What is the borderline personality disorder break up cycle(5 stages)?

In this article, we shall have a look at the borderline personality disorder break up cycle. Explain to you what borderline personality disorder is and list the causes and risk factors. We shall also look at the reasons ‌people with borderline personality disorder breakup and provide you with a list of coping strategies to manage borderline personality disorder. 

What is the borderline personality disorder break up cycle?

The borderline personality disorder break up cycle, also known as the borderline personality disorder relationship cycle, is a repeating series of highs and lows in a relationship. When a person with borderline personality disorder ends a relationship, it does not signify the end of a relationship, but a cycle of dependence and isolation. 

The break cycle has six stages, which we look at later in this article.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

BPD (its acronym) is a mental disorder that affects how you feel about yourself and other people. It also causes problems in carrying out normal day-to-day activities. People with BPD have a negative self-image, find it difficult to control emotions, and have a series of unstable relationships.

People with BPD dislike being alone and have an extreme fear of abandonment. However, their negative traits of irritability, mood swings and impulsiveness tend to push people away, even those who love you and want to have a meaningful relationship with you. 

The symptoms of BPD start in early adulthood and seem to worsen in young adulthood, however, the symptoms tend to improve with age and one can function normally with BPD.

Signs and symptoms of BPD

The signs and symptoms of BPD include:

Emotional symptoms

The emotional symptoms of BPD include:

  • Sorrow
  • Shame 
  • Terror
  • Rage 
  • Feelings of sadness and emptiness (long-term)
  • Severe mood swings. Some people feel suicidal and then feel better after a few hours. Mood swings vary; some feel better in the morning and some in the evening

Cognitive symptoms

  • Having upsetting thoughts, i.e. thinking that you are a terrible person
  • Auditory hallucinations. Some people hear voices in their heads telling them to harm themselves.
  • Prolonged episodes of hallucinations, i.e. hearing voices and delusions, i.e. believing that your family members want to kill you

The cognitive symptoms of a worsening condition show the need to seek medical help.

Behavioural symptoms

  • Self-harm, i.e. cutting yourself with a razor, burning your skin with cigarettes. The symptoms might go to the extreme of trying to commit suicide.
  • Engaging in reckless behaviour, i.e. having unprotected sex with strangers, binge drinking and extreme use of drugs, and going on shopping sprees.

How does BPD affect relationships?

Many people with BPD often have many short-lived relationships. This could be due to:

  • You purposefully break off relationships for fear of your partner doing it
  • Your partner not being comfortable with the challenges that come with dating a person with BPD
  • Unrealistic expectations in relationships
  • A simple argument can trigger an emotional rollercoaster
  • They idolize and devalue people quickly

Despite all these factors, a relationship with a person with BPD is not impossible. Treatment, combined with a positive support system, can help you find stability in managing your emotions and in your relationships. Better coping mechanisms will help you react to situations in a way that will not harm you or your partner.

5 reasons for borderline personality disorder and sudden breakups


BPD relationships are riddled with instability because of BPD symptoms. For example, a person with a borderline personality disorder may shift from idealizing (holding their partners in high regard) to devaluing them when reality sets home that anyone can make mistakes even when meaning well.

 Another cause of instability is the shift from needing constant attention to total isolation. As a result, the deteriorating of these symptoms can cause a sudden break-up.

Impulsive sexuality

This is a classic symptom of borderline personality disorder. It is not uncommon to find persons with borderline personality disorder struggle with sexuality issues such as early sexual experience, more partners and more casual sexual experiences. 

This symptom can cause a borderline personality disorder patient to initiate a sudden break up in search of new experiences.


Feelings of mistrust and suspicion are common characteristics of borderline personality disorder relationships. Because of the fear of rejection and abandonment, persons with BPD are always on the lookout for signs of real or perceived rejection and abandonment. 

Because of this reason, persons with borderline personality disorder can initiate sudden breakups in order to find someone who satisfies their need for attention.

Fear of abandonment

The fear of abandonment may influence persons with BPD to act in ways that are dramatic and damaging to the well-being of the relationship, including lies and manipulation. In the long run, suspicion causes mistrust, which leads to the deterioration of the relationship and eventual breakup in search of better partners who can provide a better sense of security for them.

Severe mood swings

It is not uncommon for people with borderline personality disorder to experience abrupt emotional and mood states. At one particular time, they might be euthymic and at another point in time are sad. 

When these mood swings take place, a romantic partner might find him or herself at the short end of the stick when a sudden break up is started.

