Average Length of BPD Relationships & Marriages

Navigating relationships with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is often like walking a tightrope full of ups and downs, uncertainties, and complexities.

But what does the data say about the average duration of these relationships and marriages?

In this comprehensive analysis, we delve into the numbers, unravel the contributing factors, and explore the intricacies that define relationships involving BPD. From marriage rates to attachment styles and from communication barriers to the impact of substance use, we offer an accurate look into what makes these relationships tick—and sometimes tock. 

Whether you're a therapist, diagnosed with BPD, or involved with someone who is, this guide sheds crucial light on the long-term prospects and hurdles you might encounter.

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Average Length of BPD Relationships and Marriages 

Average BPD Married or Cohabiting Length 

Couples with BPD who are married or in committed living arrangements tend to stay together for an average of 7.3 years. This duration can deviate by approximately ±4.8 years. For comparison, that is 11% less than the average duration for U.S. marriages, which is 8.2 years. [1, 2]

Average Length Of BPD Marriages DatingArmory_com

Average BPD Casual Dating Length

Here, the data reveals a stark contrast.

While a significant number (20%-30%) of individuals with BPD are engaged in some form of romantic relationship, almost 68% of BPD relationships that are not cohabiting dissolve within the first 6 months, and an additional 28.6% don't make it past 18 months. [3, 4, 5]

Average BPD Casual Dating Length Visual Datingarmory_com

BPD Marriage Rates

While 52% of women with BPD have married, only 29% of their male counterparts have done the same, making BPD women nearly twice as likely to marry. In stark contrast, 90.9% of non-BPD women and 89.2% of non-BPD men have married, making them 1.75 and 3 times more likely to get married than individuals with BPD.

BPD Divorce Rates

Among those with BPD who have married, 33% end up divorcing. Interestingly, this is slightly lower than the divorce rates for non-BPD women and men, which stand at 37.3% and 35.7%, respectively.

BPD Remarriage Rates

Only 10% of BPD individuals choose to remarry post-divorce, precisely half of the 20% remarriage rate in those without BPD. In essence, non-BPD individuals are twice as likely to take a second walk down the aisle.

BPD Parenthood Rates

When starting a family, 25% of BPD women and 15% of BPD men have children. This means that BPD women are 1.67 times more likely to become mothers than their male counterparts are to become fathers. For context, the parenthood rates for non-BPD individuals are considerably higher, with 84.3% of women and 76.5% of men becoming parents. That makes non-BPD women and men over three and five times more likely to have children than those with BPD.

Read BPD Marriage, Divorce & Parenthood Statistics to uncover all BPD relationship statistics and the complete list of sources (example pictured below).

BPD Marriage, Divorce, Re-marriage & Parenthood Statistics datingarmory_com

Relationship Outcomes in Recovered BPD Individuals

Recovery markedly improves relationship stability and family life among those with BPD. Surprisingly, the diagnosis endures in only 25% of individuals 15 years into one study and drops to 8% after 27 years. This remission corresponds with significant improvements in relationship metrics:

  • Marriage/Cohabitation: 78.7% of recovered individuals engage in marriage or long-term cohabitation, almost doubling the 39.3% rate among those not in recovery.
  • Relationship Stability: Only 42.4% of recovered individuals end significant relationships, compared to 74.6% among non-recovered individuals. The latter are 1.7 times more prone to relationship breakdowns.
  • Parenthood: Nearly half (49.3%) of those recovered have children, a substantial increase from the 30.7% parenthood rate among non-recovered counterparts, marking a 61% improvement in propensity to parent.
  • Child Custody: A minimal 6.8% of recovered individuals lose custody of their children, a rate 7.5 times lower than the alarming 51.2% among those not in recovery.
Relationship Outcomes Among Recovered and Non-Recovered BPD Individuals datingarmory_com

To fully explain how BPD recovery and age are factors in this improvement, read: BPD Marriage, Divorce & Parenthood Statistics.

Explanation and Causes for Length of BPD Relationship

What factors contribute to the rapid dissolution of some BPD relationships while others surprisingly endure as long as typical unions?

