We all have “bad” habits we sometimes wish we didn’t. But when you live with borderline personality disorder (BPD), sometimes your “bad” habits are directly tied to your mental illness.
For those who aren’t familiar with BPD, it’s a mental illness characterized by difficulty regulating emotions and intense interpersonal difficulties. One of the biggest areas interpersonal difficulties show up for people with BPD is in their romantic relationships.
From picking fights to constantly pestering your partner about their ex, “bad” BPD relationships habits typically show up when you’re trying to manage deeply-rooted insecurities. Sound familiar? You’re not the only one struggling.
We wanted to know what “bad” relationship habits people with BPD struggle with, so we turned to our Mighty BPD community to share their experiences. While some of these “bad” relationship habits might be coping mechanisms, not all coping mechanisms are helpful. For example, impulsively breaking up with your partner might temporarily make you feel better, but when you wake up the next morning, you might find you wished you hadn’t pushed away such a supportive and loving person.
Before we begin, it’s important to remember having a “bad” habit doesn’t make you a bad person. On your journey with BPD, you might just find better ways to cope — and it’s important to let yourself be open to them! If you’re struggling in your relationships due to BPD, we encourage you to check out these helpful resources:
- If You Feel ‘Too Emotional’ (or Not Emotional Enough), Here’s a Skill You Need
- 5 ‘Weird’ Therapy Skills That Help Emotional Regulation
- How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Saved Me
Here are 15 “bad” relationship habits people with BPD wish they could kick:
1. Pushing Your Partner Away
“I self-sabotage anything that is good or feels safe! I push… and push… and push all the people in my life away until they feel like they have no other choice but to step back from me! It’s a daily struggle to remind myself to not close people out and to let people help!” — Kyla W.
“I push everyone who doesn’t *have* to be in my life away. That includes friends or romantic relationships. It’s because I want to be the one who ends it so it’s on my terms, so I won’t feel abandoned when they inevitably leave anyway after I’ve gotten really attached. I haven’t found a way to stop.” — Stella B.
“My bad habit is not being able to trust and pushing everyone away.” — Jesse B.
2. Idealizing (Then Clinging to) Your Partner
“I begin the relationship worshipping the other person and putting them on a pedestal, then I cling. I cling so much that they start to need their own space, then I start to devalue them because I feel like they are looking elsewhere, have met someone better or are staying away to punish me. As a result of that I start to cling even harder, beg them not to leave me… Unfortunately they always do! Then I start to hate them for leaving, then that shifts to hating myself for not being good enough, beautiful enough, accomplished enough, depressed, troubled and every other negative opinion I have of myself.” — Kate G.
“I used to have a lot of issues with jealousy and abandonment, so I was clingy to the point of it being toxic. I’ve learned to step away and rationalize, and if that doesn’t work, I just tell my boyfriend what the issue is and ask for validation. I’ve also learned to let it go and trust if I don’t have any reasons that point otherwise.” — Kristina J.
3. Constantly Seeking Validation and Reassurance
“I constantly check in with my husband to make sure he doesn’t hate me. We’ve talked about it and now he sends me an ‘I love you’ text every morning to try to combat my BPD brain.” — Rebecca C.
“I have an awful time with the little voice of doubt inside my head that asks him completely ridiculous questions like, ‘Are you sure you want to marry me?’ You know, always needing the reassurance. I never thought he would respond so well to those borderline moments. He always reassured me and to this day, he still does. Now three years down the road, he just gives me a look like ‘Really, you know how in love I am with you.’ I always try to combat that bad habit with asking the question and answering it myself.” — Hannah G.
“Saying ‘I love you’ all the damn time. It can be like two minutes apart. But sometimes I need to hear it said back a few times to be reassured. It feels so selfish, but I can’t help it.” — Lorna O.
4. Loving ‘Too Hard, Too Fast’
“Falling in love far too quickly, even if it was nothing serious, then feeling abandoned when I find out they’re not interested in me that way… though I know they’ve done nothing wrong… it just makes me feel that way.” — Oz C.
“I love, really really hard. I go out of my way to surprise him, do things for him when he doesn’t ask and all that jazz. A bad habit of mine is expecting him to love as hard as I do. He does not, although as hard as he tries, understand the extremes in which I feel emotion, so I can’t expect him to be as happy as me, as sad as me, as thoughtful, as depressed, as excited, as angry… or as loving. He loves me in his own way, and I love in my extremely hard, unconditional way! It’s been a change just making sure I delegate some of the overabundance of love I give… to me!” — Arizona R.
