BEWARE: The Love Bomber
Updated: Mar 13
The term "love bomber" can be used in many different contexts, from a tactic used by cults and gangs to naming a technique used by parents to help their troubled children. If you google the term “love bombing” you will be faced with an infinite list of blogs and websites providing an explanation of how to spot the traits of this narcissistic and abusive behaviour when it comes to love. From my experience of once being a love-bombee and the research I have carried out over the last couple of months, I have found that love bombing in a romantic sense can come in a few different forms; it’s more complex than just being a narcissistic trait.
Many men and women have experienced a similar situation to mine: their love bomber swept them off their feet, put them on a pedestal, made them feel special, told them “they had never felt like this before”, paid them constant attention and made gestures which seemed to align with all they were telling them….and then just when you start to believe you may have met your soulmate, they very quickly change their behaviour and leave you feeling deflated, confused, embarrassed and rejected.
Here, I am going to tell you what to look out for and how to avoid being love bombed, but also to be considerate of what is happening on the other side of that behaviour. Although being the victim feels far worse than being the perpetrator, I personally feel sorry for those who feel they need to love bomb, or better still, are addicted to love bombing. There is a much more deep-rooted issue going on here which I can empathise with.
Five signs that you’ve been or are a victim of love bombing:
1. They make claims of you being their “soulmate” early on.
Let’s be honest, it’s incredibly exciting when you meet someone who ticks all of those boxes or seems to have everything in common with you. There’s that initial excitement of meeting someone who makes you feel all fuzzy and giddy; even the most level headed of people can find themselves not able to think clearly because of this new person who just popped up out of nowhere. But as we are being honest, let’s also be realistic and point out that it takes a long time to get to truly know someone. So, if someone is telling you that you are their soulmate after a few hours, days or weeks, you should keep your wits about you and try not to hang on those words. I will go into this more later.
2. Their compliments are over the top
Yes, when you first meet someone you can expect them to be complimenting you. This is totally normal; everyone does it. But be careful when someone is telling you things such as:
“I’ve never met anyone as perfect as you.”
“I’ve never wanted a relationship or marriage, but you have made me rethink that”
“I’ve never wanted to spend as much time with someone before this”
“I always felt alone and like I was happy being this way until I met you”
It’s likely they have said this before to another person and it's very likely you won't be the last person they say it to. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that love at first sight can exist and that people can meet and just know that they have met “the one”, but just like I said in point number one, it takes a long time to truly get to know someone.
3. They have talked about another person in their life before they met you who is “crazy about them” or “got the wrong idea”.
This one is significant and the one I wish I had paid attention to the most. If your new found love interest is telling you that someone they were previously dating has fallen for them or got the wrong end of the stick from their brief interaction, it’s likely that person was their last victim. They may not be talking negatively about this person and their explanation may seem like it’s from a place of sympathy, or even regret. You may even start to feel sorry for this person who is clearly heartbroken because they thought they had met their match…. Well, you could be that person in just a few weeks. This could be a huge warning sign that your new love interest has a tendency to lead people on and give them false pretences.
4. They make big gestures or suggestions but then don't show up.
You may find yourself in a whirlwind romance, a type you’ve never felt before and one you never want to end. It’s all so exciting and the possibilities are endless! Your new lover may be suggesting future plans or exciting meetups which swap and change quite regularly and often do not materialise into anything. “We should do this together, on this weekend” or “next month, let's meet up and do this” or “I want to do this, and I only want to do it with you”... But then when it comes to it, something comes up, plans change and what was suggested is not talked about ever again. Obviously, plans can change and situations come up which may need to be prioritised in life, but if you notice a pattern of not showing up or not being a person of their word - keep yourself in check as this could be a sign of things to come. If, like me, you try to remain a person of your word, you will end up frustrated and deflated by this constant feeling of being let down.
5. Things start to fall apart very quickly
They do say what goes up, must come down. You will be coming down faster than the SpaceX Starship prototype rocket if your new lover is a love bomber. Once a love bomber has successfully gained your undivided attention, as if overnight, you may notice their behaviour changes; their contact drops, they seem to be a lot more distracted, they are no longer complimenting you, those future plans they were so keen to make have now changed … but much worse, they may even ghost you. You may be left feeling like you’ve done something wrong, you’ve messed up somewhere, or you were “too much” for them (even though they have been the one coming in hot).
You will likely feel a bit embarrassed for feeling so upset over someone you have fallen for, after such a short time of meeting them. You might feel like you cant talk to your friends about it because they will point out that it’s only been a short time. Your friends may have even warned you to watch out because your lover’s behaviour was raising flags to them from the start. And you will definitely be in denial that you have fallen hook, line and sinker for a person who had no intention of sticking around.
So what’s happening from the other side? Why do love bombers exist? What goes through a person's mind for them to be able to do this to people? Well, I did some research and it’s more complex than I first thought. Here is what I found out....
