How Having Borderline Personality Disorder Can Affect Your Friendships

In my social interactions, I feel an overwhelming sense of fatigue because I’m so hyper-concerned about how I’m coming across and whether or not I’m misreading or misinterpreting the situation, or making the other person’s words fit with a narrative I’ve already constructed in my head rather than actually understanding what they’re saying.

If I think someone doesn’t like me, everything they do or say will speak that back to me – even if it’s logically not true at all. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find articles and discussion forum posts deriding friendships with BPD sufferers. People who have the illness are branded ‘toxic’, ‘intense’, unable to respect boundaries or simply not worth the hassle of having a friendship with. This is both misleading and offensive.

Borderline personality disorder doesn’t mean that someone will necessai be a negative influence in your life or treat your poorly. People with BPD are often very sensitive, empathetic and attuned to the moods of others. We tend to be good listeners and are always willing to put ourselves in other people’s shoes.

Jasmine agrees: ‘I think a thing about BPD is that it opens a whole new realm of empathy. I have a few friends with BPD and they are some of the most patient and insightful people I’ve ever met.’ Having BPD doesn’t make you a bad friend. Negative behaviour in friendships can and does occur every day between people who don’t suffer from any sort of mental illness.

Steve Clarke is a leading psychotherapist and clinical and therapy services manager at the Priory’s Life Works Hospital in Surrey. He believes that people with BPD absolutely can maintain fulfilling and healthy friendships with others.

‘Most people with BPD will know what triggers them, and if they are in acceptance of the condition, will generally understand what sort of situations or conversations might trigger negative thoughts and emotions. ‘If a loved one is diagnosed with BPD, try to be patient. They may struggle to deal with their emotions. Don’t judge them; listen, summarise and repeat what you believe you have heard. ‘Avoid telling them that they’re overreacting. Avoid telling your loved one that they shouldn’t feel the way they do, or that you know how they feel, because you don’t… ‘Be consistent and remain calm.

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