When Borderline Personality Disorder Makes You Afraid of Losing Your 'Favorite Person'

If you or someone you love has borderline personality disorder (BPD), then you know first and foremost the intense attachment a favorite person (FP) can trigger for a person with the disorder.

I was recently diagnosed with borderline and I immediately began researching it, reading people’s stories who have BPD, and I noticed something… how it seemed impossible to have a close friend who was a FP. My stomach dropped. My closest friend is the person I am most comfortable with. She’s the person whose opinion I care most about. And she’s easily one of two of my favorite people (the other person being my brother). So, did that mean she was the dreaded FP? Almost every story I read talked about how BPD ruined relationships and friendships you have with the people you’re closest too. So, was that this? Did that mean our friendship was just a ticking time bomb? “They always say they’re different or that they’ll stay. Until they don’t. It’s only a matter of time.” I read that on someone’s blog and burst into tears. My best friend was going to leave me. That’s what everyone was saying. That’s what my mind had been saying too, and all these stories were just engraining that fear in my mind.

I began to spiral. I had expressed concern over my friend wanting to “walk away” before, and she was patient and kind and persistent that it wasn’t the case. I was in a frenzied panic and wanted to ask her then and there. I wanted that reassurance. But I also knew I had already asked her and she had given me an answer, an answer I was happy with. So, I decided to reach out to my therapist instead, which in itself was a big step because I always wanted to reach out to my friend first. Rationally, I knew I wanted a biased opinion on this. I emailed my therapist explaining the thoughts and fears and asked for her advice. Her response gave me the reassurance and hope I hadn’t seen in many people’s stories or scenarios. I wanted to share that with all of you.

In summary, she said, we all have favorite people — people we are closer to than others. People we want to be around and whom we hold close in our hearts. BPD or not, everyone has that attachment to some people or person. The difference is the emotional dependency you have on that person when you have BPD. You give them your happiness and well-being, and they’re in control of you entire self. That’s the danger. It’s not the person. It’s not that they’re your favorite person or that they’re someone you really like being around. It’s that emotional dependency you have on them. People with BPD often lack a sense of self. So, when you have someone who is relatable or loving or whatever in your mind makes them this great person, being around them is euphoric. When you’re alone, you’re not only lonely — you’re completely empty. So yeah, who wouldn’t want to be around the kind of friend you’ve found in your FP? The good news; you can learn to navigate a friendship, shifting that dependency from them back to yourself. All it takes is patience, a little self-confidence, and trust in those you know love you. These are all things incredibly hard for those with BPD to do, but it’s certainly not impossible. My therapist reassured me that having a close friend who I had an attachment too can be a healthy relationship; you just need to learn good interpersonal skills. Communicating when necessary, and being truly honest with myself and the people I’m close too.

Since being diagnosed with BPD, my friendship with my friend — and my friendships with other friends too — has only gotten better. I no longer focus all my energy on that one friendship because I know she’s always there, and not spending every day talking to her or trying to be around her as often as possible doesn’t mean we’re not friends. It’s allowed me to spend time with other friends who I’d put on the back burner. I don’t have the same comfort or trust with my other friends as I do with my FP, but knowing she’s there is such a reassurance. It doesn’t consume my every thought or feel like I desperately need her in my everyday life.

A few weeks after I talked to my therapist about this, my friend went on vacation for a week. For months prior to this, I’d talked to her every single day. Texting, or in person. She had always told me she didn’t mind at all, and if she needed to decompress or get some time to herself, she simply wouldn’t respond or answer a call until she was in the headspace to do so. But I made the deal with myself that while she was on her vacation, I’d only allow myself to text her twice during that week. I sort of just wanted to see if I could do it. If I was as attached to her as I was beginning to fear I was. I assumed the agony of her not being around would have been horrible, but it wasn’t. Sure, I missed her, a lot. But I functioned each day pretty normally. I had hard days, but I’d turn to journalling or drawing or running. I didn’t even realize it in the moment, but I was turning to using healthy mindful coping skills to deal with my bad days instead of running to her every time things felt bad. A few days of her being gone passed and it got significantly harder. I wanted to call her to just say hi, but I knew if I did it’d just turn into me crying because I wanted her to come back. So I journaled. I wrote and cried and allowed my feelings to pass. I realized us not talking every single day was OK. It wasn’t the end of the world, and this changed my entire view on our friendship. I didn’t need her every day. Realizing that gave me this sense of independence and self-worth I’d never felt before. It was freeing to feel. Completely liberating.

I’m not saying I’m cured, or that I don’t still get panicked, overwhelming, racing thoughts and fears about her not wanting to be friends anymore… but when they do come, I’m able to rationalize my thoughts and separate imagination from reality. And we’re still friends. Close, good, genuine friends. If I’m feeling those clingy emotions or that dependency, I try to work through it on my own. I stopped compulsively wishing on every 11:11 for us to stay friends. I don’t spend as much time hoping and praying she doesn’t leave and instead try to be present and in the moment and realize she is here now, and I want to enjoy our actual, real friendship that is right in front of me. But there are days where self-talk doesn’t seem to work, and when I can’t rationalize the thoughts myself, I talk to her. I communicate my feelings and thoughts and that always helps. Communication is essential in every and any relationship, BPD or not. It’s just, with BPD, communicating your thoughts can feel embarrassing or shameful. However, I can guarantee you that being open about it is one of the biggest steps in any healthy relationship. That’s the goal with BPD, right? Learning to create healthy, stable relationships. So talk. Open up. Speak out. Communicate. Don’t be afraid of your emotions, because the more you talk about them, the less power they have over you.

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