Being in a relationship with someone with mental health issues is never easy.
No matter how much you love each other and how compatible you are, some moments trigger certain behaviors you can’t handle. An example would be borderline personality disorder.
The average length of a BPD relationship varies from person to person. If you’re in a relationship with someone with this disorder, you’ll inevitably think about how long your relationship will last.
So, how long does a BPD relationship last? Can you really make it work with a BPD partner? This article will make all of it clear.
What’s The Average Length Of A BPD Relationship?
Statistics say that the average length of a BPD relationship is about two and a half years.
People with BPD usually don’t have lasting relationships because of their constant mood swings and impulsive behavior, which is the fundamental issue that underlies all others.
At first, it might seem as if you’ll develop a healthy relationship, but most often, that isn’t the case.
A lot of drama, intense emotions, and fear of abandonment contribute to BPD relationships not lasting long.
7 Stages Of The BPD Relationship Cycle
Even though there are 4 different types of BPD, and each is specific in its own way, a universal pattern of a romantic relationship with a BPD partner does exist.
At first, you’ll spot that they’re madly in love with you, and they’ll do anything to satisfy your needs. You’ll start to think you have a stable relationship, but that won’t last long.
So, what exactly happens?
The beginning of every new relationship is exciting, and a borderline personality disorder relationship is no exception.
In this stage, your BPD partner will mirror your behavior: your interests, experiences, and life goals. This phase is very similar to the honeymoon phase, and idealization is its most prominent characteristic.
As they mirror your behavior, you’ll start to think that you have finally found the right person. You’ll have fun together and never fight, but that won’t last long…
In this phase, you’ll slowly realize that the honeymoon phase was just a mask. The BPD sufferer will start to think you don’t love them.
They’ll start to fight over stupid things and become clingy and possessive. This is when you’ll realize their impulsivity is no joke.
Even though you’ve never given them any reason to think that you don’t love them or that you’ve been unfaithful, they still won’t believe you.
In the third stage of the borderline personality disorder relationship, they will withhold all their emotions and try to hide their intense mood swings. This is a way of testing you.
They don’t want the relationship to end; they want you to fight for them. By withholding their emotions and giving you the silent treatment, they want to see to what extent you will fight for them.
You will focus more on their emotional needs, and that’s exactly what a BPD partner wants.
If you don’t provide them with the necessary attention and if the level of your ‘‘‘fight’’ for them doesn’t meet their expectations, you’ll develop an unstable relationship. Why?
Because they didn’t get the validation they wanted, they’ll start to devalue you. Their abandonment issues will kick in, and their behavior will oscillate. They might also engage in risky sexual behaviors.
They are sure that you’ll break up with them, so they’ll start gaslighting you into thinking it’s your fault, and you’ll have a hard time maintaining a stable relationship.
5. The breakup
Now when they can’t mask the borderline personality disorder with attraction, you’ll see their true face. They will leave you with or without notice.
Most of the time, this happens out of nowhere. If they find someone else who satisfies their emotional needs, they simply won’t need you anymore.
You have served your purpose, and it’s time for someone new to do the same.
6. They return to you
Now, they are desperate without you and regret breaking up, and they will take the blame for everything that led to the relationship ending.
They might start threatening you with self-harm or suicide if you reject them.
On the contrary, if you start dating them again, you might experience the honeymoon phase all over again, but that won’t last.
7. All over again
If you play their game, you’ll be trapped in an endless BPD relationship cycle. After they return to you, the cycle repeats.
In each new cycle, you may experience more aggressive behavior, emotional outbursts, gaslighting, and manipulation attempts.
However, it’s possible to have a successful BPD relationship when your partner knows how to control their impulsive behavior. These cases are rare, but they can happen – if your BPD partner really loves you.
10 Ways To Maintain A BPD Relationship
The average length of BPD relationships can be prolonged. Keep in mind that BPD is a mental illness characterized by mood swings, angry outbursts, fear of abandonment, and impulsive behavior.
You can tell from the symptoms that it might be pretty challenging being in a relationship with a BPD partner. So let’s see how you can maintain as stable a BPD relationship as possible.
1. Know the right time to talk about problems
As people with BPD have very impulsive reactions, the last thing you want to do is upset them even more. That’s why it’s important to know when to discuss problems and back off.
Their actions and words may seem manipulative and destructive to both of you, but they don’t have those intentions.
Sometimes, they have a hard time managing their emotions and reactions. So, if you catch them in these situations, try to be patient and wait until they’ve calmed down to have a normal conversation.
2. Don’t interrupt them when they talk
Even when they have calmed down, you shouldn’t do things that might trigger their impulsive behavior. One such thing is interrupting them while they’re talking.
They struggle to maintain concentration, and if you interrupt them, they’ll think you’re going against them.
This might cause an angry outburst, and you won’t solve the problem but only make a bigger one. So, don’t interrupt them; wait until they’re done talking and then say what’s on your mind.
3. Emotions before words
Remember that your BPD partner speaks with emotions, not words. Their disorder doesn’t allow them to communicate rationally.
