We have been talking about love-bombing this week, and in most of the articles we have focused on the romantic setting. I mean, the word love-bombing implies that this is a phenomenon of intimate partner abuse. It is not though. Every abuser, in every setting will use this principal to groom and isolate their target.
As Aubrey explained, love-bombing is not just about charming you and getting you to drop your defenses, it is supposed to do the same to everyone around you. So that, when your abuser changes their behavior, the people around you will dismiss your concerns as a figment of your imagination.
I know that my parents were masters of this game. While attending my sisters wedding the registrar included some remarks about how wonderful my parents are. This just goes to show how well they have their whole town fooled with their outwardly charm offensive. It is, I believe, also how they maintained control of the family. Not only by making our entire community reflect their immaculate reputation back at us, but also by carefully handing out acts of “kindness” and “love” among us. I am using the quotes, because of course there was no love or kindness, these were just manipulative acts disguised as such.
In the Love-Bombing Podcast, Stephen explains the phenomenon as ‘the traditional wooing tactics, but turned up to 20 instead of 5.‘ I think it is largely the same in a toxic family or work dynamic. Let me refer to my sister’s wedding again. Although my mother took real issue with my sisters homosexuality (she did not speak to her for months after my sister came out), she agreed to host the wedding at the family home. For normal people that may have been a very generous gesture, that welcomed a daughter-in-law to the family and indicated no more hard feelings. Now turn up the volume on that one, and you will see the rainbow flags and banners adorning the house, the “friends from Church” who rallied outside to welcome the happy couple to the wedding location (not that they were actually attending, they were just extras in the play of my mother’s life).
This is the thing with love-bombing, it is a completely over the top, all guns blazing attempt to sweep you off you feet. You are going to be so overwhelmed and swept up in the grandeur of this moment that you forget. Or at the very least, you will doubt your gut feeling that something is not right. I am sure my sister-in-law had a great day, I am sure she felt welcomed. I am also sure that if she ever tells any of her friends or family that she feels my mother does not approve of her, or is behaving homophobic, that people will remind her of the rainbow flags…
“Of course she likes you, look at the wedding she threw you!”
I have experienced some form of love-bombing with every toxic person I have met, and none of them were romantic interests. Like on the day that I was so utterly upset with my narcissistic boss, i was going to hand in my notice. I was so done, and I was tired of being taken for granted and under-appreciated for my efforts. So, I was going to quit. For real! I had discussed it, wrote my letter, I had it in my pocket. I was going to give it to him during our monthly individual catch up. Guess what happened? He offered me a promotion and a raise… Coincidence?
Learn the signs of Love-Bombing, and please remember that it can happen in ANY relational setting.