Ugh, as if we weren’t already traumatized by recent dating phenomenons like “ghosting,” where the person you’re seeing literally disappears from your life or “breadcrumbing,” where your partner doesn’t totally disappear, giving you just enough bread crumbs to miserably hang on to. If all of that has you swiping with trepidation these days, you’re going to hate the next dating trend — it’s called “love bombing.”
At first glance, love bombing might seem like the exact opposite of breadcrumbing or ghosting, and the truth is, it’s actually way worse than being breadcrumbed or ghosted. Love bombing might sound like a luxurious bath bomb you’d buy, exploding with bubbly goodness in your tub before fizzling out — and that’s pretty much exactly what it is, unfortunately.
Much like a fizzy bath bomb, love bombing occurs at the start of a whirlwind romance, when things are new and fun and exciting.
It can be scary and downright unhealthy to find out that your partner is love bombing you, so here are some tell-tale signs you’re being love bombed, so you can hopefully figure out what’s really going on with your partner.
1Things move fast.
It’s rare to find a person in the early stages of falling in love who can think clearly and rationally, but love bombing is different: The manipulator will do everything in their power to latch onto the victim and make them feel like the most special, most important person in the universe. They’ll make declarative statements about being soulmates within days or weeks of first meeting, showering their victim with compliments about how “perfect” they are. It all seems wonderful and sexy and exciting, which is why it’s truly hard to see the forest for the trees.
Your new bae might shower you with constant love, affection, lavish gifts, and over-the-top gestures. Clinical psychiatrist and the author of Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional Dale Archer M.D. told Psychology Today that this is a calculated tactic to win you over, before suddenly turning on you and showing off an abusive, controlling side you weren’t expecting — and your new romance fizzles out fast.
2There are immediate promises about the future.
You may feel as if you’ve found the most romantic person on the planet. Your new boo is already talking about your future wedding, honeymoon, and children. This can be a major red flag, according to Archer:
3You’re being lavished with gifts and romantic gestures.
Sending flowers after a first date seems pretty romantic, right? A love bomber won’t stop at one bouquet of roses, though. They’re the master of extravagant gifts and over-the-top romantic gestures (a surprise weekend getaway, anyone?), further cementing their status in your mind as the one you cannot live without.
Of course, it can be super tricky to determine if your partner is love bombing you or is merely a hopeless romantic, so other than reserving judgment to see if it fizzles out, you can try and read between the lines in the meantime: What does the note that comes with the flowers say? If there are promises for the future very early on, you might have yourself a love bomber.
4You two are in constant communication. (No, but like, constant.)
In that blissful “getting-to-know-you” stage, you may feel enthralled by the idea of receiving flirty texts and emails after a date, but love bombing crosses the line into obsessive, constant communication. Archer says that today’s technology makes this especially challenging, because there are myriad ways to reach out to someone and receive an instant response. If there’s a way to reach you, the love bomber will figure it out: calling, texting, emailing, homing pigeons… They will want to know what you’re up to at all times, which can easily be confused for new relationship flirtation vibes. They’ll do what it takes to keep your attention focused on them, sounding yet another alarm bell.
5The honeymoon phase ends quickly.
Before you even realize what’s going on, your partner will reveal his or her true colors, and they won’t be pretty. Just as quickly as things heated up, your partner will abruptly begin turning the tables, using their manipulation skills in such a predatory way that you’re left feeling understandably hurt, confused, and even bewildered. They’ll possibly begin criticizing you, lashing out on you, and/or starting arguments at the drop of a hat.
6They’re making unreasonable demands and expectations.
The love bomber will do whatever it takes to control most aspects of your life, so they might suddenly be agitated when you mention plans with friends or forbid you from spending time with coworkers. They may threaten to leave or set unrealistic ultimatums, forcing you to choose between them and other loved ones in your life. Archer describes the love bomber as an “emotional vampire,” because they “use attention and affection to build trust, as a means to maintain control, and end up sucking the emotion and joy for life right out of their partners.”
7They begin exploiting your insecurities.
Archer says “love bombers are experts at detecting low self-esteem, and exploiting it.” So if you’ve told your partner about problems in a past relationship, or worries about your boss, or any arbitrary insecurity in your life, they’ll use that to prey on you as a form of psychological abuse.
This is often because the love bomber is actually the one with the insecurities in the relationship. There’s no two ways around this – it’s emotional abuse, and the victim has done nothing to deserve being treated this way.
8The relationship becomes an unending cycle of emotions.
Love bombing often turns into a cycle that Archer says “starts with intense courtship and idealization over a very short period of time — days or weeks, not months,” before turning ugly. The love bomber will then get back into your good graces, and the cycle will repeat again. Most couples will go through multiple cycles before the victim realizes how unhealthy the relationship is and tries to end it.
If you find yourself in this situation, it’s crucial to remember that this is a form of psychological abuse, period. Healthy relationships take time to build and establish closeness, despite what romantic comedies want us to think. Archer adds,
The best course of action is to cut the love bomber out of your life — for good.