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.
You might be wondering: what constitutes love bombing?
Love bombing 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. Way faster than you’ve experienced before.
It could be the second or third date and they’re already calling you baby, beautiful and constantly rocking up with flowers and gifts.
What does this mean?
It means that within the first few dates, 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?
Keep your wits about you and recognize when things are moving too fast.
The most genuine and rational people fall in love slowly.
Moving fast isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. It’s only by moving slow that a fulfilling and intimate relationship can develop.
In other words:
Don’t be desperate and take it slow. Respect yourself, love yourself and don’t fall over too quickly for someone who is 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.
Why? Because now it’s there chance to be in control of you.
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’ll make it about you, and will forget themselves. They won’t be looking for a reaction from you.
A genuine person will just want to help you solve the problem and then move on with their day.
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 bag them and try to make them look like losers.
After all, they’re trying to compare themselves and and show they’re better. They want you to realize how lucky you are for dating them.
Here’s what they’re really doing:
They’re simply 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 constantly 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 originally said
The narcissists who love bomb are concerned about how they are appearing. They want to impress you.
What does this mean?
It means that they’ll say certain things 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’ll think whatever. But if it happens constantly, then there’s nothing real about them.
They are more concerned with how they’re appearing to you rather than actually being themselves.
A narcissist doesn’t care about being genuine or authentic. They just want to appear like the perfect partner so they can eventually manipulate you.
What can you do?
Keep an eye out for this behavior. Remember, the original statement they made shows what they are really like.
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 basically trying to buy your love. It’s not real.
The real reason they do this is because they want you to feel that you “owe” them. The perfect scenario for a narcissist.
It’s also an easy way to buy your love so you fall into the trap of trusting them.
What can you do?
The reason a narcissist will do this is to make you feel indebted to them. Keep in mind that you might be dealing with a shady character if they are always buying you gifts.
7) The affection you’re getting will be superficial
Love bombing is superficial in nature, so it make 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 really true.
Or if they say things like “you are the most beautiful person I’ve ever met” after only 2 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 really are a narcissist, they’ll treat others like crap, especially people that are ”lower’ than them.
What can you do?
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 definitely 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 really 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.
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 able to take control of you and manipulate you.
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 5 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 5 secrets:
1) Quick answer: Don’t
You probably didn’t expect this for the first tip. But it’s the best one.
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’re thinking that you can change them, you might want to reconsider.
Narcissism is difficult 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
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 really 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 actually as good as they think they are.
That would be like letting off a grenade.
Narcissism is an identity and people don’t easily 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
A quick message from Lachlan Brown, the founder of Hack Spirit
In 2018, the third year of Hack Spirit, I poured thousands of hours and considerable resources into creating these articles. It's a labor of love and remains free thanks to your patronage. If you found any value in these articles, please consider supporting what I do with a donation. Your support is what helps me to continue creating more Hack Spirits articles. To make a donation, click the "donate" button below and choose between a single donation or monthly.
Check out Hack Spirit's eBook: The Art of Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Living in the Moment.
- Learn what 'mindfulness' really is and the scientific benefits to practicing it daily
- Learn exercises to be mindful throughout the day (even at work)
- Understand how to meditate daily to enhance peace and clarity of mind
- Understand and implement the 7 key steps to practicing mindfulness