BPD Relationship Cycle: Here’s What You Can Expect (And How To Cope)

Last Update on November 22, 2022 : Published on November 22, 2022
BPD Relationship Cycle

Relationships can be demanding in their rights – and I’m talking about mental and emotional demands, however, when you add in a partner with a challenging disorder such as borderline personality disorder (BPD), the relationship can go from mildly demanding to an emotionally turbulent rollercoaster ride.

If you have a BPD partner, you know how emotional things can become. When I talk about a relationship cycle in BPD, I mean the emotional highs and lows that your BPD partner experiences that leaves you feeling emotionally tired, frustrated, and confused.

You might have also noticed how your partner experiences sudden anger, depression, and anxiety episodes that leave you more upset and confused than ever.

This relationship cycle of BPD is what we’re exploring in this article. Let’s take a look at what the BPD relationship cycle is, what challenges it brings, and how you can cope with a BPD partner.

What’s The BPD Relationship Cycle?

Emotional highs and lows are a part of borderline personality disorder and this not only affects the BPD person’s daily life but their relationships as well. A BPD relationship cycle is a continuous series of emotional highs and lows in the relationship where the BPD person might switch between an uplifting mood and a depressive one.

In the first stage of the relationship, the BPD partner might react to you as if you’re their favorite person and idealize everything about you. You’ll be their center of attention, and they might show their appreciation for you, however, as the relationship moves on to the next stage, the idolization might lessen.

The BPD partner might begin to feel like you’re not making many efforts in the relationship and don’t care about them. They might begin to focus on the negative side of the relationship and might begin to feel somewhat emotionally unsafe.

This kind of reduction is often a part of the BPD relationship cycle. However, it does not mean that everyone with BPD might go through the same cycle, repeating the same patterns. There’s a high chance that these behaviors might be present in a relationship when one partner has a borderline personality disorder.

BPD Relationship Cycle: The Stages

There are six stages in the BPD relationship cycle:

1. Stage One

Here, the BPD partner sees you as their “favorite person” and might focus on you more than anything else. In stage one, they may appear to be invested in the relationship and might be demanding your time and attention.

2. Stage Two

As the stage progresses, anxiousness and fear of abandonment might set in. Your BPD partner might become sensitive to smaller inconveniences and might exhibit signs of stress-related paranoia.

3. Stage Three

In stage three, the fear of abandonment has set in strongly and the BPD partner might respond by pushing you away. They might even conduct “tests” to see if you’re willing to stay with them. These kinds of actions might result in fights and arguments.

4. Stage Four

Here, the tests and efforts to push you away might make the BPD partner resort to distancing. They might try to intentionally emotionally distance themselves from you.

Now, this could be confusing for you and even make your partner fear for the relationship. In this stage, your partner with BPD might begin to hide their emotions and feelings and might even question you repeatedly to confirm yours.

5. Stage Five

In stage five of the BPD relationship cycle, the relationship can make it through or end. Here, you might be unable to comprehend what’s happening in the relationship and why it’s going downhill. You might even feel frustrated and confused about your BPD partner’s behaviors.

6. Stage Six

If the relationship doesn’t survive the previous stage, then your partner with BPD might begin to experience negative feelings and depressive thoughts. They might even engage in negative self-talk and self-destructive behaviors that might put them in danger.

Now, it’s during this stage that your BPD partner might begin the relationship cycle and try to reconnect with you. If your relationship survives stage five, then the relationship cycle may begin again.

Keep in mind that;

  • There’s no timeline for the BPD relationship cycle. It might take hours to weeks for all stages to manifest. Some BPD relationship cycles can even take months and years.
  • There’s no evidence supporting saying that a BPD relationship cycle will happen in every relationship with a BPD partner. It’s a common concern and may fully depend on the person and the relationship.
  • BPD relationships cycle or stages are not sabotaging behaviors. The cycle might depend greatly on how BPD symptoms manifest.

Many people believe that the borderline personality disorder relationship cycle is driven by self-sabotaging behaviors, however, it’s not true. Self-sabotaging behaviors might indeed be present in many personality disorders but they are not always present in every disorder.

In a BPD relationship, self-sabotage can be a way to gain attention from you and since a BPD partner isn’t great at communicating their feelings, this kind of BPD sabotaging behavior can be an attempt to seek reassurance.

How To Cope With A BPD Relationship Cycle?

If you’re living with or dating someone with BPD, then here are some ways you can cope with their behaviors, including the BPD relationship cycle;

1. Try couples counseling. A therapist can help you and your partner understand how your BPD partner’s behavior is affecting your relationship and how to move forward.

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2. Support and encourage your BPD partner to seek professional help if they are not already in therapy.

3. Self-educate on the symptoms, behaviors, and attitudes of borderline personality disorder and how it affects the day-to-day life of a person.

4. Learn to stay patient and calm during your BPD partner’s emotional highs and lows. Remember, that during this, your partner needs your support and reassurance so don’t ignore them or their needs.

5. If things escalate and arguments ensue, then remain calm and collected. If you get emotional, then it’s likely to affect the emotional faculties of your partner with BPD.

6. If your BPD partner is exhibiting toxic behaviors, then set up boundaries to protect your overall well-being.

7. Even if you’re in a relationship, make sure that you take time for self-care and engage in activities you enjoy alone.

8. Join or connect with support networks so that when your BPD partner’s behaviors become too much for you, you can seek help and support from others going through the same experience.

It is possible to live and love someone with BPD, however, navigating through the relationship challenges can be tough. With the right support and help, you can easily make your way through those challenges and live in a healthy relationship with your BPD partner. While the relationship with a BPD person can be challenging, it isn’t always negative.

People with BPD can be caring and compassionate, however, if they are struggling with their behaviors and attitudes, then seeking professional help can be beneficial.

Bottom Line

If you have a partner struggling with borderline personality disorder, then you may (along with your BPD partner) experience emotional highs and lows in the relationship, more commonly known as the BPD relationship cycle.

Keep in mind that your partner with BPD isn’t actively trying to hurt your feelings or your relationship. More often than not, their issues and struggles are with themselves. Even with a disorder like BPD, a healthy relationship is possible with the right counseling and guidance.

I hope this article helps you understand what a BPD relationship cycle is and how to cope with it. For more, you can write to us at info@calmsage.com or DM us on social media.

 You can also share your thoughts and tips with us in the comments below.

Take Care!

Next Read:

All You Need To Know About A BPD “Favorite Person” Relationship

20 Examples Of What NOT To Say To Someone With BPD

Identifying Borderline Personality Disorder Triggers (And How to Avoid BPD Triggers)

What Is BPD Splitting? Signs, Effects & How To Deal With It

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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