Love Bombing: The Dark Side of Excessive Affection in Relationships

Love Bombing: The Dark Side of Excessive Affection in Relationships

A boy grabbing his girlfriend

On one first date, someone gifted you a diamond necklace or told you I can’t believe it, I think I have finally found my soulmate. Is it the moment that you have been dreaming about or waiting for or is it something else? Have you felt the same about your relationship at some point in time? If yes, then try asking yourself Are you pressurised to make your relationship exclusive? your relationship making it difficult to see and spend time with friends and family? If you spend more time with someone else, does your partner get upset? Without realising it, you could be subjected to psychological and emotional abuse. It’s known as “love bombing”.

What is love bombing?

Love bombing is a manipulative practice brought into play by some individuals in order to control them emotionally. It entails your lover showing you overwhelming amounts of love, care, and flattery. It is done to gain the trust. Although the phrase was first used in reference to cults, it has also been used in reference to love relationships. It’s emotional and psychological abuse that is when a person goes beyond and above anything to manipulate you in a relationship with them (Hayes & Jeffries, 2016).

Giving presents and making frequent vows of love are examples of love bombing in a romantic setting. These behaviours seem adoring and alluring in the early stages of a relationship. However, over time you as a partner start feeling dependent and confused negatively impacting you. You gradually begin to follow the lead of the love bomber by granting their requests and feeling regret for not being able to fulfil their expectations. Once they have enough power over their target, love bombers quickly exhibit possessive, controlling, and perhaps emotionally abusive behaviour.

Signs of Love Bombing

It’s critical to recognise the warning symptoms of love bombing and proceed with caution. It can be hard to spot but signs are there if you know what and where to look –

1) Giving needless gift

Giving gifts is a common way to express love and is sometimes called the language of love. When these presents are unwelcome, pointless, or excessive, a problem arises. Even if you communicate to them that you don’t need these gifts they will still give you. These gifts are beyond simple chocolates or flowers, they are expensive, elaborate and big purchases.

2) Rushing things

People who love bombs make quick moves like calling you soulmate or talking about their fantasies, introducing you to their friends and family. They are likely to bring up committing to a relationship as early as possible which might feel too soon and good simultaneously.

3) Demanding Attention

People who love bomb depends on you for time and comfort. Over time, they demand more and more time with you or get angry or jealous of you spending time with anyone even friends and family.

They may end up giving you an ultimatum of choosing between them and others or even your work. It is to make you solely dependent on them making it difficult to get out relationship later. It could be subtle like them not talking to you when you cancel plans with them, or it could be overt, like getting upset when you make plans without them.

4) Cannot take “NO”

As we all know, the word “no” is actually a complete phrase. If you try to explain that they are crossing your limits for a healthy relationship, love bombers will not accept it.

5) Over-communication

It’s not always through lavish gifts or grand gestures. Sometimes, knowing what you are doing, who you are with, and where you are might be inferred subtly through frequent texts. Keep telling how they feel about you and the relationship, posting frequently online about how they feel for you to gain attention and acceptance of the relationship.

6) Too quick to commit

They want commitment in a relationship as early as possible which might be just after you went on your first date.

7) Early and extensive talks of future

Talking about a honeymoon, having kids, and making long-term plans when you may not yet be fully committed to your budding relationship.

Who is most likely to love to bomb someone?

Anyone can engage in love bombing. However, studies have shown that people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) or anxious or insecure attachment patterns. The behaviours might also be inherited from abusive parents or previous relationships. Trauma from childhood may be the cause. So, a person’s lack of confidence and inability to put their trust in others leads them to become a love bomber. They need to know you love them all the time. They might threaten you if you don’t attend to their needs.

Love bombers start employing more deceptive strategies, such as gaslighting or domestic violence, in order to keep their spouse around and obtain their assurance of love. It may take some time to realise how sincere someone is, making it difficult to escape love bombing.

The Cycle of Love Bombing

It tends to occur in three phases which are:

1. The Idealisation phase:

Your lover showers you with gifts, adoration, and attention. To acquire your trust and obtain access to your inner circle. It might initially appear to be a romantic Bollywood film or television show.

2. The Devaluation Phase:

when you let your guard down after being at ease with someone in a relationship. The warning signs begin to emerge; they begin to dictate where you go and who you meet, and they become irritated if you make plans without them. Gaslighting is used to make you feel as though their behaviour hasn’t altered at all while yet demanding more time from you.

3. The Discard Phase:

When you begin noticing the changes and reassuring them that nothing has changed. They won’t take responsibility for their actions or cooperate, and they won’t let you reestablish sensible boundaries. making you feel bad for not being able to solve the problem.

In fact, returning to overly affectionate behaviour can be a way for the offender to “make up for” the abuse that occurred during the devaluating phase and keep the other person invested in the relationship despite its obvious flaws. It is common for people to cycle between periods of idealisation and devaluation.

How is love bombing different from a loving relationship?

You may have questions about how to find out if my partner actually loves me or if it’s an act. The best way is to observe if your partner is crossing over boundaries in a healthy relationship. Try having an open conversation with them explaining your boundaries and see how they respond.

If they’re making an effort to comprehend you and take your criticism into account going forwards by altering their behaviours. Then they probably have a lot of regard for you. A warning sign would be if they started getting defensive and angry while still ignoring your boundaries. Ask yourself if your connection appears to be too wonderful to be true. If the answer is yes, you must think deeply. Instead of ignoring these emotions, it’s critical to acknowledge them.

Recovering from Love Bombing

The feeling of being a victim of a love bombing is painful. When the relationship ends, you might feel confused about how the relationship begin with a love-in-the-air mode and how things went down making you feel angry or sad. They may come back to check in with you about your health or emotions, trying to repeat the process and it’s when you are a risk of getting stuck in the loop.

Gifts, attention and affection initially make you feel secure and safe. However, it is because these gestures boost your self-esteem thus making you feel important. It is vital to understand that gaining control is the goal of love bombers and not seeking love. Remember respect, trust, communication and genuine affection are part of a healthy relationship. Learn to pick up red flags in relationships. It’s a form of emotional abuse. Love is a complex feeling and emotion which require time and effort to be invested.

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