What Does It Mean When Someone With BPD Has a 'Favorite Person?'

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What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a condition marked by intense emotions and moods which are not easily contained. 

Of the 1.4% of adults in the United States living with BPD, a common thread that runs through them is a special connection to a person in their lives. This individual is often described as their ‘favorite person,' and may be anyone from a teacher, to a best friend, or even a family member. 

However, because of the nature of this condition, the favorite person connection may sometimes swing between extreme love and attachment, to a strong dislike. This switch may occur when the person with BPD perceives that their emotional needs aren’t being adequately met.

What Is A Favorite Person?

Favorite Person in BPD

While it’s normal to have a person that makes you happy with their presence and regular communication, a person with BPD views their favorite person (FP) as someone they cannot live without. 

Explaining this phenomenon, licensed therapist and BPD specialist Lara Slimmer, LPC, NCC explains, “Individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder metaphorically straddle a fence each day between normality and abnormality, tranquility and upheaval.” It is during these vulnerable periods that a person with BPD is most likely to reach out for support and stability from their favorite person.

The attachment to the favorite person is so strong that someone with BPD may consider extreme actions like moving cities or making threats to maintain their favorite person’s attention.

Jan Roberts, DSW, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker goes further to explain, “Unfortunately, most people with BPD have challenges in creating and sustaining safe, reciprocal relationships without having intense fears of abandonment and insecurity.”

Therefore, while a favorite person may provide some validation and comfort to someone with BPD, it becomes important to draw boundaries in the relationship to avoid unhealthy interactions.

Signs You Have A Favorite Person

A usual theme found in people living with BPD is a history of trauma. Dr. Roberts highlights the fact that this condition often, “results from not receiving validation of their emotional experiences by caregivers.”

In reaction to this, a person with BPD may conjure a close connection with a favorite person who becomes the object of their attention, adoration, and sometimes even indifference.

Counseling psychologist and psychotherapist, Shagoon Maurya, identifies signs that suggest a person with BPD has a favorite person:

You Experience Jealousy

A favorite person is the center of attention of an individual living with BPD. This means they consider this person as a trusted friend, confidant, and counselor all wrapped in one. Dr. Roberts notes that the person with BPD demonstrates an “anxious-preoccupied attachment style.”

This attachment may produce feelings of envy when a favorite person happens to spend time with others, compliment them, or place their time and feelings above that of the person with BPD.

Understandably, this can be demanding and isolating to a favorite person and is indicative of an unhealthy attachment.

You Need A lot of Attention

Maurya explains that a person with BPD can feel “an extreme need to seek constant supply of attention from the favorite person.”

In such cases, the favorite person is always expected to be available and attuned to the needs of the person with BPD. This means counting on the favorite person to:

  • Receive calls
  • Respond to messages
  • Anticipate visits

All of these actions may be expected of the favorite person even if it's inconvenient for the favorite person.

You Create Fantasies Around Them

In the eye of the person with BPD, their favorite person is unable to do anything wrong. In certain cases, to support this view, a person with BPD may make up a scenario where their favorite person is connected to them in the way the former aspires to connect with them.

This made-up world also positions the favorite person as being properly responsive to the emotional needs of a person with BPD.

You're Eager to Please Them

A person with BPD may be so invested in their favorite person that they idealize the stances and opinions they happen to hold.

A person with BPD may adopt the preferred preferences of their favorite person. They may change their opinion of a sports team if their favorite person happens to be in favor of or against them. These changes are made to match with, or perhaps forge a closer bond with the favorite person.

You Swing Between Hot and Cold

Despite a favorite person being the recipient of attention, praise, and near idolization by a person with BPD, these emotions can change very swiftly in reaction to supposed changes in the favorite person.

Jan Roberts, DSW, LCSW

As a favorite person, if there is any sense of boundary setting or unmatched intensity of emotion within the favorite, the person with BPD will begin to vilify and may even resort to abusive tactics.

— Jan Roberts, DSW, LCSW

This change in the person with BPD is usually an emotional response. They may fear that abandonment by their favorite person is imminent and will choose to push them away instead.

Signs You Are a Favorite Person

It’s easy to consider the adoration and attention a favorite person receives, as signs of a harmless relationship, one that could be easily likened to having a best friend. However, the expectations placed on a favorite person, as well as downsides when these aren’t met can reveal the true nature of favorite person connection.

Maurya highlights signs that you might be someone's favorite person below.

You're Their First Point of Contact

Whether it's in celebration of a work promotion, to complain about a headache, or to share thoughts about a new moisturizer—a favorite person is always updated, and the first to know about new developments in the person with BPD's life.

You Feel Responsible for Their Mood Changes

A favorite person may feel a need to manage the fleeting moods of a person with BPD. At the first sign of annoyance, the favorite person may feel pressured to lighten their disposition. They may also find that they are relieved when the person with BPD reaches out in good spirits.

You Constantly Offer Reassurance

Because a person with BPD swivels between multiple emotions (i.e., emotional dysregulation) and constant fear of abandonment, it is usually up to the favorite person to provide them with calm and assurance of love and appreciation.

You Feel Admired and Needed 

A person with BPD considers their favorite person to be above wrong. They are never shy to express their feelings and will be sure to include their favorite person in daily decisions and activities.

The favorite person is usually aware of the considerable influence they wield over the choices a person with BPD makes, all of which can contribute to the favorite person feeling important to this one person.

You Think About Them When You Make Decisions

A favorite person is often on the receiving end of the strong emotions held by a person with BPD. This means observing their joy when the favorite person makes time to be with them, or shouldering mean words or a cold shoulder upon refusing the wishes of a person with BPD.

To avoid tantrums, and to ensure peace reigns with a person with BPD, a favorite person will find that they put the person with BPD into consideration when making decisions that might affect them.

What to Know About Being a Favorite Person

Playing the role of confidant, chief assurer, and companion to a person with BPD can often blur the lines of what this type of relationship really is. Maurya straightens things out by explaining that, “it is an unhealthy form of attachment, and requires too much emotional effort to sustain.”

To avoid getting sucked too deeply into the whirlpool of this attachment, it is important that a favorite person draws healthy boundaries. This will prevent manipulation into a longstanding and unhealthy situation with a person with BPD.

How to Draw Healthy Boundaries as a Favorite Person

If you find that you're someone's designated favorite person, here are some ways that you can create healthy boundaries to protect your emotional health and theirs:

  • Identify and Communicate Your Boundaries: For example, clarify times of the day when you do not wish to be contacted. You can also discuss how often you're comfortable with providing emotional support.
  • Challenge Boundary Violations: It isn’t enough to wag a finger in disapproval when a person with BPD shows up at your home unannounced or throws a tantrum in response to a missed call. A favorite person has to make it clear that these actions violate the boundaries of the relationship and will not be tolerated.
  • Make Realistic Promises: A favorite person may feel pressured to make promises that ease the worries of the person with BPD. These promises may, however, only worsen the unhealthy relationship with the person with BPD. Only offer what you can realistically give so that you don't overextend yourself or consistently break promises to the person with BPD.

A Word From Verywell

If you're a friend, partner, or family member of someone with BPD and you're their favorite person, remember to set healthy boundaries. If you have BPD and are in need of mental health support, help is available to you.

If you or a loved one are struggling with BPD, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Elizabeth Plumptre
Elizabeth is a freelance health and wellness writer. She helps brands craft factual, yet relatable content that resonates with diverse audiences.