Is it love, or love bombing?

key takeaways

  • “Love bombing” refers to a behavioral pattern in which a partner acts with excessive attention and admiration for each other at the beginning of a relationship.
  • Understanding love bombing and why we do it can help us identify harmful patterns and start addressing them.
  • If you notice these behaviors early in the relationship, it’s important to set boundaries or walk away.

You started seeing someone two weeks ago and have gone on a few dates. You like them, but they know very well—almost too well—that they like you. They are already talking about introducing you to their family. They are giving you gifts. They may even start saying “I love you”.

While this may seem like just the beginning of a whirlwind romance, it’s been called “love bombing,” or showing how much attention and affection a relationship seems to start with. This relationship dynamic has been trending on social media lately.

Dr Miriam Steele, professor of clinical psychology and co-director of the Center for Attachment Research, told VigorTip that while every relationship is different, there are some commonalities behind love bombing.

“If we think about the development of relationships, they are based on a series of interactions and connections, ruptures and repairs,” Steele said. Steele added that the problem with love bombing is that it doesn’t allow time for that to develop. quite, It’s a projection of a bond that doesn’t yet exist.

“It can’t be that this person confessed to me after seeing me twice,” she said.

And it’s not always an innocent projection. Sometimes, it’s a stage in a cycle of narcissism, manipulation, ghosting, and harm, Lia Huynh, MS, LMFT, a relationship therapist based in California, told VigorTip. It could be “making you dependent on them and controlling you, or making you a ghost and then moving onto another victim without remorse,” she said.

why we love bombs

Steele and Huynh say people like bombs for at least two main reasons: because of a conscious desire to manipulate, or because of unconscious or unresolved attachment patterns formed in past relationships.

The desire to manipulate others can be a hallmark of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). We are all narcissistic sometimes, But people with NPD can pose a real danger to their relationships, and love bombing can be a symptom of the disease.

What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Clinicians often diagnose narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) in people who have problems in relationships and do not know the cause. In general, the NPD pattern is characterized by a cycle of feeling better or more worthy than others, often seeking admiration, and then hurting others without fully grasping one’s own influence or feeling remorse. There is no standard treatment for NPD, but it is often diagnosed along with other conditions such as depression.

“Many people who like bombs are narcissists who want to control their victims,” ​​Huynh said. They develop strong bonds quickly, often choosing those who have a tendency to be interdependent, or those who seem vulnerable and welcome as “saviors.” Then, once they know there’s an attachment, they start taking control.

But it’s important to remember that not everyone who likes bombs has NPD, Steele said. Sometimes love bombs come from a place of unresolved pain and conflict. Our attachment style — describing patterns of behavior in a relationship — and how conscious we are of it, drives us.

For example, someone has a insecure attachment Styles can be love bombs in an effort to quickly “solidify” a relationship out of fear that a partner will abandon them. The problem is that love bombing can overwhelm a partner and push them away, leading to a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the other hand, there are more people avoidance of attachment Styles may like bombs to control the feeling of intimacy. But once a partner returns, they may feel overwhelmed by intimacy. Then, they may start resenting them and pushing them away, leading to what Steele calls the “contra” of love bombing: ghosting.

They might start to think, “Based on the few interactions we’ve had, there’s no way this person fell in love in a real way,” says Steele. Instead, they project their own needs or unresolved conflicts onto another person, “which feels like a different kind of phantom,” she adds. And just like that, the love bomb messed up the relationship before it even had time to start.

So how do you know it’s a love bomb?

Identifying love bombing is as important as identifying what is not love bombing.

This may seem like declaring love very early in the relationship. It can also look like buying expensive gifts, constantly sending a large bouquet of flowers to one’s work or home, or wanting to move in or get married right after meeting.

“They may want to spend too much time together and monopolize your time with others,” Huynh said. A change in personality or level of concentration may follow. “All of a sudden this lovely person can be very mean and degrading and annoying,” she said.

Huynh hears all kinds of love explosion stories from clients. She added: “At that point, it’s hard to break free because you’re attached to the person because there’s ‘hope’ they’ll go back to their ‘old selves’ and things will be ecstatic again.”

So, one way to differentiate between normal affection and love bombing is to pay close attention to intensity levels. Will this person move back and forth? Will they switch from being overly loving to pushing you away?

Steele notes that it can be helpful to think of a healthy relationship as a set of interactions in which two members gradually get to know each other and build their own rules and language.

Another helpful tip for differentiating exciting starts from love bombings may be to assess intent, Huynh added. “A healthier relationship starts from a place of giving, and love bombardment comes from a place of selfishness,” she said.

“Giving always comes from where ‘you come first’; consideration, empathy, respect and concern,” she said. “A dysfunctional love bombing comes from a ‘me first’ mentality.”

To assess this, ask yourself or someone else if all this attention has other motivations that might help. For example, is this relationship a way to improve self-esteem? Or feel like you deserve something? Relationships can improve our lives, but they are healthiest when they also come from a place that is open and caring for others.

“Most love bombers are unintentional, or at least deny or rationalize their actions,” Huang said. Either way, she adds, it’s usually for egocentric purposes. It’s hard to know how you really feel about this person in a relationship.

defuse the situation

According to experts, much of what happens in a relationship can be subconscious. Even if we do start to become more aware of our behavior, many people struggle to change behavior. After all, the way we behave in relationships is shaped by our early experiences.

But a healthier relationship starts, Huynh said, “will allow you to express your feelings freely and allow the other person to adjust.”

Even with some love explosions, you can set the stage for a healthier relationship by saying you’re inundated with all the attention. “A healthy person would say, ‘It’s okay, I can step back, I hope you’re comfortable,'” she added. “A dysfunctional love bomb will set you on fire and make it your problem.”

If someone doesn’t respond well to your boundaries, it may not be in your best interest to show them why they like to bomb. In this case, it’s best to just walk away. “A lot of our dysfunctional behaviors are designed to protect us from some trauma or injury that we learn ‘works,'” Huynh said. “For us, when these dysfunctional patterns ‘work’ on them, we Just shout it out like taking their safety blanket when they’re not ready to let go.”

Steele also encouraged acknowledging her own reaction to the love bomb. You might like it, “Get into it and think, well, sure, I deserve it, I’m an amazing person,” she said. “A tsunami that is hard to distract.”

Huynh adds that if you see yourself being bombarded or bombarded with love over and over again, try talking with a therapist to explore what pain and injury might be causing you to develop these patterns. It may also help find role models in people who have healthy relationships.

“Many of us have dysfunctional relationship patterns because we don’t have good role models,” Huynh said. “We don’t learn it in school – what we know is what we see around us. So find a good role model and learn from them.”

As another rule of thumb, she adds, keep loved ones involved in your relationship. They help you identify patterns from the outside.

“This is advice to anyone who is dating,” Huynh added. “We just have to be careful, have fun and keep one eye open, at least at first. Let them earn your trust over time. “