The effects of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can strain any relationship individuals have, but what happens when your partner has BPD and is also unfaithful?
It’s a complicated question for anyone to answer, let alone comprehend. This article understands the struggle and explains how BPD can affect and trigger cheating.
The Complex Link Between BPD and Unfaithfulness in Romantic Relationships
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition that causes intense mood swings, insecurity, fear of abandonment, and a strong desire for validation and attention from those around them. People with BPD may have trouble controlling their emotions, making them more likely to cheat on their partners.
When someone cheats on their partner, they’re often unhappy. But what about people with BPD who cheat? Are they cheating for the same reasons as people without BPD? And how does this affect their relationships?
Let’s break down the key factors explaining why BPD increases infidelity’s chances.
BPD makes it challenging to manage intense emotions, including feelings of jealousy or inadequacy.
As a result, an individual with BPD may strongly desire validation and attention from other partners outside of their committed relationship. They may also struggle with controlling their impulses and acting on their desires without fully considering the consequences, leading to cheating behaviors.
Additionally, their emotional instability and fears of abandonment can make it difficult to create lasting connections with their partners. This can lead to a pattern of relationship instability, where they may seek out new partners to cope with feelings of loneliness and abandonment.
The Importance of Awareness: BPD and the Risk of Cheating
It is crucial to comprehend the connection between Borderline Personality Disorder and infidelity since it can lead to the realization of the association between emotional instability and hasty actions like cheating.
It can help recognize that cheating is not a personal failing or reflection of their relationship but rather a manifestation of the individual’s BPD symptoms. You can help them learn to manage their emotions and develop more healthy coping mechanisms.
How BPD Symptoms Contribute to Infidelity in Relationships
Here are some signs of BPD and how they can contribute to infidelity and cheating:
1. Fear of abandonment or instability
Individuals suffering from BPD often experience a profound fear of abandonment, sometimes leading them to cheat to quell this fear or seek validation and support from others.
2. Impulsiveness and risky behavior
Individuals with BPD may engage in risky behaviors such as cheating to alleviate feelings of emptiness or experience excitement and stimulation.
Although some individuals with BPD can regulate their actions by acknowledging the outcomes, others may lack the ability to govern their impulses, resulting in harm to themselves or others.
3. Unstable self-image
The instability of one’s self-image associated with BPD can drive one to seek external validation and acceptance. This need for attention and affection from others may lead to infidelity if they feel neglected or unappreciated by their partner.
4. Extreme closeness to extreme dislike for others
Such individuals frequently experience tumultuous and passionate relationships with others, as they may idolize their partners for one moment and then abruptly diminish their worth. This pattern can generate negative sentiments such as bitterness, wrath, and a longing for an emotional bond with someone else.
5. Chronic feeling of emptiness
People diagnosed with BPD may feel an endless emptiness and resort to infidelity to fill this void or avoid their emotional distress.
Splitting is a coping mechanism observed in people with BPD, where they perceive things in extreme “black and white” terms, causing them to perceive their partner as either entirely good or completely bad. This may trigger infidelity if they idolize another person as being “all good.”
Treatment for BPD can involve a combination of medication and therapy. One type of therapy that is effective for individuals with BPD is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
This therapy provides targeted techniques to handle the emotional turmoil that may trigger hasty actions. These techniques include mindfulness meditation, tolerating distress, regulating emotions, and enhancing interpersonal abilities.
Along with therapy, medication might be recommended to alleviate symptoms of BPD like anxiety or depression. Nevertheless, medication alone is inadequate to treat BPD, and it should be combined with therapy.
Building Trust in BPD Relationships: Steps to Avoid Infidelity
Preventing cheating in relationships involving individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be challenging. Still, some steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of infidelity. Here are some tips:
1. Seek therapy
If you or your partner has BPD, seeking therapy can be an important step in preventing cheating. Therapy can help both partners understand the challenges of BPD and develop strategies to manage symptoms that can lead to infidelity.
For example, therapy can help teach people with BPD better communication skills and ways to handle intense emotions. It may also help them learn how to regulate their behavior and avoid risky situations — like dating multiple people at once — that can cause them to cheat.
2. Set boundaries
Setting clear boundaries in your relationship can help prevent cheating. This may include discussing what behaviors are acceptable and what behaviors are not and establishing consequences for violating those boundaries.
