Beware of Love Bombing!

Have you ever been so completely swept off your feet that it leaves you wondering…is this real?

I recently had a woman write in that she was in a brand new relationship and the guy was so perfect (like fly her off to Paris 3 weeks after they met perfect) that she kept thinking…could this be real? Could it last?

This week I’m tackling love bombing, which is a specific form of conditioning or manipulation perpetrated by gifts, attention, and affection. 

If you’ve ever been in a relationship that feels like too much, too soon and you’re not sure how to tell if it’s real love or manipulation…this episode is for you. 

Love bombing does not gender discriminate. Either role (victim or manipulator) in this dynamic could be male or female. When you’re getting loved bombed, the manipulator is adoring you, lavishing you with attention and pouring all of this “love” and praise on you. Unfortunately, if it’s really love bombing, there is always eventually a pivot to the next phase, in which the opposite starts to happen, and that can be devastatingly painful. 

Someone who uses this tool of manipulation is an expert at finding people who are vulnerable to it. So what makes one vulnerable? The through-line of those who fall victim to love bombing is insecurity. 

Now a lot of times, that insecurity isn’t right on the surface…for example, it could be the very successful male or female CEO who hasn’t gotten into a marriage or a relationship because he or she had a terrible childhood and has unresolved emotional wounds, but then finds themselves getting entangled with someone like this. 

If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a narcissist, you’re likely no stranger to love bombing…especially when they are trying to woo you or get you to stay in the relationship or do something they want. 

So what does love bombing look like? There’s all this aggrandizing. I’m not just talking about holding you on a pedestal or giving you flowers and trips, it’s also a lot of talk about your future together as a couple. 

You’ll hear things very early on (too early!) like… 

“We’re perfect together.” 

“Nobody gets me like you.”

“We’re meant to be.”

“I can’t wait for you to meet my family.”

In this week’s episode, I give you more real-life examples of the kinds of things love bombers say, so be sure to watch it here or listen to it here

So why does this work? Well, we’re human beings. We all have a natural need to feel good about who we areThere’s also a particular need or desire to be seen in a particular way by other people and to have them confirm or validate how we want to be seen…especially by someone we’re in a love relationship with. 

You might be vulnerable to love bombing if you haven’t done a lot of work on your own self-esteem or self-worth Even if you’re very successful or accomplished, it is possible that down deep, there’s a part of you that doesn’t feel worthy and so this kind of validation and praise works almost like a drug. The insidious part of love bombing is that the manipulator hooks into that part of you and feeds it, so to speak. Dopamine is getting released in your brain and all of these feel-good hormones are flooding your system…and you desperately want to believe it’s all true. That the love hormones are the real thing. 

The truth is that you don’t really know someone in 3 weeks (or even in 3 months) to know that you’re “meant to be” forever. Love bombing can be so seductive and so painful when it moves out of the beginning phase. 

If this is resonating with you, I want to give you some of the warning signs and red flags and then some steps to take to make sure this doesn’t happen to you (again). 

The Cycle

Love bombing is actually just one phase of a cycle of abuse. Generally, there are predictable stages to this cycle. They are:

  1. Love bombing – grooming you and creating the narrative.
  2. Devaluing – This is the pivot in the relationship. It usually happens when you’re not on board with what the manipulator wants or if you try to pump the breaks on the acceleration of the relationship. They get furious and begin to devalue you. They might criticize you, accuse you of being ungrateful, or insult you.
  3. Discarding – the threat of their leaving or breaking up with you is always there. They may threaten to break up with you or actually do so.

The Bomber

In the beginning: Charismatic. Convincing. Charming. Flattering 

In the middle: Dismissive. Petulant. Demanding. Critical

In the end: Withdrawing. Cruel. Threatening

Remember: this is a cycle. You might meet these three different personalities and then they circle back to that amazing, perfect person you fell for in the first place to keep you in their thrall. 

