Everyone wants to be loved. But many borderlines struggle to form secure relationships, and sometimes lose out on love because of their emotional instability.
Along with extreme emotional outbursts and impulsive behaviour, there are other BPD characteristics that can deeply effect a romantic relationship.
It is common for individuals with BPD to have an unstable self-image. Their lack of identity can result in feelings of emptiness, and may lead them to:
- Unconsciously mirror their partners interests and beliefs in an attempt to maintain the relationship.
- Feel deeply insecure and unworthy.
- Become dependent on the affection and attention given by their partner to feel whole.
Each behaviour can end up causing a lot of tension in a relationship. By mirroring their partner, the borderline unconsciously creates an illusion of a perfect match. Through their feelings of insecurity and unworthiness, they may accuse their partner of rejecting or abandoning them. And by becoming dependent on their partner, the boundaries of personal space are crossed.
Fear of abandonment
A lot of individuals with BPD do not respond well to healthy boundaries and distance in a relationship. Their deep-rooted fear of abandonment can manifest into irrational thoughts and false beliefs.
At any given moment, the borderline may believe their partner is rejecting or abandoning them, when in fact their partner is just unable to meet their needs, demands, or expectations then and there. The borderline may:
- Accuse their partner of cheating or wanting to end the relationship.
- Cheat in an attempt to feel wanted and secure. Some may also use “the other person” as a backup to fall back on if their current relationship fails.
- Cling to their partner and make unreasonable demands.
But sometimes the fear of abandonment goes unnoticed because of the borderlines reaction to perceived, or true, rejection and/or abandonment. Because of their thoughts, they sometimes push their partner away.
Black and white thinking
Splitting (black and white thinking) is a defense mechanism characterised by distorted thinking. An individual with BPD may idolize their partner one moment, and devalue them the next.
If their partner fails to meet their needs, demands or expectations, the borderline often views their partner to be bad or rejecting. They essentially devalue their partner and may:
- Dislike their partners actions in any given situation, and express their disdain as hate. This can lead to outbursts of rage and despair.
- Feel their partner is absolutely not right for them, and leave.
- Argue with their partner over false mistakes because of their splitting thought process. This often ends up with their partner walking on eggshells.
The results of this thinking process can be overwhelming for the non-borderline in the relationship. But in contrast, the individual with BPD suffers from overwhelming emotions pretty much all of the time. This is another reason why they sometimes push away their partners.
When overwhelmed with emotions, an individual with BPD loses control of their feelings. In a relationship they may:
- Jump straight into rage or despair when they are faced with a disagreement.
- Self harm to gain a sense of control, or to escape from their emotions.
- Feel backed into a corner when they get too close to their partner, resulting in them wanting to flee.
Overwhelming emotions can be unpleasant in a relationship. The borderline does not want to feel this way, and their partner would rather avoid the conflicts that arise from these feelings.
On the whole, all of these BPD characteristics can result in a never-ending dance of “I hate you – don’t leave me” in a romantic relationship.
My personal worst is when I need comfort from my S.O.. If he fails to immediately recognise I need a hug, I have a raging tantrum and break down into tears. Then when he tries to give me a hug, I tell him to **** off, and get mad and upset again when he backs off. This endless dance can last hours…
However, there is more to an individual with BPD than just the characteristics of their illness. They do not choose to have extreme emotions, and irrational thoughts. And they do not choose to be difficult and demanding in a relationship. You can click here to read more about the basics of borderline personality disorder.