It was a matter of great envy for all of us when my cousin Trisha (name changed) fell in love two years ago. It was just too perfect. Aman (name changed) would take her to extravagant dates, shower her with amazing gifts, and look at her like she was the only person in the world. He kept telling her that she was ‘the one.’ And thus, it wasn’t a huge surprise when they were married within eight months of their first meeting.
However, we were in for a rude shock when he was all angry and shouting at her when she visited the house a week after their wedding. He was openly arrogant and rude to her as we watched him denying her to spend the night at her one damn house! Well, turns out Aman had love-bombed Trisha into marrying her and now that he had what he aimed for, he didn’t feel the need to continue with the behaviour that he used to woo her in the first place.
Well, catfishing, breadcrumbing, ghosting, and love bombing…it’s the millennium my friend and in the words of Alizeh (Anushka Sharma) from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil love is absolutely tedha. But coming back to love bombing, here’s all that you need to know:
Love bombing refers to A-level manipulation employed by narcissists and toxic people to get what they desire in a given moment. It involves the use of extravagant display of affection or gestures too early in a relationship as a means of gaining absolute power and control over the situation.
Interestingly, while it sounds like one of many millennial messed up phenomena, you’d be surprised to know that this term was actually coined in the 1970s by the infamous Unification Church of the United States. It is said that love bombing was in fact used as a tactic by cult leaders like Jim Jones and David Koresh as a very effective method of controlling their followers.
That said, love bombing is in fact a millennial phenomenon. It was in 2010 that British author and psychologist Oliver James recommended the term to describe a technique of parenting to get children to behave better.
Talk about more recent times, the entire Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon and love bombing comes up as one of the most common modern-day love quagmires. All in all, think of love bombers as emotional vampires who pursue their targets with the aim of hitting it either by hook or by crook.
You might think what’s the harm in being love-bombed as long as you are getting all pampered and showered with affection. Well, here’s the scariest part about love bombing: not only is it driven by selfish motives but also wanes away in phases! To understand how this differs from honest, genuine relationships is to notice what happens after the target is achieved, for instance after you, say, get into a relationship or get married.
It’s alright if your partner continues to shower you with love and adoration. However, it happens to be a case of love bombing if they change and go dry post achieving their targets. Love bombing often phases away into devaluation and then eventually into the discard. The same partner who was extremely loving and caring initially suddenly goes all angry and controlling after they get what they had set out for. Thus, a partner goes from ‘I love you no matter what’ to ‘don’t do that or I’ll punish you.’
Once the love bombers achieve the kind of control over you that they were seeking in the first place, they use devaluation to isolate you and make them further dependent on you.
After devaluation comes the most disappointing phase: discard. This happens in two cases, either the love bomber is done with you and has found a new shiny thing to love bomb or they have been called out and asked to reciprocate all that is expected from a partner.
While love bombing might appear like all promising and rosy in the beginning, it fades off in ways that you wouldn’t want to experience. This is why it is very important for you to stay cognisant of a new partner or potential romantic interest’s behaviour when they start being too nice to you. Thus, the first and most important step to dodge love bombing is to recognise it. Existential psychologist and life coach, Sara Kuburic identifies some signs of love bombing:
Sara further adds, “Love bombing can feel simultaneously great and overwhelming. Being curious and aware of how the people around us display their love and how we experience it, is an important step that may serve us in preventing toxic relationships. It can also be difficult to detect love bombing, so asking people we trust for their opinion could be helpful!” she writes on Instagram.
Lastly, it’s important to know that love bombing will look different depending on the context and the people you are dating. What’s important is to take off your rose-tinted glasses while making important life decisions and see love bombers for all they are.
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