15 Things Not To Do With Someone With Borderline Personality (2023)

ByTamara Hill, MS, NCC, CCTP, LPCon September 6, 2017

Do you know what to do or what to say to someone withBorderline Personality Disorder (BPD))? If not, join the millions of family, friends, and/or co-workers who don't. It is challenging to know exactly what to say, how to say it, and when to say it to avoid problems, challenges, or conflict. Things can get worse if there are other people in the environment with undiagnosed BPD.

Despite these truths, compassion and understanding are the best tools to use. This article will discuss 15 things to avoid doing with someone who has BPD.

Note: The language used in this article reflects the terms/language of some lay people who have experienced the following characteristics in someone with BPD.

As a therapist, my job is to "study" the human mind and find the "key" to help people change or alter their habits. But even as a trained therapist, there are times when I miss clues when working with people who have BDP. It is often easy to do. So it doesn't surprise me when parents, family members, caregivers, friends, etc. you come to my office desperate for help and suggestions on how to treat a loved one with BPD.

The language used to describe people with BPD can seem cold, distant, and indifferent to those who suffer from it. But the language often reflects people who have been hurt, manipulated, or controlled by someone with BPD.

To make matters worse, it's often easy to misinterpret the behaviors of people diagnosed with BPD, which can lead to incorrect expectations in relationships, leading to communication problems and frequent conflict.

For those unofficially diagnosed with BPD, intelligence, success, and independence can make it difficult for others to understand how people with BPD can go from being mature and stable to being irrational and self-destructive. This is terrifying for those who don't know about BPD.

What families and friends often don't realize is that misdirected emotions, past experiences, and current stressors often make people with BPD vulnerable to conflict. I've talked to many parents who are baffled by their daughters' overreaction to a simple request or apparent lack of attention. The emotional reactivity and risk-taking reactions often exhibited by someone with BPD are concerning to many families.

Learning to support someone diagnosed with BPD will require recognizing that boundaries must remain firm. Setting boundaries creates a set of rules that can help break up confrontations or arguments more quickly. To begin setting these limits, it is importantNofor:

