For anyone who is a family member, relationship or ex-relationship partner of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (often referred to as non borderlines) there is a central painful paradox that is a common experience. There are five main challenges to the world as you’ve known it or to the world as you might have thought it was going to be or wished it could have been. Each challenge faced by the non borderline arises out of what I refer to as this central and painful paradox on the other side of Borderline Personality Disorder.

The healthiest response that one can muster to this painful paradox on the other side of a loved one or family member with Borderline Personality Disorder hinges upon the degree to which you are ready, willing, and able to radically accept who your borderline loved one or family member is right now.

The first very formidable challenge to the non borderline is this radical acceptance. The second formidable challenge is the struggle to learn to disengage the chaotic roller coaster of the emotional reality of the borderline in one’s life. The third formidable challenge is to surrender any illusions that you have any control over whether your borderline family member or loved one is going to seek the help that they need and/or stick with therapy and get well.


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The fourth formidable challenge is even more daunting for many non borderlines – it is the challenge of where you put your energy and focus. It is the juncture at which you must seek to take care of the ‘self’ in you that has been compromised, hurt, and negatively effected by the very toxic nature of the unhealthy ways that those who have BPD tend to attempt to relate.

The fifth formidable challenge for the non borderline is the process of letting go. For some this process of letting go will be in response to having to end a significant other relationship with someone with BPD. It may be in response to having to end contact with a family member with BPD or to having had the person with BPD in your life end all contact with you. There is also a process of letting go for many non borderlines that doesn’t involve the termination of a relationship or the ending of all contact. Many non borderlines have to learn how to let go, essentially, even when they are still very much relating to a borderline family member or a borderline partner. Letting go in this context is about learning how to disengage and detach from the borderline’s issues and about learning to identify, implement, communicate, and up-hold healthier boundaries.

A.J. Mahari on the Painful Paradox On The Other Side of BPD


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If you are a family member, loved one, or a relationship partner of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, whether you stay in the relationship, keep relating to the borderline, or not, you will benefit from paying very close attention to the journey that is the recovery that you yourself need. You need to understand what you can about BPD – what is reasonable to know. Beyond that, however, seeking to figure something out that is really the borderline’s personal enigma to solve will only keep you stuck in the paradox of your own pain and suffering. It is so important to shift a lot of your focus off of the person with BPD – at least to the point where it is not so out of balance or in some cases rather obsessive and to practice kind, gentle, patient, and loving care of yourself and any children involved.

Know that even though you may love and care about the person with BPD in your life, you cannot rescue them. No matter how much you may want to or wish you could – you just can’t.

© A.J. Mahari, July 12, 2008 – All rights reserved.


A.J. Mahari is a Life Coach who, among other things, specializes in working with those with BPD and non borderlines. 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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Family Members Relationship Partners (Ex’s) – The Painful Paradox on the Other Side of Borderline Personality