Can someone with Borderline Personality Disorder ever find true happiness in a relationship? If someone with BPD is prone to pushing others away, fears being vulnerable, exposing themselves to another person, or can’t maintain a stable attachment, is the only way for them to find happiness to overcome these obstacles, or is there another way to happiness?
In a word. No.
No, I don’t think someone with BPD will find true happiness in a relationship.
What the hell, Haven?!? Seriously? Why are we even bothering then?
Whoa, whoa, whoa…. Hold on. Let’s look at this objectively for a second. I’m not saying someone with BPD can’t experience happiness or won't be able to find happiness in a relationship EVER. That’s obviously not true. Especially if you’re like me, you’ll have wonderful highs and moments of pure pleasure found in the company of those we care for. Things anyone would consider happiness. But those don’t last either. Often they plummet in an instant. The lows all the worse for seeing the height which we fell from.
There’s so much fear, so much holding back, so much pushing away that it’s almost impossible to form a solid, steady bond with another person. Our minds our mean. They create shadows of suspicion and doubt. Ruminations that run wild and tear our relationships to shreds before our partner has even had a chance to make a move in any direction whatsoever.
That fear prohibits the development of trust. Without trust, every action can be called into question. Every word could have a double meaning. Every moment apart could be an opportunity to find someone better. Our minds are designed to drive us crazy.
At least my mind has been shown to do so. Really, all I can do is share how I walk through this world and feel in relationships. For me, I’ve never found true happiness in a relationship so I don’t know if it’s possible. This question sounds so simple but it’s immensely complicated. As a Borderline being in a relationship is what sets me off even more so than my usual day to day mood swings. I’m also Major Depressive so the concept of “Being Happy” is foreign to me on a whole different level as well. A good percentage of Borderlines have comorbid depression, as a separate entity, or as a result of being Borderline so maybe it’s not so unusual, but it’s something that needs to be noted. When your day to day existence is a form of depression, just being “Okay”, is cause to celebrate.
I also want to make the semantic distinction of “being happy in a relationship” versus “being made happy from a relationship”. No person or relationship can make you happy. Happiness is something that is individual and a person achieves within themselves. That’s not to say that external factors don’t contribute, they certainly do, but no one can make you happy. Happiness is a personal responsibility.
Relationships drive me crazy. I love them. I love when things are good. When things are good they’re euphoric, but when things are bad, they’re tragic. My mood swings more wildly when I’m in a relationship then when I’m single. I have something more to lose and that sets my world off balance. Everything is wonderful or it is dire. There’s no middle ground. There’s no equilibrium. I think that equilibrium is what true happiness in a relationship is. All relationships have problems and things that need to be worked through. Bumps and fights that come up along the way. People get angry or upset, but in a truly functional relationship those people know they can work things through and the relationship isn’t over because one thing went wrong. This doesn’t usually happen in the mind of a Borderline. Any mistake, mishap, or misstep is what could send us over the edge and smash our hopes for the relationship on the rocky bottom of reality below. When you always walk on pins and needles, even those days of happiness are tarnished with the black film. When your mood constantly jumps up and falls down it’s a perpetual state of uncertainty, that uncertainty causes tension, anxiety, panic… Does any of that sound pleasant? Does any of that sound like happiness?
Not to me.
I’m happier in a relationship. But I can also be unhappier as well.
Is there maybe another way to find happiness, like if someone did all the right things? Hah. Do you know anyone who always does and says the right things? There is no perfect Prince(cess) Charming when it comes to BPD. Even if someone were capable of doing all the right things, 100% of the time, it still wouldn’t be good enough because there are still all of those fears of intimacy, of vulnerability, of needing to maintain a separate identity and independence, of being smothered, too loved, potential to disappoint someone so perfect that we’re not good enough for, so it’s for their own good anyways if we leave.
So is there hope?
Of, course there is. There’s always hope. But like all things, it lies in your own hands. I don’t think it’s possible for someone with a Borderline condition to be happy, with anything, if they don’t work to manage the symptoms and causes that create the personal mental environment that allows for such unhappiness. I think left to our own devices, with no effort towards personal growth, self-awareness, and healing… it can be extremely difficult to find real happiness. Fortunately, there are a lot of things we can do to seek treatment or simply help ourselves get a hold of the problems we face.
I do believe happiness is possible; happiness in relationships, and ultimately happiness with ourselves. It will take effort and time to help ourselves heal from this disordered mentality. I can’t promise it’ll be easy. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee it won’t be. But I can say that it is worth it to try.
In just the last year or two I’ve been working constantly to understand my behavior and make necessary changes. I still have my mood swings, but my reactions in the relationships I’ve been in lately haven’t been nearly so volatile. In fact, my reactions could be considered productive and have brought me closer to the people I want cultivate my feelings with. Am I rolling in puppies and rainbows? Well, no. But I’m not dissolving into a puddle of devastation every time something doesn’t work out the way I expect it to. I still have work to do though. I can see my mentality slowly switching to something healthier. Something steadier. Coupled with my medication (because I do have a depressive chemical imbalance) I see a rise in my mood… not a euphoric rollercoaster to devastation, but a contentedness. I have days where I’m pleased and relaxed, more so than I ever used to feel. And that translates into being more contented with the relationships that I’m cultivating now.
How can you be happy if you’re always hurting? If we don’t try to tame the wild emotions swinging through our minds, I don’t know how we can break the cycle of hurt we so often feel. I do know it’s possible to get ahold of these feelings and make them calm down. They may not go away forever, they may pop back up, but they won’t be unmanageable. When you create the tools to deal with the problems we create, you can maintain a level of comfort in knowing that the problem has a solution; the problem isn’t the end of the world… or the relationship.
So, no, I don’t think a Borderline can find true happiness if left to our own devices, but yes, I do believe it’s possible for a Borderline to find true happiness if we’re willing to work on the problems that create the unhappiness we so often feel.
And that’s not to say that we can’t have functional, fun, and loving relationships if we’re untreated or not working on healing. I just don’t think there will be a stable, true happiness of deep contentment if mood swings are always so volatile. This is just my opinion. Who knows? Maybe if the right person came along and I fell head over heels in mutual love and obsession I’d forget all my fears. It’s never happened to me though (the mutual part) so I can’t say for sure.
How about you? What do you think? What’s your experience with happiness and relationships been?