8 Traits of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Hi there Psych2Goers, this is a disclaimer that this article is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to treat or diagnose any condition. If you’re struggling, please reach out to a qualified mental health professional.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a widely misunderstood personality disorder. It’s a common condition characterized by intense moods and rocky relationships, but also receives a lot of negative attention and stigmatization. To better understand some of the traits of BPD, in this article, we’ll be taking a look at eight traits of the disorder.

If you’d like to learn more about BPD, we have an article covering 10 facts about the condition for more background.

1. You Have an Intense Fear of Abandonment

The most prominent feature of BPD relates to an extraordinary fear of abandonment. This fear may often lack logical backing to support it. With this fear, you may take action to avoid separation; you may find yourself clinging to those around you and limiting them from leaving you. On the other hand, if you sense someone is drifting away, your feelings towards them can intensely shift and actively push them away. This intense fear puts strains on relationships and can confuse each party involved (Smith 2020). 

2. You Have Intense Mood Swings

Mood swings happen in a multitude of psychiatric disorders, but are rather unique in BPD. They’re often extremely intense and can occur with little provocation. People with BPD often report that their emotions are like being on a roller coaster; that their moods shift up and down quickly. Rapidly switching through any sort of mood can be extremely tiring and may lead to harmful behaviors (Mayo Clinic 2019).

3. Your Relationships Are Chaotic and Unstable

BPD has a major impact on your relationships. On one hand, you may fall head over heels in love with someone and put them on a pedestal. However, those feelings can turn quickly into hatred and resentment when they make a mistake. This is known as splitting and can abruptly end relationships that otherwise were going well. Relationships with BPD often involves an understanding of the condition along with intervention from qualified professionals to be successful (Salters-Pedneault 2020).

4. You Feel Paranoid

BPD can affect your ability to handle stress. In some cases, you may become paranoid that others are trying to wrong you. In more extreme cases, it is possible to dissociate; feeling out of touch with your body or unable to process your surroundings. The paranoia can further make relationships difficult as you find it impossible to trust others. You may find yourself cutting people out your life out of fear, yet have little evidence to prove their motive (Smith 2020). 

5. You Partake In Risky Behaviors

With BPD, you may find yourself engaging in thrill seeking behaviors. These are often impulsive and can have major consequences later on. People with BPD may get into fights, abuse substances, or spend an extraordinary amount of money. Generally these are done as unhealthy coping mechanisms when you’re in a bad mood. They can have serious consequences that effect your health and well being (Mayo Clinic 2019).

6. You Feel Empty

With BPD, you may feel chronic, hopeless, and an immense amount of emptiness. This feeling can be difficult to cope with, which is why many turn to activities to “fill the void.” You may feel worthless and struggle to escape that feeling on your own. Turning to risky and impulsive behaviors may be tempting, but do little to help the feeling (Smith 2020).

7. You Have Thoughts About Self-Injury/Suicide

Self-harm is common among people with BPD as a coping mechanism. Similarly, it is common to turn to suicidal actions. People with BPD may threaten, plot, or even attempt suicide. This can be a result of the inner turmoil, or can be a way to coerce others. It is important to know that suicidal thinking should be treated as an emergency and getting immediate help should be a top priority (NAMI 2017). 

8. You Have an Unstable Self-Image

People with BPD tend to have changing and conflicting views of themselves. You may find yourself switching values or career paths frequently; maybe one day you want to be a mechanic then a doctor the next. In some cases you may find your views of yourself to switch from two extremes; at one moment you may think of yourself as wonderful, but the next think that you’re thoroughly toxic. It can be difficult to know who you truly are and what you stand for (Mayo Clinic 2019).

BPD is a condition that’s name is thrown around a lot, however, there’s much misinformation related to it. Like any disorder, it is real and it is treatable. If you’re struggling, it’s best to get in contact with a qualified mental health professional to get on a better path, both interpersonally and intrapersonally. What are your thoughts on this article? What have been some of your experiences? Let us know in the comments!


  • Mayo Clinic. (2019, July 17). Borderline personality disorder – Symptoms and causes. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237
  • NAMI. (2017, December). Borderline personality disorder | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Borderline-Personality-Disorder
  • Salters-Pedneault, K. (2020, September 17). Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment. Verywell Mind. www.verywellmind.com/what-is-borderline-personality-disorder-bpd-425487
  • Smith, M., & Segal, J. (2020, September). Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) – HelpGuide.org. HELPGUIDEORG INTERNATIONAL. www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-disorders/borderline-personality-disorder.htm

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