Cheers to Tears

Navigating Friendships with Borderline Personality Disorder

Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental illness that affects how someone thinks, feels, and behaves. People with this disorder experience a wide range of symptoms that can impact their relationships, self-image, and overall quality of life.

In this article, we will be discussing the symptoms of BPD and why individuals with this disorder may struggle to maintain healthy friendships.

Symptoms of BPD

The symptoms of BPD can vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms include unstable interpersonal relationships, unstable self-image, mood swings, and impulsivity. Individuals with BPD may struggle to form and maintain stable relationships due to their fear of rejection and intense fear of abandonment.

In addition, they may have a distorted sense of self-image that fluctuates frequently, making it difficult for them to maintain a consistent sense of identity.

Why People with BPD Struggle to Maintain Friendships

The intense fear of abandonment individuals with BPD experience can make them struggle with maintaining friendships, as they may push away those who they feel may eventually leave them. This fear can also make them clingy and overly dependent on their friends, which can put pressure on the relationship and ultimately cause it to fracture.

Additionally, individuals with BPD may engage in “splitting,” which is when they view someone as either all good or all bad. This can lead to a pattern of idealizing and idolizing new friends at first, but then immediately devaluing them and distancing themselves when they perceive them as a threat to the relationship.

Challenges of Friendships with Someone with BPD

Being friends with someone who has BPD can be challenging because of the intense idealization and devaluation that occurs during the friendship cycle. This behavior is sometimes referred to as “love bombing,” which is when someone showers their friend with love, attention, and affection in the beginning stages of the friendship.

This behavior can be intense and overwhelming, making the friend feel as though they are the most important person in the world. However, as the friendship progresses, the person with BPD may start to view their friend as someone who is no longer perfect or who is in some way threatening to the relationship.

This can cause them to suddenly devalue the friendship and distance themselves from their friend.

Another challenge that friends of someone with BPD may face is their difficulty with emotional permanence.

This is when they struggle to understand and believe that their friends will not abandon them. This can lead to clingy behavior, such as calling or texting their friend incessantly or becoming anxious and upset if their friend doesn’t respond immediately.

They may also struggle with separation anxiety, which can make it difficult for them to be apart from their friend, even for brief periods.


Borderline Personality Disorder can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to form and maintain friendships. The intense fear of abandonment and fluctuating sense of self-image can cause difficulty in forming stable relationships, while the intense idealization and devaluation that occurs during the friendship cycle and the difficulty with emotional permanence can make it challenging for friends to support and maintain a relationship with someone with BPD.

With appropriate treatment, individuals with BPD can learn to manage their symptoms and form healthy, stable relationships with their friends and loved ones.

Building Long-Term Friendships with Someone with BPD

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can make it challenging for individuals to maintain healthy, stable friendships. However, with awareness, ownership, and support, it is possible to build long-term friendships with those who have this disorder.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of diagnosis and counseling, clear communication and setting boundaries, and avoiding BPD traps when building long-term friendships with someone with BPD.

Importance of Diagnosis and Counseling

One of the most important things to do when building a long-term friendship with someone with BPD is to understand the disorder. It is essential to be aware of the symptoms and how they might manifest in your friend’s behavior.

With an understanding of the disorder’s challenges, you will be better equipped to support your friend and build a healthy relationship.

It is also crucial for individuals with BPD to have a proper diagnosis and access to counseling.

Seeking help from a mental health professional can provide them with the tools and resources necessary to manage their symptoms and develop healthy behaviors. Counseling can also help them develop healthy coping mechanisms and improve their emotional regulation.

As a friend, providing support and encouragement while they seek help can be beneficial for both parties in building a long-term friendship.

Clear Communication and Setting Boundaries

Clear communication and setting boundaries are essential components of building healthy, long-term friendships, particularly with someone with BPD. Inconsistent or unclear communication can lead to misunderstandings, which can exacerbate symptoms or cause unnecessary strain on the relationship.

To build a healthy friendship, it is important to communicate honestly and effectively.

It is also important to set boundaries that clearly define what is acceptable behavior within the friendship.

Boundaries can help prevent unhealthy, codependent relationships from forming, which can be common among those with BPD. When setting boundaries, be specific and firm in what you are and are not willing to accept in the friendship.

Boundaries can help create a healthy framework for the relationship and promote stability for both parties involved.

Avoiding BPD Traps

In our efforts to build lasting friendships with those with BPD, we need to be aware of some challenges that might arise. Certain behaviors and patterns can emerge in these friendships that can be difficult to navigate and avoid.

One trap is the euphoria that sometimes accompanies the intense initial phases of the friendship. These feelings can be intense and overwhelming, leading to unrealistic expectations and disappointment when the relationship inevitably shifts to a more stable place.

It’s essential to recognize and acknowledge these feelings while keeping expectations realistic.

Another trap to avoid is getting caught up in your friend’s emotional crises.

Those with BPD can be emotionally intense and require a lot of support and attention during these times. However, it is essential to set boundaries and establish healthy communication to ensure that you do not become overwhelmed or feel obligated to take on more than you can handle.

Lastly, it is essential to avoid trauma-bonded friendships, where the intensity of the relationship is based on shared trauma or past experiences. While it may seem like a strong bond, it can lead to unhealthy patterns, such as codependency, and ultimately harm both parties involved.

Instead, focus on building trust and stability through healthy communication and mutual support.


Building long-term friendships with someone who has BPD can be challenging. However, with awareness, support, and effective communication, it is possible to create a healthy and stable relationship based on mutual respect and trust.

It is essential to understand the symptoms and challenges of the disorder, seek proper diagnosis and counseling, and establish clear communication while setting healthy boundaries. By avoiding BPD traps and focusing on building trust and stability, friendships can be strengthened and can provide valuable support to both parties involved.

In conclusion, building long-term friendships with someone with BPD requires patience, understanding, and healthy boundaries. Educating oneself about the disorder, seeking proper diagnosis and counseling, and establishing clear communication and boundaries are vital to creating a positive and lasting relationship.

Being aware of BPD traps and focusing on building trust and stability can further strengthen the friendship. By following these guidelines, we can provide support, encouragement, and understanding to friends with BPD, promoting and reinforcing the importance of compassion, respect, and empathy towards those affected by mental health disorders.


Q. What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

A. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health disorder that affects how someone thinks, behaves, and feels about themselves and others.

Q. Why is it challenging to maintain friendships with someone with BPD?

A. Individuals with BPD may experience fear of abandonment, split-thinking, and a distorted sense of self-image that may affect their ability to form and maintain stable relationships.

Q. What can I do to support my friend with BPD?

A. Providing support and encouragement, educating oneself about the disorder, and establishing clear boundaries and communication can help strengthen and maintain a positive relationship.

Q. Can BPD be treated?

A. Yes, BPD can be treated through counseling, medication, and other therapies.

Q. Are there any common traps to avoid when building a friendship with someone with BPD?

A. Yes, common traps include euphoria, emotional crises, and trauma-bonded friendships, which can create unhealthy patterns and codependency.

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