Almost everyone has heard the term “codependent” at one time or another, but what does it mean to be codependent? How does codependency relate to Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)?

Many people who have loved ones with Borderline Personality Disorder are unknowingly involved in a codependent relationship with that person. People who suffer from BPD often have lives fraught with chaos. The interpersonal problems, trouble holding jobs, substance abuse, depression, and rage associated with BPD are all issues that affect not only the person with BPD, but also family members, friends, and significant others. When this is the case, it often sets the stage for codependency in the relationship.

10 Signs of a Codependent Relationship

Author Melody Beattie wrote the book “Codependent No More” and developed the following checklist for determining whether or not you may in a codependent relationship:

Do you feel responsible for other people’s feelings — their thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs, well-being, and destiny?

Do you feel compelled to help other people solve their problems or try to take care of their feelings?

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Dangers of Codependency and BPD

It’s easy to get into a codependent relationship with a person who has Borderline Personality Disorder given the nature of BPD. There is a tendency for loved ones to slip into caretaker roles, giving priority and focus to problems in the life of the person with BPD rather than to issues in their own lives.


Too often in these kinds of relationships, the codependent will gain a sense of worth by being “the sane one” or “the responsible one.” There is almost always an unconscious reason for continuing to put another person’s life ahead of your own, and often it is because of the mistaken notion that self-worth comes from other people.

When we give up ourselves to help others, we rob ourselves of the potential for a richer, fuller existence that includes self-care and self-love. We also rob the other person of their opportunity to grow and take responsibility for their own problems. Often, it is only when the safety net has been removed that people take steps to look out for their own well-being.


Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder that includes family members and loved ones can help identify unhealthy relationship patterns such as codependency. Participating in family or couples therapy and attending codependency support groups can help you break these patterns and put yourself first.