Love bombing and its dangers in a relationship
Love bombing... becoming aware of what this really is, is so important.
You have just met someone new... you might have been longing to meet your forever someone, forever, or so it seems!! You are mutually crazy about each other, you can’t stop staring at each other, the sex is off the charts and they are declaring love, so you do too.
Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? Especially if you are a romantic person, finally you are loved up beyond belief and your new man is telling you how you light up his life. Finally with you, together you and he can make a life together and all the most romantic things you have ever heard and dreamed of.
And it has all happened overnight, he’s messaging love letters every day, saying you can’t wait to speak to each other, phone calls that go on for hours... it is all rocking in the romantic world for both of you. Or...is it?
No is the short answer, but here is the longer one. This is not love, this is Love bombing.
I will explain... and apart from being a therapist and emotional life coach, l have experienced this personally and, l might add, both fallen into this false and dangerous scenario, and fallen foul of it.. so please take this on board!
Love bombing is literally as it sounds, full on declarations of undying love and devotion, romantic messages and communications that leave you secretly looking at wedding dresses on Pinterest. It's adoration, everything you could have dreamed of and it is usually accompanied by intense love making and off the charts sexual and emotional chemistry.
It is for you maybe... don’t doubt that for a second. It is not for a covert narcissist though. It is, far more worryingly and ultimately sickeningly, the first stage of how a narcissist lures you in, followed by (sadly) devaluation and then discard.
Please do not get me wrong, l strongly believe in love and all its wonderful aspects including love at first sight and forever falling in love. However, real love grows and deepens over time and is not about hooking you in until it is what you learn to expect as the real truth, and then, as soon as you are totally onboard, it changes overnight.
Real love is an abiding thing. The two follow on stages of devaluation and discard leave you shocked and traumatised. How, in what seems like out of nowhere, the tide has turned with a new coldness and/or withdrawal that replaces the “you can trust me forever darling” way in which you had been so convinced of.
This can consist of:
- less romantic remarks
- slight criticism and fault finding
- cold responses
- you will notice a huge difference but it could be hard to even explain it to yourself
- noticed changes
- and many more... none of them good
Sadly this is the devaluation stage.
When your dream guy starts literally doing what it says – devaluing both you and the significance of the relationship.
Just to ramp up the confusion, the extraordinary incongruence between what he said and/or says leaves you still convinced to focus on maintaining and believing all the romantic declarations rather than the abuse.
You will find yourself re-reading his messages, re-watching videos he sent of you both together again and again, still being at this stage remaining convinced it was all true.
It wasn’t for him, it was all exactly what he cooked up for you to hook you in, betting for sure that you are a hugely loving and empathetic person, perfect for the narcissist. And when your kindness, love and total acceptance convinces this predator that they are seen as 'worthy' and 'good' by you, knowing that they are nothing of the sort, their own self-loathing will all be projected onto you.
The devaluation stage is actually a form of emotional torture, like having taken love heroin and then, addicted to the dopamine, you are in withdrawal and need a fix... only he is not going to give it to you, and odds are he has someone else lined up.
You are experiencing the emotional equivalent to withdrawal from a drug, only it isn’t a drug you took, it is something you experienced, thought you had and lost in a nanosecond. You are shuddering from the dependence and the loss and you can’t get a “fix”, they have emptied the well!
Narcissists love variation and they get bored quickly and easily.
Now according to how the new source of narcissistic supply is going you could be going through the head bending stages of love bombing and devaluation for a considerable while, but if it looks like to him this new source is reliable then you will go straight into discard, which is when he ends the relationship without any mercy whatsoever and is as cold as ice. If this is your case, your best line of defence must be:
Do not react.
Your reaction is their love heroin, their oxygen, their supply. They don’t care if your reaction is joyous or agony, they love either one but thrive more when they have lost interest in you on the latter.
Accept, if you can, their incongruent coldness or put downs and do not react. This throws them off course. Some call it stone walling or grey rock response, they can’t handle it and it wasn’t what they expected or counted on. If you are the only current victim they might resort to more “golden moments” with you to hoover you back in.
You are in shock and traumatised by this and it can truly leave you heart broken and eventually, when the shock wears off, feeling like you never want to date another man again.
I am saying man here, but women are equally capable of this kind of narcissism. It is thought to be more prevalent in men towards women but it's by no means male exclusive, both men and women are capable of narcissism and narcissistic abuse the covert variety being far worse as it is the effect and shock of the snake in the grass rather than the bear in the woods, so to speak.
What to do during these stages of love bombing, devaluation and discard
During love bombing please try to see it for what it is. Easy to say, but so hard to do, l know. Remember, real love grows – it is a bud, it doesn’t become a flower overnight. Read and listen, become aware (all real change begins through awareness), there is a lot of wonderful information on YouTube about covert narcissism. There will have been red flags, they are to warn of threat or danger so do pay attention to them whilst your mind has not been messed up, they still might be calling to you despite all the fraud.
During the devaluation stage please talk to someone, a friend or a coach like me, or another of your choice who can anchor and support you. This stage can really hurt and confuse innocent people. It is abuse.
After the discard stage please get support through this, it can be utterly devastating and really affect your mental health, initiate depression and consummate grieving. It activates a part of the brain called the angular cingulate cortex which is a pain response and deals with our emotional regulation
Grief and grieving is an essential part of healing, if you have been a victim here, please don’t feel ashamed of how you feel taken in – it was and is not your fault
I personally wish that there was some kind of legal recourse for victims of covert narcissism. Because of dating apps and online dating in general, there is a breeding ground for grooming of this ghastly kind that can leave people suffering from PTSD for months after. It is no different to physical violence and often worse as there are no visible scars just mental ones that can have a worse long-term effect.
I hope this article answers a few questions and is helpful to anyone either currently going through this or who has gone through this historically.
For further information you are welcome to contact me either through the Life Coach Directory or through my website.