The Problem With Calling Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande's Engagement 'So Borderline'
Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Juliette Virzi, The Mighty’s associate mental health editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.
On Monday, Us Weekly confirmed rumors that comedian Pete Davidson and singer Ariana Grande are now engaged after a month of dating. Because Davidson has spoken openly about his diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD), both folks with BPD and those without have taken to Twitter to weigh in on “how borderline” this quick engagement is.
Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson are engaged after only a month of dating and honestly that’s the most BPD thing I’ve ever heard
— brenna (@brennamuncy) June 11, 2018
Can we cool it with the armchair diagnosing? Even if you have a diagnosis of BPD and can perhaps relate to the symptom of impulsive behavior, spectators don’t have the authority to claim their engagement is a manifestation of Davidson’s BPD. Number one, we don’t know him personally. Number two, we are not trained mental health professionals who are treating him.
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s “Goldwater Rule,” it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion about an individual’s mental health unless he or she has examined the individual and has been given consent to make a statement about it. This is something that comes up frequently when psychiatrists try to “diagnose” President Trump in the media. If it’s unethical for a mental health professional to speculate about a public figure’s mental health, then how much more unqualified are we laypeople?
Trying to “explain away” or invalidate non-socially acceptable behavior by blaming mental illness is damaging to people with mental illness — in this case, folks with BPD. So when it comes to armchair diagnosing via Twitter, can we not?
4. People with BPD can have lasting and fulfilling relationships.
Honestly starting to get irritated that people on social media keep bringing up Pete Davidson’s BPD and how it effects his relationship with Arianna. Like stfu having BPD doesn’t make him unstable and not capable of relationships ????????
— leah (@leahnikolle) June 3, 2018
Though people with diagnosed BPD have commented on how this news aligns with their own experience of BPD symptoms, I fear the undercurrent of some of these responses comes from a harmful misconception that people with BPD can’t have lasting, fulfilling relationships — which is simply untrue.
This is a misconception Davidson responded to himself on May 24, when –after Ariana Grande left her “toxic” relationship with rapper Mac Miller — people assumed her new relationship with Davidson would be just as “toxic,” because he has borderline personality disorder.
“i been hearing a lot of ‘people with bpd can’t be in relationships’ talk. i just wanna let you know that’s not true,” the comedian wrote in an Instagram story. “just because someone has a mental illness does not mean they can’t be happy and in a relationship. it also doesn’t mean that person makes the relationship toxic.” (You can read his response in full in the below screenshots.)
Pete Davidson, thank you so much for continuing to be open about BPD, even when you are faced with the stigma of doing so. If folks continue to throw shade, I hope you know Twitter user @warbarabalters will valiantly defend your honor in hand-to-hand combat.
I will buy a sword off amazon to defend Pete Davidson from anyone who gives him shit for having bpd
— nick (@warbarabalters) June 3, 2018
It’s possible to be in a happy relationship if you live with BPD. If you want to read more, check out these pieces from members of our Mighty BPD community:
Photo via Ariana Grande Instagram