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Maintaining a Friendship With Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder

By March 7, 2009

Many people happen upon this site searching for advice about how to maintain a friendship with someone who has borderline personality disorder (BPD). It can be very hard to be a good friend to someone who experiences frequent emotional ups and downs, intense anger, and high risk behaviors like suicidality and self-harm.

That said, it can be done. It is possible to be a good friend to someone with BPD-- someone who is there for the long haul and doesn't run away when things get tough. But it requires work and an ability to balance your own needs with the needs of your friend.

Learn more about how to maintain a friendship with someone who has BPD...

March 15, 2009 at 5:22 pm
(1) Grace says:

You discuss being friends with someone who has BPD…could you also address how to LIVE with someone who has BPD? My mom has BPD and she made my life a living hell when I was growing up. I now have a lot of anger at her. However, I can’t just walk away. Can you help me?

March 23, 2009 at 7:53 pm
(2) Matt says:

I also grew up with a mother with BPD but never really realized it up until now. I am now in my early 20′s and am realizing that I have relationship troubles bc of her. I am seeking counseling now, do you have any advice on how to cope with someone who has this problem?

March 30, 2009 at 3:50 pm
(3) Les says:

My mother is borderline, although not formally diagnosed (2 different therapists my brother and I have spoken to about her have both told us she sounds like she’s borderline, we agree). She made my life and my brother’s life a living hell growing up. I had a lot of anger issues and was very angry with her until I became involved in a support group through a local church. I also read some of Randi Kreger’s books about BPD. Reading and educating myself about BPD made me realize that my mom is mentally ill and has no control over her behavior right now. It helped me to have compassion for her and the miserable life she is leading. I now have compassion for her and hope that one day she will seek the mental help she needs. She is in denial that anything is wrong with her. My brother and I have not had any contact with her, at her request, for 3 years now. When I suggested family counseling to help my family set some healthy boundaries with her, she became extremely angry and refused, of course blaming everything on me. For me, cutting the ties with my mom was the healthiest choice for myself, my marriage and my family. I was the victim of my mom’s distortion campaigns time and time again. They were affecting my marriage, my relationship with my brother and my relationship with other family members. I told my mom my door is always open, should she choose to get the help she needs. I do love her and I hope and pray for her happiness, health and safety. This is a very difficult disorder to treat, so only time will tell if your loved one will get better. I wish you luck.

July 12, 2010 at 5:44 pm
(4) Renee says:

About five months ago, a close friend of mine and I had to have an intervention with a mutual friend. She was showing all the signs of BPD and we did a lot of research and counseling with our pastor. She did agree to go to a therapist and is now on medication. Basically, the friendship hangs by a thread and we “walk on eggshells” around her. She texts me at least once a week and berates me for not being a “good Christian” and forgiving her and I try to explain that I have forgiven her but I am trying to set boundaries (which is what we were counseled to do). When she was to bring her family to a session, she wanted me and my friend to come instead of her husband and children. My friend is trying to stay close to her (I believe out of guilt) and feels like she is in the middle. I don’t know what to do. Our lives were turned upside down, we had to change our phone numbers and threaten her with restraining orders for her to realize that her behavior was unacceptable. Now she swears she has changed and is on the correct medications but I just want to keep my distance for a while. When we do talk she still blames me for the distance in the friendship and her BPD is all she wants to talk about. Does anyone have any suggestions?

December 2, 2010 at 12:09 pm
(5) Renee says:

I must say– not to be rude, but to be straight– this article is far, far too optimistic and assumptive. I am currently trying to extract myself from a long-standing friendship with a BPD, and it is in NO WAY as easy as this is making it appear. This article also, to me, makes it appear that the responsibility of the non-BPD is to be compassionate and understanding and forgiving, but remember– this disorder leaves people with LITTLE OR NO conscience. They don’t want your empathy, and if they get it, they will use it and make you pay for your sensitivity. They want power over you, they want your loyalty, and they want your obedience. If you feel like you’re being victimized by a BPD, remember that another common trait of theirs is NEVER BELIEVING THEY are in the wrong, thus they believe they are not disordered, do not need help, and will never seek it on their own. The girls who performed the intervention above did the most intelligent-but-still-trying thing, but I must warn them… BPDs, who used to be referred to as Sociopaths, don’t change. There is only marginal, vague treatment– not a cure.

