In the early throes of dating, and during those initial weeks of a relationship, there are certain signs to be aware of that might indicate the other person is a narcissist.
The broad term used to describe a variety of behaviors is ‘love bombing’ and by understanding what it is, you will be better equipped to spot a narcissistic predator before they can truly lure you into their trap.
Love bombing is an attempt to accelerate the birth and growth of feelings within the victim by creating an intense atmosphere of affection and adoration. It is designed to disarm an individual’s natural guardedness so that they do not question the direction and speed a relationship is headed in.
It does this by adding elements of confusion, flattery, dependency, and an air of destiny into the mix.
Confusion occurs because of the sheer amount of communication that takes place between the couple; ceaseless texting, frequent phone calls, interaction on social media, and a strong wish to meet in person as often as possible.
It can feel utterly overwhelming to be on the receiving end of such a bombardment, one that is designed to convince the victim of the unique and special bond they have with the narcissist.
Having never experienced anything quite like it before, the victim will start to believe that this is something special, something good, a romance like you see in the movies – a whirlwind of excitement, both exhilarating and terrifying.
Flattery is present in virtually all courtship, but in the case of love bombing, it transcends to a whole other level. Every communication must include multiple compliments to seduce the victim and provide an almost irresistible feel-good factor that they will find hard to surrender.
When the victim constantly hears how beautiful, wonderful, and perfect the other party thinks they are, it gives their ego a real boost and causes physical and chemical changes in their brains. These only serve to cement their attraction to the narcissist.
Quite often the victim will be someone who suffers from low self-esteem (an ideal target for a narcissist) and so being complimented in this way may feel unnatural to them – even fake – but they will be too caught up to realize the true purpose of all the kind words.
Dependency is something that the narcissist will often attempt to introduce just a few weeks into the process of dating. Despite being in this embryonic stage, they will begin to proclaim how sure they are of the relationship, how much they enjoy spending time with the victim, and even how they are falling in love with them.
They push the victim on their own feelings in an attempt to have them reciprocate declarations of love and affection. They do this to further confuse the victim about how they truly feel.
They start to devour more and more of the victim’s time and energy – preventing them from seeing other people quite so often. This isolation may be noted by the friends and family of the victim, but it is often waived away as mere passion by the victim themselves.
By controlling access to love and affection, a narcissist can put themselves in a position of great importance. As contact with others diminishes, the only source of warmth and love available to the victim comes from their newly found partner.
The longer this continues, the deeper under the spell they fall; eventually they start to see the narcissist as someone they are unable to live without.
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Destiny is how a narcissist wishes to portray the relationship. Using phrases such as “I’ve never felt this way about anyone before" and “I can’t believe we found each other," they paint a picture that this was meant to be.
A victim, their mind clouded by confusion, is unable to truly assess the value in these statements. They end up taking them at face value and this only heightens their own feelings towards the other person.
Eventually they, too, begin to believe that their meeting was fate. They simply cannot relate their current experience to anything from the past – this must mean it’s love, right? What else could it be?
With these four tools, a narcissist is able to pack months’ worth of romantic bonding into a period of just weeks. They can effectively accelerate the typical process of a relationship and skip the part where their victim would stand back and ask themselves if this is what they really want.
Instead, because of how keen the narcissist comes across, and how well they believe they have come to know them, the victim foregoes these usual reality checks.
Suddenly, and almost beyond the control of the victim, a narcissist has succeeded in turning the initial few dates into a serious, full-blooded, intensely physical and emotional relationship.
They have blinded their unfortunate partner with lies, false praise, feelings that never existed, and tales of a happy and fruitful future together.
Love Bombing After A Break-up
This tactic is not only used by narcissists during the initial part of a relationship; it is also common after a break-up.
While the separation might have involved a great deal of spiteful and vitriolic behavior, when a narcissist is determined to renew a relationship, they will once again turn on the charm and utilize love bombing to win back their ex.
The approach will not change a great deal – bombardments of texts, calls, letters, emails, social media messages, and any other forms of communication they can think of.
They will profess their undying love for their victim and claim everything that has happened should not deny the destiny of the relationship – that it was a mere blip on the path that they are meant to walk together.
The flattery, which will have become more and more infrequent as the relationship progressed, will emerge from its hibernation to once again try and stroke the victim’s ego.
All of this is designed to cloud the situation with doubt and confusion, to make the victim reconsider their decision and take their partner back.
At its heart, love bombing is a fairly blunt instrument with little in the way of finesse and craft. It uses brute force and persistence to achieve its aim, but this is also its chief flaw; it can be fairly easy to spot once you know what to look out for. Hopefully this article has given you the knowledge you need to identify the signs and distance yourself from a narcissist before they are able to manipulate you into a relationship.
It should, however, be noted that signs of this type do not necessarily indicate the involvement of a narcissist. True love can sometimes be fast and furious, it can be full of declarations of attraction and affection, and it can feel like it was destined to be. The primary difference is that true love is two-sided; it feels right for both individuals and there is a distinct lack of confusion present.
If you want to read more about narcissists and the narcissistic personality, click here to visit our dedicated section for this disorder where you’ll find many more useful and eye-opening articles.
Have you ever found yourself in a relationship with a narcissist? Did you experience love bombing as it is described above? Leave a comment and let us know your description of it.