How To Treat Someone With A Borderline Personality Disorder

December 19, 2018 0 By April Kirkwood

Tips For Having A Relationship With A Borderline

I’m writing this today because my mom was Borderline and for years I didn’t know what to do, who to turn to, and how to act.  Below you will see a video aka outburst, where I sent a message to Pete Davidson, SNL actor, who recently shared information that he was recently diagnosed having a borderline personality disorder.  After very public stressors, such as his breakup with Ariana Grande and her past boyfriend’s apparent drug overdose, he made a public statement wondering if he even wanted to stay on the planet any more.

Well, as a mom, a previous guidance counselor, and a child of a borderline, I saw the familiar sorrow in his face.  I had seen that before and I grew up either blaming myself or trying to be perfect to make her happy.  Of course, nothing worked.   Today, years after my mom passed I would like to personally and professionally share with you more positive ways to cope when you are in a relationship with a borderline.

A borderline is adept of manipulating anyone that they want love from.  They can be extremely charming.  then as if a dark spell was cast, this loving person perceives something and transforms her love into rage and hate.  This is called ‘splitting.’  This is a way they process situations and the erratic changes in attitude based on black or white judgments.  For example, once my teenage daughter dyed her beautiful hair dark brown.  My mother came storming into our drive at a high speed and continue to scream that I was the worst mother she had ever known.  I was devastated for years trying to figure out what I did so wrong.  I did nothing but give up my happiness to a sick woman.

A borderline has difficulty with long-term romantic relationships. Milk bottles being thrown across the living room.  My mom whispering on the phone in her room.  Bouts of crying listening to Nat King Cole on her bed.  This was the life of a woman who so desperately wanted love.  This was a woman who had affairs with her doctors and bosses.  On her deathbed, she said to me, “Aprillynn.  I was a good mom but I just loved men.”  I honestly didn’t know what to say.  I rubbed her feet.

A borderline is very sensitive and has really low self-esteem so they seek attention even if it means saying terrible things, having affairs, stealing, causing scenes.  They seem to have no respect for others or the law. On one of my daughter’s birthdays, my mom didn’t show up.  Later we found out she had taken a sledgehammer and smashed the windshield of my step father’s car.  Both were in jail.  In truth, years later, I found that my mom had given up a baby girl for adoption and her birthday was very close to my daughter’s birthday.  She always acted more uncontrollable in July.  I was, of course, hurt and once again disappointed.

A borderline often has substance abuse problems. They want to feel normal though they don’t know what that would even feel like.  Their mind is spinning and they want it to stop.  The sorrow haunts them though they are unsure why this emptiness consumes them.  To find solace, they self-medicate.  In the sixties and seventies, doctors gave valium, Sylert, and more away like candy; especially for a beautiful woman.  With technology checks and balances were almost nonexistent.  I remember once going to visit my mom with my two young children.  “Mom?”  I called.  “Where are you? Let’s go to McDonald’s.”  In the kitchen, we found her lying there with a sandwich still in her mouth.  This became the norm.  We did nothing but got mad.  if we ever mentioned it, she went ballistic.  She died of a slow suicide with cirrhosis of the liver as I sat with her in the last hours watching her smile lovingly at me and holding my hand.

The origin of Borderline Disorder is unclear.  The causes of BPD have been reduced to two. One is brain functioning and the other is early childhood trauma.  My mother was raped by her stepfather and I believe that was the beginning of her end.  He passed away with her by his side.  Strange right?  I didn’t know that for one solid year after his demise that she went to his grave and laid on top of him.

Here are some tips for you to work with support while maintaining a positive life with your borderline:

  1. Know that they truly love you even though they will throw your under the bus at the snap of a finger.
  2. Realize they are more lost and confused than you.  They can’t figure out why they act the way they do either.
  3. Their mood swings come from being so sensitive and so frightened and the results manifest themselves as violence, impulsive behaviors, and reckless acts are results, not causes. They will say anything to try and keep you.  Some may be outrageous spending sprees and empty promises.
  4. Their self-destructive behaviors are subtle ways to relieve themselves of such intense sorrow.
  5. Therapy can be difficult but it can also be very helpful.  Borderlines just want you to realize it’s not them; it’s everyone else.  Several of my colleagues do not treat borderlines due to the strong resistance they based on irrational fears.  There are therapeutic strategies making positive changes but it is a long process. There is no specific medication that is prescribed for borderlines but these folks can exhibit other mental health issues that are treated with meds. Hospitalization may be required.
  6. They do participate in risk-taking behaviors. Be careful.
  7. Borderlines have the capabilities to ruin your life distorting the truth, blaming, and accusing you of things.  These comments can be so destructive to your self-esteem that you think you are actually the cause of their despair.  That is a lie.  If possible set strong boundaries and be firm.


Dear mom, Dear Pete, Dear Borderlines:

As a therapist I want you to know that I love you and I know you are suffering.

Prayers sent your way.

April of Course


Looking for answers to questions about your own love life??

Check out my upcoming webinar series on love!

Register for free & Sign up HERE!



Please follow and like us: