Sparks fly at the beginning of a relationship, and too easily, we dismiss red flags in the spirit of being open to love.
Even modern fairy tale dreams encourage us to fall head over heels and be swept off our feet.
Sadly, some people have narcissistic behavior and try to deceive others by presenting themselves as the ideal partner.
In the sea of red flags, the narcissist love bombers are masked as Prince Charming.
This form of manipulation is known as love bombing, and its cycle can range from flattering to frightening.
Let's prepare to disarm a love bomber who has already lit the fuse.
- What is Narcissistic Love Bombing in a Relationship?
- Why Do Narcissists Use Love Bombing?
- 11 Exasperating Signs of Narcissist Love Bombing
- What Are Some Examples of Love Bombing?
- What to Do If You’re Being Love-Bombed
- Why is Love Bombing so Dangerous?
- What Comes After Narcissistic Love Bombing?
What is Narcissistic Love Bombing in a Relationship?
Love bombing was coined in connection with a cult in the 1970s.
Psychologists transitioned the word into relationships, mostly connected with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and intense, persistent displays of affection.
Love bombing can be grand gestures or intimate accolades, all to create a sense of soulmates.
There are two distinct differences to know about the love bombing sequence.
What Love Bombing Appears To Be:
- Someone is really into you.
- You are being showered with compliments and gifts.
- Finally, someone is treating you like a princess.
- A true connection to someone's soul.
- Someone finally “gets” you.
What Love Bombing Really Is:
Excessive displays of affection can also come from those with avoidance or anxious attachment styles.
The difference between narcissistic love bombing and an over-eager new love interest is motive.
Only narcissists use love bombing to create an explosion.
Love bombing is the sinister cousin of infatuation.
Why Do Narcissists Use Love Bombing?
To wrap your head around this, you must understand what a narcissist is and isn't. People who suffer from NPD are like the big chocolate Easter bunny.
Very cute and enticing on the outside but hollow on the inside.
Narcissists have created a superior, entitled, and unwavering facade of self-importance based on a childhood of overpraise or neglect.
The resulting coping mechanism leads them to seek a continual supply to feed their ego.
This is where we get to the “why.”
- The Hook: The intense adoration hooks the victim. The narcissist will become everything that a particular person could want. It makes the victim open up even more, building a rickety stairway of trust.
- Reel ‘Em In: Now that you're hooked on the oxytocin “love hormone,” you've let down some emotional walls, and you're sharing all kinds of information. As the love bombing continues, the narcissist is gathering information they will inevitably use against you.
- Prize Catch: Narcissists also use this tactic to win someone that is seen as a prize. It might be status, beauty, money, or kindness. You have it, and they want it.
- The Feast: The love bombing motivates you to supply their ego with a fresh burst of compliments and mutual feelings of adoration.
SPOILER ALERT: None of this insidious behavior is about you. At all. Never. Ever. Ever.
11 Exasperating Signs of Narcissist Love Bombing
Make no mistake about it—you are worthy of being pampered, adored, and cherished. You just won't get any of that from love bombing.
The kicker in all this is that you normally won't know you've been love bombed until you're sitting with emotional shrapnel in utter devastation.
Let's get you some weapons of your own to protect against love bombing using the letters of the phrase.
1. Lots of Attention
Your suitor will call, text, or DM you around the clock. They “just can't stop thinking about you.” You'll lose sleep smiling at witty banter into the overnight hours.
He'll say all the right things at the right time, like he's reading your mind (he is). You'll be so flattered you don't even notice how creepy it is.
Victims likely have been unappreciated in relationships or through a series of bad dates; they'll be mesmerized by the attention of a charming, confident suitor.
What's really happening here is the first stage of trauma bonding.
2. Outrageous Gifts
Love bombing also can include extravagant or overwhelming gifts. Instead of a dozen red roses on Valentine's Day, you'll get five dozen Juliet roses.
Weekend trips to luxurious settings or fine pieces of jewelry will become commonplace. Everything he does for you is big and over the top.
You might even feel guilty that you can't (or don't want to) reciprocate such lavish gifts. Internally you'll battle with the complimentary nature of the gifts but also feel bought and paid for.
He's getting gratification from your appreciation, knowing he's doing it “better” than anyone else could.
3. Very Similar Interests
You're looking at your list of dealbreakers and desires in a partner, and sure enough, he checks off all the boxes.
Did you really meet a guy whose grandmother taught him to knit while she was in hospice, and now he wants to join your knitting club?
