Mating strategies and experience of early adversity in female patients with borderline personality disorder: Insights from life history theory

Martin Brüne, Jiaqing O, Merita Schojai, Christine Decker, Marc-Andreas Edel

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Abstract

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a psychiatric condition which severely affects psychological well-being. Etiological explanations of BPD include the experience of early adversity, but how this impacts on risk-taking and impulsivity in relation to sexuality and mating has remained elusive. Here, we tested the hypothesis that people with BPD adopt a “fast” life history strategy which impacts their mate choice and sexual behavior.

Sixty female patients with BPD and 45 controls were given 3 hypothetical vignettes depicting a “Predictably Safe”, an “Unpredictably Safe-Risky”, and a “Predictably Risky” life conditions, requiring the participant to put herself imaginatively into the described situation. Participants also completed questionnaires about their psychosexual development, depressiveness, and childhood experiences.

Patients with BPD were significantly more likely to expect less parental investment from their hypothetical partners in the predictably safe condition, and to consent to sexual affairs at an earlier age than controls. Correlation analyses suggest that subjective depressiveness, childhood trauma, rearing style of patients' parents, and actual psychosexual development impacted on mate choice in the hypothetical scenarios. In addition, findings may also corroborate ideas of nonrandom mating in patients with BPD, which may be taken into consideration when interpersonal difficulties with romantic partners are dealt with in psychotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-154
Number of pages8
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume113
Early online date19 Mar 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • borderline personality disorder
  • life history theory
  • nonrandom mating
  • childhood trauma
  • parental rearing style
  • risk-taking
  • interpersonal behaviour
  • Parental rearing style
  • Childhood trauma
  • Nonrandom mating
  • Risk-taking
  • Life history theory
  • Interpersonal behavior
  • Borderline personality disorder

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