If you thought modern romance couldn't get any worse, I have some bad news: there's a
new dating trend called love bombing, and this awful behavior is way scarier than it sounds. Essentially, love bombing is when someone — typically a new partner — showers you with extreme amounts of affection and love right off the bat in order to win you over. Then, once you're settled into a relationship, they'll withdraw all that affection and show their true colors... which usually includes manipulative and controlling behavior.
"Love bombing is an effective tactic because
everyone wants to feel good," Jonathan Bennett, Dating/Relationship Coach and owner of The Popular Man, tells Bustle. "If you’re insecure, lonely, or have been burned in the past by relationships, hearing how great you are and how much someone loves you can be literally addicting."
But once the honeymoon phase draws to a close, a
partner who's love bombing you will do a total personality 180. The goal, of course, being to woo you with their extreme romance at the beginning of the relationship so that you're willing to tolerate (or totally overlook) abusive, toxic behavior that comes later on. If you suspect that your ultra lovey-dovey partner might have disingenuous ulterior motives, here are seven signs you're being love bombed.
They Say "I Love You" Right Away
Every relationship is unique and moves at a different pace, so there's no wrong or
right time to say 'I love you' for the first time. That being said, a mature partner will understand that real love takes time to develop, and won't say the L-word too soon just for the sake of it — they'll wait until they know they mean it.
"In normal circumstances, falling in love is a process," Bennett says. "Healthy people get to know each other before expressing feelings of love, even if they feel strong instant attraction. Love bombers, however, will quickly express their feelings of love, maybe even within days."
Their Love Is Expressed In Extremes
Not only will they be quick out of the gate when it comes to saying the L-word, they'll also be over-the-top when
expressing their love for you. Maybe it's by reminding you they love you every hour via text, or by talking in hyperbole about how much they love you.
"Their language to describe their feelings for you will be exaggerated and excessive," Bennett says. "It might feel good to hear that you are someone’s soulmate, but, if it’s after a few days or weeks, you should be highly skeptical."
They Always Tell You What You Want To Hear
A love bomber always knows
exactly the right thing to say in any scenario, not because they genuinely care and want to make you feel happy, but because they're attuned to your insecurities and can use all that sweet-talk to manipulate you later.
"Manipulators are great at reading people to find their insecurities," Bennett says. "If it feels like your new partner has a knack for saying just the right things to make you feel good, then ask yourself if he or she is being authentic or manipulating."
They Compliment You Constantly
A sincere, well-meaning compliment is
never a bad thing, but if your partner is love bombing you, they'll shower you with compliments that feel shallow or inauthentic simply to butter you up so they can mistreat you in the future.
"Watch especially for inauthentic and excessive complimenting," Bennett says. "If [they're] telling you how perfect you are 24/7, as good as it might feel, it’s a red flag."
It Feels Too Good To Be True
It can be scary to
follow your gut instinct, especially when it comes to something as confusing as love and relationships. But if something seems off and you have an overwhelming feeling that a new partner is too perfect to be true, it doesn't hurt to take a step back and try to view your partner more objectively.
"If he or she seems so perfect that your gut tells you it can’t be true, go with that instinct," Bennett advises. "Genuine people, even those who are extremely attractive, still have flaws and problems. And, they are usually pretty open about their shortcomings. Love bombers, on the other hand, work extra hard to keep up the charade of perfection in the beginning."
They Make Grand Romantic Gestures
There's nothing wrong with
making a romantic gesture in a relationship... but if someone is taking you on hot air balloon rides or holding a boombox outside your window when you've just started dating, that might be a clue that their love bombs aren't all that sincere.
"A romantic gesture doesn't have to be expensive or over the top; it's the thought and planning behind the act that is the most meaningful," Samantha Burns, couples counselor and dating coach at
Love Successfully, tells Bustle. "The best type of romance is selfless and involves prioritizing your partner's happiness and showing them how much they mean to you."
They Want To Move Very Fast
If you've started seeing someone who wants to take
major relationship milestones — like moving in together or meeting the family — super quickly, that's a red flag. They might be rushing these important moments as a way to "lock down" the relationship, so you'll feel too invested to leave them later.
"Personally I think that love bombing in and of itself is a key sign that something isn’t right,"
relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "People can become infatuated with each other very quickly which is fine. But if someone starts showering you with so much love and attention too quickly, you have to question their pacing and their judgement. This person doesn’t know you. What exactly is missing form their life that they are throwing themselves into a romantic attachment so quickly without having time to assess fully how you are."
Why Love Bombing Is So Harmful
Ultimately, what makes love bombing so scary is that it can be really hard to discern whether a new partner is genuinely head-over-heels for you, or whether all their affectionate, loving behaviors are really love bombs in disguise.
"Love bombing is ultimately inauthentic and manipulative," Bennett says. "Your brain gets hooked on the highs of the attention. So, once the abuse and controlling behavior come, you’re less likely to recognize it and act on it. Plus, all your partner has to do is throw out a few more love bombs and you’re more likely to forgive and forget. The best method is to watch for the signs of love bombing at the beginning, so you can cut that person off because you get sucked in by his or her manipulation."
Even if you're optimistic that your new partner is the real deal and your love for each other is genuine, it's important to always keep your eyes open to potential
red flags in your relationship — because your emotional well-being is priceless.