Why Dating Can Be Hard When You Have Borderline Personality Disorder

I can’t remember the last time I went on a date. My Hinge profile is set to “paused,” which means it’s undiscoverable to potential new matches. 

I have my reasons for taking a break from dating. For example:

I’m focusing on myself.

I want to be the most confident version of myself before I put myself out there.

A pandemic.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

But the biggest reason is that I have been afraid is because I have borderline personality disorder (BPD). I’m terrified about what a future partner may think when I reveal my diagnosis.

You see, BPD is one of the most stigmatized mental health disorders. People with BPD are often painted as manipulative and explosive. Not exactly desirable traits for a future relationship.

That said, these beliefs are misconceptions. People with BPD are not intentionally trying to hurt or manipulate others. Rather, behaviors exhibited by people with BPD that may be labeled as manipulative are not purposeful and are attempts to try and get needs met. As described in The Mighty

“The word ‘manipulation’ implies skillful and malicious intent, but more often than not, these behaviors are usually just desperate, unskilled attempts by someone with BPD to get emotional needs met that were neglected in an abusive or invalidating upbringing.”

For those who don’t know, BPD is an emotional regulation disorder that is estimated to affect 1.4 percent of the U.S. population. BPD is marked by various symptoms including frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, unstable interpersonal relationships, distorted self-image, and more. In order to be diagnosed with BPD, you need to exhibit five of the nine DSM-5 criteria. 

The cause of BPD is not yet entirely known. However, researchers believe a combination of factors may be to blame including genetics, trauma, and structural differences in the brain.

When it comes to my own experience with BPD, relationships have been one of my biggest and most consistent struggles. While BPD presents differently in everyone, navigating relationships is a common concern, especially romantic ones.

All of this said, I’m working on building my confidence and have been managing my condition through therapy, hard work, and medication. I want a relationship one day. I deserve to love and be loved. My BPD doesn’t define my ability to do that. My hope is that by being open and honest about my mental health both in my writing and in my personal life, I can help dismantle the stigma that comes with BPD.

While dating with BPD can be difficult, it is by no means impossible. People with BPD are more than able to have loving, fulfilling relationships, romantic and otherwise. If someone judges you for having BPD despite working adamantly at managing your condition, please know they don’t deserve you anyway. 

About the author

Molly Burford

Writer. Editor. Hufflepuff. Dog person.