Dating with Borderline Personality Disorder(BPD) is one of the hardest things to deal with while having the disorder. A combination of idealization, fear of abandonment, low self-esteem, and difficulty regulating emotions makes it both unbearable and addictive.
People with BPD are known to experience unstable relationships which are intense and short-lived. Not only are relationships challenging, but the dating time before entering one may be much more difficult.
Dating with Borderline Personality Disorder
People with Borderline are obsessed with love. It fills their emptiness and makes them feel complete. They are intensive lovers and would sacrifice the world for one person. They quickly open up to others, which may lead to them becoming emotionally attached in a matter of days. For this reason, their relationships develop fast while not taking the time to get to know someone they are attaching themselves to.
Right from the start, someone with BPD has difficulty regulating and managing their emotions while idealizing their potential partner. The overwhelming thoughts and emotions become so hard to deal with that it can be difficult to function in their everyday life. They completely lose who they are as a person when everything in their life is about someone else. Making an unstable self-image a common symptom of BPD.
Often there is a pattern of push and pull. There is an enormous need for closeness and connection but at the same time an enormous fear of rejection and abandonment. This is also often confusing and exhausting for the ones dating someone with BPD.
We are all afraid, to some extent, that the person we like, likes someone else more. For someone with BPD, this can be extremely difficult to accept. They often feel unworthy of love and are easily rejected because of their lack of trust in others and poor self-worth. People with BPD struggle with jealousy which can manifest into false beliefs and lead to poor and impulsive decision-making. After every rejection and abandonment, it fulfills the irrational fears and therefore reinforces them.
When the potential partner does something that shows they aren't perfect, the situation changes completely. Devaluing occurs, and the person with BPD perceives their partner as unattractive and unworthy. They tend to see everything in black and white. Others are either completely good or evil. This is also known as splitting. As a result, relationships can end as quickly as they can start.
Someone with BPD can find it very difficult to have a stable and healthy relationship. Ultimately, it's understandable that individuals would avoid dating someone who displays BPD symptoms. It's just difficult to deal with someone like that, and if they have the option to go while they aren't emotionally invested, they will. Which you can't blame them for. The problem is that someone with BPD is already very emotionally invested right from the start.
Why do people with Borderline Idealize others?
Idealization happens when the brain has difficulty managing emotions and thinking in black-and-white concepts.
We develop idealization as a psychological survival mechanism when we are children. We started by idealizing our parents. We placed them on a pedestal. They could only do good things, and everything they said was the truth. Because children are so vulnerable, they need to idealize their parents to survive.
As with most survival mechanisms they are only beneficial in some situations or during a certain point in life. When an adult experiences idealization, it's just unhealthy. Although even the healthiest individuals idealize others to some extent, the majority of people grow out of it. People with BPD experience something called Arrested Emotional Development. It is being stuck in an emotional level of development from childhood. Someone with BPD never stopped idealizing others.
Abuse, inconsistent parenting, the loss of loved ones, or a traumatic event can be the cause of Arrested Emotional Development. And unfortunately, life gets overwhelming when we stop growing emotionally.
What does idealization look like in someone with BPD?
Idealization causes someone to perceive the positive aspects of a person while ignoring their flaws. Which can cause them to commit to someone blindly.
When someone with BPD ends up in a situation where they found someone they like, it feels as if the whole world revolves around that someone. They can't imagine life without that person anymore, even though they could a few days ago. Oftentimes, nothing has happened to make these feelings valid. The person may not be nice at all while being attracted to a sense of validation.
It is unavoidable that after idealizing someone, you would realize that they are not the ideal partner. People with untreated BPD will leave a relationship right away and start looking for someone to idealize again. In search of someone perfect, that doesn't exist. Because of this, BPD is known for having intense but short-lived relationships. They idealize and devalue people in an instant.
Someone who had help with the diagnosis of their BPD has learned to accept that no one is perfect. They will still idealize others, but they learned to look deeper than what their emotions are experiencing. For someone who idealizes others, the first step is recognizing that their thoughts and feelings are not reality.
The issue with people with BPD is that they are unable to distinguish between the initial wave of intense emotions and the methodical process of developing a good relationship.
Online dating and Borderline Personality Disorder
On a dating app or website, it is known that people talk to several others looking for the right partner. Which is a recipe for disaster for someone with BPD. Jealousy and quickly idealizing someone you barely know create unrealistic expectations, which have heartbreaking consequences.
Online dating can easily trigger someone with BPD since it is easy to get canceled on plans or rejected.
Someone with BPD has an identity crisis. They struggle with differentiating between reality and fantasy. In an online environment, there is a lot of insecurity. Delusional thinking is therefore not uncommon in someone with BPD.
Dating can be an obsession or addiction for someone with BPD. It may be used as a coping mechanism to avoid negative feelings, which are unhealthy.
My experience with dating having Borderline Personality Disorder
In my experience, it usually ends up being me who leaves someone else before it can even get into a relationship. I leave someone before they can leave me, which is typical for someone with borderline. At some point, I can no longer handle the uncertainty of the situation. I constantly get the feeling that I'm going to be abandoned, which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I have to be in a very healthy place and be very self-aware to catch myself in the act of idealizing someone. In most cases, it's already too late when I realize what I'm getting myself into.
Even if it's something small, as soon as that reality gets to me, they are no longer the same person in my eyes. They've changed, they don't like me, I simply played myself, they're awful, how could they, and so on. They went from being my absolute favorite person to being a stranger. I decided to cut them off to protect my feelings over what most people would consider a minor situation.
When I get the impression that someone's lifestyle provokes too many of my BPD triggers, such as my fear of abandonment, I begin to believe that the other person may be my death. It is pure fear of my overwhelming emotions, which hurt like hell, that result in impulsive decision-making.
''I think I would .... myself, if I'd stay with you.''
At the end of the day, I experience love as my addiction. I can't seem to live without it. The emotions hurt my chest physically, I can't bring myself to do anything, I can't think of anything other than the person I've idolized, and I live in constant fear and distress.
If I've found a way that actually helps deal with this, I'll let you know.