People fall in love in different ways. For some, it is love at first sight while for others, it takes a little bit longer. In the process of getting to know the other person, love bombing may occur. For this reason, it is important to know what exactly it is and how it is displayed to ensure that you are not a victim of this dangerous manipulation tactic.
At the start of a romantic relationship and during dating, it is quite common for one to be overwhelmed by the newfound love. This may lead to poor judgement and failure to see the flaws of the other person, despite how dangerous they may be.
What is love bombing?
To clearly understand and elaborately define love bombing meaning, you should know that it is a sort of romantic manipulation that is mostly used by narcissistic and toxic people.
This manipulation manifests in the form of exaggerated displays of affection, mainly at the start of the relationship. The manipulator intends to make their victim vulnerable and helpless to them.
In such a situation, the victim is showered with so much love and affection at the beginning of the relationship. This makes them believe that they need to match the energy displayed by their partner. This leads to the victim trying not to disappoint their partner at all times as they feel indebted to them.
The history and truth behind love bombing
This concept was identified in the 1970s as a result of actions perpetrated by famous love bombing cults. The leaders and members of a cult identified as The Moonies used this tactic on recruits to keep them from leaving their fellowship.
There are other narcissistic cult leaders such as David Koresh and Jim Jones who also used this tactic by relentlessly giving positive remarks to their followers. Just like manipulative toxic partners, these leaders understood how to trap their recruits and members by fulfilling their emotional needs to the point that they can hardly repay all the kindness. This leaves them trapped in the relationship or arrangement.
The victim hardly recognizes the toxic and constant remarks or actions displayed by the perpetrator. Therefore, when they stop doing all these things, the victim begins to feel like something is wrong, or they are not acting or doing enough to impress the manipulator.
This makes them feel like they need to do more to keep the other party interested so that the exaggerated proper treatment can continue. They are made to believe that when there is no affection being displayed, they are doing something wrong.
Difference between love-bombing in relationships and genuine affection
It is normal for partners to show each other affection, especially at the early stages of a relationship. Therefore, without proper knowledge, it may be quite challenging to differentiate manipulation from real affection.
The difference between a genuinely loving partner and a love bomber is that the latter does not give the relationship time to grow and flourish into something healthy. A genuine partner may surprise you at an appropriate time while a manipulator will not wait until it is appropriate to make certain moves.
During love bombing, victims feel like everything in the relationship is happening so quickly that they do not get to process all the occurrences and feelings. Due to this reason, they fail to develop love for their partner and instead begin feeling indebted to them, wondering how they can repay all the love bomber has done or given them.
Signs of love bombing
If a partner displays only one of these signs, they may not necessarily be love bombers. However, if they show a couple of these signs, you should consider evaluating your relationship and analyze if you are a victim of their manipulative tactics.
1. They say ‘I Love You’ too early
In some relationships, it is okay to say these words during the initial phases. However, a mature partner knows that these are words that should be said when the feelings are real. If they want to skip the process of getting to learn and understand each other, they might be a love bomber.
2. They move too fast
After declaring their love for you, they immediately move to other relationship milestones at a fast pace. This includes actions like moving in together, meeting the family, traveling out of the country, and so on. Things that would take months or years for healthy relationships to accomplish, love bombers do them within a short span of days or weeks.
3. The compliments are endless
Manipulators shower their victims with endless compliments all the time. While receiving compliments now and then is not a bad thing, this category of people will make you feel so loved and special that compliments from other people lose their meaning.
4. They overdo grand gestures
The grand gestures that are experienced once in a while in a normal setting become the basis of your entire relationship. You can hardly go on a regular date with them as they want to do more such as take you on hot air balloon rides, skiing, skydiving, take you to Paris, and so on.
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5. It feels too good to be true
Even though no relationship is perfect, all aspects of this type of relationship are flawless. This kind of person makes you feel adored and amazing at all times, especially during the initial stages of the relationship. If absolutely everything is going perfectly, you should analyze the situation to avoid being a victim of manipulation.
6. Their words are perfect
These people know when to say things that completely draw their victims towards them. They are aware of the ideal terms to use in every situation, and it can become or feel like too much sometimes.
