The Difference Between a 'Crush' and a 'Favorite Person' for Someone With BPD
Dear “Favorite Person,”
I call you this because that is how the borderline personality disorder (BPD) community refers to people like you who are very close to someone with BPD like me.
I don’t want this information to scare you away, I want it to help you understand our relationship better. I want you to understand why I may I treat you differently than I treat others, and give you the ultimate choice to stay and fight with me, or leave.
As far as I can remember, I’ve had “favorite people,” or FPs, for as long as I’ve been struggling with my depression and anxiety. Before my diagnosis of BPD however, I had no idea what these feelings were and I was always so frustrated with myself for being so emotionally attached to a particular person. I was frustrated that my whole life had become dependent upon this single human being, and they had no idea. I had always considered my FPs to be my crushes — both girls and boys. The boys in particular, I typically had no romantic or sexual attraction to. The girls I was more attracted to in the sense that they were both my crush and my FP, leading me to the conclusion that I am bisexual.
The difference between a best friend, a crush and an FP for me is that a best friend is someone I love dearly and who I trust and can count on to always stick around. These people are hard to come by, especially since I’m constantly worried that everyone in my life will eventually leave me, so when I find someone I consider my best friend, I cling onto them until my knuckles turn white. My best friend may not understand everything I go through, but they try to understand, and they’re always there for me through all the highs and the lows. They are honest and will give me the occasional slap to the face to bring me back to reality, letting me know when I’m overreacting or confirming that what I’m going through or feeling is normal.
I doubt myself in my full understanding of crushes, since the lines between a crush and an FP for me are blurred, but I can distinguish a few differences. First of all, a crush for me is someone who I am interested in making a commitment with. This is someone I am attracted to romantically and typically as the crush grows, I become sexually attracted as well. I idealize them in the sense that I feel like they would be a perfect fit for me, despite all their flaws. I see their flaws as a part of them I could learn to love. I think about them constantly, but I am understanding when they don’t feel the same way.
A favorite person, however, is the toughest relationship for me to manage. Sometimes they are combined with a crush, making it easier for me to explain my feelings without sounding crazy. But in the cases where I feel no particular attraction to them, romantically or sexually, it’s difficult for me to understand and explain my obsession and my dependence. In my personal experience, my favorite person is someone who I have an emotional dependence on, and who triggers my “black and white” thinking.
Right now, you are my favorite person. And that’s a scary and difficult role to take on, especially unwillingly. I don’t expect you to constantly give me attention and satisfy my needs, but I want you to understand the position that I have involuntarily put you in. I don’t enjoy having a favorite person. I wish I could love you and think of you the way I love and think of everyone else in my life, but my BPD is stubborn, so here we are.
Being my favorite person, I want to be around you all the time. I want your undivided attention every day, all day. I feel jealous when you spend time with other people and not me. I idealize you and create an image of you in my head so that you are everything I need. When you reply to me quickly, smile at me in the halls at school, talk to me for hours until 1 a.m., or show any interest in spending time with me, I put you on a pedestal. But if you fail to reply after several hours, if you don’t see me walk by in the halls, if you don’t text me first, or don’t have time to hang out, I begin to hate you because I’m convinced you are done with my sh*t and done with being friends, but you just don’t want to say so.
I know this isn’t true, but I know I can be a lot to handle at times. It’s hard for me to tell myself that your world doesn’t revolve around me, and I don’t expect it to. But when I’m with you, I feel stable and safe. My life has purpose and my future looks bright. I feel happy and understood, loved and accepted. I think about you constantly and wonder what you’re doing with your day, how you’re feeling, and if you miss me or think of me at all. Not hearing from you makes me anxious and paranoid, thinking that you decided to abandon me or that something terrible has happened to you. My love for you is a borderline obsession and I feel terribly alone without you around. You send me high above the clouds and bring me back to earth at the same time. I pick up on little things that you do or say and I begin to do them or say them too. Doing that makes me feel a little closer to you, especially when you’re far away from me. Seeing your name come up on my phone reassures me that you care about me, and seeing you smile makes me smile even if I’m in my lowest mood. When I feel like I’m being suffocated by darkness, just talking to you or seeing you will give me even the smallest bit of hope, but the slightest hint of you not wanting to talk or be around me will send me down a very dark spiral.
While I realize these feelings are extreme and impossible to satisfy, it’s also impossible for me to not feel this way. It’s like telling someone with an addiction that they should stop drinking or smoking because it’s “bad for you” and they will “regret it in the future,” but even if they know this and want to stop, it is nearly impossible to stop completely and recover successfully that way. Recovery is possible, though, so all I can hope for is that with time, I will learn to become less dependent on a singular person, and I will learn to manage the emotions that control my life in order to have a more balanced and stable one.
For now, please just be patient with me. Please be honest with me, and at least try to understand what I’m going through. If it becomes too much for you, tell me and I’ll back off. It will hurt to cut our friendship off, but it hurts more to think that I’m a burden to you. I will give you space, I will draw lines and make boundaries. I will still miss you every day at every hour, but all I want for you is to be happy and comfortable, so I will do anything I can to make that possible.
With an Intense Amount of Love,
Unsplash photo via Sam Manns