What Is Love Bombing? | BetterHelp (2022)

The birds and the bees are inherently nuanced and complex. The arena of love has many positive aspects, and then there is love bombing. This comes with warnings and red flags which everyone should be aware of. People are not always what they appear to be and sometimes, there are ulterior motives that lurk beneath the surface. Being vigilant and informed will not only help you recognize red flags but also be aware of love bombers. This way, you’re in the best position to protect yourself. That doesn’t mean every partner or potential suitor will pose a danger to you, but certain ones might. This article will help you discern what love bombing is so that you can avoid it or break away from anyone who is currently love bombing you.

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Love-Bombing Can Have A Lasting Impact

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Love bombing happens when an individual is subjected to an excessive amount of grand gestures, signs of affection, extravagant gifts, and various acts which are supposed to convey appreciation and gratitude. In many cases, the initial stages are very flattering to the receiver, and they may feel special. Many people may even question if it is truly problematic. After all, what could possibly be wrong with being showered with tokens of love and affection? If you ever find yourself on the receiving end of love bombing, this is a major red flag to sever ties with the individual on the giving end. If you think you might need help navigating a relationship, online therapy can help.

The ultimate problem with this lies within the hidden ulterior motives. It seems sweet until the person begins to participate in mental manipulation and attempted monopolization of your time and energy. Unlike genuine displays of affection, this manipulative tactic occurs purely for the purpose of distracting you from character flaws, establishing a toxic dynamic in the relationship, and ultimately maintaining control over your life. In many regards, it is almost a sort of grooming. It appears innocuous in the beginning, but as time goes on, the love bomber will eventually begin to expect certain things in return. The dark, insidious nature behind their seemingly sweet actions will ultimately reveal itself as time passes.

The Dark Side

Subjection to love bombing can wreak serious emotional turmoil on the person experiencing it. It’s not atypical for these people to suddenly disappear from the lives of the person they were showering with affection and grand gestures. A person may receive cards and flowers and go on amazing dates only to never hear from the love bomber again. People who love bomb are furthermore known to engage in infidelity and erratic behavior. Sometimes the person experiencing this may begin to question themselves and wonder if they did something to alienate or turn off the person who was seemingly in love with them.

While this train of thought is understandable, it’s important to understand that the only one responsible for the conduct of a love bombing person is themselves. The switch between hot and cold is no fault of the person experiencing this. Instead, it has everything to do with the individual insecurities of the person who is love bombing. Love bombers generally have narcissism and low self-esteem; therefore, their erratic behavior occurs because of their desperation for reassurance and self-satisfaction. To be clear, people experiencing love bombing are not responsible for the actions of the love-bombing individual.

The Psychology

To truly comprehend this in its entirety, we must evaluate the mental state of individuals who perpetrate this type of behavior. Narcissism aside, love bombing people struggle with deep-seated feelings of inadequacy. Furthermore, they often fear that they lack the worthiness to be with a romantic partner. The overabundance of grand gestures and romantic acts is merely an attempt to overcompensate for low self-esteem, which they are battling internally. This also explains why love bombers tend to engage in duplicity after they’re done showering people experiencing this with massive attention and gestures. Sometimes ghosting the people they are targeting is their twisted way of maintaining some sort of power or control.

What Are The Common Scenarios For Love Bombing?

People most often experience love bombing in the early days of a new relationship. In some cases, love bombers use these tactics to gain ultimate control over the victim, which ultimately fosters the development of abusive relationships.

However, you don’t need to be in a relationship to be love-bombed. Many people try love-bombing to gain friends or as a tactic for feigning friendship with someone. As with relationships, it could be to gain control of the person or to use them for some reason.

A person may also experience love bombing from an abusive or controlling family member. This will be most obvious during periods when the victim is trying to distance themselves from the family member or the family in general. The member will feign affection, love, and guilt in order to get the person back under their control.

Another unfortunate scenario where people love bomb is when they are trying to get new members into cults. In fact, love bombing is known to be an effective yet deceptive ploy accounting for many successful recruitment drives. Cult members are notorious for luring newer members into their group with such manipulative tactics. They enjoy luring people in by promising instant companionship and community. To keep the person under control, they may stay in constant contact with them or recruit other cult members to make a coordinated effort to cement the person as a permanent member. Some successful recruitment drives will also encourage members to use verbal seduction or affection nonsexual touching to flatter the recruits.

The process of feigning friendship or companionship has been associated with early youth cults but is now more widespread and utilized by many groups. However, these members do not truly want to be friends, they just want more people in the cult’s control. Unfortunately, many people fall for this ploy, thinking they are making true friends and forming a community.

Warning Signs

In the majority of cases, love bombing happens over a period of time but starts in the early days of the relationship or connection. There are also usually warning signs of this manipulation, but you have to know what to look for. Ultimately, the best way to shield yourself from these narcissistic tendencies is to recognize the warning signs. The next sections of this article are common themes of love bombing that are present in virtually all applicable scenarios and can certainly be a warning sign that your prospective new suitor is not all they appear to be.

