Today, you will learn the ultimate guide to mastering BPD dating, relationships, and marriages - whether you or your partner have the condition.
Why should you listen?
Because you'll get more than surface-level advice, you'll receive a blueprint for diagnosing, treating, and thriving in a BPD relationship.
Want to know how to navigate the often tricky terrain of comorbid conditions? I got it covered.
Are you struggling with emotional turbulence? We'll tackle it.
No generic advice.
Just battle-tested advice that'll work for you.
Stick around, and you'll leave with an arsenal of practical, field-tested strategies you won't find anywhere else.
Chapter 1: Deciphering the Complexities of BPD in You and Your Partner
1. Secure a Legitimate Diagnosis for BPD and Explore Comorbid Conditions
First, have you or your partner been professionally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?
If not, consider taking this critical step before diving into a relationship.
Because understanding is the first step toward healing, a formal diagnosis opens doors to targeted treatment plans.
Additionally, don't turn a blind eye to other personality disorders that might be lurking alongside BPD (also known as comorbid personality disorders).
Research indicates (pictured below) that comorbidity—having more than one disorder simultaneously—is not uncommon in people with BPD.
For the partner without BPD, often but not exclusively the male counterpart, it's equally vital to be aware of any underlying conditions.
2. Arm Yourself with Knowledge: The Vital Stats and Facts on BPD Relationships
Research and knowledge will be crucial to you when dealing with your BPD relationships, so here’s a snapshot to give you an idea:
- Among those with BPD, 52% of women and 29% of men are married. Compare this to 90.9% of non-BPD women and 89.2% of non-BPD men.
- Only 10% of BPD individuals get remarried, half the rate of those without BPD.
- While 20%-30% of BPD individuals are in some form of romantic relationship, 68% of these relationships dissolve within the first 6 months. An additional 28.6% break apart by 18 months.
- A staggering 50% of BPD females have experienced physical or sexual assault, compared to 26% of BPD males.
- 27% of females arrested for domestic violence meet the criteria for BPD.
- The Prognosis: Studies show promise with 35% remission after 2 years, skyrocketing to 99% after 16 years. However, it's essential to consider that this remission often coincides with poor social relationships. The apparent remission may be due to a tendency to avoid interpersonal relationships rather than an actual improvement in interpersonal skills. [1, 2, 3]
- Gender Dynamics: Women with BPD often fare worse in the long run than their male counterparts. While men find solace and progress in work commitments, women tend to struggle more, particularly if their relationships collapse. 
- The Six Stages of BPD Relationships: I’ll discuss this soon, so stay tuned.
Educate to Navigate.
Whether building muscle, making money, or navigating a BPD relationship—education is your most powerful tool.
The better you understand the rules of the BPD game, the better your chances are of succeeding.
I’ll also list the best BPD relationship resources below.
3. Understand The Six Stages of the BPD Relationship Cycle
Understanding the six stages of the BPD relationship cycle is important to comprehend what fuels the chaotic and emotional rollercoaster in such relationships.
There are several reasons behind it, but the key is a deep-seated fear of abandonment, volatile emotional eruptions, undervaluation, and an inclination to dodge confrontations.
Both partners often struggle with their emotional insecurities and various personality challenges, resulting in cycling between intense emotions of yearning for connection (known as ‘hyperactivation’) and retreat (known as ‘deactivation’).
These oscillations are frequent.
According to data, 28.6% of BPD relationships end after just a few tumultuous cycles, typically within six months.
To better understand these cycles and how to protect yourself, let's break them down into "The Six Stages of the BPD Relationship Cycle."
Stage 1: The Initial Idealization Stage
During the initial idealization stage, which typically occurs soon after the first meeting, individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) tend to view their partners as perfect and place them above other priorities in life. This stage is characterized by:
- The relationship progresses rapidly, and both partners have an overwhelmingly positive outlook and aspire to build a lasting bond.
- The partner with BPD may mirror their significant other's behavior, creating a deep sense of connection and compatibility. This can make the relationship feel like a genuine "soul mate" connection.
- The partner with BPD might demand a lot of attention and time, indicating a high level of investment in the relationship.
This stage is commonly called the "honeymoon phase" and can last anywhere from a few weeks to around six months. 
Stage 2: Acute Sensitivity
As the relationship progresses, it becomes more complicated and dysfunctional, entering its second stage.
At this point, the individual with BPD becomes extremely sensitive to their partner's words and actions, driven by their underlying self-worth issues and fear of abandonment.
Even minor incidents such as a missed text, a delayed response, or a date rescheduling can make the individual assume their partner is losing interest or planning to end the relationship.
This tendency can result in the individual developing a self-perpetuating narrative in which they believe their partner no longer loves or values them, further reinforcing their insecurities and fears.
Stage 3: Manipulative Validation
In the third stage of the relationship, individuals with BPD grapple with intensifying fears of abandonment.
This can manifest in paradoxical behaviors of both seeking assurance and pushing their partners away, a strategic move to compel them to meet their emotional needs, validate their worthiness, and quell growing anxieties.
They may set up tests or scenarios to see if their partner will remain steadfast in their commitment.
Examples of these tests include:
- Provoking jealousy: Mentioning past relationships, flirting overtly with others, or discussing someone's interest in them to gauge their partner's reaction.
- Playing hard to get: Acting uninterested or pretending to be too busy to see if their partner will pursue them more aggressively.
- Feigning vulnerability: Sharing a contrived personal crisis or problem to determine if their partner will offer support or comfort.
- Seeking reassurance: Repeatedly asking questions like "Do you love me?" or "Would you ever leave me?" to monitor their partner's consistency and confidence in answers.
