8 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship When Dating With Borderline Personality Disorder

8 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship When Dating With Borderline Personality Disorder

If you have been diagnosed with or suspect you have Borderline Personality Disorder, you may find yourself struggling in romantic relationships. One of the main criteria of the disorder is difficulty making and keeping relationships, as well as a fear of losing those you love. These symptoms often come from a history of trauma.

Luckily, it is possible for those with BPD to learn to love and have a healthy relationship. It may take a bit more work than those without the condition, but it is always possible. That's why we've come up with a list of the top eight ways to strengthen your relationship while dating when you have BPD. These tips can apply whether you're married or just starting out in a relationship.

1. Identify Your Attachment Style

Attachment styles are essential to understand when you have gone through trauma or have a personality disorder. These attachment styles may be a large part of how you act in your relationship. Here's an overview:

  • Anxious Avoidant- This attachment style shows itself by being avoidant of emotions and often the one who "runs" in the relationship. This person has a hard time trusting their own feelings. 
  • Anxious Ambivalent- This attachment style shows itself by being extremely emotional, having issues with trust, and fearing loss. This is most common in those with trauma.   
  • Disorganized- This attachment style goes back and forth between the first two. Some days you are highly attached, and some days you are extremely detached. This is the most common style in those with BPD.  
  • Secure- This attachment style is the one that people aim to have. It means you can understand and respect boundaries between yourself and others and communicate freely. It doesn't mean you don't experience negative emotions or mess up.

For those with BPD, you most likely related to one of the middle options, which is totally fine. However, understanding your attachment style and your partner's attachment style can help you take the necessary steps to heal in your relationship and see your own patterns.

2. Learn About Love Languages

Everyone has a love language (or a few) that they use to express and understand love. A significant cause of conflict in relationships is two people not understanding each other's love languages.

The five love languages are:

  • Physical touch
  • Quality time
  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Gift giving

For example, your love language might be physical touch, and you need to be held and hugged to feel loved. Your partner's love language could be acts of service, which means they need small chores and kind acts to feel loved (like filling up their gas when it's out, etc.).

If you are constantly trying to hug and be physical and are never paying mind to small things your partner might appreciate, they may not feel loved. On the other hand, you may not feel loved because your partner doesn't seem to want to hug you often.

If this sounds like you, you may have a love language incompatibility. In this case, both you and your partner can communicate about this (take the love language test) and see how you can both express love to each other in the ways you both need.

3. See a Couple's Counselor

BPD can be distressing for the person struggling with it. If you find that your symptoms are causing upheaval in your relationship, you may want to consider a couple's counselor or personal counselor. Some couple's counselors also meet with each partner individually after sessions to better sort through each person's feelings.

Counseling can help you find new coping mechanisms and understand your partner's point of view. A well-qualified relationship therapist San Francisco helps partners improve their relationship by enhancing communication, resolving conflicts, enhancing intimacy, managing life transitions, and strengthening relationships. Therapists can help couples identify the root causes of their conflicts and develop strategies for resolving them.

One of the best therapies for personality disorders is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and it can even be done with a partner. The therapy has worksheets, assignments, and a graduation date. When you finish the workbook, you get to have a graduation with a reward.

Find a therapy that works for you and your partner. You can even find couples' therapy online.

4. Set Up a Boundaries List

A great exercise to try with your partner is to sit down and create a boundaries list. No matter what the structure of your relationship is, boundaries are extremely important.

A boundary is a limit you set for yourself. It isn't a rule for someone else's behavior. Here are some excellent examples of boundaries:

  • If you yell at me, I will leave the room.
  • I won't leave home when I am tired.
  • If you tell me you want to break up, I will take it seriously.
  • I don't accept someone else swearing at me when they're upset.
  • I do not want to video chat. I prefer to call over the phone.

These are all examples of behaviors you personally will take depending on someone else's behavior or choices. It doesn't mean you're controlling them, but you won't accept certain behaviors.

Both you and your partner can set boundaries. Sit down together and draft a list. Put your boundaries on one side, and your partner can add theirs on the other. Remember these boundaries and understand that they're essential. You can even label them in the level of importance if you wish.

Doing this exercise with the help of a trained couple's therapist can help you if you feel that this exercise might cause upset in either one of you.

5. Have a Crisis Plan in Place

For many people with borderline personality disorder, feelings of crisis often come for many reasons. That's why it's essential to have a crisis plan in place. You may want to draft it like this:

A crisis plan can keep you safe and prevent relationship issues. You'll want to use it when you're in a tough spot, and your partner can help you by reminding you. Keep your crisis plan close by.

If you have more dating questions, check out BetterHelp's articles on dating and relationships here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/dating/.