One 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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🙁
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.
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.
So encouraging to read the comments and to understand that I’m not alone. I start to question my own sanity after capitulating in arguments when I’m not to blame, just to keep the peace. I too am tired of the projections that I’m entirely to blame and mentally ill and that its my “insensitivity” that’s to blame for her hair-trigger anger. I too have gone to therapy at her behest (as I think most of us have). It’s important to keep your “True North” and I would agree with the writer that telling them is very very difficult.
“I think tip toeing around these people just enables” was bang on. I realise that keeping the peace and just giving into the intimidation has just enabled my partner. The key difference is that most people realise that, in an argument, the other party politely conceded simply to stop the argument and unfortunately there is no “agree to disagree” with a BDP. By capitulating, my BDP partner takes it as a sign that she was right and that her rage was justified. This, unfortunately, reinforces her warped reality.
Again, it’s important to keep a “True North.” My partner has a real skill at taking small pieces from several different events over the course of a couple of years and twisting them into a no-win scenario that never actually happened. Why she ould do that I have no idea, but I assume control. The mistake I’ve made is to assume that she actually knows she’s doing it. She has an ability like no other to rewrite history and then gaslight me that my memory is bad. “You see, you can’t find your car keys..this proves your memory is bad! Admit it, your memory is bad!! (or I’ll be more upset)”
I truly feel compassion for my partner, and I love her so much, but she is totally unaware and refuses to speak about her behaviour. My own therapist mentioned that the condition is a lot like Alzheimer’s. The sufferer is completely unaware and, if told, will simply say, “No way, are you nuts? I’m fine. You’re the crazy one.”
Is there any chance that confronting those with bdb ends well? Or is it a lose
Lose scenario regardless? Does anything work?
I was dating my husband for 5 years. After being married for 11 months he decided to walk out on me with a 10 day divorce because I am “too controlling”. This has been a whirlwind of a few weeks. He has had major family stresses arise which I knew to be his trigger. I started studying about mental disorders and came to realize he is the epitome of a quiet BPD. I am replaying the past 5 years and wish I would have been more educated on the subject sooner. I have so much compassion for the suffering he is going through and although we are no longer together I feel obligated to talk to him about BPD. I plan to start the conversation with love and patience so he knows I will ALWAYS be here. This is very scary but I figure I don’t have much to lose at this point. It is such a relief reading these comments to know that he and I are not the only ones battling this disease.
Its a lose lose situation – tell them and you lose them and as has been said they then dig their heals in and the denial gets deeper roots. I wish I hadn’t said anything to mine now as I believe they know very well what’s going on they just don’t want to admit it and face the resposibilty of dealing with it.
If you aren’t married and/or don’t have kids with them, why even fight the fight? You didn’t cause it, you cant fix it. Period. Save yourself and get out. You’re actually trying to have a logical, reasoned conversation with someone where those 2 things don’t apply–they have no capacity to “hear” b/c of their disordered thinking…. they’re perpetual victims, despite being the provocateurs– no culpability, empathy, they will manipulate you– they are deceitful as hell, we are implements for their pleasure, wants and needs. What do we get? (rhetorical.)
Separating with “NO CONTACT” will bring you surprising clarity in time- the reason they try to keep you engaging is they want to continue to bring drama/chaos into the picture b/c it serves their needs…. if you have constant drama and discord, you cant have any clarity–you fall right into their trap– then when they sense youre withdrawing, they use their feminine wiles to draw you back– 5-10 days, rinse and repeat. By removing yourself, you leave their web before they suck you dry, and before they can steal your dignity and inflict even further psychological damage on you…
Leave before they find your replacement–because that’s the only reason they even want you there. My therapist calls them “Spider Web Women” they always want two in the web. They will string you along, driving you mad with their neglect, dismissiveness, and manipulation, all the while triangulating, making seemingly plausible excuses as to why they cant be “present” in the relationship while theyre f’in with you (or behind your back) keeping you on ice for when they want to play with you. Like youre a toy they deign to play with at will. Just get out. GOD will sort out the rest. No one deserves or needs to be in such an unhealthy relationship– if you choose to stay, I pray for you. The price is too high.
