Relationships are fun and exciting. All the butterflies in your stomach, staying up all night gushing about how good they look, or the last sweetest text you received. In the past, most of us worried that all these sweet feelings we experience during this phase would lead to heartbreak, but now the concern of someone’s love bombing seems to have become an even bigger concern.
Love bombing is a manipulative tactic used by con artists, narcissists, and abusers. It’s very difficult to tell when it’s actually happening, so let’s talk about love bombing so we can all become more vigilant and prevent it from happening to us.
Initially, love bombing feels great because of all the positive hormones your body releases in response to all the affection. You feel valued, worthy, needed, and special. The love bomber raises your self-confidence while tying your self-esteem to their approval and positive feedback.
This may seem perfect and ideal at the start because you’ve found a partner who showers you with gifts, love, affirmations, attention, etc. It’s everything you’ve wanted in a relationship – maybe even more. But as time goes on, your affectionate partner turns into someone you don’t recognize and your relationship is a situation you would never have willingly gotten into.
What is Love Bombing?
The term ‘love bombing’ has gained more popularity in recent times, but what does it actually mean? Love bombing has been characterized by excessive affection, admiration, and attention with the goal of making the potential partner feel dependent and like they owe the giver.
Love bombing is pretty unconscious behavior and is most often a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder – although anyone is capable of it. It is when the individual tries to get the other person, or they make it so that their partner is totally enamored with them. Once they begin to feel secure in the relationship, the narcissist’s personality changes and they can become more difficult, manipulative, or even abusive.
Famous cult leaders actually coined the term ‘love bombing’. Cult leaders exercised excessive positive reinforcement to manufacture feelings of intense unity and loyalty. Members of cults would use love bombing new recruits to join their fellowship.
It’s crazy to realize that potential significant others use this tactic on people they want to become romantic partners with.
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What are the Signs of Love Bombing?
There are a couple of signs to watch out for to know if you’re being love bombed. Just be aware that the presence of one or even a couple of these behaviors does not automatically mean that your partner is love bombing you.
1They spoil you with too many material gifts.
Over-the-top gestures are often involved in love bombing. They start sending you gifts at your workplace that may be considered inappropriate (like filling the break room with bouquets instead of sending just one) or planning lavish trips without consulting you first, and they will not take “no” for an answer.
This can make you feel like you owe them something, or make you feel bad about rethinking your relationship.
2They shower you with never-ending compliments.
Admiration is something we all crave, but a constant barrage of praise can become overwhelming. Deep connections and feelings for someone can take a while to develop which is why if someone starts professing their undying love for you after the first few dates, that’s a potential red flag. It may show that their feelings aren’t genuine.
The constant repetition of phrases like “I love everything about you,” or “You’re the only one I want to spend time with,” can be endearing, but you have to consider how it relates to their overall behavior.
3They text and call you non-stop throughout the day.
If they can’t be with you physically, they’re blowing up your phone with call and text notifications. They’re stalking your socials and dropping likes everywhere. While constant communication is pretty normal when your relationship is in its beginning stages, it can be oppressive when the communication feels one-sided.
They give you their constant attention, but they also want your undivided attention.
Some people love showering their partners with attention, and that’s fine, but there will be some partners that become angry when your focus is not solely on them. They can start pouting when you’re on the phone with your loved ones, or refusing to leave your place when you ask them to. Partners should be respectful and encourage their partner’s interests outside of the relationship.
4They make “soulmate claims”.
They involve the divine in your relationship claiming that you were fated to meet or that you were born to be together. While this can make you feel like the main character in your favorite romantic movie, you have to remember that Hollywood films are usually fictional, and true love and relationships don’t always look like the movies. It’s a manipulative tactic used in love bombing to make you think that some higher force was involved in the two of you getting together.
5They want commitment immediately.
A love bomber will want your commitment immediately. They’ll rush you into things and start dreaming up big plans for your future together. They might start mentioning things like getting married or moving in together even though you’ve barely had time to get to know each other.