Such tactics, however, can lead to disagreements or even instigated arguments.
From the perspective of the individual with BPD, these confrontations can be perceived as fighting for the relationship's preservation and, by extension, validation of their worth.
For those on the receiving end of such behaviors, navigating this stage can be challenging:
Responses can range from reassuring the BPD partner of one's love to saying 'no' and committing to establishing boundaries.
Stage 4: Partner Devaluation
In the fourth stage of a BPD relationship, dynamics shift towards heightened devaluation.
Feeling insecure due to unsuccessful tests of their partner's commitment, the BPD partner intentionally creates emotional distance as a defense mechanism against potential abandonment.
It's always less painful to 'quit' than to get 'fired' from a relationship.
This distancing behavior triggers confusion and doubts for the partner, who witnesses paradoxical behavior from their BPD partner of still seeking reassurance of love while projecting a façade of normalcy to quell their fear of abandonment.
This mess often results in intensified conflicts, gaslighting, deeper emotional disconnect, and a victim mentality, making mutual understanding and reconciliation more challenging for both partners.
Stage 5: Separation
In the fifth stage of the relationship, the non-BPD partner, still ignorant of their partner's BPD struggles, feels increasingly lost and overwhelmed. They can't understand the rapid changes in their partner's behavior, making the relationship unstable.
As things continue to fall apart, the BPD partner might suddenly try to explain their actions, hoping to patch things up.
However, as things come to a head, two things might happen:
- The BPD partner could call it quits, either openly saying it's over or slowly pulling away. They might even form a new close bond with someone else and sometimes shift blame to the non-BPD partner.
- On the other hand, feeling exhausted and emotionally drained, the non-BPD partner might choose to walk away, even while the BPD partner tries to keep the relationship alive.
Stage 6: The Fallout
In the aftermath of a relationship breakdown, a partner with BPD often grapples with a profound sense of loss, accompanied by intense feelings of low self-worth and depression.
The emotional turbulence can be so overwhelming that they may even engage in risky behaviors or entertain self-harming or suicidal thoughts.
Despite the pain, there's often a lingering hope of reconciliation.
They may fondly reminisce about the relationship, magnifying its positive aspects and longing to return to better times. This can lead them to attempt reconnection, driven by a desire to restart the relationship cycle.
If both partners choose to rekindle the relationship, it may give rise to a new honeymoon period, albeit shorter than its initial counterpart.
During this renewed phase, the non-BPD partner, eager to preserve the relationship, might shoulder more blame, striving to meet the emotional needs they believe they previously neglected.
While this reunion may provide temporary relief and harmony, it's also a potential precursor to revisiting the same challenges and dynamics that led to the initial breakup. 
Now that you understand this (possibly) never-ending roller coaster, I want you to ask yourself:
- In which stage of the BPD relationship cycle do you currently find yourself?
- Do you feel your partner is currently idealizing or devaluing you?
- Have you observed noticeable changes in your partner's behavior across different cycle stages?
- Do specific actions or words trigger emotional shifts in your partner?
- Are you doing things that might inadvertently perpetuate or intensify the cycle?
- Is there a pattern to the cycle that allows you to anticipate shifts, or does it change randomly?
- Have you set clear boundaries to protect yourself emotionally and physically during each stage?
- Is being in this cycle causing you stress, anxiety, or depression?
- Do external stresses like work, family, or health issues impact the cycle?
- Have you found any strategies or behaviors that help mitigate the cycle's intensity?
- When is seeking external help, like a therapist or counselor, necessary?
- If children or other family members are involved, how do they interpret or react to these shifting dynamics?
- Considering the recurring nature of the cycle, are you emotionally and mentally prepared to handle this in the long run?
Pull out a pen and paper (or print out the workbook pictured below), write each question, and answer the questions in full.
Take your time.
This is the time for you to reflect on your relationship.
Chapter 2: Actionable BPD Relationship Tips
4. Learn the Basics of Dating and Conquer Your Social Anxiety
Regarding short-term relationships or casual sex, individuals with BPD generally don’t have too much of an issue.
But let's be honest, meaningful, long-term relationships?
That's where things get rocky.
The good news?
You can make the terrain navigable and level the playing field.
Master the basics of dating and overcome your crippling social anxieties.
Here’s a quick toolkit to get you started:
- Read Books by The Pound: Start with my curated list of essential reads on dating, sex, and relationships for men. (Lists for women and the LGBT community are in the works.)
- Social Skills 101: Grab a copy of 'The Social Skills Guidebook'. If you struggle with introducing yourself and continuing conversations (like most people on this planet), this is your Bible.
- Date Night Decoded: Know where to take your date and what topics to avoid. Spoiler: your ex should never make a guest appearance in the conversation.
- Conquer Anxiety: Embark on the famous 100-day Rejection Therapy Challenge by Jia Jiang. (It won't eliminate your social anxiety but it won’t cripple you anymore.)
- Knowledge Nuggets: Check out my articles, like 'How to Flirt with a Guy,' 'How to Tease a Girl,' and 'How to Tell Someone You’re Not Interested.'
- Get a Dating Coach: If you're looking for hands-on guidance, well, you know where to find me.
- Upgrade Your Aesthetics: Talk to a stylist, get a proper haircut, and get advice on the best clothing to wear (check out r/malefashionadvice and r/femalefashion). Also, go to the gym. Girls (and guys) love a good body.
The long haul:
Is it worth it?
Investing months or even years into this might sound like hell, but ask yourself:
Is a fulfilling relationship worth it?
If I hear you saying yes, set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) and start grinding.
