Are You The Victim Of Love Bombing?
By: Michael Arangua
Updated February 11, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Kelly Kampf
Love is, by all accounts, a beautiful experience that we all desire.
So when we hear the term "love bomb," it doesn't sound all that bad.
Naturally, if love is so great, getting bombed with it must be great, too.
Except it isn't.
In fact, being a victim of the love bomb is not pleasant at all. This behavior is manipulative, destructive, and even sometimes abusive.
It starts out feeling like everything the victim has always wanted. They might even believe that they have at last found their soulmate. The relationship moves rapidly, becoming deep and committed very quickly.
Everything seems great…until abruptly the bomb detonates, and everything falls apart.
Here is everything you need to know if you think you might be the victim of love bombing.
What Is Love Bombing?
The term "love bomb" was originally coined back in the 1970s by a religious cult called the Unification Church of the United States. Founder Sun Myung Moon used the phrase to describe a manipulative mind control tactic commonly used to bring in new members. Later, cult leaders like Charles Manson and David Koresh employed such "love bombing" tactics so successfully that they were able to induce large numbers of people to commit murder and suicide.
In relationships, this "love bombing" tactic makes its victims feel happy, cared about, and secure in the beginning. It gives them a sense of belonging. But later, this sense of belonging devolves into fear, intimidation, and violence.
A relationship with a love bomber typically goes through three distinct stages.
First, is the idealization stage. In this stage, the love bomber grooms the victim. This process means bombarding them with attention, gifts, calls and text messages, and promises of undying devotion. These attentions can feel out of proportion to the length of time of the relationship. The victim may find that the love bomber is already discussing plans for marriage on the third date. While this behavior may be jarring, it undoubtedly feels good to be the object of so much devotion and care. And the relationship progresses so quickly that the victim doesn't have time to wonder if something might be amiss.
The problem is that this loving facade is only a mask. The love bomber is truly not seeking love at all, but simply someone to possess, control and manipulate. The excessive attentions are nothing more than a strategy to draw the victim into the web of the love bomber. As soon as the perpetrator knows that the victim's affection is secure, the love bomber drops their mask and the next stage of "devaluation" begins.
If the victim disagrees with the love bomber or makes any decision that the perpetrator doesn't like, the perpetrator becomes furious. This is especially true if the victim wants to spend their time with someone other than the perpetrator. The perpetrator responds by degrading and belittling the victim, threatening that the perpetrator will leave and the victim will never meet anyone else like them. Love bombers may resort to sulking, yelling, or even physical abuse.
The purpose of this devaluation is to isolate the victim from sources of support, such as friends or family, and make the victim completely dependent on the love bomber. The victim is so devastated by the perceived loss of affection that they will do anything to regain it, giving up other relationships, work goals, hobbies, and financial stability to make the perpetrator happy again. The victim keeps hoping that they will once again find the person who won their heart at the beginning of the relationship. But they never do, because that person wasn't real. It was only a facade.
After a few rounds of idealization and devaluation comes the final "discard" stage. This can play out in several ways. In some cases, the victim, at last, gets tired of making constant sacrifices for so little reward and ends the relationship. In other cases, the love bomber themselves grows bored with the relationship and seek out someone new to shower with attention. In either case, the victim is left shocked and bereft, wondering how something which appeared so wonderful could have turned out so very wrong.
The love bomber, for their part, never really feels that the "discard" stage is the end. Eventually, they resurface, once again showering the victim with romantic attention to begin the cycle all over again. In some cases, the perpetrator is successful, and the process repeats.
Signs That You're A Victim
It's not uncommon for someone to seem excessively intense and eager at the beginning of a relationship. However, this doesn't always mean that the person is a love bomber.
So how do you tell the difference between a love bomber and a person who simply likes to give you lots of attention? Should you be concerned? What are the signs that you are headed into a love bombing situation?
Here are some things to look out for that might signal you are dealing with a love bomber.
- The Relationship Moves At Breakneck Speed. They say "I love you" on the first date and surprise you with plane tickets for a weekend away on the second date. They make it clear in every possible way that they consider you the person they are meant to be with. They keep in constant contact with you via text or email. While you may enjoy all this attention, the reality is that it's impossible to love someone that you've just met truly. All these declarations of true love, though nice to hear, are ultimately meaningless. They are just part of the manipulation strategy.
- They Talk About Your Future Together In Detail. This is more than just a vague mention of the kind of marriage they want someday. The love bomber discusses a future with you in specific terms, right down to where you'll go on your honeymoon and the names of your children. You may think this is sweet and romantic. In reality, it's a danger sign.
- They Know Exactly What You Want To Hear. A love bomber is eerily tuned in to your deepest insecurities. That's because they are storing them up to use as ammunition in the later devaluation stage. They quickly understand your weak points and builds you up in that area. Their goal is to make you feel dependent on them as the only person who truly "gets" you. If you've always been sensitive about your weight, they will shower you with compliments about what a nice body you have. If you're shy in social situations, they will tell you how much they enjoys your conversation.
- You're The Recipient Of Non-Stop Expensive Gifts And Excessive Gestures. Just one bouquet of flowers? That's for slackers. How about a bouquet every hour of the workday? And let's also add in a serenade beneath your bedroom window. Did you casually mention that you need new lawn furniture? They'll have the very nicest lawn furniture delivered to your door the same day.
- The Compliments Are Too Much. Is there such a thing as too many compliments? Well, yes, if they are coming at you 24/7, they can be. Everyone enjoys getting compliments, but at a certain point, they begin to feel fake. If you are receiving compliments every hour of the day, chances are they are not authentic. The love bomber is simply using them to draw you further into their web.
- Communication Is 24/7. Some people like to text a lot. But if your new partner texts you every moment of the day without giving you a break, you may have a love bomber on your hands. On the surface, this may seem romantic. But the reality is much more sinister: the love bomber wants to know exactly where you are, and what you're doing, at all times.
If you think that you might be the victim of love bombing, there are some practical steps to take.
- Slow things down. Real love takes time to build. Don't be afraid to take new relationships slowly. A healthy partner who truly cares about you will understand.
- Have an honest conversation. Tell your partner that you are uncomfortable with the excessive attention and demands on your time. While this may be a difficult conversation to have, a partner worth keeping will hear your concerns and respect them. If the other person shows disregard for your feelings, you should consider this a major red flag that this person is not for you.
- Break things off if necessary. If you're in a relationship with someone who truly does not respect your boundaries or care about your feelings, it may be time to end the relationship to minimize the damage.
- Seek professional help. Ending a relationship with a love bomber can be difficult. They know your weak points and will use them to their advantage, drawing you in once again with extravagant promises and compliments. In some cases, you may be weakened by their behaviors during the devaluing stage, making it even harder to break things off. If you find yourself in this situation, seek the help of a trained therapist. Our professional therapists at BetterHelp can guide you to a place of strength so you can move on with your life.
If you've been bombed with love, don't despair. There is a way out of the devastation…and towards the real love that you deserve.