One of the cruelest realities is that an unhealthy relationship often starts out feeling like the most wonderful romance of your life. In some cases, that’s thanks to love bombing – a pattern of manipulative, often subtle behaviors your partner performs as acts of love. Seeming perfectly lovely at first, they’re often used as a control tactic. They can be an early sign of emotional abuse.
Perhaps you (or one or more of your friends) have experienced this before – you click with someone so much that you feel amazing. You always want to be with them, even if it means neglecting obligations like work or school. They listen intently to your every word. They want to meet your family and friends, and although it seems too soon, you want to believe that you deserve something this good after so many crappy relationships. Even though part of you feels overwhelmed by how invested you are after a short time, you can’t seem to slow down.
The above scenario could easily describe love bombing or falling in love. The differences between the two are so subtle that there really is no simple way to distinguish between them. That subtlety can make it impossible to avoid an emotionally manipulative or abusive situation.
Just remember – abuse is never a victim’s or survivor’s fault, but recognizing the signs of love bombing, and what to do if a new relationship feels off, may help you spot potential problems before you become too emotionally invested.
What is love bombing and why is it so hard to see?
Love bombing is a pattern of intense and overblown interest and attention from one partner to manipulate the other. It can be hard to spot because our culture – through TV, films, and fairy tales – tells us that the behavior we know as love bombing is a normal expectation of romantic love.
Love bombing can take lots of forms. Constant compliments and romantic declarations can make it difficult for victims to notice the red flags that may confirm abuse or inappropriate behavior in the relationship.
It’s also important to understand that love bombing happens within friendship, appearing as high praise, spending inordinate amounts of time together, and being jealous of other friendships.
Your relationship will seem too good to be true, because it is. Love bombing may seem romantic, but it’s not romance, it’s manipulation. To make matters more complicated, it takes time for an emotionally manipulative or abusive partner to reveal their true selves. That said, keep these early signs of love bombing in your sight:
- Giving excessive and/or expensive gifts
- Over-communicating their feelings for you
- Excessive flattery
Does love bombing just happen in romantic relationships?
While love bombing is most commonly talked about in romantic relationships, it can take place in any kind of relationship – friendships, parent/child relationships, between employers and employees, etc. Wherever there’s a relational aspect between two or more human beings, there is the potential for toxic behavior – and sometimes that looks like love bombing.
How does love bombing affect people?
There are myriad ways that love bombing can affect victims, including profound and lasting impacts on mental health and the ways you approach future and existing relationships. Therapy and participating in support groups for people in abusive relationships may help you process the effects and outcomes of being love bombed.
Spot and stay away from love bombing.
On Monday, February 5th, TAR Network will host its weekly meeting where Dr. Jamie will discuss the topic of love bombing. He will point out the red flags in a relationship where love bombing occurs, as well as provide attendees with advice on shielding themselves from love bombing.
If you’ve ever been love bombed or suspect that someone might be manipulating you, please join our meeting at 7:00 PM EST to learn tools that will help you stay one step ahead of manipulators.
Remember, love bombing is an abuse tactic, and as with other types of abuse, perpetrators are often incapable or unwilling to reflect on how their behavior has hurt others. For a true love bomber, it is often a means of control.
Please join the TAR Live Meetings Group and contact Mila with any questions. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.