Once you master dating basics, you’ll have a new perspective on how badly BPD affects your intimate relationships.
Maybe you’ll see that it’s not as bad as you thought.
@2bebetterpodcast People seem to enjoy when I talk about this. BPD is hard for everyone. this is from the side piece. a new thing we are trying. It will be on youtube soon. #2bebetterpodcast #advice #bpd #relationship #relationships #relationshipadvice #support #teamwork #traditionalmarriage #traditionalvalues #personalgrowth #communication #learn #marriagegoals #dating ♬ original sound - Chris Burkett
5. Practice Safe Sex and Avoid STDs
Data shows that people with BPD have more sexual partners, so be extra careful about catching STDs.
Use condoms and birth control, and get on Prep if you are a bisexual or gay man (like me).
6. When to Tell Your Partner You Have BPD: ‘The 3/4 Date Rule’
Get the timing wrong, and you risk reducing your entire persona to a diagnosis in the eyes of your potential partner.
So, when should you bring it up?
Use ‘The 3/4 Date Rule.’
Wait until you've had about 3-4 dates.
This time frame allows you and your potential partner to explore the chemistry and establish a genuine connection without the shadow of a diagnosis hanging over you.
(As a side point, use ‘The 3/4 Date Rule’ when introducing other sensitive topics to a potential partner, such as family or money issues.)
7. Make your ‘Best Partner Decision’
Making your Best Partner Decision is critical.
While I can't provide personalized advice, some general observations are worth considering:
- The Narcissistic Trap: Research shows that while many BPD women are drawn initially to narcissistic men, it often devolves into a toxic cycle of abuse or abandonment.
- The Caretaker Dilemma: Stability vs. Impulsivity. Selecting a partner who naturally falls into a caregiving role can stabilize the relationship. But beware: clinical observations suggest that this dynamic could backfire. Why? Caretakers often struggle to limit impulsive behavior, leading to relationship friction.
- The Intimacy Paradox: Studies also show that the level of dysfunction in BPD relationships tends to escalate as intimacy deepens.
But don’t worry.
It's not all doom and gloom.
Despite these challenges, data indicates that individuals with BPD fare significantly better in stable, positive relationships—psychologically, lowering borderline psychopathology and economically. [4, 7, 8]
8. Listen to Your Real Friends
I have a friend called Mr. B (that’s what we’ll call him). He’s genuinely lovely, but he’s gone through horrific childhood trauma and has BPD.
He has a girlfriend he’s met at the university where he's studying.
But, for whatever reason, I’ve never met her - although he’s met my boyfriend 1000 times, and we all hang out occasionally.
Not only that, but they often get into fights; he tells me she’s disrespecting him and talking to other guys.
After their fight, they don’t talk but eventually get back together.
He’s recently told me they’re going to couples therapy now - keep in mind that they're only a couple of months into their relationship.
My boyfriend and I have repeatedly told him to drop her and find a girl who respects him.
But he won’t listen.
I don’t know why.
And frankly, him acting this way (besides other reasons) slowly pulls us apart.
Don’t be like Mr. B.
If all your friends - and I mean real friends - the ones actively looking out for your happiness - give you their heartfelt advice (not their ‘opinion’) that you need to move past your partner, consider it seriously.
Don’t let your personality disorders or trauma get in the way of finding someone better.
9. Dealing with Relationship Drama vs Toxic BPD Behavior
BPD isn’t always just about Being Pretty Dramatic.
That is the stereotypical BPD behavior, but truthfully, you’ll see that in everyday relationship drama.
Learn to distinguish between relationship drama and toxic BPD behavior.
Here are some examples:
Example 1: Emotional Reaction to Canceled Plans
Situation: One partner has to cancel dinner plans due to work.
Non-BPD Behavior: The other partner is disappointed, leading to a brief argument about balancing work and personal life. They make up later.
Toxic BPD Behavior: The other partner, who has BPD, accuses them of ruining their life and threatens self-harm.
Example 2: Texting Frequency
Situation: One partner takes a few hours to reply to a text.
Non-BPD Behavior: The other partner feels anxious and sends a follow-up text asking if everything is okay. The issue is resolved with an apology and explanation.
Toxic BPD Behavior: The partner with BPD sends a barrage of escalating texts ranging from pleading to angry accusations of abandonment or cheating.
Example 3: Socializing Without Partner
Situation: One partner goes out with friends and doesn't invite the other.
Non-BPD Behavior: The other partner feels left out and mentions it, leading to a discussion about inclusivity and time spent together.
Toxic BPD Behavior: The partner with BPD becomes extremely jealous, may stalk their partner online, and starts a volatile fight when they return, accusing them of betrayal.
Example 4: Discussing Future Plans
Situation: One partner suggests moving in together.
Non-BPD Behavior: The other partner hesitates, leading to a serious but respectful discussion about the relationship's future. Both partners share their concerns and agree to revisit the topic later.
Toxic BPD Behavior: The partner with BPD has a highly emotional reaction, accusing them of trying to control their life. The conversation might swing between idealization ("You're the love of my life") and devaluation ("You're trying to trap me") rapidly.
If you notice this crazy, erratic behavior, you may be dealing with BPD - just don’t jump to conclusions. And like I said before, get a professional diagnosis and help.
These are just some examples; for my complete list read 63 Signs, Challenges and Examples of a BPD Marriage | Dating Armory
10. Practice ‘Explicit Mutual Understanding’ (EMU)
EMU is the key to fulfilling relationships.
No, not that EMU - not the bird!
