Love Bombing: The Dangerous Red Flag You May Miss
Recently, we asked a group of survivors in an online group “How would someone spot a narcissist early in the relationship?” and received over 150 responses.*
The number one answer?
But, before we get into what love bombing is, how to spot it, and what to do if you or someone you know is being love bombed, let’s side track to the question and why you should want to know how to spot a narcissist.
While nearly everyone has heard the term narcissist, what personality traits actually constitute narcissism?
As Psychology Today describes:
“The hallmarks of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration. People with this condition are frequently described as arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. They may also have grandiose fantasies and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment.”
In another Psychology Today piece, they highlight how narcissists are known to gaslight, exaggerate and outright lie, hate criticism, project themselves as uber successful, continually break boundaries and trust, manipulate, and more.
Essentially, a narcissist is not someone anyone should be putting their safety in the hands of, whether dating, having a casual relationship, or any other kind of potentially dangerous contact.
Back to love bombing.
Why did women answer this as the number one sign of a narcissist? Why should you be aware of what love bombing is? What are some examples of love bombing? We’re going to talk about it all.
What is love bombing?
Love bombing can be described as “an attempt to influence another person with over-the-top displays of attention and affection. We’re not just talking about romantic gestures, like flowers and trips. Love bombing invariably includes lots of romantic conversation, long talks about “our future,” and long periods of staring into each other’s eyes. It’s the combination of words and deeds that makes love bombing so powerful, especially considering today’s technology.”
It’s often an early sign you’re dating a narcissist and is a top red flag of further abuse down the road including potential emotional and physical violence.
But what does love bombing really look like? What forms does it take? We’re going to give you a real world view into what this really looks like so you can spot the warning signs.
Love bombing’s origin starts in cults and “new religious movements”, with the first reference in pro-organization propaganda. Margaret Singer popularized the phrase in her 1996 book, Cults in Our Midst. Read this passage and you’ll see the parallels to domestic love bombing:
“As soon as any interest is shown by the recruits, they may be love bombed by the recruiter or other cult members. This process of feigning friendship and interest in the recruit was originally associated with one of the early youth cults, but soon it was taken up by a number of groups as part of their program for luring people in. Love bombing is a coordinated effort, usually under the direction of leadership, that involves long-term members’ flooding recruits and newer members with flattery, verbal seduction, affectionate but usually nonsexual touching, and lots of attention to their every remark. Love bombing — or the offer of instant companionship — is a deceptive ploy accounting for many successful recruitment drives”
In relationships, love bombing is often a trait of a narcissist and is one of the number one red flags of further emotional, physical, and sexual abuse down the road.
Love bombing can be used in any situation where one person seeks to convince and convert another into believing in something or behaving a certain way.
What does love bombing look like?
Love bombing can take many forms — some easier to spot than others.
As described by the women who answered, some examples of love bombing are:
- Excessive compliments
- Spending too much time together too soon
- Constant gifts
- Texting, emailing, calling many times a day
- Asking you to spend time with them rather than friends
- Mirroring all of your interests
- Excessive interest in your background, life, interests
- Wanting to take things to the next level quickly
So what does love bombing really look like day-to-day?
The women who answered mentioned feeling like they found their soulmate. That their love bomber mirrored all of their interests and seemed like the perfect partner who would write them notes, text them good morning, and even send flowers to the office.
Another clear indicator you’re potentially being love bombed is them taking an extreme interest in your passions, hobbies and past. As reported, they often use all of this information they gathered by making you vulnerable against you later.
They may start calling, texting, and emailing you constantly to check up on you. In today’s digital society, love bombers have an easier time than ever in having constant contact and communication with you. They may even ask you to turn on your cell phone location or us IP tracking software to know where you are. Another reason to always use a VPN (but that’s a conversation for another day).
Overall, the love bomber is attempting to win you over by manipulating you. That’s the ugly truth. You’ll have to take off your rose colored glasses to analyze your own situation.
What to do if you’re being love bombed (or how to help someone)
If you’ve taken off the rose colored glasses and believe you’re being love bombed, you should make sure you take precautions. Here’s more information on how to safely leave a narcissist. It is up to you on whether to stay in or leave any relationship and when, but we always suggest knowing and following the safety protocols. While others may underestimate the love bomber or even view them as a great person, you know their truth and should know how they could react.
If you are a victim of love bombing or a narcissist, there are dozens of support groups on forums, social media, and in-person meet ups. Many will provide advice and overwhelming support. We are not going to link to any here to protect these communities.
As always, you can call domestic violence and other relationship hotlines and they will gladly answer your questions. You can explain your situation and ask “Am I being love bombed?” “Do you think this is a potentially dangerous situation?” “Can you help me with an action plan to leave?” and more.
Do not get down if you find yourself in this situation. You are not to blame for trusting someone. Take care of exiting the situation and put yourself first.
*This was a question asked in an online group. No formal study or survey was conducted.