I really do understand the rationale behind not bringing this up to your loved one, but I am so so so very torn. My brother has been through various rehabs, misdiagnosed as bipolar and is still dealing with all of the same life problems that brought him to treatment originally. I know if I mention BPD to him it will likely be a fight-but how else can he be steered in the right direction for the actual treatment for his actual diagnosis if I don’t bring it up to him? Especially when he has been suicidal lately… I just feel like I have to tell him this is what I think is going on,but I’m terrified to do so….even more after some of the advice posted above. I know it’s not my job and it’s not my fault, but I couldn’t live with myself feeling confident this is his problem and not doing anything.
I’m not even quite sure why I’m writing here except that I finally feel the tiniest bit of relief having read that there are others with a similar experience to me. I love her, she is such a wonderful person and artist, but I am being emotionally abused and pushed away in the wave’s trough, and then the crests leave me feeling like, wait, am I the crazy one? She cannot be alone and wages an emotional war with me if I go off and do my own things for an evening. She divisively distances me from my friends and chastizes me roughly if I talk to anyone about our relationship. Any space I take she warns against and says that I will cause her to grow cold and distant, keeping me close and me feeling like I’m supposed to keep things in, which then doesn’t allow me to process them, while she also feels paranoid about what others will think of her and weaponizes that paranoia against me. Pheeew. It is so painful and also liberating to know that I’m not alone in these feelings, and I feel strongly for all of you out there who have been on the non-bpd side of a romantic relationship…
My sister is almost certainly BPD and I’m so sad to know that this illness prevents her from even wanting to hear that she could have it. Without mentioning any labels, I begged her tonight to try talking to a therapist about how she’s feeling, even if she thinks it won’t help. She’s in such a bad place right now and it’s tearing the family apart. My mother fed into my sister’s hysteria when she accused me of hurting her feelings when I’ve been going out of my way to make her feel loved. I so t want to give up on her; I don’t want her to have a miserable, angry, sobbing-all-night life when there is treatment available. I told her husband she needs help. He doesn’t live with her fu time because it’s a difficult relationship but they do love each other. If I was suffering the way she is, I’d like to think my loved ones would get me help. But she’s a 51 year old adult and this has all gone unsaid for so long. I didn’t even truly realize what BPD was; I thought it was an exaggerated term we tossed around to refer to her volatility and fragility. How do we get through this? Why is everyone her “enemy”?
I agree with others that this is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s helpful to see there are others out there experiencing the same thing, and on the other hand, it’s so frustrating that it’s so difficult to convince the BPD to get help. My heart is breaking and my family is fractured because my son refuses to see a therapist. He says people always leave him, but he can’t see that it’s his actions that push people away. It’s sad that there’s such a stigma on mental illness, nobody would be judged harshly if they were suffering from cancer. An illness is an illness. My faith in God is the only thing keeping me sane, and I just have to trust that all things will work for good in His time.