EMU = Explicit Mutual Understanding
Allow me to explain my concept:
Explicit Mutual Understanding (EMU) is a communication strategy where both partners commit to absolute transparency, clarity, and openness in sharing their thoughts, emotions, and expectations. Unlike typical communication, where some nuances might be left unsaid or implied, EMU demands that all significant matters are discussed openly, directly, and unambiguously. This approach aims to reduce misunderstandings, manage emotional volatility, and establish clear boundaries.
As you can imagine, these advantages are especially beneficial in relationships where one or both partners have BPD.
So, say it with me:
EMU! EMU! EMU!
Now, say it while flapping your wings like the emu bird.
Okay, maybe don’t do that!
Here are some topics you want to EMU in your intimate relationship:
Example 1: Discussing Triggers
When: Both partners are calm and emotionally stable.
Why: Knowing each other's triggers can help avoid unintentional emotional flare-ups.
How: Sit down and openly discuss what specific actions, words, or situations can trigger negative emotional states.
Example 2: Setting Boundaries
When: Early in the relationship or during a calm period.
Why: Clear boundaries reduce misunderstandings and potential conflicts.
How: Have a dedicated conversation where both parties explicitly state what they consider acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
Example 3: Financial Matters
When: Before major financial decisions or commitments.
Why: Money can be a significant source of conflict; complete transparency can alleviate this.
How: Discuss budgets, spending habits, and financial goals openly, leaving no room for assumptions.
Example 4: Discussing Future Plans
When: When considering taking the next step in your relationship, like moving in together or engagement.
Why: Big life decisions require complete understanding and agreement.
How: Lay out expectations, fears, and aspirations for the future and ensure both parties agree.
Example 5: During Therapy or Counseling
When: Counseling sessions or structured settings where a mediator can guide the conversation.
Why: The controlled environment can make it easier to navigate complex emotional issues.
How: Use the safe space therapy provides to delve into issues that might be too volatile to discuss otherwise.
Example 6: Resolving Conflict
When: After both parties have cooled down from an argument but before resentment can build.
Why: Clearing the air quickly can prevent long-term damage to the relationship.
How: Discuss the root causes of the conflict openly, each taking responsibility for their part.
Of course, EMU isn’t appropriate in every scenario, for example:
A) Strategic Silence
Sometimes, saying nothing is better than saying something that could exacerbate a situation. For instance, if your partner is highly stressed or agitated, your constructive criticism might not be well-received at that moment.
Whether planning a special date or buying a thoughtful gift, some situations call for a bit of secrecy to create a pleasant surprise.
C) Emotional Timing
There's a right time to discuss heavy topics. If your partner is going through a difficult phase, holding off on sharing additional worries or concerns might be better until they're more emotionally stable.
D) Avoiding Unnecessary Conflict
Minor annoyances that won't affect the long-term health of the relationship may not be worth bringing up, especially if they're situational or likely to resolve on their own.
E) Protecting Privacy
Being too open can sometimes invade the other person's privacy or autonomy. For example, you only need to share every detail about interactions with an ex if it directly impacts your current relationship.
- Clarity: Leaves little room for misunderstandings and assumptions.
- Directness: Addresses issues head-on, reducing the chance for passive-aggressive behavior or bottled-up emotions.
- Accountability: Both partners know exactly what's expected, making it easier to hold each other accountable.
- Emotional Intimacy: Such a level of openness could deepen emotional intimacy and trust over time.
- Overwhelm: Being 1000% open can become emotionally draining, especially if one party is experiencing extreme emotional states common in BPD.
- Timing: Full openness may only sometimes be appropriate. Emotional timing matters and 1000% openness could introduce sensitive topics at inappropriate times.
- Boundary Issues: This level of communication could infringe on personal boundaries, leading to feelings of being smothered or invaded.
11. Make Substance Abuse Off-Limits
As you can see in the infographic below, substance abuse is rampant among individuals with BPD, so you need to make it a hard no in your relationships.
Absolute zero tolerance.
12. Be mindful of emotional triggers
It's not enough to address the rational and emotional triggers you can logically understand, such as yelling or slamming doors.
Also, talk about the seemingly senseless and trivial emotional triggers that can arise.
Have an open conversation or ‘EMU’ about these triggers, understand the traumas that may have caused them, and establish ways to avoid setting them off.
A backup plan is also vital if a trigger is accidentally set off.
Here are some example triggers that may seem trivial:
- A friend posting a social event you weren't invited to
- Being touched unexpectedly
- Specific phrases or words
- Being asked to repeat what you just said
- A slightly longer pause in the conversation
While these may seem insignificant, research has shown that clinical relapses or emotional crises can start with emotional triggers such as conflicts, quarrels, or periods of rapid break-up and reconciliation. 
Let me take you through some realistic examples so you know what to expect and how to react:
1. Abandonment Fears
Trigger: One partner mentions they'll go on a trip without the other.
Possible Trauma: A history of being abandoned or neglected by caregivers.
Backup Plan: Reassure the partner about the temporary nature of the separation and establish regular check-in times during the trip.
2. Criticism or Perceived Criticism
Trigger: A casual comment about how a task could be done more efficiently.
Possible Trauma: Emotional or verbal abuse from family or past relationships.
Backup Plan: Apologize for the unintended criticism and clarify the intent behind the comment. Reaffirm your appreciation for their effort.
3. Relationship Milestones
Trigger: Discussions about moving in together, engagement, or other significant commitments.
Possible Trauma: A previous commitment that led to betrayal or disappointment.
Backup Plan: Slow down the conversation, acknowledge their emotions, and suggest taking more time to think things over.
4. Social Interactions
Trigger: Partner spending time with friends, especially without them.
Possible Trauma: Exclusion or bullying in social situations in the past.
