Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford
Personality Disorders & Relationships
Establishing and maintaining a romantic relationship can often be viewed as both a balancing and challenging act by most people. However, when you had the challenges of being in a relationship with someone diagnosed with a personality disorder the art of balancing and maintaining the relationship can be further complicated. In romantic relationships those with a personality disorder are typically quite controlling, manipulative, exhibit emotional instability, selfish, arrogant, negative mood, neglectful, and abusive. Those with a personality disorder, specifically, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) strive to be the center of attention without regard for the circumstances or environment they are trying to gain attention from. Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of intense yet unstable relationships, mood, and self-perception. Impulse control is severely impaired. Common characteristics include panic fears of abandonment, unstable social relationships, unstable self-image, impulsive/self-damaging acts such as promiscuity/substance abuse/alcohol use, recurrent suicide thoughts/attempts, self-injury and self-mutilation, chronic feelings of emptiness, inappropriate yet intense anger, and fleeting paranoia. Attention for someone with borderline personality disorder is just that, attention as they often do not distinguish between good and bad attention.
In romantic relationships, those with BPD can be all too consuming as they are constantly demanding more time and attention, even when this is not realistically possible. They require constant flattery and reassurance in an effort to validate themselves. Whenever they do not feel they are getting the attention and flattery they feel they deserve they can become increasingly paranoid and aggressive. Romantic relationships for people with BPD can consist of several break-ups, make-ups, and former relationship partners. In social relationships they can become quite jealous of a friend, drawing comparisons between that individual and themselves. People with BPD are also more likely to spread vicious rumors about their “friends” in an effort to discredit them and present themselves in a more favorable light. When viewing friendships as they relate to those with BPD, friendships are often unbalanced as people with BPD are typically selfish, unreliable, scheming, impulsive, and dishonest. Parents with BPD can be very difficult to please and very demanding as nothing the child does is ever right. They create an environment for the child that consists of hostility, neglect, condescension, uncertainty, and chaos. In work environments People with BPD are typically superficially charming as they gain trust of a co-worker then attempt to sabotage and or interfere with their coworker opportunity to move forward in their respective positions. As a coworker they can be extremely manipulative, unethical, dishonest, and willing to damage or prevent a co-worker’s upward mobility in order to achieve their own employment goals.
You are probably asking yourself why would anyone continue to engage in relationships with people having BPD, well to answer this simply, persons with BPD can be quite passionate and intense. They can be fun, impulsive, exciting, and alluring. It should also be noted many people that have been in a romantic relationship with those having BPD report they are very exciting and uninhibited sexually with a large appetite for intimacy.
Michelle & Sherry
Michelle has been working at a local community mental health agency for 2 years. During her 2 years with the mental health agency Michelle has been comfortable in her position as family advocate. Michelle, decided to pursue a job with the mental health agency following a suggestion and encouragement from her friend Sherry who also worker there. Michelle & Sherry have been friends for 4 years, but their friendship has often been filled with misunderstanding, chaos, and Michelle’s increasing desire to be the center of attention whenever they went out. A new supervisors position opened within the agency and Sherry excitedly announced to Michelle she would be applying for the position. Without provocation Michelle started to distance herself from her friendship with Sherry. Sherry for her part began to receive praise, encouragement, and support from other staff members to apply for the position. Noticing the support Sherry was receiving from staff to apply for the position, which would entitle her to an increase in pay, better benefits, and more authority Michelle decided to begin planting seeds of doubt into her co-worker’s heads. Michelle began telling staff, Sherry’s passive personality was not strong enough to elicit respect from those she would be supervising and said nasty things about them behind their backs. Michelle also had been destroying some of Sherry’s reports so she could appear incompetent during meetings.
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