Nuclear Love: What is Love Bombing?

Love and bomb are two words that don’t usually go together. And when they do, there’s no love in it, only bombing. Love bombing is a pattern in relationships wherein one partner (knowingly or unknowingly) displays an overwhelming amount of love to the other. Why do we do that? Can love even be overwhelming? How can this be a problem? Let’s talk about it!

Lovebombing: Who dis? Why dis?

Understanding where it comes from doesn’t mean we’re absolving the people that engage in love bombing. It allows us to create awareness and empathy whilst also protecting ourselves. People may engage in love bombing because of unhealthy attachment patterns learned from their childhood, intense needs for love without the requisite emotional maturity to handle a relationship, intense insecurity and unsafety manifesting as need for power and control. etc.

Love bombing can come when we feel insecure about the relationship and fear that our partner will leave or abandon us. This thought may scare us so much that we constantly want them to know how much we love them which translates into the gradually intensifying gestures of romance without even realizing that this is something that may overwhelm their partner. It may also create an unhealthy dependence that they consciously or subconsciously use to get validation and affection. The partner being love bombed may feel understandably confused and overwhelmed by this behavior. Eventually, the former may start to pull away because in their head this gives them more control and insures against their partner leaving them. The latter may feel a lot of confusion, sadness, depression, anxiety, etc. Imagine thinking you’re the protagonist of a romcom frolicking about with your partner until they pull a chainsaw out of nowhere and you realize uh-oh, you’re in a horror film.  

The initial phase is called the idealization phase with the chocolates and Celine Dion music. It is followed by the devaluation phase where the partner engaging in love bombing starts behaving in ways that unbeknownst to them emotionally hurt their partner. This can look like gaslighting, and berating where they make their partner question their reality because their own reality is problematically skewed. They may make unrealistic demands from their partner (all of their time and attention ALL of the time) and may even end up isolating the person from their social support in an attempt to feel more secure in the relationship. Love bombing becomes what they may perceive as their effort to feel safe within the relationship which may end up hurting the partner and creating an unpleasant situation for everyone involved.

How to pick love bombing out of a lineup?

Not to take anything away from the initial whirlwind feeling of any romance, they do exist and can be healthy in nature. Love bombing is different from that honeymoon phase where everything is perfect. A good way of identifying love bombing is a sense of discomfort with the intensity in comparison to the length of the relationship. Like professing their undying love for you on the second date. Another indicator is their response when one tries to communicate this with them. People engaging in love bombing may not respond well to boundary setting and taking feedback. They may express extreme affection and then turn on you, and then apologize for their behavior and gaslight you into staying only to repeat this process over and over again. A helpful way to know if we’re engaging in love bombing may be having conversations with your partner about our insecurities so we don’t unknowingly hurt or overwhelm them. 

Aftershocks: Effects of love bombing

Both partners may end up getting hurt in this pattern. The partner engaging in love bombing may constantly feel insecure and prioritize their own needs which doesn’t deal with the insecurity. This may be expressed hurtfully and problematically to the partner being love bombed. That doesn’t make their actions acceptable. Imagine water, in a glass it is life-giving, but when the pressure is increased, that same water can injure. Therefore, the partner being love bombed rightfully feels a lot of stress, tension, anxiety, panic, etc. Sometimes it shows up as unexplained pain in the body. It may leave a lasting impact on how the partner views love and relationship, and also affect their self-worth and self-esteem. 

How to become bomb-proof?

When we are in the middle of a situation like this we may feel trapped and helpless. Like this is all our life ever was, and this is all our life ever will be. It is important to remember in such dark moments that there is always something we can do to protect ourselves. Somethings we can do to protect ourselves is as follows:

  • Awareness about this pattern is integral in safeguarding against it. If we know the machine’s structure, we can begin to dismantle it! 
  • Boundary setting and communication abilities help us in expressing our feelings and create realistic expectations.  
  • Social support from our wholesome friends can also help bring some much needed objectivity and reassurance during trying times. 
  • Finally, reaching out to a qualified therapist for couple and individual therapy can prove immensely beneficial by helping develop the necessary skills to have a functional relationship! 

Love bombing can be a traumatic pattern and the sooner we identify the red flags, the sooner we can protect ourselves. Even something as beautiful as love can be sullied by its misuse. If it was a game then there would be no winners. Because there are none! The only way to win is to not play!