New relationships can be sweet, especially when your partner dotes on you, but it’s important to realize love bombing signs that could potentially save you from a toxic situation.
Because of the pandemic, it’s been a pretty weird time for dating. There have been tons of COVID-induced breakups, long distance relationships and online dating. But soon enough we’re all going to have to brush up on our in-person dating skills, and I’m sure we’re all hungry for some affection.
While this may be an exciting time for dating and trying out new things, it’s important to still practice caution. Relying too much on your rose-colored glasses (or being so optimistic you miss warning signs) may end up getting you in a toxic situation. One particular form of abuse that takes advantage of your rose-colored glasses is known as love bombing. Love bombing is a fairly new term to describe a manipulation technique that involves overwhelming you with loving words or actions early on in the relationship. FKA Twigs and Shiah LaBoeuf’s relationship made headlines earlier this year, and it appears as if Twigs may have experienced love bombing.
It’s crucial to recognize the signs sooner rather than later. Illinois-based relationships therapist Dr. Mark E. Sharp tells Her Campus that he often sees love bombing come up among younger demographics, which he attributes to younger people taking more time to “develop one’s own identity solidly enough to be confident in themselves” and not rely on affection from someone else. The gratification and attention may feel good at first, but before you know it, things go south. Here are some love bombing signs to look out for.
- Early Relationship Commitment
So, the person you’ve been talking to wants to get the talking stage over with and begin the relationship, but you feel like it’s too soon. Stick to your gut. Wanting to commit quickly may make this person seem super interested in you, but it’s just a control tactic so you don’t get to leave early.
The talking stage is important because you get to learn more about this new person before going forward with any next steps. This new person wanting to skip the talking stage leaves you no time to analyze them and spot any potential red flags. An early desire to become exclusive is a tell-tale love bombing sign because in the moment, it may feel flattering that they seem so interested, but this isn’t very natural in most relationship scenarios.
- Big Gifts & Grand Gestures
Do you feel like you’re getting spoiled very early on in the relationship? Is your new partner giving you expensive gifts or making over-the-top gestures? This definitely isn’t something to ignore, and it can be a component of love bombing. Gift-giving can be fun, but when it’s nothing but big gifts and grand gestures meant to impress you, it becomes an effort to “buy” you.
Dr. Sharp tells Her Campus to look out for “some version of the messages ‘after all I’ve done for you’ or ‘after all the love I’ve shown.’” The early gifts and gestures are simply your partner planting the seeds to guilt you about your lack of affection later on. If these gifts or gestures are making you uncomfortable, it may be time to reflect on your relationship and your partner’s intentions.
- Over-the-Top Compliments
Pay attention to what kind of compliments you get from your partner. Extreme statements like “you’re my soulmate” or “I’ve never met anyone as perfect as you” can be a red flag and a major love bombing sign if they’re said really early into the relationship. Everyone likes getting compliments, but these kinds of statements early on likely aren’t genuine. Certain forms of praise can be a manipulation tactic, and your new partner may just be getting you used to the dopamine you receive from these intense compliments.
“If a partner’s expressions of love make you feel uncomfortable because they don’t seem realistic given how long you have known each other, that may be love bombing,” says Dr. Sharp. In other words, if they’re extreme but impersonal, don’t buy it. Plus, excessive praising can actually be a sign of narcissistic behavior, so watch out for how your partner compliments you when you first get together!
- Needing Your Undivided Attention
Is your new partner bombarding you with texts and calls, or do you notice that they always call you during certain times? Do they get upset when you have other plans that don’t involve them? If this sounds like your partner, I’d suggest keeping some distance. The constant talking and time together is a sign of love bombing that can lead to codependency.
Increased communication is normal in the early phases of a relationship, but it shouldn’t feel one-sided. It also shouldn’t feel like you’re spending overwhelming amounts of time with your partner either. You’re your own person, and so are they. And while it may feel flattering that they want to spend so much time with you, they could be trying to control you and the relationship.
Love Bombing vs. The Honeymoon Phase
Surely you’ve heard about or have experienced the “honeymoon phase,” or the early stage of a relationship where you’re both perfectly happy with each other and everything is new and exciting . I don’t want to imply that just because your partner is being overly kind or generous in the beginning that it’s automatically love bombing. Sometimes it’s just the natural honeymoon phase.
However, honeymoon phases are first and foremost mutual. “[The honeymoon phase] falls both ways and falls off slowly as the couple adapts to each other,” Dr. Sharp tells Her Campus. “The falling off isn’t associated with some of the negativity that usually goes along with love bombing.”
The honeymoon phase also gradually dwindles down to make way for a deeper, more comfortable stage in your relationship. In other words, you should still be feeling good when the honeymoon phase ends. If you don’t, and you feel like your partner is now a totally different person, then you may have experienced love bombing.
If this sounds like your situation, don’t blame yourself if you hadn’t recognized the signs before. It can be difficult when you’re directly in the situation. Now, your first priority should be safely removing yourself from your situation, especially if you’re feeling uncomfortable. I’d also recommend some self-care and being gentle on yourself. Affection doesn’t need to come from someone else! Short-term gratification isn’t worth long-term abuse.
Dr. Mark E. Sharp, Relationships Therapist