BPD Relationship Cycle: What Should You Expect From It?

If you’re dating someone with BPD, you know that the relationship can be incredibly intense and rollercoaster-like. You may find yourself constantly trying to figure out what mood your partner will be in from one moment to the next and wondering if you did something wrong to cause those mood swings.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about the BPD relationship cycle. Hopefully, you’ll learn what to expect from your relationship and maybe even start to see some positive changes.

Learn in This Article

  • What Is a BPD Relationship Cycle
  • Stages of a BPD Relationship Cycle
  • What’s Behind BPD Cyclic Behaviors
  • How to Cope with BPD Relationship Cycles
  • Key Takeaways

What Is a BPD Relationship Cycle

People with BPD have a relationship pattern of behaviors known as borderline personality disorder relationship cycle.

This cycle often includes periods of intense closeness, followed by periods of estrangement or conflict. The cycle can be difficult to break, but with the right treatment and support, it’s possible to build healthier and more stable relationships.

Stages of a BPD Relationship Cycle

A relationship with a person with BPD might start off as exciting, but there’s more you should be aware of. Let’s take a closer look at the following BPD relationship stages.

Stage 1: Idealization

In the first stage, everything is perfect. Your partner with borderline personality disorder sees you as their favorite person, meaning they put you on a pedestal and see you as flawless. They may shower you with compliments and gifts and want to spend all their time with you.

Stage 2: Triggers

Here’s where things start to get tricky. Some BPD relationship triggers, such as fear of abandonment and feelings of low self-worth, are quickly taking shape. In this stage, your BPD partner becomes more aggressive and sensitive to what you do or say. 

Stage 3: Manipulation

As BPD individuals increasingly become uncertain about their partner’s love, they go to great lengths to push you to show the affection they want. One way to do so is to manipulate you and put you in situations where you must prove yourself.

Stage 4: Conflict

Unfortunately, this instability causes conflict in your relationship. In this stage, your BPD partner may become angrily defensive and accuse you of betraying them or doing something wrong. They may say hurtful things and try to start arguments.

Stage 5: Breaking Up

This is the stage where the non-BPD partner usually leaves. Your partner with a borderline personality disorder will try to explain the situation, make up excuses, and do everything in their power to avoid abandonment.

Stage 6: Risky and Extreme Behaviors

After the breakup, the partner with BPD may go through extreme mood swings—anger, depression, and major instability are the predominant feelings. In this final stage, BPD individuals may act impulsively and engage in life-threatening behaviors, such as self-harm or even suicide.

BPD Relationship Cycle 1

What’s Behind BPD Cyclic Behaviors

Remember that people with BPD are not acting out of malice—they are responding to their own feelings of insecurity and fear. Although understanding where it’s coming from doesn’t make it easy, it can help you deal with it and better communicate with your BPD partner.

Individuals with BPD often have a very fragile sense of self. They may feel like they are “bad” or “unworthy.” Therefore, they behave in ways they think will make you see them as good people. At the beginning of a relationship, this can look like your partner is putting you on a pedestal and showering you with compliments and gifts. But eventually, their fear of being rejected or abandoned will start to take over, and they may begin to withdraw or become defensive and accusatory.

How to Cope with BPD Relationship Cycles

Breaking the cycle is certainly not easy, but both parties should know what to do to work through emotional hardship.

For People with BPD

Find Support

If you have BPD, it’s crucial to find a support system. This may include therapy, medication, or, preferably, both. Usually, DBT is the most effective type of cognitive-behavioral therapy for these individuals.

Use Music or Meditation

Some people find that music or meditation can help calm their minds and ease their anxiety. If you feel overwhelmed, these might be what you need.

Distract Yourself with Other Activities

It can be helpful to distract yourself from other activities when you feel triggered. Consider exercising, reading, or spending time with friends and family.

For Loved Ones

Set Boundaries

It’s important to set boundaries to avoid BPD toxic relationships. Be honest about your limits and approach the idea slowly and patiently. This is a bit harder for parents dealing with children who show signs of borderline personality disorder, however, it’s equally important to introduce them to certain boundaries.

Explain Yourself

When communicating with someone with BPD, it’s vital to be clear and concise. Avoid using “trigger words” or phrases that may cause an argument.

Make Sure They Respect Your Limits

Once you set your boundaries, make sure your partner respects them. If they don’t, it may be necessary to seek support or even leave the relationship if it turns ugly.

BPD Relationship Cycle 2

Key Takeaways

  • The borderline personality disorder relationship cycle is a repeating pattern of behaviors that can occur in relationships with people with BPD.
  • This cycle often includes periods of intense closeness, followed by periods of estrangement or conflict.
  • Although the cycle can be difficult to break, this can be possible thanks to the proper treatment and support.
  • If you are in a relationship with someone with BPD, be patient, understanding, and supportive. However, remember to set your boundaries. Consider seeking professional help if the cycle becomes too difficult to manage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you have a healthy relationship with someone with BPD?

It’s possible to have a functioning relationship with people with BPD if both parties work through it. Understanding how BPD symptoms affect your relationship is the first step. 
Even though people with BPD often experience intense and overwhelming emotions, the right treatment and support can make a difference.

Why do people with BPD end relationships?

First, people with BPD often have difficulty maintaining healthy boundaries. They may be overly dependent on their partner or become completely detached. Not to mention, they may get angry quickly or be easily triggered into feeling paranoid or rejected.
Finally, they have a distorted sense of self. They may see themselves as bad or unworthy, leading them to believe their partner will eventually leave them.

How long do BPD cycles last?

The length of a BPD cycle depends on the nature of the disorder and the individual’s response to treatment. However, the average length of a BPD relationship isn’t set. The stages of the BPD relationship cycle might not appear in some relationships or differ from person to person.