1. The Paradox of Attachment Satisfaction

Contrary to popular belief, 51% of women and 60% of men report satisfaction in marriages involving a partner with BPD. A significant contributor to this paradox is the high frequency of insecure attachment styles found in 68.6% of such relationships. While insecure attachment generally hampers relationship stability, in some BPD relationships, these styles sync up dysfunctionally, leading to a fragile form of satisfaction and calmness. [3]

2. Aggressive Communication as a Barrier

People with BPD frequently resort to passive-aggressive modes of expression. This communication style complicates straightforward conflict resolution, serving as a persistent obstacle to relational stability. [6]

3. Cognitive Distortions and Relationship Perception

Another complicating factor is the propensity of individuals with BPD to misread neutral or even positive relationship events as unfavorable. This recurring misinterpretation amplifies tensions and misunderstandings, further destabilizing the relationship. [7]

Related: 11 Reasons For BPD Violence, Abuse [Causes And Explanation]

4. Violence and Gender Dynamics

A notable 37% of partners involved with individuals diagnosed with BPD encounter physical or psychological violence within 4 months, undermining the relationship's stability. This is further intensified by gender-based disparities: 50% of females with BPD have a history of physical or sexual assault, contrasting with 26% of males. Additionally, among females arrested for domestic violence, 27% fulfill the diagnostic criteria for BPD, introducing a greater likelihood of violent behavior and the real threat of legal repercussions that can sever or damage the relationship. [8, 9, 10]

Assault Reports Statistics 50% of Female BPD Patients vs. 26% of Males datingarmory_com

5. The Six Stages of the BPD Relationship

The cycle of six key stages of relationships with BPD partners makes long-term stability difficult. 1) Initial Idealization, where the BPD individual rapidly commits emotionally; 2) Acute Sensitivity, marked by hyper-awareness of minor actions of the partner; 3) Manipulative Validation, where emotional tactics like jealousy provocation are employed to test commitment; 4) Partner Devaluation, featuring intentional distancing; 5) Separation, where emotional exhaustion leads to withdrawal; and 6) The Fallout, involving emotional crises and sometimes a renewed but short-lived honeymoon phase. This loop of breaking up and making up makes sustained relationships elusive. [11]

6. Childhood Trauma's Pervasive Impact

Individuals with BPD are 13 times more likely to have experienced childhood maltreatment, affecting their adult relationships in complex ways. Within this demographic, 48.9% reported physical neglect, 42.5% emotional abuse, 36.4% physical abuse, 32.1% sexual abuse, and 25.3% emotional neglect. These early-life traumas often echo into adulthood, as individuals with BPD are prone to recreating or ''mirroring'' these violent experiences in their intimate relationships, contributing to a cycle of instability. [12, 13

BPD patients are 13 times more likely to report a history of childhood maltreatment compared to healthy participants datingarmory_com

7. Male Partners with Antisocial Traits and Comorbid Disorders

In relationships where women have BPD, 52.9% of their male partners meet the criteria for antisocial personality disorder, often signaled by conduct disorder symptoms before age 15. This increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior within the relationship. Complicating matters further, 44% of these male partners are diagnosed with another personality disorder, a rate markedly higher than the 9%-14% observed in the general population, adding multiple layers of instability to the relationship. [3, 14

Men Partnered with BPD Women Comorbid Personality Disorder Statistics Graph DatingArmory_com

8. Substance Use Disorders Amplify Challenges

A substantial segment of individuals with BPD—over 50% at the treatment stage and 75% at some point in their lives—struggle with substance use disorders. This includes 24% grappling with alcohol issues and 13% with drug problems at the treatment phase, ballooning to 36% across their lifetime. This comorbidity amplifies the emotional volatility and conflict potential in marital relationships. For instance, reliance on alcohol as a coping mechanism can escalate tensions, disagreements, and neglect of responsibilities, further destabilizing the marriage dynamic. [15]

Read 63 Signs, Challenges and Examples of a BPD Marriage for a more comprehensive list of challenges in BPD relationships.


In summary, BPD relationships are marked by complexity and volatility but offer room for improvement with recovery. While cohabiting couples last about 7.3 years, most non-cohabiting relationships break up within 18 months. Factors like poor communication and substance use make these relationships challenging yet uniquely intriguing. Recovery significantly improves the likelihood of stability and family life.


