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Personality Disorders

Should You Share Your Personality Disorder Diagnosis?

What to say and do if you are dating someone new and want to be honest.

Key points

  • It is only fair to tell your romantic partner about your diagnosis if the two of you plan to seriously date.
  • It is important to be realistic about the problems your issues may create in the relationship.
  • Be prepared to explain what your diagnosis means and how it is likely to manifest.
  • Appropriate psychotherapy should be part of your plan. Personality disorders do not get better on their own.

One of the realities that people face when they have been diagnosed with a personality disorder is whether to tell someone new that they are dating about the diagnosis. And, if the decision is to share your diagnosis, when and how should it be discussed?

Unfortunately, there is still stigma attached to having a personality disorder diagnosis and most people are unlikely to understand what your diagnosis might actually mean for the relationship. And, if by any chance they have actually read anything about your diagnosis, they will probably only have come across descriptions of the worst-case scenarios.

When to Share Your Diagnosis

If you are in the early stages of dating and have not yet decided on who you would like as a partner, there is no point in sharing your diagnosis with anyone and everyone. The early stages of dating are supposed to be fun, not impromptu therapy sessions.

However, if you have been dating someone that you could be serious about, I think it is only fair to share your diagnosis and the relationship challenges that go with it before things get more serious.

What should you do?

I usually suggest to my clients with personality disorders that before they decide whether or how to share their diagnosis, they should do some work on their own. My basic idea is that if you share your diagnosis, you should be prepared to answer questions and explain how having this diagnosis might affect your ability to be a good partner in the relationship.

So, before we go any further, you might want to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What are the relationship issues associated with my personality disorder diagnosis?
  2. Which of these issues apply to me?
  3. How do I usually manifest my issues in an intimate relationship?
  4. What are my triggers?
  5. Are my issues so severe that I need to straighten them out before I start dating anyone?
  6. Am I already in therapy working on these issues and making progress?
  7. What would I want to know if this situation were reversed, and my date told me that he or she had a personality disorder?

Be honest. Think about your relationship history and how your personality disorder affects your behavior and if it caused problems in your prior relationships.

Make a List of Your Issues

You might want to make a list of your issues as a way to prepare for a future discussion with your new romantic partner. The issues on your list will differ with the type of personality disorder that you are struggling to overcome.

Here are some sample lists you can use to start you thinking:

Clara’s Borderline PD Relationship List

  1. I am very insecure and need a lot of attention and positive feedback.
  2. If my partner does not reach out to me during the day, I start to feel abandoned.
  3. When my partner goes on a work trip, I have trouble remembering that they love me.
  4. When I feel abandoned, I need lots of reassurance.
  5. When my insecurities are triggered, I say things that I later regret.

Bob’s Narcissistic PD Relationship List

  1. I need my mate to admire me.
  2. I am very sensitive to any form of negative feedback.
  3. I have trouble admitting when I am wrong.
  4. If I feel slighted or attacked, I get really nasty back.
  5. I do not like to give up control to my partner.

John’s Schizoid PD Relationship List

  1. I have a very hard time trusting people.
  2. I feel unsafe in intimate relationships and need lots of freedom or else I feel trapped.
  3. I dissociate from my feelings when I feel threatened or overwhelmed.
  4. I do not know how to negotiate differences, so I either give in and resent it or leave the relationship entirely.
  5. I have social anxiety and I don’t like to go to parties or meet new people, although I can fake being comfortable.

How does your level of functioning affect how much you disclose and when?

The higher your level of functioning, the more normal you will appear. Your problems and diagnosis will not be obvious to anyone who does not know you really well. In this situation, you might want to wait until one of your issues surfaces and you behave badly. As soon as you realize what you did wrong, apologize, and say something to explain. Here is a sample to start you off thinking.

I am so sorry that I handled our disagreement so badly. I have been struggling with (name of your personality disorder). This means that sometimes I (fill in the blank with one of your issues from your list). I will do my best to never respond like that again. I am working hard to get better. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about what my diagnosis means for our relationship.

The exception might be if you have a history of abusing your lovers and want to telegraph in advance that you are struggling hard to behave better now—but occasionally failing. Then, you might want to explain why normal, empathic, and unselfish behavior is so difficult for you and how you plan to solve that.

Why do you want to tell your new love interest your diagnosis?

This is an important question for you to think about. The success of your relationship depends on your answer. I have divided the answers into two categories: manipulations and sincere attempts to connect.


  1. Are you hoping your dates will accept more bad behavior from you if you warn them that you have a personality disorder?
  2. Do you want the person to empathize with you and focus on your needs more than their own because you have a personality disorder diagnosis?
  3. Are you telling them about your diagnosis as an excuse for future bad behavior: “Well, I told you I had a personality disorder!”

Sincere Attempts to Connect:

  1. Do you want to be honest about your flaws and challenges?
  2. Are you asking for your romantic partner’s patience and understanding?
  3. Do you actually plan to change and become a better relationship partner this time around?


If you have a personality disorder, you are likely to have some issues that make it difficult for you to form an intimate, happy, stable relationship. I suggest that you sit down and make a list of which of your issues and behaviors might negatively impact your relationship. Then, when the time seems right, share your diagnosis and be prepared to explain what it means and how it may interfere with your ability to be a good mate. It is not enough to be aware of your issues. You will also need to have a plan on how to overcome them.

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