Love bombing is a term used to describe a behavior that can often be mistaken for genuine love. It is characterized by an intense and overwhelming display of affection and attention, often in the early stages of a relationship. However, the behavior can quickly become excessive and manipulative, leading to feelings of suffocation and discomfort for the recipient.
In the beginning, love bombing can be difficult to distinguish from genuine love. A love bomber may text frequently, shower the recipient with gifts and compliments, and insist on spending all their free time together. They may also express their love and miss the recipient after just a few weeks into the relationship.
In this article, we aim to help readers differentiate between love bombing and genuine love. By understanding the key differences between these two behaviors, readers can better recognize and avoid toxic relationships, and make informed decisions about their personal and romantic lives.
What Is Love Bombing?
Love bombing is a form of manipulation in which a person showers their partner with excessive affection, gifts, compliments, and praise in order to control and manipulate them. It is a tactic often used by people with narcissistic or sociopathic tendencies.
Part of what makes love bombing hard to distinguish between manipulative behavior and genuine love is that the person who is doing it may not be consciously aware that they’re doing it. Obviously, it’s worse if a person is doing it consciously, but those who have BPD and other Cluster B disorders may be using love bombing as a tactic to fill their emotional needs - often creating an unbalanced relationship that often leads to violent and sudden endings without warning.
Common Examples of Love Bombing
The best way to learn if you are being love bombed is to understand some common examples of love bombing:
The individual may frequently reach out through texts, calls, or messages, always seeking to maintain contact and making you feel like you are the center of their universe.
The amount of communication can be flattering but also be a massive time sink. While you are enjoying the one-to-one communication, you may notice how your time is drained or that you feel led on.
They may engage in lavish romantic gestures, such as buying expensive gifts, organizing grandiose trips, or openly declaring their love for you at an early stage in the relationship. This can be common in those who make more money or want to exchange money for your time.
Separation from support
They may attempt to distance you from your friends and family, leaving you with the impression that they are the only ones who truly care for you. This can be a relatively long process, as the person you’re dealing with may not know all of the friends, families, and acquaintances you speak with. In other cases, a person may try to insert themselves into your personal relationships to assert their dominance in your life.
Rush to commitment
They may press for you to move in together, get engaged, or married shortly after meeting, and put pressure on you to make rapid significant commitments. These commitments may also include financial ties, such as sharing a workspace, combining finances, and refinancing loans. If you’re finding that their love and affection are coming with strings attached, you’re probably right.
Jealous and possessive behavior
They may exhibit jealousy, control, or try to isolate you from your loved ones.
Inauthenticity: They may be insincere, deceptive, or lying about their emotions, motives, or history. If you notice discrepancies and vague patterns of behavior - even if they’re hiding details that are relatively innocuous - you should consider other areas where they’re using love to blind you to their other actions.
Ongoing compliments and adoration
They may overwhelm you with nonstop compliments, admiration, and attention to the extent that you feel uneasy. These compliments may be sincere or repetitive, but the attempts to inflate your ego and improve your self-image may become overbearing - especially if you can’t live up to these high ideals.
How to Tell if It’s Love Bombing or Genuine Love?
If you’re like most people, you may have difficulty discerning whether a person you’re romantically involved with is being genuine about their feelings about you. To make things easy for you, we’ve divided a cheat sheet below that contains simple headings. The goal here is to just briefly read these over and make a note if any of them stick out to you. For instance, if you read “Moving Too Fast”, are there aspects of the relationship that you feel are getting out of hand?
That being said, the following is a comprehensive list of love bombing vs real love:
“It’s love bombing if she’s…”
Overly affectionate and attentive:
- Constant texting, calling, or messaging
- Wanting to always be around you
- Making you feel like the center of their world
Moving too fast:
- Pressure to move in together, get engaged or married quickly
- Pressure to make big commitments fast
- Attempts to isolate from friends and family
- Pattern of short, intense relationships
- History of love bombing other partners
- Lying about feelings, intentions, or past
“It’s genuine love if she…”
Develops affection over time:
- It feels like things deepen naturally
- Shows signs of a relationship built on a foundation of genuine feelings and a strong bond.
Positive affection and understanding:
- Demonstrates mutual respect, trust, and open communication
- Respects your boundaries and give you the space you need
- Communicates openly and honestly with you
Accepts your flaws:
- Tolerates minor indiscretions
- Offers help and guidance to accommodate negative personality traits and behaviors
Trust and expectations
- Follows through on her promises and actions.
- Shows a healthy amount of jealousy and possessiveness
- Is a compliment to your lifestyle and goals
- Provides care and is willing to sacrifice their time for your well-being
How did you do? If you found yourself coming up with immediate instances in your relationship, don’t be immediately alarmed. For example, a new relationship often has new partners expressing deep affection for new people in their life - potential mates are sure to spend more on dates, linger on the phone until it's time for bed, and other romantic behaviors.
However, if you found yourself now aware of the creeping sense that you’re being manipulated, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship and look for a way of resolving it. Manipulative people can be very clever in entangling your life, especially if sex is involved (ie. it’s easier to claim a sexual misconduct charge after the fact)
In conclusion, It's important to be aware of the signs of love bombing, and take the time to get to know the person and make sure their feelings for you are genuine. If you have any doubts or concerns, don't hesitate to talk to a therapist or counselor. Depending on the type of relationship you have and other entanglements, you may need to exit the relationship for your well-being.