December 2, 2010 at 2:20 pm
(6) Marie says:

I have to agree with the above comment. I recently had a falling out with a friend. We were so close for about a year and it actually made me go crazy. One minute he was hot and the next cold, he has very unstable romantic relationships and has a crisis everyother weekend. I would always be there putting my other friends, family, and unfortuantely spouse second to his problems. Well, when I was going through some problems and I felt he was not being responsive he flipped and the anger was extreme and he demonized me…HE WON’T FORGIVE when I really did nothing wrong just call him out when he use to do the same for me. After months of soul-searthing, reading books and talking with friends and family i realize he has a mental disorder BPD. He fits all the classifications and I would like to tell Renee above to keep her distance, they are very manipulative. After I pursued him for a month, I moved on but then he came around again and I really put distance and will never let him in again. Please, RENEE for your own mental health be careful, people with BPD are so manipulative and will make you feel bad and really it is emotional abuse so in that regards if it is not a family member who you have to deal with sometimes, then move on and keep distance from them for your own sanity.

December 17, 2010 at 1:13 am
(7) Roger says:

If you enjoy being tortured… slowly… methodically… relentlessly… then remain friends with a BPD. Their crazy will eat you alive, then they will casually move on and find another host.

If you have any respect for yourself, cut the strings NOW and get the hell out before it’s too late! Run. Run fast. Run far!

December 17, 2010 at 1:13 am
(8) Roger says:

If you enjoy being tortured… slowly… methodically… relentlessly… then remain friends with a BPD. Their crazy will eat you alive, then they will casually move on and find another host.

If you have any respect for yourself, cut the strings NOW and get the hell out before it’s too late! Run. Run fast. Run far!

December 22, 2010 at 2:54 pm
(9) ariellia says:

I have known a BPD for nearly two years, I have only just recently realised that this is what is going on with my friend!

This is the very reason I find myself on your site, looking for support. I am a strong person, a psychologist, therapist and a healer… my basic instinct is to help support and to heal

The sad part of knowing someone with this illness is that they will often show you a glimmer of hope that somewhere deep inside that they are good and kind and this will keep you there beside them

But I have to agree with much that I have read here and the traits are very clear to see now

Unless you are a very strong emotional person, do not attempt to try to support someone alone … it’s tough; it hurts and makes you wonder about yourself at times

It makes me so sad that people with BPD, are so lost inside if only there were a cure.

I love my friend deeply, but whatever I say or do it will never be enough.

If your supporting … remember to look after yourself , treat yourself how you would wish to be treated and keep yourself as whole as possible… because if you allow someone to take everything you have … soon there will be nothing left to give ……

I wish for strength ,courage, wisdom , love and support for all that find themselves reading this…

I am writing this fresh from having just had yet another arrow aimed at my heart….

Areillia xxx

January 3, 2011 at 11:33 pm
(10) A says:

My dad is an unofficially diagnosed BPD sufferer (a counselor suggested it, and it is very obvious around the people he targets that he is). Growing up with him was bad, and it sadly took me until my mid-20′s to finally realize just was kind of person he is, and how that had a severe impact on my formative years and adulthood. He has done quite a number of my mom, in the way of making her believe that his behavior is normal, and having her make excuses for his behavior. He has no friends, and spends pretty much every waking moment with my mom. She has had to put up with so much over the years, but the damage done to her is so bad that convincing her to do anything about it has failed. But the even worse damage is to himself. He has OCD as well, so he runs around and compulsively performs rituals to calm himself down (which, obviously, compounds everything). His mind constantly races and when he’s confused, he takes it out on whomever is listening to him. He also intermittently and barely eats, which I have grown to accept as his manifestation of the self-mutilation facet of the disorder. I have contacted therapists, and even sent a message to the local police department, but nothing came of any of it. It’s heartbreaking to know that BPD is such a quiet, latent illness, and is not even noticeable to the unwitting person in society. But what is even more horrible is that it festers inside of people who are, in essence, ticking time bombs who can be unpredictable at any moment. There should be a lot more public awareness of BPD and other personality disorders, so that others outside of familial and friendly social circles can be educated on how to deal with such a sufferer.

