How to Make Someone with BPD Happy

clipart-stop-sign-512x512-bb91There truly is a great info in this article.  I give no argument to that.  However I have one simply request:  If you are here it is a fair guess to say you have Borderline Personality Disorder.  Or maybe a loved on has it.  If that is the case, please take some time and look around this site.  This blog is filled with great information for those with BPD and those who love them.  It is my honor to have you here and I hope you                                               enjoy your stay, whether it be 5 minutes or you come back day after day.

I am looking to do a series of guest posts under this topic. If you would like to chime in, please by all means chime in with your 2 cents via email. All that I ask is that you keep it respectful. Here is response #2 to this challenge!

Author Bio – Audrey Porterman is the main researcher and writer for Her most recent accomplishment includes graduating from Ohio State, with a degree in business management. Her current focus for the site involves Computer Science PHDs and PHDs in Education Online.

Managing a psychiatric condition such as borderline personality disorder can be hard on the people who have it, as well as the people who love them. When you love someone with BPD, you just want to do whatever you can to make that person happy. However, it can be difficult to understand just how to do that.

While every person who has borderline personality disorder will deal with the condition differently and have different needs, there are a few universal things you can do to help someone with BPD to be happy. Here are a few ideas:

 Encourage Self-Worth
Those who suffer from borderline personality disorder experience a low and unstable self-image. They doubt their own worth, and they have a hard time accepting love from others. You can help a person with borderline personality disorder be happy by encouraging a sense of self-worth. Help them to see their own value and to recognize what they have to offer others. Emphasize their talents, the positive aspects of their personality, or other valuable aspects of their character.  

Help Them Feel Accepted
People with borderline personality disorder constantly worry about being rejected. In fact, many of their outbursts can be caused by hypervigilence to signs of real or perceived rejection. Help them to feel a sense of acceptance in your presence. Use calm, reassuring, and non-judgmental language. Find ways to show them that you accept them for who they are as a person, and that you are committed to helping them manage their disorder.  

Help Them Feel WantedShowing a person with borderline personality disorder love will go a long way toward making them happy. Many with BPD feel insecure and have trouble accepting that others care for them. Do what you can to show them that you do care, and you will help to ease this doubt. Show love by being a consistent presence, by minimizing criticisms, and by showing patience and acceptance.  

Accept that You Don’t Have Control
Though there are some things you can do to try to make someone with borderline personality disorder happy, you ultimately can’t make the person happy. You can help them to feel more accepted and loved, but you can’t instill a sense of happiness. Every person has to find his or her own happiness, and those with borderline personality disorder may have to get medication and professional counseling in order to do so. Influence the things you can and offer support for the person with BPD to get the help needed. Over time, you may be able to make that person a bit happier by helping them to feel loved and accepted.

20 thoughts on “How to Make Someone with BPD Happy

  1. Thanks for this :) Shared on the Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness page on Facebook!

  2. And what if all these ideas fail and you get left with wee children and as BPD ex keeps returning to her old home knocking on an unanswerable door?

    • I would give anything to have an answer for that. Because in the end, all you can do is try, but the success is on them. Besides their obvious need for some psychiatric assistance, have you spoken to anyone to help you through? And is there anything I can do? Find resources, listen to you rant, offer more specific advice based off of better detail?

    • There is nothing you can do, just like me….If you love the BPD, you will die time after time seeing the things she/he is doing and will finally get asleep with tears in your eyes holding your children. And the next morning you will have to face again the love, the pain….BPD

  3. Well…first you need to hire a psychic. And a genie. That should pretty much cover it, really.

    I mean, I’d be happy, and then everyone would be happy.

    Alternatively: Ponies for everyone!

    I jest. In all seriousness, validation really helps people with BPD feel connected. While “connection” doesn’t always translate to “happiness,” it functions as ballast and can circumvent some of the frantic boat-rocking BPD folks engage in. Most of that boat-rocking generates from the whole “who am i? where do i belong?” quest; connections with people are a good starting point when trying to sort out an identity (and can be a safe place to just be).

    By “validation,” I don’t mean “emphatically agree with every whim this flibbertigibbet voices and capitulate to every tantrum.” Because too much power can be scary for some BPDs (even if they enjoy it). I mean: when you do agree with them, say so, and add reasons from your perspective.

    Even more importantly, when you disagree with them, say so. Compassionately. Acknowledge the sovereignty of their personhood, their viewpoint, and their feelings. If you can find a way to say something like “yeah, i get how you could see it that way–(insert relevant example), but i still disagree” that would go a long way toward validating the Borderline person’s right to their feelings & viewpoint. But wait! There’s more: respectfully disagreeing also validates your ongoing connection and validates that it’s a connection of two separate people. Not that it gets blurry there or anything.

