BPD, Sexual Behaviour & Long-Term Relationships

I planned this post yesterday but need to step away, clear my head and get my emotions in check as I knew there was no way I could talk about this appalling discrimination otherwise. I will put up a trigger warning since I know I had a reaction to this so everyone, please be safe.

Potentially triggering content: Discussion on sex, sexual assault and discrimination towards BPD

Potentially triggering content: Discussion on sex, sexual assault and discrimination towards BPD diagnosed individuals

I read a blog post that included an article about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and why it can be difficult to have a relationship with them. I didn’t disagree with anything in the article. I know that my inability to emotionally regulate make relationships hard. I know that my need to not be alone and avoid being alone causes chaos. What really got me was two comments left by men who had “Dr.” in their name.

The first commenter shared about his wife (diagnosed BPD). She was unhappy in their relationship and would often threaten divorce. Everything he was reading about BPD said that individuals with this diagnosis could not be in long-term relationships so he went to speak with an “expert” on the topic. This “expert” told this man that the only way his wife could be in a long-term relationship with him was if she had “sexual freedom”. Sexual freedom, according to this “expert”, meant that this man should allow his wife to sleep with whoever she pleases because it will give her power, lessen her jealously and make her happy. This is how this couple now lives in their relationship (he is not allowed to sleep with anyone though, power to them if this is working for them).

The second commenter echoed the first and said that people with BPD cannot be in long-term relationships unless it is an open relationship.

I am horrified at these statements. These are my thoughts:

1.  BPD individuals do often display sexual impulsivity and have many sexual partners. It is a stereotype though to think that it is because of this that they are incapable of living happily in a monogamous long-term relationship! It is simply untrue and I have experienced that in my own life.

2. The idea that sexual freedom means allowing your partner to cheat is disgusting. Sexual freedom, at least to me, does mean being able to sleep with who you want, yes, but not willy-nilly, as a way to cope with emotional chaos. Sexual freedom means expressing yourself, being safe from STI’s, having protection from pregnancy, having sex free from discrimination, and exploring what turns you on. Cheating on your spouse IS NOT sexual freedom!

3. This stupid theory of needing to cheat in order to be in a long-term relationship DOES NOT come close to addressing the underlying emotional issues often associated with the sexual behaviour. Sex can be a way of coping, a way of hurting yourself and if you have a history of sexual violence it is a whole other complicated and sensitive matter. To follow this theory is to believe that there is no pain behind what is sometimes extremely impulsive behaviour.

4. This idiotic theory uses BPD as a scapegoat. If you are in a bad relationship and one person in it experiences BPD then it must be their fault and they need to be fixed (I have been there, done that and it blows!). Chalking up unhappiness in your partner who experiences BPD as needing to sleep with other people absolves you from actually supporting your partner and looking at your role in the relationship. You blame them when maybe you are doing something wrong that makes them feel they need to look outside of their relationship with you.

5. It hurts me down to my core that this is “expert” advice. I can’t imagine how many lives this type of inaccurate information destroys, who many people desperately want help and do not receive it because of garbage “science” and stereotypes.

6. Maybe for some couples and open relationship is what works for them. I am totally fine with that! I have known people who are very happy in an open relationship. But, to use it as a “treatment” is wrong. I find it especially wrong that it is not a two-way street, only one partner gets to sleep with others, which to me is not open at all.

When we look at the real facts about sexual behaviour and those experiencing BPD there are trends, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me. Women (there have been no studies a BPD men and sexual behaviour) who experience BPD generally have greater sexual impulsivity as indicated by:

  • higher levels of sexual preoccupation
  • earlier sexual exposure
  • more casual sexual relationships
  • a greater number of different sexual partners (although what is “greater” is not said)
  • promiscuity (what that “scientifically” means….who picks this number?!?!)
  • homosexual experiences (can you actually count that? Sexuality is fluid)

Women with BPD are also more likely to have been victims of sexual assault.

Please view the full review here. (This report was sent to me by a peer and social worker who I trust)

If there is one message I could pass on to you out of all of this it’s that THE HEALTHIER YOU ARE, THE HEALTHIER YOUR LIFE WILL BE! 

From my own experience, certain impulsive behaviours (like the ones listed above) lessened the more I worked on my emotion regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal communication. It’s easier to be in long-term relationships when I felt safe, emotionally healthy and had supports. I hope no one ever listens to “advice” these “experts” give (no mental health professional I have worked with has ever suggested I enter an open relationship and I can tell you it would NOT have helped) and realize that unless an open relationship is something you truly want, you can find happiness by working on yourself and ensuring you are with a supportive partner.


