In the early days of a blossoming relationship, it really can feel like you’re on cloud nine. Everything looks like it’s in Technicolor, and all you want is to spend every moment with your new boyfriend, or talk to him every second of the day. As any rational person knows, though, paradise can very quickly and seamlessly turn into something different.
With women especially, if you get a gut feeling that something just isn’t right, you’re probably feeling that for a reason. The culprit behind the ickiness you feel could be love bombing. But in the heady days of something new and exciting, it can be really difficult to separate what might be true love from pure manipulation. Here are some common signs that will tell you if you’re being love bombed.
1. He Compliments You Constantly
You’re so beautiful. I can’t believe you’re mine. I love everything about you. The love bombing tactic as a whole is about manipulation, pure and simple, but the person behind the manipulation is a narcissist, and narcissists are pros at using compliments and flattery to get what they want.
The love bombing tactic as a whole is about manipulation, pure and simple.
A compliment from your new boyfriend can be great, but if you’re being bombarded endlessly, especially with compliments that emphasize how they can’t believe someone like you would be with someone like them, it might not just be a compliment they’re paying you. Especially for someone hurting from a past relationship or suffering from low self-esteem, compliments can be used by a narcissist to build a relationship based on seeking approval and attention. And things will only get more serious once that person decides to withhold their approval from you until they get what they want.
2. His Feelings Are (Too) Intense
As we already know, it can feel amazing to have someone so invested in you. We finally feel like someone sees our true worth, despite our flaws and imperfections. Sure, their feelings are intense, but they’re full of love and appreciation and admiration for you.
But think about the other side of the coin. What will it look like when their feelings for you are just as intense, but aren’t as positive? What will it look like when you do something they don’t like or displease them, and how is that going to manifest? Most likely, it will probably feel like you’ve done something wrong (even though you haven’t), and you’ll probably be given the cold shoulder or passive aggressive words and actions. As the verse goes, love is patient and kind. It isn’t constantly needy, and it doesn’t throw tantrums like a toddler when it doesn’t get what it wants.
3. You Feel Unbalanced
There’s nothing more indicative of love bombing than feeling off-kilter compared to your new beau. They’re paying attention to you, complimenting you, and wanting to spend every moment together, and you feel backed into a corner or like a deer caught in the headlights. You might even feel guilty. They’re so into you, why wouldn’t you feel the same way? Shut that thought down immediately. When there is no clear distinction between your own life, needs, desires, or wants and theirs, you should know something isn’t right.
When there’s no clear distinction between your own life and theirs, you should know something isn’t right.
4. He's into PDA
The physical side of things is an important part of the relationship, obviously. But when kissing, handholding, physical touch, and yes, even sex, goes overboard, it can become harder and harder to put up boundaries. And that’s on purpose. A narcissist and a manipulator doesn’t want you to have boundaries, and they become harder to enforce once you’ve already let them down. The entire purpose of a love bomber’s tactics is to acclimate you to their needs and desires, not yours.
Public displays of affection can be nice in moderation, but nothing is more uncomfortable than when too much becomes way too much. If you’re being love bombed, you might even feel like you have to keep up with the physicality to prove how much you’re invested. But most of us probably know firsthand how damaging and defeating it can feel to erase our boundaries to please another person.
5. He Buys You Expensive or Inappropriate Gifts
Dinner or lunch is one thing. A vacation, lingerie, perfume, or jewelry is a whole other ball game, especially when you’ve been dating for five seconds. With love bombing, we should think of expensive or inappropriate gifts as the physical manifestation of all of those verbal compliments or constant flattery. It’s the narcissist’s way of flattering you with things you maybe can’t afford or would never buy for yourself.
Inappropriate gifts are the physical manifestations of the verbal compliments and flattery.
An over-the-top gift can feel like you’ve hit the jackpot with your new boyfriend. But it’s perfectly okay if it makes you uncomfortable, especially when it probably feels like it’s too much too soon. Again, the narcissist is building a foundation of approval-seeking. Believe it or not, there will probably come a time – once the love bombing has moved into its more uncomfortable second stage, devaluation – when the gifts and favors and gestures will stop arriving, and you’ll scramble to do anything to get that approval back.
6. He Resents Your Family and Friends
When your new boyfriend doesn’t get along with your family and friends, it can feel like your relationship is taking a real hit. And while family and friends may not be correct about your partner 100% of the time, they know you better than your new boo does, so keep that in mind. The loved ones who really care about you want what’s best for you, and if they think your new dude is bad news, pay attention to that.
Meanwhile, your boyfriend is probably resenting how much time or commitment you invest in these people, and he won’t be shy about hiding his disapproval. He might even claim that they’re intentionally sabotaging your relationship, or that it’s bad for your relationship when you spend time with them. He wants you around him as much as possible, and your loved ones threaten that manipulation.
Isolating you from your family and friends gives him more power to manipulate and control you.
7. “You’re My Soulmate”/ “I Love You”
If none of these tactics so far have been a red flag, allow me to introduce you to the biggest one of them all. Saying “I love you” in the early stages of your new relationship is the ultimate act of manipulation because it’s intentionally getting you to let your guard down. When a person says they love you, why wouldn’t you believe they want what’s best for you? But if their “love” comes with a side of passive aggression, emotional or verbal abuse, and manipulation, then nothing could be further from real love. When the I love you’s are said, the narcissist’s tactics have come full circle. It doesn’t take long to get from “I love you” to “If you love me, you’ll do this.”
Thankfully, there is a silver lining to love bombing in that if you trust your instincts, you can get out sooner rather than later. Love bombing tactics are indicative of a deeply manipulative (and probably borderline abusive) person, but the good thing is that love bombing is used during the earliest stages of a relationship, meaning you can get a good feel for who this person really is early on. Regardless, it’s never too late to get out of a toxic situation, and when the ugly side of this person eventually comes out, the scales will fall from your eyes and you’ll begin to realize how manipulative they really are.
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