Love bombing involves bombarding a person (usually a romantic partner) with attention and affection, such as excessive compliments and gifts. While this may seem like an over-eager person who is newly infatuated, love bombing is a manipulation tactic meant to obtain power and control at the beginning of a relationship. Love bombing is commonly associated with narcissism.
Read on to learn more about love bombing and why it's a relationship red flag.
What Is Love Bombing?
Excitement and displays of affection are normal at the beginning of a relationship, but love bombing behaviors are excessive.
At first, the love bomber showers their partner with gifts, praise, and other gestures that appear flattering on the surface.
These tactics are manipulative, meant to groom their partners, isolate them from friends and family, and secure themselves as the most important person in their partner's life, ultimately making their partner emotionally and socially dependent upon them.
The term "love bombing" dates back to the 1970s. It is associated with the Unification Church (a religious sect commonly considered a cult). In this context, love bombing referred to the tactics of excessive flattery and admiration used by members to recruit more people into the group.
Love bombing in a relationship takes a similar approach. As the relationship continues, the person becomes manipulative in other ways, such as distancing and coldness, ultimately leading to emotional abuse such as gaslighting (a manipulation tactic that causes a person to doubt their own reality).
Love bombing is commonly associated with narcissism. People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) see themselves as special and deserving of admiration. They feel entitled and disrespect the needs of others. This does not stem from self-love but rather the fear of being undesired. People with NPD often have low self-esteem.
A person with NPD or narcissistic tendencies engages in love bombing with the goal of receiving praise and admiration. The intention is not to show genuine affection but to exhibit control and elicit personal gain.
Why Is Love Bombing a Major Red Flag?
Love bombing is a way for an abuser to build their partner up before tearing them down. Abusers use love bombing to gain their partner's trust and adoration, getting them to open up, learning their weaknesses, and ultimately using that against them. People with narcissistic tendencies can be very charming, likable, and exciting. The manipulation can happen slowly and the control may go unnoticed at first. This "charm" usually goes away after the initial stage of the relationship, replaced by belittling and emotional abuse. It's important to recognize love bombing not as a sign of affection, but as the first step in creating a toxic and controlling relationship.
Signs You’re Being Love Bombed
There are a number of signs to look for if you think you're being love-bombed. While the measures used may vary, the overall feeling is that it is "too much, too soon."
They Shower You With Gifts
Gift-giving is not uncommon in relationships, but love bombing with gifts tends to be excessive, come with expectations, or both.
Lavishing many gifts on you, or pricey ones (such as trips, expensive jewelry, or designer handbags), especially early in a relationship, can be a warning sign when accompanied by expectations of praise, validation, compliance, or anything else in return.
This includes offering financial support without prompting, such as paying for your rent, bills, or other expenses.
They Can’t Stop Giving Compliments
Compliments are nice, but making grand statements when you are still getting to know the person is problematic.
Phrases like, "my life would be nothing without you," and declarations of love early in a relationship make for good romantic movies, but are red flags in real relationships. If the person is saying things that feel uncomfortably early, or before you know each other well enough for them to feel valid, consider if you are OK with how fast the relationship is moving.
They Tell You What You Want to Hear
One way to "get you on their side" or convince you that they are your perfect match is to agree with everything you say and tell you what you want to hear, even if what they say doesn't match their true feelings or thoughts.
They’re Big on Showing Affection
Being familiar and affectionate in a way that is incongruent with the length and depth of the relationship can be a warning sign.
Calling you their "other half" or their "soulmate" weeks into a relationship—or before enough time and interaction has passed to have a real understanding of who each other are—and placing you on a pedestal, can mean a larger issue is at play, especially if it makes you feel anxious.
They Want Your Undivided Attention
It's not unusual to want to spend a lot of time with your partner, especially newly in a relationship. But if your partner feels entitled to or possessive of your time, that is a sign of potential abuse.
Ask yourself, do they:
- Expect you to respond to texts or calls immediately?
- Expect you to prioritize spending time with them to the detriment of your time and relationships with friends and family, or time to yourself?
- Get irritated, angry, or "stonewall" you when you want to spend time with others?
- Try to distance you from your friends and family or isolate you from others?
- Request that you end friendships?
Expecting to have control over your time and with whom you spend it is a warning sign in a relationship.
They Call and Text Frequently
Being frequently in touch with your partner is natural in a new relationship, but feeling overwhelmed by communication is not.
