How My Borderline Personality Disorder Makes Dating Really Difficult

Maintaining fulfilling relationship is tricky but not impossible.

Woman with BPD sitting with a date on a staircase outside Gabriel Ponton | Unsplash

Dating — or being in a committed romantic relationship — is challenging for many people. However, dating with a mental health condition such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) adds a bit more complexity.

I’ve often found myself on an emotional rollercoaster, where relationships that start with passionate highs quickly spiral into devastating lows. Despite these challenges, I have come to realize that while BPD makes dating difficult, it’s not impossible to build a healthy, loving, and functional relationship.


BPD in a nutshell

I was diagnosed with BPD when I was 27 years old after various attempts to see a therapist because life felt unbearable. I was convinced something was inherently wrong with me. At least now, I was able to shed some light on my reckless behavior and volatile relationships.

A person who suffers from BPD has often experienced a traumatic event in the past, usually in childhood. This trauma is not necessarily always sexual abuse; it can also include physical and emotional abuse, such as neglect, often from a close family member like a parent. It makes a person feel unwanted, filled with shame and hate, and that’s exactly how I felt.


RELATED: 9 Signs You Have Borderline Personality Disorder (And May Not Know It)

BPD challenges and coping mechanisms

Feeling emotions with such intensity is one of the most striking characteristics of BPD. This means I used to feel everything deeply without knowing how to regulate my emotions: love, joy, anger, and fear. When I used to meet someone new, the initial phase of infatuation was exhilarating and it became an obsession.

I always became deeply invested in the relationship very quickly, often idolizing my partner. However, this could swiftly change if I perceived any slight abandonment, leading to intense fear and disproportionate reactions. This often resulted in self-sabotage, either by pushing my partner away or making them reluctant to continue dating me.


The fear of abandonment is another intense feature of BPD, and it can be a significant barrier in relationships. Even a minor conflict or perceived neglect used to trigger an overwhelming fear that my partner would leave me. My insecurities would drive me to the point of paranoia and I’d be afraid the guy I was dating would eventually leave me for someone else, someone better who is emotionally stable. This fear can manifest in various ways, such as excessive clinginess, constant need for reassurance, or even pushing my partner away before they have the chance to abandon me, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Due to past experiences of betrayal or abandonment, trusting new partners was difficult. I would often find myself questioning their intentions and loyalty. That’s why trust can be incredibly fragile for someone with BPD. This skepticism and insecurities can lead to invasive irrational behaviors like checking their phone or social media accounts, which invariably strains the relationship and becomes a vicious cycle.

RELATED: Inside The Heartbreaking Reality Of Borderline Personality Disorder

BPD also comes with a distorted self-image and chronic feelings of emptiness. I used to hate myself, my appearance, and the disinterest I felt. I had no connection to myself, let alone any self-love; instead, I would tear myself apart. These feelings can make it hard to accept love and affection from others. Self-love and acceptance are the hardest challenges for those with BPD.


Especially on bad days, I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to be with me, leading to self-sabotaging behaviors. This internal struggle created a cycle where my partner’s efforts to reassure and support me were overshadowed by my inability to believe in his genuine care and affection.

As we know, healthy communication is the bread and butter of any relationship, but it is another hurdle for those with BPD. BPD can lead to black-and-white thinking, where situations and people are either all good or all bad. One of those struggles is the tendency to misinterpret what my partner meant when he said something. His tone of voice in his dialogue or his texts would suddenly make me unsure of whether or not he was sincere.

I used to analyze past conversations and try to read between the lines as if there was a hidden message. The lines between the present moment and my past traumas would get blurry, and I would find myself in a parallel universe, dissociating.

This mindset can make resolving conflicts challenging. When arguments arose, I used to struggle to see my partner’s perspective, leading to heated disputes and hurtful words that were hard to take back. This volatility can make partners feel like they are walking on eggshells, unsure of when the next outburst will come.


Regardless of having a mental health condition or not, dating requires effort, self-awareness, and a willingness to seek stability. That being said, one crucial step for people with BPD is therapy, particularly dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which is designed to help manage their emotions and improve their relationships.

I’ve been to endless therapists and psychiatrists and even tried psychotropic medications which all made me feel more depressed and feel like a zombie. The only tool that helped me was DBT, and understanding how to regulate my emotions by learning skills I’d never learned as a child. Through therapy, I’ve learned techniques like mindfulness, distress tolerance, and emotional regulation. These skills have been invaluable in navigating the complexities of relationships; however, it is something I constantly need to do, especially when I’m experiencing an episode, which is rare these days.

RELATED: I Dated Two Women With Untreated Borderline Personality Disorder. Never Again.


The most difficult part about dating with BPD is being honest about my mental health condition and embracing vulnerability when entering a new potential romantic relationship. While it’s taxing to disclose my BPD early in a relationship, finding a patient partner who is aware of my condition and understands my struggles and triggers, is better equipped to offer support and work with me to manage my episodes.

I’m not saying to drop the BPD bomb on someone of interest on the first date, but open communication fosters understanding and helps to steer in a healthier direction which requires a lot of patience.

Speaking of patience, it’s a key requirement, as relationships take time to develop and flourish, and this is even more true for someone with BPD. I’ve learned to be patient with myself, and recognize that setbacks are part of the journey. Since relationships take time, it’s also important not to jump headfirst without knowing the other person and getting lost in limerence, as this can often lead to internal turmoil and a toxic, co-dependent relationship.

Setting clear boundaries is another critical aspect of dating with BPD. It’s important to establish what is and isn’t acceptable in a relationship to prevent situations that might trigger intense emotional reactions and to provide a framework for healthy interactions for both myself and my partner.


As someone who used to struggle with BPD, one of the most important features of healing and recovery is having a strong support system outside the relationship, such as a great therapist, group therapy, close friends, and family. This network of understanding and encouragement offers perspective and advice during difficult times, reducing the emotional burden on my partner and helping to maintain a healthy relationship balance.

Breaking the stigma of BPD

Dating with BPD is undoubtedly difficult, but it’s not an impossible challenge. It takes a lot of self-work and effort, and while I don’t think I am fully healed, I'm more stable and mentally in a better place.

With therapy, patience, open communication, clear boundaries, and a strong support system, it’s possible to build and maintain healthy, fulfilling relationships. Although BPD adds an extra layer of complexity, it also brings a depth of emotion and intensity that, when managed well, can lead to deeply passionate and rewarding connections.

RELATED: 17 Things People Don't Realize You're Doing Because Of Borderline Personality Disorder


Isabell Rivera is a freelance content writer and a frequent contributor to YourTango. Her work has previously been published in INKED Magazine, DenGarden, Bellatory, Screen Rant, Our Weekly - Los Angeles, and TatRing, among many others.