Unstable Relationships in BPD

Discourse and personal experience based on the NHS given symptom for Borderline Personality Disorder

Unstable Relationships in BPD
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Disclaimer: The following account of the given NHS symptom relates solely to the writer and is, in no way, a blanket generalisation of how all people think it feel. It has been shared to potentially allow more understanding, or to allow other sufferers to take comfort knowing they aren't alone.

Taken directly from the NHS website (2020)

Unstable relationships

If you have BPD, you may feel that other people abandon you when you most need them, or that they get too close and smother you.

When people fear abandonment, it can lead to feelings of intense anxiety and anger. You may make frantic efforts to prevent being left alone, such as:

  • constantly texting or phoning a person
  • suddenly calling that person in the middle of the night
  • physically clinging on to that person and refusing to let go
  • making threats to harm or kill yourself if that person ever leaves you

Alternatively, you may feel others are smothering, controlling or crowding you, which also provokes intense fear and anger. You may then respond by acting in ways to make people go away, such as emotionally withdrawing, rejecting them or using verbal abuse.

These 2 patterns may result in an unstable "love-hate" relationship with certain people.

Many people with BPD seem to be stuck with a very rigid "black-white" view of relationships. Either a relationship is perfect and that person is wonderful, or the relationship is doomed and that person is terrible. People with BPD seem unable or unwilling to accept any sort of "grey area" in their personal life and relationships.

For many people with BPD, emotional relationships (including relationships with professional carers) involve "go away/please don't go" states of mind, which is confusing for them and their partners. Sadly, this can often lead to break-ups.

(Source: NHS, 2020 www.nhs.uk/conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms)

For a lot of people, relationships can be daunting and difficult. I've found that my relationships have tended to all be the same: train wrecks!

I had a constant fear that the person was leaving, or seeing someone else. Sadly, in a few cases, this was true so only bolstered that thought.

I used to always get anxious at radio-silence too. Especially if the person had seen my message and was actively posting on social media. Even thinking about it now I wonder how much of it was down to me and how much of it was sheer disrespect from the other party, more so when, in some cases, the other person would worry if I took too long to respond.

I've never called someone in the middle of the night for no good reason, mind you that could simply be because I love my sleep too much. Nor have I ever threatened to kill myself if someone were to leave.

I have clung on to someone leaving though, but then did let go. Time truly does heal all, and now I wonder what I was clinging onto.

I do see things as black and white. Either we are doing fine and 100% going to get married one day, or it's going to be over and they're leaving me and hate me. On numerous occasions I have worked myself into quite the panicked cry over the latter. Here, I have found that opening discourse helps. As silly as it sounds, I simply ask Ash "Are we okay?" and he responds, and I have my answer. I'm still learning to do this, so sometimes I do panic for days before asking, but he is always patient and reassuring.

Obviously, my current relationship is fantastic, however they haven't always been. From seeing posts by others on BPD Facebook groups, I've noticed us Borderlings seem to like going for the wrong people. Bums. Drug addicts. Alcoholics. Deadbeats. Cheaters. Unemployed slackers (IE who can't be bothered to get a job). I've been there. Kind of like in Pretty Woman (1990) where Julia Roberts' character Vivian states " My mom called me a bum magnet. There was a bum in a fifty miles, I was immediately attracted to him." Yep. That's us Borderlings.

It's taken many years, many setbacks and many failed relationships for me to realise what I want and what it looks like. Stability. Warmth. Affection. Compassion. Conversation. Intellect. Above all, a paternal figure who will love Feena. I've found it.

It isn't easy. Me saying this makes it sound like you simply need to think and act, however when your BPD is in control it isn't that easy. Bluntly, I wouldn't appreciate what I have now, or even have sought it out, without all the drama from years gone past.

If all those unstable, toxic relationships led to the one I have now, I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

personality disorder
Ver Armstrong
Ver Armstrong
Read next: Never In the Cover of Night
Ver Armstrong

Ver has been working as a ghost writer since 2019 and now seeks to make a career from her passion for writing. She currently works as a freelance writer and owns Bordering Bears, a Borderline Personality Disorder experience blog & website.

See all posts by Ver Armstrong