Within the last ten years, our culture has become more familiar with the concept of love-bombing. The term describes a tactic that is commonly exploited by narcissists to lure people into romantic relationships. Although most people have at least heard of love-bombing, the majority of us often have trouble recognizing it when faced with its hypnotizing effects. This is how it is designed and why it works so well. Awareness of particular toxic behaviors can help us to identify an abuser before we become attached.
What is Love-Bombing? Let’s start with the basics. Love-bombing is one aspect of a larger psychological technique referred to as grooming. Grooming is a tactic used by many abusers to quickly draw someone in by gaining their trust and intensifying their emotional attachment. These moves are made to isolate the victim and put them into a dependent position so that they are more vulnerable to abusive behavior. It is generally applied in instances of an unbalanced power dynamic but can be implemented in any type of relationship.
Narcissists, manipulators, and predators move swiftly to avoid detection. The aim is to overload a victim with so much belief in the potential of the relationship that they couldn’t possibly deny it. This blind trust then spreads through a person’s conscious and subconscious mind until it has a solid grip on their emotions.
The love-bomber covertly increases the control they have on a victim by overwhelming them with attention and affection. They use deception and performance in order to influence how a victim thinks, feels, and makes decisions. Examples of love-bombing behavior can include grandiose expressions of affection, smothering with compliments, lavish gifts, and dates, and/or a rapidly evolving sequence of serious events in the relationship. Simply put, love-bombing is manipulative kindness to the extreme. Each positive reinforcement is meant to distract the victim so that they miss what’s happening or underestimate the impact of concerning behavior. This phase of narcissistic abuse typically lasts up to 6–12 weeks. Once the victim trusts the abuser and lets their guard down, everything changes. When a narcissist feels like they have someone, they become cold and indifferent. The affection that was once so passionate whithers away to crumbs. This is when “devaluation,” the next phase in the cycle of abuse, begins. Although, love-bombing can and does frequently come back later in a relationship if the abuser feels like they are losing control of their victim. What Does Love-Bombing Feel Like? The reason it is so difficult to decipher love-bombing from true romance is that it feels like the answer to all your dreams. As appealing as it sounds to be on the receiving end of a nonstop barrage of flattery, it is psychological manipulation. It can be nearly impossible to snap yourself out of it unless you are substantially aware of the warning signs. If the words “perfect” or “magical” come to mind when you think about a connection, it’s not necessarily a valid indication. Your relationship with a love-bomber will feel like a whirlwind romance, which is something we all want, but most of us have a skewed idea of what a healthy one should look and feel like. I hate to come off as a killjoy, but such alacritous feelings are not rational at the beginning of a relationship. Remember, if something feels too good to be true, it most likely is. Love-bombing entails a staggering amount of adoration. A love-bomber may use quixotic vocabulary and phrases to make you feel special. They’ll say things like “you take my breath away”,“ I’m infatuated with you” or “ that was the most amazing first date I’ve ever had.” The love-bomber will begin to make promises or plans for the future quicker than any of your past partners. Right away, they’ll claim ownership of you, maybe by already referring to you as their partner or future wife/husband. They may say “I love you” fairly early, but it will be based on no emotional connection. Regardless of this illusion, you will feel so secure with this person and hastily allow yourself to open up, which usually results in oversharing. This is exactly what the love-bomber wants you to do because an emotional venting session will build up a sense of artificial intimacy in your mind. You’ll notice that they are “learning” so much about you but minimally opening up about themselves. You will most likely find yourself spending any and all of your free time with the love-bomber. They may even suggest you move in together because you’re with each other so much anyways, and it will seem practical. But, it is not a good idea to take this step so early in the relationship. A love-bomber will make sure to shower you with presents and grand gestures galore. If you look closer, you’ll most likely notice that the gifts are not necessarily things you even like or want. Despite the appearance of an obsession with you, love-bombers do not actually pay that much attention to what you’re saying. The intense endearment, closeness, and gestures are anything but genuine. They are acts intended to make you feel indebted to the love-bomber because they’ve done such “nice” things for you. That’s why you will start to become attached to them.
Every calculated aspect of the relationship is a part of the love-bomber’s plan to create a mirage of intimacy. Unfortunately, it is an infallible system. Young women, especially, fall into the trap as we are socialized from a young age to feel grateful for any show of baseline respect, let alone such blatant romantic displays. It’s important to distinguish that the fervency of love-bombing will only last for an intentional period of time in order to reel you in. These sentiments will not consistently continue throughout the relationship.
Even though love-bombing is always present during courtship until it ultimately ends, it can come back later on. Any time you happen to become suspicious of their deceitful behavior, they may start the cycle again with efforts to gain your trust back.
How Can I Avoid The Trap? The best thing you can do is to arm yourself with clarity on what the start of a healthy relationship should feel like. This means establishing non-negotiable boundaries for yourself and preparing to communicate them to potential partners.
If you notice you’re sharing intimate personal details with someone as you’re just getting to know them, it’s a definite red flag. If you find yourself spending too much time with a person, tell them you need some space and gauge how they react to this.
Love-bombing is not only highly effective, but it is a system that works whether you resist it or not. Your only protection is to completely cut off contact with a person as soon as you identify the signs.
Recognize that a balanced person will not move too fast because they themselves want to make sure that a potential partner is meeting all of their personal standards. We must respect ourselves enough to strictly hold potential partners to each of the boundaries we outline.
- Alexandria, blogger