There is no shame in expressing your love and affection for each other, if not on a daily basis, at least occasionally. But the problem arises when one of the people in the relationship uses love and affection as a tactic to manipulate the relationship. In simple terms, he/she engages in ‘love bombing’.
While we have already heard about ‘ghosting’ and ‘breadcrumbing’, love bombing is way more devastating. Your partner regularly keeps sending flowers to your workplace. He/she keeps calling or texting you to know what you are up to. Your partner plans a surprise romantic vacation with you. All these gestures will obviously make you feel on top of the world. But are these gestures genuine signs of a caring and romantic relationship? Or does your partner have other motives behind these? He/she might be love bombing you and you might not even realise it.
What is love bombing?
Love bombing can be termed as a conditioning tool or a tool of abuse which is used by a person in the relationship to maintain control. It is a deceptive tactic whereby one of the partners in the relationship shows overt signs of affection and compassion towards the other partner.
So the actions taken by the partner engaging in love bombing may appear to be acts of love. But these are deliberately committed and completely overwhelming.
The target partner is, generally, unaware of the manipulative effect that love bombing has on him/her.
Such an approach by the love bomber does not give time to the target partner to register what is actually going on. The target is made to believe that the love bomber plays an essential role in his/her happiness, and thus, is indispensible. It is when the target gets addicted to the love bomber, that the perpetrator shows his/her true colours.
Characteristics of love bombing/bomber
When you are the target of love bombing, you will feel that you have found your soul mate. You will brag about the efforts of your partner in front of your family and friends. However, your relationship will be established on a bunch of lies and manipulation. Love bombers have ulterior motives when it comes to showering their partmers with too much attention and love.
As human beings, we have a desire to be appreciated and cherished by other people, because of which love bombing actually works. Love bombing goes through three phases:
- Idealisation: In this first phase, the love bomber keeps bombarding the target with compliments and such affection that the target feels the most special and perfect person in the world
- Devaluation: Eventually, the affectionate love bomber will become a cruel critic of you, find faults in your behaviour and threaten abandonment. Through devaluation, the target is made dependent on the love bomber
- Discard: The love bomber becomes disinterested in the target and leaves him/her. Or the bomber utilises discard to manipulate the relationship further
Certain characteristics of love bombing/bomber which should be kept in your mind are:
- Love bombing is a narcissistic tactic used by a person to ensure that the other partner acts according to his/her whims and fancies. So a love bomber has a controlling personality
- Flattery is the most essential quality of a love bomber, as he/she knows exactly what to say to trap the potential target
- Through love bombing, the person tries to destabilise the target in such a way that the target person can be conveniently manipulated
- Angry outbursts, temper tantrums and mood swings are common tools used by a love bomber
- Love bomber contacts his/her partner on a continuous basis, because being in constant touch with the target is the basic need of a love bomber
8 signs you are ‘love-bombed’
Recognising a love bomber is not a cakewalk. Your partner might be genuinely expressing his/her love for you and you do not want to upset your partner by accusing him/her. Therefore you have to be aware of the following 8 signs which will help you understand whether you are love bombed or not.
1. Everything in the relationship moves too fast
Just after the first few days of dating each other, you will notice that your partner thinks he/she is lucky to have met you. Your partner will keep complimenting you and making you feel cherished without truly knowing you. He/she will probably even confess his/her love for you without actually letting the relationship develop.
Infact, it won’t be long when he starts to chalk out future plans like a Bollywood movie script- wherein he tells you what he plans to name the kids. And while it may sound all exciting and sexy, this is a tactic often used by love bombers before they show you their devious, controlling and manipulative side.
2. A love bomber knows what to say to you
Since a love bomber is well aware of your weaknesses and deepest insecurities, he/she will utilise all of these to manipulate you. He will use your past life experiences against you, and your need for self-worth will turn to regret and shame. You will start to feel he is always right, and because you feel that you have had a bad experience before, you feel too weak to take decision on your own.
When you feel that your partner is saying the right things at the right time, then decide for yourself whether it is manipulative or authentic.
3. Romantic gestures seem to be over the top
No doubt you will feel extremely happy when your partner makes romantic gestures to make you feel special. It is romantic to receive a bouquet of flowers on the first date, but the problem is, it does not stop there. While there is a chance he is a hopeless romantic, however, when he/she starts spending too much money on these gestures and becomes too showy, especially after just a few days of dating, then you better evaluate your relationship.
By spoiling and pampering you, they further cement their relationship with you. You start feeling dependent on them and they exploit this.
Related reading: 12 things you should never compromise on in a relationship
4. Your partner values all your opinions
This will make you feel good only for a certain point of time. At the beginning of the relationship, your partner will value all your opinions, keep sharing all your interests and say yes to everything you say. They do this to gain your trust before they actually show you their ugly side.
This honeymoon period will not last long, and soon you will find yourself in the hands of a scheming manipulator. Ultimately the ‘yes’ will turn into a ‘no’ and make your life terribly stressful.
5. The love bomber keeps reminding you of your deepest darkest secrets
By reminding you of your deepest, darkest secrets, the narcissist love bomber gets material to abuse you in the later stage of life. It is just his/her way of establishing a closer and faster bond with you so that the manipulation can work effectively.
6. Others caution you about your partner
As a result of being love bombed, you will not be able to see your partner’s true colours. But there might be people close to you, who recognise the intentions of your partner and warn you. You must pay heed to those warnings to save yourself in time.
7. Your partner does not treat everyone equally
If you feel that your partner is treating others around him/her unequally and harshly, then there is something wrong for sure. You will think that he/she is good to only you. But this might not be the case in the long run. Ultimately, the harsh behaviour might manifest itself against you, too.
8. Compliments from your partner are hard to digest
On a daily basis, you get showered with so many praises and compliments that sometimes you feel overwhelmed. These compliments and praises will be just a medium to flatter you and trap you in the prison of love bombing.
Related reading: No more a ‘backup’: Here’s how to make sure you come first
How to save yourself from love bombing?
First of all, you have to keep in mind these signs of being love bombed in order to know whether you are a victim or not. Remember the positive behaviours that your partner indulged in in the earlier stages of your relationship were just mere illusions. Therefore, do not expect to go back to that phase of the relationship again.
When you get into a relationship, you have to take your time to be comfortable in the changed environment, know what the boundaries of your relationship are, and keep perspective. Do not lose yourself in the process of being with someone who does not truly value you.
Get out of the love bombed relationship as soon as you feel trapped in one and give yourself time to get over the heartbreak that you have gone through.