Backup Plan: Reiterate the importance of individual social lives for a healthy relationship and plan a special date to spend quality time together.
5. Changes in Routine
Trigger: A change in daily routine, like a different work schedule.
Possible Trauma: Past instability in home or work life.
Backup Plan: Discuss the reasons for the change and how you both can adapt your routines to accommodate it.
6. Emotional Intensity in Media
Trigger: Watching a movie or TV show with intense emotional or relational themes.
Possible Trauma: Personal experiences that resonate with the media's themes, such as loss or betrayal.
Backup Plan: Acknowledge the emotional intensity, offer to switch to lighter content, and provide emotional support.
7. Conversations About the Past
Trigger: Discussing past relationships or family history.
Possible Trauma: Past relationships that ended in betrayal or disappointment.
Backup Plan: Apologize for touching on a sensitive topic and steer the conversation toward safer subjects. Reiterate your commitment to the present relationship.
Of course, no one knows all of their emotional triggers, so stay vigilant and keep ‘EMU’ with your partner in case something unexpectedly triggers you.
You learn as the relationship progresses.
To learn more about emotional triggers and causes of BPD violence, read 11 Reasons for BPD Violence, Abuse [Causes and Explanation]
13. Settling arguments and emotional volatility
So what happens if you fail to catch an emotional trigger and find yourself in a full-blown argument?
What do you do then?
Here are some ideas:
- Time-Out Strategy: Set a timer for 5 minutes to let the emotions settle to manageable levels.
- Set Physical Boundaries: Sometimes, physical distance can help diffuse emotional intensity. Suggest moving to different rooms for a set period to cool off.
- Validate Emotions: Acknowledge your partner's feelings without necessarily agreeing with their point of view. Example: "I see that you had a tough day and you're feeling overwhelmed - that's totally understandable, even if I don't know all the details” and “I hear you - it's okay to feel jealous sometimes - I want to understand more about why you felt that way."
- Deep breathing: Techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness can help manage your emotional responses. (But just note that in my experience, this doesn’t always work in the heat of the moment.)
- Patience: This goes back to understanding BPD and how it makes people struggle with self-regulation and impulse control. If your partner is angry with you, understand who they are and that it will take time for them to move past whatever happened.
- Don’t take it personally: The flip side to developing that patience is understanding that while your partner may be screaming at you, it’s not actually about you. It’s about their BPD and trauma.
- Use "I" Statements: Instead of saying "You always..." or "You never...", frame the issue in terms of your own feelings: "I feel hurt when you do X."
- Use a Safe Word: Have a word or phrase that either partner can use to indicate that things are escalating too much, prompting an immediate pause in the conversation.
- Stick to the Issue at Hand: It's easy to bring up past grievances in the heat of the moment. Make a pact to stick to resolving one issue at a time.
- Mirror, Validate, Empathize: Repeat your partner's words, validate their feelings, and show empathy. This can de-escalate tension and show that you are listening.
- Redirect to Written Communication: If verbal communication is too heated, switch to writing text messages or emails. This forces both parties to think before speaking.
- Use Neutral Body Language: Maintain open posture, avoid crossing arms, and make moderate eye contact. Body language can communicate a lot, even when words fail.
- Revisit When Calm: Agree to revisit the issue after a specific time, once both parties have had time to cool down and collect their thoughts.
- Avoid Absolutes: Phrases like "You always" or "You never" rarely contribute to resolving a dispute. Stick to specific instances and avoid generalizing.
- Visual Aids: Keep a list of these strategies or key phrases on your phone or on a piece of paper. During a heated argument, it's easy to forget your best intentions.
- Count to Ten: Mentally count to ten before responding to a provocative statement. This simple pause can give you enough time to choose your words more carefully.
- Emotional Scale: Use a 1-10 scale to communicate your emotional intensity levels. This helps quantify your feelings and can be a quick check-in to prevent escalation.
- Pre-Arranged Signals: Agree on non-verbal signals indicating a conversation is becoming too emotionally charged. This could be as simple as holding up a hand or tapping on a table.
- Reality Testing: In a calm moment, discuss what "reality testing" questions you can ask each other when emotions run high. Questions like "Is this fact or a feeling?" sometimes bring a new perspective.
- The Third Person Test: Ask yourselves, "Would we talk like this if there was a third person in the room?" Sometimes, the idea of an invisible observer can moderate behavior.
- Post-Argument Debrief: After things have calmed down, make it a point to discuss what went well and what didn’t during the argument. Use this argument as a learning experience for future disagreements.
- Self-Compassion Reminders: When arguments get heated, it's easy to start feeling bad about oneself. Keep some self-compassion reminders handy, such as "I'm doing the best I can right now."
- Prioritize Safety: Always plan to remove yourself or your partner from the situation if it becomes unsafe. Safety should be the first priority.
While I don’t expect all or even most of these tips to work for you, I hope 1 or 2 ideas make a difference.
And, of course, tell me if something I haven’t mentioned here worked for you.
14. Set boundaries and be prepared to leave
There are 3 levels of boundaries in a relationship:
Level 1: "Basic Respect Boundaries"
Example: Tidiness in shared living spaces
It's generally understood that both partners will clean up after themselves. Failure to do so occasionally is not a deal-breaker but shows a lack of respect.
Level 2: "Major Trust Boundaries"
Example: Privacy of personal communication
Reading the other person's text messages or emails without permission violates privacy and trust but may not necessarily end the relationship.
Level 3. "Deal-Breaker Boundaries"
Example: Infidelity or abuse
Crossing this line, such as cheating or any form of physical or emotional abuse, is a non-negotiable boundary that results in the termination of the relationship.