    It’s kind of a pain in the rump, but it can end up as a habit you barely notice. And hey, close relationships with someone with BPD are kind of a roulette wheel of “pain in the rump.” If you pick this as your poison, at least it stands a good chance of being productive.

    Oooh! One more thing–it can be hard to get people with BPD to do…anything. It’s not personal–it’s just Not. Personal. As in “things that do not directly and immediately affect me aren’t quite real.” Sometimes beginning a request (or requirement) with “I need your help”/ “I need you to do this for me” acts like a dog whistle to redirect attention. The phrase “this is important” can be useful too, as long as it’s not overused.

    Preventative care can go a long way. It’s loads of work though, so if your BPD person isn’t really working on their end of things and/or isn’t willing to do so, think hard whether or not it’s worth the investment. If you don’t have a relationship that has an inherently permanent aspect to it, maybe just walk away. If they go ahead and do that Borderline thing, keep in mind that no one has more control over their actions than they do.

    About that “you made me ______” malarkey: if you really had the power to make this Borderline person do something, what would you choose to make them do? Dollars to donuts it’s not the puppeteering you were accused of.

    Dagnabbit! This is probably longer than the article–sorreh. Hope it helps a little, at least!

    • Would you be willing to add to this, word count unlimited, and send it in to my email as a guest post? I’ll give you full bio and link to you if you would like. Pretty please? Because this is freakin’ brilliant!

  4. It is helpful to read these. I have a relative with BPD, untreated. It is very very difficult and dramatic. And vicious since i’m the focus of the anger. I’m glad to read you.

  5. Great suggestions. Tried them all. None of them worked, ever. Not being cynical but the best long term advice is walk away from the BPD relationship and save yourself from the never ending cycle of abuse, heartache and pain. This is my experience with a BPD person.

    • Sometimes it really just depends on the patient. I’m rather sick myself and I frustrate the hell out of my spouse, but we’ve been married for 13 years and he seems to think the good outweighs the bad. *shrug*

      • Hi, you say you’ve been married 13 years, I’ve been married 1/10 of that and my wife has left twice already, each time she says it’s the end and finds comfort in other men, it’s devastating, we have a 9 month old daughter and she has a 4yo from a previous relationship, of course, when she leaves o get the short end of the stick, she is undiagnosed but we did go to marriage counselling, I continue to go to the same counsellor and he agrees she most likely has bpd but says she has to come to her own conclusions she needs help, what can I do? It easy to walk away but I miss my family, I’m a confused wreck

        • Sorry I’m just now seeing this. School plus new job has me a little frazzled.

          You have to ask yourself what your limit is. You have to look out for you first. There is only so much you can tolerate before the bad out weighs the good.

          Full disclosure, I’ve left my husband twice. Both times I was in a bad place mentally and our marriage was struggling and I left. That’s twice in a span of 13 years, mind you. So slightly better than twice in just a couple of years. Both times I, like your wife, sought comfort in other people. Both times I realized they weren’t what I wanted. My husband was what I wanted, and we worked together to make the marriage stronger. It’s imperfect but it’s solid. And we wouldn’t be where we are today if I hadn’t left him when I did. Each time we came back together fighting for one another, not against one another. So separations can be healthy.

          That said, I fully acknowledge and respect that my husband didn’t have to take me back either time. And not just because of the other people but because I left in the first place. I don’t kid myself into thinking that if I left again he’d take me back again. We have learned all there is to learn from being apart. So now we stay together or we part for good. I know this and I know I don’t want to be without him.

          Even right now as things are strained because we are both unhealthy, I know come the end of the day, I want to come home to him.

          But I also know how sick I am. I didn’t always. My diagnosis actually came out in marriage counseling the first split. It was with my therapist and she had that lightbulb moment. Suddenly everything in ym world and head and life and past just made perfect sense. From that moment on I have been treated for BPD. But I had to want that treatment and I had to want that diagnosis.

          And as stressed and depressed as I am right now, I know I would be so much worse without treatment and diagnosis.

          Your wife, too, has to want it. And here is the thing. She can’t get better, ever, if she isn’t properly diagnosed and treated. BPD is not something that will gradually go away on it’s own. This isn’t a cold. This is a serious mental illness. She has to want to get better and take the steps, or she won’t.

          The tough question you have to ask yourself is, can you live with her if she chooses not to?

          I’m not saying to up and leave. But it might be time for a serious discussion that revolves around your mutual (MUTUAL) need for her to get diagnosed and treated, and what will happen if she doesn’t follow through.

