Enlightened Living

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A Perspective on Borderline Relationships

Relationship styles and Borderline Personality Disorder

Non-BP is a non-clinical term originally coined by Kreger & Mason in the book Stop Walking on Eggshells. The term has since come into popular usage and describes individuals who are in a consistent, and sometimes significant, relationship with a person exhibiting a Borderline character, aspects of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD), or a formally diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). These people can be friends, spouses, lovers, offspring, co-workers, and extended family members, among others.

While Non-BP is a colloquial expression, and not a clinically defined condition or syndrome, the idea parallels that of the roles that people often take on in alcoholic families, or abusive relationships. It is also consistent with the idea of roles described in co-dependent relationships, such as enabler, counter-dependent, and/or agent. Part of the value of this type of informal terminology is that it helps describe the manner in which others potentially behave when in relationship to a person whose social skills are inadequate, in what ever manner that presents.

When talking about the Borderline relationship, the Non-reactive Non-BP is considered to be a person who interacts with the Borderline character, while not being drawn into, or engaging, the chaos of the disorder. The Reactive Non-BP, however, both interacts with the Borderline character, and engages the Borderline behavior. This often throws the person off-center, and promotes a kind of parallel emotional dysregulation within them. The Reactive relationship style breaks down into two distinct sub-styles; transpersonal, or the trans-Borderline, and counter-personal, or the counter-Borderline.

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The trans-Borderline is an individual who engages the Borderline character, and is drawn only to the chaos of the disorder itself. Rather, than being directly affected, s/he is more apt to stay focused on "cleaning up" after the Borderline personality. This is something akin to the "caretaker/enabler" role found in alcoholic relationships. In both cases, this person is characteristically co-dependent, or set up to be co-dependent in that relationship. S/he acts as enabler, or agent, or both.

The counter-Borderline, on the other hand, not only reacts to and integrates the Borderline style, but "reflects" it, as well. This individual is the most negatively affected by his/her relationship to the Borderline personality. Very often, this person will begin to behave in a manner very similar to a person with a Borderline personality. This type of relationship is very treacherous and, when talking about chaotic relationships with Borderline personalities, this is the sort of situation to which most people are referring. This type of relationship often leaves the Non-BP questioning his/her own sanity, and the "emotional hangover" of such a relationship can take a considerable amount of time from which to recover.

© 2008 Michael J. Formica, All Rights Reserved

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Michael J. Formica, M.S., M.A., Ed.M., is a psychotherapist, teacher and writer. He is an Initiate in the Shankya Yoga lineage of H.H. Sri Swami Rama and the Himalayan Masters.

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