Step aside, gaslighting—there’s a new relationship red flag in town, and it’s love bombing. The term is taking the internet by storm as women (and men) around the world shed light on their love bombing experiences, proving time and time again that too much of a good thing is bad.
What is love bombing?
But first, what does love bombing mean? According to licensed therapists and psychology experts, it’s a manipulative dating tactic that involves lavishing new romantic partners with excessive amounts of affection, attention, and romance. The ultimate goal for the love bomber is to have their partner emotionally over-dependent on them, to the point where the partner would feel obligated to stay with them or even unconsciously allow themselves to be controlled by the love bomber. The scary part? The love bombers may not even know they’re love bombing—they could even be you.
How do you identify acts of love bombing?
While the act of love bombing isn’t new, the term is gaining recognition on the internet thanks to social media platforms such as TikTok and Twitter. People are becoming increasingly vocal, sharing their experiences of love bombing and other toxic relationship traits. This led to more people identifying with similar scenarios, bringing more awareness to this relationship red flag. Below, we identify some common acts of love bombing. While they’re not necessarily signs of a toxic partner, they’re identifiers that can confirm any fears you might already have.
1. They excessively lavish you with gifts that are often expensive
Gift-giving isn’t a bad thing. It’s nice to receive gifts from a partner now and then. However, it can turn into love bombing if they gift you expensive items excessively and way too often than necessary. The primary identifier for this is when they don’t hesitate to let you know how much the gifts costs. Doing so creates a sense of obligation on your side, making you feel guilty and that you “owe” them something for all their investment in you. Worse, you might also feel obligated to return the favour with expensive gifts—which shouldn’t be a proper rationale.
2. They want to spend all their time with you
It’s normal to want to spend all your waking moments with a new love—but them insisting on spending all your time together could also be a sign of love bombing. It’s their way of manipulating you by isolating you from your friends and family, creating a sense of dependence on them. This lets them have control over you, with no one else for you to turn to in the long run.
3. They shower you with excessive affection and expect you to return it
There’s nothing wrong with your partner being affectionate, but it’s a whole different issue when they lavish you with too much affection and attention, bordering on obsessive. This leads you to have unrealistic expectations of affection and may make you feel unloved if you don’t get it. It’s a subtle form of emotional manipulation that will damage you in the long run.
Conversely, your love bomber also expects you to return the same amount of affection they gave you. Failure to do so—such as not replying to their messages or feeling too tired for an intimate session—leads them to react in extreme, exaggerated manners.
4. You always feel like you’re walking on eggshells around them
Continuing from the sign above, you might have experienced a negative outburst when you didn’t reciprocate the love you received. You’re now wary of what you say and do, worried that you might trigger another explosion. It’s a mentally and emotionally tiring situation to be in constant and will eventually affect you.
Why is love bombing toxic?
Love bombing is a form of emotional abuse and will affect your mental health the longer you stay in it. The manipulation tactic by love bombers seeks to control you and make you feel as though you can only depend on them. Even if you don’t necessarily feel dependent on them, you will also be made to feel as though you “owe” it to them to reciprocate the love and affection. It’s a toxic loop that never ends and isn’t love.
The first step of getting out of a love bombed relationship is identifying its signs. Above all, follow your instinct—your gut feeling never lies. If your gut tells you something is wrong, it probably is.