From “breadcrumbs” (leads you along with nibbles of interest) and “benches” (keeping you on the sub-bank while going out with other people) to “trickle ghosting” (which is gradually disappearing), the list of the terrible Dating behaviors that we have to deal with seem to have no end. But what if you get the opposite instead of too little interest and commitment?
It was a strange old time for singles, and when you are back in real life after a long spell of virtual video drinks and socially distant park dates, be wary of behaviors that seem too good to be true.
What is “love bombing”?
When two people meet and the chemistry is right, there can be an onslaught of intense emotion, affection, and hope of what could become of it, and that’s all good, isn’t it? In theory yes, but make sure that the other person’s behavior is too fast and too intense.
Psychotherapist and relationship expert Noel McDermott (noelmcdermott.net) says, “Love bombing is an inappropriately intense and exaggerated display of emotional or sexual affection, aimed at influencing the target’s behavior.”
So watch out for too much attention and compliments, uninterrupted contact, neediness, exaggerated declarations of love and promises for the future far too early.
“If it happens at the dating stage, it should be a very serious red flag to leave,” says McDermott. “It is often used by sex addicts to find their solution.” After they bomb you, they often cool off or go away after it’s served a purpose for them.
What if you are further down?
Love bombing isn’t limited to the early days of dating, sadly. The behavior can also emerge later in compulsive relationships. “Domestic abuse and control creates an extremely unhealthy pattern of distorted love addictions,” says McDermott. “It can be seen to induce a kind of neurochemical numbness of negative experiences in a victim’s relationship.”
So, if a partner has treated you badly, they can counter this by showering you with affection to minimize the negative experience. “It creates very strong neural pathways because our brains are prepared to hardwire stress and love – when you put the two together, the effects can be devastating when it comes to developing severe codependency,” explains McDermott. “The longer you are exposed to this, the worse it gets.”
Because of the pathways created in the brain, if an abuser leaves, the victim can experience tremendous withdrawal, pain, and depression, he says. You are facing unbearable stress and the only relief from that stress is a love bomber response.
What else to look out for
McDermott says one should look for “unusual intensity of their attention to you, followed by the love bomber’s absence and inability to have non-intense intimacy”. They may also have an “inability to manage conflict or problems” and use sex, love, and gifts to help them move away from deeper conversations.
“[Learn to] recognize the difference between intensity and intimacy. Intensity is a very serious warning sign and should indicate that it is not a good idea to keep going. “
If you have self-esteem issues or a background of childhood neglect or abuse, love bombing is more often mistaken for real shows of affection, he adds. If you apologize for their bad behavior, neglect friends and family, have obsessive thoughts about them, or agree to cross ethical boundaries for them, it is a sign that something is wrong.
Why are people doing this?
In a clinical sense, love bombing is an inappropriate defense against intimacy, intense love, or sexual experience. It’s used to avoid the pain of developing real intimacy with another person, ”explains McDermott.
There are a number of reasons someone might engage in this type of behavior to avoid real intimacy in healthy relationships. He says they can include personality disorders, past trauma, severe mental health problems, substance abuse, or severe negative childhood experiences.
“Love bombing could be used as a defense by a person because it makes them feel less harmed – for a short time. It is a powerful tool for manipulating and controlling others and could be preferred by narcissistic types. “
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What to do when you experience it
Basically run a mile. “Go completely cold turkey, block it,” urges McDermott. “Don’t try to fix this because it’s not your problem – you have to change, not you.”
If you’re further back in a relationship, he suggests, “First, get yourself safe and never underestimate the harm this type of abuser can do you.
“Make sure you have a good network of friends and / or family when you are in a partnership. This is the most important resource for you to recognize this problem and find the courage to step out.
“Your task is to recognize the maladaptive defense [that stop you from adapting to new or difficult circumstances] You are grown; self-hatred, self-blame, low self-esteem and root it rigorously from your sense of the here and now. Get professional help to gain insights, learn to forgive yourself, overcome the shame you feel, learn positive life lessons and new behaviors. “