January 20, 2011 at 3:52 am
(11) Lynne says:

For years, I’ve been friends with Carol (not her real name). I’ve reached out to her, loaned her money, listened patiently to her endless stream of complaints. People asked me how I could tolerate her. I suppose it was because I saw a vulnerable, lonely woman struggling to survive in a prison of her own making. I didn’t know she had BPD for a long time.

Carol was intelligent, well-read, and witty. She was easily able to hold her own in any social setting, until something happened to set her off. A perceived slight, a chance remark, a question she considered “nosy and instrusive”, and she lashed out.

She was ousted from two social groups because of this behavior. One group changed their meetings to a time when Carol was at work and couldn’t attend. The other, a book discussion group, took a vote. The leader emailed Carol, asking her not to come back. She was devastated. It was then that she told me about the BPD, which was diagnosed during one of her forays into counseling.

She hit rock bottom when she lost her long-time job. Her boss had referred her several times to the Employee Assistance Program for counseling. She’d go for a while, but stop when things got too uncomfortable. I still don’t know exactly what happened, but Carol was given a choice: resign or be terminated. She resigned.

It turned out to be the impetus she needed to work toward changing herself. She refused to consider any more counseling, and had always scorned medication. I’ve seen her grow more respectful and considerate of others. She now recognizes when she’s about to lose control, and removes herself from the situation. She still has bad days, but at least she’s making better choices.

January 23, 2011 at 1:49 am
(12) jessie says:

I was new in the area when a very nice woman introduced herself to me at my daughters school. I was a fitness instructor and she was interested in attending some of my classes (for free) to see if she was motivated…from that day on we have been friends for over 5 years. I have a daughter
who is disabled/mentally challenged. So when she began to
peel back her life I knew she was not dealing with a full deck.
Having been thru a divorce and other challenges with my daughter my heart went out to her. As we became better friends her obsession with calling me and dumping her daily melt downs and aggressive behavior toward other
as well her child and her sex addiction with blck men became the topic. I spent countless hours trying to console her, help her…….lent her money . She became like a herpie
i helped her with her pending divorce and so on and so on.
My life woke up to phone hystarical phone calls and ended with the same drama everyday…she has no bondries…Ive tried …only to me feel more guilt…….I finially asked her to never contact…..i have no energy left for my own life…lesson learned …….I can only help myself.

May 4, 2011 at 4:44 pm
(13) Cat says:

Hi, looking for a bit of reassurance! My mum has BPD and my memories of childhood are disturbing. I now have two children and am making it my goal to never turn into her, which is easy because I love them more than life. The thing is now I feel so much love for my children I am starting to masively hate my own mother. She has no awareness of her BPD and is a lonely mess, yet I cannot feel anything but resentment towards her. Am I abnormal ?

June 1, 2011 at 11:57 am
(14) Rope's end says:

I suspect that my best friend of 20 years has BPD. She is overly dramatic over everything! She has alienated many friends and staff members by being condescending towards them, and myself. Her relationships with her boyfriends over the years have been extremely volatile, she is always is paranoid they are cheating or want to leave her. She treats our friends like her minions and expects us to drop everything for her every time she is having a bad day, which is often. Her mood swings are extreme and can happen several times in a short period of time, going from anger to self pity to manic and back to anger. Her outbursts of anger are completely inappropriate and illogical. She gets mad over imagined problems and always takes things extremely personally. She consistently questions our friendship and calls me multiple times a day, while I’m at work or out with my boyfriend to yell at me over something stupid or to yell about other friends she feels have wronged her. She had called my mother a whore in a fit of anger. She manipulates facts or makes them up to generate pity from others or to justify her anger. She constantly fishes for compliments by saying very negative things about herself. That is just tip of the iceberg. I am very fed up and cannot take the abuse any longer, and neither can our mutual friends. Two of us are going to have a chat with her next week to let her know how her behavior is affecting us and that if it continues, we can no longer be friends. We are always walking on eggshells around her, worried that something we say or do will set her off on another tantrum. She is a professional and 28 years old. Enough is enough unless she really wants to lose her friends and fiancé – which I know is the complete opposite of her intentions. I am at a loss. I don’t know how to deal anymore aside from breaking my ties with her.

