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What It's Like to Be the 'FP' of Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder

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One of the hallmarks of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is clinging to a “favorite person” (or “FP”): someone you often hold in the highest regard and trust with your life. Being a “favorite person” to someone with BPD is typically far more than simply acting as a best friend or trusted confidant; it can be complex, intense, flattering, mystifying and highly rewarding.

It’s learning what borderline personality disorder means for your friend and your friend alone; understanding the condition as a whole, but immersing yourself in their constellation of symptoms to better grasp their reality. It’s seeing their condition and their humanity in tandem; knowing that mental illness is an integral piece of the incredible person your friend is. It’s rejecting tired stereotypes and educating others about what living with BPD truly means.

It’s holding your friend accountable for their recovery; reminding them to attend their sessions, encouraging them to use their skills, promoting positive coping mechanisms. It’s immersing yourself in the ins and outs of their treatment plan and challenging them to follow it as independently as possible, while still remaining by their side for support.  It’s applying the skills they’re learning to your own life, so you can serve as a positive force in their recovery. It’s celebrating every milestone alongside them because you may begin to comprehend just how much dedication and determination they devote to each sign of progress.

It’s occasionally wondering what drew your friend to you; what caused them to hold you in such high regard, above anyone and anything else. It’s feeling like perhaps, you aren’t “special” enough to be their “first and foremost.” It’s engaging in self-examination; taking inventory of your strengths and weaknesses, and discovering that you likely have a wealth of traits that lure others towards you; magnetic qualities that make you an ideal “favorite person.”

It’s learning to stay calm in times of crisis; understanding that your friend is struggling, and you should not make the most difficult moments about yourself.  It’s remaining by their side in their lowest moments, holding their hand through the heartbreak, gently guiding them to safety. It’s understanding that recovery is not a straight line; that relapses and dark thoughts may take over without warning, that you must remain patient, empathetic, and nonjudgmental as your friend searches for the light again.

It’s learning to establish boundaries and practice self-care. It’s teaching yourself to say “no” when you are feeling overwhelmed, when your own mental health is spiraling. It’s understanding that your powerful love for your friend does not negate your humanity; your need to momentarily absolve yourself of being “the favorite” and just be yourself. It’s writing and running and sleeping and indulging before returning to reassure your friend that you will always stay by their side, but your health is a priority, too.

It’s listening and loving unconditionally; supporting your friend through the highs and the lows of their illness. It’s hearing their deepest, darkest secrets for the first time and never judging. It’s celebrating every success; cheering your friend on every step of the way. It’s laughing with them about anything and everything, in to brighten up a challenging day. It’s treating your friend with BPD the way you would want to be treated; with love, respect, understanding and dignity.

Being a “favorite person” to a friend with borderline personality disorder is often laughter and love, heartache and tears. Being a “favorite person” is knowing that throughout the struggles you’ve weathered alongside your friend, you’ve forged a powerful connection with them; a bond strong enough to last a lifetime.

Unsplash ph0to via Priscilla Du Preez

Originally published: January 20, 2019
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