Clinical differences and associations between women with borderline personality and their partners: an exploratory study

Sara Navarro Gómez 1-3, Álvaro Frías 1,2, Carol Palma 1,2

1 Blanquerna Faculty of Psychology, Education and Sports Sciences, University of Ramon-Llull, Barcelona, Spain; 2 Adult Outpatient Mental Health Center. Consorci Sanitari del Maresme, Mataró, Spain; 3 Department of Psychology and Education Sciences, Open University of Catalonia (OUC), Barcelona, Spain

Introduction

One of the most interesting areas of interpersonal functioning in people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is their romantic relationships (RR). In this empirical context, our main objective was to identify the principal differences and associations between clinical and relational variables in women with BPD compared with their partners. 

Methods

A cross-sectional, comparative study was carried out on women with BPD (n = 23) and their partners (n = 23). Clinical and relational variables were measured using the following: the World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQOL) instrument, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale, the Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R), the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS), the Communication Patterns Questionnaire (CPQ), the Experiences in Close Relationships scale (ECR), the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS), and the Index of Sexual Satisfaction (ISS). Stepwise MANCOVA, MANOVA and Pearson correlates were performed.

Results

Partners scored significantly higher than did women with BPD on social relationships (F = 6.08, p = .01), self-esteem (F = 12.90, p < .001), agreeableness (F = 12.19, p < .001), conscientiousness (F = 14.00, p < .001), avoidant communication style (F= 72.78, p < .001), cohesion (F= 10.09, p < .001), and affection (F = 72.20, p < .001). Conversely, BPD women scored significantly higher than their partners did on demanding communication (F = 278.76, p < .001), consensus (F = 62.36, p < .001) emotional satisfaction (F = 11.08, p < .001), and anxious attachment (F = 38.94, p < .001). Correlation analyses showed significant positive associations between agreeableness in partners and demanding communication style in BPD women(r = .43, p = .03). Likewise, satisfaction in the BPD group was positively associated with conscientiousness in partners (r = .53, p = .01).

Conclusions

Women with BPD and their Partners shown a relational dyadic based on hiperdemanding communication of the BPD and an avoidant and contention pattern of the partner.

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