The Mighty Logo

What to Know About ‘Love Bombing’ in Relationships Due to Grief or Mental Illness

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor's Note

If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

In an age when relationships and marriages are valued and mental illness is becoming more common to discuss, why doesn’t anyone discuss love bombing? “Love bombing” is a term that, at one point, described how narcissists overcompensate in verbal or physical love gifts shortly after a relationship begins to manipulate or distract from relationship barriers. These “gifts” can come in the form of saying, “I love you,” without truly knowing someone yet or showering someone with presents, attention of details or even becoming overwhelmingly needy for someone. It is all too common but we need to figure out how to make things work smoother.

In the past, the term “love bomb” was used by psychologists who worked with narcissists, but what is not as known is that love bombing may also be associated with people who have mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder (BPD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even adjustment disorder. When we begin to understand how common it is, we can work together to combat it and strategize how to eliminate unhealthy patterns.

Sometimes, love bombing naturally happens after someone loses someone close to them, so they need extra reassurance that not everyone they love will pass away so suddenly. Sometimes, it occurs after someone is raised by narcissists, who were unpredictable and did not provide any comfort or reliability when growing up. Other times, love bombing can even happen between younger children who mimic adult habits, while using it to manipulate a friend or classmate.

Especially in an era where cell phones are common, we need to address the problem at hand to break the habit. As an adult, we have a responsibility to overcome love bombing. This may be by recognizing we are the one love bombing or that someone else is love bombing us. Being able to recognize signs can lead to empowerment, changed behaviors and personality traits.

In order to recognize love bombing, we need to be assertive in our boundaries with all of our relationships. If spending Sundays with friends and your new partner convinces you to skip one day, then do so, but when it become a constant fight and power play, a simple, “This is my weekly day with my friends and I need time to unwind. Please understand I care about you but we both should have separate times with our friends,” can be comforting enough for someone to drop the topic.

After the loss of a loved one, reassuring can come in stating the facts aloud — “I know you lost someone you loved very much; I plan to support you through this but I cannot respond to text messages when I am studying” — then suggesting a study break call might be a middle-ground solution. If you are unsure, ask yourself and your friend or partner what is realistic.

When we stick to our boundaries and set guidelines for others, we have a better chance of overcoming negative habits that can be harmful to, or even may end, a relationship or friendship. When we are clear in our expectation for our relationships, it becomes easier to recognize when someone is pushing our boundaries. Mental health is hard enough to manage; we need to know when to comment when we want to build lifelong relationships.

Photo by Kilarov Zaneit on Unsplash

Originally published: February 14, 2020
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home