One onset of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is attachment injury and emotional abandonment. Because of it, people with BPD often struggle with an intense fear of abandonment and difficulty managing their emotions. Sometimes, the fear leads people with BPD to become abusive and controlling. It is essential to note that people with BPD often feel ashamed of their intense emotions, leading to inward anger and self-hatred.
Like any other, people with BPD desire to be happy and confident and to develop loving, healthy relationships. However, continuing history of emotional neglect and abuse in their teenage and adult relationships intensify the sense of unworthiness, adding to the fears of abandonment. They often have difficulty navigating a healthy emotional connection because their fear of abandonment often leads to more experience of abandonment and isolation.
Partners with BPD may find it challenging to maintain healthy relationships with a person with BPD because of the emotional rollercoaster and constant conflicts. However, having a healthy relationship with people with BPD is possible.
It is helpful to understand the character traits and the need of people with BPD traits so that you may support them effectively. It will also help you identify signs when your partner is going through another intense period of fear and anxiety.
Conflict resolution is essential in a relationship, including a relationship with someone with BPD. Due to attachment injuries, people with BPD feel vulnerable to being deceived and need constant assurance that their partner is with them. Staying patient, calm and consistent in communicating with your partner helps calm their fear. You may also like to write notes or say a word of encouragement to express your emotion.
It is essential to note that conflict exists in any relationship, including a relationship with people with BPD traits. It is crucial to discuss how to handle conflict beforehand. If you need a time out, let your partner know and set a date and time for both of you to discuss and process what happened and how to handle it more healthily. Keep to the agreeable date. Giving your partner the cold shoulder or leaving the conflict unsettled will only increase your partner's anxiety and lead to another argument.
In processing the conflict, use the I statement, for example, "I feel hurt when you told me……", instead of a word like "you make me angry" or "you are being unfair". Identify warning signs of triggers and how both of you may respond to them. It is also essential to focus on the issue rather than a person.
People with BPD struggle with intense emotions and sometimes express their painful feelings through self-harm to nullify the intensity of the emotion. If your partner is having difficulty managing their emotion, or if your partner is self-harming, encourage your partner to seek professional help from a counsellor or psychotherapist with experience working with people with BPD traits.
As you support your loved one with BPD traits, you need adequate self-care and support. You may also like to consider seeking help for yourself too. A joint therapy session can help you both develop understanding and better communication skills.
A relationship with someone with BPD traits can be challenging but not impossible. You can develop a healthy and secure connection with a partner with BPD traits with commitment and support. Please note that people with BPD traits can be fun, caring and loving too. You both need someone to guide both of you in helping each other feel secure.
Restoring Peace Counselling & Consultancy offers counselling and psychotherapy services for people struggling with symptoms of BPD and their loved ones. For more information, please visit www.restoringpeace.com.sg or Whatsapp at +65 8889 1848.
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