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Love Bombing: What It Is, How It Works & 21 Signs You’re Being Manipulated

If you just started a new relationship with someone charming and they start love bombing you, know that it is a red flag and a manipulative form of affection. Understanding the signs is vital. 

what is love bombing signs

Before we go into the ways to identify a love bomber, first, we should explain what love bombing is, in case you don’t know. Love bombing is a technique used at the beginning of a relationship to make someone fall madly in love with you very quickly.

Essentially, a love bomber showers you with an excessive amount of gifts and romantic gestures. They make you feel like this person must be your soul mate. Then? Surprise. You’re hopelessly in love with a manipulative monster.

Some say that there is nothing wrong with love bombing because it simply shows your new partner that you care about them.

It’s the beginning of a new relationship, so naturally, they want to “woo” you and make you feel special. But be careful. You might be falling in love with a mask—not the person standing in front of you holding a bouquet of flowers. In that case, it’s nothing but manipulation. [Read: How to quickly spot narcissistic traits in a relationship]

What is love bombing?

Love bombing is a tactic that can be both intentional and unintentional. Love bombing is when someone goes above and beyond to woo someone, usually with the intent of making them fall in love really fast.

Many predators use it to find victims on the Internet and reel them in. And some others who use this tactic have personality disorders that drive them to gain power and dominance, like a sociopath or narcissist.

The result is the same for the victim. They are left damaged, bottomed out, broken both inside and sometimes out, and with very little self-esteem left.

It is difficult to get out from under someone who uses love like a bomb to keep you manipulated and under their thumb, which is why it is important to see the red flags early on and not succumb to their manipulation.

If you get that eerie feeling that something isn’t right, always listen. It is your gut telling you to proceed with caution. [Read: How to fall in love slowly – 28 steps to create your very own real-life fairytale]

But, how can showing someone love be bad?

At first thought, love bombing may not sound too bad. Being bombarded with love sounds great, right? Well, it is misleading in that way, and many others.

Love bombing is a weapon disguised as affection. It is when someone showers you with what seems like love and affection, but their real goal is to manipulate and influence you.

The problem with love bombing is that at first, it seems wonderful. It seems like you are entering into a wonderful, healthy relationship. Love bombing looks like what you have always wanted from a romantic relationship, but it quickly becomes volatile. [Read: The 25 early warning signs that signal a toxic person]

From that brief explanation of love bombing, you might wonder how you differentiate between actual love and love bombing. Well, according to experts, love bombing was first introduced as a term referring to cults as a deceptive ploy accounting for many successful recruitment drives.

If you are familiar with David Koresh, a narcissistic early youth cult leader, he, along with the recruiter or other cult members, used love bombing as a method of fabricating intense loyalty from his followers. They flooded recruits and newer members with flattery and offers of instant companionship to lure them. Love bombing uses not only positive reinforcement to enact certain feelings, but it uses this reinforcement in excess.

But how do you spot the difference between this and someone actually showering you with love? Well, that is where things get tricky. And that is how so many people fall pray to it.

At first, love bombing may feel wonderful

When first dating someone that uses love bombing as a tactic to control you, it feels great. Being showered with words of affection, compliments, flowers, and more feels like you are finally being validated. You feel like you finally found someone who knows how to treat you right.

This is something people with little dating experience can easily get caught up in. People with lower self-esteem also tend to be victims of love bombing, which only leads to even more troubles later on.

If you’re wondering how we get trapped in it, start with this.

Love bombing is infectious. It feels good, and you get accustomed to it. This type of behavior can sway your thinking. Even if you are normally pragmatic, an excessive amount of adoration can cloud your vision. It can make you see someone as better than they actually are.

This is the first step of the love bomber. They have you hooked on this behavior. They have you involved and connected to them. While they come off as sincere, their motive is to get something for themselves in the long run. This is the tactic used by narcissists. [Read: Why a narcissist and an empath always draw each other]

The effects of love bombing

Love bombing is essentially a trap and a way to hook you into a relationship quickly and deeply. It is what pulls you toward your partner and often away from friends and family.

It can even drive a wedge between you and your close friends or family members because you may be blinded to this person’s bad side. Love bombers are master manipulators. They know how to ensure you only see one side of them; at least, until it is too late.  Thus, you may start to become too attached to a love bomber or even defend their actions.

