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, or BPD, have trouble regulating emotions—which can lead to a lack of boundaries in relationships. Learn how to maintain healthy relationships while living with borderline personality disorder.

By: Alex Bachert, MPH

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

February 27, 2023


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Table of Contents

What is borderline personality disorder?

​​Borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition that can make it challenging to maintain stable relationships. People with borderline personality disorder, or BPD, have trouble regulating emotions—which can affect how they feel about themselves and others.

In addition to mood swings and impulsive behaviors, BPD symptoms include:

  • A pattern of unstable relationships with family and friends
  • An intense fear of abandonment or rejection
  • Lacking a strong sense of self or being overly self-critical
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Feeling paranoid, especially when stressed
  • Changing values and goals
  • Recurring suicidal thoughts or behaviors

What is a BPD favorite person?

Another hallmark of borderline personality disorder is having a favorite person—usually a family member, romantic partner, or someone in a supportive role, such as a teacher or coach. For someone with this type of BPD relationship, a “favorite person” is someone they rely 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.

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 people who develop 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 borderline personality disorder. BPD is usually diagnosed in late adolescence or early adulthood and requires a thorough interview with a licensed mental health professional. Although less common, young people under 18 can be diagnosed if their 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.
  • 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 symptoms of BPD—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 partners can emerge. Below are several signs that you might be someone’s 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 won’t always be able to provide what you’re looking for.
  • Your (mental) health is wealth.
    The majority of people with BPD (84.5 percent) have a co-occurring condition, such as an anxiety disorder, mood disorder, or another personality disorder. When you prioritize your mental health, you’re better equipped to have healthy relationships.
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?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), talk therapy is considered the first-line treatment for people with borderline personality disorder and other personality disorders. Research suggests that it’s one of the most effective ways to help individuals learn to manage difficult emotions, improve self-control, and build healthier relationships.

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Specific treatment depends on each person, but therapists often suggest the following types of therapy for treating borderline personality disorder.

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Through individual therapy, skills training, and supported groups, dialectical behavior therapy is designed to help people regulate emotions and manage suicidal thoughts. DBT offers people a chance to learn mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills.
  • Mentalization-based therapy. According to the American Psychological Association, mentalization is “the ability to understand one’s own and others’ mental states, thereby comprehending one’s own and others’ intentions and effects.” Mentalization-based therapy helps people to understand emotions better, both their own and other people’s, and how they affect their actions.
  • Schema-focused therapy. This integrative therapeutic approach encourages people to reflect on how any unmet needs in childhood may have impacted their way of thinking and behaving later in life.

Explore personality disorder treatment options with Charlie Health

If you currently have a favorite person or any other symptom of borderline personality disorder, there are treatment options to help you manage the condition. Charlie Health’s virtual intensive outpatient program (IOP) provides personalized mental health treatment for teens, young adults, and families dealing with mental health struggles, such as BPD.

Our intensive outpatient treatment programs provide a high-quality, comprehensive treatment solution that includes group, family, and individual therapy. Our compassionate, experienced team of clinicians is here to listen to your needs, answer their questions, and help start the healing process.

Contact Charlie Health today.

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