Link Between Borderline Personality Disorder and Lying

There Are Many Stigmas And Falsehoods Surrounding BPD

BPD can negatively impact relationships.
BPD can negatively impact relationships. Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Lying can destroy relationships, whether between a child and parent or between a wife and a husband. It can ruin trust and intimacy and fosters resentment. Many times, the people who feel deceived will cut ties completely with the person they believe lied.

Borderline Personality Disorder and Lying

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is not a well-known or well-understood disease. Many people believe lying is part of the disorder.

However, the link between BPD and deceit is not clearly defined.

If you review the symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD), lying is nowhere to be found. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses-5th edition, the standard healthcare providers use to make appropriate diagnoses, deceit is not part of BPD's diagnostic criteria.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean that those with BPD do not lie or that they aren't more likely to lie. Many family members and friends of those with BPD cite lying as a major concern in their relationship with their BPD loved one.

People with BPD feel incredibly intense emotions. These feelings can be so intense that they can cloud the individual's thinking, making them view things through an emotional lens that may be different than how other people see it. They look for details that confirm what they feel and ignore facts that will contradict them.

This can be incredibly frustrating for friends and family members. The person with BPD isn't consciously lying; he truly believes his viewpoint is correct even when it is blatantly false.

BPD is also associated with impulsivity, the tendency to do things without thinking about the consequences, so some instances of lying may be the result of a person with BPD just not thinking before giving a response.

In addition, people with BPD often experience deep and entrenched shame; lying may be one way to conceal mistakes or weaknesses that increase shameful feelings. People with BPD are often also very sensitive to rejection, so one function of lying could be to “cover up” mistakes so that others will not reject them.

Lying and the Impact on Relationships

No matter why the person with BPD lies, whether it's because he truly thinks his skewed worldview is correct or if he's feeling ashamed, the impact on relationships can be extremely detrimental. Friends and family members may no longer trust the person, isolating them away from their loved one.

Finally, lying can destroy relationships completely. Even loving and devoted family members may feel they have to separate from their loved one if lying has become common. This can eliminate an essential support system and harm both people.

It can be difficult to maintain a relationship with a friend or family member with BPD. However, it is very important to understand that people with BPD often engage in destructive behaviors not because they intend to hurt you, but because their suffering is so intense they feel they have no other way to survive.

Lying may be one example of this. While that doesn't excuse the behavior, if you understand the cause, you can help your loved one get appropriate therapy to help manage symptoms of BPD.


American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses, 5th edition, 2013.

Kreger R. The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder. Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden, 2008

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