When Your Bottom Has Borderline Personality Disorder

· Know what BPD is and what the major markers for it are.

· Make sure your bottom is in some form of active acknowledgement and frequent self-reflection about how the disorder affects hir relationships.

· Impulsive behavior: Borderlines suffer from perpetual boredom, and frequently make strange requests in order to spice things up. Frequently they will ask for sex or play at strange times, and/or will be impatient with negotiations. It helps to have a set standard of play, knowing what their limits and turn ons are, so you can keep negotiations short and focused. Be prepared to be asked for play when it seems like it's out of left field -- they may be using it as a coping mechanism.

· Abandonment -- BPD patients are terrified of being abandoned, and this feeling can be invoked in a shorter amount of time than one would expect. Best practice is to not blindfold your bottom and stay within line of sight. Keeping physical contact with them, especially when changing toys or taking a break can be incredibly comforting. If they are blindfolded, talk to them assuredly when there's no physical contact. Particularly be aware of this feeling when the scene is over; make sure someone is with them at all times when they are coming down from emotional intensity. You may want to make plans to have someone else clean up after you, so you can keep your focus and attention on your partner.

· Idealization/Devaluation: Some weeks, you'll be the best Top they've ever played with and you can do no wrong. Then something minor happens -- you wrap a strike, you hit them the wrong way, you take them to an uncomfortable mental place -- and you're the worst Top that has ever lived and every scene you've ever had, even if you remember them fondly and they were fulfilling and moving, were horribly planned and went awry. It's normal for a Borderline to struggle with this dichotomy even when they're aware that it's faulty brain wiring and not the truth. Have a strong sense of self, and let your own memory be your guide. Be gentle but firm about reminding your partner about good scenes you've had when they're being negative, and about mistakes you've made when they're feeling positive.

· Instability in Identity: A common Borderline fantasy is to be a Top's molding clay -- they want to be whatever it is you want them to be. D/s and M/s relationships are particularly attractive to them, because of the perceived freedom of following clear, concise orders as definition of role. However, you're playing with a chameleon. Be unsurprised if they identify as a switch and go through periods where they will want to be the Top, or to Top others, and be less interested in play where they're the bottom. They will probably shift social groups too; this week they'll be keenly interested in Daddy/boy play and find an identity that fits them within that dynamic -- a few weeks later they'll go to a ageplay munch and be all about their little. Borderlines have developed a sense of fluid identity as a coping mechanism for trauma -- it's well honed and hard to turn off.

· Black and White Thinking: As with idealization/devaluation, this also holds true for other aspects of play. They may identify as the biggest cane slut ever, and then you have one scene where they have a bad experience and they will change their tune to never liking canes -- not now, not in the past -- and will bend and flex stories to make them out to where they fit the new paradigm. If you have a bad experience in a dungeon, even one you know and love, it will be some time before they'll come around to seeing things as balanced again. Gentle, firm reminders of good times had doing X activity or in Y place or with Z person help tremendously -- but be ready for some resistance at first. It's easier for Borderlines to classify the world this way, and once things start getting gray they become uncomfortable.

· Problems with Emotional Regulation: Along the same line as Black/White thinking, Borderlines tend to lack subtlety of emotion -- when they're mad, they're angrier than they've ever been in their whole life; when they're happy, they're euphoric. It can be refreshing to be with someone who is so easy to read -- it also means that when they're turned on, they're incredibly emotive about it. It becomes a problem when things go awry, or when you push them to uncomfortable places in your play. Be aware that bright fuses burn fast -- the body physically has a hard time holding emotional responses of deep intensity for very long. This means that they'll be tired and grouchy before long, or recalcitrant and weak. This can become a real problem in longer term relationships -- when they feel like they're in love, it's the deepest, most passionate feeling they've ever had (even if it's the sixth or one hundred and sixth time it's happened to them); when they're feeling unsure of the relationship, all they can remember or conceive is the bad stuff.

· Self-Harm behavior: this is probably the biggest concern I would have as a Top playing with a Borderline. An earmark of BPD is self harm -- cutting or scratching the skin, pulling out the hair, biting the self, picking wounds so they do not heal, or other forms of intentionally hurting oneself. BDSM can either be a godsend -- as a focused activity where the impulses to self injure are being met in a safer atmosphere under controlled conditions -- or a nightmare, where the maladaptive behavior is encouraged. I personally make it a rule that I do not play with Borderlines who are actively self harming -- I look for recent marks, admissions of behavior, or other signs -- or have not yet begun addressing their habitual self harm in more positive ways. It is encouraged to know your bottoms preferred modality of self harm and stay away from it during play -- it could possibly trigger further episodes later, when you're not around.