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Love bombing: 10 ways narcissists use it to control you

Love bombing is a narcissist’s secret weapon.

And in this article, I’m going to explain exactly what it is, how you can spot it, and what you can do if it’s happening to you.

What is love bombing?

According to Psychology Today, love bombing is the practice of “overwhelming someone with signs of adoration and attraction…designed to manipulate you into spending more time with the bomber.”

On the surface, love bombing sounds good. After all, who wouldn’t want love bombs?

But at the heart of love bombing is manipulation. A narcissist uses it as a way to control you.

What constitutes love bombing?

Love bombs are actions to gain your love and trust. It could be flattery, compliments, romance or promises of the future.

Once they have your trust, they’re in control. A narcissist will manipulate you to get what they want.

They’ll shape your role in the relationship and see you as a supporting cast to the hero (which is them, of course).

If your focus isn’t 100% on the love bombing narcissist, they’ll get angry. They won’t be able to comprehend that you have other things going on in your life.

But here’s the kicker:

Narcissists struggle to maintain mutually beneficial relationships.

In other words, the relationship will only benefit them, and over time, you’ll be left in the dark to heal your emotional wounds.

Now here’s the main issue:

It can be really difficult to figure out when it’s happening to you.

After all, not everyone that is romantic and sweet is a narcissist.

So, how do you differentiate the genuine expressions of love from the actions of a love bombing narcissist?

With these 10 signs:

1) Everything is way too quick

A narcissist skilled at love bombing will ramp up the affection fast; much faster than you’ve experienced before.

It could be the second or third date, and they’re already calling you baby, beautiful and rocking up with flowers and gifts.

They’ll make you feel like you’re perfect. They might even tell you that you’re the love of the life they’ve been seeking.

What can you do?

When it comes to falling head over heels in love with someone, the magic seems real, but the reality is much different.

If someone swoops into your life and you find yourself taken with them, you’ll be right to question the legitimacy of the relationship and your partner’s motives.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust a relationship, but that you should be wary of any relationship that seems to come out of nowhere and answers all of your prayers.

It’s probably too good to be true, and it could be that this person is really trying to swoon you so they can manipulate you later.

You’ll find that as time passes, their demeanor changes and they seem to be needing things from you instead of making you feel like the special person you are.

This is the beginning of the end of these narcissistic relationships.

Keep your wits about you and recognize when things are moving too fast.

Remember that genuine love grows slowly and that moving fast isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. It’s only by moving slowly that a fulfilling and intimate relationship can develop.

In other words:

Take it slow, respect yourself, love yourself and don’t fall over too quickly for someone so desperate to impress you.

2) When you’re in a bad position, they’ll act like they’re your savior

A narcissist’s eyes will light up when you’re in a bad situation.

Finally, it’s their chance to gain control.

They’ll make it seem like they’re the hero and without them you’d be screwed. They’ll frequently remind you of this in subtle ways.

Here’s what you need to look out for:

The main difference between someone who is genuinely helping you from the goodness of their heart and a narcissist is that a genuine person won’t make a big deal of it.

They’re focused on helping you and won’t need to gain anything from it. They’re not searching for a reaction from you.

A narcissist is quite the opposite.

A narcissist will help you while expecting admiration from you. They will tell you that what they’re doing is kind and helpful.

What can do you?

Watch out for their reactions when they help you. A narcissist will make it all about how helpful and kind they are, even though the problem has to do with you.

3) They want you to think that they’re the best person you’ve ever dated

Love bombing is all about getting you hooked on them. They want you to admire them so they can eventually manipulate you to get what they want.

They want you to think that you can’t do better.

So how will a narcissist do this?

They’ll ask questions about your previous lovers. They’ll likely insult them and try to make them look like losers.

After all, they’re trying to compare themselves and show they’re better. They want you to realize how lucky you are for dating them.

Here’s what they’re doing:

They’re merely reducing your self-worth to a level that you’re manipulated into thinking that you are really lucky to have them.

What can you do?

If they drop subtle hints about great they are, or how much better they are than the previous people you’ve dated, then call them out for how self-centered and lame they’re being.

Watch out for attempts to reduce your self-worth. They might bag you and put you down. Let them know why they’re wrong and then get the hell out!

Don’t fall for these self-serving tricks. Love yourself, respect yourself and don’t let a narcissist reduce your self-worth.

4) They keep asking about the crap things in your life

A narcissist will do this for a few reasons:

1) They want to provide solutions for you, so it looks like they’re the hero (as discussed above).

2) They want to reduce your self-worth so that you admire them and think about how great they are.

3) They want ammunition for when they abuse you later in the relationship.

What can you do?