It goes far beyond having similar musical tastes or a love of spicy food. It's uncanny how much you have in common.
Little do you realize you're offering the information to add to his love bombing dossier, so he can win you over and build up your trust in him.
4. Excessive Flattery
Love bombing comes with an abundance of compliments. Sure, when you're dressed up for the opera date, you expect to be told, “you look nice.”
The love bomber will go over the top with gasps and tear-filled eyes, claiming you're the most beautiful creature he's ever seen.
The way you walk, talk, sleep, smile, brush your teeth and flip your hair is all the most wonderful way possible to do it.
This flattery gets you hooked on his compliments, a weapon he'll use against you down the road. You're getting a free sample now, but you'll have to earn it down the road.
5. Being Uncomfortable
Despite all the little voices in your head screaming that danger lies ahead, you're stuck in an uncomfortable spot.
You feel like it's all a bit too much, but you're also wondering if you're just trying to self-sabotage. He will sense your discomfort and adapt by going even grander.
If you try to push back, you'll see the first glimpse of the monster inside. He might make you feel bad since he “worked so hard” to get you those things.
He could even turn it on you, saying that you were the one who mentioned you loved sapphires.
A covert narcissist will feign humbleness, saying he's so into you that he just can't help himself.
6. On the Fast Track
While love bombing can last months or years, the narcissist wants to get it over with as soon as possible. Rushing the “I Love You” confessions or pushing to spend every night together is quite common.
He might even start planning a life with you while you still don't know his favorite color.
As the narcissist lays out the fast track, he's intentionally creating your perfect happily ever after. The hope is that you'll ignore the red flags and run right to the horse-drawn carriage he has outside.
It's quite exhausting for a narcissist to have to focus on anyone else for too long.
7. Making You Feel Guilty
Most relationships start with defiance of previous routines, appointments, and hobbies during the honeymoon period. In non-narcissistic relationships, each person realizes it's time to find your “new normal” as a couple.
The narcissist's abuse tactics will make you feel guilty for any activity or behavior that isn't solely focused on him.
These little love-bombing hiccups come when you want to stay at your own place for a night alone, and he feels rejected since you're the one who wanted to bring a toothbrush to his place.
He might even make up a tragedy or illness to draw you back in when you're pulling away.
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8. Bringing in Family and Friends
A narcissist needs to control every aspect of your life, and he knows that includes winning over your family and friends.
Despite the ugly underbelly of this personality disorder, these people are quite charming, attractive, successful, or wealthy. They need to get buy-in from the people you'll eventually run to when you're being devalued.
In addition, these family and friends provide all kinds of new information that can be weaponized later in the relationship. He'll rush to call your parents “mom and dad” after the first meeting. Your friends will walk away wondering why they can't find such a charmer.
9. I've Never Felt This Way Before
On top of all the gifts, accolades, and attention, you'll get confirmation of his adoration through major statements of being a soulmate, totally worth the wait, and the love of his life. He knows better than to do it the creepy way, hovering over you in your sleep.
When you fall for this stage of love bombing, you've crossed a point of no return. Once the narcissist knows he can manipulate you with such garbage, he can prepare for the new phase of the narcissistic love bombing cycle.
10. No Boundaries
“Boundary” is a four-letter word to a narcissist. They are experts at busting down or ignoring boundaries. You'll get a taste of their sinister soul when you try to set boundaries.
Every portion of love bombing is two-pronged — to make you realize how great they are and make you dependent on their attention to elicit control over you.
In a good-faith attempt to set boundaries, you're giving the narcissist more time to sharpen his manipulative knives. He gets in good practice while you end up feeling like you are nothing without making him happy.
11. Getting Creepy
Narcissists tend to go after easy targets—those who are empathetic, people pleasers, or crave validation. Their actions toward a confident, independent, self-aware person won't go very far.
Still, even the most accepting people start to get a little creeped out by the overt, relentless displays of affection.
If you find yourself cringing when his ringtone plays or wishing for just one night with your friends, you might be T-minus 10 seconds from the love bomb exploding.
Victims are usually too wrapped up in losing a “good thing” to pay attention to that nagging knot in their bellies.
What Are Some Examples of Love Bombing?
The key thing to look for in love bombing signs is if the action or words are a selfless act of admiration or more focused on bringing the attention back to the bomber.
- Super-Sizing Interests: You said you like dolphins, and now you're going on a weekend trip to swim with them in the Bahamas.
