Borderline Personality Disorder 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 has its ups and downs, but BPD-related issues can make typical relationship problems even worse. However, being with someone with BPD doesn't mean your relationship is destined to fail. Many people have strong relationships with someone who has BPD.

BPD and Cheating

Some people have negative associations between BPD and infidelity, but 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 for other individuals. However, studies in the prevalence of cheating show that up to 70 percent of married men and women have cheated on their partners, so it's quite likely that some people with BPD will have cheated as well.

Two of the key features of borderline personality are problems in relationships and problems with impulsive behavior. These symptoms can make any potential 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 choose these behaviors without considering the consequences of their actions in order to try to feel better in the short term. Certainly, infidelity could fall into this category.

BPD and Worry About Partner 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. One of BPD's symptoms is an assumption that others are going to cause hurt. 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 cause them pain in some way. 

Also, because of the overwhelming fear of abandonment that's a hallmark trait of BPD, they can be more suspicious and distrustful, assuming or even truly believing that their partners are messing around 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 you may even think about ending the relationship. In this sense, BPD can worsen relationship issues since this distrustful, accusing behavior actually encourages the relationship to end.

Couples Therapy May Be Helpful

While having BPD does not necessarily 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 mental health provider or therapist. While anyone with BPD can greatly benefit from treatment, going to therapy additionally as a couple can help you work through relationship issues and understand where your partner is coming from. Through your sessions, you'll both learn essential communication and coping skills that can help you through tough times and strengthen your relationship. 

View Article Sources
  • American Psychiatric Association (APA). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Washington, DC: 2013.