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The Love Bomb Phenomenon

How narcissists hook you.

Feeling loved and valued is an amazing part of being in a relationship. It is a way to feel validated and empowered as yourself as well as part of a couple. In a healthy relationship, a celebration of love may be expected on a special day or an anniversary, and it is an extension of the level of love and attention we feel from our partner on an ongoing basis. It may be lavish and a bit over the top, but it comes from a place of wanting to respect and cherish the other.

These types of demonstrations of love are not always healthy. Narcissists use the tactic of showering someone with love in a way that is designed to achieve their end goal. When the narcissist or an addict uses a love bomb to hold a codependent in a relationship, it is a highly calculated and manipulative tactic that has absolutely nothing to do with love.

The Purpose of the Love Bomb

A narcissist and an addict have some common characteristics. One of these characteristics is a sense of low self-esteem, combined with high levels of insecurity. They lack the understanding of how to show love over a sustained period of time as they are unable to love themselves.

When they feel the partner slipping away, or at the beginning of a relationship, the narcissist turns to seduction and extreme ways to show what they assume the other partner needs to feel. This is often very much like a romance movie and may include flowers, dinner out, lavish gifts, and extreme attention to the partner. In fact, what the narcissist or addict is actually doing in making themselves feel desired and wanted as the partner naturally returns the lavish attention.

Other common behaviors included in love bombs include a lot of public displays of love and attention, even if they are not appreciated or inappropriate. Constant romantic and passionate text messages, suggestive phone calls, or trying to create a dream getaway or exclusive type of event are also common behaviors.

These tangible gifts and this extreme attention to the partner is coupled with promises of the future relationship. For those new in a relationship, this can seem like a fairy tale courtship, and being caught up in the whirlwind of attention can draw a codependent into the relationship very quickly.

Of course, this level of attention, gifts, and promises of a love like no other are never sustained. Often the behavior turns off just as quickly as it turned on, but the trap has been set, and the codependent is already committed to the dream relationship, which is just what the narcissist wanted.

How to Spot a Love Bomber

To avoid getting caught in a love bomb by a narcissist, here are a few tips to help you spot a potential problem on the horizon:

  • Demands on time – not only does the love bomber shower you with gifts, attention, and flattery, he or she also wants all of your time. You may receive phone calls, text messages, or emails at all hours of the day and night, and you are expected to answer immediately.
  • Everything is a transaction – you may notice that gifts, attention, and love are always part of a transaction or an end game on the part of the narcissist. You get their attention, but you have to give up doing what you want or being around your friends and family.
  • Pressure on moving the relationship forward – feeling any pressure to rush into the relationship should be a warning sign. A genuinely loving partner respects your need for time and does not threaten to walk away if you don't commit to living together or marriage.

Any obsessive or clingy behavior should be considered a warning sign in a relationship. Keep in mind, the narcissist often seeks out people who are codependent, and they use this to control and manipulate people in ways that are often difficult to detect until it is too late.

More from Sherry Gaba LCSW
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