As mentioned earlier, real relationships can take time, and it’s unlikely that someone can love you more than anything in the world when they’ve only known you for such a limited amount of time.
6They become upset when you place boundaries.
When you ask them to slow down, they’ll become upset or try to manipulate you to get what they want. If someone truly cares for you, they’ll have respect for your needs and boundaries.
Love bombers will become angry when you try to limit their access to you or when you refuse to accept any and all displays of their love and affection.
7They exhibit neediness to an extreme.
No matter what you do, how much time you spend with them or how much access you allow them, they always want more. You start bailing on friends because they make you feel bad for leaving them alone or maybe you feel like you have to immediately answer their texts and calls because they did gift you the latest phone model.
Are you spending time and giving them your attention because you want to or because they make you feel bad for having your own life to attend to? Consider these when you assess your relationship.
8They start to become overwhelmingly intense.
The charm never gets toned down and they always seem to be putting on a show when you’re around. There’s no respite from their attention and you never know what to expect from them.
True love is not overbearing. If their love feels more like a burden than a blessing, maybe rethink if it’s worth pursuing.
9You’re constantly feeling uneasy about them.
Being on the receiving end of love bombing can be an intoxicating experience. But there’s something you can’t quite put your finger on, and it’s like you know that something has got to give.
Trust your gut on this, you may be subconsciously registering signs of danger or inconsistencies in their behavior.
10They push for physical intimacy quickly.
Physical intimacy can create an intense emotional connection faster. Affection can lead to trust, their touches can feel safe and familiar, thus leading to sex quite early. The sum of all these feelings can make you feel like you’re in love, and the love bomber knows this.
Physical intimacy should not be rushed, and a respectful partner would not try to escalate your physical relationship until you’re ready.
11Love bombing leads to eventual emotional inconsistency.
The thing about love bombers is that they can’t keep up that behavior forever, and it usually changes the moment that they become assured of your commitment to them. They will start to detach and make you feel like you’ve done something wrong. The change in their demeanor may make you doubt yourself and crave their praise again.
Why is Love Bombing Dangerous?
Because love bombing is a manipulator’s tool, there are long-term dangers to falling into the love bombing trap. Here is how this tactic may negatively the victims.
1Love bombing is detrimental to your mental health.
Love bombing is a form of emotional abuse. It has something to do with the law of reciprocity where you feel like when someone gives you something, you owe them something of equal, if not greater, value. You start to feel the need to reciprocate the excessive love and attention they shower on you – even if it may not be what you feel organically.
2It may start a cycle of abuse.
The targeted person may become hooked on the love bomber. This gives the love bomber control over their partner’s mind, heart, and behaviors. This also boosts the love bomber’s ego. Once the abuser feels secure in your relationship, they no longer have a use for you and may start hurling insults and gaslight you throughout your relationship, but because of their manipulation to make you reliant on them, you may find it hard to leave.
3Love bombers will devalue then discard.
Once the love bomber feels like they have control over you, they begin to devalue you, and you do everything you can to get their approval back. And when they get bored, they’ll just discard you and move on to their next victim.
4It crushes the victim’s self-esteem.
Love bombers work by making their partner’s self-esteem reliant on their praise and approval. Once the love bomber’s opinion becomes the most important thing to the victim, they begin to withhold the praise and even begin to insult their partner. Because the victim’s value of themselves had become dependent on the love bomber, it becomes impossible to rebuild even though their other loved ones may remind them of their worth and importance.
5It leaves the victim traumatized and alone.
Victims of emotional manipulation can often feel alone. The love bomber makes it so that they no longer trust themselves or others, and that can be extremely isolating. So even if the victim gets out of the relationship, it can be hard for them to talk about and discuss with other people.
What to Do if You’re Being Love Bombed?
You’ve spotted the signs of love bombing, now what are you supposed to do? Well, there are a few options – the approach you take is entirely up to you.
1Walk away from the relationship.