This can lead to you staying in a controlling, abusive relationship or even violent one. It can also lead you to severe issues in future relationships. If a relationship based on love bombing ends, you have been conditioned to base your self-worth on affection from this person.

Now, without that excessive validation, you can go through a type of withdrawal. You then have to learn how to pick yourself up from that and receive love in a healthy way. But, instead of waiting for something this dreadful to happen, let’s try to outsmart the love bombers of the world! [Read: 22 secret signs you’re dating someone who likes themselves more than you]

Signs of love bombing

Typically, the person you start to date can’t get enough of you. They send you lavish praise and gifts and want to spend every waking moment making you feel good and fulfilled. Once they have you, they can’t be bothered with your existence, which leaves you an empty shell *no pun intended* for them to use and abuse.

But, now that we understand how to avoid love bombing ourselves, it is important that we also help you understand how to avoid love bombing in our partners.

Love bombing is a terrifying form of emotional abuse because most of us don’t even know it is happening. If your boyfriend or girlfriend brings you home a box of chocolates or flowers, you might just think, “wow, what a sweet guy/girl.” [Read: Narcissistic boyfriend – Signs you may be dating him and the best ways to deal with him]

It’s romantic and intended to make you fall in love. What’s wrong with that? If they are being genuine, nothing. But if their intent behind this sweet gesture is to reign control over you, this is something to steer clear of.

Knowing the common signs to look for in love bombing saves you the heartache and stops the cycle of abuse, my dears. [Read: What is a toxic relationship? 53 signs to recognize love that hurts you]

1. They are self-disclosed right up front

Someone who is love bombing you lets you into their personal world way too quickly and very early on in the courtship. When we start dating, we usually keep certain personal things under lock and key. Keeping our distance is a way to stop ourselves from being vulnerable.

Someone set on love bombing you will seemingly let you into every aspect of their world, real or fake, to have you feeling like you have a special and strong bond even before it’s possible.

If they tell you intimate details, you are likely to do the same. And then bam, they have all the ammo they need to manipulate you going forward. If they are getting into TMI territory too quickly, that is a red flag, and you could be getting hooked by a narcissist.

2. They can’t get enough of you

In a relationship, it’s normal to have this honeymoon phase where you can’t get enough of each other. But, in most relationships starting out, there are specific rules about how much of the like we let out.

It’s not just about playing hard to get. Most people don’t want to seem too eager or go overboard in fear that they’ll scare their partner away. [Read: What makes someone a player? 21 sly signs of a player’s mind]

However, a love bomber acts like they simply can’t hold back. They must have you. So, if your love interest comes on too strong or is too infatuated, they convince you that it is just that they can’t help themselves. They just know you are the one they can’t live without.

Their infatuation for you isn’t creepy like it sounds. It makes you feel like you are so impressive and awesome they can’t help themselves. [Read: Toxic love – ways it can harm you permanently and how to get away]

3. They talk about bringing you home to their family/the future on the second date

Most people who enter into relationships do so with caution. You don’t want to freak someone out by telling them you see a future with them, or that your kids will look so cute, on the first date! They proceed in a normal way, taking steps that seem logical.

If someone is love bombing you, there are no steps or stages, as everything seems to be moving super fast. Right up front, they want to introduce you to mom and dad. They talk about moving in together, or where you’ll get married, or how you’ll raise your kids early in the relationship.

Getting you caught up in the idea of being in love instantly is super engaging and puts those who are the victim of love bombing vulnerable by design. [Read: All the speedy signs your relationship is moving way too fast]

4. They make you feel like you are super special

Sure, you have had people tell you you are hot before, but the love bomber can’t say enough nice things about you. They shower you with an over-the-top amount of affection, attention, flattery, extravagant and expensive gifts, and they adore your every move.

Everything annoying to others in the past is just as cute as can be to the love bomber.

We’re sorry to break it to you but if it annoys everyone else, they don’t find your idiosyncrasies cute. They may be love bombing and just manipulating you to get you on the hook. [Read: How to stop being manipulated in a relationship]

5. They make you wonder how they weren’t taken already

When love bombing you, they are so kind and generous and loving that you can’t help but wonder why they haven’t been snatched up before. That is the whole gig. They want you to think they are highly desirable, but the good news is they only want you.