Why love bombing is uncomfortable
All the actions and words can become quite overwhelming, and you may begin to feel a bit awkward. This may occur before they withdraw all the affection and make you feel worthless and undeserving of their attention anymore. There are several reasons why love bombing can make one uncomfortable.
1. The intensity of the relationship starts at a peak
In healthy relationships, it takes some time to grow affection and love as you spend more time with each other. However, in a love-bombed relationship, everything starts differently as they treat you as if you have been together for ages. It may be weird for the victim as they want to take things slower in order to get to know their partner.
2. The extreme acts of affection are unnecessary
Affection is something that should be developed with time. When someone you would still consider a stranger showers with you with the kind of affection you have probably never experienced before, it is likely to make you uncomfortable as you do not understand the reason behind it all. It may even feel like they are worshiping you, and this is unnecessary, especially at the start of the relationship.
3. You feel pressured to commit to them
You may have heard the phrase that says ‘if you give, you receive’. In a relationship, receiving constantly and not giving anything in return may feel quite awkward, thus putting pressure on the receiver.
Romantic manipulators use this tactic as they invest so much in the relationship that the receivers have to give them what they want, or else they will appear to be bad people.
When the giving becomes too abundant, the victim may want to leave as they do not think they can keep up with the pace. However, leaving the giver becomes a problem as they will not have done anything wrong to warrant a breakup. This leaves the victim trapped and unhappy, forcing them to commit if they do not know what else to do.
Love bombing examples
To get a better understanding of this concept, take a look at some of these examples
- You arrange a first date with a potential lover, and he shows up to pick you in a hired limousine. He takes you to an overly expensive hotel where you find a red carpet laid down for you leading into the hotel.
The hotel could even be facing the beach so that both of you can enjoy the magnificent scenery. He takes an extra step and hires a private band to perform as you share your meal and drinks.
You go on a second date, and he asks you to carry your passport for a surprise. He pays first-class tickets and takes you to the dream destination you mentioned on your first date.
- You meet up for the first date, and he cannot stop complimenting you on how beautiful you look. He keeps lifting and kissing your hand from across the table and orders the most expensive food and champagne on the menu.
The following day, you receive several bouquets at your workplace, expressing how grateful and lucky he is to have you in his life.
This kind of manipulation is done in different ways, depending on how willing the love bomber is willing to go. You should be very keen and look out for such signs to avoid being a victim.
Tips to avoid being a target
Manipulators have different tastes. Some will target people with high confidence and extroverted personalities for the extra challenge, while others will go for the shy and introverted type for quick and more effortless manipulation.
Therefore, you cannot use your personality to justify that you cannot be a target. However, you can do a few things to ensure that you do not fall prey to these dangerous people.
1. Take things slow
Love bombers do not give room for the other party to dictate the pace at which the relationship will grow. Therefore, if you realize that your lover is taking things faster than expected, let them know that you prefer to slow down.
If they agree and apologize for their actions, you will know that they were not as manipulative as you thought and maybe they are head over heels in love with you. However, a love bomber will react differently by making you feel ashamed and guilty for stating how you feel.
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2. Introduce them to your friends
Manipulative people will try to isolate you from your social circles so that your world can revolve around them. This is why you should introduce the person you are seeing to your friends and take note of how they interact with them.
If he is reserved and seems not to be interested in knowing them, this is a red flag. This is because if the relationship gets more serious with time, they will not want you around them and you may have to choose between your friends and your lover.
Friends are also helpful in seeing things you cannot identify when you are in love with someone. They may notice some actions, behavior, or words used by your partner that you have never noticed before. It is always advisable to get feedback from loved ones who wish you well.
3. Read between the lines
It is essential that you pay attention to their words and actions from the first date. Are they honest or just saying things to please you? Does what they say make sense or are they trying to distract you and have control over your life? Do not ignore these things, regardless of how minor they may appear as they will help you determine the kind of person you are dealing with.
Respect and communication are some of the values necessary to build a good relationship. Love bombers do not respect these values as they seek to take full control of the situation. There is no perfect love, but a relationship with no flaw or struggle is questionable. Guard your heart and stay woke to avoid love bombing.