When I was first diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, I had no confidence in my ability to have a happy relationship.
If you have this diagnosis, then you will more than likely have heard the many damaging and hurtful myths such as 'people with BPD are incapable of relationships' or 'people with BPD are impossible to love'.
Stigma like this, combined with the crushing emotional abuse that I went through, made me wonder whether I would ever have a happy, stable relationship. I completely lost confidence in myself; I believed that I was too problematic and too emotional to be lovable.
Fast forward a few years...and I am now in a really happy, stable and loving relationship.
I have been with my amazing boyfriend for over a year now and have shown myself that, in spite of the stigma and my doubts, that I am completely capable of having a happy relationship.
Yes, I have a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Yes, I struggle, sometimes a lot.
There are times when I fear abandonment, feel panicky and worthless, but nonetheless I am in a happy, stable and loving relationship.
I wanted to share some of the reasons behind why my relationship works and demonstrate that people with a diagnosis of BPD *can* be happy in romantic relationships.
1. The other person
This for me is the most important thing. No amount of therapy or coping skills could make my relationship happy if I was with someone who wasn't a good fit for me. I believe that I need to be with someone who is extra caring, kind, understanding, patient, affectionate, supportive and open-minded.
2. Acceptance of me as I am
I used to think that I could only be in a happy relationship if I no longer met the criteria for a BPD diagnosis. I want to get better at managing my emotions, but I don't feel that I *have* to get to a place where my emotions are better regulated in order to have a happy relationship.
In my relationship, I am accepted and valued as I am now, not who I will be after another year of DBT, or on a new medication, or when my emotions are more regulated.
3. Warmth and consistency
Because fear of abandonment is such a core part of BPD, I need to know where I stand in a relationship. There are times when I fear abandonment and although I am working towards reassuring myself more and more, I need to know that I can ask for reassurance from time to time too.
In my relationship, I can say when I feel upset or when I am getting distressed. If I couldn't do this, my relationship wouldn't work. I have been belittled, laughed at, criticised and invalidated so much in the past that I need to be with someone who respects my feelings, my past and present experiences and is really kind to me when I feel vulnerable.
5. Understanding of a BPD diagnosis
Life with BPD can be hard. Many people with this diagnosis have been through trauma of all kinds. Lots of people have been stigmatised, discriminated against. There can be many barriers to support and care. Waiting lists. Lack of specialist help. Stereotyping.
I think being with someone who is aware of these things is hugely helpful.
I used to feel that it was impossible for me to ever be happy in a relationship. I now realise that this belief was a result of stigma, emotional abuse and not having support.
People with BPD can have happy relationships.
What are your experiences? I would love to hear what you think!