5. Fixating on Your Partner’s Exes
“Constantly asking my boyfriend about his exes — and I mean constantly! I feel compelled to try and compare myself all the time. I want to know everything! Even stuff that’s none of my business, but I just push and push. It breaks my heart every time, but I can’t stop. I get obsessed by it. I look at their social media pages constantly and try to understand who they are, if he was happier with them, what he said to them, what they did, etc. I then decide he should be better off without me.” — Charlotte W.
6. Picking Fights With Your Partner
“I pick fights and threaten to leave in an attempt to receive validation from them because I question whether they love me enough to stay.” — Sarah S.
“Finding a flaw or red flag even if I have to invent it and leaving when they get too close.” — Samantha W.
“I provoke arguments over my insecurities.” — Brooke B.
7. Emotionally Detaching
“I don’t even give people a chance, to stop myself from feeling the pain of someone leaving me. I don’t let anyone get close to me. So when they do leave, I don’t really care. Means I spend a lot of time alone…” — Jazmine B.
“Completely detaching emotionally from myself and them. I call it ‘going dark,’ but really it’s just dissociation and they then don’t exist to me. At all. It can be from a very small misunderstanding or a perceived betrayal. I don’t hate them. I just forget they exist and all emotion goes blank for me until I switch back.” — Tareva M.
“I don’t even do relationships anymore. Been single for almost a decade.” — Davanerys T.
“I feel like I have to tell my partner everything. Like even little insignificant details about my life or my thought process for why I got a bowl of cereal as a snack. And then I feel like if my partner doesn’t share everything with me, it’s because they don’t want to share their life with me. It physically hurts to keep anything from my partner, even something like what I ordered him for Christmas.” — Elice W.
9. Neglecting Your Partner in Favor of Someone Else
“I usually start out my relationships with my partner(s) as my FP [favorite person] but eventually I have other FPs and it causes me to neglect my partner(s) at times. I don’t always notice it but when I do, I feel terrible.” — Dani P.
“Always having a back up plan. I know the other person will run at some point.” — Charli M.
“Overthinking everything and constantly second-guessing myself! Because I overthink, I tend to turn little things into big problems that never really existed.” — Ashleigh T.
“Cannonballing into assumptions… thanks to my overthinking.” — Amber W.
11. Reading Too Much Into Your Partner’s Actions or Tone of Voice
“For me it’s paranoia. If my wife says the ‘wrong’ thing or says something in a certain tone or doesn’t answer me when I ask a question, I think she’s annoyed with me. [I become] afraid to talk to her, or I ask her if she’s annoyed with me. She’s often not, but by the time I’ve asked her several times why she’s annoyed with me, she then gets annoyed with me! And I cause the thing I was afraid of.” — Katie K.
“I keep thinking if the person I love isn’t texting/calling me, she or he definitely forgot about me and is never going to contact me again. I try to distract myself, focus on something else.” — Katarzyna Z.
12. Assuming Your Partner Is Cheating With No Evidence
“Thinking my partner is cheating. At first he got extremely offended, but I after I explained my fear of abandonment, he understood. Now if I have a fear, I confront him and he calmly reminds me it’s not true.” — Victoria G.
“Thinking they’re always cheating on me because I’m not good enough.” — Julie S.
13. Struggling to Keep Your Anger in Check
“Getting angry at my partner when they are going through their own negative emotions. Sometimes I need to take a step back and remember not everything is related to me, my emotions and my actions, and I just need to practice giving them space to feel their own feelings sometimes.” — Samantha A.
“My anger gets the best of me and blinds me to my behavior. I’m constantly upsetting my wife when we are arguing because she always asks me not to mock her but when I get angry, it’s hard to control.” — James T.
“Not being able to communicate what is wrong and instead blowing up saying hateful/mean stuff.” — Courtney M.
14. Putting Yourself Down
“I constantly put myself down and tell my husband he needs to find himself a better wife.” — Shawna H.
15. Making Things About Yourself
“Feeling sorry for myself for no reason and making everything about me and not even understanding why or that I’m doing it. I hate it. I feel like I have to make things about me even when it’s not.” — Brittany M.
If you have a “bad relationship habit” because of BPD, you’re not alone. To connect with people who really get it, you can post a Thought or Question on The Mighty with the hashtag #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder. Whatever you’re facing today, you don’t have to go it alone.
For more on BPD from our community, check out the following pieces:
- When You Don’t Fit the ‘Classic’ Definition of Borderline Personality Disorder
- 25 People Share the Worst Symptoms of BPD
- What Happened When My ‘Favorite Person’ Left Me