Are you in a new relationship that feels a little too good to be true?
Your partner is doting and affectionate. It’s like you’re living in a fairy tale. But it hasn’t been very long.
If you’re being honest, it’s happening fast. Maybe too fast.
It’s making you second guess what’s happening. And rightfully so. Because this sounds like love bombing.
Love bombing occurs in the idealization phase of the BPD relationship, where the BPD person showers you with gifts, energy, and affection to encourage you to fall as much in love with them as they think they are with you. It’s an attempt to manipulate your emotions.
Although everyone enjoys being doted on now and then, the intensity of love bombing by a BPD person can be harmful because it doesn’t last.
And, as the relationship runs its course, it may leave you with more questions than answers and a worrying sense of whether you just weren’t good enough.
If that sounds familiar, let’s explore BPD love bombing further – why it happens and what you can do to recover in the aftermath.
What Is Love Bombing, And How Does It Fit Into BPD Relationships?
Love bombing forms part of the initial stages of the relationship when the partner with BPD is in the idealization phase.
Because you are seen as perfect – literally, as their ideal partner – there is an intentional investment of time, energy, and even money to shower you with their affection.
What this looks like in real life is the partner being readily available to hang out and almost always wanting to be with you. While it’s nice to be proactively wanted, it can be pretty suffocating, especially since love bombing usually happens in a relatively short time.
You may be frequently showered with expensive gifts, grand gestures, and experiences that may seem a little “too much” for a new relationship – expensive jewelry after a week or two of seeing each other, for example, or a trip to meet their parents just a few days in.
Saying “I love you,” wanting to move in together, pushing for a formal commitment, or other ways of progressing the relationship quicker than usual, are also types of love bombing. Think about it this way – the BPD person wants to “get you” and “keep you” before you realize they aren’t perfect.
It can also isolate you from other parts of your life, ensuring they take up most of your time and energy.
While love bombing may feel good initially (because we all like feeling wanted, appreciated, and desired), it is incredibly dangerous because you’re often left on your own, trying to figure out what went wrong.
Additional Resources on Love Bombing:
- Love Bombing vs. Infatuation: What’s The Difference?
- Love Bombing Then Breadcrumbing: Why Does It Happen?
- Love Bombed Then Ghosted: Why People Do It
Why Do People With BPD Engage In Love Bombing?
If you’ve found yourself on the receiving end of love bombing, it may leave you feeling confused and devastated, wondering whether the BPD person actually loved you at all.
First, it’s vital that you know the behavior of a BPD person isn’t caused by you or anything you’ve done. People with BPD think differently and struggle with all relationships.
Because people with BPD experience everything so intensely, their adoration for you is also expressed in this way.
But it’s also a known factor that BPD people love bomb in an attempt to win you over, get you to fall in love with them, and encourage your positive feelings towards them.
While they may not be bad people, knowing this behavior is an intentional manipulation of your feelings is important.
Do BPD people know what they’re doing when they love bomb you?
Though BPD people may not know the name for it or be consciously aware of it, love bombing is a strategy they use to ensure you are bonding with them.
Unlike how narcissists use love bombing for control, the BPD inclination towards love bombing is born more out of desperation. That’s because people with BPD are terrified of rejection.
It’s also not to say they aren’t actually in love with you.
For the most part, BPD people are genuine in their feelings and desire to have a happy ending with you – but their desire for validation and intense anxiety prompts them to shower you with gifts in case you change your mind.
In other words, love bombing can also be seen as a way to ensure you fall in love with them.
Again, this is because BPD people have an intense fear of rejection and crave intimacy simultaneously. Love bombing is an anxious pre-emptive means of meeting the latter need while attempting to prevent the former.
How long is the typical love bombing phase?
There aren’t any studies that have measured the typical love bombing phase of a BPD relationship, but we have anecdotal information from online forums. Participants report the love bombing phase lasting anywhere from 1-4 months.
Sometimes even longer, as in years.
Whereas there are big variations in the duration of love bombing, what remains fairly consistent is the phases and cycles of the relationship.
That’s why to understand the love bombing phase, it’s important to understand the BPD relationship cycle.
While an initial honeymoon phase is normal in most relationships, in a relationship with a BPD person, this period doesn’t last, and there is a distinct shift from idealization to devaluation.
‘Splitting’ is a characteristic of BPD, and because of a BPD person’s inability to see someone as a wholistic person with positive and negative traits, they tend to switch from one extreme to the next.
It’s a type of extreme black-and-white thinking.
Again, no BPD relationship is the same, so establishing an exact timeframe can be tricky. Some people with BPD can remain in the initial phase for a few weeks or even months, but it comes to an end quickly when they start second-guessing their value in your life as the routine of work, and responsibility settles in.
Love Bombing At The End Of A BPD Relationship
It’s worth noting that love bombing isn’t limited to the first stage of the relationship and often pops up after you’ve broken up or taken some time apart.
The classic BPD cycle repeats itself when the person with BPD feels wanted or valued again after a break-up – for example, should you indicate you want to rekindle things.
This means the love bombing starts again, with them professing you were the right one all along, showering you with gifts and their time, just as they had in the beginning.
They will once again try to win you over and ensure you don’t leave them with the same tactics as before.
How should you react to love bombing?
If you’re reading this because you suspect you are being love bombed, you are already one step closer to guarding your own heart.
First, it’s important to know whether you’re dealing with someone who does have BPD, so if it’s undiagnosed, you’re likely to have a more difficult time making the relationship work.
However, if trying to make it work is important to you, then you need to know how to spot love bombing, slow things down, and put up healthy boundaries.
It can be challenging if you don’t know how to say no to a person with BPD, but it is possible with patience, consistency, and clear communication. You should end the relationship if these steps fail to cultivate respectful boundaries.
A word of caution – appropriate boundaries may offend the person with BPD, as they may perceive your attempts to slow things down as immediate rejection.
Be aware of how they respond. If it seems too extreme, it’s better to call it quits. There’s nothing you can do to steer the relationship in a healthy direction at that point.
That’s a battle your BPD loved one has to fight alone via therapy.
You don’t have to figure this out on your own.
The Effects Of Love Bombing And How To Heal
The emotional after-effects of love bombing can leave you fragile and negatively affect your self-worth.
And let’s be honest.
It’s hard to reject love bombing. It feels good to be appreciated and adored. Addictive, even!
This is why when the love bombing phase inevitably ends, it can be so devastating. How could somebody who seemed to love you so intensely throw you away? Discard you?
Loving Again After A BPD Relationship
It’s particularly challenging to move into a new relationship after you’ve dealt with a BPD person.
The patterns you’ve become accustomed to – and the sense of mistrust and second-guessing your partner’s motives – become baggage you carry into your next relationship.
It’s not easy to get over feeling used and abused. This is why it’s important to get help and support.
If you’ve been the victim of BPD love bombing and devaluation, don’t be afraid to reach out to other people who’ve been through it, too. There are great online communities and support groups for loved ones of people with BPD.
You can also try online or in-person counseling.
Remembering this isn’t your fault.
It isn’t because of who you are or anything you did. Your feelings are valid, and with time and healing, you’ll be ready for a healthy relationship that doesn’t chew you up and spit you out.
Additional Resources on Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD):
- How to Overcome Trauma From Dating Someone With BPD
- what Is The Average Length Of A BPD Relationship?
- How To Effectively Say No To Someone With BPD
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