4 Types of Borderline Personality Disorder Explained

This article is for informative purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please reach out to a qualified mental health professional if you are struggling.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a condition centered around instability. It can show itself in many different ways causing it to be misdiagnosed as something else. Having BPD can make daily life a struggle and limit your ability to function, and it can vary in the way it presents itself. To better understand some of the different types of BPD, in this article, we’ll be looking at four subtypes.

What is BPD?

Borderline Personality Disorder is a cluster B personality disorder characterized by unstable moods, relationships, and self perception (Mayo Clinic 2019). You may experience severe mood swings that take place over a short period of time and impulsively cut off relationships with people. Other signs of BPD include:

  • Fear of abandonment
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Persistent empty feeling
  • Risky behavior
  • Paranoia

(Source: Mayo Clinic 2019)

BPD can make you feel that you’re not in control over your own actions, thus making daily life extremely difficult. BPD is not the same for everyone, so it may show itself in one of many forms.

Impulsive Subtype

People with the impulsive subtype of BPD tend to behave in ways that are unpredictable, risky, and attention-seeking (Lavender 2013). They have a tendency to crave attention and will go to great lengths to get it. In general, these people are admired for their charismatic nature, but relationships can be intensely unstable for each person (Socal Empowered 2021).

Discouraged Subtype

The discouraged subtype is characterized by co-dependency. People with it may find themselves following others rather than leading their own way (OPI 2018). They may have difficulties in confronting other people and will agree to situations in order to avoid conflict. They typically have issues in being overly attached to friends or new partners and are often described as “clingy” (Socal Empowered 2021).

Petulant Subtype

People that struggle with the petulant subtype are often described as having a poor temperament. They tend to have a negative outlook on the world and respond poorly to criticism and any sort of disappointment, like a person who has had a change of plans (OPI 2018). Relationships are usually short-lived and filled with impossibly high standards and quick punishments (OPI 2018). For example, a person with this subtype may cut off a friendship if they cancelled plans to hang out.

Self-Destructive Subtype

The last subtype relates to self-destructive tendencies. People with this form of BPD tend to behave in ways that harm themselves and can often go unnoticed by others (OPI 2018). They tend to have high levels of self-hatred and are highly critical of themselves (Lavender 2013). They may engage in risky and dangerous behaviors because they do not feel worthy of anything. People with this subtype also tend to punish themselves for their mistakes on extreme scales; like drinking excessively or self-harming (OPI 2018).


BPD is a highly stigmatized condition with one of the biggest stigmas that it’s impossible to treat. Worse, some people believe that therapists hate treating people with BPD, both are untrue. Fortunately, different therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (DBT), or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) have been shown to be highly effective at treating BPD (Fader 2017). It’s possible to get help and it’s possible to improve the quality of your life by reaching out to the right person.

BPD is a hard condition to live with and can be difficult to spot with it showing itself in many different ways. It’s important to get in touch with the right mental health professional if you find yourself struggling. Getting help for your mental health can be the first step into living a better life.

We would love to hear your thoughts about this topic in the comment section!


  • Fader, S. (2017, August 16). How To Recognize Borderline Personality Disorder | BetterHelp. BetterHelp. www.betterhelp.com/advice/personality-disorders/how-to-recognize-borderline-personality-disorder/?utm_source=AdWords
  • Lavender, N. (2013, October 16). Do You Know the 4 Types of Borderline Personality Disorder? Psychology Today. www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/impossible-please/201310/do-you-know-the-4-types-borderline-personality-disorder
  • Mayo Clinic. (2019, July 17). Borderline personality disorder – Symptoms and causes. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237
  • MedCircle. (2021, February 4). How to Spot the 4 Types of Borderline Personality Disorder [Video]. YouTube. www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNi9bEeFOQU
  • OPI Residential Treatment Center for Young Adults. (2018, September 25). The Four Types of Borderline Personality Disorder. Optimum Performance Institute. www.optimumperformanceinstitute.com/bpd-treatment/bpd-symptoms-examined/
  • Socal Empowered. (2021, February 18). The Four Types of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). socalempowered.com/the-four-types-of-borderline-personality-disorder-bpd/

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