Living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) can be challenging given the instability it can bring in one’s life emotionally as well as in relationships. It is estimated that 8.6% of the population in India suffers from BPD, also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder. Individuals with BPD also struggle with their self-image and impulsivity. The development of BPD can be due to heredity, differences in brain functioning, dysfunctional environment in childhood, or societal factors. One of the core issues for people with BPD is their fear of abandonment. As a response to this fear, they tend to become overly dependent and clingy on others by constantly seeking reassurance and attention. In this blog, we’ll dig deeper into this phenomenon known as BPD “love bombing” and how to cope with it.
What is BPD love bombing?
Love bombing means showering a person with overwhelming attention and affection, often early on in a relationship. This could be in the form of being in touch constantly, giving extravagant gifts, or forming a deep connection quickly.
Love bombing can be observed in Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as well as BPD. However, there is a difference between the love bombing experienced in these conditions. A person with NPD may be love bombing with the intention to exploit the other person and benefit themselves. However, in the case of a person with BPD, they intend to secure the relationship and prevent the other person from leaving.
If you’re on the receiving end of love bombing, it can feel flattering and intense at first. However, since love bombing is a result of emotional dysregulation, a person with BPD can get ticked off at the smallest abandonment trigger and quickly shift to perceiving you as entirely bad or worthless. This happens due to a psychological mechanism known as splitting.
Splitting occurs in cycles of idealization and devaluation. It often involves thinking in black-and-white terms and extreme emotional reactions. This can result in a person with BPD having strained relationships.
What are the symptoms of BPD love bombing?
While every relationship comes with its own set of challenges, a relationship involving a BPD love bombing can be especially emotionally intense and draining. Hence, it is important to understand the symptoms of this phenomenon. A person with BPD might:
- Shower you with intense attention and gifts: There are grand gestures and declarations of affection involved, although they might feel too much considering the length or depth of your relationship.
- Be constantly in touch with you: They’re constantly setting up meetings and dates to spend time with you, and when they’re not with you in person, they’re calling and messaging you, desperately wanting your attention.
- Get too close to you quickly: Even though you’ve only known them for a few weeks, they’re planning your future together and pushing you to make long-term commitments such as moving in together or starting a project.
- Put you on a pedestal: They see you as perfect and like you can make no mistakes, idealize you, and then inadvertently devalue you when you’re not able to meet their unrealistic standards. This can make you feel confused and hurt.
The increased emotional intensity in the relationship can lead to intense conversations and heated arguments, making you feel confused and exhausted.
Causes of BPD love bombing
While many factors contribute to the development of BPD love bombing, the primary factor is an intense fear of abandonment. If one constantly feels like they’re going to be left high and dry, they will naturally try to secure the relationship. Hence, love bombing can be an unintentional strategy to create a strong emotional bond that can prevent the other person from leaving.
A person with BPD also has a distorted image of themselves. They may try to seek validation and identity through their relationships. Hence, they engage in love bombing as a way to align with what you like and want.
Individuals with BPD are often impulsive. This can manifest as love bombing when they’re trying to solidify a relationship without giving much thought to what they are seeking long-term in the relationship.
A history of unstable relationships, even dating back to childhood, can lead to an individual with BPD recreating the same dynamics over and over again in adult relationships.
How do you overcome BPD love bombing?
If you identify with engaging in BPD love bombing, you must start by seeking professional help. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can help you with strategies for emotional regulation. Your doctor may also prescribe you medication for treating your symptoms of mood swings, anxiety, or depression.
Simultaneously, you can also begin developing awareness of your love-bombing behavior. Keeping track of your triggers can help you work on them and modify your behavior. You must also be kind to yourself and challenge your negative self-beliefs.
If you’re on the receiving end of BPD love bombing, you can start by acknowledging what the experience is making you feel and reaffirming to yourself that you’re not to blame. Then, take some time to reflect and reestablish boundaries with them. You can also reach out for emotional support from your friends and family and professional help to work through any traumatic experiences. You can also practice self-care in the form of exercise, meditation, and mindfulness to nurture yourself.
Love bombing is a psychological mechanism that is most commonly observed in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). BPD is characterized by intense emotional instability, which is reflected in a person’s self-image and relationships—individuals with BPD fear being abandoned, which can manifest as love bombing. Showering a person with intense love and attention is a core part of love bombing, along with grandiose gestures and gifts. By doing this, an individual with BPD is attempting to secure their relationship so as not to have to deal with being rejected or left. If you engage in BPD love bombing, you can overcome this behavior by seeking professional help, such as psychotherapy, and becoming more self-aware. If you experience this behavior from someone else, you must draw boundaries and practice self-care. If you find signs similar to this behavior in yourself or a loved one, you must reach out for professional support. At United We Care, we offer the most appropriate, clinically backed solutions for all your needs for well-being.
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