23 thoughts on “BPD, Sexual Behaviour & Long-Term Relationships

  1. Amen, Sister! You tell it! Pseudo-science is junk science and should come with a warning label stating so. i is ridiculous that this junk is even taken seriously by anyone, much less one wearing the moniker of ‘Doctor’. It is disgusting that they made those suggestions.

  2. With doctors like that, it is no wonder people with issues don’t trust’m or have much faith that they are any good at their jobs. You cannot use black and white blanket statement like that and do no harm; he took that oath. Shame on him!

    So glad you are good at standing up to warthogs like that. It is folks like yourself that make change happen!

    Good for you K! ❤

    • I know lol I have always found it amusing that people experiencing BPD are condemned for having black and white thinking but yet that is how doctors view them!

      Thank you, as always, for your great comments and support!

  3. I totally agree with you.
    That “expert” advice is unbelievable and full of ignorance.
    I personally have sex-related issues, as well as the whole set of “typical” emotional and behavioral BPD disregulations, but there’s no way in the whole world that having casual sex would help me and “cure” me — while being in a relationship with a man who’s not entitled to do the same! That’s a ridiculous and unprofessional thing to say for an expert.
    I have nothing against open relationships, my very own current relationship originally started as an open one, but that was not because my BPD diagnosis made it mandatory, or because I’m not able of having long-term relationships, or whatever. That would be bulls#it.

    • My mind was blown when I read the comments and I’m glad to hear that you are on the same page as I am! If a doctor had suggested an open relationship to me as a “solution” to my relationship problems I would leave their office so fast. It is unprofessional. It really is encouraging a problematic behaviour. It also sounds like these doctors are saying we can’t have meaningful sexual relationships.

  4. What horrible advice, I speak from experience. I suffer from BPD and I was given this advice by a person who purports themselves to be an expert and sort of spiritual guide in the BDSM community. The open relationship was a disaster, my emotions became even more unstable than they were before. When the smoke cleared from the wreckage I was served with divorce papers from my primary partner and a restraining order from my secondary partner. I was strung out on opiates and I was homeless. I hurt a lot of innocent people and I destroyed my reputation within a community that is very important to me. I can’t think of any advice that could have been more damaging than this was.

    • That is horrible! I’m sorry you had to experience that! There is clearly no such thing as an expert, especially when it comes to your life UNLESS it is you! How did you cope after? (If you don’t mind me asking)

      • I didn’t cope at all, I completely fell apart. I was homeless and living on the streets for almost three months. Eventually some friends found out about my situation and bought me a plane ticket and gave me a place to stay in New York.

        After three months in New York I found a job and was able to get a place of my own. I’m clean and sober nine months today. I’m a bit more stable by not well at all.

  5. “This idiotic theory uses BPD as a scapegoat.”
    Oh, girl. You’re always right on the money, but that point in particular stuck with me. It’ll be my mental-floss for the evening.
    P.S.: you rule. 😀

    • Ha ha why thank you! Hearing these people talk this way just took me back to my previous relationship were all relationship problems or problems my ex had with himself were MY FALUT….how could this be possible? It’s easier to blame the “defective” person.

      Thanks for your comment!

  6. I know they haven’t done studies on men and BPD much which they probably should and I would volunteer to participate in one. I have been less then smart when it has comes to sex and apparently have a higher amount of partners then most males, and all but 2 of my partners were completely casual sex, and I did have some possible sex abuse as a child, I however cannot remember enough details to confirm it, but I recall an older girl doing stuff with me when I was around 5, she was much older and probably a sitter but impossible to know since my memory isn’t able to provide much.

    I have only had 2 relationships, the first one broke down for reasons relating to being bpd and her being unable or unwilling to learn about and try to work things out.

    My current partner we are going on 2 years now and it could not be more perfect, she understands, she is there for me, and best part of all she doesn’t trigger me and that is rare. She also is very accepting and open about mental illness as she is bipolar and I think we just understand how hard life is with mental health issues and accept each other and our problems and just don’t see them as a hurdle. We get along today just as good as we did when we met.

    An open relationship would screw my head up, would be the worst thing possible, horrible idea for me and I hope no doctor ever suggests such a thing.

    • I’m so glad your current relationship is going well 🙂 Having someone who understands you is the best!!!

      I have been hearing lately that idea idea that BPD affects more women is completely wrong. Some research speculates the rate of occurrence is equal. I guess the symptoms appear differently given how men and women are socialized. I hope there can be more research done about men soon!

      • Another issue is less men end up in the psychiatric hospital when they have symptoms appear and end up in jail instead since men are perceived differently when in that state of mind over women, so while a women in the same situation may be taken in for an evaluation, men tend to be taken to jail instead.

  7. Pingback: Good Morning Discrimination! | Pride in Madness

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