You see all these articles online: “How to Love Someone with Borderline,” “What to Do when a Loved One is Diagnosed with BPD,” and so on.
But what is it like to love someone and have BPD? How does it manifest, and how can you, as a neurotypical, interpret it?
For those recipients of such an illogical affection–this what it’s like to be the giver. This is how it feels to love with BPD.
1. I love you.
I know it isn’t fair to you. I know I can come on strong. The thing about BPD is it doesn’t let those it afflicts embrace balance. Every moment is either the best or the worst. Every word is either poetry or dribble, each speaker an angel or demon. And every individual close relationship carries the strength of a thousand.
So if I love you, I love you. I notice things you’d like in my day-to-day. I hear a song or come across an article that reminds me of you, and I tell you immediately. You’re someone I check in with regularly, someone I would do anything for. You’re one of my people.
But I can also be curt, even unkind, when the irrational thoughts in my head manifest themselves externally. There’s no excuse for the behavior: but know that it’s not anything you’re doing. It’s just my brain telling me I’m not worth having the wonderful relationship that I do with you. It’s my brain, painting a picture in black-and-white thinking only.
I love you, and I’m trying. Perhaps my behavior doesn’t always show it. But I love you, and I’m working on it. I’m communicating this to you as best I can. Because it’s what you deserve.
2. I know you love me, too (but I need to see it).
When you ask me, “Don’t you know how much I care for you?” I don’t have an answer, because the truth is, I do know. When I stop and think about all the important people in my life, the people who have stuck by me, you’re one of them. But I’m always afraid. Each time you come back around, I assume it is the last time. When we part, I imagine you forgetting about me in minutes. So, to protect myself, I operate on the belief that I am a relationship of convenience to you (and to everyone in my life). You’ll come to me when you need something from me. I shouldn’t rely too much on you. I’ll only get hurt.
Maybe you have a busy day at work. You’re taking the kids to the park or you’re visiting your friends from high school for the weekend. You don’t respond to my texts. My BPD brain tells me that means you’re done with me, however much I may know in the depths of me that it isn’t true. My BPD says I’m worthless. My BPD tells me I’ll end up alone.
My BPD says I shouldn’t be alive.
Having this disease means no matter what logic tells me, I create an invalidating environment for myself. I create a space where my sense of self-worth, my understanding of interpersonal relationships, and my emotions are perpetually in flux.
For someone who has BPD, knowing they are loved versus seeing they are loved are two very different things. So, send me a check-in text every so often, if you can. It really helps.
3. Maybe you’re a Favorite Person. But that doesn’t mean all the burden is on you.
It’s a lot of pressure. I know.
If you’re a Favorite Person to someone with BPD, it means that someone looks to you for support, even idolizes you. Favorite People–or “FPs”–are common for people with BPD to latch onto. It’s not a phenomenon in which Borderline people choose their FPs–it just sort of happens. It happens because we feel we can trust you, and appreciate you, and love you.
If you’re my Favorite Person, I look to you for advice, for comfort, for validation. But please know that does not mean you carry the burden of those things alone. Please know that you are in control of our relationship just as much as I am. Know that you can tell me when I am putting too much pressure on you. You need to take care of yourself, too.
4. Thank you.
Our relationship isn’t perfect. It ebbs and flows, like any other. But you’ve seen the best and worst of me, as I have of you. And I’m grateful for that.
Apologizing for what happens in my mind isn’t constructive. It’s an illness, like any other. So I can only try to explain it, as best I can, to you. Because you deserve it.
So thank you. For reading, for listening, for being there for me. I promise I am there for you. Always.
It’s a long and winding road. But I have my map and a compass in my hand, and I’m not giving up finding my way out.