My sister the social worker has lay diagnosed me with BPD. I have been seeing a psych now for 7 years and he and I are clear that I DO NOT HAVE BPD, but a complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to childhood molestation and 3 separate incidences of date rape, an ex husband who was verbally abusive and then ongoing abusiveness while coparenting our child, and a NPD Parent. The biggest issue for me is the judgments thrown in my direction for the majority of my life by my older sister. She has always thought I was too sensitive (I can be, but generally it’s because I react to being hurt by others words or actions). Her family shuns me from family events and then gets angry when I tell them this hurts my feelings. I am slowly starting to realize that she uses her children and my parents as her flying monkeys. I do not fit the criteria of BPD but that of a adult seeking to understand myself. I have not blamed anyone in my family for abuse, I take responsibility for myself and seek to have harmonious relationships, albeit I have avoided romantic relations for 8 years now (personal choice). I don’t feel lonely, in fact I feel mentally healthy by making a choice to stay away from toxic people and to enjoy my time by nurturing my artistic hobbies, by pushing through anxiety traveling on my own etc etc. My mother is dying and my sister has made it incredibly difficult by choosing to not speak with me, avoid me and tell my parents that I am BPD so that I look like I am the one with the issue. I am not. I would love to have a proper relationship with her, but without judgement of my lifestyle, my parenting style, and how I cope with stress etc. It is in fact her judgements of me without compassion that made me realize that I am not the problem. Here is a woman who has a masters in social work, helps others resolve family conflicts yet chooses to avoid resolving our and instead tries to gaslight me to anyone who will listen. My parents have a bit of cognitive dissonance going on because they don’t see what she is saying about the BPD, but of course CPTSD mimic some of the symptoms of BPD, and they are aware that she bullied me as a child. She would poke me to get a rise out of me, and then feign innocence with my parents and I would inevitably get some kind of pushback for being ’emotional’. This is a the same pattern as when we were kids. I have tried to go no contact, or low contact – but honestly it is painful for me as I feel shunned and not included in family events because they ‘choose’ to keep me away but then ensure to tell me I should just be okay with it. I just want a normal family who are accepting and non judgmental. I love them even though they nit pick at me about my foibles and personal choices (I am into nudism at the local beach). I do have some emotional issues, but to have my social worker sister tell everyone else around me that I have BPD without ever having had that conversation with me directly (whilst also knowing I am in the care of a psych regularly and he diagnosed me with family dysfunction and CPTSD) is a slap in the face (or a stab in the back). I wish I knew how to address it with her, but she has been avoiding me, and lying to both my parents that she is protecting herself from my anger. Yes, I am a little angry, but mostly because of the years of shunning, judgements and gaslighting. Fed up is an understatement. Any advice on this (no contact is clearly not an option now that my mum is in palliative care and my dad is not far behind her).
I love my wife. I believe she has her own flavor of personality disorder. BPD being the main infliction. I mentioned something one time and she said she Googled it. She says it was for bad crazy individuals that kill people and end up in jail. I have no clue what she looked up because she checks every box when it comes to BPD symptoms. She makes me crazy. Love her, a great compassionate human at times, pretty ,strong, yet at others it’s like the Devil himself has taken control of her. Takes things I say and twist them into the wrongest meanings. Says horrific hurtful personal things, now has become physical. Ib don’t trust her one bit with my feelings. I have left however I love her and don’t know how to get her fixed. Her therapist sucks. No doubt she is too much for her to do anything with
I have a situation with Wife going all out to fix our daughter who has the traits of BPD when I asked daughter she said she had been diagnosed with anxiety & depression ? this was a surprise to me as Ive been told by my wife she has BPD ? Told wife and got the old “well she will say that ”
She certainly behaves like a BPD or is she just and angry 20yr old ?
Anyway I am being told to be by my wife side and not to ask the daughter any questions about the situation . The marriage is almost split after 30yrs due to this issue , wife will spend the rest of her life fixing this BPD issue .
I wanted to talk to daughter frankly about the tension created by all this but Im told NO ?
I’m in love with a girl and i think she has BPD. she is the best thing in my life but sometimes shes a little much. i used to get angry at her, but now i understand that she cant help it. It still can be emotionally exhausting, but i feel that its worth it. as someone that suffers from depression, anxiety and panic disorder, I know that people with mental illnesses need love too. We are both kinda messed up, but we will never leave each other, no matter how hard it gets. another downside is my family thinking that shes mentally abusing me. they do not know her like i do, they do not know anything about BPD and they are constantly treating me like i should know better. I wish my family would understand. and also my friends. but nobody gets us like we do. we have been together for 1 year and a couple months. i have 120 percent full intentions of sticking it out for the long haul, but support from family and friends would be awesome. and i am really tempted to tell her that i suspect BPD, but she calls therapy hippie shit. So what do i do?
I have BPD.
Just like any other diagnosis you don’t have to tick every box in order to be diagnosed, I’m 22, was diagonsed by an actual doctor at 16..(you know, the guys who are qualifed to do so…….)
Believe it or not, we’re not bad guys. Those who mind dont matter, those who matter dont mind.