Other reasons include:

  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Prolonged sadness
  • Fits of rage

The six stages of the borderline personality disorder breakup cycle

Stage one

Full of bliss, the first stage moves ‌quickly and can often be mistaken for true love. This stage is commonly referred to as the honeymoon stage.

Stage two

During this stage, the person with BPD gets into the constant stage of analyzing potential threats and negative behavior. It is at this stage that their fear of abandonment and low self-esteem manifests believing that you no longer want to be with them, with or without any evidence.

Stage three

During this stage, the BPD person begins to either withdraw or pick fights ‌to get attention and repair the relationship by manipulating their partner to act in order to save the relationship.

Stage four

This is the beginning of the end of the relationship. The BPD person becomes convinced that the relationship is ending, especially when a grand gesture of love is not forthcoming. They may feel at fault for the relationship deteriorating and may hide their true feelings in order to portray happiness and contentment.

At this stage, the partner is not aware of what is happening because of their partner’s facade.

Stage five 

This stage is the point of no return. The person with BPD withdraws from the relationship and the partner leaves. There might be attempts for reconciliation, but they hardly succeed.

Stage six

With the relationship gone, the BPD sufferer is alone. The results ‌are intense emotions and mood swings that manifest as total isolation or lashing out at those closest.

Tips on how to improve a relationship with a person with BPD and how to improve trust

Take care of yourself

Most relationships with people with BPD are focused on meeting their needs and wants, and this can be exhausting. Use words of affirmation to communicate to your partner that you also have needs that you would also like to be met. For example, “love you and want to be with you, but there are some things that I am missing”.

Build boundaries

People with BPD can be manipulative and use any means to get what they want. It is important to create boundaries, including things you can and cannot tolerate them. Clarify that some behaviors like using threats, going through your phone and belongings, etc. will make you fall apart and cause a rift between the two of you.

Encourage therapy

BPD is manageable and therapy can help the person develop positive coping mechanisms for their stressors. For this to happen, your partner must be open to the idea of trying out therapy, as resistance will not yield any fruits. You can suggest couples therapy for them to feel more comfortable and understood.

Couples’ therapy ‌will be crucial in expressing your feelings too and getting help. A self-help group would also be helpful, as people with BPD like it when they are understood and what is better than a group of people going through the same struggles.

The condition should not play the leading role in the relationship

Although the illness should not be ignored, do not make everything happening between you two be attributed to their condition. Educate yourself about the illness to help distinguish between symptoms of the illness and your partner’s personality.

Do not ‌be your partner’s therapist. Because you have educated yourself about the illness, refrain from assuming the role of a therapist. The best you can do is to be there for your partner and offer support.

Treatment for BPD


There is no medication for BPD but medication can be given for the symptoms that manifest, i.e. antipsychotics, antidepressants and anxiolytics


Dialectical Behavioral Therapy will help you respond to emotional situations with positive coping mechanisms and with reason and proper judgment. This will reduce seeing things in white and black.


This is necessary if you are experiencing extreme symptoms like suicidal thoughts and attempts, or hallucinations and delusions that are affecting your daily functioning and relationship with others.


In this article, we have discussed in-depth about borderline personality disorder, its causes, risk factors, borderline personality disorder and sudden break ups and the break up cycle. We hope ‌this article was educational, and you were able to learn a thing or two about borderline personality. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let us know.

Frequently asked questions: borderline personality disorder break up cycle

What does a BPD cycle look like?

A BPD relationship cycle often comprises emotional highs and lows that may leave partners to BPD sufferers confused and frustrated.

Do borderlines regret breaking up?

While it is common for persons with a borderline personality disorder to experience multiple breakups, they experience anxiety and regret and try to initiate efforts to get back together.

What do borderlines do when they feel abandoned?

They tend to form unhealthy attachments, cut-off loved ones and make frantic efforts to hold on to the relationship


NHS. (July 17, 2019). Causes- borderline personality disorder. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/causes/

Kristalyn Salters-Pedneault. (28th November 2021). Romantic Relationships Involving People With BPD. Verywellmind. Retrieved from:https://www.verywellmind.com/understanding-romantic-bpd-relationships-425217

Zambon, V. (5th November 20020). Borderline personality disorder and relationships. Medicalnewstoday. Retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/borderline-personality-disorder-relationships#social-media-relationships

The awareness center. The BPD relationship cycle: what to expect. The awareness center. Retrieved from: https://theawarenesscentre.com/the-bpd-relationship-cycle-what-to-expect/


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