I find it difficult to explain to anyone who doesn't have borderline personality disorder (BPD) how a favorite-person (FP) relationship works.
I often have people tease me or make comments about how attached I am. They don’t understand how I feel like I wouldn’t be able to function without that person. It’s intense, but it’s a part of living with BPD. I’m not “crazy” or “obsessed,” I just need a little bit of extra help sometimes.
My FP happens to be my best friend. I have been very open with her about my BPD, and that she’s my favorite person. At this point in my life, I’m pretty dependent on her. My emotions change depending on how she feels or how often I see her. I don’t like it, but I’ve learned to live with it and find healthy ways to cope. Together, my FP and I have worked really hard on communicating our needs and setting boundaries.
Here are a few ways I make sure our relationship stays healthy.
Focusing on Myself While She is Away
I struggle when she’s gone. That’s something I’m learning to deal with, but I am dealing with it. I just make sure to do a little extra self-care and go to therapy if I need it while she is away. I know she worries about me when she goes on vacation, but I assure her that I am okay.
Asking Before Venting
One of the boundaries we’ve set is knowing when I can vent to her. Sometimes I used to vent without first asking if it was okay. And if she was having a bad day or didn’t have the energy to handle my problems, she sometimes gave me a much shorter answer. This would cause my anxiety and BPD to convince me that she was mad at me. Now, I ask before emotionally venting to her, and it works much better for both of us.
Talking Instead of Texting
When we start going in circles about an issue over text, we will switch to talking on the phone. It can be so hard to understand a person’s tone over text, and my brain spirals out of control and takes everything the wrong way. Phone calls are helpful because I can hear my FP’s voice and know she’s not mad at me.
Additionally, she used to immediately call me whenever she could see I was getting upset over text, and it would make me feel like I’d said or done something wrong. Now, she asks me if I would like her to call, which helps me feel less panicked.
Reaching Out to Other People For Support
I have so many fantastic and supportive friends, but I have a tendency to rely only on my favorite person. I know that she can’t be my sole support system, which is why I’ve been trying to reach out and spend one-on-one time with other friends. It made me feel anxious at first, but it’s slowly getting easier.
Because of our communication and boundaries, my FP and I have a great relationship now. I still feel like a burden sometimes, but she continues to be there for me. BPD often comes with a lot of abandonment issues, and she always tells me that I’m not alone and that she’s not leaving. I don’t think I can express how much that means to me.
I’m fortunate that my FP is someone who supports me. I am so grateful for her, and even though I don’t understand what she sees in me, she is also grateful for me. It works for us. And we want to give others hope that a favorite-person relationship doesn’t have to be unhealthy.
Alicen Ricard is a writer, podcaster and animal lover who spends her free time trying to de-stigmatize mental illness. When she’s not doing that, she can be found crocheting, knitting, sewing or reading.