Starting a New Romance When You Have Borderline Personality Disorder
For people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), healthy, fulfilling relationships can sometimes seem out of reach. Romance often seems like a roller coaster — we swing between blissful love and intimacy and disappointment, disillusionment and anger.
Maintaining a healthy equilibrium is a challenge when you haven’t had secure attachments in the past. Although of course everyone experiences challenges in the beginning of a relationship, for people with BPD it can be especially daunting.
Here are some things to consider when starting a new romance:
1. Monitor your moods and anxiety: Remember you will probably be highly anxious at the start of a new relationship — this is normal.
2. Make friends with your fear of rejection: Most people with BPD will be highly vigilant to any signs that a new partner is less than enthusiastic. Be kind to these fears, understand them and develop your self-soothing capacity. You may want to discuss your abandonment fears with your new partner — when you feel safe.
3. Take it slow: Don’t get too involved too quickly — take your time before getting involved. Get to know them and let them get to know you.
4. Remember they will have bad days too: You might need to have some understanding for their limitations and fears. You are not the only one with anxiety around relationships.
5. Tell them how you’re feeling and why — calmly (if you can): It’s a good idea to keep the lines of communication open. As you develop self-awareness, your ability to communicate feelings without anger and blame will improve.
6. If you need to take a break, do so: No one wants to be with a partner 24/7, except as a way to make sure they are truly devoted — and that’s not a good enough reason.
7. If you are feeling triggered, let them know but try not to blame them: No one likes being blamed for something they didn’t even know they were doing. They won’t know their behavior or words are triggering unless you tell them, so tell them.
8. Make sure you keep your daily routines: Regular sleep patterns, eating food that makes you feel good, getting fresh air and moving all continue to be important whether you are in a relationship or not.
9. Remember your life is not all about them: You are still important, beautiful and worthwhile whether you are in a relationship or not!
10. Maintain your supportive friendships: Friends are incredibly important to debrief and provide perspective when you are overwhelmed.
11. Continue to do all the things you normally enjoy: Outings with friends, hobbies, alone time. Try not to focus all your time and energy on the relationship, even though that is the temptation — especially in the early days.
12. Be patient with yourself and them: Remember it will probably be hard for them to “get it right” and they may trigger you without meaning to. But you deserve a loving and supportive relationship, and sometimes that takes time.
What advice would you add?
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