We are all complicated individuals. Our psychological makeup varies substantially and significantly impacts every aspect of our lives. Thankfully today emotional difficulties are more widely shared, making it at least slightly easier to navigate the troubled waters of dealing with an emotional disturbance with someone you love.
However, there is one relatively widespread psychological disorder that is still widely misunderstood. Not only that, but individuals often shy away from even discussing the condition because it has such an unflattering name: Borderline Personality Disorder. This disorder is particularly challenging because it is primarily interpersonal and appears as a relational issue. But it is not; it is mental and must be recognized and treated as such.
So if you partner is dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder, it is important to understand a few key components of how the condition manifests. Likewise adjusting the way you interact with your significant other can also help both of you enjoy a happier, more fulfilling relationship.
What Are the Major Symptoms of the Condition?
For far too long people have been ignorant of this situation. It is the time that we all share more about the disorder and learn to understand that it is a mental disruption. While symptoms may differ depending on the affected individual, common symptoms include:
- Stormy relationships that impact the individual’s ability to maintain a job or close relationship
- Frequent emotional outbursts that may include verbal abuse, acts of revenge, or even physical attacks
- Sensitivity to abandonment and rejection
- Critical judgment of those with closest relationships
- Viewpoint of individuals as good or bad
- Frequent self-destructive activity, including reckless driving, shoplifting, cutting, binge eating, engaging in promiscuous sexual behavior and abusing drugs and alcohol
Like many other mental disorders, borderline personalities run the gamut from mild to severe. It may be difficult for individuals to be acutely aware of the extent of their emotional troubles.
Why Are BPD Relationships So Difficult?
To put it simply, many of the features of Borderline Personality Disorder disrupt those behaviors and thoughts that allow us to have effective interpersonal relationships. Some of those factors include:
- Emotional intelligence – Individuals who struggle with BPD monitoring emotions – their own and those of the people around them. Without this type of information, it is difficult for an individual to express empathy and other essential emotions.
- Aggression – Individuals with the condition struggle with impulsive aggression that may be turned inward or outward. It is hard to predict what may trigger this type of aggression, but it is often related to immediate threats of abandonment or rejection accompanied by frustration.
- Sensitivity – People with this condition are overly sensitive to rejection. They often wait for it or anticipate it even if it is not there.
- Maturity – Emotional maturity is a common struggle for individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder. These people may become disproportionately sad, angry, or frustrated depending on the circumstances, much like a child without well-developed emotional control.
What Can You Do to Effectively Cope with Your Partner’s Disorder?
It’s common for life to feel a bit like a roller coaster if you live with an individual who has BPD. Encouraging your loved one to participate in psychotherapy is, of course, an important component of the approach. However, there are additional considerations you can make even if therapy is not progressing. Here are a few important strategies to implement for dealing with and relating to your loved one.
- Practice consistency and predictability.
It is important that you keep your word when it comes to things that you have said you will or will not do. Avoid giving in to the borderline behavior lest it is reinforced.
- Promote responsibility.
It is easy to become your loved one’s rescuer, but that will only hurt both of you and your relationship. Do not give in and take responsibility for your loved one’s irresponsible behavior. If he or she racks up a massive credit card bill, don’t cover the cost. If the person wrecks the vehicle, don’t be the one to replace it. You cannot rescue your partner from the consequences of his or her actions. Otherwise, there will be no incentive to change.
- Provide honest feedback.
Individuals with BPD often have a skewed view of fairness and responsibility. Don’t agree that he or she has been unfairly treated if you don’t believe that it is true. Offer honest feedback instead. For example, you might say, “I know it is frustrating when you are fired,” but don’t jump on the bandwagon agreeing that it was all because of the mean people for whom he or she worked.
- Diffuse the argument.
It can be particularly difficult relating effectively to an individual with BPD. A compliment might be met with an accusation that you are patronizing, while constructive criticism might be portrayed as just as villainous. Instead of escalating an argument, try to diffuse things. Keep your cool in the situation and move on. Even physically remove yourself from the interaction if need be.
Borderline Personality Disorder is a severe condition for both of you to cope with, but it can be done. Use these strategies and remember that the issue is a mental imbalance, not a relationship issue.