This post was updated on Jul 20, 2023
Lavish affection and adoration are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about narcissistic abuse. You are more likely to remember some of the more frequently talked about manipulation tactics such as gaslighting, playing the victim, humiliation, and other power and control mind games.
But did you know that one of the favorite narcissistic weapons involves the use of overwhelming flattery and attention? This is known as love bombing, an incredibly effective form of manipulation that pulls you in with promises of exhilarating romance and spits you out feeling dazed, confused, and betrayed.
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Read on to find out more about love bombing and learn to recognize the warning signs.
What Is Love Bombing In Dating?
As the name suggests, love bombing entails overwhelming someone, or rather “bombing” them with excessive signs of affection and attraction. This may include a combination of leaving love notes, flattering comments, sending flowers, and many other tokens of affection. The narcissist will shower you with romantic gestures, increasing their intensity and frequency until you feel like you’re on top of the world and ready to relinquish all sense of control to them and nobody else.
Narcissistic Supply: What Causes Love Bombing?
Individuals who employ love bombing techniques tend to suffer from a lack of confidence and a deep feeling of insecurity. Their low self-esteem pushes them to seek constant validation and reassurance, known as narcissistic supply. Unfortunately, nothing is ever enough to satisfy their need for approval and fill the void inside of them.
Behind their air of confidence and importance, love bombers feel deep down that they are unlovable, undesirable, and unworthy. In order to feel valuable, they resort to love bombing with the aim to give their ego a much-needed boost and fulfill their needs for power and control.
What Is The Purpose Of Love Bombing?
Being showered with affection can be highly intoxicating. The overwhelming positive attention hijacks your dopamine systems, keeping you focused on the source of the love bomb, wanting more. The love bomber will keep you tethered, giving you a taste of what’s to come and then pulling back. This will make you vulnerable to their wide arsenal of manipulation tactics, as long as you continue meeting their needs for narcissistic supply.
What Does Love Bombing Look Like?
Just like many other manipulation techniques, love bombing can be quite sneaky and inconspicuous. It often overlaps with some characteristics of obsessive love, and may easily slip under your radar as nothing more than a genuine expression of intense attraction. While you should keep in mind that not everybody who love bombs is automatically a narcissist, it is definitely useful to know how to spot the different forms that this type of manipulation can take.
How To Recognize Love Bombing
If you suspect that you may have been a victim of love bombing, look out for the following red flags:
- They shower you with gifts: flowers, love notes, expensive vacations, the list goes on. The love bomber will take every opportunity to profess their undying love, even at the most inappropriate of times.
- Compliments galore: we all love compliments, until they go too far. The narcissist will start complimenting you immediately and intensely and they won’t stop until you’re stuck deep in their web.
- Endless calls and texts: while it is perfectly normal to want to communicate with your love interest 24/7 when you first start dating, a love bomber may take things to another level. They will call or text you every hour of every day, bombarding you with praise.
- They seek your undivided attention: the narcissist may become angry if you spend time with other people. They will do everything in their power to have your complete focus on them alone, disregarding your boundaries entirely.
- They rush into commitment: if your love interest starts talking about moving in together, getting married, or having kids together after dating you for a very short time, there’s a serious possibility that they are love bombing you.
- They call you their soulmate: you and the love bomber are made to be together, it’s written in the stars. They will try to convince you of this in many ways, making you feel special and loved.
- You feel guilty when you set boundaries: if you try to slow things down and maintain your independence, the love bomber may make you feel guilty and use other manipulation tactics to pull you back.
How Long Does Love Bombing Last With A Narcissist?
At the start of the relationship, the victim of love bombing is likely to feel like they are under the spell of a highly potent drug. This phase may last for weeks, months, years, or even longer. However, this emotional high never lasts forever, and the effects will inevitably start to wane, destroying the fantastical facade.
You may start noticing the red flags only when the love bombing phase starts nearing its end. At this stage, the narcissist might begin to devalue you, subtly and covertly, using a wide array of manipulation tactics. This may include humiliation, withdrawal of affection and physical intimacy, avoidance, shifting blame, gaslighting, and more. All of this serves to make you completely dependent on the love bomber for the validation and affection you were once bombarded with.
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