We all love displays of affection hurled our way, especially so when we’re at the precipice of a new romantic relationship. Whether it’s a single rose, a well-placed compliment, or a cute surprise picnic at our favorite park, it makes us feel special, appreciated, wanted, and, above all else – cherished.
But what if those expressions of attraction are so over-the-top and begin at the get-go? Instead of a single rose, a dozen bouquets. Instead of a tasteful compliment, an ongoing torrent of flattery. Instead of an intimate picnic, a lavish dinner at the 5-star restaurant, and all of it on the first few dates.
Is there a point where too much attention is too much? Better yet, is there a point where too much attention becomes dangerous? The answer is “Yes”, and the love bombing cycle may just be the perfect example of it. However, to understand the “Why?”, we first need to find the answer to the question, “What is love bombing, and why is it bad?”.
Is Love Bombing A Red Flag?
Right off the bat, we must say yes, love bombing in relationships can be considered a huge red flag. The reason for this is that, in the vast majority of cases, love bombing has nothing to do with genuine love or even liking.
Why Is Love Bombing Bad?
At its core, love bombing is a manipulation tactic geared toward fostering dependency in the victim. Typically, it overwhelms the recipient with excessive displays of affection and attention, lavish gifts, grand gestures, and a continual stream of compliments.
While this initial intensity may seem benign or even interpreted as a positive, in most instances, it is anything other than that. For in the dictionary of a love bomber, there’s no such thing as “free.” Virtually every action, gesture, and compliment comes with a price, and they’re intent on collecting.
Is Love Bombing Always Bad?
In most instances, the love bombing cycle has a clear-cut purpose: manipulate the recipient’s emotions to establish dominance over them and create a relationship where the balance of power heavily favors the love bomber.
With this in mind, we can safely say that love bombing in relationships is bad, as it is employed as a means of exerting control for selfish goals rather than as an expression of genuine affection.
Why Love Bombing Is A Red Flag?
The primary reason why love bombing in relationships could be considered a red flag is two-fold:
- Potential for ongoing emotional control: Excessive affection can foster dependency in the victim, rendering them virtually incapable of asserting their own needs and boundaries, making them even more vulnerable to further manipulation;
- Potential for ongoing emotional abuse: Instilling a sense of obligation shifts the power dynamic away from the victim, compelling them to focus on taking care of the manipulator’s needs while disregarding or even ignoring their own well-being.
It must be noted that the progression of this type of manipulation isn’t a straight line. It doesn’t start with excessive shows of affection, and it doesn’t end when the love bomber gets what they need. Rather, it forms what is known as a “love bombing cycle,” a vicious circle in which extreme lows immediately follow intense and short-lived highs.
This typically leaves the victim emotionally starved, yet compelled to do virtually anything to feel valued and appreciated again, even if it’s just for a fleeting moment and even if the intensity of newly shown affection is a pale shadow of what it once was.
Therein lies the actual danger of being trapped in the cycle: existing in this state of emotional tenseness is unsustainable long-term and typically results in significant trauma to the victim’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
What Are The Red Flags During Love Bombing?
Due to the life-shattering potential of love bombing, it is essential to learn to recognize if and when this tactic is being used on you. However, due to its deceptive nature, doing so is easier said than done. Fortunately, there are some specific behaviors taking place during the process that can be considered warning signs. Early love bombing red flag examples may include:
- Expressing deep love and commitment in the early stages of the relationship:
o Example: “I know we’ve only known each other for a week, but I can’t imagine my life without you.”
- Frequent and exaggerated praise, disproportionate to the length and nature of the relationship:
- Example: “You’re the most amazing, beautiful, and intelligent person I’ve ever met in my life!”
- Over-the-top gifts and grand gestures that far exceed what can be considered reasonable for the current stage of the relationship:
- Example: Being given an expensive piece of jewelry after only a few dates (and ensuring you know just how expensive it is).
- Attempts to isolate you from your family and friends and set themselves up as the primary source of emotional support:
- Example: “I don’t get why you’re hanging out with them. They don’t understand you like I do.”
- Disrespecting/disregarding your boundaries and personal space:
- Example: Calling or texting you any time of day or night just to “check-in” and keep track of your every move.
- Pushing to take the relationship to the “next level,” even if it’s in its earliest stages:
- Example: “I know it’s only been a month, but I feel you could move in with me.”
These are the initial strategies love bombers use to lure their targets into committing to the relationship. Once the victim is hooked, however, manipulative tactics become more extreme, and can grow to include:
- Using emotional manipulation strategies (e.g. gaslighting, guilt-tripping, nagging) to make you feel obligated to fulfill their requests or needs:
- Example: “I’m doing all these amazing things for you. If you loved me, you’d do this one small thing for me.”
- Putting you through an emotional rollercoaster, typically by exhibiting sudden and unpredictable mood swings or changes in behavior and demeanor:
- Example: Making you feel like you’re the center of the universe for a while, then suddenly devaluing your actions or opinions for a prolonged period.
- Conditioning you to receive affection:
- Example: Offering praise or physical intimacy almost exclusively as a reward for specific behaviors.
If you notice any signs mentioned above of love bombing in a relationship, it is highly advisable to stop and take a step back. Conduct a deep, thorough evaluation of the relationship as a whole, focusing on aspects such as the fairness of reciprocity, the pace at which it develops, and the potential for long-term sustainability.
While putting your new relationship through such scrutiny can seem a bit excessive, or even extreme, it can give you the clarity necessary to take the next step. Most importantly, it can prevent you from being trapped in a vicious cycle.
Spiral Out Of The Love Bombing Cycle With PIVOT
If you’ve suffered love bombing in a relationship or you’re currently trapped in the cycle of love bombing, know that the means to regaining your freedom and individuality are readily within your reach. At PIVOT, we’re helping our clients rediscover their strengths and resilience through individualized coaching sessions led by compassionate professionals with years of experience.In the soothing environment of our Glass House Retreat, you can learn to recognize the signs of love bombing, gain skills necessary to free yourself from the clutches of manipulation and, in doing so, reclaim your emotional well-being and faith in genuine, loving connections. Reach out to us today to get started!