Updated: Oct 16, 2022
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 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, or 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