June 14, 2011 at 10:01 am
(15) Queenie says:

I agree that this article is too optimistic and further puts the burden on the friends/family of BPD. We already carry this burden. And, people with BPD rarely improve. My mother is 76 and just when I thought things were getting better, she gaged one of her worst attacks. Life has been a living hell.

I recently found myself in a friendship with a woman who is very similar (but seemed so much more soft spoken) and I was taken by surprise until I disappointed her with an opinion different from hers. I went from being on a pedestal to the devil in one minute and she has bad mouthed me and lied about me and shocked mutual friends. We are all thinking she might have BPD and we just now seeing it in retrospect but it is making the odd pieces fit. My concern is that I might have been unconsciously attracted and not realized it maybe trying to take care of unfinished business.

I have no tolerance for BPD antics because I have found these people will do anything to destroy you once they split you and you now all evil in their eyes. They will lie, publicly shame you, and maybe even physically attack you.

June 26, 2011 at 6:16 am
(16) FeelingLost says:

My friend fits the BPD profile. She has often made things all about her, even when I was going through the loss of my mother. She accuses me and gets angry over every perceived slight. Usually I accept all the blame and I say, poor thing and I affirm her a lot. I didn’t mind too much. Last time I visited her everything was fine and we were having fun until my boyfriend called. I asked her if I could talk to him and she said ok. Then when I was finished she ignored me. Later she told me that I hurt her feelings by interupting our conversation. It seemed the more I apologized the angrier she became. So I left and stayed with a different friend. She wrote me several emails that were manipulative and accusatory. After about 6 months I still haven’t written back. I’ve tried writing letters but I know she will be hurt, offended and angry at anything I say. I can’t accept the blame this time like always because I didn’t do anything wrong! I am suffering greatly over this because I love my friend and I wish we could still be friends. Why do I feel guilty and in the wrong when she was the one who hurt me! There is a lot more to that story but right now I’m at a crossroads. Do I try to write something and reach out to her or do I let her go? I am at a loss and I don’t know what to do.

July 4, 2011 at 2:49 pm
(17) tar says:

My Best friend of over 20 years has BPD, I think if someone is level headed enough and compassionate there shouldn’t be a problem in maintaining friendsip, I’m not saying any of the above comments are not genuine, people feel diffrent things and react in very diffrent ways, nor am I saying the people who have made the comments are not level headed or compassionate. Granted having a friend with BPD can be difficult at times, I look at all my friends and my “BPD” friend always comes out number one for me. Yes done/do the walking on egg shells at times, had calls ignored etc etc, but who among us hasn’t had a day where they dont want to talk to some one, or where they haven’t had someone walk on egg shells? I just feel for my friend that she has more of these days where she feels so low. I trust my friend with the things I most love and value, I know she is always there-if she can be. I enjoy her company, she rules basically. So yes browse these pages and seek advice if you need too, but dont let the negative text deture you from trusting yourself with regard to maintaining a friendship.

July 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm
(18) AppleEye11 says:

Thank you to all of you for your comments and compassion on this issue. I, too, have been dealing with a difficult, rocky friendship that has left me wondering whether I need to “get out.” To “Feeling Lost,” I want to let you know that your situation sounds so similar to mine. Of course, I don’t know what the answer for you will be, but I empathize with your sense of loss over your friendship. I fear I’ll eventually lose my friend, as well, when I inevitably perpetrate a perceived “wrong” that she just can’t forgive me for. When you think about your friendship being repaired, if that would even be possible now, could you trust that this same situation wouldn’t happen over and over again? And if it did keep happening, could you live with that? This is what I’m asking myself right now about my friend.