If your partner is constantly calling, texting, or contacting you on social media, making you uncomfortable, then it's time to discuss your comfort levels and boundaries with them. If they continue to contact you more than you feel OK with or are aggressive with their timing or tone, that is a red flag.
They Get Upset When You Put Up Boundaries
You are entitled to have boundaries and limits, and you get to control your own life. If your partner does not respect these boundaries or gets angry when you enforce them, that is possession and emotional manipulation.
This may present as them getting upset when you shift your focus elsewhere, such as answering a phone call during a date. They may accuse you of being selfish and portray themselves as a victim when you exercise your own will instead of doing what they want you to.
This is controlling behavior, not healthy relationship dynamics.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries
You Feel Like You’re Walking on Eggshells
Because love bombing is a manipulative technique meant to establish control, the initial admiration shifts into further emotional abuse. They may get "set off" easily and become defensive or abusive if criticized or challenged. They may be irrational and volatile, raging when they don't get their way.
They may employ other controlling or abusive tactics, such as gaslighting.
What Is Gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation and abuse used by abusers to hold power and control over their partners. By deliberately questioning facts, denying their partner's memories, and undermining their partner's judgment, they cause their partner to question their own perceptions of reality and the validity of their own thoughts and memories. This may make their partner feel like they're "going crazy".
How to Get Help
If you are noticing signs of love bombing, it's important to acknowledge it and respond.
If You’re Being Love Bombed
Listen to what your gut is telling you. If you are feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable, it is a valid feeling that deserves investigating.
You may feel confused, have difficulty interpreting your feelings, or even face denial as a defense mechanism. It may be helpful to discuss your partner's behavior, your relationship, and how you feel about it with a trusted friend or confidante. They may be able to offer you insight from a perspective outside of the relationship.
It may also help to keep a journal of what is happening in your relationship. This provides a reference for keeping your memories straight should gaslighting occur.
If you feel safe doing so and want to continue in the relationship, you can discuss your feelings with your partner and work on establishing boundaries that allow you to feel comfortable and respected. If your partner resists or does not respect these boundaries, that is a potentially dangerous red flag.
If you have a bad feeling about something, don't ignore it. You can enlist the help of friends, family, or a mental health professional.
Help Is Available
If you are experiencing abusive behaviors, there are professionals available to offer help and support. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has resources available as well as a phone number to call (1-800-799-7233) and a number to text (text "START" to 88788). The Crisis Text Line offers a number to text (text HOME to 741741) to connect with a crisis counselor as well as other resources. For more mental health resources, see ourNational Helpline Database
The Complete Guide to Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
If You’re the One Love Bombing
If you are or think you may be love bombing someone else, it's important to speak with a mental health professional. The reasons behind your behavior could be related to mental health or attachment factors that can be addressed with the help of a therapist or another mental health professional.
Love bombing is a tactic in which a person uses excessive and disproportionate gestures of affection with the goal of manipulation and establishing control over their partner. This can include elaborate gift-giving, over-complimenting, wanting undivided attention, and other manipulative tactics.
Love bombing is commonly associated with narcissism and often progresses into emotional abuse. Love bombing behavior should be seen as a relationship red flag.
A Word From Verywell
If you feel like something isn't right in your relationship or with your partner, trust it. Manipulative tactics such as love bombing are warning signs of a toxic relationship and potential abuse.
If you notice this behavior and aren't sure if you want to end the relationship, check with trusted friends, family, or a domestic violence advocate. Remember that it's OK to walk away from people and relationships that make you feel uneasy, uncomfortable, or unhappy. If you need help to do so safely, look into the resources mentioned in this article or other intimate partner violence resources.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does love bombing last?
There is no set time for how long love bombing lasts, but those who have experienced it have indicated it can last for several months.
Do only narcissists love bomb?
Many people who love bomb have narcissistic personality disorder, but that is not always the case. Attachment style and other factors can also play a role.
Learn More:Narcissistic Personality Disorder Types
How do you stop love bombing?
If you are love bombing someone, or have in past relationships, talk to a mental health professional. They can help you determine the reason for your behavior and how to address it.
