The Mighty Logo

Trauma Bonding's Sibling: Love Bombing

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.

You know that feeling that you see all over rom coms? When you meet someone, you lock eyes and then all of a sudden you’re holding hands, kissing and spend all your free time hanging out. Then when you’re not together you’re texting nonstop? It’s affection on affection on affection and the feeling of admiration feels so exhilarating that it almost feels addicting. But whether or not this kind of attention is a good thing depends on the reason for it.

Don’t get me wrong — not all displays of affection are malicious, but if it’s all of this is with the end goal of manipulating then you might be on the receiving end of love bombing.

What is love bombing?

At its core (and simplest description), love bombing is an attempt to influence a person through acts of attention and affection it’s overwhelming someone with signs of adoration and attraction. This is extremely confusing and hard to spot because while we all give and receive love differently, we all want to be loved. And when we are being bombarded with such positive feelings, it’s hard to analyze whether or not it’s truly love.

What might this look like? It looks different from person to person because our love languages are different and it’s often whatever it is that make you feel loved. Whether that’s extravagant gifts, lots of verbal compliments or lots of cuddles and cute forehead kisses.

How do you know if this is happening to you? 

This is going to look different in every situation because we all experience love differently and every relationship is unique. Some common traits of love bombing can include: extravagant gifts, obsessive flattery, constant complimentary texting, and always expecting a prompt reply. The main thing is that this comes down to one thing: control.

Why does this matter? Love bombing can be a possible part of a cycle of abuse; this false love is psychological manipulation and is used to create a sense of unity with the abuser. Before we get any further, have you ever heard of trauma bonding?

Trauma bonding is one of the easiest things to mistake for love when you are in an abusive relationship. (Please remember that this happens not only in romantic relationships, but also in familial and platonic relationships). Trauma bonding is the attachment bond that is created through repeated abusive behaviors and experiences. This pattern becomes internalized as a learned pattern of behavior.

How does this tie into love bombing?

Trauma bonding and love bombing go hand in hand because abusive cycles tend to fluctuate between these two states. After experiencing abuse, the manipulating party will often follow it up with love bombing — displays of affection, perhaps also coupled with gaslighting to make you believe that what you experience wasn’t abuse, or that you deserved it, but that their love for you is that strong that they can love you for all your “flaws.” That they love you even though you “deserved” the punishment. That they couldn’t have possibly abused you… look at all this love they’re showing you.

Humans have a really hard time holding juxtaposing worldview in our minds and with this confusion, especially in such and extreme succession, our brains start to associate love and abuse. We believe that they are one-in-the same. The abuse starts to feel like love and often, you become attached to your abuser to feel loved in this way. And that’s why it’s so hard to escape an abusive relationship. It’s why you can’t just leave.

It’s hard to identify at first, and it’s just as hard to try and work through out and out of it, but if you find yourself in this situation, please know that you are not alone and it is not your fault. You are strong, you are smart and you are loved.

Photo by Morteza Yousefi on Unsplash

Originally published: October 6, 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