A complete deal breaker:
While I cannot tell you what exactly to add to the first two levels, the ‘Deal-Breaker Boundaries’ should include the following:
- Infidelity: Engaging in sexual or emotional relationships outside the agreed-upon boundaries of the relationship.
- Financial Recklessness: Engaging in risky gambling behaviors that jeopardize the couple's financial stability.
- Refusal of Medical Treatment: Deliberately refusing to seek or continue necessary medical treatment, especially for conditions that affect the relationship.
- Non-Compliance with Medication: Intentionally neglecting to take prescribed medication that stabilizes mood or health, thereby affecting the relationship.
- Physical Abuse: Any form of physical violence or intimidation directed towards the partner.
- Psychological Abuse: Emotional manipulation, gaslighting, or other forms of mental cruelty.
- Substance Abuse: Severe drug or alcohol use that endangers either partner and remains unaddressed.
- Financial Deception: Significant dishonesty about finances, such as accumulating hidden debt or maintaining secret accounts.
- Child Endangerment: Behaviors that compromise the physical or emotional well-being of children involved in the relationship.
- Chronic Dishonesty: Repeated lying or manipulation that erodes the foundation of trust.
- Isolation Tactics: Attempts to isolate the partner from their friends and family as a form of control.
- Emotional or Physical Neglect: Failure to provide emotional support or meet basic physical needs to the point of compromising the partner's well-being.
- Violation of Consent: Any sexual activity that occurs without explicit, enthusiastic consent.
- Illegal Activities: Involvement in criminal actions that place either partner at risk and are morally indefensible.
Make it clear to your partner that if any of these are broken, even once, the relationship is completely over, and you will not stay in contact with them.
It’s not a boundary if you’re unwilling to enforce it.
Said in another way, but in bold:
A border isn't a border if you can push it over with your pinkie finger.
Learn more about BPD violence here: BPD Violence and Relationship Abuse [21 Facts & Statistics] | Dating Armory
15. Dealing with Self-Harm
Unfortunately, self-harm and suicidal thoughts are more common among BPD individuals which is why you need a backup crisis plan. Here are some ideas:
- Develop a Crisis Backup Plan: Collaborate on a contingency plan that outlines the steps to take during a self-harm or suicidal episode.
- Seek Immediate Professional Help: If your partner's safety is at immediate risk, don't hesitate to consult a mental health professional.
- Guard Against Manipulative Self-Harm: Be cautious that self-harm is not used as a manipulative tactic; emotional blackmail should not be tolerated.
- Maintain a List of Emergency Contacts: List all essential emergency contacts, including healthcare providers and trusted family or friends.
- Pre-Authorize Emergency Actions: Let your partner know that if their safety is at risk, you will not hesitate to contact emergency services.
- Create a Safety Protocol: Work together to identify safe places, calming techniques, and other crisis-averting measures.
- Limit Access to Harmful Objects: Temporarily remove or secure objects that could be used for self-harm to prevent impulsive actions.
- Provide Emotional Presence, Not Solutions: Offer emotional support and listen attentively without necessarily trying to resolve the underlying issue.
- Recognize Warning Signs: Educate yourself on the behavioral cues that may indicate an imminent risk of self-harm.
- Advocate for Professional Treatment: Encourage ongoing professional care, such as therapy or medication, to manage self-harm tendencies.
- Define Your Emotional Boundaries: Establish your own emotional limits to maintain your well-being while supporting your partner.
- Keep Crisis Hotline Numbers Handy: Have quick access to crisis hotline numbers for immediate third-party assistance.
- Coordinate with Support Network: Ensure that a circle of trusted individuals is available for backup support if you're not accessible.
- Stay Composed During Crises: Maintain your emotional composure during a crisis, as your emotional state can impact your partner's actions.
- Consider Your Own Mental Health Support: Seek professional advice for yourself to better cope with the emotional demands of supporting a self-harming partner.
Chapter 3: Long-Term BPD Relationship Advice
16. Therapy, Therapy, Therapy!
Consider therapy your mind's personal gym—a space for crisis management and ongoing mental fitness.
This isn't a one-and-done deal; it's a lifetime commitment, much like physical fitness.
The good news?
Therapy can often yield significant improvements in managing BPD symptoms within a year.
Tips for a Successful Therapy Experience:
- Invest Wisely: Don't skimp on your mental health. Your well-being is invaluable.
- The Therapist Connection: Think of your relationship with your therapist like any other meaningful connection. If it's not clicking, it's okay to move on.
- The Right Therapy Flavor: Explore the range of therapies effective for BPD, like Psychotherapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), or Mentalisation-Based Therapy (MBT)—different strokes for different folks.
- The Idealization-Devaluation Trap: Be aware of idealizing your therapist initially and devaluing them later—a typical BPD relationship pattern. Keep the course, and don't expect miracles overnight.
- Couples Counseling: If you're in a relationship, consider tackling BPD issues together through couples counseling.
Finding the Right Therapist—Anywhere:
- Consult your insurance directory
- Solicit recommendations from trusted individuals
- Utilize reliable online databases
- Leverage local community resources
- Contact organizations related to your specific concerns
- Reach out to university psychiatry or psychology departments
- Seek referrals from your current therapist or their network
17. Consider Group Therapy and Build a Support Network
Group therapy is like the Costco of emotional healing. It’s cheaper, and you might leave with more than you bargained for—in a good way.
You may also want to build a community-based support network when you or your partner isn’t available.
18. Be Supportive and Hold Them Accountable
Being there for your partner in meaningful ways can make the difference between the therapy working or not working.
