Understanding Love Bombing and How to Spot the Red Flags

The Dark Side of Love

Falling in love is one of the most magical and wonderful experiences we can have. It’s the stuff of fairy tales and romantic comedies, with chance meetings and serendipitous encounters. However, not all love stories have a happy ending. Sometimes, what starts as a sweet and loving relationship can quickly turn into a nightmare due to a manipulative tactic known as love bombing.

Love bombing is a term used to describe the behaviour of abusers and manipulators who shower their targets with attention, affection, and praise to gain control over them. It can be difficult to detect and is often romanticised in TV and movies, making it all the more dangerous. In this post, we’ll explore what love bombing is, how it works, and what you can do to protect yourself from it.

What is Love Bombing?

Love bombing is a manipulative tactic that is used by abusers or manipulators in the early stages of a romantic relationship or friendship. The person doing the love bombing overwhelms the other person with affection, attention, and praise to make them feel like they have found their ideal partner or friend. This tactic can be used to control and manipulate the other person and may be followed by other forms of abuse or mistreatment once the love bombing phase is over.

It is essential to differentiate between genuine affection and love bombing. Genuine affection is characterised by mutual respect, trust, and honesty, while love bombing is characterised by manipulation and control.

Where did the Term Love Bombing come from?

In the 1970s, the Unification Church of the United States coined the term “love bombing” to lure new members into their community by showering them with attention and praise. Later, psychology professor Margaret Singer included this manipulative tactic in her 1996 book “Cults in Our Midst.” It involves a concerted effort by long-term members to inundate new recruits with flattery, affectionate touches, and attention, frequently resulting in successful recruitment drives.

What are the Signs of Love Bombing?

The signs of love bombing can be subtle or overt. Here are some examples of love bombing:

  • Intense Emotional Intimacy – Your first date with someone may involve them sharing very personal and emotional details about their past or current life, making you feel like you have an instant connection. While it’s natural to want to bond with someone you’re interested in, it’s important to recognise that this level of emotional intimacy early on can be a red flag for love bombing.
  • Inappropriate Expressions of Affection – Imagine going on a first date and the person tells you they love you or constantly shower you with compliments and affection. While it may feel nice to receive these gestures, it’s important to be cautious and recognise that these expressions of love may be too soon and not genuine.
  • Showering with Gifts and Attention – Your new love interest may insist on buying you expensive gifts or treating you to lavish experiences early on in the relationship. While it’s not always a bad thing to receive gifts and attention, it’s important to recognise when it feels excessive or uncomfortable.
  • Grandiose Promises – Your partner may make promises early on in the relationship about your future together, including marriage, children, and a happily ever after. While it’s natural to have hopes and dreams for a future together, it’s important to recognise when these promises are made too soon or without the proper foundation of a healthy relationship.
  • Disregarding Your Need for Personal Space – Your partner may want to spend all of their free time with you, leaving little room for your own personal time and space. They may also make you feel guilty for needing time apart or setting boundaries. It’s important to recognise that healthy relationships require a balance of individual and shared time and respect for each other’s needs.
  • Monitoring Your Whereabouts and Activities – Your partner may constantly check in on you to know where you are and what you’re doing. While it may feel like they’re just interested in your life, it’s important to recognise when it feels intrusive and overbearing. Trust and respect are essential in healthy relationships, and monitoring someone’s activities can be a sign of control and manipulation.

Identifying Love Bombing – A Cautionary Tale

Sarah had just started dating Tom, who seemed like the perfect guy. He was charming, attentive, and seemed genuinely interested in her. On their very first date, Tom showered her with compliments, gifts, and talked about how they were “meant to be.” He even brought up the topic of marriage and kids. Sarah was initially swept off her feet, but as time went on, Tom’s behaviour became more suffocating. He insisted on spending all their free time together and would become upset when she wanted to spend time with friends or family. He also constantly texted and called her, needing to know her every move. Sarah began to feel overwhelmed and realised that Tom’s behavior was not a sign of love, but rather a form of manipulation known as love bombing. She ended things with him and took time for herself to heal and establish healthier boundaries in her future relationships.

What are the Love Bombing Phases

Love bombing often occurs in 3 phases: idealisation, devaluation, and discard.

  1. Idealisation phase – the abuser showers the survivor with affection, attention, and praise.
  2. Devaluation phase – the abuser withdraws all affection and positive reinforcement and punishes the victim with mind games, the silent treatment, physical abuse, verbal or emotional abuse.
  3. Discard phase – the abuser ends the relationship or friendship and may repeat the cycle of idealisation, devaluation, and discard with another victim.

Can I be Love Bombed on Social Media?

In the age of social media, love bombing has taken on a new form. Instead of in-person interactions, abusers and manipulators now use digital platforms to shower their victims with constant attention and affection. 

Social media love bombing can come in many forms, such as excessive compliments, frequent messages and phone calls, and constant likes and comments on posts. The goal is to make the surivor feel special and wanted, while also isolating them from their friends and family.

Love bombing on social media can be especially dangerous because it is often easier for abusers to hide their true intentions behind a screen. They can create fake accounts or use someone else’s identity to appear trustworthy and desirable.

It’s important to be aware of the signs of social media love bombing and to set healthy boundaries in all of our online relationships. Remember that genuine love and connection take time to develop and cannot be rushed or forced. If someone is trying to push you into a relationship or showering you with excessive attention, take a step back and evaluate the situation before getting involved.

What to Do if You’re Being Love-Bombed?

Here are some tips on how to get out of an love-bombing relationship:

  1. Seek professional help – Consider reaching out to a therapist, counsellor, or advocate who specialises in domestic violence. They can help you create a safety plan and provide emotional support as you navigate the process of leaving the relationship. Contact Soma & Sage.
  2. Recognise the abuse – It can be difficult to identify abusive behaviour when it’s masked by excessive affection and attention. Take time to educate yourself on the signs of emotional abuse and manipulation and acknowledge that the love bombing is a form of abuse.
  3. Create distance – Establish boundaries and limit contact with the abusive partner as much as possible. This can include blocking their number and social media accounts, and avoiding places where you may run into them.
  4. Build a support system – Lean on friends and family members who you trust and who can provide emotional support during this difficult time. Joining a support group for survivors of abuse can also be helpful.
  5. Focus on self-care – Take care of your physical and emotional health by practicing self-care activities that you enjoy, such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time in nature. This can help you rebuild your sense of self-worth and establish a healthy, positive outlook on life.


Love bombing is a manipulative tactic that can lead to abusive relationships. It is important to recognise the signs of love bombing and take steps to protect yourself. Remember, genuine affection is characterised by mutual respect, trust, and honesty, while love bombing is characterised by manipulation and control. If you’re being love-bombed, take your time, set boundaries, stay connected with friends and family, and trust your instincts.

For more information, or help healing from love-bombing, book a free relationship counselling consultation