- Small Acts: He creates a playlist just for you filled with songs that remind him of you. Now you're thinking of him every time you listen to it.
- Surprise: He shows up at happy hour with the girls just to get one kiss goodnight. Your friends adore him for that, and he wants you to know the girls-only boundary didn't really exist.
- Intimate Talks: Narcissists have an uncanny knack for breaking down emotional barriers by mirroring your interests and feigning compassion. The bond builds when he reveals he fears abandonment, too (he doesn't, but now he knows how to control you).
What to Do If You’re Being Love-Bombed
If you're well aware you're being love bombed, you should take immediate and decisive action (and start a podcast because most people have no clue it's happening).
1. Know the Signs
The more you can recognize these signs, the faster you can act. When in doubt, err on the side of narcissism.
The sooner you nip it in the bud or end the relationship, the less ammunition you'll give the narcissists for the smear campaign that will ensue from your rejection.
2. Set the Brakes
Do a relationship brake check and control the pace. Make yourself a priority, so you have enough distance to see if you're really into this person.
- Do you have healthy boundaries?
- Does he make you happy?
- Are there any red flags?
A love bomber will rage against the brakes and try to force himself into your safe spaces. Don't let him. A man who respects you won't violate your boundaries.
3. Refuse the Gift
It's hard to refuse those Louboutin heels, but remind yourself that narcissists don't give gifts–they offer bait like the old creepy man in the van with candy you were warned against as a child.
You are not obligated or indebted to someone who gives you gifts. A real man will know this. A narcissist will repeatedly make you feel bad about rejecting a gift.
4. Stop the Excuses
Every time you catch yourself justifying his overly attentive and excessive behavior, stop yourself. You aren't being unlovable or ungrateful.
All your negative self-talk is getting in the way of noticing the ticking love bomb that will surely explode.
5. Spread the Word
Most of us only learn about the foreboding nature of love bombing after it's too late. It's imperative to have conversations with friends and family, so everyone can realize these abusive traits.
When we're entrenched in the minefield, we're too giddy to get real and too insecure to speak up. Make a friend pact to form a love bomb disarming squad.
Why is Love Bombing so Dangerous?
You have to look beyond the pomp of circumstance of love bombing's perceived benefits. All the overwhelming stimulus is part of a plot.
- Control: By communicating all the time, the narcissist knows he's in full control of your schedule and a priority.
- Insincere: Love bombing is like the mirror maze at the carnival. Nothing is real, and everything is distorted. He's using your kind nature and openness to plot against you.
- Training: You're being trained like a dog. If you want attention, you'll supply it to him. You'll also be fraught with worry when he turns on you because you'll forever look for that person who never existed.
- Cycling: Love bombing happens in a pattern that includes praise, devaluation, discard, and then back to love bombing. You become trauma bound to the narcissist and caught in a hamster wheel of his own ego.
What Comes After Narcissistic Love Bombing?
Love bombing is part of the narcissistic cycle of idealizing, devaluing, and discarding. Love bombing can drift away slowly or come to an abrupt halt. It can also arise the first time you draw a boundary.
At this point, the narcissist knows they’ve got you right where they want you (submissive, entranced, and hooked), and they begin a torturous process.
• Anxiety: You start to pick up on some inconsistencies from the love bombing days. As the dopamine rush of constant praise gives way to more criticism or emotional abandonment, you begin to make extra efforts to bring back the close connection.
• Desperation: You don’t know what happened (or what you did wrong) to make your partner be so callous, cruel, or indifferent. You relentlessly try to appease him to no end. You get little nuggets of praise when you flatter or obey him, and you get punished when you don’t.
• Triangulation: Unfortunately, he won you over, so there’s no more supply to give the narcissist a rush. He’ll bring in third parties to create a competitive edge. He calculates the distance and information he gives each party, now controlling two supplies and getting more attention.
There are many more narcissistic behaviors you’ll encounter if you stay with this person past the love-bombing stage. They will manipulate, control, verbally abuse, and gaslight you. Hopefully, you’ll recognize narcissistic love bombing for what it is: a prelude to hell.
The attention of love bombing would work nowhere else in our lives. You can't start in the mail room and be CEO by Friday. You don't try yoga once and pull off a handstand scorpion at the end of class.
Healthy relationships take time. Narcissistic relationships take your soul. The more you know about love bombing before it happens, the better you can avoid being a blast victim.