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

Last Update on November 23, 2022 : Published on May 20, 2022

Personalities differ, we can all accept that, right? Our personalities are defined by how we feel, think, and act. But they are also by our environment, genetics, and life experiences. However, personality disorders can cause us to act, think, and feel in different ways. If left unchecked, the traits can become distressing and can affect our daily lives.

One such personality disorder is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This personality disorder can carry traits such as self-image issues, emotional dysregulation, unstable emotions, unstable relationships, and another unheard characteristic – splitting.

BPD Splitting or BPD splitting psychology is a concept that is used to describe the distorted thinking of a person with BPD. When someone is diagnosed with splitting, it can be said that they view the world (in general) in only black or white and right or wrong.

In this blog, let’s explore more about BPD splitting, its effects, examples of BPD splitting, and how one can care for and deal with splitting BPD.

What Is BPD Splitting?


Splitting or to split can mean “to divide”. For people with BPD, splitting is more or less a defense mechanism. Say, someone with BPD Splitting may suddenly identify someone or something as simply good or bad, right or wrong.

People with BPD seek external validation without much caring about emotions, beliefs, or situations. This kind of behavior makes them prone to splitting as they try to protect themselves from the anticipatory anxiety that might arise after a potential rejection, abandonment, or betrayal.

BPD Splitting Symptoms:

Splitting is a common behavior that many of us may unconsciously partake in. However, BPD splitting is a consistent pattern that can usually follow other symptoms including:

  • Acting out of character and without worrying about the consequences
  • Denial or consciously ignoring reality
  • Trying to make others understand how distressing their emotional pain is
  • Carrying a belief that they are superior in thinking
  • Being passive-aggressive, and
  • Using projection

People with BPD struggle with fear of abandonment and insecurity so to cope with their fears, they use splitting psychology as a defense mechanism to protect their feelings. Splitting can occur without a warning and may even last for days, weeks, months, or years.

Usually, the splitting thinking is triggered by an instance that may cause someone with BPD to have strong emotional views.

For example, an emotionally heated argument can trigger splitting.

Examples Of Splitting BPD

Splitting can severely affect relationships and cause self-destructive behaviors. People who are prone to splitting can also accuse others without solid evidence. Splitting examples can be:

  • Some opportunities are either “just the right one” or “a fraud”
  • Some people are either “criminals/evil” or “innocent/angels”
  • Even scientific facts, history, or theories are either “all factual” or “a fabricated lie”
  • Things either turn out to be “right” or “wrong”

Another example of splitting can be:

When you’re feeling happy in general but one day you go out and make an irreversible mistake. All of a sudden, the happiness you’ve been feeling flees and you’re left with feelings of self-blame and worthlessness.

The Effects Of BPD splitting in relationships


As splitting is more or less a defense mechanism to protect one’s feelings, ego, and anxiety, it can still cause one to engage in self-destructive actions and cause distress in their relationships.

People with BPD usually have unstable emotions and relationships and in the case of splitting, a friend or a partner can suddenly turn from a supportive person to an enemy. People with BPD often have difficulty trusting others, fear others’ reactions, and might even cut off communication at the first sign of abandonment. Such fear and unstable feelings, mixed with splitting, can severely affect the relationships of a person with BPD.

For an official diagnosis, only a licensed mental health professional is qualified. For a BPD diagnosis, a person must meet the criteria outlined in the DSM-5, including:

  • A distorted self-image that affects your emotions, moods, and relationships
  • Anger issues or violent outbursts followed by extreme guilt
  • Extreme efforts to avoid abandonment or having a fear of abandonment
  • Extreme depression, anxiety, or irritability that can persist for days
  • Feeling dissociated, experiencing paranoia, and amnesia
  • Feeling persistently empty
  • Having impulsive behavior
  • Intense and stormy relationships that involve splitting
  • Suicidal thoughts and/or self-harming behaviors

If you or someone you know needs help, you can connect to these suicide prevention helplines or connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1800-273-8255, and the Trevor Project at 1866-488-7386.

How To Deal With Splitting Behavior?


Splitting is a common behavioral pattern in people with not only BPD but also in people who have experienced trauma, abuse, and abandonment in life. Here are some coping techniques to help deal with splitting behavior:

If You Have BPD:

  • Learn to calm your breathing. Splitting can be caused by anxiety so one way to deal with splitting behavior is to calm your breathing, hence calming your anxiety. Take deep breaths and avoid symptoms of anxiety taking over your mind and body.
  • Focus on the senses. Learn to ground yourself in the present moment. See what’s happening around you when you begin to experience splitting. This can be a good distraction practice and can help you change your perspective as well.
  • Seek professional help. If you constantly find yourself splitting, then seeking professional support can help. A therapist can help you teach techniques to calm down, distract your thoughts, and deal with splitting as it happens.

Note: Online-therapy.com is specialized in providing CBT-based therapy. They have a pool of certified therapists you can take help from and you can even choose your own therapist. 

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If Your Loved One Has BPD:

It can’t be easy to deal with a loved one with BPD, especially when the disorder is severe. However, to help your loved one with BPD and help them ease their symptoms (including splitting), you can:

  • Increase your awareness about the disorder. To help your loved one deal with BPD splitting, you need to know more about the disorder itself. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to help them.
  • Know their triggers. There are usually a handful of triggers that may cause your loved one’s splitting behavior. Know their triggers, make them aware of them, and help them avoid those triggers as much as possible.
  • Be empathetic. Remind yourself that splitting is a symptom of BPD and while your loved one’s actions might seem manipulative, it is just a defense mechanism to protect their feelings. Be kind to them and encourage supportive treatment to help them.
  • Take care of yourself or seek help. It’s important to not avoid taking care of yourself when helping your loved one deal with splitting. If you’re facing challenges, then you can seek professional support for yourself and/or encourage your loved one to seek professional support too.

Wrap Up

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health disorder that can affect the way a person acts, feels, or thinks. People with BPD often struggle a lot with poor self-image, unstable emotions, and unstable relationships.

One of the symptoms of BPD can be splitting, a defense mechanism that causes one to think only in either white or black, right or wrong, and all or nothing.

Dealing with splitting behavior is possible even if it is difficult. With an official diagnosis, the right treatment, and the right support, dealing with splitting behavior is possible.

I hope this article helped you learn what is splitting, the effects of splitting, and how to deal with splitting behavior. For more, you can write to us at info@calmsage.com or DM us on social media. You can also share your thoughts 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

Online-Therapy.com Review: Is It Legit & Worth It?

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
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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