If they keep bringing up your past shit times, then watch out.

A genuine person will be happy to talk about it, but they won’t always bring it up. There is a time and a place for those discussions.

Watch out for it and be skeptical about someone who is regularly bringing up the tough times in your life. Let them know that it’s weird and you’ll get the hell away if they don’t stop.

5) They’re not direct, and they backpedal from what they initially said

The narcissists who love bomb are concerned about how they appear, and they’ll want to impress you.

But here’s the real kicker:

It means that they’ll say one thing, and then when they see that your reaction is less than flattering, they’ll change up what they said.

They suddenly realized that it makes them look bad.

At first, you won’t think much of it. But if it happens continuously, then you won’t be able to trust what they say.

They’re more concerned with how they appear to you rather than being themselves.

A narcissist doesn’t care about being genuine or authentic.

They want to appear like the perfect partner so they can eventually manipulate you.

So, here’s what you need to keep in mind:

The original statement they made shows who they are.

6) They are always giving you gifts

Now don’t get me wrong. Gifts aren’t exactly a bad thing. But when they do it repeatedly, they are trying to buy your love.

It’s not real.

The real reason they do this is that they want you to feel that you “owe” them, which is the perfect scenario for a narcissist.

It’s an easy way to buy your love so you fall into the trap of trusting them.

What can you do?

It’s wonderful for someone to shower you with gifts and kind gestures, but when there is an expectation attached to those gifts, the sentiment is lost, and the creepiness sets in.

If your new love is looking for you to “owe” them for the kind of things they’ve done for you, it kind of defeats the purpose of doing nice things, doesn’t it?

And it might not be a problem at first, because that’s how these narcissists operate: they want you to feel showered with love so they can make you feel guilty about not returning the favor.

It’s a slippery slope and you might not catch on right away, but trust us, there is a catch.

Anyone who lavishes you with gifts and attention “just because” is to be suspected of ulterior motives.

It doesn’t mean everyone will turn out to be a loose cannon, but the chances are that this person is looking for someone in return that goes beyond a roll in the sheets.

7) The affection you’re getting will be superficial

Love bombing is superficial in nature, so it makes sense that the affection they give you will be superficial.

After all, love bombing is just a way to get you invested in them.

What can you do?

Watch out when they mention aspects of your behavior or personality that aren’t true.

Or if they say things like “you are the most beautiful person I’ve ever met” after only two dates.

8) They treat other people like crap

This is a gold nugget to recognize a narcissist that a lot of people ignore.

If they are a narcissist, they’ll treat others like crap, especially people that are ”lower’ than them.

Remember:

This is fairly easy to notice, so pay attention to how they treat others.

For example, when you go to a cafe together, are they rude to the waitress?

If it becomes a pattern, then they are a toxic character that you need to get away from.

9) Something just isn’t right

Getting a weird vibe from them? Like something isn’t quite right about them? Did they not take a hint when you rejected their advances? Are they complimenting you for things that aren’t true?

As we mentioned above, love bombing is superficial. And when something is not real, it just doesn’t feel right.

What can you do?

The truth is, when you feel that something isn’t right, it usually isn’t. So trust your instincts and get away.

You might think you want someone to be at your beck and call, or you might even dream of someone who looks to you for everything, but when you see that kind of relationship in reality, it looks very different from how you thought it would.

What might have started out as romanticism could quickly turn to discomfort and possible stalking.

A romantic gesture, such as sending flowers to your office on a Wednesday is wonderful, but calling three times to find out if you got them and what you think of them and to see what your coworkers thought of the gestures is weird. Just weird.

Setting boundaries can help with this, but only if you see it as a problem and not just an overzealous partner.

10) You’re experiencing a never-ending cycle of emotions

Does nothing feel steady in the relationship?

One moment you’re feeling great, then the next day you’re feeling like a terrible human being.

That’s what a narcissist does. They’re skilled manipulators. They’ll compliment you and make you feel like an amazing person. Then they’ll put you down, abuse you and make you feel like the worst person in the world.

What can you do? If you find yourself experiencing ups and downs like you’ve never experienced before, then you need to recognize that this is psychological abuse.

The most healthy relationships are stable relationships.

To protect yourself, you need to love yourself

A narcissist will try to bring you down. They’ll superficially love you; then they’ll abuse you and take what they want.

But if you respect yourself and realize your inherent worth, then they won’t be able to take control of you and manipulate you.

(To learn more about how to practice self-love, check out our ultimate guide to loving yourself here)

Keep your wits about you and stay strong. And find out whether you really do love them deep down.

Now if you’re stuck dealing with a narcissistic love bomber, you probably want to know how to deal with them. Below I’ve written five tips on how to do just that.

