Spoiler alert: the answer is no
Dating can be a love-hate experience for the average Australian adult. Many of us are opting for long term relationships with Netflix and a cup of Bushell’s over the unpredictable modern era of dating. But if you do choose to navigate new relationships, it can be challenging no matter what. And, when living with Borderline Personality Disorder, navigating new relationships can bring a range of other aspects to consider.
Take your third date, for example. Settling into your entree of selected condiments, cheese and breads, you look up at your date across the table and feel a spark – the two of you are genuinely connecting. Your date is intelligent, funny and they have exceptional taste in dips (hummus is better than beetroot, obviously). The questions with your potential life-mate are becoming more playful, interesting and exciting:
Future-Life-Partner: So, what are your quirks then?
You: *cute adorable smirk* You tell me yours first!
Future-Life-Partner: Haha. Well to be honest, I can get competitive during a game of scrabble. I’ve been known to flip a board or two - my friends call me “flipper”. Now your turn. I wanna learn more about you!
You: *insert 2nd cute adorable Smirk* Well... when I’m stressed out I have a really terrible habit of putting on trashy television shows! Also, I tend to roll with chronic feelings of emptiness, frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment as well as unstable moods due to dysphoria."
Sometimes, honesty in communicating the diagnosis of BPD can certainly be a mood killer. According to a VICE interview with Dr. Barbara Greenberg, our society completely misunderstands what it’s like to forge relationships with people living with BPD.
For some people, thinking of BPD conjures up images of a manic, often unpredictable person who will charm your ankle-socks off, right before pulling the rug out from underneath you. They’re often seen as a master manipulator –some kind of villain in an action movie no-one is watching.
But despite the internet’s attempts to stigmatise this diagnosis, the reality is that being in a relationship with someone living with BPD can actually be the emotional equivalent of a snuggie blanket. Those living with BPD possess intense compassion, interpersonal attentiveness and an unusually high degree of emotional perceptiveness. In essence, people entering into relationships whilst living with BPD (especially those engaged in ongoing support / therapy) most certainly can – and do – have loving and functioning relationships.
So with stigma still rampant in the broader community, how do we stay hopeful that we can make relationships work, whilst living with Borderline Personality Disorder?
1. Get support
The first thing to do is learn as much as possible about your patterns. Once you understand BPD better (and how it can impact relationships), it's easier to tackle it by finding the treatment and support you need. If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety or severe symptoms relating to BPD – you don’t have to go it alone. Check out some resources here.
2. Talk it out!
Our SANE Help Centre is staffed by qualified mental health professionals. These folks have lots of ideas and info on how you can work through your feelings, and where to get further help.
3. Be kind to yourself, and always be who you are
Living with Borderline Personality Disorder can create unnecessary shame, especially in the realm of dating and relationships. Be kind to yourself, know that this journey won’t always be perfect, and remind yourself that there are many people out there who’ll accept you for exactly who you are in this moment.
To join thousands of other people in Australia who are navigating BPD, check out this discussion happening on the SANE Forums.
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