The Pros and Cons of Telling Someone They Have Borderline Personality Disorder

Pros Cons BPDOne of the most frustrating aspects of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is that it causes those who suffer from it to have next to zero tolerance for criticism or emotional distress of any kind, thus making it extremely difficult to approach them about their problem behaviors.

If you have a relationship with someone you suspect has Borderline Personality Disorder, you probably want nothing more than to see them get help and live a more peaceful life. It may be tempting to approach them about BPD in the hopes that they will seek help, but you must consider many things before doing so because this type of intervention can result in further conflict.

People with Borderline Personality Disorder frequently project their behaviors and feelings on to others since they cannot bear to hear anything negative about themselves. There’s a fairly good chance that telling them you believe it’s possible they have BPD will result in them accusing you of having it. When they perceive that you are criticizing or slighting them, a person with BPD will be likely to lash out, denying their problems and enumerating yours instead. This will not generally result in them seeking professional BPD treatment. In fact, it may make them more adamant to not get help.

Like most people, those with Borderline Personality Disorder don’t like being told what to do or how to fix their problems. Unsolicited advice is rarely met with instant acceptance. For this reason, you will want to gauge whether the person with BPD may be seeking BPD treatment on their own before you jump in and tell them they need to get help.  

How to Approach Someone About BPD

If you tread carefully, there may be ways to engage with a person who has BPD in constructive and non-confrontational ways that could steer their thinking toward the possibility of change. This is not a simple one day task. You will need to take it slowly and see how things progress. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. Adopt an empathetic tone when in dialogue with the person who has Borderline Personality Disorder. Let them know that you know how they feel. This is not the same thing as accepting or condoning poor behavior, but it does indicate that you hear them and understand their feelings.
  2. Try getting the person with Borderline Personality Disorder to see discrepancies in their statements and actions without being confrontational about it. “I’m confused. A minute ago you said X and now you are saying Y. Can you help me understand?” or “You said you wanted to X and then you did Y. I don’t understand.” This may help them to see the contradictions between their thoughts and actions.
  3. Accept resistance. No one can change until they are ready to, and no amount of cajoling or coaxing will help. If you feel resistance, you must accept that the time for change is not now and let it go. Pushing won’t help, and can very likely make things worse.
  4. Encourage the person by letting them know that you believe in their ability to change and improve their lives. Be available for support. 

While you may find that some of the above steps improve communication, it is still an uphill battle to persuade a person with Borderline Personality Disorder to seek BPD treatment by telling them that you believe they suffer from the psychiatric disorder. Your loved one may believe a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder will result in them being stigmatized or unsupported. 

But the biggest pro to telling someone that they have Borderline Personality Disorder is that they can finally get the BPD treatment they need to live a better life, have better relationships, and make a recovery from their BPD symptoms.

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4 Responses to “The Pros and Cons of Telling Someone They Have Borderline Personality Disorder”

  1. Fred2016 02. Mar, 2017 at 10:28 am #

    I told my undiagnosed bpd in the most gentle of ways that I thought she had BPD. While previously having admitted she had a problem, and saying she was afraid to know what it was, she went into denial about her problem & painted me black to the point where even friendship was impossible with her. In hindsight the advice about not telling them but communicating with them in a gentle manner later is, in my case anyway, the best course of action.

  2. Tina 17. Mar, 2017 at 5:17 pm #

    I’m st a cross roads whether to tell my son or not. He’s definitely the perfect example of someone with BPD. He’s also a recovering addict, so it’s like walking on eggshells to say anything. His life is in disarray and if he knew why he said or did things I think it would help. On ther side, he may blow up and never forgive me. So, I can totally relate. Going to take a lot of time to think about this. So hard🙁

  3. Nkki 18. Apr, 2017 at 6:37 pm #

    I have tried to deal with this and with my BPD husband for the last 10 years. I have read books, joined support groups, gone to therapy myself and he still refuses to accept it and will not stay in on a path for help. I have been gentle, supportive and encoraging and I have been angry, mad and insane. NOTHING has worked. It has taken a huge toll on me and I have to let go and put myself first. I’m done, he is impossible and it is too much to deal with. I hate this illness. I pray for help for all. It’s like living on a rat wheel. It is never ending and the cycle repeats over and over.

  4. Liza 20. Apr, 2017 at 6:28 pm #

    I finally had to tell my BPD mother (as sensitively as I could) that she had BPD. This was after over forty years of being the ‘all bad child’ to her and taking all the hits so she could walk away happy, vindicated and feeling in control. It became sickening to be her target and I couldn’t stand by quiet any longer and say ‘Yes Mother, No Mother’ when she wanted me to, so that she could bully and rage with abandon. I really don’t care what she thought. When you have been abused that long and take the blame that many years for the instability of another, something has to give.
    Of course she blamed me when I spoke to her about this, yammered on about how she is absolutely fine, doesn’t need counseling and has worked through all her childhood demons of abuse. For now, I have had to completely walk away from a relationship with her. I am in No Contact mode with her and I hate it but I hate being abused more. I am so over Borderline and walking on eggshells with her and tolerating one set of rules for her and another for me. I think tip toeing around these people just enables. You come to a point like I did, when the angst of having them out of your life isn’t half as bad as having their insanity torment you at every turn.

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