If someone you care about is diagnosed with BPD you might sometimes find it hard to understand their feelings or behaviour, or to know how to help. But there are lots of positive things you can do to support them:
- Try to be patient. If your loved one is struggling to deal with their emotions, try not to get involved in an argument in the heat of the moment. It could be better to wait until you both feel calmer to talk things through.
- Don't judge them. Try to listen to them without telling them that they're overreacting or that they shouldn't feel the way they do. Whether or not you understand why they feel like this, and regardless of whether you feel it's reasonable, it is still how they're feeling and it's important to acknowledge it.
One thing that I find helps is when others validate my emotions, as I often feel guilty for having them.
- Be calm and consistent. If your loved one is experiencing a lot of overwhelming emotions, this could help them feel more secure and supported and will help in moments of conflict.
- Help remind them of all their positive traits. When someone you care about is finding it hard to believe anything good about themself, it can be reassuring to hear all the positive things you see in them.
- Try to set clear boundaries and expectations. If your loved one is feeling insecure about being rejected or abandoned, or seems worried about being left alone, it can be helpful to make sure you both know what you can expect from each other.
I have a friend who [...] goes for hot chocolate with me every week. To know there is somebody who cares and has time for you, even when you're not sure who you are... that means the world.
- Learn their triggers. Talk to your loved one and try to find out what sort of situations or conversations might trigger negative thoughts and emotions.
- Learn more about BPD, and help to challenge stigma. BPD is a complicated diagnosis, and your loved one might sometimes have to deal with other people's misconceptions on top of trying to manage their mental health problem. Our pages on what is BPD? and BPD experiences contain more information.
This information was published in January 2018. We will revise it in 2021.