Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition that affects a person’s ability to regulate their emotions and behaviour. Individuals with BPD may experience intense emotions, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, and a heightened sensitivity to perceived rejection or abandonment. For partners of individuals with BPD, communication can be challenging and complex. The SET communication model is a useful tool for improving communication and fostering empathy in these relationships.
The letters in “SET” stand for Support, Empathy, and Truth. These three principles can help partners of individuals with BPD to communicate more effectively and compassionately. Let’s take a closer look at each principle:
- Support The first principle of SET is Support. This involves expressing care and concern for your partner and their well-being. It’s important to convey a sense of understanding and willingness to be there for your partner, especially during times of emotional distress.
One way to show support is to validate your partner’s emotions. For example, you might say, “I can see that you’re feeling really upset right now. That must be really hard.” Validation can help your partner feel heard and understood, which can promote trust and connection.
- Empathy The second principle of SET is Empathy. This involves putting yourself in your partner’s shoes and trying to understand their perspective. Empathy can help you to connect with your partner on a deeper level and foster feelings of closeness and understanding.
One way to show empathy is to ask open-ended questions that encourage your partner to share their feelings and experiences. For example, you might say, “Can you tell me more about what’s going on for you right now?” This can help your partner feel heard and valued and can promote a sense of connection.
- Truth The third principle of SET is Truth. This involves expressing your own thoughts and feelings in a clear and direct way. It’s important to be honest and transparent in your communication, while also being mindful of your partner’s emotional state and needs.
One way to express truth is to use “I” statements, which focus on your own thoughts and feelings rather than blaming or accusing your partner. For example, you might say, “I feel hurt when you say things like that because it makes me feel like you don’t care about me.” This can help your partner understand your perspective and promote a sense of mutual respect and caring.
Overall, the SET communication model can be a powerful tool for partners of individuals with BPD. By focusing on Support, Empathy, and Truth, couples can improve their communication and foster a deeper sense of connection and understanding.
Here are some tips for using SET in your relationship:
- Start with support: Show your partner that you care and are there for them, especially during times of emotional distress.
- Practice empathy: Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and try to understand their perspective. Ask open-ended questions and listen actively.
- Express truth: Be honest and transparent in your communication, while also being mindful of your partner’s emotional state and needs. Use “I” statements to focus on your own thoughts and feelings.
- Be patient and compassionate: Remember that individuals with BPD may experience intense emotions and may need extra support and understanding. Practice self-care and seek professional help if needed.
By using SET communication skills, partners of individuals with BPD can improve their communication and deepen their connection, fostering a more compassionate and empathetic relationship.
Disclaimer: As a registered clinical counsellor and registered psychotherapist (qualifying), I'm sharing insights on my blog for informational purposes, not professional advice or treatment. My writing aims to inspire you to consult your own healthcare or mental health provider. Remember, your decisions based on the blog content are solely your responsibility. Please explore other resources if this understanding doesn't align with your expectations. Thank you.