Love bombing is a form of psychological and emotional abuse that involves a person going above and beyond for you in an effort to manipulate you into a relationship with them. It looks different for every person, but it usually involves some form of: Excessive flattery and praise.What is the difference between love bombing and Gaslighting? ›
“While they are both extreme forms of manipulation, their methods to control are very different. Gaslighting uses fear or shame to control others, while love bombing uses love and affection,” Nya B explained.What is the next stage after love bombing? ›
Once the initial love bombing phase is over, and the individual is suitably in love, loyal and enmeshed in the relationship the next stage of devaluation begins. Devaluation can happen through withholding love and affection, put downs, gaslighting, projection and blaming the target for all the narcissists problems.What is the difference between love bombing and genuine love? ›
Not all grand displays of love are love bombing. When it's a genuine connection, you'll likely feel more positive and receptive to the grand gestures, whereas love bombing is intense and makes you feel uncomfortable — which isn't a sign of a healthy relationship.How long is love bombing stage? ›
Love bombing typically takes place during a courtship phase that can last days or weeks. It may even last for months if you seem more resistant. Ultimately, there's no set timeline for love bombing. It can continue until your partner feels they've established the necessary level of control.How much does love bombing last? ›
How Long Does Love Bombing Last With A Narcissist? At the start of the relationship, the victim of love bombing is likely to feel like they are under the spell of a highly potent drug. This phase may last for weeks, months, years, or even longer.Can you stop love bombing? ›
Love-bombing is a hard habit to stop. The most crucial thing you can do is acknowledge the consequences of love-bombing and take steps to avoid repeating these behaviors. Think of some patterns of behaviors that you would like to change. Wanting an exciting romance is completely normal.What causes love bombing? ›
Steele and Huynh say there are at least two major reasons why people love bomb: Because of a conscious desire to manipulate, or due to unconscious or unresolved attachment patterns formed over past relationships. The desire to manipulate others can be a sign of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).What is future faking in a relationship? ›
"Future faking is when someone uses a detailed vision of the future to facilitate the bonding and connection in a romantic relationship," Greg Kushnick, PsyD, a psychologist based in New York City, told Health. It's generally something narcissists do, added Dr.What is red flag in relationship? ›
Red flags in a relationship include excessive jealousy and frequent lying. You should also be wary of a partner who frequently criticizes you or puts you down. Another major red flag is an unwillingness to compromise — relationships shouldn't be one-sided.
Many people who love bomb have narcissistic personality disorder, but that is not always the case. Attachment style and other factors can also play a role.Does love bombing lead to trauma bonding? ›
Some red flags for trauma bonding can look like… Love bombing. Love bombing can be the start of an abusive cycle, and part of what establishes the trauma bond. Partly because, as Murshid explained, “There's always that hope that people will change and things will be better — because that's the thing with love bombing.What are the signs of emotional abuse love bombing? ›
It could include excessive affection, excessive compliments, declarations of love, gifts and praise. It may also be wanting to move quickly into a commitment because they 'can't live without you', showering of gifts or lavish treatment, and promises of a perfect life together.What is the silent treatment in love bombing? ›
The abuser showers the victim with love if the victim acts how they want as a reinforcement technique. If the victim doesn't, then they withdraw all their kindness and instead punish the victim with whatever they feel is appropriate — shouting, giving them the silent treatment, or even physically abusing them.What are the red flags for dating a narcissist? ›
Here are some narcissism red flags to look out for: Lacking empathy. They seem unable or unwilling to have empathy for others, and they appear to have no desire for emotional intimacy. Unrealistic sense of entitlement.What are the 4 stages of narcissism? ›
It is a pattern of behavior that is often seen in relationships where one person has a narcissistic personality disorder. It typically consists of four phases: idealization, devaluation, discarding, and hoovering.What is the difference between honeymoon phase and love bombing? ›
"In the honeymoon phase, love is shown by a desire to focus on what the other person likes or is interested in," Spinelli tells mbg. "Gestures tend to be thoughtful and not with an intent to impress." Love-bombers, on the other hand, will shower their partner with attention and expect recognition from them and others.Is it infatuation or love bombing? ›
The motivations for love bombing and infatuation are different. Love bombing, a fairly common tactic among abusers, is all about control and power. On the other hand, infatuation is not necessarily manipulation. You can say that its goal is to become romantically involved with the object of affection.How do you know when a relationship is moving too fast? ›
A sure sign that a relationship is moving too quickly is if you have trouble making decisions without your partner early on. It's not uncommon for people to lose themselves in their relationship, and over time couples find themselves dressing, speaking and even acting in a similar manner.What is the narcissist honeymoon phase? ›
Honeymoon abuser phase.