They work hard to make you believe there is something so spectacular about you that they are overcome and wouldn’t normally be so obsessive. What you usually find is a long list of victims in their past. Unfortunately, you don’t find that out until you are already sucked in and questioning everything. [Read: 20 signs you need to throw in the towel and break up with them]

6. They talk about things like soulmates

Okay, we’re not going to go into the whole debate about whether there is truly just one person out there for everyone.

We don’t know if there are truly soulmates, but what we can tell you is that if someone comes on super strong and is telling you on the second date that they must have you and have found their soulmate, then that red flag is so red, it is almost purple.

If there is such a thing as a soulmate, it isn’t about infatuation. It is about a mutual feeling that this is meant to be. If they convince you that things are meant to be, and you don’t feel it instantly too, question the whole thing!

7. Buying your love

In theory, being showered with gifts sounds wonderful. But, it can become overwhelming. Sometimes, a girl just wants to hang out with a guy without any gifts exchanged, ya know? [Read: 15 types of guys you should never date if you want love]

It might look like someone constantly buying you gifts to impress you is a sweet attempt at gaining your heart, but in reality, that someone is trying to love bomb you. [Read: The 15 signs of infatuation and not love]

8. Suffocated with love

Similar to the previous point, if they constantly tell you how great you are, or any variation of the phrase, be wary; you may be getting love bombed. You can only say “thank you” so much in a conversation. Otherwise, it becomes pretty repetitive.

They can appreciate you for the wonderful human being you are, but they need to understand that there is a time and a place for it. Cuddling at night, alone — perfect time. Displays of attention and affection in the middle of a group conversation with your friends? Maybe not so ideal. It’s important to set boundaries in situations like this.

9. They have a history

Ask around. Know who you’re dealing with. If you didn’t know this person before you started dating them, then ask about them. You might find out that they tend to do this with a lot of their previous partners – that may be a sign they are a serial love bomber.

If someone is genuinely interested in you and wants to show their appreciation and love for you, they probably won’t have an avid history of doing the same to countless others. Just a note. [Read: 23 secret signs of narcissism people overlook until it’s too late]

10. Do you really know them?

Sit and think about how many of your conversations have actually been meaningful. Do you know about their childhood, family life, hobbies, job, etc.? If you don’t know anything about them besides their love for expressing their love for you, be careful.

Relationships grow through sharing past experiences and making new ones together — not through constant romantic gestures and “I love you’s.”

11. Do your friends like them?

Your friends know you better than you know yourself, and they also see through your unfortunate taste in romantic partners and identify red flags that may be hard to spot for you.

Introduce them to your friends and see what they think. They will be able to tell if they are genuine or if they are love bombing you and your partner is trying to manipulate you. Friends always know. [Read: Help! My friends don’t like my boyfriend]

12. Constantly talking about the future

Love bombing literally means making you fall for somebody too fast. What better way to do that than to make promises of the future you will share together?

If they constantly want to talk about the future and what you will name your children very early on in the relationship, FLEE. [Read: Why people fall for narcissists and 12 secrets that make them so irresistible]

13. They worship you

Okay, so in theory, everybody would love to be worshipped. But in reality, it’s just weird. You don’t need somebody following you around, giving you lots of attention, and showering you with compliments, do you?

If you can do no wrong in their eyes, either you’re Beyoncé, or you’re being love bombed. There is no in-between, sorry. [Read: Smothered in a relationship – How to read the signs and fix it]

14. They don’t react well to a challenge

They often say things like, “We belong together,” “How could you possibly know that?” or “It’s still pretty early, but so far it is going good” any time you question them on their behavior or their intentions.

This is one of the clearest signs of love-bombing, and it’s pretty easy to recognize. Love bombers don’t like to be challenged because they aren’t used to it. Nobody ever questions them, they just fall madly in love with them. Don’t let that happen. Challenge them and see how they react to it. [Read: Ways to beat a narcissist and win over their manipulation]

15. They become jealous over nothing

Try going out with some friends one night and see their reaction. If you are a victim of love bombing, they will likely get very jealous and upset with you. “As if you are leaving me alone” may be thrown out there. If you manage to go out, they will require constant contact and communication to monitor what you’re doing. You’re allowed to go have some fun, and a reasonable partner would understand that.

