Updated: Feb 13, 2022
Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) often has trouble maintaining friendships. They tend to search for emotional caregivers and have difficulty grasping the idea of friendship. In any sort of friendship, they have unreasonable expectations for attention, validation, and compassion.
How does BPD affect friendships?
There is an instant connection in almost all of the friendships that someone with BPD has. They go from meeting someone to becoming close friends in a short amount of time. They share personal details with someone they hardly know, and their friendships can also break down just as quickly.
This is due to splitting, often known as black and white thinking. There is no grey area with how you are perceived by someone with BPD. You are either their best friend or nothing to them. It's a common symptom of someone with BPD.
The following are behaviors acted out by someone with BPD among friends:
If you, for whatever reason, do not answer their call, react to a text, or notice them, it can push the one with BPD into a downward spiral of self-hatred. They will begin to believe that they are a horrible person who is loved and understood by no one.
If they get upset by something you said or make them feel rejected, the friendship can be immediately over for the one with BPD. You might go from being their best friend to an enemy because you've done something that they perceive as hurtful.
Since getting over rejection is really difficult for someone with BPD, even if it's real or only imagined, they have difficulty forgiving someone for their actions.
They will create little fights to see whether you would abandon them. If you give someone with BPD the impression that they will be abandoned, they will make sure that they are the ones who leave the other person.
Someone with BPD has a hard time putting up with conflict. They assume the worst in every situation, and they have a hard time changing their views. As a result, everyone is walking on eggshells.
They will apologize a lot, even for small stuff, and frequently ask if you're mad at them.
Since someone with BPD experiences their emotions, good and bad, amplified, they will overreact to situations that seem like a normal reaction to them.
They use minimal communication until something is up and then they expect you to meet their emotional needs.
Can someone with BPD have friends?
This may appear to be a silly question, but for someone with a Borderline Personality Disorder, this is a very recurring problem. Most people are preoccupied with school, work, or are raising a family and therefore do not have time to socialize as much as they did when they were young. Because of this, they can't live up to the unreasonable expectations that a friend with BPD has. They might get upset with you for not always being there to give them emotional support. No one is capable of meeting the unrealistic requirements someone with BPD has. And as a result, it often happens that someone with BPD has no friends.
Someone with BPD lacks the understanding of mutuality in a friendship and therefore can't understand what friends are to them. They expect friends to take care of them.
Friends are frequently left to clean up the damage when drama is created by someone with BPD. Healthy friend groups have the potential to fall into a support group for this toxic and destructive behavior. It can eventually collapse due to the dysfunction that comes from trying to help the one with BPD. At the end of the day, when the one with BPD refuses to treat themselves, there are only so many suicide threats and attempts their friends can cope with.
Ultimately, someone with BPD can, of course, have friends, but it is a lot more difficult than someone without BPD. The best thing a person with BPD can do is seek treatment to help them better regulate their emotions and inform their friends about the symptoms of BPD.
My experience with friends while having Borderline