Often those with borderline personality disorder (BPD) have intense and unstable relationships with others. Their relationships tend to fluctuate between being all good or all bad, and they can be unable to experience contradictory feelings when relating to the world or others. This black and white thinking, or splitting, can spill over into all relationships including those at school or work: with peers, professors and instructors, managers and supervisors.
A BP may initially idealize a person or situation, throwing herself into a relationship, or related task, fully and without reservation. Soon, however, something occurs that is incongruent with this idealize view, a snappish comment from a supervisor, a poor grade on a paper, or even an inadvertent slight. The BP switches from an idealized view to one of devaluation. There is suddenly nothing good about the person or situation, and there never was.
A heightened sensitivity to rejection may trigger the devaluating reaction of the BP. This sensitivity results in the BP anticipating, experiencing, and overreacting to real or perceived rejections. The feeling of rejection is overpowering and consuming, and very real to the person with BPD, regardless of whether it was meant or intended.
In response to devaluation, the BP may erupt in anger, quit the related task, do something self-destructive, become aggressive, or just give up. It is possible that the person, relationship, or task will again be seen as ideal, but it is also possible that the negative view will remain constant or that the damage that occurred will be irreversible. Friendships will be destroyed, jobs quit, classes dropped.