Medically reviewed by: Bisma Anwar, MA, MSc, LMHC

Reviewed On: January 31, 2023

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition characterized by difficulties with emotional regulation and unstable personal relationships. Many people with BPD have a “favorite person” — this is the person they rely on. Unfortunately, while a favorite person can be a source of validation and support, these relationships can also be toxic for both parties. 

Read on to hear more about BPD favorite person explained — we’re defining what a favorite person is in BPD, looking at signs to be aware of, covering the dangers of this role, and discussing how to deal with a relationship like this. 

What Is a BPD “Favorite Person”?

What is a favorite person in BPD, and how does this BPD relationship differ from others? People with BPD see their favorite person as someone they can’t live without. 

“People with BPD often find themselves placing their attention on one specific person. This person may be a friend, family member, or romantic partner. A favorite person frequently is expected (consciously or otherwise) to help resolve unmet needs for the person with BPD.”

Talkspace therapist Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD

People with BPD feel firmly attached to their favorite person and may depend on them for comfort, reassurance, and guidance. In many cases, someone with BPD may rely entirely on their favorite person. As a result, they may idealize them and expect them to always be available. 

If you want the phenomena of a BPD favorite person explained, it can be helpful to look back to a person’s childhood. Studies show a strong link between personality disorders and abuse or maltreatment early in life. In short, many people with BPD didn’t receive support or acceptance from caregivers early on. This perhaps drives them to desperately seek validation from others later in life. 

Symptoms & Signs of a “Favorite Person” in BPD

In the early stages, it’s common for both parties in a BPD favorite person relationship to see the connection through a positive lens. For the favorite person, it can seem flattering to be admired and adored by another person. Many people initially enjoy the attention that they receive. 

Research shows it can be difficult for people with borderline personality disorder to form close relationships with others, especially if their BPD symptoms are severe. When someone with BPD forms a bond with another person, they may feel like they’ve finally found someone they can rely on. It’s common for people with BPD to ignore any negative traits their favorite person has. 

Unfortunately, as the relationship continues, it can be a source of stress for both parties. That’s why it’s so important to learn to recognize BPD favorite-person symptoms and signs. If you’re involved in a favorite person relationship, both parties need to set healthy friendship boundaries to keep the relationship from becoming toxic. 

When you’re the “favorite person”

You’ll receive compliments and praise when you’re a borderline personality disorder favorite person. However, your actions will also be placed under intense scrutiny. High expectations are a vital aspect of the dynamic between someone with BPD and a favorite person. Failing to live up to those expectations can lead to conflict. 

People with a BPD diagnosis depend on a favorite person to meet both physical and emotional needs. It can be exhausting to always feel needed, leading to burnout. If you’re the favorite person of a loved one or family member with BPD, they may show some of the following behaviors:

  • Constantly asking for reassurance 
  • Wanting your attention all the time 
  • Panicking or lashing out if you spend time away from them 
  • Depending on you for support and guidance
  • Making regular declarations of love and adoration 
  • Expressing jealousy over your other close relationships

When you have a “favorite person”

While a BPD favorite person is typically someone you have a close connection to, the relationship is unlikely to be healthy, stable, or secure. People with BPD frequently engage in a thought process called BPD splitting, which causes you to see people as all good or all bad. 

At first, you might see your favorite person as perfect. However, whenever conflict arises, or if your favorite person tries to set boundaries, you may view these actions as a betrayal. Common BPD favorite person symptoms include:

  • Having intense feelings that fluctuate between positive and negative
  • Changing yourself to please your favorite person
  • Fearing being abandoned
  • Craving the attention and approval of your favorite person
  • Projecting fantasies onto the relationship 
  • Finding ways to test the loyalty of your favorite person

“You’ll know you’ve designated someone your favorite if you have intense feelings for them. These feelings can range from affection to resentment and everywhere in between. Your favorite person will likely be someone you think about often and frequently speak to.”

Talkspace therapist Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD

The Dangers of a “Favorite Person” Relationship

The relationship between someone with BPD and a favorite person can become toxic quickly. Projecting extreme fantasies and desires onto a favorite person can create a constant feeling of being let down. This can result in being plagued by fear of abandonment, leading to unhealthy behaviors that eventually damage the relationship. 

Being a favorite person can feel exhausting as well. They may feel pressured to give up other interests or relationships to make their partner happy. It’s common for them to feel like they’re constantly walking on eggshells to avoid their partner’s BPD triggers.

“At first, being designated as someone’s favorite person may feel welcoming and fun; however, the relationship between someone with BPD and their favorite person can quickly become toxic and controlling.”

Talkspace therapist Ashley Ertel, LCSW, BCD

How to Deal with Being a “Favorite Person” for Someone with BPD

As a favorite person, you’ll be expected to provide near-constant companionship, reassurance, and guidance, which is daunting and taxing. 

It’s important to note that while “favorite-person” relationships can be unhealthy, they’re not doomed to fail. One way to keep your relationship from becoming unhealthy is by establishing clear boundaries. By setting and reinforcing boundaries, you can protect your emotional well-being and create a healthier relationship dynamic for both parties. 

It’s not uncommon for a favorite person to struggle with guilt and anxiety, especially when saying no. A therapist can help you cope with these emotions and find effective ways to express your feelings and needs. With the help of a therapist, you can develop the tools you need to navigate the challenges of being in a favorite person relationship.

Learn How to Create Healthy Boundaries with Talkspace

You can find ways to avoid the harmful, codependent relationship dynamics that are so common. Talkspace is an online therapy platform that connects you with an experienced, licensed mental health professional. Talkspace therapists can help you set and maintain boundaries in a BPD favorite person relationship. 

Talkspace offers affordable, convenient virtual therapy, so getting help can be more accessible than ever. We’re changing how people access mental health care, making it simple, effective, and convenient. Reach out to Talkspace today to learn how to make it a healthy relationship.