With Valentine’s Day approaching, many people may be making plans to celebrate. Whether it be with your partner, friends, family, first date, or yourself, this time of year is a good time to take time to spend extra time with those you care about it. Giving gifts, quality time and words of affirmation are all examples of love languages and are common ways to show someone else that you care about them. This is all normal until the gifts and affections start to come with hidden ulterior motives from the person displaying the behavior. This is referred to as love bombing.

Love bombing is defined as when someone in a relationship overwhelms the other person with loving words, actions and/or behaviors as a manipulation technique. It’s generally used to used to establish control over the other person in the relationship and for the purpose of their own self-interest and personal gratification. This behavior is often linked to narcissism and narcissistic abuse, because while the individual may show initial and “genuine” interest in the person, it’s ultimately for their own benefit and self-worth.

If you suspect someone in your life of love bombing, but aren’t certain, here are some signs to look out for:

1. Giving Extravagant Gifts. There is nothing wrong with gift giving, but these gifts tend to be over-the-top (such as expensive jewelry, clothing or vacations) and gifted quickly after meeting the person. Not only that, but sometimes once gifted, they are demanded back in order to “punish” the person.

2. Complimenting Excessively. Most people appreciate compliments and praise because they can be thoughtful and make us feel nice. However, there is also such thing as “too many” compliments, especially if they are excessive and extreme. One example of this if the person professes their undying love for you after only a couple days of meeting or constantly tell you that “you are perfect” and “can do no wrong.”

3. Constant Communication. This usually consists of calling, texting or messaging the other person via various social platforms constantly, even if it’s mostly one-sided and there is not always a reply. Constant communication is good, until it becomes controlling.  

4. Undivided Attention. On that same note of wanting constant communication, they also usually crave your undivided attention. They want all of your time and get upset when you focus your attention to other people or activities.

5. Make Plans for the Future. Or more so, rushed plans for the future. Individuals who love bomb tend to want commitment-fast and might rush you into the same thing, no matter how long you’ve known each other or if even if you want to take the relationship slow.

When it comes to love bombing, there are some important things to remember. First, the signs mentioned above don’t always point to toxic behavior or have negative implications. There is nothing wrong with making plans for the future with your partner or giving gifts to show your affection. These signs only become an indication of love bombing when the person displaying them are doing it for their own self-interest and manipulative purposes.

Also, just because the behavior is linked to narcissism, doesn’t mean that you are always dealing with a narcissist when love-bombing. It can also happen when the individual is lonely, needy or has a controlling personality. No matter the situation or reason behind love-bombing, it is still important to identify the warning signs. It’s also good to remember that if this has happened to you or someone close to you, that there are ways to get support. It can be a very traumatic experience, so it is important to seek mental health treatment as necessary.

Staff Blogger: Mollie Clupper

Mollie Clupper works for MHA as a Communications and Support Specialist. Using her own experiences, she wants to help bring awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, drinking coffee, and spending time with her fur-niece.