Love-bombing is defined as the strategic use of over the top gestures of affection, attention and admiration with the goal of making you feel dependent and obligated to that person. Narcissists and abusers often use this tactic to win someone over, until they feel they have obtained you and then you will start to see their dark side.
In the beginning it is all rainbows and unicorns– regular check-ins letting you know they are thinking of you, gifts that make you feel special, amazing dates that leave you wondering whether you are in a coma and this is all a dream. And the truth is, the greater the resources the greater the hook will be, including front-row center seats to sold out shows, decadent meals at Michelin star restaurants, expensive jewelry, clothes, perfume, and luxury trips.
Year after year I have seen the same play, just different actors on a different stage. Whether the couple meets organically or online (that part doesn’t matter) the problem is the same each time– they are moving at warped speed. After just a few months they get engaged, marry and move-in together. All this happens within less than 18 months. The fact is that’s just not enough time to really get to know someone, including how well they really handle finances and their work, as well as their emotional connections with family and friends (and exes).
Let’s recognize that we are all on our best behavior when we first meet someone, but eventually you need to see the good, the bad and the ugly to truly know someone. When times are tough or a conflict arises, pay attention to how someone handles this situation. Don’t make excuses for bad behavior or ignore snide comments. Emotional intelligence is a skill that many lack, and it’s impossible to sustain a healthy relationship without it.
After you have been love-bombed, when the mask finally comes off and you see the two distinct sides to your Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, you will feel stupid. How did you not see this Master Manipulator for what s/he really was? How naive could you be? Accepting the truth might be so difficult that you will deny it’s as bad as it seems. You will then try to bargain with yourself and the master manipulator. There will be moments of sadness, and others of pure rage. Whether you realize it or not, these are all the various stages of the grief cycle.
There is inevitably a tremendous loss that occurs when you have been love bombed. Your vision of happily ever after is shattered. You may fear putting yourself out there again. You may not want to be vulnerable or trust again. You may feel ashamed, humiliated, and bamboozled, to the point that you retreat from having a social life. All of this is normal– trauma victims often withdraw and experience a sense of hopelessness and despair. But with professional help you will recover and get passed this, stronger and wiser.
Now, surviving a trauma is one thing, but having the courage to speak up and publicly share the story so that others don’t suffer the same fate takes a whole other level of strength that we really need to praise more. This is why it warms my heart to see that The Tinder Swindler on Netflix is getting so much attention. I don’t want to ruin the ending, but let’s just say it is a positive message that confirms karma is real.
If you have ever been love-bombed, don’t be ashamed to speak your truth. One of my favorite bloggers, Tracy Schorn aka Chumplady has tons of followers share their experiences about leaving their cheating partners. These cautionary tales are important, just as children need to be warned that there are big bad wolves out there, single adults need to beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Here is a great article by Lisa Bonos in the Washington Post with tips on how to avoid falling for a Tinder Swindler: How to avoid falling for a Tinder swindler or a fake German heiress – The Washington Post
By Regina A. DeMeo