"love bombing": When Too Much Love Becomes Dangerous (And How To Know If It’s Happening To You)

June 1, 2023, 10:45 PM

June 1, 2023, 10:45 PM


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Excessive gifts can be a symptom of ‘love bombing’.

We’ve all seen a movie, read a book or experienced a first date that quickly turns into a dizzying spiral of passionate love.

Well, it turns out that, according to psychologists, behind that fairy tale fantasy may be hidden a form of emotional manipulation known as love bombing, or love bombing. Queen already said it: “Too much love will kill you” (Too much love will kill you).

But what is love bombing? It is giving attention and affection – usually to a romantic partner, but not only – in an overflowing and overwhelming way, and usually at an early stage in the relationship. This seemingly romantic and well-intentioned behavior may, however, be part of a cycle of psychological abuse.

“I had just come out of a relationship in which I received almost nothing, and I got into another in which he, just after meeting him, invited me to everything, he always came to pick me up with a coffee or a dessert, we were all day talking, he went with me to the gym, he waited many hours for me to take me home and he took me to meet his mom. I started to feel very overwhelmed“, describes Alejandra, a Colombian designer, to BBC Mundo.

Phrases like “I can’t stop thinking about you,” “I just want to make you happy,” or “I want to be with you all the time” are nice, but they can sometimes be warnings that healthy boundaries are being crossed.

Of course, the difference between love bombing and a healthy crush can be somewhat fuzzy. In fact, it is normal that in the first stage of a relationship we feel hopelessly in love because hormones and neurotransmitters are at their peak. And experts agree that there’s nothing wrong with getting carried away with deep, intense displays of affection.

When they start to be problematic is when love is expressed in a calculated way to hook the other and make him act in ways he wouldn’t otherwise.

Couple kissing in the rain

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Movies teach us to value unbridled displays of love positively.

It is clear: our brain is perfectly trained to ensure that situations that have caused a sensation of pleasure, such as gifts, caresses and nice words, are repeated. It is what is known as the reward system.

This system is what allows us, for example, to become attached to our parents (or caregivers) in childhood, something that is essential for our personal development.

He love bombing it operates by taking advantage of precisely that function of the brain. In the first moment, the person who receives the exorbitant gestures of love learns to expect those behaviors (rewards) from their partner and to react positively when they receive them. And he creates in his head an image of her partner as the perfect lover.

Alejandra, the Colombian designer, says that she soon became emotionally involved with her new partner: “He hooked me up a lot. He even suggested that we go study together in England. All within less than two months of starting to date.”

A porcelain of a kissing couple breaks.

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Manipulation and isolation make it difficult for the victim to break out of the cycle of abuse.

But then, in a second moment, the bomber takes away from his partner what he had been giving him. For example, he may start treating you with contempt or belittling. And, as a consequence, it causes her to be willing to exceed her own limits in order to receive that reward again. That’s when the abuse happens.

A person subjected to love bombingFor example, you may agree to cancel plans with your friends or family in the hope of feeling special and loved by your partner again. Or, in a murkier scenario, she may accept a certain sexual practice just to restore that idyllic moment in their relationship. In the end, How can you not do it after all that your partner has generously given you?

“He started acting weird, he didn’t show up as much anymore and I started to feel very unstable, anxious and confused. I started to think that I was the intense one. We talked all the time and suddenly he disappeared for a whole weekend. When we met again, he changed his deal and complained to me for not taking birth control pills. It hurt me a lot because I was very in love with the idea I had of him,” says Alejandra.

Over time, the relationship becomes a cycle: when the abuser feels that he is losing power over his partner, he resumes overflowing displays of love to win it back, and so on.


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The Psychology of the Bomber

As with almost any villain, the love bomber is not simply a Machiavellian monster, but behind his own problems.

On the contrary, most of the time the love bombing it is a strategy that is used unconsciously and is a logical response to narcissistic traits and low self-esteem. This is the conclusion of a study by University of Pennsylvania professor Claire Strutzenberg.

She explains that, in expressing this overflowing love, what the bombers are really hoping for “is the affirmation that they are loved and beautiful and wanted” in return. As in the story of Narcissus, they praise their partners in the hope that, like Echo in the Greek myth, they will return the praise.

On the other hand, people who have had few healthy relationships in their lives are more susceptible to love bombing, says Charlie Huntington, a psychologist who specializes in romantic relationships at the University of Denver.

The illusion of being loved intensely can lead them to feel a particularly powerful connection, and thus to be vulnerable to manipulation.

How do you know if it is happening to you?

There are no objective indicators that you are experiencing love bombing. The same act can be harmless (and even healthy) in one relationship and problematic or harmful in another. In the end, it all depends on how genuine and sincere you are and for what purpose it is done, and that can be impossible to read in the other’s actions.

However, if you feel overwhelmed by the affection and attention you are receiving from your partner and feel that it is all too intense to be genuine, these are 7spoint to hims that indicate that you are being bombarded:

  1. According to Huntington, “the clearest sign of love bombing is that behavior is out of proportion to the connection between people“. The “I love you” in the first week or hasty hints of commitment, when the necessary trust in the other does not yet exist, can be red flags.
  2. Someone telling you that they want to spend all their time with you may seem romantic, but it may be the first step to breaking up. isolating you from your friends and family. Isolating you is a very effective strategy for abusers to gain power and control over you.
  3. There are compliments that overwhelm. Being told that you are the most beautiful thing they have ever known or that you are everything they have ever dreamed of may not be as romantic as it seems. Watch out for exaggerated compliments that weigh you down and don’t sound like they were meant especially for you.
  4. Being given too many gifts can be a way to get hookedespecially if they lead you to feel that you have to repay them in gratitude in some way or another.
  5. The bombers have the need to communicate excessively, for example, talking all day with their partners through chats and calls. And it is not uncommon for them to demand that you do it too, saying that “they only care about you”.
  6. Jealousy and distrust in your fidelity They can also be ways in which love bombers they seek to show their “intense love” and make you feel guilty.
  7. If from one day to the next your partner stops being the most loving man or woman in the world and he starts treating you so secto or indifferentit is likely that he is manipulating you.

Of course, Huntington emphasizes that we must avoid falling into being too suspicious. “Most of us will go through our lives without being manipulated in this way.”

It is only ideal to have a little caution.

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