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Borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of ten personality disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Each of the ten personality disorders is categorized into one of three clusters (cluster A, cluster B, and cluster C). The personality disorders that make up each cluster share similar symptoms and have overlapping characteristics. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) cluster A is characterized as odd or eccentric personalities; cluster B is characterized as dramatic, emotional, or erratic personalities; and cluster C is characterized as anxious or fearful personalities. Borderline personality disorder belongs to cluster B and is specifically characterized by “hypersensitivity to rejection and resulting instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, affect, and behavior.” The symptoms of BPD typically cause overarching relationship complications and impulsive actions. Making the decision to end a relationship with a partner diagnosed with borderline personality disorder can be difficult. The end of any relationship can trigger a range of emotions and in partners with BPD terminating a relationship can cause particularly charged and heightened emotional reactions. To help you end your relationship amicably and leave with integrity consider the following tips, provided by Psychology Today:

  • Remain calm and respectful: It is common for individuals with BPD to lash out when feeling attacked, frustrated, or rejected. Avoid reacting impulsively and do not be sarcastic, snarky, or demeaning. 
  • Speak clearly, gently, and with compassion: When communicating it is important to be direct and use short sentences, in a calm and non-threatening voice.
  • Do Not Blame: The constructive conversations that often occur between two health people regarding why their relationship did not work, is unlikely to happen when one of the members has borderline personality disorder. In attempt to understand why the relationship failed, an individual with BPD is likely to ask what they did wrong. However, rather than accepting their partner’s feedback at face value, they instead hear these explanations as attacks on their character and become defensive or even hostile.
  • Be a source of validation: Whenever possible, acknowledge and validate their feelings, even if you do not fully agree with their beliefs.
  • Set and enforce boundaries as necessary: When you break up with someone diagnosed with BPD, they are likely to lash out at you. You have made the choice to end the relationship and to uphold this decision you must set and maintain clear boundaries by stating what you will and will not accept.

Any untreated mental health disorder will impact the innerworkings of a relationship, especially when it comes to certain psychiatric ailments like borderline personality disorder. If there comes a point where you feel it best to end a relationship, although their BPD may be helpful in considering how best deliver this message to your partner, minimize the pain to your loved one and to yourself by avoiding delay.

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