The explosion of affection. The ticking sound of constant adoration. The smoke disguised as a perfumed haze of love. When someone starts showering us with love drops but becomes a full-on love storm ( at a racing pace) something can feel off.
They’re constantly messaging you and already talking about forever. They talk to you as though you’re the apple of their eye (perhaps they’ve even said that exact phrase.) They’re gifting you without reason, perhaps they’re even making gestures that are so dramatic it feels like a movie. It starts off somewhat sweet, but then it gets suspicious. They’re acting so in love and it’s been a week?
The overt displays can be intoxicating though. We love a dopamine high, and an ego-stroke, so we get hooked (big sigh). But it can turn from fairytale to disaster film real quick. It could be love, but it’s more likely love bombing, a narcissist’s secret weapon. If you’re like a bull when it comes to red flags, this is one you’ve probably run right into. It’s called love bombing, and it’s not a cute look when you really gaze. Why? Well, once the love bomber’s got you hooked like an innocent fish on the line that promises you a river of dreams, you might find out that it was exactly that comparison.
If any of these notes resonate with you, at a past or present interval in your life, you’ve likely experienced love-bombing. Something films, television and pop culture have normalised, and worse, glamorised. Here’s what it’s all about.
Breaking down love bombing.
It’s not as groovy as it sounds.
According to a psychotherapist, Denise Dunne, love bombing is initially characterised by “intense displays of adoration and the sense that a new relationship is too good to be true.” Preach.
“Love bombing describes the behaviour of flooding someone with flattering and grandiose messages, normally at the start of a relationship,” she says. “It is recognizable by feelings of being swept off your feet, or alternatively, a bit smothered.”
According to a study that looked at the relationship between love-bombing and narcissism, love bombing was identified as the presence of excessive communication at the beginning of a romantic relationship in order to obtain power and control as a means of self-enhancement.
In short, love bombing is a form of control, emotional abuse and manipulation. It plays on giving you the high that comes with the affection, only to take it away. Kind of like a drug dealer, except taking the high away is personal. Once they have what they want, the love bomber can start the next phase – the switch up.
If you’re a doe-eyed hopeful who believes in the mantra Disney made millions off of (fairytales are real and sometimes things aren’t simply too good to be true) you might take a leap on the person who is love bombing you, even though it feels a little weird and you know this. Now you’re in a relationship with them, and things start to change. Suddenly they aren’t putting in the same amount of effort. Suddenly they’re gaslighting you, manipulating you, the narcissist’s chocolate box of emotionally abusive options. It can even become physical abuse in some cases. They’ve become a complete contrast to what you thought you were getting into. As Dunne explains, “the admiration is abruptly withdrawn, leaving the admired feeling worthless and confused, or forced to chase the admiration through submissive means.”
Here’s the problem: you keep thinking that these awful behaviours are the exceptions and not the norms of their character because that’s not who they initially showed themselves to be. You’re addicted to the high highs and willing to put up with the low-lows in exchange. They secured their bag of control. But it’s not like they’re terrible all the time, right? They have their moments when they become the person you fell for again but it can become less and less. However, the hopeful sticks around in what becomes a toxic cycle.
But why would anyone love bomb?
Love-bombing and control more often than not, go hand in hand. Love bombing was actually coined in relation to cult recruitment according to Doctor Mark Griffiths. It’s a form of grooming. They want what they want (you) and they’re willing to go to the ends of the earth to make that happen. A self-aware narcissist actually gave the other side of the story from the love bomber’s perspective.
@mentalhealnessLove Bombing feels like real love ##npd ##lovebombing♬ original sound – Lee Hammock
Are all narcissist love bombers, and are all love-bombers narcissists?
As another psychotherapist, Ami Kaplan notes, “anyone is capable of love bombing, but it’s most often a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder.”
Love bombing signs.
Look, it’s going to be coloured differently in every situation. Don’t get love bombing confused with high-level effort. A way to distinguish the two is, one actually lives up to the promises in the near future, the other promises a lot for the distant future which doesn’t always come to be.
Obsessive flattery, constant complimentary, excessive communication, demanding of responses and overt gift gestures are all part of the love bombing package. Basically, every love language is wrapped up into one.
Here are some specific signs.
According to Lori Nixon Bethea, PhD:
- The love bomber will demand your attention and time and may isolate you from your family and friends (for example, they may become angry and make you feel guilty for making plans with others).
- The love bomber will excessively compliment you and shower you with affection.
- The love bomber will persuade you to make a commitment to them very early in the courtship.
According to author Kristie Taylor of What I Wish I knew about love, some other signs are:
- Does it feel like they’re moving really fast?
- Do they pressure you to hang out all the time
- Future early?
- Over the top romantic gestures
- Does it feel like the personality did a 180 and as thoughthe honeymoon phase ended really quickly?
- Questioning your friends and family, those in your life?
- Words of adoration have become words of criticism
- Insecurities used against you