They genuinely believe they feel that way
I spoke to both men and women who admitted their love bombing tendencies as well as those on the receiving end of it. Many people didn't even realise there was a word or term for this behaviour. Some simply believed that they fell in and out of love easily - very easily; they get excited and jump straight in with both feet and feel that their feelings fade naturally. Others stated that they were fully aware of their behaviour and admitted they don't know how to stop. When looking back at past relationships, they can see their pattern of going from keen and ambitious about the relationship to disinterested, detached and losing that fire in their stomach that they once genuinely felt. Often putting it down to the spark just disappearing or issues arising too soon in the relationship, leaving them to walk away, as not working through the interpersonal issues appeals more to them than enduring the hurt of a break up further down the line.
Rose tinted glasses
No human walks this planet flawless or perfect, but we do tend to view people in a positive and faultless way when we first meet them and especially when we are falling for them. We create our own version of that person in our mind and when they don't turn out to be exactly what we expected, we start identifying those as flaws and faults. This is human nature. Unfortunately, some people can go overboard on that initial projection and become over the top with their attention and affection. Simply put: there could be nothing more to it than the person viewing you through rose tinted glasses; their own projections creating a distorted and flawless view of you. They may then start to see you as a flawed individual and feel deceived. Hence why the contact or attention drops and you are left emotionally plummeting. In this situation, often the intention is never to hurt but only to fulfil their own need.
Historical, childhood or relationship trauma
For me, I feel this is probably the most likely reason for someone to act this way. I believe that people who love bomb regularly have insecurities and low self-esteem which are likely stemmed from previous traumatic or painful experiences. They feel a need for intense and heightened romantic emotions to fulfil something they have once lost or never had. Often, they genuinely do want love but sabotage it through fear of being hurt. From my research, this appears to be the case for many love bombers. Some self-proclaimed love bombers told me that they notice this mental instability within themselves and can sometimes feel their self-sabotaging behaviour making its way into their relationship with someone they genuinely do see as a potential partner. They really do see this person as special and want them in their life, but they lack trust and they are terrified of being hurt, abandoned and rejected so they ruin the relationship to prevent this from happening to them first.
Search the internet and you will see this to be the most prominent reason for love boming. You will notice there are pages upon pages of explanations of narcissistic love bombing. Narcissists are charming, clever, confident and charismatic. They have a strong need for admiration and are great at manipulating to get their own way. They do not like losing or abandonment. They make grandiose gestures and love to show off; you could even say they like a challenge and will make these grandiose gestures to win you over if you are not falling for their words alone. You may feel as though you are too switched on and couldn't possibly be fooled by a love bomber? Wrong. Anything is possible. Consistency is key when it comes to them winning you over and the moment your guard goes down, the narcissist will start devaluing you. The contact drops, the excitement fades, the positions change and your new lover may even start to be negative towards you, picking your faults and making their opinion of you heard. I wouldn't wish this type of love bomber on anyone. At least with the other types of love bombing, it’s possible to understand that any human could get wrapped up and act in this way… but with a narcissistic love bomber, their intentions aren't good from the start.
Let’s get real...
So, how can you avoid being hurt by a love bomber? Apart from what I have mentioned above, there are certain things you need to become more aware of or reiterate to yourself when you discover yourself in a situation like this :
Pedestals are dangerous - you can fall off and hurt yourself! Also, once you have painfully fallen off that pedestal, trying to get back on it is a world of hurt and confusion. You will constantly question your worth, you will continue to wonder what YOU did wrong and you may even try to change parts of yourself. Pieces of yourself that make you, you. If you’re not careful it can also rip away any confidence you have and affect your view of yourself, your future romances and give you a distorted view on how a relationship should be.
Apologies to the fairytale lovers out there… I may be about to burst your bubble! Life is not a fairytale and neither is love. Let’s thank the likes of Disney and growing up with rom-coms for our distorted view on how relationships actually work; creating unrealistic expectations and skewed perceptions of what relationships are supposed to look like. Real relationships in the real world do not involve handsome men in shining armour, instant soul mates, castles or living happily ever after. True love is hard work, sometimes painful, takes a lot of figuring out together and most certainly isn't all unicorns and rainbows.
Real love takes time! If someone is telling you that they think you are their soulmate after a few days, weeks or months then you probably need to run. To know if someone is your soulmate, you accept them for all that they are; all their flaws, all their habits, all your disagreements, their past, their present and their future. You don't want to change a single bit of them. In order to find out all of the above, you must take time and build this knowledge of one another together. There’s no way you can truly know someone after a small amount of time. Even if you spend every day together for months on end, this is still a period of time where you are getting to know one another and are still showing only the best sides of yourself to one another. You must also endure situations together which test and strain your relationship; soulmates make it through these problems together. How can someone be your soulmate if you have no idea how you will deal with or handle these troubling times together?
If you have been on the receiving end of a love bombing situation, I know it was or is painful, I know the truth hurts, and I know you may still be in denial about being fooled. But take something positive away from the experience, whatever that might be. For me, I walked away feeling embarrassed, I questioned by worth, I questioned my intuition and my ability to spot bullshit - something I definitely used to pride myself on. It forced me to reevaluate what is realistic and what is fantasy built up in our minds. I now reach more realistic outcomes through having much more realistic expectations.