Borderline Personality Disorder and Sexual Orientation
Borderline Personality and Identity
Most people with BPD (borderline personality disorder) experience frustration with their sexuality at some point in their lives. Many with BPD identify as bisexual since there is a definite tendency for those with the disorder to be interested in both men and women during their lives. But "bisexual" doesn't quite describe the way that BPD sexuality typically works.
People with BPD experience difficulty with holding onto one particular identity throughout their lives. Instead, a person with BPD has an identity that is very fluid and ever-changing, much more so than someone's personality is without BPD. This applies to major interests in life: career paths, friendships, and core beliefs. It also applies to minor things that people use to define their personality: hair color, taste in music, fashion sense. It also applies to a person's sexuality.
All or Nothing - How BPD Affects Sexuality
While sexual orientation is not a choice, borderline personality disorder does play a role in a person's sexual preference. The disorder can sway a person all the way to one side or all the way to the other, when naturally, they might have lingered somewhere mid-spectrum.
That's why, while many individuals with BPD identify as bisexual, being bisexual with borderline personality disorder is very different than being bisexual without BPD.
A large percentage of people with BPD are technically bisexual: they're interested in both men and women. However, the frustration for many bisexual people with borderline personality disorder is that their interest can swing from men all the way over to women, and vice versa, without much notice.
This is connected to one of the hallmark symptoms of borderline personality disorder, known as "black and white thinking".
Borderline Personality and Black and White Thinking
Promiscuity, Bisexuality and Borderline Personality Disorder
Many people, including psychiatrists, label this type of flexibility as "promiscuity". While suffering from such an isolating disorder can sometimes cause a person to turn to sexual contact for comfort, that is a very separate issue from this one, and should not be combined into the same category.
"Sexual promiscuity" is a term often similarly used to define bisexuality, simply because of a general lack of understanding of the science and psychology of individuals who are attracted to both genders. It is not about just liking "anything and everything," as is commonly thought. In fact, most bisexual individuals, with BPD or without, have very exacting and very particular tastes, preferences, and types--even more so than their heterosexual counterparts.
Mindfulness and Borderline Personality Disorder
While there's nothing wrong with bisexuality or varying preferences, those with borderline personality disorder may find themselves on a wild rollercoaster of changing identities and interests. This applies to romance and sexuality, but also to nearly every other aspect of life.
Mindfulness is an essential part of slowing down that wild ride and gaining back control. With workbooks like the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook and others, learning mindfulness is something you can do at home, on your own time.
Even if you're considering joining a DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) group, which is highly recommended for those struggling with BPD and their loved ones, or you're goinig to one-on-one DBT therapy, working through a self-help workbook can be a great intro or supplement to those treatments.
Reinvention and Healing from BPD
People with BPD are the masters of reinvention, which is often looked at as flawed, or as "dishonest," when in reality, it can simply be an advantageous personality trait. People with borderline have difficulty finding a permanent sense of self and settling on one identity to carry through their entire lives, which can cause an internal struggle if the person doesn't see the positive side of this trait and appreciate his or her individual peculiarities.
But when a person accepts this fluid type of personality, it actually allows him or her to live a very fulfilling, and exceptionally eclectic, life. Like cats have 9 lives, so do those with borderline personality disorder.
And even though the sexuality of a person with borderline personality disorder may be just as fluid and prone to change, it does not mean that they are less capable of love. Studies actually show that long-term devoted love and sexual preference are separate, but that they do influence each other. So, with a partner who understands this part of you, just like any other personality trait, a person with borderline personality disorder can have a long and happy relationship with someone who they are devoted to, physically and emotionally.
© 2015 Sarah B