Those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and their family members, relationship partners – non borderlines – have intersecting reality where common ground is encountered. This common ground, however, is not experienced in the same way by the borderline and the non borderline. Thus, even when common ground is recognized, more often than not, it is common ground that stems from facets of unhealthy relating, to varying degrees, that need to be addressed in order for growth, change, healing, and recovery on both sides of Bordeline Personality Disorder.

At first glance, one might assume that it is just the people diagnosed with BPD that need to grow, change, heal, and to recover. This is not the case, however. Most, if not all, non borderlines, who have been in close relationship to someone with BPD (family member, partner or ex-partner) also need to quest after their own understanding, their own disengagement, and their own recovery.



There are several areas where those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and those who are non borderline or non-personality disordered do meet if you will and find common ground. I will be exploring some of those "meeting places" in up-coming blogs.

The first common ground reality between those with BPD and non borderlines I want to illuminate here is the need for change and the fear of that needed and/or wanted change.

Both those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and those who know and/or love (or have loved them) referred to as non borderlines will find common ground, though in their own individual ways, when it comes to the need for and the fear of change.

Those with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and those who are non borderline struggle with mindfully radically accepting the awareness that tries to rise from within. While the defense mechanisms employed against this awareness that tries to make itself known aren’t the same, the results can often be similar for both the borderline and the non borderline.

Both those with BPD and those who are non borderline, when they come together in relationships that are often toxic and dysfunctional need to create change in order to take care of themselves, separately, whether the relationships remain intact or not.


A.J. has an audio program, available now on the subject of CHANGEHealing and Recovery ($10.99) that will be of benefit to those with BPD and Non Borderlines.

This audio program is an enlightening examination about the ins and outs of change. The reality is that change is a part of all of our lives. It is more challenging for some people than others in various ways. However, the challenge of the newness of any change is often what inhibits our ability to achieve much-desired and/or much-needed change. This is the challenge for anyone, whether they have BPD or not.


The truth is that much of what each individual needs and wants to know about the questions and the sought after answers desired in his or her own experience in life are really housed deep within each individual. Why is it that, often, these answers seem or actually are so elusive?

Simply put the awareness that you need to tap into that does exist within you is blocked by your efforts to defend against it.

No one really absolutely consciously sets out to defend against their own inner-wisdom. This often happens though. This internal battle, whether you have BPD, or are a non borderline, is powerful for so many reasons. It is powerful because people tend to believe their own illusions.

It is powerful because old habits truly do die hard. Old patterned and habitual ways of relating, for both those with BPD and non borderlines can date back to unresolved issues from childhood.

It is powerful because those with BPD are unaware of their own cognitive distortions. It is powerful for non borderlines because they believe (at least for a time) the stories that they tell themselves about what is unfolding in relationship to those with BPD that are designed to prevent loss. Non borderlines, being human, struggle in many ways with and against loss as well. Many non borderlines find it especially difficult and puzzling really when it comes to the lack of resolution when a relationship isn’t working or has to end or has ended with someone with BPD. Non borderlines often block the very change that they most need by over-focusing on the person with BPD. Non borderlines need to address this and can Break Free of The Borderline Maze and find the change that will be their process of healing and recovery.

Those who have BPD often struggle even harder and more profoundly against loss because experiencing any loss re-ignites some awareness of the abandonment trauma and pain that you are so desperately trying to outrun. It is also loss that leaves borderlines so emotionally dysregulated that they often try to control others because they do not know how to control themselves – and they often are not aware enough of the ways in which they tend to psychologically live through "other" due to the absence of a known self.

Recognizing Both The Need To Change and The Fear of Change

The need for change, however you might define that change in your life, whether you have BPD or not, will make itself known to you when you are in pain and when things aren’t working either in your life or in your relationship(s).

The fear of change might not be the first thing that you realize about your own experience. There are many human and compelling reasons why people continue to do what they know better than. That is what old habits and patterns are. And old habits and patterns are sometimes all one knows at a given time. That is why they say, when you know better, you will do better.

The need for change is often recognized by a common motivator – pain. Pain can sometimes be expressed as anger or rage before the borderline is in touch with the fact that they are actually in pain. The need for change is often realized when negatives begin to far-outweigh positives. The need for change arises when the borderline fears abandonment and when the non borderline fears the loss of him or herself. The need for change, generally, arises when we are out of balance and when we are not meeting, or not able to meet our own needs.

