Looking for Approval with Borderline Personality Disorder

October 18, 2021 Kate Beveridge

When meeting new people, I can become obsessive about looking for approval. Due to living with borderline personality disorder (BPD), I often feel separate from others and like my sense of self is undefined. Therefore, I sometimes change my external personality traits to better connect with other people and feel accepted

The Dangers of Looking for Approval with BPD

I've often struggled to understand which of my personality traits are real and which ones are just reflections of the people around me. Mainly as a young adult, I felt that my personality would change with every person I associated with.

For example, when dating a new guy, I would often hide parts of myself that didn't fit his persona or interests. Additionally, I would enhance or fabricate aspects of my personality that aligned with his. I found that this was one of the easiest ways to get people to like me, as I often feared that my real personality was off-putting.

I don't think I intentionally tried to deceive other people. However, my subconscious was trying to protect me by projecting the "ultimate" version of myself to others. In turn, there was a lower chance that people would reject me and trigger my intense fears of abandonment.

Looking for approval was ultimately harmful because I didn't allow many people to earn my trust and get to know me on a profound level. Additionally, it reinforced the message that I wasn't valid and acceptable the way that I was. Therefore, I believe it played into my deeper self-esteem issues and contributed to my feelings of self-hatred. 

The Difference Between Looking for Approval and Acceptance

It has taken me a long time to recognize the difference between looking for approval and acceptance. When I just want people to like me at all costs, I notice that I start to feel desperation. I feed off the validation, and it gives me manic energy. In addition, my brain will race and become so excited at the prospect of forming a new connection and filling part of the lonely void that I often carry inside of me.

In contrast, seeking acceptance feels calmer. I can present my more authentic self and connect with people in more meaningful ways. As I already accept myself more, I feel more confident presenting less savory aspects of my personality. 

For example, I might feel more confident expressing a different opinion to the other person. Furthermore, I can make jokes without feeling anxious about their reception.

I don't always find it easy to look for acceptance with new people. Still, it tends to become easier as I spend more time with them and relax into the relationships. I also try to keep tabs on my thought processes and notice when I am trying to perform certain personality traits to seem more interesting or acceptable to others. 

Finally, I try to stay relaxed in social settings. Although rejection can be painful from others, pretending to be someone who I'm not can do more damage in the long term. Therefore, I try to remain conscious of my emotional state and only engage in social interactions that feel legitimate and authentic. 

What are your experiences looking for approval or acceptance from other people? Let me know in the comments section below.

APA Reference
Beveridge, K. (2021, October 18). Looking for Approval with Borderline Personality Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, December 4 from

Author: Kate Beveridge

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