You are currently viewing Borderline Personality Disorder in Men: Signs and Symptoms

Borderline Personality Disorder in Men: Signs and Symptoms

Most people who are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder are female. Experts aren’t sure if this is because women are actually more likely to develop the condition, or if symptom differences and cultural factors have caused borderline personality disorder in men to be under-diagnosed.

What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Before we focus on borderline personality disorder in men, let’s take a moment to review a few fundamental facts about this condition that apply to people of all ages and genders.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one of 10 personality disorders in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). It is categorized as a Cluster B disorder, along with antisocial, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders.

In general, all personality disorders are characterized by pervasive, inflexible patterns of thoughts and behaviors that deviate widely from cultural norms and are sources of considerable impairment or distress. Cluster B personality disorders, the DSM-5 notes, involve “dramatic, emotional, or erratic” actions.

Referring specifically to BPD, the two defining features of this condition are instability and impulsivity. To be accurately diagnosed with BPD, a person must meet five or more of the following criteria:

  • Engaging in frantic efforts to avoid being abandoned, even if there is no realistic reason to believe that this is about to occur
  • A history of intense but unstable relationships, during which the individual fluctuates between idealizing and devaluing their partner
  • Unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsivity in at least two potentially harmful areas, such sex, driving, gambling, and substance use
  • Suicidality and/or self-harm
  • Dramatic mood swings, which can include periods of anxiety, irritability, and deep dissatisfaction
  • Persistent sense of emotional emptiness
  • Being easily angered and unable to manage this emotion, which can result in verbal disputes and physical fights
  • Paranoia or dissociation (the sense of being detached from their thoughts, feelings, body, and/or environment)

Most people who have BPD begin to exhibit signs of the disorder by early adulthood, though a July 2015 study reported that it’s not uncommon for some symptoms to appear by age 12.

According to Mental Health America, about 5.9% of the population may exhibit symptoms of borderline personality disorder at some point in their lifetime. However, among people who receive inpatient psychiatric treatment, the prevalence of BPD rises to about 20%, or one of every five patients.

Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder in Men

Now that we have established what BPD looks like a from a diagnostic and statistical perspective, let’s turn our attention toward the signs of borderline personality disorder in men.

As we noted in the previous section, a person only needs to meet five of nine criteria to be diagnosed with BPD. This means that not everyone who has this condition will display the same symptoms or be affected in the same ways.

With that in mind, the following are possible signs of BPD in men:

  • They react very poorly to even minor changes in plans. This can include panicking or becoming enraged when someone cancels a meeting or shows up late for an appointment.
  • They have a tendency to “fall in love” very quickly (such as on a first date) and may immediately form a powerful emotional attachment to someone they’ve just met.
  • They can quickly become hostile when they feel that their romantic or supportive gestures are not adequately appreciated and/or reciprocated.
  • In the aftermath of such hostility, they feel deep shame, which can reinforce their belief that they are inherently flawed, broken, or evil.
  • They drive recklessly, often under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  • They gamble with much more money than they can afford to lose, which can lead to serious financial problems.
  • They frequently get into arguments or physical fights, often caused by their own aggressive behaviors.
  • Their work history includes multiple instances of being fired or quitting their job, often due to conflicts with colleagues or supervisors.
  • Their goals, values, and hopes for the future can change dramatically with little to no notice, and without any apparent cause.
  • They set grandiose personal, academic, or professional goals, then intentionally or subconsciously sabotage their own efforts to achieve these objectives.
  • They may engage in self-harm or threaten suicide when they fear that a romantic partner is about to end their relationship.

Men who have borderline personality disorder are also likely to have been physically or sexually abused during childhood. Experts estimate that as many as 80% of people with BPD have histories of trauma, with many of these individuals enduring traumatic experiences as children.

Also, it is important not to discount threats of self-harm or suicide by men who have BPD. A 10-year study of patients with borderline personality disorder found that 46%-92% had attempted suicide at least once before they were admitted into treatment. This study also determined that 3%-10% of people with BPD die by suicide. (To put this statistic into context, in 2021 the rate of death by suicide among the U.S. general public was 0.014%)

Find Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder in Atlanta

Untreated borderline personality disorder can have a devastating impact on a person’s ability to live a full and satisfying life. But when someone with this condition gets the care they need, they can achieve improved health and a more hopeful future.

Peachtree Wellness Solutions is a trusted source of personalized care for adults who have BPD and other mental health concerns. At our treatment center in Atlanta, Georgia, you can receive customized services at the residential, partial hospitalization, and/or intensive outpatient levels. 

In each of these programs, you can work with compassionate professionals who have a wealth of experience and an unwavering commitment to patient-focused care. We will work closely with you to assess your needs, help you set realistic short- and long-term goals, and select the therapies and support services that are best for you.

To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.