5 Signs Your New Partner Is Love Bombing You
“The whole point of dating is to build trust and connection over time and experience. There’s no shortcut to that.”
While scrolling TikTok or Instagram reels, you’re bound to come across plenty of content about dating horror stories. And chances are, you’ve scrolled through plenty of videos about “love bombing” lately. As someone who turned a devastating breakup into a flourishing business for heart healing, author and founder of Renew Breakup Bootcamp, Amy Chan, is no stranger to the concept.
“Love bombing is the use of excessive affection, grand gestures, and promises for the future as a manipulation tactic,” Chan tells Bustle. “But right when you’re feeling high from all the love and attention, it’s followed by a period of withdrawal, avoidance, or abuse.” As a result, you may ruminate over whether you made any mistakes and how you can get “that old feeling back.”
When you start seeing someone new, it’s natural to feel giddy as you’re prepping for a date with them, or when their name pops up on your phone. Allowing yourself to enjoy the excitement is part of what can make dating fun, and it’s even better when that enthusiasm is reciprocated by the other person. It’s also wise, however, to stay aware of just how gung-ho your prospective partner is early on. Love bombing can start out in subtle ways, so it’s never a bad idea to stay aware of how quickly things are moving.
While it doesn’t always look the same in every situation, there are usually a few telltale early signs of love bombing in new relationships. Below, you’ll find expert-approved early signs to look out for.
1. They Always Seem To Want Your Attention
Many of us can admit that always getting a text back from our crush feels nice. Having someone who wants a lot of our attention can help us feel loved. According to Chan, however, too much of this behavior in the early stages of dating is a warning sign.
“Love bombers use their romantic targets to give them their fix of validation and attention, and to gain power over them,” she says. It’s flattering to receive a shower of positive attention and affection from someone new in your life, but the person you’re newly dating might be trying to get the same from you — on an even larger scale. “The difference between healthy romantic overtures and love bombing is that the latter is used as a manipulation tactic,” she says. “The intention is to exert and maintain control and power over you.”
If you feel like they’re becoming too clingy too quickly, it’s time for an honest discussion. “Have a conversation to let them know that you want to slow things down, and get to know each other through time,” says Chan. “If the person is invested in creating a healthy connection — they won’t try to rush you or pressure you into it.
They Act Like It’s “Love At First Sight”
Does the new person you’re dating already seem to think that you’re “perfect” for them? Have they expressed the desire to enter into an exclusive relationship with you after the first or second date? These are important signs to consider and can imply the beginnings of love bombing. “During the first few dates, it’s impossible for someone to know you enough,” Chan says. “The whole point of dating is to build trust and connection over time and experience. There’s no shortcut to that.”
As Chan says, while it’s possible to feel a strong mental or emotional connection with a person you’re newly dating, you don’t know them well enough after a handful of dates to make lifelong decisions together. Even if you find that you have a lot in common, there needs to be a foundation of time and familiarity established before you commit to a long-term partnership with someone.
They Make Grand Promises About The Future
Getting swept up in a new person doesn’t just happen in the movies, especially when you’re dating a love bomber. If the person you’re dating is love bombing you, it’s likely that they’re already planning out a future with you and promising big things — trips together, commitments, or introducing you to friends and family after just meeting you.
Just as you’re taking time to get to know this person and whether they’re compatible with you and your lifestyle, the other person should be taking the same steps. If they start to push you faster than you’re willing to move, consider if this is a relationship you want to pursue.
“Someone who barely knows you and makes statements about how you’re ‘the one,’ or [makes] grand promises about your future together is a red flag,” Chan says.
If you feel a new partner is going overboard with the lovey-dovey gestures, “do not just react to the pace they are setting,” Chan advises.
They’re Hot & Cold
If your prospective partner is causing you emotional whiplash by showering you with attention or surprises, and then quickly turning cold, you’re probably experiencing textbook love bombing. This is one of the most common characteristics of the tactic, and possibly one of the most sinister.
Chan explains that this may mean being treated to expensive dinners or lavish gifts and displays, only to have them grow distant or disappear altogether. “Right when you’re about to give up, they come back strong again to reel you back in the cycle of intensity.”
This may refer back to the idea of a love bomber using you for validation; once they get their “fill” of it from you, they move on and leave you behind … until they need it again. It’s a vicious cycle, so it’s best to be aware of the initial warning signs.
They Treat You Like A “Conquest”
In Chan’s book, Breakup Bootcamp, she introduces the theory of “conquesting,” which refers to when “someone has a plan in their head, perhaps it’s to get a trophy partner, or they really want to get married by X age. They meet you, and if you check enough boxes, they plug you into their plan. You become a means to an end.”
When someone love bombs you in this way, you may start to notice that they don’t truly make an effort to get to know you on a deeper and more intimate level, but instead seem overenthusiastic and overly affectionate without much substance behind it. “Yes, it feels amazing when someone sets eyes on you and makes you feel like you’re special,” Chan says.” Especially if they make it seem like they’re choosing you out of all the other options. The hunger to feel special and gain a sense of self-worth is candy to a narcissist.”
If you notice these signs in the new person you’re dating, it’s definitely a good opportunity to take a step back and reassess. Is it something you can have an open and honest conversation with them about? If not, they may not be the best fit for you. As Chan says, the right person is looking to build a healthy and solid connection with you — and that takes time.