Though it’s not a specific symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), it’s not uncommon for people with BPD to lie compulsively. If you are related to someone with BPD, you might be concerned by the tendency of your loved one to lie and wonder how to cope.
What you should initially be aware of is that people with BPD don’t lie intentionally or with the intent of hurting anyone. “People with BPD lie often, but it is not because they are pathological liars,” says Nikki Instone, Ph.D. “Lying is not a symptom of the disorder so much as a consequence of their internal battle.”
Lying is really rooted in emotional dysregulation, which is one of the main symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder.
“One of the key symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder is a tendency toward highly impulsive behavior. Lying is a characteristic often linked to such emotions, as people with Borderline Personality Disorder are highly sensitive to perceived rejection by others, and therefore they lie to avoid upsetting and alienating those close to them,” says Ellen Golding, MFT. “As a result, those suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder tend to do and say things without giving their words any real thought.”
And, just like anyone else, people with BPD may also lie when they are trying to defend themselves or are emotionally hurt.
So what can you do to better cope when your loved one with BPD is lying?
Coping With BPD and Lies
Here are some ways to cope when a loved one with BPD lies:
Gain understanding: It’s vital to understand the intent behind the particular lie. “If the lie is a desperate attempt for approval, then the family can provide reassurance of their love and acceptance,” Instone says.
While people with BPD may not intend to be hurtful, sometimes their lies can cause a great deal of pain to others. “The family needs to be able to see the deeper issue, which is the reaction to being hurt. Then, the family can respond with more kindness, addressing the initial injury instead of the surface lie,” Instone continues.
Educate yourself: Arming yourself with knowledge about BPD will be your biggest asset in dealing with a family member’s behavior. Read books by BPD experts and sufferers, attend BPD workshops, and read articles on the issue so that you know what to expect from your loved one with BPD.
Get support: The truth is, you can’t do this alone. “People with BPD can make the worlds of the people around them highly confusing and chaotic, so you need to maintain some connection to reality,” Golding says.
There are many ways for you to get the support you need when you have a loved one with BPD. There are even resources available specifically for BPD family members. For example, the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA-BPD) offers the Family Connections Program throughout the United States. It is a 12-week class designed to offer education, skills training, and support to family members of people with BPD.
Attend family therapy: It can be a valuable tool to understand the motivation behind the concerned member’s behavior, especially when it comes to lying. Attending family therapy while your loved one is receiving BPD treatment can be extremely useful when it comes to helping your relationship and learning how to cope with the lying. If you are looking for BPD treatment for your loved one, be sure to find a BPD treatment center that offers family therapy.
Even though people with BPD don’t lie to cause hurt to others, it can be very painful if someone close to you continues to lie. Be sure to do what you need to do to cope so that you don’t become a victim of someone else’s lies.