustifiably or unintentionally.

It may be helpful to recognize that your partner’s instability is frequently the result of both trauma and an unregulated empathy that makes them susceptible to being impacted by both positive and bad energies. As a highly sensitive and empathic individual, your partner is like an emotional sponge that absorbs all the surrounding negativity. The more they feel and absorb, the more likely they are to display BPD symptoms. Therefore, one method to improve the connection is to urge them to take excellent care of themselves, monitor subtle shifts in their state of mind, engage in activities that nurture them, and establish a solid emotional foundation. Knowing how they typically feel, individuals with BPD can learn to recognize when they are picking up on feelings that are not their own, then regulate their emotions according.

“Some of our fiercest battles are fought and won in silence.”
― Kianu Starr

How to Make a Relationship Work When BPD Is Present?

You may struggle to deal if you are in a relationship with someone who has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Consider BPD something that exists ‘between you’ rather than as a characteristic that defines your partner could be a good start.

Here are some suggestions for managing with a BPD partner:

Formal Diagnosis

Identifying whether or not your partner has BPD may be the initial step in learning how to deal as a pair. Despite the stigma associated with labels, a diagnosis can be a beneficial tool that leads to the correct information and therapy. If your partner has not yet been diagnosed with BPD, the following symptoms may be indicative of it:

- Frequent mood swings; they may appear happy and elated at one point, followed by abrupt episodes of sadness/anger; Being loving one moment and critical the next.

- Susceptible to harboring suspicions about you as a spouse.

- You are frequently made to feel bad for your choice of words or actions. They have a history of irresponsible behavior, including unsafe sex, drug abuse, and excessive spending. They have made suicide threats and engaged in self-harm.

A professional in personality disorders, typically a psychologist or psychiatrist, can make a formal diagnosis. Seeking treatment for managing your partner’s borderline personality disorder can rescue your relationship. Many psychotherapeutic interventions for BPD focus on realigning the individual’s thought patterns and teaching them how to manage their emotions. But the most effective form of treatment would be to help them recover from their attachment scars and develop healthy, stable, and assertive relationships with others.

Knowledge about BPD

The greater your understanding of the disease, the better equipped you will be to manage it. There are excellent books and websites that can teach you about BPD and how to manage it effectively. Avoid visiting online forums and strange websites. Many of these are “echo chambers,” which are fueled by rage, perpetuate stigma and misinformation about BPD and are ultimately ineffective.

Set limits

Setting limits in a relationship with a partner who has BPD can be difficult. They may overstep or even cross your boundaries without realizing it. You must be tough and consistent when establishing boundaries, otherwise they will likely disregard your boundaries. Here are some guidelines for setting successful boundaries in a relationship with a person with BPD:

- Ensure that your boundaries are attainable and reasonable.

- Clearly communicate your needs. This requires stating what you are and are not willing to do and sticking to those statements.

- Explain the boundary to the individual with BPD in an approachable, straightforward, and succinct manner. Replace “you” statements with “I” statements.

- Avoid taking their mood changes personally. People with BPD can rapidly transition from one intense emotion to another, making it difficult to comprehend their states. Do not attempt to argue with them or comprehend the rationale behind their emotions. Instead of condemning them for overstepping your limits, simply restore them quietly, even if you must do so multiple times.

Try not to put them down

Thoughts and worries of a spouse with borderline personality disorder may appear unexpected and nonsensical, yet irrational behavior typically has deep origins in trauma. Typically, telling someone they are unreasonable or that their feelings are unjustified stokes the fire.

Instead of attempting to argue with their emotions, try to validate them. This can be challenging if you disagree do not comprehend the reasons behind their feelings. However, you don’t have to understand why they feel this way to validate them. You can simply state what you observe and confirm that their feelings are real. There is no need to discuss the origin or impacts of their emotions, at least not in the heat of the moment.

Being empathic towards your BPD partner’s emotions and thoughts will allow them to feel seen and heard, which can defuse their crisis. In other words, if your partner is emotional, you should focus on listening rather than voicing your opinion. This would quickly calm them down. They will be more receptive to the other, healthier dialogues later.

Joint therapy or treatment sessions

You can eventually attend your BPD partner’s therapy sessions if they agree and the therapist encourages it. Couples therapy can be even more effective because it does not make the BPD partner the scapegoat. Good couples counseling will improve your communication and mutual understanding. Your BPD spouse will also build stronger relationships with others in their life as a result of the improvement of your partnership.

Take very, very good care of yourself

The path towards coping with BPD is hard. As you both heal from your relationship’s wounds, it is absolutely OK to focus on and prioritise your physical and mental health. Continue to engage in activities that bring you joy and socialize with others, and ensure that you are resourceful and healthy enough to assist your partner with BPD on their path. Ensure that you do not become entangled in a codependent relationship due to their neediness or demands. You should not feel guilty for assertively establishing boundaries because doing so is not punishing but beneficial for both parties.

Try not to rely on the hope that your partner may one day change radically or become the person you want them to be. They are who they are, flawss and virtues included. Obviously, you would find some aspects of their illness challenging, but overall, your decision to be with this person should be a congruent one. If you do not believe that the person you are with is “good enough,” it may be best to reevaluate why you are in this relationship. Rather than continuing in the relationship and resenting them, silently punishing them, or pressuring them to change overnight, you should be honest with yourself. You both have the right to feel loved and accepted in your relationship, and this cannot be imposed.

Being in a relationship with a partner who has BPD is a unique experience with its ups and downs. There van be upsides to being with someone with BPD, despite the fact that the vast majority of literature and online resources emphasize their drawbacks.

If you are in a relationship with someone who has BPD, do your best to be patient and understanding, get assistance if you feel overwhelmed, but don’t push beyond your limit and create a harmful cycle.

People with BPD are still human beings who deserve love, understanding, and a partner who desires to be with them.

“i love myself.’

the
quietest.
simplest.
most
powerful.
revolution.
ever.”
Nayyirah Waheed

Reference:

Carver, Deborah Daniels. (1997) Medscape Psychiatry & Mental Health eJournal. 2(5), retrieved at https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/430852_2

Leutgeb, V., Ille, R., Wabnegger, A., Schienle, A., Schöggl, H., Weber, B., … & Fink, A. (2016). Creativity and borderline personality disorder: evidence from a voxel-based morphometry study. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry, 21(3), 242–255.

Napolitano, L. A., & McKay, D. (2007). Dichotomous thinking in borderline personality disorder. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 31(6), 717–726.

Paris, J., Perlin, J., Laporte, L., Fitzpatrick, M., & DeStefano, J. (2014). Exploring resilience and borderline personality disorder: A qualitative study of pairs of sisters. Personality and mental health, 8(3), 199–208.

Stepp, S. D., Whalen, D. J., Pilkonis, P. A., Hipwell, A. E., & Levine, M. D. (2012). Children of mothers with borderline personality disorder: identifying parenting behaviors as potential targets for intervention. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 3(1), 76.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Imi Lo

Imi Lo

Imi works with highly intense, sensitive and gifted people. More at eggshelltherapy.com or imiloimilo.com