How Having Borderline Personality Disorder Can Affect Your Friendships

Although it might have an impact, a BPD diagnosis doesn’t automatically make you a ‘bad friend’.

For years, I was convinced that I was undeserving of friends. It seemed like the only rational explanation for why I was so unusually adept at losing them. In every situation, I was the common denominator and therefore, I reasoned, I must be the problem. I’ve found it difficult to maintain friendships since I was little.

I’d want to be super close to people straight away and end up scaring them off. I’d want to prove what a good friend I was by putting myself out there to help them, and be considered a pushover or someone who could be taken advantage of. I’d invest too heavily in the wrong people and be heartbroken when the friendship didn’t work out.

I thought I was too weird, too emotional, too erratic, too much. In reality, I was living with borderline personality disorder. Borderline personality disorder (also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder) is characterised by frequent mood swings, an intense fear of being abandoned, and a difficulty forming and keeping stable relationships. People with BPD tend to self-harm, engage in risky behaviour, and consider or attempt suicide.

It can be very difficult for people who don’t know about BPD to make sense of a friend’s behaviour when their illness manifests itself in the friendship. Coming into contact with someone’s mood swings and extreme emotions, for example, can be off-putting. It might look like they’re being difficult or a ‘drama queen’ when in reality, they’re struggling with an integral part of the BPD diagnosis.

Asking repeatedly for reassurance about the friendship might seem needy, but it’s actually just because someone with BPD is intensely afraid of abandonment. Self-harm, suicide attempts and drug and alcohol abuse are often (and completely wrongly) judged harshly, when they are really just part of the risky, self-destructive behaviours that are common for people with BPD.

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