“Love Bombing: An attempt to influence a person with lavish demonstrations of attention and affection”
Oh, how we want the lovely and exciting romance we see memorialized by Hollywood! The flowers, the candlelight dinners, the excitement, the grand gestures of love all look very inviting to a starving soul. We have been living in the dark for so long that we can’t distinguish the difference between a flashlight (turned on and manipulated when needed) and the sun (true, ever-present burning). Abusers know this all too well, and it becomes the early part of the control dance. Magicians call this “misdirection” because it directs your attention away from what is actually happening.
Love Bombing Goes Deep
Love bombing can be accomplished in multiple ways, and you have to know the difference between a manipulator and someone who is just desperate to be with someone else. You can learn the cues, such as those who “magically” like every single thing you like vs. those who say “That sounds fun! I’d like to try it with you sometime.” (Hint: the latter one is the non-abuser) The love bomber has a sweet, romantic, heart-tugging story for everything that is meaningful to you. He or she will ensure that you are convinced of a connection that is being carefully spun in a spider-like web of control. In generations past, they might have called this “coming on too strong” or “chasing” someone. But it goes deeper than that. This tactic seeks to target your soul to ensure that you will doubt anything bad that may happen later. “There’s no way he did that to his ex-wife! He is so sweet and loving and caring!”
The main goal of love bombing is to alter your sense of reality. The purpose of love bombing is to overwhelm you with emotions that you perceive as positive, when in fact they are intended to retrain your thinking. You may see this behavior clearly in a friend’s partner, thinking how she is being manipulated or “snowed,” but you can completely miss it in your own life. Before you know what has happened, your perfect partner has begun showing glimpses of a dark and scary side. How do you know you’ve been love bombed? Easy…
When you excuse, explain away, or blame yourself for the other person’s subsequent bad behavior.
By bad behavior I’m not talking about the occasional angry outburst after a bad day. I’m talking about the place where you excuse behaviors that you swore you would never accept, or you told a friend to refuse to allow. You find yourself lowering your standards, selling your worth off in little pieces, like a bad auctioneer.
How To Recognize Love Bombing
You can find all sorts of examples of love bombing on the internet, but I don’t buy into generalized lists. That’s because love bombing is about you as an individual. It is about your loves and likes and desires being uncovered and used as a method of manipulation. The best defense against love bombing is a keen awareness of yourself. For instance, I may give my partner small gifts, little tokens of things that I know mean something to him. However, it is occasional, not grand, and I don’t make a big deal out of it. Furthermore, I would never dream of saying to him, “Have you forgotten that nice book I got you? Why can’t you do x for me?” Therein lies the manipulation.
What I want you to do is learn to trust your gut. That is a hard thing when you have had your internal compass shifted for you. If you become uncomfortable with the amount of attention a new love interest is paying you, chances are you are being love bombed. If you feel as though you are inadequate somehow, as in, you cannot reciprocate with the kinds of gifts or attention you are receiving, chances are you are being love bombed. If your friends comment that this person is really going overboard or overly generous, chances are you are being love bombed. There are signs and warnings along the way if we simply keep our wits about us and pay attention.
Being in love is a wonderful thing. I know. Having that attention showered on you when you have been craving a connection is like water to the man in the desert. The sad thing is, this makes you the perfect target for someone who seeks an emotional slave rather than a partner. Be mindful of behavioral patterns that suggest a transaction, i.e., I did this for you so you should do this for me.
Setting up that transactional mentality is the first step to an abusive, manipulative relationship.
If you concentrate on loving and healing yourself, you become a far less malleable target for one who seeks to use you for his or her own diabolical ends.