Mate Guarding Behavior In Someone With BPD

Someone with a borderline personality disorder(BPD) often shows a more extreme form of mate guarding due to their interpersonal problems. The most significant features of BPD that explain these mate guarding behaviors are their fear of abandonment, low self-esteem, trust issues, and paranoid thinking.

For context, I'm a male diagnosed with BPD. And for this article, I show my own experience and perspective on mate guarding.


Mate Guarding

Mate guarding is essentially a behavior that prevents a partner from leaving the relationship while simultaneously keeping competition at a distance. In humans and animals, it is instinctive to establish reproduction, therefore mate guarding behavior is demonstrated.


In today's society, mate guarding can look like asking for your partner's phone, holding your partner in public, prohibiting them from having cross-gender friends, or preventing them from attending public events.


Mate guarding is also associated with jealousy. When someone acts out of jealousy, it's a fear reaction to protect, maintain, and prolong the relationship. Jealousy can be an emotional reaction to the threat of losing a valuable relationship to a competitor.


Everyone can get jealous to some extent, but someone with BPD often shows delusional jealousy. Because people with borderline constantly live with fear, uncertainty, and poor self-image they are more inclined to act out mate guarding behavior.


BPD mate guarding tendencies

Mate guarding is a common behavior in someone with BPD. It just differs a lot in how it manifests itself. Sometimes it's subtle and manipulative, and other times it's blunt and extreme. It differs per individual and how much self-awareness the person with BPD has.


BPD patients frequently experience fear that their partners are having unethical interactions with others. These false beliefs can result in extreme mate guarding behavior, such as:


  • Someone is not allowed to go outdoors alone and must check in with their partner.

  • There are restrictions on who they are allowed to speak with.

  • Someone decides what clothing the partner can and cannot wear.

  • All communications get monitored.

  • Someone lashes out due to constantly thinking that their partner is cheating.


People with BPD are very suspicious and expect the worst from anyone. Anything that may be seen as leading to the loss of their relationship could make them feel terrified. If they notice their partner catching a glimpse of someone attractive, being secretive about texting or texting a person of the opposite sex, it might be perceived as a threat, which contributes to their delusional jealousy.


Someone does not need to have BPD to engage in extreme mate guarding behavior, but it's not uncommon for someone with BPD to act like this due to their internalized problems like fear of abandonment, low self-esteem, trust issues, and paranoid thinking.


My experience mate guarding while having BPD

I'm quite a jealous person for several reasons. I'm frightened of being replaced and abandoned. Being replaced is one of the worst feelings I can endure, and therefore I feel the need to do everything I can to prevent that. When I'm in a relationship, I have a strong urge to control my partner, yet I recognize that this is an irrational desire. I don't act out these extreme behaviors, but deep inside I want to.


When I'm in a relationship, I believe that eventually, my partner gets tired of my mood swings and my frequent need for reassurance. I feel unworthy of their love, and I'm scared that they will meet someone better, prettier, more financially secure, etc. These insecurities ultimately make me even more vigilant.


I can't trust myself because my emotions are so volatile, and therefore I can't fully trust others. Sometimes the smallest things make me reconsider the faithfulness of my partner, which is mostly delusional thinking from my side. Because of this, I get upset by my own false beliefs.


I dislike it when my partner goes to public events since I don't have control over what happens. As a result, I try to persuade them to change their minds in the hopes that my partner would refrain from attending such events. In retrospect, I know how wrong that is, and I consciously make sure that I don't do this.


When I notice my partner is interested in someone, it causes an internal panic fueled by my fears. As a result, I try to manipulate my partner by putting a negative light on the person they are interested in. These measures I go to cause for a great deal of shame afterward. In the end, it's difficult to accept that I hurt myself due to believing in my delusional jealousy.


Mate guarding does not always have to be visible, but it is present, especially in someone with BPD. I don't engage in the extreme behaviors described above, but I feel tempted to do so. I completely understand why people with less self-control and self-awareness would be vulnerable to this type of behavior.


In the end, mate guarding actually makes your partner want to leave you, and that's exactly what someone is afraid of in the first place. Also, wanting to control everything is very unrealistic and stressful. You can overcome this behavior once you recognize it and have enough control over yourself.