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Someone coping with BPD sits smiling hand-in-hand with their Favorite Person.

What It Means to Have a BPD Favorite Person

6 min.

People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) may heavily depend on one person for emotional support, comfort, and validation — a dynamic known as a “BPD favorite person.” Keep reading to learn how to maintain healthy relationships while living with BPD.

By: Alex Bachert, MPH

Clinically Reviewed By: Don Gasparini Ph.D., M.A., CASAC

Updated: February 27, 2024


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Table of Contents

​​Borderline personality disorder (BPD) can make it challenging to maintain stable relationships. One relationship dynamic often experienced by people with BPD is a “BPD favorite person” — usually a family member, romantic partner, or someone in a supportive role, such as a teacher or coach, whom a person with BPD depends on emotionally.

In this type of BPD relationship, a favorite person is relied on for comfort, happiness, and validation. The relationship with a BPD favorite person may start healthy, but it can often turn into a toxic love-hate cycle known as idealization and devaluation. 

Below, we delve into how to identify a BPD favorite person relationship, tips for having a healthy relationship with a BPD favorite person (whether you’re the person with BPD or the favorite person yourself), and BPD treatment options.

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What is a BPD favorite person?

As mentioned, a BPD favorite person is someone who holds significance for an individual with BPD and is often relied on heavily for emotional support and validation. This intense reliance can eventually lead to relationship challenges and emotional distress.

Specifically, those with BPD may fall into a cycle of idealization and devaluation with their favorite person. At first, an individual may view their favorite person as flawless. However, if the favorite person doesn’t meet expectations or isn’t available, someone with BPD might swiftly shift to intense negativity toward them. These shifts between idealization and devaluation can occur rapidly and frequently, leading to instability in the relationship.

Why does this happen? Some research shows a link between childhood abuse and the development of personality disorders, like BPD, later in life. The theory is that some people with BPD didn’t receive the support or acceptance they were looking for from caregivers, causing an intense need for validation later in life.

How do you know if you have a favorite person?

To start, you’ve been diagnosed with BPD. A diagnosis, which often happens in late adolescence or early adulthood, requires a thorough interview with a licensed mental health professional. Although less common, young people under 18 can be diagnosed with the mental health condition if their BPD symptoms persist for over a year.

Once a diagnosis has been established, there are a few red flags to be mindful of in any new or existing relationships. If you can relate to any of the following behaviors, you may have a BPD favorite person.

You crave the other person’s attention and approval

To a certain extent, this is normal behavior—especially regarding relationships with parents or a romantic partner. However, someone with BPD wants and needs their favorite person’s attention. They expect their favorite person to always answer their phone calls, respond to their messages, and be excited to see them.

You are eager to make them happy

Your favorite person becomes your most significant source of joy, and you do everything you can to make them happy. Consequently, you then demand that same type of love and attention from them in return.

This person easily affects your mood

If you have a favorite person, your moods revolve around them and how they make you feel. 

Their presence or absence, and how they act or respond, can profoundly impact your emotions, causing your mood to change throughout the day.

You find yourself testing this person’s loyalty

Because you’ve centered your life around this other person, any slight (intentional or unintentional) can cause fear, anger, or a sense of instability. People with BPD have an inclination to test their favorite person’s loyalty by seeing how far they can push them before that person leaves—especially if others have abandoned them in the past.

You lose your sense of self

Being overly self-critical and not having a strong sense of self are BPD symptoms—and having a favorite person can shine a light on these issues. You might copy how your favorite person thinks and acts or disregard other plans to prioritize your favorite person.

Am I someone else’s favorite person?

On the flip side, maybe you’re someone’s favorite person. At first, this might not seem like a big deal—it might even be flattering—but as time goes on, harmful patterns can emerge. Keep in mind: anyone can have dependent or unhealthy relationship patterns, and in order to be a BPD favorite person, you need to have this kind of relationship with someone diagnosed with BPD (or perhaps with BPD-related behaviors). Below are several signs that you might be someone’s BPD favorite person. 

  • You’re their first point of contact for good news, bad news, and everything in between
  • They’re jealous of your other relationships, activities, or events that don’t include them
  • They’re often in crisis and depend on you for advice, guidance, or reassurance
  • They have a constant fear that you’ll abandon them
  • You feel responsible for their decisions and changes in mood

Tips for maintaining a healthy favorite person relationship

Being in a favorite person relationship can become all-consuming—both for the person living with BPD and their favorite person. Fortunately, there are several tips to help find balance for a healthier relationship.  

Advice for people with BPD

Prioritize clear communication

If you know you have a favorite person, it’s appropriate to let them know. By educating them about BPD and what it means to be a favorite person, they’ll better understand potential mood swings and be better equipped to support your healing journey.

Remember to focus on other people

For people with BPD, their favorite person often becomes priority number one. Other people, responsibilities, and habits take a backseat when this happens. This is a reminder to nurture the different parts of your life.

Accept that you can’t control other people

There will inevitably be times when your favorite person disappoints you or neglects your needs. This may be upsetting, but no relationship is perfect, and your favorite person won’t always be able to provide what you’re looking for.

Take care of your mental health

Research shows that the majority of people with BPD have a co-occurring condition, such as an anxiety disorder, mood disorder, or another personality disorder. When you prioritize your mental health by seeking professional help, you’re better equipped to have a healthy relationship with your favorite person (and others). 

Someone coping with BPD shows their favorite person something on their computer, smiling next to them.

Advice for favorite people

Set healthy boundaries

It might feel like your friend or loved one wants to spend all their time with you. Setting physical and emotional boundaries is one of the best ways to avoid a codependent dynamic and maintain a more balanced relationship.

Avoid secrets and lies

Being someone’s favorite person can be a lot of pressure. You might be tempted to bend the truth or make promises you can’t keep, but honesty is always the best policy.

How is borderline personality disorder treated?

Talk therapy is considered the first-line treatment for BPD, and it’s shown to help people with BPD learn how to manage intense emotions, improve self-control, and build healthy relationships. 

Among the different therapeutic modalities, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is considered one of the most recommended for BPD treatment. Its focus on emotional regulation, mindfulness, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness skills helps people with BPD address symptoms ranging from intense emotions to suicidal thoughts. Mentalization-based therapy, which helps people understand their and others’ feelings, and schema-focused therapy, which encourages people to reflect on their childhood, are other therapies endorsed in the treatment of BPD. 

In some instances, especially when people are struggling with more severe symptoms like suicidal thoughts and persistent emotional regulation issues, medication management may be incorporated into BPD treatment. It’s important to seek professional help from a licensed provider for medication management and therapy. 

Personality disorder treatment with Charlie Health

If you or a loved one are struggling with borderline personality disorder (BPD), Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health’s virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) provides more than once-weekly mental health treatment for young people and families dealing with serious mental health conditions, including BPD and other personality disorders. Our expert clinicians incorporate evidence-based therapies into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. With this kind of holistic treatment, managing BDP and developing a healthy relationship with a BPD favorite person is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today. 

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