I figure I have nothing to loose by telling her. She isn’t talking to me right now anyways, Also, this is my last little bit of showing I care to myself and if she doesn’t believe me then I go NC anyways. I dated her in high school 30 years ago and we have fooled around for years when i would come home to visit. I moved back and thought she had matured but that was before I knew about this crap. I honestly am very pissed off, but I will inform her and then disappear.
I was with a girl for 2 years, we have a 10 month old together. During our relationship there were so many things not making sense. The dreams of me cheating, jealousy of my ex partner who I had been separated for 5 years, constant lies, depression, alcohol abuse then came the physical abuse. Everything was turned back on me it was always my fault. I loved her more than anything and didn’t want a broken family but that was her fall back to threaten me I will never see my baby girl again.
Our relationship ended and now I am in a fight to see my daughter. I have been seeing a psychologist and had told him about our issues and a few things about her past. He stopped me and asked a series of questions I answered yes to all of them. Without meeting my ex and doing a proper examination he said she has bpd. I had no idea what it was so I read a few articles on line and WOW it was an eye opener. I can relate to everything and I do truely feel for people who have it. I did not understand it or how to deal with my ex. She now has so much hate for me I stress I will not see my little girl.
Any help or suggestions would be great on how I approach this
At first I was the most amazing person in the world, I deserved everything and more he wanted to move in together in July and move away in a years time. It was a whirlwind few month and now bring on the new year he has other stresses on such as running his business / trying to quit smoking / trying to become a brilliant golfer. I think initially he saw me as the solution to his happiness I am now viewed as a pressure point adding to his negativity.
I see it in a lot, he jumps into things , loves it and then becomes frustrated or annoyed. Golf as a small example, he hasn’t played in years but has decided to start again but can’t just enjoy the game. He wants to beat everyone or be as good as he was in previous years and always comes back frustrated rather than enjoying something that should ‘take his mind off things’.
This month he has taken a 180 on how he treats me and became very unresponsive, didn’t want to meet up at all and filled his time going out with friends he hasn’t seen in three or four years. I’ve seen him do this with his housemate too who he can’t stand to be anywhere near, yes the housemate can be annoying at times but nothing really out of the ordinary.
I’ve also noticed that when things were good he diagnosed a few of his friends with BPD which at the time I didn’t take much notice of but after 6months and looking back on his behaviour maybe he was trying to tell me something.
I’m taking the pressure of the relationship off him because I’m conscious of being ‘black marked’ in a chat the other day he said that he’s ‘seen a different side to me, an angry side’ when actually I haven’t been angry at all with him, just questioned why his behaviour has so drastically changed. Whilst taking the pressure of the relationship off, I don’t want to abandon him and want to show I understand and am still there to support. I don’t think I will outright say ‘I think you have BDP’ because no matter if you do or don’t it will cause a bad reaction. I think I will approach it by explaining how ambition he is and say it must be a lot of pressure ask / suggest that I can support with some of the stresses and just listen to others. I think I will explain how well I think he is doing in a lot of aspects of these pressures and suggest ways to make the successes feel less stressful.
I did blame myself for the relationship breakdown but now I understand more I do feel better, it’s hard because his family live far away so I can’t find out about his behaviour prior to me meeting him but have noticed that he gets a phone called on a Monday Wednesday and Saturday from a different family member which makes me think they are trying to support him somehow.
My heart breaks for him, I’ve had depression before and know how lonely it can be, I can’t even comprehend having BPD.
My heart breaks for all of you. I know exactly how this feels. My 19 yr daughter has this even though no one would ever formally diagnose her. As a teen she was diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, Mood disorder not otherwise specified (oh brother!) and disruptive behavior disorder. It would have been NICE if just ONE of the multiple professionals we saw along the way would have had the nerve to tell us this is how things could likely turn out. Three of the therapists refused to see her anymore, saying she wasn’t willing to change. I think they just didn’t want the hassle of dealing with her. And didn’t bother telling us the truth and offer help or hope. She and I have a terrible relationship now (she’s out of the house living with a boyfriend but wants to come back) and once she was out for awhile my boundaries grew stronger, and I will no longer tolerate her verbal abuse. When I tell her that when she talks to me consistently with respect, we can be connected again, but instead she just launches into more horrid verbal tirades than the ones before. I do feel sorta guilty because I’m doing the exact thing borderlines fear most – abandoning her. But I just can’t take it anymore. She like so many others says her only issue is depression and anxiety. Telling her the truth wouldn’t be accepted and she refuses counseling. So so sad. If anyone has had any positive outcomes from getting a patient to accept help, I would love to hear.
