Feeling loved and valued is an amazing part of being in a relationship. It’s a way to feel validated and empowered, both as an individual and as part of a couple.
In a healthy relationship, a celebration of love may be expected on a special day or an anniversary and is an extension of the level of love and attention we feel from our partner on an ongoing basis. It may be lavish and a bit over the top, but it comes from a place of wanting to respect and cherish the other.
However, these types of demonstrations of love are not always healthy. Narcissists can use the tactic of showering someone with love in a way that is designed to achieve their end goal. This is the act of love bombing, when a narcissist, addict or unhealthy partner uses a love bomb to hold a codependent partner in a relationship.
Even though it can appear as a grand romantic gesture, it’s a highly calculated and manipulative tactic that has absolutely nothing to do with genuine love. Let’s dig a little deeper.
The Purpose of Love Bombing
A narcissist and an addict share some common characteristics. One of these characteristics is a sense of low self-esteem, combined with high levels of insecurity. They lack the understanding of how to show love over a sustained period of time as they are unable to love themselves. This can be a dangerous cocktail.
In the early stages of a relationship or when they feel their partner slipping away, a narcissist turns to seduction and displays of affection to show what they assume the other partner needs to feel to be attached to them.
This can often resemble a romantic movie moment and may include dinner out, extravagant gifts and extreme acts of attention lavished on a partner. In fact, what the narcissist or addict is actually doing is filling their own need to feel desired and wanted as the partner naturally returns the lavish attention.
Other common behaviors in love bombs include overt public displays of love and attention, even if they’re not appreciated or inappropriate. Constant text messages, suggestive phone calls or trying to create a dream getaway or exclusive type of event are also common behaviors. The unifying factor in the behavior is that it’s usually over the top and not always appropriate.
These tangible gifts and exaggerated attention on the partner is coupled with promises of the future relationship. For those new in a relationship, this can seem like a fairy tale courtship, and being caught up in the whirlwind of attention can draw a codependent into the relationship very quickly. This is exactly how this style of manipulation is designed to work.
Of course, this level of attention, gifts and promises of romantic love are never sustained. Often the behavior turns off just as quickly as it turned on, but the trap has been set and now the partner will work hard to turn it back on. He or she is already committed to the dream relationship and has fallen for the trick.
Love bombing can be very difficult to resist because it appeals to the very human need to be needed and desired. However, because of the way it is used in this mechanism, it encourages co-dependent and unhealthy relationships.
How to Spot Love Bombing
To avoid getting caught up in a love bombing experience, here are a few tips to help you spot a potential problem on the horizon:
- Unfair demands on time – not only does the love bomber shower you with gifts, attention, and flattery, he or she also wants all of your time. You may receive phone calls, text messages or emails at all hours of the day and night, and you are expected to answer immediately.
- Everything is a transaction – you may notice that gifts, attention and love are always part of a transaction or an end game on the part of the narcissist. You get their attention, but you have to give up doing what you want or being around your friends and family.
- Pressure on moving forward – feeling any pressure to rush into the relationship should be a warning sign. A genuinely loving partner respects your need for time and does not threaten to walk away if you don’t commit to living together or marriage.
Any obsessive or clingy behavior should be considered a warning sign in a relationship. Keep in mind, a narcissist will often seek out people who are codependent, and they use this to control and manipulate people in ways that are often difficult to detect until they are caught up in a relationship.
Remember it is never too late to choose something better for yourself, put healthy boundaries in place and walk away if you need to!
Sherry Gaba helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re a love addict, sign up for a 30-minute strategy session, or learn more about how to get over a break up. She maintains a private practice in Westlake Village, and is a sought after online dating and relationship coach. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com or sign up today for Sherry’s online group coaching program. Buy her books The Marriage and Relationship or Infinite Recovery