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Last Updated on November 8, 2023

There are multiple strategies that can help in saying no to someone with borderline personality disorder. These include clear communication, setting boundaries, and acknowledging their emotions and sentiments.


Saying “no” to someone is always difficult, despite it being an effortless word. The fear of hurting the other person eats you from the inside and makes you feel guilty about your act. As a result, you overcommit and again put yourself in a never-ending loop of guilt. People often struggle to say no because of a multitude of factors. Similarly, certain mental health conditions are difficult to deal with. Borderline personality disorder is one of them. It is extremely hard to say no to someone with borderline personality disorder and this is exactly what we are going to discuss in this blog.

This blog focuses on talking about the traits of borderline personality disorder, how it affects relationships and answers the most frequently asked question, “How to say no to someone with a borderline personality disorder?

Traits of Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is characterized by a pattern of unstable relationships, self-image, and sentiments. Individuals with BPD may present a range of traits and behaviors, which might help us understand why it is so hard saying no to someone with borderline personality disorder.

  • Extreme Mood Swings: Frequent and rapid fluctuations in emotional states, including anger, depression, and anxiety.
  • Fear of Abandonment: An inherent fear of being abandoned, leading to clinginess or efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
  • Unstable Relationships: Difficulty in maintaining stable, healthy relationships due to idealization and devaluation of others.
  • Impulsive Behavior: Engaging in impulsive thoughts and risky behaviors, such as reckless driving, substance abuse, or unsafe sex.
  • Identity Crisis: An unstable self-image or sense of self, often leading to confusion about one’s goals, values, and identity.
  • Feelings of Loneliness: A deep and persistent sense of emptiness, loneliness, and boredom often leads to impulsive actions to tone down these feelings.
  • Self-harm or Suicidal Thoughts: Repetitive self-harming behaviors or threats of suicide.
  • Inappropriate Anger: Difficulty controlling anger, leading to intense, inappropriate outbursts.
  • Paranoia or Dissociation: Episodes of feeling disconnected from reality or experiencing paranoid thoughts. These actions may also worsen and turn into paranoid personality disorder for which various tests are designed and implemented for diagnosis.

Ways to Communicate with People with Borderline Personality Disorder

Communicating with people with borderline personality disorder is a delicate process that needs to be handled with care. People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) frequently experience an intense and baseless fear of being abandoned, even when there is no actual reason to stress it over. They perceive the risk of rejection as an ever-present danger in their relationships. In response to this fear, they often take proactive measures to avoid or prevent any perceived abandonment, even if it’s not justified by the situation. This fear of rejection is a core feature of BPD and can significantly impact their relationships and behavior. All this makes it challenging for them and their caregivers, resulting in unwanted conflicts. It is, therefore, crucial for the caregivers to take their time and understand where the other person is coming from to solve matters more realistically and without disputes.

This pretty much explains why it is so difficult to say no to someone with borderline personality disorder.

How to Say No to Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder?

The key to a successful relationship, be it personal or professional, is setting boundaries. The same rule applies to people with different mental health conditions like borderline personality disorder. Making them understand your point is challenging and you may struggle with it till you figure out how to communicate without triggering an episode.

There are a few strategies that can help in saying no to someone with borderline personality disorder.

Be clear and leave no room for vagueness:

Mincing words, trying to be less rude, or sugarcoating words will lead you nowhere. It is important to set a clear boundary with clear instructions and expressions to make the other person understand that you are doing it for your mental health and not to push them away. Be vocal about your point of view in a way that leaves no room for vagueness or confusion.

Acknowledge their feelings:

When talking to a person with borderline personality disorder or any other mental health condition, it is important to understand where they are coming from. They have an array of cluttered thoughts, and they don’t know how to put them in words. So, it becomes difficult for them to understand other’s feelings as well. The right way to deal with such situations is to acknowledge their emotions and thoughts, let them know that you do get their point, and handle them with care, love, and patience.

Don’t brush them off:

When they come to you and try to have a conversation regarding anything, don’t brush them off. They are afraid of people pushing them away. It is their biggest fear that people will leave them, and they will be left all alone to themselves. So, it is better to have them talk to you and pour their heart out so that they feel valued and secure.

Keep calm even if they are triggered:

People with borderline personality disorder often get triggered even by trivial things, which is quite normal for them. However, it is not normal for the other person, and people usually don’t understand or have an idea how to deal with such situations. Try to keep calm when you feel like they are triggered or not in the right frame of mind to listen to you. Make them feel valued and loved by listening to whatever they say and how they behave. You need to stay calm.

Affirm that your boundaries are for yourself and not to push them away:

It is important to tell them that whatever boundaries you are setting is for your own mental well-being and you are in no way pushing them away.

End Note

Saying no to someone with borderline personality disorder or other mental health issues is always painful and challenging. However, it is important to take care of our mental well-being while caring for others as well. This necessitates establishing healthy boundaries that can help you achieve a level of secure bond with them and also allow you to look after yourself. Furthermore, seeking professional help is always a good option when needed. People also reach out to clinical research organizations to enroll in clinical trials for borderline personality disorder. It is a great alternative, too.

Dr. Zara Khan

Dr. Zara is a Dentist with expert knowledge in Recruitment tactics. Coupled with her insight into Marketing and her love for understanding medical conditions, she is an integral addition to Revival’s Patient Recruitment Department. She is currently pursuing her MBA in Health and Hospital Management.

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