Love bombing usually happens in the early stages of a relationship. If you have recently started dating someone and think the entire process of meeting, dating, falling in love, and moving in together is happening at a lightning speed, then you aren’t wrong to wonder if it’s love bombing or genuine affection. All of us like to be showered with love, admiration, and compliments. But when someone goes overboard with their love for you, it might leave you feeling overwhelmed by their sudden and unexpected outburst of love toward you.
To understand more about love bombing and how to differentiate between love bombing and genuine care, we reached out to psychologist Jayant Sundaresan. He said, “Love bombing is basically giving lots of affection in the initial stages of a relationship. The receiver will undoubtedly feel loved and special in the beginning. But as the relationship progresses and when they realize they were being love bombed, it will definitely take a toll on them and the relationship will hit an iceberg soon.
“Relationships are supposed to progress naturally. You can’t love bomb them and put pressure on them to reciprocate your feelings. If you are asking if it’s love bombing or genuine care, then you might have felt something off about the intensity and pace of the relationship’s advancement. It takes months, sometimes even years, to confess your love. But a love bomber will say they love you within the first week of getting to know you.”
Jayant summarizes love bombing in just four words. He says it is “too much too soon’’. If you are asking if it is possible to discern love bombing from genuine interest, the answer is yes. It is certainly possible to figure out the differences between love bombing and genuine care. Below are some ways you can find out how.
Can You Figure Out If It’s Love Bombing Or Genuine Care?
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Jayant shares, “Yes, you can figure out if you are being love bombed or if it’s genuine care being shown to you. Though it won’t be apparent in the initial stages. Genuine care doesn’t come with a desire to control and manipulate people. It’s like you make them the object of your plan by bombing them with love and affection. Listen to your gut if things are moving faster than you want, and if all of it feels too good to be true.
“What the love bomber wants to do becomes way more important than your needs, likes, and dislikes. It’s all about them. Any person can love bomb you but most of the offenders are narcissists with unhealthy attachment issues. It’s not like this is their first attempt at love bombing. It’s a pattern for them because most narcissistic love bombers are insecure and have the intense need to control people. They are temperamental. They are also often mercurial and have extreme mood swings.
“If you are asking, “Is it love bombing or genuine endearment?”, then look at how they treat you. Nobody will try to use emotional manipulation in relationships where they sincerely love the person. The offender wants to create a winning impression. It’s a game of cat and mouse for them. Notice the speed with which the entire relationship is moving. If it’s in a fast forward mode, then your partner is trying to gain control of the relationship. It can be overwhelming if you haven’t experienced anything like this before.”
If you’re still wondering, “Is he love bombing me or genuinely cares about me?”, you can picture love bombing as a tornado. It’s like a violent and severe thunderstorm. A whirlwind or a thunderstorm lasts anywhere between seconds to an hour. Similarly, love bombing will last only for the first few months. After that, things may go berserk and you will be left feeling alone and emotionally abused. Below are some signs which will help you differentiate between love bombing and genuine care.
8 Tips To Differentiate Between Love Bombing And Genuine Care
Jayant adds, “The basic intent behind love bombing is to make the receiver feel indebted. They want you to feel the pressure of their love and succumb to it by reciprocating their feelings. They want you to feel dependent on them. They lack self-esteem or they may have come out of an unhealthy relationship. They need something to control and be in charge of. It’s like they are predators who can identify a person’s weaknesses and latch onto them for their own benefit.”
There were many times I had questioned if it’s love bombing or genuine interest. I thought I was just being overly suspicious and shrugged the thought away. A year later, I realized I was a victim of love bombing, and I can say for sure that on the surface, it feels amazing. You feel like someone is head over heels in love with you. You are the object of their desire.
They shower you with compliments and you feel like you are the luckiest person on earth. They do all this in such a way that you believe every word that comes out of their mouth. But in reality, they are just trying to gain control of you. Below are some of the ways you can gauge if it’s love bombing or genuine love.
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1. The pace of the relationship is meteoric
Jayant says, “If you are asking if it’s love bombing or genuine interest, then look if the relationship is moving too fast. Things develop gradually and naturally in a normal relationship. It’s done slowly over a period of time. If a healthy process of a relationship is ‘dum biryani’ where it takes time to cook and breathe, then love bombing is like any fast food cooked in a Chinese wok. That’s one of the easiest ways to distinguish love bombing vs. genuine care.”
A person love bombs because they want you to idealize them. They are creating a feeling of dependency inside you that you cannot function without them. Always trust your gut and intuition. If at any point you find yourself questioning, “Is he love bombing me or genuinely cares about me?”, then take a moment to pause and reflect on the entire scenario. Move ahead only when you think you are ready.
2. There is always an agenda
Jayant shares, “In a healthy relationship, your partner loves you without any negative intention, they have zero agendas. Power struggle in relationships are common and there are many healthy ways to deal with it, but controlling a person is not. A person who genuinely loves you will never want to control you. They don’t want to gain power over you. A love bomber has their own agenda. You are just their target.