If relationships ring even the slightest alarm bells in your head, it might be best to simply walk away. It may be harder to spot a love bomber, so if you’ve been able to spot signs of love bombing in the early stages of your relationship, good for you!
2Try to assert yourself.
Perhaps you’re unsure if your partner is love bombing or not. A good way to check is to tell them which behavior they are exhibiting makes you uncomfortable. If they respect your feelings and ease up on those behaviors, it is likely they did not even realize their behaviors were overwhelming. If they get annoyed or angry at you for asserting your boundaries, then proceed with caution.
3Suggest that you don’t appreciate the grand gestures.
Be direct and tell them that you do not like the overt displays of affection or excessive gift-giving. Explain to them why you want them to stop – whether it’s because you feel indebted, or you just feel uncomfortable with that kind of showy behavior.
4Start creating a safe space for yourself.
Begin creating spaces where you can feel like yourself. Have people you trust tell you about who you are, and whose judgment of others you can rely on. Love bombing relies on the other person’s ability to manipulate you and your self-esteem, so if you’re able to maintain a healthy image of yourself, you should be safe from love bombers.
5Do not try to reform the love bomber.
Whatever you do, do not try to reform the love bomber. They are beyond your help. Trying to reform them may even cause you to entrench yourself further into a relationship you should not want to be in. Leave the reforming to the professionals and protect yourself.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Love Bombing?
Believe it or not, there are ways to protect yourself from love bombers! These are some things to remind yourself of when entering a new relationship.
1Remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Love bombers will seem like the partner of your dreams, showering you with endless amounts of love and affection. A lot of the time, this is a behavior they put on to lure you into their affections. So be cautious and wary of inconsistencies in their actions.
2Learn to recognize and avoid narcissists.
Love bombing is usually a sign of someone’s narcissistic personality disorder. Spotting signs of someone’s narcissism helps you put your guard up for potential love bombing.
3Be aware of your own vulnerabilities.
Know your weak spots – this is what love bombers will use to reel you into their web. By being conscious of your own vulnerabilities, you become more aware of when someone is paying extra close attention to them and using them against you.
4Have a checklist of what a healthy relationship looks like.
By knowing what a healthy relationship looks like, you become aware of what it does not, as well. Love bombing shows signs of unhealthy relationships very early on, and being on the lookout for those warning signs makes you less vulnerable to this kind of manipulation.
5Maintain a healthy dose of realism.
Keep your relationship expectations realistic. A lot of the time people will fall for love bombing because of the high expectations they have of their potential partner’s behavior.
Frequently Asked Questions
Love bombing can still be a bit of a mystery because so many people will confuse it with true love in the early stages of their relationship. So here are a few queries that we hope clear up the confusion.
1How can you tell the difference between true love or love bombing?
True love means that your partner respects your space and individuality while love bombers will manipulate you into caving into their wants and needs. They will try to make it so that you lose your individuality.
2Is there a cure for love bombers?
Most love bombers have a narcissistic personality disorder and this is one of the disorders that cannot be helped by therapy. Bringing attention to their love bombing may make them aware that this is an undesirable behavior of theirs, but ultimately they have to make the decision to stop love bombing on their own. And while it is incurable, they can choose to avoid this manipulative behavior.
3How do I heal from love bombing?
Talk to people you trust about your experience, or seek therapy. Find ways to gain back your self-confidence. These are the first steps you need to take to heal.
4How can love bombers be narcissists if they love me?
Narcissists love to win, and love bombing can help them win games before the prey (in this instance, you) become aware that they’re being played with.
5I keep falling for love bombers, what am I doing wrong?
Love bombers are relentless so it’s not on you. But being able to spot the signs of love bombing will help you avoid them. If you truly cannot seem to get away from love bombers on your own, maybe get your friends to do a check on the people you date.
Love bombing can be so easy to fall for because they usually present themselves as the ideal partner – at least at the beginning. While there’s nothing wrong with people being affectionate or showering you with attention, be wary when it starts invading your sense of individuality.