The Warning Signs

  • Too Much, Too Soon. The pace of the relationship is really accelerated. There are early declarations of love and commitment. There are actions taken very early on to cement your future together (like inviting you to a wedding that’s more than a year away). Especially in this beginning stage, the love bomber starts to create a narrative about what your shared future will be like before you even really get to know one another. They are typically assured, confident and charming while lavishing you with praise and attention, and so sometimes, their reality can start to trump your reality…especially if you have the disease to please. 
  • They Are Boundary Bullies (in a super manipulative way). During the love-bombing phase, they aren’t typically super confronting, so thinking of them as a “bully” might not seem to fit. But a Boundary Bully is someone who disregards your preferences, wants and needs. In the case of a love bomber, it doesn’t matter what you say. For example, they suggest a special dinner on Friday night. You tell them you have plans with your friends. They make the reservation anyway. They act like they never heard you. 
  • Pushback Inspires Punishment. If you’re in a new relationship and you’re wondering…could this be too good to be true? All you need to do to find out if this is real love or a love bomber is to assert yourself in a healthy way. Make a simple request about something. State that you would prefer to do something else than what they have planned. Communicate a simple preference. If their reaction is to withdraw love, give you the cold shoulder, cut off their affection or attention…it’s a red flag. If any of this has resonated with you, I am going to ask you to do this experiment and assert yourself on even a small level and see what happens. 

 

What can you do if you ARE being love-bombed? 

Once you are aware of it, your strongest defense against people who use love bombing as a tool for manipulation is to go no contact. This means everything. Blocking on your phone, social media, email, etc. Zero contact. As difficult as this can be, it is very well-documented that this is a cycle of abuse that will just keep on going if you let them back into your life in any way.

Don’t let yourself be vulnerable. I want you to think about what you would do if this were a child in your life…you would do anything to protect them from a sadistic person who is causing them pain…right? I want you to care for yourself and your heart in this exact same way. 

Bottom line: if it seems to good to be true…it might be. If someone is pushing a timeline so fast…wanting you to meet their family and everyone they know, to move in, or make a big financial purchase together… be aware. It’s ok to pump the breaks! If they flip out…you probably just dodged a bullet. End it and go no contact. 

I’ve included all of this for you in this week’s cheat sheet, so be sure to download it here now. 

This is not to say that real love isn’t out there. It absolutely is. If someone is bestowing all this adoration and beautiful things on you they aren’t necessarily love bombing you. The real test is how they react when you assert yourself, your preferences, desires and your wants early and often. If they respond in a healthy way and respect your boundaries, then that’s amazing.

I hope this added value to your life and if you have others in your life who you think this might help because perhaps they might be in a relationship like this, please share it on all your social media platforms. 

Let’s share the mental health love because the healthier we are, the less the love bombers win, right? By you sharing this out there in the world, they will have less power and there’ll be fewer victims, and I know you’re all about that! 

I hope you have an amazing week and as always, take care of you.

 

¹https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/reading-between-the-headlines/201703/the-danger-manipulative-love-bombing-in-relationship

²https://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-love-bombing-2017-7

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  1. I am just watching this now so maybe too late for a reply but a lot of this resonated with a 4 month relationship that I’ve just ended but I’m still having those doubts over whether I’ve done the right thing because ‘he can be so nice’ or ‘maybe it’s me’ etc so I have a couple of Qs:

    – Does the love bomber know that’s what they’re doing? Is it intentional? Or can they think they truly are in love and how they’re behaving is normal?
    – Is the cycle always that clear? I feel like my experience was a little more overlapping with the stages
    – Is it still Love Bombing when I’m the one who ends it? I’ve ended it multiple times but each time gone back because he’s so nice and understanding after the big fights and breakups that I give it another chance. I’m also really bad at boundary setting – clearly! ?

    I’m really trying to stay away this time and asked for no contact which he’s kind of stuck to, but the doubts are creeping back and we have mutual friends so will likely be seeing each other soon ?

    Honestly feels like I’ve had a lifelong relationship with this person because of all the intense emotional ups and downs in such a short space of time!

    I’m really wanting to stay strong so this doesn’t drag out or I get swept up any further.

    Thank you so much for your work, I’ve listened to a lot of therapists etc but your videos and podcasts are spoken so well and so clearly. ???

