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How to Spot a 'Love Bomb'

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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistFebruary 19, 2020

It feels like the kind of whirlwind romance you see in the movies. Your new partner is showering you with attention and expressing their feelings in every way possible – texting frequently, surprising you with extravagant gifts, and being extremely physically affectionate. You wonder if maybe you’ve found the “true love” you’ve been looking for.

While this kind of over-the-top attention may feel wonderful, be careful: It could be a “love bomb.”

Love bombing usually refers to trying to manipulate someone by overwhelming them with sentiments of love and affection. What initially feels intoxicatingly loving can become controlling and abusive. 

Despite really preferring to take it slowly, you might feel pressured to match your new partner’s intensity. They love you so much that they don’t want to give up a single opportunity to spend time together. So, they gripe about you going to your weekly yoga class or meeting up with other friends. Because you really do enjoy time with them and their affection, you might decide that it’s easier just not to make other plans. On the other hand, you might also have a gnawing feeling that the level of deep connection they are expressing does not really exist – though you may secretly want it to. By all measures, this person’s intense attention is “objectively” over the top.

What initially felt like simple accommodations for their preferences quickly becomes something entirely different – and quite ugly. Their initial admiration of you shifts radically. When you try to do things outside of your relationship– maybe even just by occasionally go out with colleagues after work – they might lash out in anger or jealousy, be critical of you, or withdraw their affection. Anything that takes your focus off of them triggers an intense reaction, which stops you in your tracks. Then when you submit and return your focus to them, they are again very loving. Without realizing it, your world becomes smaller and at their mercy.

Love bombing, like military bombing, is strategically aimed at winning. Rather than gaining territory, those who use love bombs are trying (even if unconsciously) to capture your affection, approval, and perhaps adoration. When you see the signs of love bombing, you will do yourself a great service to pull back and focus on other relationships (such as friends and family) that are genuinely accepting and mutually caring.

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About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

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