16. They are overprotective

Nobody could ever harm you or put you down. They make sure of that. Yes, we understand that our partners should support and stand up for us when necessary. But sometimes, it really isn’t necessary.

If they go way over the top to defend you, then you might be being love-bombed. You can handle yourself, and some things really aren’t worth even defending. [Read: 18 signs you’re being coerced into a controlling relationship]

17. Too much interest

This is something you should always be wary of. Some people call it picky, but once you are well-versed in love bombing, it makes sense. Dating is exciting. When you like someone it feels good. But, when someone is too interested and gives you excessive attention right off the bat, that’s not normal.

Sure, you can be attracted to someone or feel a connection, but if someone acts like they truly like you before even getting to know you, they are showing signs of love bombing. [Read: Emotional manipulation – ways people mess with your mind]

18. Perfection isn’t real

No one is perfect. This is something a lot of people need to realize. Even the person that is perfect for you is not perfect. Things will go wrong. You will have disagreements. So, if you are dating someone and things seem perfect, it is time to question it.

We hate to be Debbie Downers, but when things seem too good to be true, they often are. We are not saying to look on the negative side, but be aware of someone that seems to have no faults. It may seem that way because they are taking great lengths to conceal them.

19. They’re big on guilt tripping

This is a classic sign of manipulation. Even if it is not a part of love bombing, it is not healthy. Love bombers give gifts, make promises, and tell you everything you want to hear. So, when you do not fit the mold they preset for you, they guilt you into it.

Going to visit your family this weekend instead of staying with them? They may question your loyalty when they have done nothing but love you, using all their love bombing as examples of why you should pick them first. But don’t fall for it; this is another manipulative tactic used by the love bomber to make the recipient feel bad. They do this to make you feel guilty, when in reality, what they are doing is trying to isolate you by coercing you to spend less time with others in order to control you. [Read: Common traits of controlling people and how to handle each of them]

20. Positive manipulation

You know how a parent will promise their child a treat if they behave in the store? Or maybe how you get your dog to do a trick for a biscuit?

That is essentially how this person treats you. It may sound shallow, and you may think you would never fall for something like this, but we are all vulnerable to it.

Once you grow accustomed to this person’s love bombing, that is all you know. And you are addicted to it in a way.

For example, if you don’t want to see his softball team lose another game? Well, he may flood you with love and kisses to sway you. Eventually, though, that sweetness melts away, and the conditioning you endured will keep you around when that love bombing turns angry. [Read: Never ignore these signs of manipulation in your relationship]

21. Everything is moving so fast

Some relationships naturally move quickly. And often, successful couples with that beginning say it just felt right. But, when things move quickly we can get overwhelmed, and before we know it, we are living with someone we barely know. That makes ending things or slowing them down that much more difficult.

That is exactly what a love bomber wants. They want to trap you with kindness, so they tell you that you’re the one. They make promises and treat you like a queen or a king. You will be so caught up in the fairytale of it all that you won’t have time to sit back and think about it until it is too late.

If you started dating someone with the intent to take things slow or even just see them casually and things take off running, ask them to go at a more comfortable pace. If they use any of the earlier tactics to convince you everything is right on schedule, they are most likely love bombing you.

A healthy partner will have no problem making you feel comfortable. But, do look out for someone that says slowing down is fine but doesn’t live up to that statement. [Read: How to pull back in a relationship when you’re giving too much]

A tale as old as time

Love bombing might be a new name, but it is an old practice. A way to manipulate people, someone who love bombs comes on way too strong to get you to trust them and let your guard down. Just when they have you under their wiles, they can’t be bothered with you. That’s why it’s important to keep one eye open, especially if you have never met anyone like this before.

[Read: How to recognize and end the toxic relationships before they break your heart]

Just a manipulative tactic to feed whatever sick need they have, don’t fall prey to love bombing now you know what it looks like. End the relationship in order to save yourself from this kind of abuse.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...