One of the most frustrating aspects of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is that it causes those who suffer from it to have next to zero tolerance for criticism or emotional distress of any kind, thus making it extremely difficult to approach them about their problem behaviors.
If you have a relationship with someone you suspect has Borderline Personality Disorder, you probably want nothing more than to see them get help and live a more peaceful life. It may be tempting to approach them about BPD in the hopes that they will seek help, but you must consider many things before doing so because this type of intervention can result in further conflict.
People with Borderline Personality Disorder frequently project their behaviors and feelings on to others since they cannot bear to hear anything negative about themselves. There’s a fairly good chance that telling them you believe it’s possible they have BPD will result in them accusing you of having it. When they perceive that you are criticizing or slighting them, a person with BPD will be likely to lash out, denying their problems and enumerating yours instead. This will not generally result in them seeking professional BPD treatment. In fact, it may make them more adamant to not get help.
Like most people, those with Borderline Personality Disorder don’t like being told what to do or how to fix their problems. Unsolicited advice is rarely met with instant acceptance. For this reason, you will want to gauge whether the person with BPD may be seeking BPD treatment on their own before you jump in and tell them they need to get help.
How to Approach Someone About BPD
If you tread carefully, there may be ways to engage with a person who has BPD in constructive and non-confrontational ways that could steer their thinking toward the possibility of change. This is not a simple one day task. You will need to take it slowly and see how things progress. Here are some ways to do that:
- Adopt an empathetic tone when in dialogue with the person who has Borderline Personality Disorder. Let them know that you know how they feel. This is not the same thing as accepting or condoning poor behavior, but it does indicate that you hear them and understand their feelings.
- Try getting the person with Borderline Personality Disorder to see discrepancies in their statements and actions without being confrontational about it. “I’m confused. A minute ago you said X and now you are saying Y. Can you help me understand?” or “You said you wanted to X and then you did Y. I don’t understand.” This may help them to see the contradictions between their thoughts and actions.
- Accept resistance. No one can change until they are ready to, and no amount of cajoling or coaxing will help. If you feel resistance, you must accept that the time for change is not now and let it go. Pushing won’t help, and can very likely make things worse.
- Encourage the person by letting them know that you believe in their ability to change and improve their lives. Be available for support.
While you may find that some of the above steps improve communication, it is still an uphill battle to persuade a person with Borderline Personality Disorder to seek BPD treatment by telling them that you believe they suffer from the psychiatric disorder. Your loved one may believe a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder will result in them being stigmatized or unsupported.
But the biggest pro to telling someone that they have Borderline Personality Disorder is that they can finally get the BPD treatment they need to live a better life, have better relationships, and make a recovery from their BPD symptoms.