One of the most common things I hear when it comes to being close to someone with BPD is the need to “walk on eggshells”. And it’s something I’ve heard from my own husband, though thankfully not for a while. We’ve been married for 10 years and I would hate to think he feels he couldn’t be honest with me. So here are some tips I have for coping with your borderline personality disorder in a way that allows close and honest loving relationships. Things that help remove eggshells and build a better bond. I’m not perfect at this by any means, and my husband and I still have our struggles, but we are also still desperately in love and stronger in our relationship than ever before.
- Be honest about your disorder, and focus on the medical aspects when explaining it. My husband finally began to understand after he was diagnosed with diabetes. They’re not the same obviously, but he is an extraordinarily healthy man who has diabetes purely because of his genetics. No matter how much he excersises or how perfect his diet is, he will always require medication. The same is true of me, no matter how much therapy I have, or how much I meditate, I will likely always need some form of mood stabilizer and antidepressant.
- Invite your significant other to therapy. My therapist is more than happy to have my husband there so we can chat together. She asks me to invite him any time I’m going through changes in my disorder, especially if she fears I’m not being fully honest with him. However, do NOT see the same therapist separately. Paranoia can be part of BPD, so when you and your SO talk to a therapist, do it together. Remain in the same room together the whole time, otherwise you will likely become very agitated trying to figure out what he’s “saying behind your back”. If your SO wants to see a therapist on his own, have yours recommend a colleague for him.
- Good days are for hanging out! Yes I have bad days where I curl up in bed and don’t leave or participate in life. Yes I become freakishly angry sometimes and start nasty arguments. Yes I have times where I cry uncontrollably. But I also have good days, and on those days we cherish our time together. We play board games, and watch sitcoms, and have loud sex. There will always be ups and downs, make the ups count!
- Let your significant other lean on you sometimes. Being married to me can be exhausting. There are many times my husband has to push down his emotions and let me lean on him. So when I’m feeling better I make it a point to see how he’s doing emotionally. And when his stress shows up, I am there. I give him extra time to sleep, I put on his favorite movie, I listen while he vents. Just because he does not have borderline does not mean he doesn’t struggle with his own emotions. I need to always be aware of that.
- Don’t weigh your emotions against those of your SO. This is something I struggled with a lot. “Oh, you think it’s hard on you?!?! How do you think I feel?!!!!” All that does is drive a wedge between us, so I worked really hard to stop doing it. I remind myself that one persons pain does not lower that of another’s. If your leg is broken, does that mean my stubbed toe won’t hurt? Of course it will hurt, of course I’m gonna yell some curse words at my toe. Just because it’s not as bad doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
The best piece of advice I ever heard about marriage in general is that it is not 50/50 but rather 100/100. You don’t give half way and expect the other to match it. Give your all because you love him and want to. Sometimes my all sucks, it’s small because of my disorder, but I still give all that I can. I expect nothing in return and therefore am able to truly cherish all that he gives.
The one thing I haven’t been able to figure out yet is how to not assume he hates me. While he shows me love consistently, I know my disorder is difficult on him, and simultaneously my disorder tells me how unlovable I am. When we argue I have a habit of yelling “why do you hate me?” When I’m crying I ask “do you hate me now?” And I have to stop doing this and find ways to remind myself of his love no matter how my brain lies. I hope to make real progress on this through my therapy this year.
What other tips are there? What have you found useful in your relationships? Whether you have BPD or not, relationships are hard, so add some tips in the comments!