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What do borderlines want in a relationship?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex mental health condition characterized by difficulty regulating emotions, impulsive behavior, and unstable interpersonal relationships. People with BPD often have intense fears of abandonment and desperately seek validation and affection from others. This can lead to tumultuous romantic relationships with frequent emotional highs and lows.

Do borderlines want relationships?

Yes, most borderlines deeply desire to be in a romantic relationship. The emotional intimacy and validation provided by a partner is extremely important to their sense of self-worth and identity. However, their desperate need for love often backfires and drives partners away. Borderlines may come across as clingy, controlling, or overly dramatic in relationships. Learning to balance intimacy with independence is an ongoing struggle.

What are the relationship patterns of borderlines?

Borderlines tend to follow certain relationship patterns:

  • Idealization – Seeing a new partner as perfect and becoming quickly attached
  • Devaluation – Finding flaws and becoming disappointed, angry, or distant
  • Self-sabotage – Pushing partners away out of fear of abandonment
  • Reconciliation – Frantic efforts to revive the relationship after conflicts
  • Breakup/makeup cycle – Repeatedly splitting up and getting back together

These turbulent relationship dynamics stem from the unstable self-image and emotions characteristic of BPD. Borderlines desperately seek love but don’t know how to maintain healthy attachments.

What are the signs of BPD in relationships?

Some common signs of BPD that may emerge in romantic relationships include:

  • Extreme jealousy and possessiveness
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism or rejection
  • Explosive emotional outbursts
  • Manipulation or guilt trips
  • Excessive need for attention and validation
  • Difficulty being alone and fear of abandonment
  • Black-and-white thinking about partner as all good or all bad
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Repeated breakups or threats of self-harm during conflicts

What do borderlines need in a relationship?

In order to have stable, fulfilling relationships, borderlines often need:

  • Reassurance. Offer frequent reminders of your love and commitment to ease abandonment fears.
  • Communication. Talk openly and listen actively to understand their emotions and triggers.
  • Validation. Acknowledge their feelings without judgment or dismissal.
  • Patience. Borderlines may test your limits but remember they are struggling.
  • Consistency. Reliable affection and calm reassurance helps build trust.
  • Independence. Resist urges to control or smother. Give space when needed.
  • Treatment. Therapy helps borderlines gain relationship skills and emotional control.

How should you communicate with a borderline partner?

  • Listen attentively and reflect their feelings back to them.
  • Ask clarifying questions if something is unclear.
  • Speak calmly and avoid hurtful labels or criticisms.
  • Talk about specific behaviors, not character flaws.
  • Validate their emotions and then share your own.
  • Set healthy boundaries and enforce them consistently.
  • Compromise and avoid ultimatums when possible.

Clear, compassionate communication helps borderlines feel heard and secure in the relationship.

What are effective borderline relationship boundaries?

It’s important for partners of borderlines to set these boundaries:

  • Time alone to pursue outside interests/friendships
  • No excessive texts/calls or showing up unannounced
  • No physical/verbal abuse or destruction of property
  • No threats to self-harm during arguments
  • Shared household responsibilities
  • No snooping through phone, email, social media
  • No manipulation, silent treatment, lying

Enforcing boundaries in a kind, consistent way helps borderlines develop relationship skills and stability.

How can you help a borderline partner?

Here are some tips for supporting a borderline partner:

  • Encourage them to seek professional treatment like dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
  • Attend couple’s counseling to improve communication and intimacy.
  • Help identify triggers and create a plan to manage crises.
  • Set healthy boundaries but offer reassurance when needed.
  • Give them space and avoid smothering. Let them maintain outside interests.
  • Manage expectations around trust and intimacy. These take time to build.
  • Focus on the positive and give encouragement/praise.

With compassion, patience, and good communication skills, a fulfilling relationship with a borderline is possible.

What should you not do in a relationship with a borderline?

Here are some things to avoid when dating someone with BPD:

  • Do not make empty threats about leaving the relationship.
  • Avoid ultimatums. They increase fears of abandonment.
  • Don’t lash out or criticize them harshly during emotional outbursts.
  • Don’t accusation them of overreacting. Validate their feelings.
  • Avoid snooping or trying to control them excessively.
  • Don’t withdraw emotionally or give silent treatment after arguments.
  • Don’t make impulsive relationship decisions in response to their behavior.
  • Don’t expect to be their sole source of happiness and fulfillment.

Being reliable, responsive, and caring helps avoid triggering their deepest fears.

How should borderlines handle abandonment fears?

Borderlines struggling with extreme abandonment fears can:

  • Communicate feelings of insecurity to partners honestly but avoid accusations.
  • Seek reassurance from partner when needed but not excessively.
  • Identify and challenge fears as they arise rather than acting on them.
  • Distract themselves with work, hobbies, friends when feeling clingy.
  • Give partner space knowing time apart helps the relationship.
  • Build self-esteem and sense of identity outside the relationship.
  • Attend DBT or mentalization therapy to improve emotional regulation.

Learning to tolerate aloneness and manage abandonment fears is crucial for borderline relationship success.


Borderlines yearn for loving relationships but struggle to maintain intimacy. With professional treatment, strong communication skills, and firm yet compassionate boundaries, it’s possible for borderlines to achieve relationship satisfaction. A partner who is patient, reliable, and caring can make a big difference in helping borderlines overcome relationship challenges.