    1. Hi Chloe,
      Thank you for being here! It’s hard to know if the love bomber is aware, but most likely they are not! It could be a survival tactic that they’ve learned and have developed since childhood and they could be mostly unaware of it. The cycle also isn’t always as clear as we would hope, which is why keeping an eye out for signs is important. And yes, someone can still love bomb you even if you end the relationship! Thank you for your questions and keep up your work on yourself and your journey ❤️

  2. My husband of almost ten years moved to another state for work in May and I remained with our eight year old son because I cannot find work in the area where my husband is. After a lot of argueing, pleading and talking, my husband is doing exactly this. I am being cautious for the sake of my child and yes I might be putting my son ahead of everything and everyone else but I am not prepared to do things on a whim without security. THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!

  3. Thank you Terri for all the wonderfully enlightening content you post for us all. This one is really hitting home for me. I was “discarded” a year ago after I asked my love bombing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde boyfriend of 14 years to move out of my house because he keep telling me how much he loved me but then turning around & being critical and provoking if I couldn’t drop everything (like work!?) to make him center of my world. (LONG story short) I read “how to dodge energy vampires” and realized he has a lot of narcissistic traits or character behaviors. I don’t believe he is dangerous to me, but does have a very childish and vindictive temper. (More of a covert narc?) like “it’s your fault to didn’t love ME good enough”. I of course tried to fix him and make logical sense with him on all the issues, but he didn’t comprehend or didn’t want to accept reality. Anyway I asked him to get his own place because of too much arguing in mine was making me sick from stress and lack of sleep. He moved out and shortly there after reacted on an unfounded infidelity on my part, didn’t give me even a chance to clarity circumstances. He took off and landed a woman 30 years younger than he in another state and started a new “relationship” then rubbed my face in it. And can you believe, we are “friends” and NOW he is back with the love bombing, I have not dated in the past year and have focused on my own healing path and goals. I know it’s foolish, but I do miss the generous allure of the love bombing, the attraction of the romantic dream. He keeps telling me he misses “us” and It is very tempting and I have caught myself thinking well maybe it’s my fault too etc etc. This post is perfect timing to me to remember the shit cycle he put me through. THANK YOU!!

  4. Again thank you. This was another amazing video. I feel that this is an actual simple thing to do, now that I am aware of it and that I feel stronger to look out for my best interests; which right now is my mental health. I did not know about love bombing, at one point in my life I did not believe that a mother could do something like this; but i have learned that she is a narcissist and i now have accepted that. I now see and can pinpoint the many cycles that have occurred. Your videos have given me so much power back. Very thankful for your work.

  5. In October the love of my life returned. The only problem is I was so love stoned I forgot the hidden gems he left me with last time in the year 2006. He was wishy-washy, dating and married someone else after me knowing he cared for me very deeply. 2. He made promises he couldn’t keep (He was moving in but whenever we focused on a date he would get vague and change the subject) 3. He loved attention from many girls and chose to add 20 young girls that looked like -well- half dressed hookers on facebook instead of valuing our friendship and adding me as his friend. I caught myself this time around before I got in too deep and when I called him out about his behaviour he ghosted. The problem solved itself. But left me with a lot of unanswered questions. after that I feel like I need trauma counseling or something. Whew. What a long three months of head spinning.

    1. I see you, and thank you for sharing here with such honesty. The answers and your closure are in what you wrote. Re-read it and ask yourself if that is behavior you would condone of someone that was dating your best friend. His behavior gave you what you need to know- he’s not interested in the same kind of relationship that you are. I’m sending you strength, mama.

  6. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this amazing post. I am in this exact same situation! 3 weeks in and he has sooo overwheled me its scary. I was russeling with this and asked the universe for a sign yet nothing came, then this video dropped into my inbox. This man has been behaving like PERFECT, yet, there was something in me that was and still feels soo off about him and it even makes me scared, but in the absence of physical proof, and him being too nice, I was afraid that by ending this thing with him that I will be making the wrong decsion, effectivly ditching a great man, but now I realise how accurate my inittial skeptisim (as I was in a horrible relationship with a narcissist years ago)

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