Every day is a good day to start recognizing unhealthy romantic relationships and tendencies.
You may have heard of the term “love bombing”. A lot of things have been said about it, but what does it really mean? What does it actually look like, and why is it something better to be avoided?
Love bombing has been defined as a narcissist’s way of showering you with excessive “love” and attention early in the relationship, in the hopes of controlling you or gaining the upper hand in this.
Licensed therapist Sasha Jackson, LCSW, describes love bombing as “excessive attention, admiration, and affection with the goal to make the recipient feel dependent and obligated to that person.”
It may be worth noting that this doesn’t always happen intentionally. When dealing with people’s emotions and emotional responses, it is always important to take things into context.
But when a person does love bomb another, it creates a situation where a person feels like they met their soulmate or the love of their life. The love bomber constructs a reality where things are “perfect”, everything in the relationship is “effortless”, and the love bomber is their perfect match.
Though despite all the warm fuzzies and butterflies a love bomber may give you, a distinct result of all of this is intensity and the sense of being overwhelmed. Taking in a lot so quickly and so early may make you feel like the situation is a little out of your control. In the quick-paced, “whirlwind romance”, you may feel unbalanced.
Yeah, sure, everything seems perfect… but maybe it’s too perfect.
It isn’t easy to identify a love bomber, especially when you’re in the heat of the moment—they can be quite charming after all and who doesn’t want attention? But the longer a relationship with a love bomber continues, the more it can grow into something you don’t even recognize anymore.
Here are 6 signs to help you figure out whether they love you or love you not.
Remember that some of these signs in themselves are not problematic. Some may be quite romantic in the right context. But, if this is all happening really fast and early in the relationship, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed or like you’re losing a part of yourself, then maybe you are being love bombed. Make sure to listen to your intuition and put these signs into the context of your own relationship. Things might feel good right now, in the moment, but is there a lingering gut feeling you can’t ignore?
It feels like no matter how much time or energy you put into your relationship; it just never seems to be enough for your partner. Of course, being checked up on by your significant other is sweet, but when it comes to the point of secluding you from your friends and family, it becomes something else entirely.
You give them every hour of every day, but the minute you try to set boundaries or make plans with other people, they go on the offense. In extreme cases, they may even resort to threatening to end the relationship, or the safety of yourself, your loved ones, and/or even themselves.
Who doesn’t want to hear that they look good when you’re feeling yourself? Or that you did a good job on something?
It may be tricky handling the incoming massive flood of compliments at the beginning of the relationship, especially if you are talking to someone that you’ve just met. You may feel like your partner has known you all your life, but it’s important to remember that this is someone that you are just getting to know and is just getting to know you in turn.
Watch out for the quick use of intense phrases like “soulmate”, “twin flame”, or even proclamations of being “meant to be”/ “born for each other” right off the bat.
Being praised and complimented can make us feel all giddy inside, but the constant showering of compliments by someone you just met may beg the question if they’re really being genuine towards you or are they just telling you exactly what you want to hear? Do they genuinely know and care about you or are they just saying words you’ve been craving to hear for a long time to control you?
Expensive gifts (you know the price of)
Whether your partner has the means for extravagant gifts or not, a love bomber will only shower you with expensive things—while letting you know just how expensive your gifts really are. If they make any lavish plans or trips, they won’t take “no” for an answer. They will disregard any prior plans you may have had and possibly make you feel bad by bringing up just how much money they spent for you.
Excess gifts, combined with the endless supply of compliments, just adds to the dizzying effect of “attraction” that you may feel for a love bomber. The feeling of being swept off your feet—due to all the time, money, and attention being rained down on you—distracts you from any feelings of doubt that can be creeping up in the back of your mind. Constantly being overwhelmed with attention pulls focus from, and sometimes helps you justify, any red flags you might have already seen.
Constant (online and offline) PDA
Everywhere you go, everyone you know, has seen a bit more of your relationship than they might have wanted to see. For a love bomber, it’s important to let the whole world know that they have you—someone who is attracted and committed to them.