[1] “Attachment, Borderline Personality, and Romantic Relationship Dysfunction | Journal of Personality Disorders.” Journal of Personality Disorders, 2023, guilfordjournals.com/doi/10.1521/pedi.2011.25.6.789. Accessed 16 Sept. 2023.

[2] US Census Bureau. “Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2016.” Census.gov, 3 May 2021, www.census.gov/library/publications/2021/demo/p70-167.html. Accessed 16 Sept. 2023.

[3] Bouchard, Sébastien, et al. “Relationship Quality and Stability in Couples When One Partner Suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder.” Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, vol. 35, no. 4, Wiley-Blackwell, Oct. 2009, pp. 446–55, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-0606.2009.00151.x. Accessed 16 Sept. 2023.

[4] Clarkin, J. F., Levy, K. N., Lenzenweger, M. F., & Kernberg, O. F. (2007). Evaluating three treatments of borderline personality disorder: A multiwave study. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 164, 922–928.

[5] Giesen-Bloo, J., van Dyck, R., Spinhoven, P., van Tilburg, W., Dirksen, C., van Asselt, T., et al. (2007). Outpatient psychotherapy for borderline personality disorder: Randomized trial of schema-focused therapy vs. transference-focused psychotherapy. Archives of General Psychiatry, 63, 649–658.

[6] Lieb, K., Zanarini, M. C., Schmahl, C., Linehan, M. M., & Bohus, M. (2004). Borderline personality disorder. Lancet (London, England), 364(9432), 453–461. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(04)16770-6

[7] Goldstein S: Romantic relationships and borderline personality formation: a prospective longitudinal analysis (poster). Annu Meet Soc Res Child Dev, Tampa, 2003, pp 24–27

[8] Zanarini MC, Parachini EA, Frankenburg FR, Holman JB, Hennen J, Reich DB, Silk KR. Sexual relationship difficulties among borderline patients and axis II comparison subjects. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2003 Jul;191(7):479-82. doi: 10.1097/01.NMD.0000081628.93982.1D. PMID: 12891097.

[9] Zanarini, M. C., Frankenburg, F. R., Reich, D. B., Marino, M. F., Haynes, M. C., & Gunderson, J. G. (1999). Violence in the lives of adult borderline patients. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 187(2), 65–71. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005053-199902000-00001

[10] Stuart, G. L., Moore, T. M., Gordon, K., Ramsey, S. E., & Kahler, C. W. (2006). Psychopathology in women arrested for domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21, 376–389. doi:10.1177/ 0886260505282888

[11] Beeney, J. E., et al. (2019). The emotional bank account and the four horsemen of the apocalypse in romantic relationships of people with borderline personality disorder: A dyadic observational study. Clinical Psychological Science, 7(5), 1063-1077. https://doi.org/10.1177/2167702619830647 

[12] Stepp SD, Smith TD, Morse JQ, Hallquist MN, Pilkonis PA. Prospective associations among borderline personality disorder symptoms, interpersonal problems, and aggressive behaviors. J Interpers Violence. 2012 Jan;27(1):103-24. doi: 10.1177/0886260511416468. Epub 2011 Aug 22. PMID: 21859760; PMCID: PMC3575083.

[13] Porter, C.; Palmier-Claus, J.; Branitsky, A.; Mansell, W.; Warwick, H.; Varese, F. Childhood adversity and borderline personality disorder: A meta-analysis. Acta Psychiatr. Scand. 2020, 141, 6–20.

[14] Charitat, H., and L. Schmitt. "Épidémiologie des troubles de la personnalité." Les troubles de la personnalité. Médecine-Sciences (2002): 123-134.

[15] Grant BF, Chou SP, Goldstein RB, Huang B, Stinson FS, Saha TD, Smith SM, Dawson DA, Pulay AJ, Pickering RP, Ruan WJ. Prevalence, correlates, disability, and comorbidity of DSM-IV borderline personality disorder: results from the Wave 2 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. J Clin Psychiatry. 2008 Apr;69(4):533-45. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v69n0404. PMID: 18426259; PMCID: PMC2676679.

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About the author 

Coach Colt here, the founder of Dating Armory, your go-to source for no-nonsense, practical relationship advice. I'm a bisexual male in a same-sex open relationship and a researcher in sex, love, and relationships with 7+ years of experience. I specialize in helping both men and women navigate the crazy world of dating.

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