A Healthy Embrace of the Favorite Person Dynamic in BPD
The borderline personality disorder (BPD) favorite person dynamic is a double-edged sword, offering deep connection but also leading to emotional volatility and a struggle for independence.1 For me, having a favorite person means elevating someone to a pedestal, be it a best friend, lover, or family member. It's an all-consuming experience that can leave me feeling both exhilarated and overly vulnerable.
This favored individual becomes my emotional focal point, their presence providing a sense of stability and validation. However, the heightened attachment can lead to an unhealthy dependency, as I rely on my favorite person to soothe my anxieties and navigate life's challenges. The bond can be intoxicating, offering a profound sense of connection and belonging. Yet, when expectations are unmet or the favored individual pulls away, the emotional response is overwhelming, resulting in feelings of abandonment and despair.
Insights from Therapy About the Favorite Person Dynamic
Therapy really opened my eyes to how rarely I saw my favorite people as individuals, but more like characters filling designated roles in my life. While I'm busy clinging to my favorite person, not only am I missing out on some real growth within myself, but I'm also reducing that person to the role of a caretaker or emotional crutch rather than seeing them as a whole and unique person with their own needs and complexities. This objectification puts a major strain on the relationship and keeps us from diving deep into intimacy and mutual understanding.
Overcoming the Favorite Person Dynamic
I'm ditching the whole favorite person dynamic, which feels sad and alien sometimes, but I'm exploring my options. One way of owning the fact that I'm responsible for my emotional wellbeing is through journaling and processing my feelings solo (or with my therapist) before letting them out into the world. Nobody else has the map to my emotional ride. It's my trip, my strength to find.
Another way I've been coping is by diversifying my support system. I've cultivated relationships with multiple people rather than solely relying on a favorite person. Building a broader support network, as well as working weekly with my trauma therapist, who specializes in BPD, has reduced the intensity of the favorite person dynamic for me.
Nurturing Personal Growth Through Beyond the Favorite Person Dynamic
Are you embracing the favorite person dynamic in a healthy way? I don't know if it's possible, but one aspect of the dynamic that I want to preserve is the extraordinary potential to allow myself to be transformed and changed through the process of loving and being loved by someone. When I harness this gift in a healthy way, it's downright beautiful. My new path requires maintaining my vulnerability while setting boundaries to avoid enmeshment. It's through this newfound balance that I'm catching glimpses of myself that I've been chasing forever.
- Jeong, H., Jin, M., & Hyun, M. H. (2022). Understanding a mutually destructive relationship between individuals with borderline personality disorder and their favorite person. Psychiatry Investigation, 19(12), 1069–1077. https://doi.org/10.30773/pi.2022.0079
Mae, K. (2023, August 8). A Healthy Embrace of the Favorite Person Dynamic in BPD, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 8 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2023/8/a-healthy-embrace-of-the-favorite-person-dynamic-in-bpd
Author: Karen Mae Vister
More great insight! This has me analyzing my past relationships plutonic or romantic, it’s hard to imagine not enmeshing with my current FP
Thank you for sharing! I really appreciate your input. It's quite a conundrum, isn't it? The joy of connecting with our favorite people can sometimes lead us down the path of enmeshment without even realizing it. Those positive moments can be so captivating that we might unintentionally overlook the boundaries we should maintain. Let's keep this conversation going and continue to explore ways we can enjoy those beautiful connections while still honoring our individuality.