Breakups are tough regardless of who you are. However, having borderline personality disorder (BPD) can make the situation exponentially harder.
I know this because I have lived with BPD for the majority of my adult life, and possibly longer.
You see, for the borderline, the feeling of separation or abandonment from someone that we truly care about can feel like the end of the world. Even short separations from a loved one can wreak a cycle of havoc that no one could ever prepare for, and a breakup is even worse. Marsha Linehan, a leading BPD expert accurately explained that,
“People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.”
And while the slightest upset can cause a world of trouble for the borderline and those around them, you can only imagine what a legitimately devastating event can do.
BPD is commonly referred to as an Emotional Intensity disorder due to the extremely deep emotions encountered by those who suffer from the disorder.
The reasoning behind the intense reaction to a breakup experienced by the borderline can be explained through a number of personality quirks that cause emotional disruption, unhealthy interpersonal relationships, and rollercoaster-like mood shifts. Those diagnosed typically have abandonment issues, poor impulse control, and engage in unhealthy acts of self-harm and suicidal ideation.
Furthermore, many BPD sufferers also have issues with their identity, which causes them to latch on to their partner in an unhealthy way. To us, our existence isn’t valid without someone to hold on to. Being alone can be terrifying when you have BPD because being alone means more thinking. Sadly, the more we think the more we have to relive painful situations, which we couldn’t handle, to begin with.
And to complicate matters even more, coping with overwhelming emotions when you suffer from BPD can seem to be a nearly impossible feat. Instead of truly coping with it, as many others would do, the borderline may engage in self-destructive, and impulsive behaviors to numb the pain.
Some may even engage in unsafe sexual acts with random partners in an attempt to fill the void.