Is There a Connection Between Borderline Personality and Cheating?

People With BPD Often Struggle With Impulsive Behaviors

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Being in a relationship with someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can be an overwhelming and frustrating situation. Any relationship can have its ups and downs, but BPD-related issues exacerbate typical relationship problems.

However, being with someone with BPD doesn't mean your relationship is destined to fail. Many people have strong relationships with people with BPD, but some people have negative associations between BPD and infidelity.


Are People With BPD More Likely to Cheat?

There is currently no research that shows a connection between BPD and an increased likelihood of cheating. The rates of infidelity in those with BPD is approximately the same as other individuals. 

However, studies in the prevalence of cheating show that up to 70% of married men and women have cheated on their partners, so it is likely that some people with BPD will have cheated as well. Because of their condition and symptoms, relationship issues and hurt feelings stemming from infidelity can be worsened. 

Two of the key features of borderline personality are problems in relationships and problems with impulsive behavior; these symptoms can make cheating an even more emotional experience with severe consequences.

People with BPD often have an intense need to feel loved and accepted, along with a lot of ups and downs in their relationships. And, when they are feeling abandoned or rejected, they may engage in impulsive or risky behaviors.

This means that they might do things without considering the consequences of their actions, just to "feel better" in the short term. Certainly, infidelity could fall into this category.

Will People With BPD Assume Their Partner Is Cheating?

While those with BPD have the same likelihood of cheating as others, they do have a higher likelihood of suspecting their partners are cheating.

Part of BPD's symptoms is assuming the worst in others. Due to low self-esteem, they have difficulty believing that someone could love them and remain faithful to them. As such, they are more likely to assume that their partner will hurt them in some way. 

Because of fear of abandonment, those with BPD can be more suspicious and distrustful. They can become paranoid, assuming that their partners are going behind their backs. 

In turn, this negatively affects their loved ones and their relationships. If your partner with BPD accuses you wrongfully of cheating, you are likely to be angry, emotional and may even think about ending the relationship. In this sense, BPD can worsen relationship issues since the behavior actually encourages the relationship to end. 

While having BPD does not increase the risk of infidelity, BPD can be a huge strain on relationships for both people involved. If you or your loved one is struggling with symptoms of BPD, contact a healthcare provider or therapist. While anyone with BPD can benefit from treatment, going to therapy additionally as a couple can help you work through relationship issues and understand where your partner with BPD is coming from. Through your sessions, you'll both learn essential communication and coping skills that can help you through tough times and actually strengthen your relationship.



Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses, 5th edition. American Psychiatric Association, 2013. 

Kreger, R. "The Magical Fantasies of Borderlines and Narcissists". Psychology Today, 2012.