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Codependency and Borderline Personality Disorder: How to Spot It

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Codependency and BPDAlmost everyone has heard the term “codependent” at one time or another, but what does it mean to be codependent? How does codependency relate to Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

Many people who have loved ones with Borderline Personality Disorder are unknowingly involved in a codependent relationship with that person. People who suffer from BPD often have lives fraught with chaos. The interpersonal problems, trouble holding jobs, substance abuse, depression, and rage associated with BPD are all issues that affect not only the person with BPD, but also family members, friends, and significant others. When this is the case, it often sets the stage for codependency in the relationship.

10 Signs of a Codependent Relationship

Author Melody Beattie wrote the book “Codependent No More” and developed the following checklist for determining whether or not you may in a codependent relationship:

  1. Do you feel responsible for other people’s feelings — their thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs, well-being, and destiny?
  2. Do you feel compelled to help other people solve their problems or try to take care of their feelings?
  3. Do you find it easier to feel and express anger about the injustices done to other people than about injustices done to you?
  4. Do you feel safest and most comfortable when you are giving to others?
  5. Do you feel insecure and guilty when someone gives to you?
  6. Do you feel empty, bored, or worthless if you don’t have someone else to take care of, a problem to solve, or a crisis to deal with?
  7. Are you often unable to stop talking, thinking, and worrying about other people and their problems?
  8. Do you lose interest in your life when you are in love?
  9. Do you stay in relationships that don’t work and tolerate abuse in order to keep people loving you?
  10. Do you leave bad relationships only to form new ones that don’t work either?

Dangers of Codependency and BPD

It’s easy to get into a codependent relationship with a person who has Borderline Personality Disorder given the nature of BPD. There is a tendency for loved ones to slip into caretaker roles, giving priority and focus to problems in the life of the person with BPD rather than to issues in their own lives.

Too often in these kinds of relationships, the codependent will gain a sense of worth by being “the sane one” or “the responsible one.” There is almost always an unconscious reason for continuing to put another person’s life ahead of your own, and often it is because of the mistaken notion that self-worth comes from other people.

When we give up ourselves to help others, we rob ourselves of the potential for a richer, fuller existence that includes self-care and self-love. We also rob the other person of their opportunity to grow and take responsibility for their own problems. Often, it is only when the safety net has been removed that people take steps to look out for their own well-being.

Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder that includes family members and loved ones can help identify unhealthy relationship patterns such as codependency. Participating in family or couples therapy and attending codependency support groups can help you break these patterns and put yourself first.

Read on for tips on how to break the cycle of codependency.


  1. Pingback: Codependency and Borderline Personality Disorder: How to Prevent It | Borderline Personality Treatment

  2. Pingback: Codependency and Borderline Personality Disorder: How to Spot It – Borderline Personality Treatment | MAKE BPD STIGMA-FREE!

  3. I have tried to understand my partner of nearly two years. This is a woman who has been raped twice, and has zero caution about putting herself in dangerous situations. We live two hours from each other, and mostly see each other on weekends. It has been one surprise after the next. Today she tells me she is contemplating getting a ride to see me from a man she has “seen” at work and is known to be of good character. I could not see the advantage of doing this as opposed to taking the bus. She told me she would save money and get here quicker. I researched boundaries and borderlines and now realize it is that she has been overly friendly with him and he took it as flirting. When I point this out she gets angry and starts to project. I am done with her.

  4. Savannah

    Just adding to more stigma for BPD. Everyone is so SO ignorant of how it FEELS to LIVE WITH BPD. But all these ignorant articles are for helping others just “deal with someone with BPD”? Are you kidding me? Absolutely shameful and the reason BPD suicide rates are so high. Because we’re treated like the scum of the earth rather than people with an ILLNESS.

  5. In response to Savannah.

    I get it Honey. I think I have codependency issues. Pretty sure actually. I fell in love with a gorgeous borderline lady. Head over heels. Aand I suffered badly. But Ive realised a lot since our last and probably last rupture. My unhappiness is simply not her fault. She is full of trauma and fear and intimate relationships cause her to suffer. The intense pain of emotional abuse by her Mother and subsequent abuse by men has left her with deep suffering and fear and lack of trust. The closer she gets emotionally to a partner, the more her trauma is triggered !! This is an awful awful affliction that causes her terrible anxiety and sabotages her ability to have closeness/love. My heart goes out to you Savannah. I truly feel for you. You are not a nasty person. You are a hurt person. Much love angel.

    BTW you may find some help at a website called eightysevenminutes. Kent Hoffman. I have no connection to the man. My therapist told me about him.

    Take care. You are equal with every other human. But you were dealt a shit hand.

  6. Thank you James…. I feel seen.

    A BPD that desperately wants to live in this world and not hurt other people

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