  1. Feeding a need for attention/validation:Not all people with BPD seek attention or validation from others. But some do. Triangulation (ie, bringing 3 or more people together in a discussion) is often a "vehicle" used to gain another person's approval or to gain attention. Most people seek validation from people they trust, and that's healthy. But some people seek validation to feel supported by doing things that are not right. For example, someone with BPD may misinterpret the intentions of a loved one and believe that they are being "treated like a child." This person may seek out a close family member to gossip about, making this person want to get involved in the discussion and "make things better." To avoid fueling this behavior, it can help to minimize exaggeration or harmful gossip.
  2. Get caught up in the dramatic triangle:Triangulation is a term used to describe an individual that usually involves more than 2 people in a chaotic situation that results in more chaos. Instead of resolving the issue with the person they started with, the individual may gossip others who feel compelled to intervene. But this intervention only makes things worse. To avoid this type of triangulation, you can avoid discussing the incident with others who have nothing to do with the initial problem.
  3. Feeling emotionally destroyed by impulsive comments or behavior:Some people with BPD have difficulty controlling anger and impulsiveness. The basis of relational problems is usually anger and impulsiveness. If you feel unappreciated or completely disrespected, make that clear to the person and create boundaries that make it clear that you won't tolerate any abuse. If this doesn't help, gradually move away until the limits "reset."
  4. Become an emotional “prey”:In some relationships with people with BPD, you can easily feel like "prey." A client once told me that he thought his son "would use me to make money and then leave me when he was ready." People who are not in treatment for BPD and who may have sociopathic traits lack empathy. Maintain boundaries, make your needs known, and create space between yourself and the other person as needed.
  5. Get into a “routine” or habit:Routines and habitual behavior can be helpful. But with some individuals with TPB, you do not want to acquire the habit of allowing certain things, such as bonds after or file, visits to your home without warning, stick your borrowed things and never return them, drive your car and keep it for more time. than they should, &c. Once you allow this type of behavior to occur over and over again, it will be difficult for you to draw the line. I once had a young woman who constantly told her father “but…you always let me do this and now you don't want me to. Hypocrite."
  6. Be the go-to person at ALL times:Being the go-to person is something that makes most of us feel loved, needed, and respected. But for some people with BPD, becoming the go-to person can also mean becoming the most manipulated and controlled person. The individual may begin to believe that he is "so close to you" and "in your good graces" that you will always go the extra mile. Again, it's great that they need you, but with limits.
  7. Allow boundary crossings:Some people require that you maintain strict limits at all times. No questions. No doubt about that. You cannot allow them to cross the line with manipulation, seduction or control.
  8. Always go further:Going further is a wonderful thing to do. It's something we all hope someone else will do for us. However, boundaries must remain firm as needed and respected by the individual who chooses to manipulate the relationship.
  9. Appearance affected by attempts to control, manipulate or dominate:Any sign of emotional distress, agitation, anger, or even pleasure can reveal too much information to someone who wants to manipulate or control you. Some people are so invested in the emotions of others that they may decide how to "take the next step" in the relationship in order to stay in control. For example, I once counseled a young man with BPD who would recount details of his life and then stop to see if he would respond in the way he expected. With this young man, I became almost stoic and "downplayed" some of his attempts to get a strong reaction from me. Sometimes having that answer can change the entire encounter for the better.
  10. Being manipulated by cyclical chaos:Chaos that occurs in cycles like every spring, every school year, every birthday, or every holiday can be intentional or unintentional behavior. In either case, you need to avoid being drawn into the persona cycle. If the cycle is manipulative and intentional, you really don't want to allow the person to gain that much control over you or anyone else. Break the cycle by preventing it, blocking it, or changing your plans. If the cycles are not intentional, a more therapeutic approach should be used. You can't really help the person if you're emotionally drawn.
  11. Engaging in codependent behaviors:Codependency describes two individuals losing their own identities, values, belief systems, feelings, thoughts, etc. due to an unhealthy merger of two individuals in a relationship. Codependency may seem "sweet," "romantic," or even "lovely" to others until the truth is revealed. In families, codependency can feel like "closeness" or "support." When codependency develops, the person with BPD may be controlling and manipulative or feel vulnerable if the relationship doesn't work out. If you start to feel “stifled” or responsible for how they feel, clarify the boundaries of the relationship and empathize with them. Some people with BPD struggle with feelings of abandonment and will do almost anything to lessen these feelings. This conversation must be empathetic.
  12. Let yourself be seduced by unfounded fears of abandonment:I once counseled a young woman who had all the symptoms of BPD but was too young to be diagnosed at the time. When she became a teenager, she started dating many boys. In almost every relationship, she ended up losing the guy because she pushed him away in her desperate attempts to avoid the anxiety and negative thought patterns that surfaced whenever the guy left her temporarily. Most people with BPD have an intolerance to loneliness, loneliness, or being alone. This can result in unhealthy behavior patterns. You want to be careful about reinforcing these fears with how you respond. You can comfort or reassure the person without allowing it.
  13. Normalize sexual promiscuity or risk behaviors:Normalizing risky or inappropriate behavior will only make things worse. Some people with BPD tend to push boundaries, engage in risky behavior, or seek stimulation in unhealthy ways. For example, a man with BPD may consume alcohol frequently and have several unsafe intimate relationships with other people while he is married and has a great position in a law firm. This pattern of behavior can continue if others begin to normalize the behavior in an effort to make you feel less negative about yourself.
  14. He believes that they are capable of "getting out of it":People diagnosed with BPD can't just "snap out of it." They are being influenced by a variety of genetic, environmental, and social components that are also altered or influenced by personality, thought patterns, and/or learned behavior. "Getting out of there" is not easy.
  15. Normalize things and minimize your intuition:If something feels really wrong, then something is probably wrong. Everyone gets angry. Everyone experiences intense emotions. And everyone is going to exaggerate at some point in their lives. But if these behaviors are intense and repeated, attention should be paid to the behavior. Minimizing it or reducing its importance will not help at all. We are not being helpful by minimizing.

What do you think about this topic? What has been your experience?

All the best

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