August 30, 2011 at 12:06 am
(19) Kate says:

I am in my 40′s and have cut off my mom and siblings indefinitely. I tried for years to bring the family together, but nothing worked. I sent birthday and Christmas gifts to nephews and nieces and no one bothered to even say boo to my kids. In fact. no one in the family has ever seen my youngest child. My mom has BPD and her lies and distortions have divided our family forever. She seduces people to speak ill of another and then spreads the gossip like an innocent and shocked bystander. My brother is absolutely hateful to me and has said he will do whatever it takes to be my moms favorite in order to win her estate when she dies. Ya, he’s that nice. He has also learned from her on how to lie to people and appear victimized and innocent. My father is a crazed narcissist. He left my life ages ago and is on marriage number 5. My mom’s 2nd husband recently left her as well.
My life has alwasy gone better when in the times they have been out of it so I decided that for the health of my marriage and my kids, i would have to put the proverbial axe to the root of the tree. I never really miss them as they have always been so cruel but pangs of what could have been never really go away. Maybe in heaven…

September 3, 2011 at 3:07 pm
(20) Diane says:

I have recently gone through some of the worst experiences of my life with a friend who fits the BPD bill perfectly. I suspected she suffered from BPD since I have taken mental health classes in my nursing career but this last straw has finally confirmed it to me.
She is manipulative, lying, backstabbing, self-pitying, suicidal and just full of drama. She will go to any and every length in order to feel loved or the attention she is looking for. Desperate phone calls in the middle of the night, 50 frantic angry text messages at once, blatant personal assaults, all these are just some of the things I have had to endure from her. I have tried being supportive but the night she faked a seizure in front of me and other medical professionals was the night my eyes were opened. Since then she has continued to fake these seizures, and has gone to every ER that there is in our area. They have ran every test there is and found nothing wrong with her. They treat her as a mental patient and this infuriates her to no end. Last night she called me once again, after having called me every bad name in the book, but all of a sudden she “needed” me to take her to the ER! I had had enough!
I told her what I thought. She needs HELP. Psychiatric help. I told her I will be there for her if she decided to get help. Of course she didn’t take it well. I wasn’t surprised. She was angry, started attacking me, told me I was being immature and that she’s not going to talk to me until I stop thinking this way.
Honestly, I’m relieved. I’ve got her off my back. I’m not her lover, I’m not her mother, and there is no reason I need to deal with her mental disorder like this. I didn’t like this article either because like others have said, it’s too optimistic. The real truth is that people with BPD will drain and exhaust you emotionally. It’s not worth it to be put through the wringer. I’m gonna dust myself off and keep on living MY life.

September 8, 2011 at 11:41 pm
(21) Linda says:

My friendship with suspected to be a BPD person ended after 4 years.

At first I thought it is easy to help my friend to recover, when I believed she was an AC. In fact I tried to encourage her to become more confident about herself, and flee from her mother who is also an AC, and then she can live much more comfortably. She claims herself as AC, and her chlonic illness (said to be certain kind of thyroid sickness) make her little deppression.

She often asked me advises. At first, it was trivial things, then escalated to much more serious matters such as people relationship etc. I learned that negative answer to her type of AC may not work well because she has been rejected by her mother. So tried not to be against what she said. In fact, doing so, made myself a convenient target who always say yes to her, and forced me into co-dependency relation. (She depends on me and I had to care her…)

In fact she tried to control my dealings with other friends, and tried to keep me in 1:1 relationship rather than with many. She tried to tell how bad her former room mate was, how bad her another friend was, how these people suffered her a lot. I knew these friends are nice people, but hearing her story, felt like not to be close to these people. This is a kind of mind control. After breakup with her, now I can be friend with these people again though.

September 8, 2011 at 11:42 pm
(22) Linda says:

Recently I became aware that this friend was BPD rather than just an AC, as several criteria meets. I think she only goes to clinic for thyroid, never had mental counselings.

The worst dependency act ever had happened, and I decided not to deal with her any more. She is very much disappointed with me as I did not do what she wanted me to do. She says I am a bad Christian who does not help person in difficulties. I don’t care anymore. Listening to her words saying how bad I am doing to her will make me deppressed and I know that is her self reflection to others as she wants to remain innocent and all bad things are at others. I decided not to become too close with her any more. Only professionals can help her recover.

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