Every public outing and post are a performance for all to see how close you are, and specifically, how much you admire your love bomber.
Pressure to commit ASAP
A love bomber may put pressure on you to commit to a relationship with them early in the relationship. They may push you to DTR (define the relationship) and may already be talking to you about big future plans despite having known each other only for a short time.
Guilt tripping you when you set boundaries
Since a love bomber constantly craves your full attention, they tend to ignore your boundaries to get it. They may justify this by telling you that they just love always being around you or they want/need to be with you all the time.
A love bomber may end up hogging all your time and attention, possibly isolating you from your friends and loved ones. They might get angry if you want to spend time with anyone other than them, making you feel like you don’t value the relationship as much as they do.
Maybe you’ve tried speaking to them about this, but they reacted badly and got angry or sad, so now you feel like you have to tip toe around them. Maybe now you try to avoid another outburst like the last time you tried to set boundaries with them. You feel like you need to walk on eggshells when handling their feelings and the relationship.
Making you estranged from your relationships with other people may also leave you with nowhere to turn when things start to go south.
The danger of being love bombed
One of the results of being love bombed is the substantial pressure to reciprocate a love bomber’s feelings. For example, a constant shower of compliments may become awkward if it’s always one-sided. You might feel pressured to find just as many things to complement about your partner as well, even though you may not agree with what you are saying. The same may be said for the numerous expensive gifts they give you. You feel pressured to reciprocate by giving just as many gifts that are just as expensive—and the trouble here is that a love bomber may already be expecting and waiting for you to give back all the attention, compliments, and gifts that they gave you.
The danger of being love bombed is that, for narcissists, it’s a way for them to feed their ego by controlling someone they were pursuing. For them, it’s all about the chase and once this is over, things tend to flip. Things may seem great for you but once you start truly getting comfortable in the relationship, it is possible for them to flip the switch and become the total opposite of how they initially were. They may start becoming distant, manipulative, and difficult after they get all the attention they were seeking from you.
The person who bombards you with messages might end up being the very same one that ghosts you in the end. For narcissists, there is no middle ground – it’s either so much so fast or nothing at all. Once they start to pull back it may mean they’ve gotten all they wanted from you and/or have gotten bored and want to find more attention from somewhere else.
So, you recognize being love bombed, what now?
People who have experienced love bombing may feel like they lost touch with their sense of self, since most of their time was spent on another person. It’s important to be patient and kind with yourself as you slowly rediscover who you are.
There has been some criticism about the idea of love bombing and “condemning” it. There are love languages that align with some of these signs like – words of affirmation and gift giving, but again, as mentioned earlier, this all depends on context.
Sure, maybe you are clingy by nature, but if you don’t let your loved ones set boundaries or respect these, then… maybe you should use this month of love to look inwards at your own love habits.
The calling out of love bombing isn’t meant to bash the bombers (narcissists are not the only ones who may use) or shame the victims, remember that sometimes this may happen unintentionally. Recognizing and acknowledging that your actions and/or relationship may be a bit problematic is the first step in the right direction.
It is necessary to start a dialogue if you feel that you are being love bombed so that you and your partner may grow into better people. This will help you let your partner know how you’re feeling, and you could help each other set boundaries in the relationship.
Acknowledging that this is happening is also the time to reach out to your support system (who you may or may not have drifted apart from due to being love bombed). Call out to your friends, family, and maybe even some professionals to help you navigate your experience and possibly get out of it if necessary.
While you can start a dialogue with your partner about feeling love bombed, remember that it isn’t your responsibility to change their behavior. You aren’t Bob the Builder or Fix it Felix. Someone that love bombs is not only trying to manipulate you (whether intentionally or not), but they are also someone who may be doing so because of any mental issues or past traumas. Love bombers may benefit from therapy just as much as someone who was being love bombed would.
Healthy relationships should be one where both people’s boundaries are respected. You should feel safe, supported, and even encouraged to be your own person and still have your independence outside of the relationship. It usually takes time to get to know someone and develop this sort of strong relationship.
Happy February 2022! May this year be one filled with healthy romances and relationships!
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