          You can only take so much.

          But do please give her some time. BPD, or whatever her diagnosis is, can be a hard pill to swallow. Give her some reasonable room to mess up. So long as she is actively trying.

          • She has a huge hate for me right now, I’ve done nothing to warrant it, I am assuming the hate is her way of dealing with it and blaming me for her feelings, was it like that for you too? She acts like I should be fine with the situation and treat her like what’s happening is normal, I did drag her to counselling (when I say drag I mean talked to her and get her to make the appointment as the counsellor said its best she call him and not make her go) but she only went to tell me she’s happier now and has already moved on, same thing happened last time she left, just went to tell me I’m the problem, I tried to give her space but she just drifts further away, I am bracing myself for this being permanent but it’s difficult, I know she needs to want the help, it’s exactly what the counsellor said, I’m prepared to tell her she needs to get fixed before we talk about reconciliation if that ever eventuates, on one hand I want her and my family back but on the other hand I’m so angry, I keep telling myself it’s a mental problem and I shouldn’t blame her but I also shouldn’t blame me and have to put up with it

        • I’ve been trying to decide how best to answer and really, you’re not going to like what I have to say. Or maybe it will come as a relief?

          Marriage is hard. The divorce rate has to be over 50% by this point in time, though I’m not looking it up. Even if it is still the oft quotes 50% that’s not the best of odds. Even two people who are perfectly healthy can have a marriage go up in smoke. Sometimes no one has done anything wrong, people change, love fades, and it’s over. That’s just the risk everyone takes when they enter a marriage.

          When one of those people are really sick? And she is sick. I don’t say this to blame, excuse, or justify anything. The fact of her illness is as plainly put as the current divorce rate. Both are simply facts. At least 50% of all marriages end in divorce and your wife is sick.

          These two things added together don’t guarantee your marriage can’t make it. If you both fight like hell for it, anything is possible. Yes, she could bounce back. But you have to ask yourself at what point are you, personally, done and then you have to stick to that. For you. For her. For everyone.

          And if she won’t take counseling seriously…

          Look. I feel obliged to tell you something. With me, when my marriage is rocky and I’m feeling unloved, I latch on to the first person that shows me possitive attention. Now, I don’t outright cheat… I do make sure to sabotage my marriage the rest of the way first. The first time I dated the man, then he himself encouraged me back to my husband. It was a begrudging not wanting to be the cause of a broken family. The second time the catalyst in question and I never did hook up, but I did date around some. Basically long enough to realize how good I have it. I would wager as long as she’s getting positive attention from someone else… I mean until that gets rocky… I wouldn’t leave what’s currently good to go back to what’s currently rocky.

          Another thing of note. I don’t know how much of my blog you read, but I want to point out my marriage is now open. I’m not saying this to suggest it for you, I’m simply saying it isn’t always as it seems. Now. First, my husband doesn’t exactly believe in monogamy to begin with. In happy times I’ve known he’s wanted an open marriage and I’ve been the one to say no because part of me wants to be politically correct or some shit. After this last time, it finally came to light that if I could act on these flirtations with other men, and not have to sabotage my marriage, maybe my husband was right about not needing to be monogamous. Now. It doesn’t fix us when we’re rocky, but at least, I dunno, it’s one less worry. Neither one of us sleep around or even really date. But should I meet someone, I am a lot less inclined to throw my marriage under the bus. And well, he has a long distance girlfriend that he only really sees a couple times a year, but he’s content with that.

          All this is to say, I have not necessarily changed or wised up after this last split a few years ago. I don’t really know. No one has tempted me. Either way, I’m not some miracle and can be considered yet another caution or statistic. I’m not saying this to discourage you, but I didn’t want to mislead you either.

          • Ok, thanks, not really the best of news.

            I get that she goes where the attention is, does that mean I should start showing her some attention or should I remain not speaking to her when I drop out daughter off? I want to at least get to a point that she wants to try to work on our marriage and then decide as a couple if it’s worth the long term counselling

        • Showing her some attention can’t hurt. Just… I mean don’t get your hopes up. Don’t give up if you’re not ready but don’t get your hopes up either. But yeah, showing her some attention could be helpful. The little things. Try to keep it positive. Try to reminisce on the good things.

  6. Thank you this is very helpful.
    What are some standard words that are supportive and not condesending?
    How does one disagree without escalating the BP?

  7. Thank you so much for this! You’re truly helping us who love someone with BPD, literally cried reading this. <3

    My heart and love goes to you, your great husband whom I read about and your beautiful children.

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