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Why People with BPD Lie to Avoid Conflict

Updated: Aug 6, 2022

People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) often have trouble setting boundaries. They may lie to avoid conflict by stating that everything is okay after someone else has hurt them. They place other people's feelings above their own because they fear being disliked and rejected since their sense of self-worth is based on how other people perceive them.

In this article, we'll discuss why people with BPD avoid conflict and how one can stop lying to avoid conflict. It's important to mention that even though it's common for people with BPD to show this behavior, not everyone diagnosed with BPD lies to avoid conflict.

People with BPD avoid conflict

People with BPD often have low self-esteem; as a result, they frequently rely on the approval of others to be able to feel good. Conflict or disagreement is difficult for them to handle, as they interpret this as rejection, generating feelings of worthlessness and shame. Because of their emotional state and the inability to upset other people, they have trouble setting boundaries. Even when they are mistreated, they still care more about the feelings of others than their own, so they will lie to avoid conflict.

Saying that it wasn't that big of a deal (when it was a big deal) after someone else apologizes is an example of avoiding conflict. The lies can be small and innocent or so big that they completely alter their identity by copying other people's likes and interests for the sake of not feeling rejected by others, which is also known as a chameleon personality trait.

In general, sometimes we let people walk over us because we're afraid of their response if we set boundaries. But for people with BPD, this is intensified since they fear abandonment and rejection to their core. Additionally, some people with BPD can build up resentment and eventually lash out, and once they're calm, they will feel horrible for lashing out and start completely deferring to the other person's feelings again.

Why does someone lie to avoid conflict?

When there is a lot of conflict in a household, a child may feel like de-escalating situations and keeping the peace like a mediator or therapist. When children grow up acting like a mediator, it will become a standard practice later on. In a lot of social situations where one person becomes the mediator, they will feel responsible for other people's feelings. What they essentially learned to do is to set their feelings aside for the sake of harmony. Just like the feelings of a therapist, they do not matter because they're only there for the other person, which is unhealthy in a social setting.

Getting yelled at, shut down, or insulted when they shared their opinions and interests is another reason to develop this behavior. This way, lying and copying other people's interests to avoid conflict becomes a survival instinct.

BPD how to set boundaries

We often have this notion that we're supposed to set boundaries with a person in the moment. However, you can set boundaries with them afterward. We, as humans, do not like to be contradictory to ourselves. Once we say something, then that's the hill we have to die on. But if you realize a minute later that something was not okay, it's totally fine to tell them a minute later. You could say something like this:

"Hey, I know you apologized, and I said that it wasn't a big deal, but I've been thinking about it, and I've come to realize that I think your apology was appropriate. You were actually out of line, and I accept your apology. I also realized that I care about our relationship so much that I didn't want you to feel bad even though what you did was wrong."

When you say that, all of the conflict avoidance fear is going to come up because you could upset someone, and then you have to deal with potentially being disliked by the other person. However, avoiding conflict does the opposite of creating harmony. You're essentially protecting the other person's feelings at the cost of your own feelings. Ironically, conflict is necessary to create harmony because, without it, you end up with a lot of passive-aggressive people in your life. You can tell who accepts you for who you really are by setting boundaries.

BPD setting boundaries through texting

A lot of people want to send a dm or text message because it is less scary than confronting someone face-to-face. However, the advantage of face-to-face communication is that you can open up the issue and close it at the same time. The other advantage is that there's a lot of interpretation of body language, tone, and facial expressions, which will help you convey your message.

The problem with texting is that there is no tone or facial expression in a text message, so your message can come across as cold and arrogant. Your message is more open to interpretation by their cognitive bias, which is a huge problem with text messaging. It's why so many conflicts happen over text.

The next problem with texting is that there is a habitual level of response. If you send someone a long message, it triggers people because that's not usual. They're going to feel bad, attacked, or they're going to feel held accountable. The text message you're likely to get back is something short or even an emoji. You're not sure if they understood the message, and now there's no closure. You don't know how they're feeling. The whole reason you lied in the first place is to avoid conflict and to not make them feel bad, and now your anxiety is through the roof.

On the other hand, if you're lucky, they're going to think about it and send you a substantive response. But most of the time, people are not likely to write a wall of text. Face-to-face is ideal, even though it is scary. Remember that you're learning to tolerate yourself and your boundaries instead of creating situations in which you lie to avoid something.


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