Updated: Feb 2, 2022
Can we talk about love bombing?
“The biggest coward of a man is to awaken the love of a woman without the intention of loving her.” Bob Marley.
Boy meets girl.
When the relationship starts, it feels like you have been thrown into a romantic movie. The pair of you speak on the phone often. You text into ungodly hours of the night. You're showered with praise and compliments. You receive more gifts: perfumes, flowers, spa days for you and your friends, expensive outfits, food delivered to your doorstep or your office, trips around the country and abroad to places you never dreamt you'd visit in the next 6 months.
They show up whenever you call, whenever you need them and always seem to be within the area in order to surprise you.
Big promises are made; promises of more trips, more gifts, bigger gifts, a big wedding, a happy life. Everything you've always desired. This is it. This is the relationship you've been praying for. You've found the one, your soulmate. You now understand what truly being in love means. You're living a fairy tale romance, a fantasy. You start to set the course for the rest of your life.
Then, everything goes dark. No calls. No texts and when you do get a response it's after hours, days even.
Sometimes the attitude on the other end of the phone seems distant or even irritated. Even worse, you are accused of being self-centred or self-absorbed for wanting quality time or for wanting to go back to the days when things seemed to be good, smooth and easy between the two of you.
This is a love bomb. tik tik BOOM!
manipulative technique that narcissists and abusive individuals use to boost their egos and manipulate the person that they are in a relationship with.
when a connection starts off ablaze from the jump, it’s just time, affection, attention, gifts, physical touch and then slowly those things start to get taken away.
the practice of overwhelming someone with signs of adoration and attraction.
Love bombing is common in romantic movies and romcoms. But these are movies, viewers commit an hour or two to watching these stories unfold and so of course the love story is going to wrap up very quickly. Social media hasn’t made things any better. We are constantly presented with this idea of what love and affection looks like; big over-the-top gestures that are “Instagram-worthy” and so our idea of true affection gets convoluted.
But life is much broader and deeper than that and love takes time to grow and develop. A love bomb can only do one thing; explode in your life and leave you hurt.
P.S: It’s been noted that love bombing is also used by cults, gang members and their leaders to draw in followers. It can also be done by a person who desires a deep platonic relationship that isn’t intimate in nature (think: becoming your BFF)
Stages of love bombing
It’s love at first sight. The fantasy romance is on full scale. The relationship is filled with attention and affection. Everything is over the top and an absolute dream. The victim’s idea of love is being presented to them. There’s so much passion. The love bomber often goes as far as declaring how much they love or adore you and even how they want to marry you or show you off to their family and friends. In some cases, the love bomber may even start to pressure their victim into having sex.
The love bomber starts to withdraw or withhold affection and attention. This may mean that they no longer give you presents or get in touch as frequently as they used to. This often happens when the victim starts to show interest in pursuing the relationship. The love bomber may: becomes passive-aggressive, employing silent treatment tactics, being outwardly angry or calling the victim selfish.
All contact is cut off. The love bomber may even go as far as blocking all contact on all platforms or change phone numbers. For the victim, this can be confusing because they start to wonder what they did wrong to ruin a good thing.
Signs of love bombing
Disregard for boundaries.
It doesn’t matter whether you prefer to have people call you before they show up at your home. If they want to see you, the love bomber will show up at your door. It doesn’t matter that you have work and other responsibilities. If they want to take you on a trip or meet for a meal, the love bomber will expect you to drop everything to spend time with them. It doesn’t matter that you don’t like over-the-top exhibitions of affection. If they want to show up at your workplace with the largest bouquet of flowers or organise a flash mob for you, they will. Love bombers have no respect for boundaries even when you communicate them clearly.
It’s all about the words.
A love bomber will suffocate you with compliments. “You are the most wonderful person in the world.” “You are my soulmate.” “You complete me.” “I can’t imagine my life without you.” “I love you and want to spend my life with you.” All this even after knowing each other for a few weeks or months.
Intense and unbalanced feelings.
Because love bombing is about speeding into and out of a relationship, the love bomb goes off on you; when you haven’t reciprocated the same kind of affection or don’t understand where it stems from (you haven’t had enough time to get to know each other for that kind of intense love to make sense).
The need for commitment or an intimate relationship really quickly.
The love bomber will often ask when you can be their girlfriend or boyfriend or constantly suggest sex. They may also study you to figure out what makes you tick. This may look them always asking about your life, dreams and goals without offering any information about themselves. This information helps them create the façade they need to ensnare you into the love bomb even quicker.
Love bombers will do their best to fill up their victim’s time. They isolate you from your friends and family or any other person who is likely to see the red flags in this relationship and let you know that something is fishy. They also isolate you so that you’re the only thing or person on your mind so you may give them all the attention they thrive on. Isolation makes you an easier target.
The love bombing is patterned behaviour. It doesn’t happen once. The love bomber will treat all the people the same way. If a victim happens to get into a long-term relationship with a love bomber, they are likely to go through cycles of such treatment over and over again. If you're aware of a love bomber’s intimate relationship history, it’s easy to spot that this is how they go through life.
Love bombers don’t like having their attention and affection for you called out or questioned. This means that they might get angry when you question why they treat you with so much care or place you on a pedestal so quickly. They might also show aggression when you have other people in your life.
Big grand gestures.
Love bombing is all in the biggest gestures that are Instagram-worthy or straight out of a romcom. Vacations, lavish and expensive gifts, PDA, sweet words and pet names, constant presence; all this, everything in-between and more. Want to know whether you’re a love bomber or if you’re dealing with a love bomber? Take Shan Boody’s quiz on love bombing.
Why do people love bomb?