If you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, you probably know your BPD partner says much more with emotions than words. They need validation and recognition of the suffering they are experiencing.
Pay attention to the emotion your loved one is trying to express without getting bogged down in trying to make sense of the words being used.
4. Remain calm during conversation
I know the focus is always on your BPD partner but never on you. This might get frustrating sometimes.
But remember that you’re the healthy one, and they’re struggling with a mental illness. Count to ten or take a break before responding to a heated discussion.
If you start being angry and impulsive, this will only have a countereffect and worsen the situation.
5. Talk about other things
Although BPD hugely influences your relationship, it doesn’t define it.
If you want to stabilize your relationship, try distracting both of you from their borderline personality disorder. Talk about other things.
A good distraction would be topics about your interests, hobbies, and get-to-know questions. Try making a strong bond out of things other than BPD. Besides talking, you can always engage in different activities as well.
Take a cooking class, travel somewhere new, or go to the gym together. This will not only distract you from BPD but also make your relationship stronger.
6. Set boundaries
Most of us assume that people with borderline personality disorder are fragile creatures and require someone to care about them constantly.
These people are able to function on their own and are actually very smart and intellectual. So, if you think setting boundaries can’t help you because they won’t realize their importance, you’re wrong.
Be honest about what you can tolerate and what you need from them.
Try investing more into expressing your emotions than having rational arguments because this is their communication.
7. Try psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is a great option to keep your relationship as healthy as possible. Talk therapy, known as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), is a great way to start.
It is based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) but has been modified specifically for those who experience emotions strongly.
This therapy will help them create efficient coping strategies to reduce the frequency and severity of their impulsive behavior and angry outbursts.
8. Learn about BPD
You can’t fully understand your BPD partner if you don’t know what BPD is.
BPD is an integral part of your partner, and by learning more about BPD, you also learn more about them. You don’t know about BPD if you can only recognize the symptoms.
BPD is more than that. BPD sufferers are not just being difficult, and they aren’t intentionally trying to hurt you.
Borderline personality disorder symptoms are brought on by severe psychological stress and a lack of emotional capacity to deal with intense emotions.
9. Learn to cope with stress
When someone with BPD loves you, you’ll probably be exposed to a lot of stress, so you should find the right way to cope with that amount of stress.
Try taking care of yourself, reading a book, and having a nice dinner with your family or friends. Take care of your body: get enough sleep, exercise daily, and avoid alcohol and substance use.
Try to find which of these things work best for you and your well-being, and embrace it whenever you feel stressed about your relationship.
10. Remember the 3 Cs
Many friends or family members regularly face guilt and self-blame for the borderline person’s damaging behavior.
You might wonder what you did to provoke their rage, believe that you somehow deserved the abuse, or feel guilty for any treatment failures or relapses.
However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that you are not responsible for their reactions and behavior. The BPD sufferer is in charge of their own decisions and actions.
The 3 Cs are:
1. I didn’t cause it.
2. I can’t cure it.
3. I can’t control it.
Why Do BPD Relationships Fail?
There are several reasons why BPD relationships don’t work. The first one is if the BPD disorder isn’t diagnosed. As in everyday life, we cannot fix a problem if we don’t know what it is.
That’s why you won’t be able to find an excuse for such behavior. Dealing with a BPD partner, even one who has been diagnosed, is challenging.
There is no middle ground: they either love you unconditionally, and it seems like they’re your true soulmate, or they do terrible things to you, like manipulation, gaslighting, or insulting you.
During your relationship, you constantly feel like you’re walking on eggshells.
Like a narcissist, a person with BPD creates facts from feelings and lives in alternative realities, which is something that no one can stand.
Can People With BPD Have Long-Term Relationships?
Yes, a person with BPD can have a long-term relationship, even though they usually have short-term relationships.
However, as people diagnosed with BPD have a different mindset than regular people, it’s obvious that you’ll come across several difficulties.
Be prepared that you won’t have a constantly stable relationship. Instead, there will be a lot of mood swings.
The most important thing in these relationships is mutual understanding and patience. Always remember that your BPD partner is capable of love; you don’t know how to express it correctly.
Also, mental health professionals play a big role in the quality of your BPD relationship.
When Should You Leave A BPD Relationship?
Sometimes you can’t be with someone no matter how much you love them.
When you realize there is no respect for your boundaries, that you feel unsafe around them, and that even psychotherapy hasn’t helped to maintain a stable relationship – it’s time to leave.
At the end of the day, your mental and physical health is the most important thing. If your mental health isn’t good, you aren’t able to help someone with their mental health.
Yes, you are their partner and should help them control their behavior, but you aren’t their therapist. How you feel about the role of a therapist is up to you, and if you think this role isn’t for you, it probably isn’t.
Statistics say that the average length of BPD relationships is about two and a half years.
But don’t trust the statistics – you should only trust your emotions and desire to stay together. If you understand each other, you’ll always make things work.
The key to a successful BPD relationship is to be patient with your partner, understand their behavior, and find the time to take care of yourself.Everybody needs a recharge, especially someone caring for a BPD partner.