Love Bombing

February is a time of the year when Cupid’s arrows are flying at a more than usual rate. Cupid isn’t the only one out there throwing arrows. When it comes to love and relationships, narcissistic individuals are also out to play.  They are armed with their own kind of flying arrow. What’s the name of the narcissist’s flying arrow? Love bombing. 

What is love bombing?

While love is in the air, let us also beware of a precursor to toxic relationship dynamics and heartbreak. Love-bombing is a form of psychological and emotional abuse, in which the love-bomber utilizes grandiose gestures and idealization. This is an attempt to manipulate and control another person. In different terms, it’s all fluff and facade. It is not limited to romantic relationships and can also occur in relationship dynamics with family members, co-workers, authority figures, and friendships. Given the wide range of relationships that this can occur in, it can look different from person to person, relationship to relationship. 

Love bombing is also the beginning of a type of relationship cycle that is typical within the narcissistic abuse cycle. This means that the narcissistic person starts by love bombing, then moves to devaluation, and discard. Once the abuser feels a loss of control of their facade, then the next step in the cycle is devaluation.

Devaluation is the phase when the relationship dynamic dramatically shifts. During this phase, the abuser typically shifts blame and criticism onto the partner, without taking accountability of their own actions.

Discard is an extreme version of being ghosted. Unlike the ghosting that happens in casual dating, this more along the lines of abandonment due to the relationship not longer serving the abusers needs. By discarding, this typically is a painful experience that can lead the victim into a state in which they yearn for the love-bombing phase of the relationship to begin again. 

Sign of being love bombed

Love-bombing is a key relationship red flag that can go undetected at first and can be confusing to identify. Given the complementary nature of love-bombing, it can come off as the them noticing nice qualities about you. This leads to compliments and attention. Noticing the extreme and excessive nature of compliments or statements about the relationship is a good way to understand if love-bombing is actually happening. Referring to someone as “my soulmate” or saying “I love you” very early in a  relationship is typical language often used and something to be on the look out for. 

While the flattery of love-bombing can initially feel like a nice ego boost, it’s important to remember that inauthentic compliments and flattery are key players. Take notice too of the potentially overwhelming nature that love-bombing can bring with it. It can be difficult to remember it’s manipulative nature because it can feel good to be receiving this level of perceived love, attention, and affection. However, at the end of the day, love bombing is an attempt to control an individual by creating dependency and the illusion of trust and understanding. It can also be accompanied by gaslighting, isolation, lack of respect for boundaries, and jealousy.

How to heal after being love-bombed

While the fallout from experiencing love bombing and the narcissistic abuse cycle is painful, there is opportunity for healing. Typically, maintaining strong and healthy boundaries is a good starting point. Setting boundaries with the abusive partner, even to the point of going no contact is and can be necessary. It is important to seek supportive relationships to increase your chances of healing. You could do this by reaching out to close friends, family members, co-workers, and mental health professionals. Working to understand and identify early warning signs, reflecting on how you were pulled in, and engaging in self-caring and compassionate activities can lead to increases in self-worth and self-esteem, which can be useful shields against the arrows of love bombing. 

If you are ready to seek help from a counselor, please reach out. You can call us at 832-352-1600 or contact us through our website at txharmonycounseling.com/contact-us.

 

Kaitlyn DeLeon, LPC

Kaitlyn DeLeon, LPC

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