Helping Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder

Does someone close to you suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD)? If so, you already know that BPD not only affects those with the diagnosis—it affects everyone who cares about them. People with BPD have difficulty regulating their emotions and behavior and that can take a heavy toll on their partners, family members, and friends. But there’s hope, both for the person with BPD and for you. You can’t force someone to get treatment for BPD, but you can take steps to improve communication, set healthy boundaries, and stabilize the relationship.

What you need to know about BPD

People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) tend to have major difficulties with relationships, especially with those closest to them. The wild mood swings, angry outbursts, chronic abandonment fears, and impulsive and irrational behaviors can leave loved ones feeling helpless, abused, and off balance. Partners and family members of people with BPD often say it’s like being on an emotional roller coaster with no end in sight. You may feel like you’re at the mercy of your loved one’s BPD symptoms—trapped unless you leave the relationship or the person takes steps to get better. But you have more power than you think.

You can change the relationship by managing your own reactions, establishing firm limits, and improving communication between the two of you. There’s no magic cure but with the right treatment and support, many people with BPD can and do get better and their relationships can become more stable and rewarding. In fact, patients with the most support and stability at home tend to get better sooner than those whose relationships are more chaotic and insecure. Whether it’s your partner, parent, child, sibling, friend, or other loved one, you can improve both the relationship and your own quality of life, even if the person with BPD isn’t ready to acknowledge the problem or seek treatment.


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