Love bombers don’t feel worthy of love, affection or attention unless they make someone else reflect back a wonderful image and version of them. This is why they invest so much time and even money into love bombing because this causes their victims to see them in a better and more beautiful light.
Here’s what happens in a love bomber’s mind: “This person thinks or feels or says that I’m amazing, wonderful and interesting, so maybe I really am those great things.”
They see how special you are.
Love bombers might manipulate you into getting into a relationship with them because there is something they need from you: your money, talent, network or simply the ability to lift up their own spirits because of the mere association with you.
How love bombing affects us
Comparison in future relationship
“No one will ever love me like this.” If you never learn what or who a love bomber is, you’re likely to walk into every relationship in future looking for the razzle dazzle kind of affection. Every individual who comes into your life and perhaps wants to take things slow or shows affection in different ways, just won’t be enough.
Love bombing is addictive even for its victims. This can become a problem if suddenly you’re not interested in people who could be your ideal partner. The comparison might also affect the relationships you decide to pursue. If an intimate partner can’t be or do anything right because once upon a time Prince or Princess Charming swept you off your feet and gave you a fairy tale romance, then you’re suddenly living in the past with someone else instead of in the present with the person you chose to be in a relationship with. This doesn’t only hurt you. It also greatly hurts the person you’re in a relationship with.
Takes our minds off of the important things in relationships
Kindness, empathy, respect, support, respect, vision, values. There are so many other things that are relevant for a lasting relationship besides what a love bomber offers. But because of the intense levels of passion they bring to the table, love bombers will blind you from these things.
Second guessing yourself
“Why was I so dumb?” “Why was I so gullible?” “Why was I targeted?” Because you have been taken on a ride that didn’t lead anywhere, you might start questioning yourself and your intuition. If you’ve been down this road, rest assured that love bombers choose to do this to anyone. They play this game often. It’s not your fault. However, fortify yourself better so you’re less of a target in future.
The idea of the person
Love bombers do not show who they really are. It’s for this reason that you will end up infatuated with the idea of this person (the passionate person that shows big, grand gestures) and not who they truly are. Because a love bomber keeps a wall up and doesn’t share anything concrete about who they are, their interests, their hopes and dreams (the only hopes and dreams they might share are the kind that will having you swooning, but nothing solid that exposes their personality), you never really learn anything about this person.
Long term mistakes
For some people, love bombing can lead to marriage. Being in a marriage with a person who suddenly stops showing affection can take you on an emotional ride in which you’ll constantly question yourself, your thoughts and your worth.
How to avoid the love bomb (protect yourself)
Don't listen to what people 'say' , pay attention to what they 'do'!
Love bombers live their romantic lives in their words. They will speak about a lot of things: what their future with you will look like, the children you will bear together and the names you will give them, the house you will build together, the businesses you can grow together. It’s all about the castles in the sky and very little about their actions now. Yes, there might be flowers and lunches delivered to you every week but when the love bomber doesn’t do a lot of the things they promise.
Have the fun and get out.
If you have noticed that the person you’re dealing with is a love bomber but “want to have your cake and eat it too”, then you can try taking your heart and feelings off the table. The love bomber doesn’t have to know that you're playing their game.
Take the gifts. Go on those trips. Have the amazing lunches and dinners. Accept the flowers. Enjoy the attention and the calls. But understand that this treatment won’t last forever and that the moment the love bomber gets bored, they are moving on.
You have to be very careful if you decide to go down this path. You can’t catch feelings. Because a love bomber can be many other things; an abuser, a narcissist, a sociopath, playing this game might be dangerous when the love bomber becomes violent or abusive.
Wait and see.
This may or may not depending on the kind of love bomber you are dealing with. However, taking your time to see how a relationship pans out is your best bet.
Is this person suddenly falling off their own patterned loving behaviour after a fortnight, after a month? What does the relationship look like after 3 months?
Watching the space helps you determine whether this person is in your life for a good time (i.e. short time) or for a long time.
Assess your idea of love.
You can protect yourself from the love bomb by knowing who you are.
What does love mean to you? Is it all glitz and glam and nothing more? Is it all romance without the substance? The flowers? The trips? The expensive gifts? The spontaneous two-hour phone-calls? If yes, what else do you want out of a relationship? Do you want a companion who will support you during low times? Do you want someone to cheer you on when things are going well? Does this feel healthy? Authentic?
Assess all the other things you want in a relationship and put them at the forefront whenever someone new walks into your life.
Is this attention and affection from this person warranted? Have you earned time, consistency and affection from this person? What is your idea of love?
It’s necessary to assess ourselves constantly to ensure that we don’t fall into a love bomb.
Questions to ask yourself to protect yourself from the love bomb
What do I ultimately want in a relationship? (Kindness, empathy, support)
What qualities do I want in a partner?
Is this moving too fast?
What do we have in common? (do you really know each other)
Is this kind of affection sustainable for this person? (is this kind of affection justified and are they able to consistently keep up this level of attention and affection on their best days?)
Difference between love bombing and romantic gestures
So maybe this blog post is scaring you from receiving romantic gestures because you’re afraid that they may be disguised as love bombing. However, romantic gestures:
Tend to be given at a more even pace so it’s not an all-in-or-nothing intense passion that floods you.
Show of affection is matched with one’s words. “I’d like to take you out on a date” will result in a date.
Respect for boundaries. A person who has genuine respect for you and hopes to remain in your life will respect boundaries that you set in the relationship. Your no will mean no and your yes will mean yes. In the same light, this person will have boundaries of their own and will voice their limitations too.
Living in the present. Love bombers thrive on building magical castles in the clouds about what your future with them will look like. It’s more likely for a person who has genuine affection for you to enjoy the “now” of your relationship.
Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth you owe me. Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky. Rumi