What makes love amazing is its spontaneity. And the fact that we can’t choose whom our hearts fall for is even more exciting. If your loved one suffers from borderline personality disorder (BPD), your journey won’t be easy. It’s really painful to watch those who hold a dear place in your heart struggling with profound inner turmoil, unstable personal identity and deep emotional stress.
BPD person can be somewhat chaotic and emotionally draining. While at times you can’t force them to get treatment, there are a couple of things you can do to make your relationship smooth and assist them to lead an almost normal life.
Getting acquainted with BPD
BPD persons usually experience trouble with relationships, particularly with persons closest to them. Be prepared for wild mood shifts, chronic fear of abandonment, angry outbursts, irrational and impulsive behaviors that can leave you feeling off-balance, helpless, abused or unappreciated.
Their illness can distort their perceptions, raise antagonistic behaviors and to the worst extent, make their surrounding a perilous existence. Even if you’re the drama loving type, the fact that there can never be a prolonged moment of calmness might make you think about making a U-turn.
Surviving the drama
With a borderline, it’s almost impossible to know what to expect. When in their elevated spirits, you become their treasured princess or prince, bastard or a god. If you happen to be around when they’re down, all their nefarious feelings are projected onto you. They can turn out to be cruel and spit ugly words unto you, or give you the unending silent treatment.
At times they can also use manipulative tactics that are detrimental to your esteem. Compared to bipolar disorder, they experience quick mood shifts, that can last a short time, and are often not far from their normal self. Whatever you see or experience is their new normal at that moment.
Surviving their drama means creating firm boundaries, managing your reactions, and enhancing communication with them. There is no wonder working cure for their condition, except through proper support, treatment and understanding.
A BPD person’s brain seems to magnify whatever their perceptions put in front of them. Their experiences, present or past, including their previous unstable relationships or work history, can project a reflection of self-shame, coupled with sudden changes to an extent that they no longer feel the need to be in existence.
And these changes can even worsen if they are left alone. As such they’re highly dependent on their partners. They may frequently seek advice or guidance from various people on the same subject in a single day.
Their reaction to fear of abandonment is usually accompanied by being clingy or needy. This can also be alternated with fury reflecting their skewed reality.
Helping a BPD loved one
It’s very easy to get caught in your efforts to perform heroic acts to please a BPD person. At times, you might find yourself putting a lot of energy into them while jeopardizing your own emotional stability. This is a sure recipe for experiencing depression, resentment, emotional stress, and to the worst extent physical illness.
When overwhelmed, it becomes almost impossible to enjoy a sustainable relationship or even help the person in the first place. The only best strategy to help them is to first “have your oxygen mask strapped on”. Check out the following do’s and don’ts of dealing with a BPD loved one.
Don’t be tempted to self-isolate
After a dreadful experience with your BPD loved one, don’t fall prey to the temptation to stay alone. Keep in touch with your family and friends who understand you and make you feel better. At this critical moment, a shoulder to lean on goes a long way.
Get yourself a life!
Dating or caring for a BPD person doesn’t mean that life enjoyment for you has come to an end. Get yourself a life beyond your relationship. Don’t yield to the sense of guilt when you spare some time for your own enjoyment. Some time out gives you an open mindset. In fact, both of you will enjoy the improved perspective when you get in touch again.
Put your physical health on watch
When caught up with the drama of a BPD relationship, it’s very easy to forget about your physical health. Always take care of yourself; eat healthfully, get some quality sleep, and do physical exercise. This pitfall of self-neglect is one that you wouldn’t want to fall into. When you take care of yourself, you’re far much better positioned at handling your relationship stresses, controlling your behavior and emotions amid the challenges forwarded to you by your BPD loved one.
Make stress management your cup of tea
A BPD person’s behavior can be intensified by your reactions. Being upset or anxious in response to a problematic behavior can trigger them to do or become what you hadn’t expected. Take lots of lessons on stress management and practice with sensory input. This way, you can relieve your stress as it pops up and remain calm even when the pressure intensifies.
Communicating with a BPD person
Just like any other relationship, communication is a key ingredient for the relationship’s stability and healthy existence. But communicating with BPD persons is a tough ordeal. It’s worth noting that a borderline may have trouble reading accurate body language or understanding non-verbal cues. Their words can be irrational, unfair or cruel. Fear of abandonment might push them to react unnecessarily to triggers regardless of how minute they are. Their aggression can lead them to be impulsive with rage, become abusive or violent.
Always establish when to start a conversation with them. If they’re in their raging behavior, that’s definitely not the time to chat with them. When they’re calm:
Be an active and empathetic listener
Put distractions at bay. TV’s, mobile phones, PCs or anything else shouldn’t take up your focus at this time. Don’t make your concerns the center of the conversation. Withhold criticism and judgement.
Make emotions your focus, not words
BPD persons require constant validation and emotional participation of their loved ones. Be keen and listen to their emotions and devise a proper emotional response that gives the reassurance that you are part of their moment.
Remain calm always
Even when they’re acting out, maintain your calm composure. Avoid being defensive when criticized or accused of wrongdoing, regardless of how unfair they are. Self-defense will only trigger more anger. If unable to control yourself, give yourself some time out.
BPD is not the end of life for your loved one. Studies have shown that they can recover. Others improve through Dialectical Behavior therapy while some may need hospitalization. All in all, it’s worth understanding that borderlines require structure, assurance and affirmation that they’re loved and cared for. Also, they need boundaries to be communicated to them firmly but calmly.