The Mighty Logo

When Borderline Personality Disorder Makes You Cycle Through Romantic Relationships

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Although I have been borderline for most of my adult life, it wasn’t until last year that I received the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD). I also have major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

I continue to cycle through monogamous relationships, with the most recent lasting three years. I am triggered easily when in an intimate relationship, and can quickly deteriorate from the strong capable woman I was when it began into an actively suicidal and helpless person. The relationship eventually implodes and a period of exile — which is nauseatingly familiar — resumes.

Queue the ruminating. The self-flagellation. How did this happen again? And then comes the black and white thinking — “I’ve always done better on my own so I am just going to stay single and try to find purpose and meaning without a companion.” And the generalization — “Men can’t be trusted. Relationships aren’t safe.”

For me, as a person with borderline, I do absolutely do better on my own. But what does it mean, to “do better”?

It means I feel safe. I haven’t gotten vulnerable with anyone. I haven’t been hurt, triggered or otherwise abandoned. But I haven’t been held by anyone, not kissed or hugged or told I am loved either. I am beset by feelings of loneliness, but cannot deny this time for myself feels purposeful.

I have nearly completed a 12-week group therapy course on dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and have learned invaluable coping skills. I take great pride in spoiling my cats and am rewarded with their love and affection. I have rediscovered a love for music and for singing — both continue to be incredibly therapeutic. I am finding out what feels good on a very deep and personal level. I am exploring new friendships and rediscovering old ones — it’s been curiously gratifying.

Somewhere along the way, I received the message I needed to find someone, needed to be with somebody. I never questioned this and I don’t know where it came from. I believed I needed to have someone else love and protect me in order to be happy and fulfilled.

God knows I wasn’t happy and fulfilled. The mistake I made, I think, was in believing the emptiness I felt could be healed by someone else alone. And until I can get to a place where I am feeling whole — independent of another — I suppose this is where I will stay. For now though, it doesn’t really matter.

I will sing. I might dance with the cats. I will love my children and my friends and it will be enough.

Unsplash photo via Oladimeji Odunsi

Originally published: February 22, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home