The period of calm after an abusive event is called the honeymoon phase. For the narcissist, the release of emotional energy during a rant is therapeutic. Sometimes, they are even completely unaware of what they have said.
According to Jaseena, “Silent red flags in a relationship are those that are not as obvious or jarring as the generic ones like abuse, manipulation, and gaslighting. They aren't visible but are as toxic as the generic red flags.What is a narcissistic relationship pattern? ›
Narcissistic partners act as if they are always right, that they know better and that their partner is wrong or incompetent. This often leaves the other person in the relationship either angry and trying to defend themselves or identifying with this negative self-image and feeling badly about themselves.How do you know he is not the one? ›
- You're bored. One sign that he's not right for you is boredom. ...
- He can't communicate. ...
- You feel like you're his mom. ...
- He doesn't respect you. ...
- He isn't supportive. ...
- You don't agree on fundamental things. ...
- You think about breaking up all the time. ...
- He makes you feel bad about yourself.
There are four distinct phases that these types of relationships typically go through: idealization, devaluation, discard, and hoover. And at times, it may feel like you are on a not-so-merry-go-round going round-and-round through these phases many times over.How long before you tell someone you love them? ›
While men tended to consider confessions of love acceptable after about a month or so, women tended to say it was better to wait 2 to 3 months or so. Confessions of love generally inspired feelings of happiness, but men felt more positive about confessions that happened before the relationship became sexual.What a healthy relationship looks like? ›
Healthy relationships involve honesty, trust, respect and open communication between partners and they take effort and compromise from both people. There is no imbalance of power. Partners respect each other's independence, can make their own decisions without fear of retribution or retaliation, and share decisions.How do you protect yourself emotionally in a relationship? ›
- Respect boundaries and consent. ...
- Pay attention to your nonverbal communication. ...
- Be an active listener. ...
- Practice transparency. ...
- Give your partner the benefit of the doubt. ...
- Foster accountability and follow through. ...
- Consider couples or relationship therapy.
- Stop begging for your partner's attention. ...
- Focus on yourself instead. ...
- Stop trying to control your partner. ...
- Examine your behavior. ...
- Ask what your partner needs. ...
- Provide positive reinforcement. ...
- Communicate. ...
- Consider therapy.
What are some signs you are being love bombed? Dating a love bomber isn't going to look the same in every situation, but a few telltale signs of a love-bombing partner are extravagant gifts, obsessive flattery, constant complimentary texting, and always expecting a prompt reply.How do I know he's a narcissist? ›
Individuals who have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) believe they are superior and unique compared to others. Signs you could be dating an individual with NPD include the fact that they have very few or no friends, lack empathy, and often gaslight you.
- Grandiose sense of self-importance. ...
- Lives in a fantasy world that supports their delusions of grandeur. ...
- Needs constant praise and admiration. ...
- Sense of entitlement. ...
- Exploits others without guilt or shame. ...
- Frequently demeans, intimidates, bullies, or belittles others.
They won't make plans or commitments.
Players often appear to suddenly lose interest, leaving you to chase after them. If you're trying to schedule every date and the other person still says they're "busy" more often than not, you might be dealing with a player.
Last, vulnerable narcissists tend to be insecure and defensive. They admit to feeling bad about themselves, which makes some people question why they are considered narcissistic.What is the 3 month rule? ›
Basically, after a break-up, the three-month rule is a rule that says you and your ex are both given 3 months before entering the dating scene again. Just waiting it out, and mourning that your relationship ended. Just go on with your individual separate lives and see what happens.What not to accept in a relationship? ›
Demeaning statements. Things you should never tolerate in a relationship include not being cared about. After all, if that's the case, then what's the point of the relationship? Essentially, insults or hurtful comments about you, your job, goals, family, or anything else just don't come from a caring and loving partner ...Is being too clingy toxic? ›
While clingy tendencies may have been “ok” in your previous relationship, being overly needy is generally considered a toxic dating habit.What is the opposite of love bombing? ›
Devaluing: Devaluing, in a sense, is the opposite of love bombing. Devaluing refers to the criticism, put-downs, passive-aggression, or gaslighting used to hurt another person.Will a narcissist commit to a relationship? ›
It is a complicated mental illness centering on an individual's inflated sense of self-importance accompanied by a lack of empathy for other people. While this is an intimidating definition, narcissistic individuals can and do fall in love and commit to romantic involvements.Can a narcissist ever love me? ›
Narcissistic personality disorder (narcissism) is a psychiatric disorder characterized by a pattern of self-importance (grandiosity), a constant need for admiration and attention, and a lack of empathy for others. Because of this lack of empathy, a narcissist cannot really love you.Do I love him or am I trauma bonded? ›
One way to determine whether you're in a healthy relationship or a trauma bond is to focus on how your relationship consistently makes you feel. A healthy relationship makes you feel supported, secure, and confident, while a trauma bond makes you feel fearful, anxious, or put down.
