Having someone shower you with care and warmth feels thrilling in the initial stages of a new relationship. The honeymoon phase is about pampering, caring, and being attentive to your significant other. However, if you are involved with a narcissistic partner, these gestures may feel like love bombing. It is a tactic for manipulation to gain control over someone with excessive attention, admiration, and affection. As a result, the recipient may feel dependent and obligated to the narcissist in contrast to a healthy codependency where couples understand each other.
Love bombing is a phenomenon and some of us might be unaware of it. In such a situation, an individual might shower you with attention to control and manipulate you. It is hard to detect when someone is showing so much affection and experts have often labeled it harmful practice.
Don’t be hard on yourself for not realizing a person’s true intentions, because we all want to be loved and needed. Want to understand more about this situation? Scroll down.
In This Article
What Is Love Bombing?
When you are constantly showered with gifts, compliments, and attention — sometimes, even without your consent — it is known as love bombing. A narcissistic person tries to capture your attention and fancy with over-the-top gestures that tend to leave you floored. In truth, they themselves are highly attention-seeking. They do this unhealthy practice of idealization to satisfy their desire for connection or manipulation.
The term ‘narcissist love bombing’ was first coined by famous cult leaders, not psychologists. Members of the Unification Church of the United States (also known as the Moonies) enjoyed love bombing people to entice them to join their group. Other narcissistic cult leaders, such as Jim Jones and David Koresh, used a similar method. They did it to instill feelings of intense unity and loyalty in their followers.
While it may be an instant confidence boost to feel wanted and appreciated, you should be wary if it does not feel genuine at any level. All these seemingly romantic gestures start a cycle of abuse in which the love bomber manipulates you by withholding love and attention.
If the person trying to woo you seems too good to be true, trust your instincts. The next section expounds on some of the most common signs of love bombing. Scroll down.
6 Signs Of Love Bombing
1. They Show Appreciation By Showering You With Gifts
Over-the-top gestures, such as sending gifts to your workplace or purchasing expensive plane tickets for a vacation, are common examples of love bombing. All of this may appear harmless, but the goal is to trick you into believing you owe them money or favors.
2. They Can’t Stop Complimenting You
We all want to be admired, but excessive praise can make your head spin. Their feelings may not be genuine if they are complimenting you too much.
3. They Are Constantly Calling And Texting You
They call, text, and message you on social media all the time. While it is normal to be in constant touch when you are dating, it is a red flag if it feels one-sided and becomes overwhelming.
4. They Are Looking For Your Undivided Attention
Not being the focus of your attention enrages them. A few examples are they do not appreciate you going out with friends or refuse to leave even after you tell them that you have to be at work early the next day.
5. They Are Looking For Commitment
A love bomber may put you under pressure to hurry things up and make big plans for the future. When you have only known each other for a short while, they will bring up topics like marriage or moving in together.
6. It Irritates Them If You Set Boundaries
When you tell them to slow down, they will continue to manipulate you to get what they want. Having said that, Jenn Ann, a blogger who was married to a narcissist shared her experience in her attempt to set healthy boundaries in her relationship. She said, “Whenever I tried to assert boundaries, we would fight and he’d blame me for trying to set boundaries that went across his. I started surrendering space to him and giving in, even though it hurt because it felt better than fighting (i).”
Someone who truly cares about you, on the other hand, will respect your wishes and back off and will not cause boundary violations.
All the above ways help a person with narcissistic tendencies make you emotionally, physically, and financially dependent on them. Read on to understand why narcissists feel this need to make someone rely on them.
Why Narcissists Employ Love Bombing
People who use love bombing techniques have a low sense of self-confidence and deep-rooted insecurity that leads to their possessiveness. They seek constant validation and reassurance, which is referred to as narcissistic supply. Unfortunately, nothing ever seems to be enough to satisfy their need for approval and fill the void within them.
Love bombers, despite their confident demeanor, secretly believe they are unlovable, undesirable, and unworthy. To make themselves feel valuable, they resort to love bombing to boost their egos and satisfy their desires for power and control.
The victim of narcissist love bombing may feel they are under the influence of a powerful drug at the start of the relationship. This period could last weeks, months, years, or even decades. However, this emotional hype does not last indefinitely, and the effects will eventually fade, shattering the facade.
Only when the love bombing phase is nearing its end will you notice the signs. At this point, the narcissist may begin to devalue you — both overtly and covertly — by employing a variety of manipulation techniques. Humbling, withdrawal of affection and physical intimacy, avoidance, shifting blame, gaslighting, and other tactics may be used. After the love bombing ends, your devaluation starts– and you will find yourself in isolation leading to a toxic trauma bonding between you two. All of this serves to make you utterly reliant on the love bomber for the validation and affection you once received.
An individual involved in love bombing may also keep bringing up your rough past just to make themselves feel good. While this may look like emotional support, it is nothing but a manipulative strategy.
Such manipulation and emotional abuse cannot possibly lead to a healthy relationship. Head to the next section to understand how love bombing can be detrimental to your mental health, self-image, and overall personality.
Is Love Bombing A Red Flag?