How to deal with a narcissist: 5 secrets

It’s tiring dealing with a narcissist, especially those that mask themselves under superficial love bombs.

And narcissists skilled at love bombing are growing by the numbers.

According to data fro 37,000 college students, narcissistic personality traits “rose just as fast as obesity from the 1980s to the present.”

Scary stuff, right?

So if you’re dating a narcissist, which I presume you might be if you’re reading an article about love bombing, or if a narcissist is in your life, you need to figure out how to deal with them.

Trust me, in this day and age; your life will be much better for it.

Here are five secrets:

1) Quick answer: Don’t

You probably didn’t expect this for the first tip. But it’s the best one.

Why?

Because if you’ve figured out that someone is a narcissist, it means that they lack empathy, don’t work hard, and within weeks or months, they’ll make you miserable.

And if you think that you can change them, you might want to reconsider.

Narcissism is challenging to change.

So before you decide whether they are indeed a narcissist, you may also want to understand what a true narcissist really is.

After all, we’re all on a continuum when it comes to narcissism:

“People are on a continuum — there’s a range of narcissism. Most people are sort of in the middle.” – W. Keith Campbell, Psychology Professor at the University of Georgia

Here’s a list of traits that can help you identify a narcissist if you’re wondering whether your love interest is a narcissist.

Now if you’re stuck dealing with a narcissist (like many of us are), here’s what you can do:

2) Suck up or shut up

This won’t be popular, but if you’re stuck dealing with a narcissist, and you’re in a less powerful position (like if it’s your boss), then you don’t have many options.

According to clinical psychologist AL Bernstein, there is no way around this when you’re dealing with a narcissist:

“If you want to communicate effectively with narcissists, you have to admire them, their achievements, and their toys as much as they do. Typically, this won’t require any great effort. They’ll be more than happy to come up with reasons to congratulate themselves. All you have to do is listen and look interested.”

What you don’t want to do is to let the narcissist know that they’re not as good as they think they are.

That would be like letting off a grenade.

Narcissism is an identity and people don’t quickly change identities.

As much as you want to let them know that their view about themselves is wrong, it won’t change them and will only increase the hostility.

3) Know what you want when dealing with a narcissist

Now it’s fairly obvious that you can’t expect fairness when it comes to dealing with a narcissist. We know that.

But this means that you need to work hard on your negotiations with them. Don’t accept promises or even words. Only reward behavior.

Keep in mind that narcissists are like having a pet Lion. One day, it might see you as dinner.

Make sure that they only get what they want when you get what you want.

It may sound a little negative, but narcissists are all about themselves. And if they can leave you in the dark to benefit themselves, they will.

However, it’s important to remember that if you can align your desires with their desires, then it is possible to work well together.

4) Ask them this question

Remember, you can’t make a narcissist feel guilty. But there is one thing they care about: how they look and what other people think.

If something is going to negatively affect how they appear to others, then they won’t do it.

So ask them this question when you feel they’re going to do something wrong: What would people think?

Emphasize that the community will see them poorly. You can actually help them look good by making sure that they do good.

5) Maintain your empathy for others

This isn’t necessarily how to deal with a narcissist, but you need to make sure you don’t get infected by them.

After all, we all have a little bit of narcissism in us.

So if you want to make sure that you don’t have become a narcissist yourself, you need to maintain your empathy for others.

Here’s a great quote from Kilroy Oldster on why it’s crucial we keep our empathy:

“It is up to each one of us to immunize ourselves from any disabling bolts of anger and defend ourselves from the thunderstorms of hatred. No matter how maliciously anyone might act towards us, humankinds’ ability to express empathy, compassion, and mercy is the only life-sustaining panacea. Whenever we foster empathy and compassion and display mercy towards other people, we overcome the vilest actions and greatest atrocities committed by other persons. If we love everyone, we can never feel victimized or hate anyone. If we love ourselves, we will never act in a degrading manner.” – Kilroy J. Oldster

In Conclusion

Finding love is a wonderful thing, but it can come with a lot of strings attached. Meeting new people is exciting and also scary.

We’ve all heard horror stories of people who meet in a whirlwind kind of way, only for one of them to be heartbroken a few months later because their knight in shining armor turned out to be kind of crazy.

Everyone has their quirks and of course, we come to relationships to get out of it what we put in, but there can’t be expectations of matching one for one or that you owe the person because they did nice things for you.

That’s not how love works. Love doesn’t owe anyone anything.

So the next time you find yourself face to face with a potential love interest, ask yourself what you want to get out of that relationship and pay attention to what the person is offering and what they want in return.

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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