All month on the podcast we are talking about love, especially determining the difference between healthy and unhealthy love. Here I want to get into an uncomfortable topic: Love Bombing. You’ve probably heard of it, and yet would struggle to admit if it were happening to you. That’s just crazy and you would see that stuff coming from a mile away, right?
So what are the things to look for, either in your own new relationship or the situation your sister or best friend is in. These things can seem great and wonderful at first which is why they can be hard to catch. Know that you can mistake protection and affection for control – often because folklore as well as media have historically glorified these types of romantic gestures so we’ve become desensitized as it has become normalized for us.
They’re Constantly Complimenting You
One of the first things to notice is if someone’s expressing their adoration and love early on in the relationship. If it feels like a bit much it’s because it is – in my mind it isn’t real. THEY DON’T KNOW YOU YET. Remember that. Anything in the beginning of a relationship is based mostly on assumption and first impressions. You hear things like: “I love everything about you.” Or “I can’t believe how amazing you are.” And “You are my soul mate I just know it.” You can easily fall for these types of lines, as again they are the sum of romantic stories you’ve grown up with.
You Receive Constant Attention.
They are blowing up your phone, texting or calling several times a day, and want to see you every day if they can. You notice you aren’t talking to or spending as much time with friends or family like you used to, and those activities that mattered prior have gone to the back burner. You don’t even notice at first because you are so caught up and mesmerized by this attention – perhaps attention you’ve been starving for due to other unhealthy relationships in your life.
They Focus on Becoming Committed Way Too Soon
You might feel pressured in “oh so loving ways” to rush into rushing things such as dating exclusively or moving in together and making big plans for the future. People with good boundaries wouldn’t even mention these things when you’ve only known each other for a short time. It takes time to get to know someone and even longer to foster genuine love.
As you can gather from reading this, love bombers don’t like it when you set boundaries. This is because they are averse to reality and therefore to the concept of boundaries. Manipulation and control is how they operate, which is the opposite of healthy detachment and boundaries. Manipulation is all about hiding from reality while they try to crazy make you into doing the same.
So maybe you have anxiety from all this but dismiss it as excitement etc. Here’s a theory as to why: On the surface they seem so kind and attentive, and nothing “bad” has really happened so why should you feel anxious? So, you blow it off, and just attribute it to all the newness and attention you are receiving. In fact, you will find lots of reasons for it EXCEPT the real one: something doesn’t feel quite right, and you feel off-balance. Because you are.
So what to do?
Pay attention to your gut, because it will never lie to you. Don’t worry if there’s no specific evidence yet as to why you should feel a bit queasy. Most of the time we don’t see the truth until it’s in the rearview mirror, or until the relationship has turned for the worse and there are some hard things to face. With hindsight all the seemingly disconnected puzzle pieces fit together and make sense.
Pay attention to what others in your life have to say, because they have the objectivity you don’t because you’re too deep in the forest. They will share with you their concerns and point out things you may not want to see or hear, and it’s ok. Don’t minimize these or write them off as something about your loved ones. If more than one person is uncomfortable then trust that. People in our lives truly have better things to do than lie to us about this kind of stuff, as we would with them.
Don’t be hard on yourself if this has happened to you, and don’t be hard on your friend if this is about her. It happens. Manipulation is an amazing tool that works on many people, especially when they are vulnerable. The BEST defense to falling for this is to focus on strengthening yourself, creating accountability in your life, and building self-trust. Only spend time in relationships where there are healthy boundaries and mutual respect. This way your head will be so much clearer when if you run into the next con artist.