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F - The Favorite Person and Healthy Relationships

Hi. My name is Shell, and I have Borderline Personality Disorder.

There's a lot about living with BPD that isn't included in the DSM. One of those things is the favorite person -- or FP -- relationship.

A favorite person is someone that a person with BPD relies on to manage their mood and self-identity. While fear of abandonment is a major factor in BPD, it is exacerbated with the FP. The FP has the power to make or break the person with BPD. One misinterpreted conversation can send the person with BPD spiraling. Generally speaking, the favorite person relationship is not very healthy. It can be very codependent and one-sided. It puts a lot of pressure on the favorite person, and can add to the instability for a person with BPD. And the destruction of the relationship can be fatal for a person with BPD.

My favorite person is someone I very much want to keep in my life. But I also don't want to have a favorite person. Everything I've read about getting over a favorite person has been after the relationship has fallen apart. My relationship was in tact and I wanted it to remain that way. I just didn't want the favorite person aspect of the relationship. So I set about figuring out how to get over my FP while maintaining a relationship with them.

One of the biggest pieces of advice for getting over a FP is going no contact. This was not something I wanted to do. But I could change the type of contact I had. When this person became my FP I would do anything for them. At the time we were in different time zones, and I used to miss out on sleep just to make sure I could talk to them on the phone. It was having a negative effect on my mood, my productivity, and my mental health symptoms. So I put a time limit on phone calls. I would not stay up hoping for a call. If they didn't call before a certain time then I would go to bed. If they called while I was asleep -- well, that would just have to be a missed call.

Another important thing I did was teach myself to wait for a response to messages. My fear of abandonment makes me really anxious in my communications with people. If I don't get an immediate response, I think of all the negative reasons they didn't respond. They're mad at me. What I said was too cringe. They don't want to talk to me anymore. Something terrible has happened. This all makes me think I will never speak to this person again. Those are still my initial reactions, but instead of reacting or spiraling I suggest to myself more likely possibilities. They're busy and don't have their phone on them. Their phone is dead. They're sleeping. They didn't hear their phone go off. They don't have the time or energy to give a proper response right now and are waiting for when they do. It's taken a couple of years, but now I automatically give these suggestions to myself. I still have my moments, but those are usually when I'm already triggered in some way.

I also started to make myself busy. With my FP, I want to spend all my time with them. Since we don't live together, this means I want to constantly be on the phone. Or at least I used to. One of the things that helped keep me busy was making content. I started getting frustrated if I was interrupted while filming or planning content. This might seem like a negative thing, but it was actually good for me. It meant my life wasn't directionless if I wasn't on the phone with my FP. Gradually this started becoming true for other areas of my life. If I'm visiting with friends or family I don't answer the phone. I will hang up if my son needs my attention. The first time I got frustrated that a phone call from my FP interrupted a show I was watching, I knew I was getting somewhere.

Probably one of the most damaging symptoms to relationships is splitting. Splitting (in BPD) is when you go from idealizing someone to devaluing them. People with BPD can place our favorite person on a pedestal. We love everything about them and they can do nothing wrong. When they finally upset or hurt us, that delusion is broken. It can be very easy to discard a relationship when we're angry. I have quiet BPD. My splitting is not very aggressive. Most people won't know I'm splitting. I might become less responsive and more passive aggressive, instead of straight up abandoning the relationship. We'll eventually stop talking until one day you realize you haven't spoken to me in months.

Splitting with my FP is more internalized. I tend to blame myself for everything, even when it's not my fault. So if I get angry or hurt I turn it on myself and spiral, thinking that there must be something wrong with me. I'm learning to allow myself to be angry without blaming my self. So this means I am now more likely to be passive aggressive or standoff-ish when my FP upsets me. I also don't drop the relationship if we disagree on something, though sometimes I'm tempted to. I've learned to not impulsively act on emotions. I don't make decisions when I'm angry. I still split on my FP -- quite frequently; but I don't always act on those feelings.

I don't know if I can definitively say I don't have a favorite person. But I can say that my life doesn't revolve around them. Even more surprising, when I'm in a good place I know I can live without them. At first I thought the only way to get over a FP was to switch FPs. Now I know that I'm able to have healthier relationships. They are far from perfect and I still have a lot to learn. But I think with hard work I will eventually get there.

1 Comment

Apr 18

This was a great post, I found it helpful, thanks for writing about this.

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