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Relationships are complicated enough without the addition of love bombers. These individuals can be challenging because they may try to manipulate you into feeling guilty for not giving them your undivided attention or loving them back as much as possible.
They often use their borderline personality disorder (BPD) diagnosis to justify this type of manipulative behavior.
Here’s everything you need to know about the BPD love bombing…
What Is Love Bombing?
“Love bombing,” also known as “I-bombing,” “attention-seeking,” and “overly enthusiastic,” refers to a pattern of behaviors used by some people who have BPD. It involves getting someone’s immediate attention through displays of affection such as hugs, kisses, flirting, compliments, gifts, etc. They will feel compelled to give them more time and energy.
The individual using it hopes to keep the other person engaged in conversation long after exhausted his conversational skills. Some examples include talking excessively about themselves, showering the other person with excessive praise, and sending flowers daily. In extreme cases, these tactics could cause physical harm to another person if used repeatedly over a long period.
Dr. Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D., creator of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), coined the term, which focuses on treating mental illness like any other life challenge rather than simply medicating symptoms.
She describes it in her book “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy of Borderline Personality Disorder.” According to a study conducted at Columbia University School of Social Work, nearly half of all adults diagnosed with BPD had been victims of love bombing during childhood.
Who Uses Love Bombing?
Anyone can fall victim to BPD love bombing. Although most people with BPD don’t engage in this manipulating behavior, those who do typically display unstable emotions and lack impulse control. \
People with BPD tend to experience intense emotional reactions when something reminds them of abandonment issues from early adulthood. For example, they might become angry at the slightest provocation, cry uncontrollably, act recklessly, sabotage relationships, withdraw emotionally, or self-harm. Those who’ve never received adequate treatment for their condition seem especially vulnerable to falling prey to this tactic.
How Does It Happen?
Those who suffer from BPD generally have difficulty regulating their emotions, but even mild changes in sentiment trigger destructive thoughts and feelings within them. When confronted with someone who makes eye contact while speaking to them or offers them a hug, they may think, “This person loves me! I must be unlovable!” Or, if they’re already having a bad day, they’ll obsessively replay conversations where they felt ignored, misunderstood, or unappreciated.
As a result, they may start to talk incessantly about whatever topic, whether related to work, family, or personal matters. If the interaction doesn’t go well, they may suddenly pull away or become hostile. Their negative moods usually make them want to avoid future interactions altogether.
Why Is It Considered Abusive?
It’s important to remember that no one enjoys being manipulated, bullied, talked down to, or put down. No matter how hard we try to ignore someone’s overtures, it’s our natural instinct to resist unwanted attention.
We prefer to maintain our independence and dignity, yet many find themselves unable to say no. And unfortunately, there isn’t always a way out once someone begins bombarding us with constant phone calls, texts, emails, social media messages, or visits.
Some experts believe that although BPD love bombing is sometimes done unconsciously, its perpetrators aren’t aware they’re doing anything wrong because they think they’re helping others connect with them.
Others argue that because BPD sufferers feel overwhelmed by their own emotions, they assume everyone else feels the same way. Still, others blame the recipient for failing to respond appropriately to the affectionate gestures. It becomes increasingly harder to walk away when someone doesn’t let up.
According to Linehan, love bombing is part of the broader concept of entrapment, which she defines as “being trapped in cycles of interaction characterized by attempts to lure, cajole, guilt, shame, threaten, overwhelm, or seduce the target into engaging in further interactions.”
Signs of love bombing
There are several telltale signs that someone is love bombing you. Here are seven red flags to watch out for.
They constantly seek reassurance. Someone who wants to spend every waking moment with you may appear unexpectedly at your office, frequently call throughout the night, text nonstop, send multiple emails per minute, or drop by suddenly just to see you. A good rule of thumb is that it’s probably too frequent if someone shows up at least twice a week.
Read about Why is BPD ignoring your texts
They bombard you with requests for help. An insistent lover may insist that you take care of them immediately, offer unsolicited advice, ask for favors, or beg for money.
Their words overflow your ears. Listeners suffering from auditory sensitivity may hear rapid speech, high-pitched voices, loud noises, screaming, crying, shouting, background music, whistling, doorbells, phones ringing, car horns honking, etc., everywhere they turn.
Even subtle sounds like chewing, drinking water, breathing, coughing, walking, typing, running errands, washing dishes, vacuuming, putting groceries away, brushing teeth, taking medication, driving, sitting still, getting dressed, etc., can distract them.
You feel smothered by their presence. Sometimes lovers come across as needy because they haven’t learned how to assert themselves, communicate effectively, or set boundaries. They may invade your space, follow you around, interrupt you, touch you inappropriately, monopolize your time, pressure you, demand your attention, dominate the conversation, or otherwise behave aggressively toward you.
Your sleep patterns change dramatically. Sleep deprivation causes irritability and fatigue, which interfere with concentration and productivity. Your partner may complain about insomnia, oversleeping, jet lag, allergies, illnesses, medical conditions, stress, poor diet, weight gain, alcohol consumption, smoking, caffeine intake, medications, or job responsibilities.
They may also stay up late at night texting friends, checking Facebook, watching TV, playing games online, reading articles, surfing the web, shopping online, going to concerts, visiting museums, attending sporting events, eating out, traveling, or working overtime.
They refuse to leave. Many partners become accustomed to living together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While this arrangement may temporarily alleviate boredom, financial concerns, loneliness, fear of losing you, and inflexibility may eventually lead to resentment and anger.
Don’t hesitate to politely suggest that your significant other pursue romantic interests outside of your relationship. Otherwise, they may resort to stalking you via email, telephone, text message, social networking sites, or mail carrier delivery personnel.
They use guilt trips. Victims of love bombing may begin pressuring you to reciprocate their affection by saying things like,
“If you loved me, you would…”,
“If you really cared about me, you wouldn’t…”,
“Please don’t hate me,”
“Don’t worry about tomorrow; today is all that matters right now.”,
“Just hold me tonight, please?”,
“Can I borrow $20?” or
“Will you marry me?”.
They withhold information. Unfaithful spouses, partners whose whereabouts are unknown, secret admirers, stalkers, exes, jealous boyfriends/girlfriends, and con artists may try to elicit sympathy by withholding pertinent details about their lives.
They may pretend to be sick, missing appointments, unavailable due to emergencies, or stuck in traffic jams.
They play head games. To win favor, some people with BPD will agree to anything their partner requests, regardless of whether they actually want to comply. They may lie about plans, dates, times, finances, opinions, and expectations.
Partners may also try to trick each other into making promises that cannot be kept. They expect special consideration, perks, concessions, rewards, apologies, explanations, absolution, forgiveness, and gratitude in exchange.
When Should You Intervene?
Although love bombing is relatively new terminology, the practice itself goes hand in hand with human nature. Our ancestors lived in small tribes of less than 100 members, meaning anyone interested in them risked rejection.
Today, however, we live in a society where dating services exist, and singles bars abound. So instead of risking potential heartbreak, we can choose whom we wish to date and select a mate based solely upon mutual attraction. But unlike prehistoric man, we also enjoy instant gratification and crave closeness. Unfortunately, this combination leads us astray.
To protect yourself against BPD love bombing, consider learning more about the warning signs listed above and developing healthy communication strategies. Also, develop a plan for responding to advances from a partner with BPD. Although it may seem unfair, love bombing is illegal and constitutes abuse. Therefore, you have legal rights under the law. Call 911 or the local domestic violence agency if necessary.
A final word of caution: Be cautious of men who claim to have BPD but deny experiencing trauma from past relationships. Such persons likely lying about their condition.