Love-bombing: What is it and how is it used?
Love-bombing was coined by an American sociologist, Lenora Tomalin, in her book Love Bombing: The New Kind of High. Love-bombing is a technique used in many different types of relationships, from friendships to romantic relationships and even in the workplace. It is a form of manipulation that involves showering the person you are trying to influence with extravagant and expensive gifts, attention, affection or praise. The term is often used to describe the behaviour of someone who is trying to win over another person's affections.
Why do people 'love-bomb'?
Love bombing is a calculated attempt to overwhelm someone with love and affection to win them over, which can be manipulative and dangerous. It can be done in person or through social media platforms. The goal is to make the target feel loved and accepted, so they will be less likely to resist the manipulator's demands or goals.
It can be used to make someone feel loved and wanted, or it can be used to control and manipulate someone. Love-bombing can harm the person being love-bombed because it can leave them feeling confused and uncertain about their relationship. If a person is love-bombed, they may not know what to do. They may feel confused about their love and the relationship.
How is love-bombing used?
Love-bombing is regularly used by abusers to control and manipulate their victims. A systematic campaign of excessive compliments, gifts, attention, and love-bombing is used to lure the victim into a false sense of security and make them reliant on the abuser. In addition, the abuser may make the victim feel special and loved when they are being controlled and manipulated.
Love-bombing can be very confusing for the victim, who may not understand why the person they thought was their best friend suddenly seems to be acting so differently.
The effects of love-bombing
Love-bombing can be manipulative and controlling. The person who love-bombs may want to keep the other person close and try to isolate them from their friends and family. It may be a sign of an abusive relationship.
It can also cause confusion, doubt, and fear. The manipulator will often make the person they are targeting feel as if they are the only person who matters in the world and is deeply in love with them. This can be very overwhelming for the targeted person, leading them to question their sanity and whether or not this is love. The manipulator will use this confusion and doubt to control the person, often making them do things they wouldn't normally do. Love-bombing can also lead to fear, as the target may start to worry about what will happen if the relationship ends.
Love-bombing and its effect on mental health
This type of behaviour can harm the mental health of the person being love-bombed. They may feel like they are constantly being watched, monitored, and controlled by their partner. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, paranoia, and depression.
How can you protect yourself from love-bombers?
Love-bombers can sweep you off your feet with excessive displays of affection, and then after they have you hooked, they can start to make unreasonable and possibly abusive demands.
While love-bombing can seem flattering at first, it can also be toxic, controlling and manipulative.
Here are a few ways to protect yourself from it:
Recognising the signs of love bombing
Be aware of red flags. If the person seems too good to be true, they may be. Watch for signs of manipulation, such as extreme jealousy or control over your life.
Don't rush into anything
Give yourself time to get to know the person before committing to anything serious.
Maintain communication with loved ones, family and friends. Be open and honest. They are often the first to see signs of love-bombing.
Communicate your thoughts
Tell the love-bomber how you feel. If you need them to step back, be honest.
Set boundaries and ensure you and they stick to them. For example, let the person know you need time alone and don't tolerate abusive behaviour. If the love-bomber starts to cross those boundaries by not giving you time and space, be assertive in telling them their behaviour is unacceptable.
Know your worth
Don't settle for less. Trust your instincts, and don't be afraid to seek help.
How can Hope Therapy help if you are in a controlling relationship?
Hope Therapy & Counselling Services have a team of experienced and fully qualified counsellors with significant experience working with many types of relationship challenges, including people with particular experience of love bombing and other forms of controlling relationships.
If you or a loved one is struggling, get in touch to learn more about what we can do to support you.