Related Read: How to Set up Boundaries in Relationship?
3. Practice open communication
BPD can cause intense emotions that can be difficult to manage, and communication can be challenging. However, practicing open and honest communication can help prevent misunderstandings and reduce the likelihood of cheating.
If something bothers you about your partner’s behavior, say so! Avoiding conflict or keeping silent because you don’t want to upset your partner will only increase tension in the long run. Instead, tell your partner exactly what’s bothering you so they can address it directly and work toward resolving any problems that may be causing friction between you.
4. Work on trust
Building and maintaining trust is critical in preventing cheating, especially in BPD relationships. This may involve working with a therapist to address trust issues and developing strategies to rebuild trust if it has been broken. This may include helping you set boundaries for your relationship or creating a plan for dealing with difficult situations that arise.
It will be important for both partners in a relationship with a person with BPD to improve their communication skills.
Suppose the person with BPD tends to be highly emotional or is prone to bouts of depression or anxiety. In that case, this can make it difficult for them to maintain healthy communication patterns. If you are the partner of someone with BPD, remember that learning effective communication skills takes time and effort on both sides.
5. Focus on self-care
Both partners should focus on self-care, including getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation. This can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being, reducing the likelihood of infidelity.
Dispelling the Myths of BPD and Cheating
Many people believe that people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are likelier to cheat, lie and manipulate. This is not true.
People with BPD are as likely to cheat or be unfaithful as anyone else. However, they often have trouble managing their emotions and thoughts. This can cause them to act impulsively — even if they don’t want to — which may lead them to cheat on their partner.
People with BPD also may have trouble managing their anger toward others. They may lash out at their partners or feel they’re being treated unfairly by friends and family members, making them want to end a relationship or seek out someone else for comfort. Here are some common myths and realities:
|People with BPD are likelier to cheat.||Experiencing impulsive behavior, including infidelity, can be challenging for those with BPD. However, it does not indicate that they are more prone to cheating than those without BPD.|
|People with BPD cheat because they are manipulative or malicious.||In relationships where one or both partners have BPD, infidelity is frequently a consequence of intense emotions and feelings of abandonment rather than an intention to cause harm or manipulate their partner.|
|Once a cheater, always a cheater.||Although infidelity may be a difficulty in relationships where one or both partners have BPD, it is not an inevitable outcome. Individuals with BPD can acquire the skills to handle their symptoms and cultivate more positive relationships through appropriate treatment and support.|
|BPD cannot be treated, so cheating will always be problematic.||Although treating BPD can be difficult, it is not impossible. Treatment may encompass a blend of medication, therapy, and support from family and friends. With appropriate care, individuals with BPD can acquire the skills to handle their symptoms, decrease impulsive behavior, and foster positive relationships.|
Knowing how to help someone with Borderline Personality Disorder is not always easy. Like anyone, Borderlines can excel in some areas of their lives and struggle in others. It might seem like the most difficult part of dealing with the disorder itself is just conversing about it.
Once you’ve broached that topic, it might feel like you’re left with nothing else to say. But there are plenty of ways for someone else, particularly a close friend or family member who knows you well, to support you. As we’ve discussed, that support can come in many different forms: simply listening while allowing you to speak your mind is helpful.
It could provide an opportunity for you to articulate something that you’ve been putting off saying aloud. Helping you take care of yourself physically is also vital—and that means getting enough sleep, eating well, doing things that make your body feel good (such as exercise), and taking your medications as prescribed.
- Shorey, R. C., Anderson, S. E., & Stuart, G. L. (2011). Gender Differences in the Association Between Borderline Personality Disorder and Intimate Partner Violence. Journal of Family Psychology, 25(5), 719–723. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0025189
- Coccaro, E. F., Choukas-Bradley, S., Beeney, J. E., Byrd, A. L., Vine, V., & Stepp, S. D. (2019). Too Much Too Soon?: Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms and Romantic Relationships in Adolescent Girls. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 47(12), 1995–2005. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-019-00570-1
- Choi-Kain, L. W., Finch, E. F., Masland, S. R., Jenkins, J. J., & Unruh, B. T. (2017). What Works in the Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports, 4(1), 21–30. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40473-017-0103-z