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Is this really love? 5 signs you are being love bombed

He showers me with compliments and gifts almost daily — I must be so lucky to be spoiled.

Weeks into dating he tells me he loves me, that we are meant for each other. 

He must be really into me.

“I just want to be with you all the time. Don’t you?”  — I feel guilty for wanting to set boundaries, I should be grateful he is so dedicated. Right?

If only I had known earlier that these were actually signs I was being love bombed.

——-

Often masked as love at first sight or tokens of genuinity, these “acts of love” are in fact a narcissist’s tactic of manipulation.

Love bombing is defined as: 

An attempt to influence another person with over-the-top displays of attention and affection.”

We’re not just talking about romantic gestures, like flowers and trips. Love bombing also includes romantic conversation, long talks about “our future,” and long periods of staring into each other’s eyes. It’s the combination of words and deeds that makes love bombing so powerful, especially considering today’s technology which makes it easier to communicate frequently or gift things with just a few clicks.

Though it may be common, love bombing can be very hard to identify, especially when it feels good being on the receiving end; who doesn’t want to be appreciated, needed and loved? Tapping into our innermost desires is exactly the goal of manipulators. Getting a rush of endorphins and feeling all the highs just for it to crash as soon as you get deeper into the relationship, you soon realise it was all part of a narcissist’s abuse cycle to manipulate you. 

Love bombing often occurs at the beginning of courtship and this abusive manipulaton can come in many forms.

Here are 5 signs to help you identify if you are being love bombed:

  1. Over-the-top gestures 

“Ye directed an entire photo shoot for me while people dined!”

“Ye had an entire hotel suite full of clothes. It was every girl’s dream come true. It felt like a real Cinderella moment.” 

– Julia Fox 

If you haven’t heard, Kanye West recently surprised Julia Fox on their second date with a hotel suite full of clothes. I’m not outrightly saying this is love bombing, but often showering another person with grandiose gifts so early on may be a sign. Though receiving compliments and gifts is validating and gratifying, it becomes a cause for concern when done in excess. 

Lavishing you with exaggerated gestures is a tactic these manipulators use to make you feel like you are indebted to them. They will shower you with so much “love” that you can’t help but feel obligated to reciprocate and get into a relationship with them. These grand gestures will sweep you off your feet, but remember, most things that seem too good to be true often are. 

  1. Overstepping your boundaries 

We see it over and over in romance movies: she rejects him or tries to set boundaries, but he never fails to show up again and again showering her with attention, eventually winning her over. This unhealthy emphasis that boundaries do not matter, and that with enough persuasion your partner will eventually cave in, is unhealthy. If your partner gets upset or disagrees with you when you ask to take things slower or express a need to set boundaries, it is a blazing red flag.

A partner who truly cares for you will respect your boundaries and take a step back. Getting upset shows that they don’t actually care or have respect for you. Manipulators want blatant unlimited access to you, and for you to uninhibitedly accept their displays of “love”.

  1. Wanting immediate commitment

Pushing you into heavy commitments may appear to be a green flag towards a committed partner but it isn’t. Pressuring you to move in together after a few weeks or talking about marriage early into the relationship should not be mistaken for love. 

Licensed professional counsellor Tabitha Westbrook says real relationships take time to develop and that it is unlikely a person can really love you more than anything in 2 weeks, 2 days, 2 hours or even 2 months. If you entered a relationship wanting to take things slow but soon find yourself forced into the polar opposite of what you had hoped for, you may be a victim of love bombing.

  1. Gaslighting 

Gaslighting is often another form of manipulation love bombers use. They make you feel guilty for not being a good partner or not meeting their demands. Leading you to question your judgement and reality.  

They may use sugar coated words like “You know how much I love you” or “I will never want to hurt you”, to mask their intentions and ameliorate the situation, leaving you feeling sorry and confused. 

  1. Wanting your undivided attention 

Spending time together during courtship or when in a relationship is totally normal but time apart is important too. A major sign someone is a love bomber is when they demand your constant time and attention. 

“I would spend all of my days with you but you can’t even do that for me.” Sounds familiar? Manipulators often view victims as objects for possession, needing to control them. They get upset that you have a social life beyond your relationship, faulting you for spending time with family and friends. It can be difficult to distinguish familiarity from affection. When dating a narcissist, for example, their intensity can often be mistaken for acts of affection. 

Love bombing is psychological abuse. Whenever you feel something isn’t right, seek advice from friends and family and where possible, take yourself out of any uncomfortable situation. It is okay to feel an attachment, or wanting to believe the best in them; after all, we want to feel loved. But identifying love bombing can help you avoid entering a toxic relationship or leave an abusive one earlier. So trust your gut and take a step back to evaluate your situation whenever you feel overwhelmed.

Quek Jie Ann

Nanyang Tech '24

Majors in Linguistics and Multilingual Studies, yet she is barely able to craft her thoughts into words. You can probably bribe her with a cup of coffee or the promise of a good thriller series
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