Here are some examples of what you can do:
- Foster Positivity and Encouragement: Support your partner by helping them set and reach achievable milestones.
- Celebrate the Wins: Applaud their accomplishments, no matter how minor, to build confidence and motivation.
- Navigate the Tough Moments: Stand by your partner during challenging times, offering emotional support and understanding.
- Reinforce Strengths: Focus on highlighting your partner's positive actions and attributes to encourage constructive behavior.
- Sustain Patience for the Long Haul: Recognize that effective treatment is a lengthy process that may demand ongoing commitment, affecting both of you but not impossible.
- Know Your Boundaries: You're a partner, not a clinician. Your primary role is that of a loving partner rather than a mental health professional.
@thebpdnavigator How can you help someone struggling with BPD? Empathy & emotional validation! Empathy is a great communication tool and is helpful for any relationship. It can be hard to communicate with trauma wounds, everything can feel like an attack. With time we get more confident communicating our feelings, and listening to others. #borderlinepersonalitydisorder #bpdawareness #bpdhelp #bpdrecovery #bpdrelationship #bpdcouple #bpdwarrior #bpdsupport #fyp #bpdtiktok #bpd ♬ Metamorphosis (Longer Version) v2 - Danilo Stankovic
19. Know What You and Cannot Win
While treatment can lessen BPD symptoms, there is no cure for BPD. Accept your or your partner's flaws and move on together. While you won’t escape the struggle, happiness is within your control.
20. Enjoy *Your* Life
In a world that's complicated for everyone—yes, even your celebrity crush—it's essential to find joy.
Because life is inherently demanding.
Most of us live life in a series of boxes: We travel in a box (a car) to work in another box (an office), only to return home in the same box to sleep in yet another box (a bedroom).
It's a cyclical trap of monotony.
Now, introduce BPD into this equation.
This disorder not only challenges the individual who has it but, as research reveals, can also have a ripple effect on their partners:
- More than 50% of partners of people with BPD have a personality disorder.
- Men with BPD partners tend to have lower testosterone levels.
- In male partners of women with BPD, there are substantial increases in levels of neuroticism. 
So the big (literally) question is:
How can you recharge emotionally and have fun while compensating for poor interpersonal skills?
Here are some ideas that work for my coaching clients:
- Outdoor Adventures: I love motorcycling, hiking, and pretty much anything to do with the outdoors and nature. What about you? Do you have hobbies? Here are some ideas to get you started: woodworking, camping, fishing, gardening, mountain biking. (Side benefit: these hobbies will keep you in shape.)
- Make One Real Friendship: No acquaintances, drinking buddies, colleagues, coworkers, or online gamer friends—just one real friend.
- Self-Care Days: Plan a day for yourself every so often. Wake up early. Meditate. Spend some time journaling. Eat healthy and get yourself a healthy fruit shake. Pamper yourself with a spa day—think long baths, facial masks, pedicures, and skincare routines (especially if you’re a guy).
- Reconnect with Your Family. If they’re still alive, tell your parents that you love them.
- Digital Detox. Get off the social media addiction train. I use the' Freedom' app to block out all the crap on the internet when I wake up, go to sleep, and when I need to work. It’s a game-changer.
- Play to Your Strengths: You’re not good at relationships. Accept that. But what are you good at? Computer programming? Dive into that area and make it your thing.
- Open Up: One of the most damaging things you could do in a BPD relationship is to repress your feelings. Whether it's the chaos or loneliness that BPD brings, don't bottle it up. Have an open dialogue with your partner.
21. Dealing with Children
Research indicates that parents with BPD are 3-5 times less likely to have children than their non-BPD counterparts.
Even more shocking, BPD parents relinquish custody of their children 51.1% of the time.
These figures do not indicate a lack of parental love or desire to parent.
Rather, the volatile emotional aspects of BPD often lead to episodes of anger and, unintentionally, traumatic experiences for the children involved.
If you're navigating a BPD relationship with children involved, consider implementing the following strategies:
- Emotional Equilibrium: Strive for a stable emotional climate at home. Kids are highly attuned to tension.
- United Front: Consistency is key; mixed messages from parents can confuse children and heighten stress levels.
- Clear Conversations: Establish age-appropriate open dialogue. Explain that Mom or Dad is going through a 'rough patch,' but it's not their fault.
- Routine Comfort: Stick to daily routines. Predictability can provide solace in an emotionally charged environment.
- Time-Outs: When adult conflicts escalate, have a 'time-out' strategy to shield kids from emotional fallout.
- Expert Consultation: Seek advice from a family therapist familiar with BPD. Consider involving children in some sessions.
- Emergency Preparedness: Equip kids with a contingency plan for extreme situations, like temporarily relocating to a neighbor's home.
- Emotional Literacy: Teach kids to identify and articulate their feelings, equipping them to manage emotional situations better.
- Academic Watch: Monitor school performance; home issues often manifest as school challenges.
- Kids Time: Allow kids space away from the family setting, whether it's spending time with friends or extended family.
- Love & Reassurance: Reaffirm that they are loved, irrespective of a parent's emotional state.
While this does not look easy, there is some light at the end of the tunnel:
Research indicates (pictured below) that with age and professional treatment, the prospects for parenthood—including child custody rates—can improve significantly.
22. Best Books and Resources for BPD Dating, Relationships, and Marriage
Although this article provides a comprehensive guide, following every tip is unnecessary.
The aim is for one or two insights to resonate with you and bring about significant changes in your life.
The same applies to the following list of curated books and resources specifically tailored for those navigating BPD relationships:
You don't have to read every book, as not all of them may be to your liking, but one or two might be game-changers for you.
