What Anyone With Family With Borderline Personality Disorder Understands
When we know someone is going through a hard time, we can feel guilty admitting that their struggles affect us. You’ve probably been there plenty of times in your life—perhaps a friend, family member, or romantic partner was going through something difficult that made them a less-than-great friend/family member/partner to you. But you didn’t feel like you could speak up because you knew that, no matter how much turmoil they were causing you, the turmoil they were feeling internally was immeasurably worse. But you know what? It’s not good for anyone when you deny your own feelings, and how other people’s problems affect you. This is a struggle that anyone with a family member who has borderline personality disorder faces every day. You know that person is hurting badly, so you feel bad admitting that they’re hurting you as a result. But it’s okay to admit that. You are here, experiencing things, too. Here are things anyone with a family member with borderline personality disorder understands.
They exaggerate about fights
When they get in a fight with someone else and tell you about that fight, they will exaggerate things. You come to learn that, whatever they say the other person did or said, they probably actually only did about…one-tenth of that.
They get ahead of themselves in love
Those with BPD tend to get ahead of themselves in love. After one good date with someone, they may state that they could see themselves spending their life with that person. You know to take their updates on their love life with a grain of salt, and you often have to tell them to pump the breaks…so they don’t get hurt.
They get ahead of themselves in their careers
If the boss of someone with borderline personality disorder says, “There’s a chance you could move up in this company” what the person with BPD may have heard was, “I’m going to make you partner and CEO.” You also have to help your family member temper their expectations of how quickly things will move at work.
It’s hard for them to hold down a job
You’ve also come to learn that those with BPD have a hard time holding down jobs. Their mood swings cause them to behave inappropriately towards their colleagues and superiors, and they aren’t as forgiving as you are for those act-outs.
They call a lot
People with BPD tend to require a lot of attention. It’s hard for them to be with their own thoughts. Furthermore, they often believe they have a lot of major drama and dilemmas in their life. For both of these reasons, your family member with BPD calls you a lot. And when you see that call, you know you’re about to do a whole lot of listening and very little talking for a while.
They can have boundary issues
BPD can come with some codependency issues, so you’ve come to expect that your family member may show up at your home unannounced, often. She may even get upset that you don’t invite her on your romantic getaway with your partner.
Their new interests can go away tomorrow
When someone with BPD becomes fixated on a new hobby/class/activity/subject, you know that they may drop it entirely in a few days. As such, you are careful not to buy that $300 ticket they’d like you to get to that lecture, so you can accompany them. You know they, themselves, may be over it before the lecture even happens.
They can love someone one day, and hate them the next
You’ve seen your family member turn on people rapidly. They either have 110% love for someone, or hate. All of their relationships are intense. A new friend is a best friend. But that best friend can be someone they hate in a week. There are no calm, middle-of-the-road relationships.
Their obsessions are usually just a distraction
You also know that when your family member with BPD becomes certain that becoming a pilot/meditative guru/pastry chef/animal psychiatrist is their calling in life, that they’re probably just running away from some issues they don’t want to face.
They are very difficult to travel with
Going on a trip with someone with BPD is very difficult. There are too many opportunities for them to believe that someone slighted them, disregarded their needs, or weren’t sensitive enough. They don’t brush small things off the way most people do—they fixate, and those fixations can turn into explosions that ruin the trip.
They can act up in large groups
Large group settings aren’t ideal for those with BPD. They need a certain amount of attention on them to stay calm, and the more people are around, the less attention they get. You know that if you take someone with BPD to a big party, they are bound to have an outburst.
Or groups of people they don’t know
Even small groups can be a problem for those with BPD if they do not know anyone in the group. Meeting new people involves asking those people about themselves, and listening to other’s stories, and—again—those with BPD tend to need a lot of attention to remain calm.
Nothing is ever their fault
If your family member with BPD gets fired, gets dumped, has a friend get mad at them, has a roommate move out on them, or gets in trouble at work, it’s never their fault…allegedly.
When they feel cornered, they lash out
Your family member with BPD has said a lot of very hurtful things to you—things that, if anyone else said them, you wouldn’t forgive. They’ve said things to you that, typically, would end a friendship. But you know that they just lash out when they feel cornered and insecure.
They don’t take criticism well
You can’t really give a person with BPD a note on their personality or constructive criticism. They can be very sensitive, and usually read this as an attack.