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How to Be a Friend to Someone Who Has Borderline Personality Disorder

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I believe borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a misnomer; it’s a bad name. I feel it’s an inaccurate description of something that’s closer to massive insecurity in relationships.

I struggle with my borderline personality disorder traits. I’m just now coming to recognize them and understand how they cause me to act and how they shape the way I see the world. When I see the world through that perspective, the world becomes very unsafe in the sense that I don’t trust people, or I’m expecting them to fail me or hurt me. Once this is happening, I push boundaries to see if these things will happen. It’s pretty easy to see how this often ends up.

People with borderline personality disorder aren’t “insane,” they’re just people who can have a hard time trusting themselves and others. We are wired in a way that can make stable friendships difficult, because we often test friends. We are wired in a way that can make keeping a job hard, because you have to maintain healthy relationships. It can make dating a strange process, because we may not know how to trust without oversharing, we may not know how to connect in a healthy way, so it can be easier to trust someone fully or not at all. “Kind of” trusting someone is a weird concept to me, so I push boundaries to see what happens.

If you have a friend with borderline personality disorder, be patient with them. They may be struggling inside just with day-to-day life. Set boundaries, because they may push them and keep resetting them as needed. Don’t give into someone’s impulsive needs, because if you do you aren’t helping them. If they hate you for doing that, that’s OK. Some people with BPD may seek validation, so they might keep doing a behavior you may not like because it can allow them to feel more secure. And they often do it until you ask them to stop, and they may get mad at you, and that’s OK. Please, if you have a friend with BPD, set boundaries and be clear with them. I’ve found people with BPD don’t tend to do well with ambiguity; we can tend to see life in yes or no, black and white, OK or not. Understanding life in-between those lines can be hard for us, so help your friend out. Let them know what is and is not OK for your friendship.

Living with borderline personality disorder can be a struggle. I evaluate friendships daily, and I make quick decisions about people. I’m working so hard daily not to do these things; I’m working so hard daily to be a good friend and a good student.

If you have a friend with borderline personality disorder, be patient, set boundaries, maintain those boundaries, and if they act out, don’t take it personally. Your friend is likely very insecure and doesn’t know how to feel secure. Allow them to feel that, and don’t try to fix their problems.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: January 27, 2017
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