- BPD from the Husband's POV: The Roses and Rage of My Wife’s Borderline Personality Disorder (Roses and Rage BPD) by Robert Page
- Borderline Personality Disorder Wiki Pages by r/BPDWiki
- Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself (Revised and Updated) by Melody Beattie
- Expecting the Unexpected: A BPD Breakup Guide by u/Ownfir
- Fatal Flaws: An Introduction to Disorders of Personality and Character by Stuart C. Yudofsky
- Feel Better Fast and Make It Last: Unlock Your Brain’s Healing Potential to Overcome Negativity, Anxiety, Anger, Stress, and Trauma by Daniel G. Amen
- I Hate You--Don't Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus
- Living Nonviolent Communication: Practical Tools to Connect and Communicate Skillfully in Every Situation by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D.
- Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder: How to Keep Out-of-Control Emotions from Destroying Your Relationship by Shari Y. Manning
- Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist: How to End the Drama and Get On with Life by Margalis Fjelstad
- Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder (Third Edition) by Randi Kreger
- Surviving a Borderline Parent: How to Heal Your Childhood Wounds and Build Trust, Boundaries, and Self-Esteem by Kimberlee Roth, Freda B. Friedman, and Randi Kreger
- The Big Book On Borderline Personality Disorder by Shehrina Rooney
- The Buddha and the Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, and Online Dating by Kiera Van Gelder
- Understanding the Borderline Mother: Helping Her Children Transcend the Intense, Unpredictable, and Volatile Relationship by Christine Ann Lawson
- Whole Again: Healing Your Heart and Rediscovering Your True Self After Toxic Relationships and Emotional Abuse by Jackson MacKenzie
Start with ‘Stop Walking on Eggshells’ and the r/BPD Wiki, and then move on to the rest or check out these excellent YouTube Videos:
- Keep Talking: Dr. Joseph W. Shannon Discusses Personality Disorders
- Intense Relationships & Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) by Dr. Daniel Fox
- Loving Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder: A Model of Emotion Regulation by Shari Manning, Ph.D.
- Surviving Partners With Borderline Personality Disorder Complete Playlist by Ross Rosenberg M.Ed., CADC
23. HeartSpitzen: Pause, Review, and Adjust Your Strategy
You've armed yourself with valuable insights, and it's time to craft your battle plan to win the war.
But even with the most battle-proven strategies, you need to maintain something called:
Originally a German military term from WWII, "Fingerspitzengefühl" literally translates to "finger tips feeling."
It refers to the knack for responding appropriately and tactfully to rapidly evolving battlefield situations.
You need this same rapid-responding attitude within your relationships as well.
We'll call it:
HeartSpitzen: the art of tuning into your relationship's emotional and psychological currents and knowing when to adjust your tactics or even overhaul your entire strategy.
Let me give you some examples:
Initial State: You may start with daily check-ins to discuss feelings and concerns.
Adjustment: If daily conversations become overwhelming or redundant, scale back to weekly discussions.
Initial State: Initially, you might set strict boundaries regarding personal space and time.
Adjustment: As trust builds, you may find relaxing some of these boundaries appropriate.
Conflict Resolution Mechanisms
Initial State: You may have a 'time-out' rule to take a break during heated arguments.
Adjustment: If this approach is ineffective, you might switch to writing down concerns and addressing them later when emotions have cooled.
Initial State: An initial agreement might involve separate finances with contributions to shared expenses.
Adjustment: As the relationship evolves, merging finances or adjusting contributions might become more practical.
Initial State: You may begin with a policy of full emotional disclosure.
Adjustment: If this proves too intense, a more moderate approach can be adopted, saving deeper emotional discussions for designated times.
Initial State: Therapy sessions might start as a weekly commitment for both.
Adjustment: Depending on progress and comfort levels, you might decrease the frequency or try different therapeutic approaches.
Crisis Management Plan
Initial State: You may start with a detailed plan for handling emotional or behavioral crises.
Adjustment: Update this plan as you become familiar with the most effective de-escalation strategies.
Initial State: You might agree always to attend social events together.
Adjustment: As the relationship matures, you may find it healthy to occasionally attend events separately.
In summary, navigating dating, relationships, or marriages with BPD requires a multifaceted approach. First, start with a professional diagnosis to establish a targeted treatment plan. Second, engage in open and honest communication with your partner to set emotional and physical boundaries, effectively handling the emotional fluctuations that come with BPD. Third, leverage individual and couples therapy to improve interpersonal dynamics and coping mechanisms. Finally, most importantly, dispel harmful myths and misconceptions by educating yourself and your partner about the realities of BPD, thereby dismantling stigma and fostering a supportive relationship environment.
This guide is pretty lengthy, with over 8,500 words.
Despite the challenges, I enjoyed putting it together for you.
Reading through my writing may not have been easy, so I appreciate you making it this far.
I'm grateful to know that my work was worth your time.
If you or someone you know has experience with BPD, I would love to hear about what has worked for you and what hasn't.
Please share your BPD story below.
I enjoy reading your stories and am sure thousands of fellow readers will benefit from your ideas!
For more targeted advice, check out these articles:
- A bird's eye view of BPD relationship statistics: BPD Marriage, Divorce & Parenthood Statistics
- Will your relationship last a year? Average Length Of BPD Relationships & Marriages
- Why is my partner so abusive to me? 11 Reasons For BPD Violence, Abuse [Causes And Explanation]
- An overview of BPD abuse and domestic violence: BPD Violence And Relationship Abuse [21 Facts & Statistics]
- All the signs you’ll ever need to know if you’re dealing with BPD: 63 Signs, Challenges And Examples Of A BPD Marriage
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