Unhealthy Dependency

One of the ultimate goals of the love bomber is to ensure that the person becomes mentally and emotionally reliant upon them. To achieve this endgame, the person doing the loving bombing will often take crafty and strategically manipulative steps to make the person feel secure in the connection. Declarations of confidence in the relationship, proclamations of love, and moves to isolate the person experiencing love bombing from other people are some moves that love bombers often employ to foster dependency. The attention and affection can seem wonderful early on, so the affected person may become dependent very early.

It’s important to understand that love bombers’ need for the people they love to be dependent upon them goes back to their overall narcissism. Narcissism is a front for insecurity. Individuals who have this disorder desperately crave ongoing validation and admiration. The security of a healthy relationship is not enough for them. When their impossible-to-meet expectations fall short, the individual inevitably lashes out at them. This lashing out can make their new partner feel guilty which prevents them from leaving the relationship or maintaining their boundaries.

Excessive Flattery

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In the majority of cases, being showered with ongoing praise and compliments feels nice. Who doesn’t want to be told what an amazing person they are? Now, granted, not every person who issues compliments or flattery is a love-bomber with narcissism. However, when flattery is excessive or feels extreme, then this is definitely a classic hallmark of an individual with an agenda.

Now, you may wonder why a person who is a narcissist would devote time and energy toward flattering someone. In a nutshell, it comes down to control. The chemicals in a person’s brain literally change when they are ongoingly flattered. The love bomber, whether they know this or not, uses this as a means to manipulate them. Having the power of control is what gives the person doing the loving bombing their high, and it’s why they feel the need to excessively flatter the person their love bombing. Sometimes, those on the receiving end are able to tell that something isn’t right. In other cases, they enjoy the attention and fail to realize the wolf beneath sheep’s clothing for quite some time.

Mistreatment of Others

The manner in which a love bomber treats other people is another very real sign of their motives. When a person who is a narcissist with an agenda showers you with “love,” it can be easy to become blind-sighted. However, one of the strongest indicators of their character is the manner in which they treat other individuals. A love bomber is nice to the person their love bombing because they have ulterior motives. Their kindness is a facade that eventually reveals itself. When a person who is a narcissist comes into contact with others who can’t do anything for them, the ill-mannered way in which they treat those people speaks volumes.

Can Love Bombing Be Redeemed?

Sometimes when people find themselves in a relationship with a toxic individual such as a love bomber, they may feel the urge to try to “save” that person. As well-intentioned as this may be, trying to save someone who has serious mental health issues can be dangerous. Whether or not they can be redeemed or improve as an individual depends upon a variety of factors.

It is not your job to try to save the person who is doing the love bombing. If you or someone you love winds up in a relationship with a love bomber, the best course of action is to end the relationship as gracefully as possible. In the beginning, this may be challenging, but ultimately, this will prove to be beneficial in the long run. Nobody deserves to be in a relationship with a love bomber with narcissism whose only interest is manipulation and control. These are not indicators of a healthy, mutually respectful relationship.

Seeking Professional Help

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When we find ourselves confronted with various challenges, we may question what to do next and how to handle situations. Dealing with love issues, relationship issues, or another matter entirely different, you may find that working with an in-person or online therapist can change your life. Research shows that online therapy can be a powerful tool in helping people overcome relationship issues. For example, one study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that couples who participated in an online therapy program significantly decreased negative relationship qualities such as love bombing. If you decide that you no longer want to pursue a relationship with someone who’s love bombing, speaking with a licensed therapist can still help you move forward. The same study found that individuals in the online therapy program experienced significant improvements in the following: depression and anxiety symptoms, work functioning, and overall quality of life. When you’re trying to navigate a relationship with love bombing, a licensed therapist can help you.

At BetterHelp, our ultimate objective is to aid those who come to us and assist them in finding and employing solutions when dealing with someone who is love bombing them. Online therapy is particularly advantageous because it’s available to anyone, regardless of their geographical residency, and at a time that’s convenient for them. Pain, tough times, and obstacles do not discriminate based on where someone lives and neither should access to quality mental health services. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists from people experiencing similar issues.

Therapist Reviews

"I love Lisa! I joined better help after a breakup. Lisa helped me to understand that I’m not alone in my feelings and that I need to be patient with myself. I was able to work through with her fairly quickly and she was always there when I needed her most. Can’t say enough about her!"

"Catherine’s been extremely helpful in helping me process my breakup! She’s definitely helped me a lot."

In conclusion, you are not responsible for the person who is doing the love bombing. The best thing to do is to end the relationship in the most graceful way possible. At first, this may be challenging, but in the end it will prove to be beneficial for your mental health. It is not healthy for anyone to be in a relationship with someone whose only interest is manipulation and control. Hopefully, this article provided you with the information and confidence needed to make this major change. If you find yourself in this situation, seek help with a licensed therapist to help you manage this transition. Read on to the end of the page for answers to frequently asked questions about love bombing.

Other Commonly Asked Questions:

  1. How long does the love bombing phase usually last?

  2. How long does love bombing last in a relationship?

  3. Is love bombing a form of gaslighting?

  4. What are some examples of love bombing?

  5. Do only narcissists love bomb?

  6. What causes love bombing/

  7. Why do I attract love bombers?

  8. What comes after the love bombing phase?

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