Signs of trauma bonding
agree with the abusive person's reasons for treating them badly. try to cover for the abusive person. argue with or distance themselves from people trying to help, such as friends, family members, or neighbors.
- Jealousy and Possessiveness. Wants to be with you constantly. ...
- Controlling Behavior. ...
- Quick Involvement. ...
- Unrealistic Expectations. ...
- Isolation. ...
- Blames Others for Problems. ...
- Blames Others for Feelings. ...
“While they are both extreme forms of manipulation, their methods to control are very different. Gaslighting uses fear or shame to control others, while love bombing uses love and affection,” Nya B explained.What is an example of love bombing? ›
Love bombing often involves over-the-top gestures, such as sending you inappropriate gifts to your job (dozens of bouquets instead of one, for example) or buying expensive plane tickets for a vacation, and not taking “no” for an answer.What is love bombing then silent treatment? ›
The abuser showers the victim with love if the victim acts how they want as a reinforcement technique. If the victim doesn't, then they withdraw all their kindness and instead punish the victim with whatever they feel is appropriate — shouting, giving them the silent treatment, or even physically abusing them.What is considered moving too fast in a relationship? ›
A sure sign that a relationship is moving too quickly is if you have trouble making decisions without your partner early on. It's not uncommon for people to lose themselves in their relationship, and over time couples find themselves dressing, speaking and even acting in a similar manner.What are subtle signs of obsession? ›
repeated texts, emails, and phone calls to the person they're interested in. a constant need for reassurance. difficulty having friendships or maintaining contact with family members because of the obsession over one person. monitoring the actions of the other person.How long does the love bombing cycle last? ›
Because it's so intense and all-consuming, love bombing is exhausting and the “bomber” can only sustain it for about six to 12 weeks, Durvasula says. After that initial period, the gifts, compliments, and trips will dry up quickly.Can a relationship recover from love bombing? ›
To recover from being love bombed, experts usually suggest that the victim cut off contact with the offending person; often, maintaining connection after a breakup can lead to the idealization-devaluation cycle starting again.When to know a relationship is doomed? ›
Unrealistic expectations, uncompromising stances, and lack of conflict can be signs of a doomed relationship. Other signs include irreconcilable differences in sexual desire, negative predictions, and lack of affection and gratitude.
Red flags in a relationship include excessive jealousy and frequent lying. You should also be wary of a partner who frequently criticizes you or puts you down. Another major red flag is an unwillingness to compromise — relationships shouldn't be one-sided.What is emophilia love? ›
Emophilia is defined by a tendency to fall in love quickly and often, which is associated with rapid romantic involvement. However, questions linger as to how it is different from anxious attachment, which also predicts rapid romantic involvement.What not to say to your partner? ›
- If you really loved me you would . . . ...
- You always / You never. ...
- I'm not the problem, you are. ...
- Stop being so sensitive (needy, dramatic, etc.) ...
- Dont take this the wrong way . . . ...
- You need to take responsibility. ...
- Youre acting just like your mother (father). ...
- I want a divorce / Im done.
Key Pointers. Love is a strong sense of fondness, whereas obsession is overflowing with thoughts only about the person. An obsessive person will rush you into things in a relationship, expect constant validation and are over-possessive.Why can't you stop thinking about someone? ›
If you are unable to stop thinking about someone, you most likely have 'anxious attachment'. You might push and pull in relationships to get a break from the anxiety they cause you. But if the other person leaves, you panic.Am I in love or not? ›
When you start thinking about someone else's desires and needs as much as your own, it's a pretty good sign that you are in love, Shaffer says. "You may not necessarily want the same things but when you are in love, you start thinking of the other person's perspective just as much as your own."