For the borderline fear of change is a staple of the borderline false self. It is a threat to existence as one knows it or to whatever extent one knows, feels, and/or experiences it. For the borderline fear of change is often an unconscious feeling that lies under the borderline’s conscious awareness because change requires both choice and the taking of personal responsibility – two things that many with BPD do not have the emotional maturity or psychological inter-personal skills to cope effectively with.

Change threatens the borderlines polarized ideas about right and wrong and about fair and unfair among many other polarized and distorted beliefs about what should be versus what is and what needs to be.

Non borderlines are often shell-shocked by many of the things that they experience on the other side of BPD and it can take time to come to terms with catching up to what is actually happening. For non borderlines loss can be formidable. Unlike, those with BPD, however, most non borderlines have the coping skills to deal with loss. This notwithstanding, however, non borderlines often fear change and loss because they will then have to look at themselves as well.

The need for change will keep pulling on your psyche and be brought to your attention over and over again, whether you are borderline or non borderline until you start to heed its message and explore what it is that you actually need to address.


A.J. has an audio program for non borderlines who need to find their own way to change, growth, healing and recovery as the result of having been in a relationship with someone with BPD. Breaking Free of The Borderline Maze Recovery For Non Borderlines


Recognizing the need for change and the fear you may well have of that change is the gateway toward opening up to the awareness inside of you that seeks to get your attention whether you are someone with BPD or a non borderline who loves (loved) or cares (cared) about someone with BPD.

In my audio program, CHANGEHealing and Recovery (for those with BPD and/or Non borderlines) I talk about why change is so important. I talk about the significance of self-concept (or lack thereof) in the process of change along with the reality that the foundation of all change is choice. I outline common obstacles to change and the wonderful gifts that we can be blessed with when we enter a process of change and remain dedicated to it in ways that respect and celebrate our own unique needs and personal growth.

A great deal of the work that I do with people who are borderlines or non borderlines that I work with as a life coach revolves around the need to address the paradox of the need for change and the fear of change.

Change Is a Journey and a Process

Change is a journey and a process that can only begin when you make an active choice to pursue it. You can only make an active choice to pursue it when you are aware of what you need and want.



Mindful radical acceptance of what is will slowly, over time, as you practise this skill create the space from which new awareness can arise. It is this new awareness, especially for those with BPD, that will provide an impetus to explore what is behind both the need for change and the fear of what one needs.

There are many obstacles to change. Many of those obstacles are individual ones. The primary obstacles to change are born out of what it is that we actually think and believe. This is true for both those with BPD and for non borderlines.

Emotions are a major obstacle to change. Why? Because they often will lead both the borderline and the non borderline away from rising awareness and lead to reactionary patterned responses that don’t create or even leave room for change.

What and how you think, whether you are borderline or non borderline, is also a formidable obstacle to change.

"What you resist, will continue to persist

Begin today by asking yourself questions about what you feel and what is going on in your life that may not be working or meeting your needs. It is only from asking honest questions that one can even begin to understand what exactly one needs to know in order to create change. The answers to the questions that you begin to pose will reveal to you the change that you most need in your life.

For those who have Borderline Personality Disorder there is an inherent cognitive split that must be overcome between the need for change and the fear of change that is the false self protection against change that blocks the awareness so needed to create the change necessary to get on the road to recovery.

If you have BPD you likely fear change because change is a process that has to out the ghosts of your core wound of abandonment. It is a process that will insist upon actively choosing to work to resolve your unresolved abandonment trauma and pain.

If you are a non borderline, you too may have some fear of change. Change brings with it, for all of us, some degree or other of the unknown. Most people prefer the comfort of the known – even when it hurts like hell.

The pain of what is known must be experienced and re-experienced enough times until one, whether borderline or non borderline, gets to the point where the pain of what is out-weighs the pain and fear associated with that unknown, whatever that unknown is to you in your life.

Borderlines and non borderlines, though having much in experience, thought, perception, and emotional experience that is different do have common struggles, each in their own way, when it comes to the need for change and the co-existence of the fear of that most needed change simultaneously. This is the case because underneath the labels and the reality of those labels – personality-disordered or non-personality disordered, borderline, or non borderline is the commonality of being human.

© A.J. Mahari – July 6, 2008


A.J. Mahari is a Life Coach who, among other things, specializes in working with those with BPD and non borderlines. A.J., is a woman who has recovered from BPD, had 2 parents with BPD and had a relationship (6 years after her own recovery) with someone with BPD and has also walked many a mile on the non borderline side of BPD since her recovery. A.J. has 5 years experience as a life coach and has worked with hundreds of clients from all over the world.


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Borderline – Non Borderline Common Ground