“It’s like you are a part of their experience. They see the entire relationship as an experience from which they can learn and use in their future relationships. They have two clear agendas. The first one is to own you and the second is to hurt you or harm you. This isn’t physical harm where you can show people your scars. This is the kind of emotional harm that will leave you emotionally challenged for a long time. This is one of the obvious ways where you can differentiate between love bombing and genuine care.”
3. They will buy you extravagant gifts
Jayant says, “In healthy relationships, romantic gestures are sweet and warm, but love bomber will present you with extravagant gifts. That’s because they want you to feel indebted. They want you to notice and acknowledge their generosity. When someone gives you an expensive gift, always question their intent behind it. You need to be sure what a guy wants from you. Likewise, you need to think about a girl’s intention of showering you with gifts. They haven’t known you for long yet they spend a fortune to give you an over-the-top gift.
“They will deliver this act with such smoothness that you will feel guilty if you reject their present. You will be made to feel that you are being rude. The love bomber wants their gifts to eclipse over all the others you have received over the years. They are creating a context which implies that nobody has and nobody will ever give you what they can. They are inculcating an indebted feeling in you that you can’t give them anything equal in return.”
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4. They will cut you off from others
Jayant shares, “One of the obvious ways to determine if it is love bombing or genuine care is by noticing if he has kept you in a glass chamber. Everyone can see you from the outside and you can see everyone from the inside. The glass is transparent but you are trapped in a relationship. They will cut you off from the outside world, from your friends and family. You tell me, what do you think this looks like, is it love bombing or genuine love? In such a case, you must stay connected to other people so they don’t isolate you from the world.”
If your friends complain that you don’t hang out with them anymore, then think deeply about your priorities and circumstances in the relationship. A person who really loves you won’t confine you in a cage. They would want you to have a life of your own. They would tell you to go out, meet your friends, and have a nice time. When you hang out with your friends, they won’t make you feel guilty about it. This is one of the best ways to determine if it’s love bombing or genuine care.
5. They will monitor your movements
Jayant says, “A love bomber is usually a narcissist who wants everything to be centered around them. If you are dating a narcissist, then you need to be very careful about their tactics. When you aren’t with them for a brief period, they will wonder what you are doing in their absence. They will check your phone, they will make you reveal everything that you did when they weren’t around.
“They will pull this off with such finesse that you won’t realize that they are keeping a check on you.” It is easy to fall prey to a love bomber but there are many signs that separate love bombing and genuine care. One of the major signs is a lack of trust. When you trust someone, you don’t go around checking their messages and call list. You aren’t suspicious of them.
6. There is no respect for boundaries
To add to the previous point about monitoring your movements, a love bomber has zero respect for privacy and boundaries. There will be unhealthy boundaries where they will constantly invade your personal space. Boundaries need to exist in relationships in order to maintain each person’s identity. A love bomber will get offended when you set boundaries and take time for yourself.
Love bombers who are narcissists aren’t empaths either. They don’t care about your space or interests. They can be good actors and pretend that they are okay with your boundaries but deep down, they are planning how to invade them. They will convince you to eradicate those boundaries because narcissists want the world to revolve around them. They want your undivided attention and devotion.
7. They will use your vulnerability against you
Jayant adds, “Trust in a relationship is very important. To be vulnerable, you need to have trust. You share your weaknesses, your traumas, fears, and secrets only because you have placed your trust upon someone you love. You believe they won’t use this information to hurt you. If you have a partner who uses your weaknesses against you, then tell us: Is it love bombing or genuine care? If they keep your vulnerability safe with them, and never bring it up unless you want to have a conversation about it, then they truly care about you.
“But if they bring it up without consent and then use your information to hurt you, then all the showering of love that went before this becomes irrelevant. A genuine person will never do that. It’s a cruel and vicious tactic which narcissists use to twist and control the narrative.”
8. There is an immense imbalance of power
Jayant says, “Power dynamics is real when it comes to unhealthy relationships. At the core of it, a narcissistic love bomber looks at relationships as a game of chess. They want to checkmate their partner by gaining control of the relationship. Balance goes haywire when the receiver succumbs to the love bomber’s love. It’s like the victim is at the mercy of the offender.
“There is no equal power distribution here. First, they will feed you with love. They have nothing to lose when they are oozing with love for you. They are gaining a lot, in fact. They are gaining your trust. Then, they will feed their ego and self-importance when you make them the center of your universe. They will make a subject out of you so they can be treated like your king. That is all a narcissist ever wants.”
Jayant adds, “Love bombing is one of the relationship red flags you should watch out for. It’s not easy in the beginning to differentiate love bombing and genuine care. It’s nice when they want to spend all their time with you but it’s just a ruse to cut you off from everyone else. It’s a tactic to make you dependent on them. They will enter every sphere of your life. They will make you vomit all your personal details while limiting their personal information. You become an open book and share every chapter of your life yet they remain closed.”
Love bombing can never create healthy relationships. All the love, excessive compliments, and extravagant gifts will pull you high into the sky of adoration where you feel loved and respected. But soon, you’ll come crashing down following the eventual deterioration of the love bomber’s interest.