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Ariana Grande is dating Pete Davidson, who has BPD – what is it and how does it affect people?

Ariana Grande is dating Pete Davidson, who has BPD – what is it and how does it affect people?
04 Jun
10:37

Three weeks into a new relationship with Ariana Grande, SNL star Pete Davidson has made headlines for getting her trademark bunny ears tattooed onto his neck – and her initials on his thumb.

But the news of their relationship hasn’t just sparked the usual gossip column inches, as Davidson has been open about his diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD), joking about it both on Saturday Night Live and in interviews.

Writing about dating with BPD on an Instagram story in May, Davidson rejected the idea that “just because someone has a mental illness does not mean they can’t be happy”.

‘Wrong way for people to look at things’

“Normally I wouldn’t comment on something like this cause like fuck you but I been hearing a lot of ‘people with BPD can’t be in relationships’ talk,” he wrote.

“Just because someone has a mental illness does not mean they can’t be happy and in a relationship. It also doesn’t mean that person makes the relationship toxic.”

“I just think it’s fucked up to stigmatise people as crazy and say that they are unable to do stuff that anyone can do. It’s not their fault and it’s the wrong way for people to look at things.”

But what is BPD, and how does it affect those who have it?

What is BPD?

The NHS breaks the symptoms of BPD into four broad categories: emotional instability, disturbed patterns of thinking, impulsive behaviour and intense but unstable relationships with others.

More specifically, according to mental health charity Mind, someone diagnosed with BPD might:

  • Feel frightened or worried of abandonment
  • Experience intense emotions that “can last from a few hours to a few days, and can change quickly”
  • Not have a strong sense of self
  • Find it hard to “make or keep” stable relationships”
  • Experience chronic emptiness
  • Act impulsively
  • Self harm
  • Experience difficult-to-control anger
  • Experience paranoia or dissociation

BPD and relationships

Dating with BPD can be hard, explains Maggy Van Eijk, author of Remember This When You’re Sad. Her own experiences with dating have often been difficult.

“At the start of a relationship I often find it so unbelievable that someone could be into me that I’ll do whatever it takes to have it stay that way,” she tells i. “If they want to hang out every single day, I’ll do that; if they want to be more casual and low key, I’ll do that; if they’re into art I’ll be super into art; if they hate Kanye, I’ll hate Kanye too.”

Read more

‘If my mood is proper low, I can self-sabotage’ – why night is the worst time for mental health crisis

“I become a cardboard cut out of myself,  just because I want to hold onto someone, without ever thinking: “wait, is that person right for me?”.

Now, Van Eijk “talks to lots of other people with similar triggers” to learn from their experiences. “Giving yourself some space, going for a walk, removing yourself from a situation can help tremendously. MY BPD means my gut instinct is often wrong – my first conclusion is often skewed so I need a bit of time to think: “Wait, how do I actually feel?”. And that’s okay.”

Read more:

What it’s really like to have Borderline Personality Disorder in the workplace 

Borderline Personality Disorder: ‘This is what it looks like inside my head’ 

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