An eerie manipulation technique, love bombing is a covert mechanism employed by narcissists, abusers and con-artists to exert absolute control over their romantic partners. The most haunting part – it’s virtually impossible to detect. 

Love bombing is characterized by excessive attention, admiration, and affection with the goal to make the recipient feel dependent and obligated to that person,

“And as the recipient, love bombing feels really good because of the boost of dopamine and endorphins you receive. You feel special, needed, loved, valuable, and worthy, which are all the components that contribute to and increase a person’s self-esteem.” – explains licensed therapist Sasha Jackson, in an interview with Cosmopolitan.

You are hit with an overwhelming amount of obsessive flattery, persistent complimentary texting, lavish gifts and over-the-top gestures. The catch? You’re lured into a vicious cycle of emotional debt and unconscious command. 

Another major red flag is when your partner begins to isolate you from your friends and family. It might appear as an innocent gesture – your partner wants to spend all of their time alone with you. But the reality is quite grim. The person is probably a narcissist attempting to detach you from the other connections in your life as a way of exercising their ownership over you.

An IRL example? The Netflix Original The Tinder Swindler

An IRL example of love bombing is seen in Netflix’s latest documentary The Tinder Swindler. A supposed globe-trotting diamond mogul with billions in his pockets showers new Tinder matches with incessant adulation, gigantic flower bouquets, private planes, expensive hotel rooms and all the affirmation they could ever need, in an attempt to gain control over his victims. And once he wins over their trust, he cons them out of their money. 

Another recent example is Kanye West’s flurry of social media posts towards his former wife Kim Kardashian:

In a successful, healthy relationship there needs to exist a bond of mutual trust and desire with equal reciprocity among both partners. But in cases of love bombing, “attention flows in a singular direction – one person tries to become the other’s whole world.” The grand expressions of affection might seem straight out of a rom-com, but it comes at the cost of your autonomy. 

The act is extremely detrimental to your mental health. In many cases, it is a form of emotional abuse that leads to a loss of self. You get hooked on their adoring performances and begin to ignore the red flags masked as signs of maltreatment. You begin to feel like you owe them your endearment in exchange for their endless validation. Gradually, you submit yourself to the relationship. 

What starts out as a simple “let me check your phone” can stem into full-fledged psychological warfare that progressively increases over time to gain full control over you. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells in your relationship, chances are you’re being love-bombed.