You’ve met a new partner. After a couple of weeks, he’s told you he thinks you’re his soulmate (or worse – his Twin Flame). He’s so glad he’s finally found you after all this searching. No one can compare to you.
You’re thrilled – this is it! You’ve finally done it! All those boring dates, dead-end conversations, and times you were ghosted paid off.
Or have they? A couple of months in, he calls you selfish for not immediately returning his call. You were on a night out with the girls, you didn’t hear your phone, you say. That’s okay, he says. You have fun with your friends. It’s just a shame you didn’t stop to think about how worried he was when you didn’t answer.
Wait…what? What changed?
My dear…welcome to love bombing.
But what is love bombing? What does it look like? And how can you tell the difference between love bombing and someone just being keen on you?
That’s what I’ll walk you through today.
What Is Love Bombing?
Love bombing is the early phase of a narcissistic or manipulative relationship. It varies from relationship to relationship.
Common themes do emerge. They include the manipulator showering the victim with presents. Or whisking them away on romantic trips. It might include plenty of soppy or lovelorn texts and calls throughout the day. Narcissists can also zero in on which traits you’re proud of, that no one ever mentions. Guess which traits they heap the most praise on?
Put simply, it can feel like a dream come true. It doesn’t help that Hollywood makes this feel like the norm. Look at the short, intensive courtships in romantic comedies. It’s not romantic, it’s dangerous.
Love bombing is a key phase in a narcissist’s game plan. Full narcissistic personality disorder is rare. But its cousin, narcissistic personality type, is more common. These are the narcissists we’re more likely to meet (and suffer from).
Why Is Love Bombing a Problem?
It’s unsustainable. Even the ordinary ‘early days butterflies’ of a new relationship can’t last. But in the case of that ‘lovey dovey’ phase, it evolves. It morphs into something more permanent and comfortable (or the relationship ends). By comparison, love bombing is intense. It condenses the lovey dovey phase into a shorter time frame.
It also becomes a weapon. The affection and passion creates a ‘before’ point that the narcissist references whenever they want you to ‘behave’. For example, the narcissist will start to show their true colours. They criticise you a couple of times. Or they question your judgement. They may even withdraw from you – the silent treatment is a favourite narcissist tactic.
When you ask why can’t things go back to the way they were? SNAP. The trap springs closed and you’re caught. The narcissist knows you’re pining for a false reality. You fell for the ruse and now they can hold that over you whenever they want.
If you do behave the way they want you to, then they may go back to the love bombing for a few days. You think the problem is solved, start to feel comfortable again…
…And bam. They withdraw again. You ask what’s wrong. They issue a new demand. It becomes emotional blackmail and if you don’t realise it’s happening, you become all too happy to pay.
They use love bombing to break down your trust so that you’re more open with them. You’ll tell them all your hopes, your likes and dislikes, and even what winds you up.
You think you’re bonding with your new partner. They’re treating this like a spy game, letting you spill your secrets that they can use against you later.
It’s also problematic because it sets you up to fall for an illusion. They bombard you with affection, attention, and praise. It’s all designed to make you see them as an ideal partner. This cheats your “Have I chosen the right one?” meter and causes a false positive.
Why Do Narcissists Do It?
Love bombing is a way for a narcissist to break through your defenses. After all, a lot of us are skeptical in the early days. We want to know we’ve chosen the right one.
So, love bombing becomes the weapon of choice. The narcissist showers you with promises and the romantic treatment you always wanted.
Once they’ve broken down your defenses, they’re free to start their manipulative games. The sole purpose of a narcissist is to break your self esteem so they can improve theirs.
Whether it’s a narcissist or an insecure person love bombing you, the aim is the same. They want to feel good, and they can only feel good when someone puts them on a pedestal.
The switch from love bombing to gaslighting and back again keeps you hooked. It’s also a form of psychological conditioning.
You need to be clear – love bombing is emotional abuse. In fact, the most common non-physical effect of abuse is mental or emotional issues.
How Can I Recognise Love Bombing vs Someone Being Keen?
There’s no doubt it can be difficult to spot. If you’re used to passionate, intense love affairs, it may fly under your radar entirely. You’re used to the emotional highs of a new relationship.
What if you’ve had a history of low-quality short-term relationships or emotional abuse? You’re also unlikely to spot it because it feels too good to be true.
That in itself is a warning sign. If you find yourself thinking it’s too good to be true, then it usually is. Take a step back and try to slow things down. Someone who is keen will move with you. A narcissist will try to force the pace.
Love bombing is also transactional. The narcissist is investing in you upfront so you’ll continue to pay out dividends in the long term. By contrast, someone who is simply keen won’t expect anything from you. They’ll be glad to see you or spend time with you. So check in with yourself. Is the person expecting things from you?
Someone who is keen will likely also slip up. They’ll say the wrong thing, do something silly, or generally be human around you. They might feel embarrassed but ironically, that’s a good sign. They want to impress you, but they’re also capable of making mistakes.
Narcissists always know exactly what to say. They can press your buttons so hard you’re convinced you’re ‘made for each other’. Their tendency to voice your thoughts back to you makes them seem perfect.
Finally, a person who is keen on you will genuinely enjoy helping you for the sheer joy of being a good person. A narcissist will only help you so they can play the hero and continue to hold it over you that you needed help.
So, if you need help in a situation and your partner helps, but doesn’t make a big deal out of it? There’s a good chance they’re genuine. They’re helping to help, not to score points. A narcissist will see helping as another transaction.
What Can I Do to Avoid Love Bombing?
One way to avoid love bombing is to recognise it when it starts. That lets you disconnect from the narcissist and walk away before you’re attached to them.
But that’s not the only way.
There’s a much faster way to avoid love bombing altogether. By learning to identify and disarm narcissists, you don’t even get to the love bombing stage. You can spot them
Check out our Identify and Disarm Narcissists program. You’ll learn how to spot them and how to deflect them so they can’t do any damage in your life. That won’t just save the time you would otherwise waste in a relationship with them. It’ll also save you the time it takes to recover from being with a narcissist.
If you’re not sure how behavioural profiling works when it comes to dating, we’ve got you! Pick up our 7 Days to See the Truth Bootcamp for $35 which will introduce you to the basics of behavioural profiling. You’ll be reading people in no time. Question is – are they a page-turning romantic epic or a typo-ridden hot mess destined only for the recycling bin?!
Sign up for the Bootcamp and find out for yourself!