I just wanted to respond to those who asked if telling someone with BPD if it will ever end well? I was told yesterday by my therapist, who Ive been seeing for 6 months, that there was a “label” for all the things that I experience. She asked if I wanted to know what it was? and I said yes to which she replied Borderline Personality. She said it intending kindness but my immediate reaction was intense fear and shock. I cried and felt incredibly worried that everyone would now label me and reject me and also that I would be blamed in all situations even when it may not be my fault now that there was a label. My therapist suggested that I don’t tell my family members ( I come from an abusive family where there may be several people with BPD and other disorders going on that are undiagnosed). I told my husband last night and he went off and did some research for himself, I usually share my feelings very easily but this was very difficult to say out loud because I felt ashamed and also that somehow my mental illness had conned this man into marrying me ( now an official crazy person with a label) I did my own research and after reading a lot of articles online, I cant deny that a lot of what I read I relate to. I have for years described myself as a poisoned chalice like theres something inside me that spills over that I cant control and I can see it affects my relationships. I have blamed other people a lot and tend to see people as good or bad but I also suffer from intense guilt over my actions. I would suggest to anyone that wants to tell a person they have BPD to first try to encourage them to find an experienced therapist and let the therapist decide whether or not to tell the person under their support. Someone suffering with BPD will be going through an incredible amount of day to day suffering and the chance of a path out of that has been a lifeline for me. Even if its been a blow to my ego. My Husband has really suffered from my behaviour and seeing how I affect him so negatively, whom I love and respect, has really pushed me to stick with therapy. I know that Im a lot to deal with and therapy means that it takes some of the pressure off of him. However we have decided that its important that he seeks support in therapy too. We cant really afford it but we are sacrificing other things to take care of ourselves. I can see that my behaviour has worn away his confidence and his nerves. This is something that Ive seen in previous partners and so
I cant deny to myself that Im the common denominator. What has really helped me is his commitment, we are very frank with each other, and because the fear of him leaving has been completely reassured I was able to seek out therapy. I have also suggested that in the future if things ever get so bad that Im completely destroying his quality of life that he does leave me because underneath being ill I love him deeply and want him to enjoy a happy life.
BPD patients lack a known self and must complete treatment before they fully recover. Those who commented on this site with BPD say they are not bad guys,. It is the same as describing yourself as a good guy alcoholic. BPD’s are incapable of love until they complete treatment. If a BPD does not seek treatment, you have the choice to leave them. Abuse should not be tolerated. Many experts advise a loved one or spouses not to tell them they have BPD. You will become more of their “object other” such as a neglectful parent who was the cause of their BPD. You must understand that the BPD is a mirage of what you believe they can become or who they are. If they do not seek care and make progress, you should leave.
I now totally agree with Joe. I loved my BPD and wanted the best for her however 2 years after it was really over I look at her now and see her still treating her men the way she treated me- it is her way of coping with life. Joe’s advice to leave if they are not seeking treatment is sound. If you stay things will only get worse. As I said in an earlier comment mine painted me Black and has refused to acknowledge me since the day I informed her I believed I knew what was going on and asked her to get help. While hard at the time it has turned out to be for the best as I have moved on, found a lovely well balanced woman and I am very happy – something which I would never have been able to say if I’d stayed with my ex. No matter how much you love them they do not love you in anything like the same sense, they love what you can do for them not who you are – I see that in the way she treats her current men playing one off against the other. In my case telling her I thought she was BPD was for the best, I am out of the madness, I’ve moved on without guilt, I’m happy and I no longer worry about her – she will always have someone to take care of her wants and needs and yours will too.