Love bombing does not lead to good couple dynamics. Though it is natural to pay additional attention to the person you are dating in the early stages of a relationship, it is argued that a love bomber’s attention is typically fake and exaggerated on both conscious and unconscious levels. This type of behavior and constant flattery is a red flag because of the manipulative, self-absorbed nature of the underlying dynamics. Through this excessive infatuation, they are grooming you to be dependent on them.
As a kind of emotional abuse, narcissistic love bombing and obsession can be extremely harmful to your mental health. When someone offers you something, you feel obligated to repay them with something equivalent or more. So, despite the red signals, if your partner lavishes you with excessive affection and attention, you feel obligated to reciprocate with similar behavior, dedication, or loyalty.
A love bomber does not only acquire power over their partner’s head and heart but their ego also gets bolstered once the targeted person becomes addicted to them. They no longer have any use for their spouse at this point and begin the process of ending the relationship.
When a love bomber withdraws from their lover, they may begin to abuse them emotionally. They may insult their partner, make derogatory remarks, gaslight them, and make them feel invalidated and worthless. The love bomber is conscious that they have power over their partner and may eventually leave the relationship, knowing that they can return to resume the abuse cycle at any time.
Alternatively, you can also notice a lack of authenticity in your partner. The person may alter their commitment as per the situation just to make themselves look good.
While it may be impossible to change their behavior, it becomes essential to be aware of such manipulative tactics and stay as far from narcissistic people as possible. The following section talks about how you can avoid the vicious cycle of love bombing and save yourself from unhealthy narcissism.
Dealing With Narcissist Love Bombing
It is natural to have strong feelings for a love bomber and even justify their acts. But narcissist love bombing is, without doubt, a sort of psychological manipulation. When a narcissist seeks control over a person, they look for deep-seated fears and finds methods to exploit them. For example, you may believe this individual understands or sees you for who you are. This connection offers you the kind of affirmation you have always desired, no matter how controlling it is.
If you suspect your partner is love bombing, do everything you can to get yourself out of the abusive environment and seek support outside of the relationship. Even if you think this behavior is about hardcore crushing rather than love bombing, it is still worth having a talk and explaining how the attention is making you uncomfortable.
Talking to your partner about your issues may result in improvement in the relationship, depending on their level of insight. If you are dealing with a true narcissist, though, no amount of dialogue is likely to improve the situation. So, the best you can do is to stay away from such people.
Infographic: 5 Clear Signs You Are Getting Love-Bombed
While getting nonstop attention and being pampered with gifts may seem nice, it can be a major cause of love bombing. If any recent events are making you think that your partner might be doing it, the infographic below may help. We have listed the top 5 clear signs to help you figure out if you are getting love bombed or not. Check it out for more information!
Everyone loves to be the focus of someone’s undivided attention and affection. However, someone’s intentions of being generous with their affections may not always be healthy, and this intense affection can spiral down into toxic relationships. At times, we can feel it ourselves when someone’s attention towards us is not gracious as it is overbearing and makes us uncomfortable. Such people do not cling to us to care for us but to nurse their insecurities. This love bombing comes from an underlying malicious intent of forcefully influencing or manipulating us. It might not be in our power to control a love bomber’s behavior, but we must take a stand for our sanity and distance ourselves from them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do only narcissists love bomb?
No, love bombing can occur even outside of the narcissistic relationship.
Is it genuine love or love bombing?
It is always better to understand the difference between genuine love and love bombing to avoid any negative circumstances in a relationship. Genuine love may take at least 3 to 4 months to express, whereas, in love bombing, a person may express his/ her love within the initial days.
Is love bombing always on purpose?
No, love bombing may not always be on purpose. Sometimes, it can happen unintentionally due to different cultural environments. This may especially be true if your partner is brought up in a family or culture that encourages the expression of feelings of fondness. Such a person may not realize that their attention may be a cause of concern or uneasiness for you.
Is love bombing always manipulative?
No, love bombing may not always be manipulative. Sometimes, it may come from feelings of loneliness and a strong desire for a close relationship to develop quickly. Whatever may be the case, it should be viewed as a red flag, as words of affection and gifts only feel right when you are comfortable with them.
Can love bombing be non-romantic?
Yes, love bombing may be non-romantic. While it is mostly related to romantic relationships, a new platonic friend may also engage in similar behaviors. It may also happen in families where parents are overly involved in every aspect of their child’s life.
Is love bombing always a form of abuse?
No, love bombing may not always be a form of abuse. Sometimes, it may simply be a matter of too much enthusiasm or even crossed signals. The best way to solve this issue is by having a serious conversation with your partner about it.
- Love bombing or overwhelming you with grand gestures of romance is a way to influence, manipulate, and control you.
- They may shower you with excessive affection and attention and make you feel obligated to them.
- Narcissistic love bombing is a kind of emotional abuse and can be harmful to your mental health in the long term.
- If discussing your issues with your narcissistic partner shows no improvement, it is best to get out of the relationship.
Love bombing is an intense display of affection, which is not always a good thing. Click on the video to learn to recognize the signs and red flags of being love bombed.
Personal Experience: Source
i. From the Spouse of a Narcissist: Here’s What You Need to Know