The year 2023 was the year of love bombing. What is love bombing? No, it’s not a new concept (unfortunately, narcissists have been working their tricks forever), but love bombing suddenly became a regular headline topic this year. Article after article details how to recognize love bombing, what to do if you’re being love bombed, and how dangerous an early show of deep affection can be.
But has this love bombing obsession gone too far? Are we sabotaging ourselves out of relationships with great, authentic people because of that faint whisper of “he’s too good to be true, he must be love bombing me” in our ears from all this media?
First, if the articles have escaped you til now, let’s take a look at what love bombing actually is.
What Is Love Bombing?
“Love bombing” refers to when a person you’ve just started dating begins showering you with attention, affection, and gifts. Nice, right?
All this over-the-top complimenting and laser-focused attention can be the result of someone with a narcissistic personality disorder trying to exert power over you. You fall for this person who says they can’t imagine their life without you, and then they take advantage of your dependence on their affection. Suddenly sweet texts become controlling ones, gifts come at a price, and you’re left trying to placate this person and get them back to the sweet, loving person you first met.
What should you do if you think you might be a victim of love bombing?
Get the heck outta that relationship! At the first signs that someone who’s smothering you with love might actually just be smothering you, it’s time to go.
That means if this person suddenly starts getting easily jealous; asks you to spend less time with family and friends in order to spend more time with him; wants to know your whereabouts at all times (to the point of asking for your location and passwords); sends you angry texts and profusely apologizes afterwards — then you’re dating a love bomber. It’s so hard to leave because they are experts at making you feel special and cherished, but these behaviors are pathological, and they’ll only keep getting worse.
Be strong — you’ve got this — and move on.
So If A Guy Seems Too Good To Be True, He’s A Love Bomber. Got It.
Okay… here’s where I’m going to diverge from what’s so popular to say in love bombing articles.
Sometimes, a person really is that great.
When I first met my partner nearly 7 years ago, he was attentive, romantic, generous, and vocally head over heels for me in a way that made me… well, kind of not believe him. I’d been with the dark, narcissistic, love bomber side of that before, and I wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice.
But I noticed: any time I set a boundary, he respected it and didn’t push back. Our communication was completely open and I told him when I was feeling like things were moving too fast.
He texted all the time, but I wasn’t a huge texter. And he never made me feel guilty about it. He truly exemplified and acted on his values, he didn’t just talk a big game.
Gifts were gifts, and came with no obligation (and later I realized it’s his love language and he enjoys buying gifts for all the special people in his life).
We collaborated on how we wanted to spend time together, and he never made me feel like it wasn’t enough. When we had conflict, we talked about it like adults and never used harsh words. I felt like we were an equal team.
And I’m not alone! I’ve seen countless friends and clients enter relationships and wonder early on if it was too good to be true, and it was actually just that good. In the words of Katherine, another coach over at Style My Profile:
“When I first met my partner, he did everything right that everyone else had done wrong: he openly told me how much he liked me, he never waited to text back, he was always keen to spend any amount of time with me, he talked about wanting to move our relationship forward. I was used to people I’d dated playing games and making me feel like the needier one, so I was naturally suspicious of someone who didn’t fit that mold. Why did he like me so much so quickly? I couldn’t possibly deserve that! What did he have up his sleeve? Was it all an act? Was he love bombing me??
But at every turn, he made sure he was checking in with me about how I was feeling. When I’d explain that I needed to put on some brakes or have a little space, he completely understood and would immediately adjust his actions. He’d say beautiful and flattering things about me, but they weren’t hyperbolic. He’d text all the time, but if I didn’t respond for a while, he didn’t get jealous or overprotective — he knew I was out living my life, and he loved that about me. And, most importantly, he has been consistent through and through. With a love bomber you get hots and colds. With someone who just really, really likes you and isn’t afraid to show it, you get support that hasn’t wavered for a moment in the two years we’ve been together. So look out for that and don’t be afraid to lean in!”
The Bottom Line: It’s A Fine Line
So if you start dating someone and they act smitten in all the ways we’ve described, how do you know if they’re genuine or a love bomber? It can be a bit of a fine line at the beginning! My advice: don’t psych yourself out of something that may be amazing! But always keep the logical part of your brain at hand, ready to point out any early warning signs (behavioral swings, possessiveness, overpromising, etc.). When those arise, you run for the hills! And if they don’t, congratulations — you’ve found the one 🙂
Like this article? Check out, “Red and Green Flags on Dating Apps”
Alyssa Dineen has been an editor, stylist, and art director in New York for over 20 years. After she divorced at age 41, she began online dating, and rediscovered herself in the process. Through this journey, she found many people out there that could improve their dating profiles and while doing so, their understanding of what they want. Founder of Style My Profile, Alyssa now helps online daters transform their destinies by taking charge of their profiles and their dating experience with her unique approach of “intentional” dating and self-discovery.
An acclaimed stylist and dating expert, Alyssa has appeared in The New York Times, Today Show, Goop, and NBC.com. You can work with her one-on-one, and she also offers workshops and a membership to be part of the Style My Profile Community. You can find out more at stylemyprofilenyc.com