How does a narcissist keep control in a long-term relationship? The “love bombing” tactic often works to keep a partner enmeshed in what has likely become a dysfunctional relationship. It’s part of repetitive patterns narcissists use in every relationship they have.
Narcissists attract partners by lavishing them with gifts and compliments, exaggerating their unbreakable connections, and generally putting the potential partner on a pedestal. As soon as their victim is sucked into the relationship, the narcissist lets down that façade and will usually become demeaning and self-centered. They will withhold love and affection in favor of pursuing their own egotistical and unreasonable demands.
When you’re in love with a narcissist you’ll need to know what to expect and how you can best manage the situation. That’s because they are experts at manipulative behavior and will stop at nothing to get you to stay.
In order to keep a relationship going, the narcissist will often return to the practice of love bombing, so they can pull their partner back in. It’s a form of emotional manipulation designed to preserve the narcissist’s role as dominating spouse and center of attention.
Read on for some serious indications that you are being love bombed, rather than being actually loved.
Red Flag for the Relationship
Love bombing takes on many guises. There are the overtly grand gestures of expensive gifts, whirlwind vacations, and exaggerated declarations of love. But there is also the quietly all-encompassing emotional entanglement wherein you begin to feel trapped by smothering forms of love. Here are seven signs you might need a bomb shelter.
1. Overly Generous Gifting
If your partner starts showering you with expensive or extravagant gifts, such as jewelry and cars or last-minute trips and fantastic excursions, then you can be certain that there is some form of love bombing taking place. You should be suspicious of their motives, because this kind of behavior often masks dysfunction or reveals a guilty conscience.
Perhaps you have signaled to your spouse that you are tired of the narcissistic behavior, so the spouse tries to win you back by being overly generous. Or, perhaps the spouse has lied or cheated, and they feel compelled to keep you invested anyway.
2. Demands on Time and Responses
Another sign of love bombing is that your spouse starts to make unreasonable demands on your time, as well as needy with regard to your responses. In the first place, they want your undivided attention. In the second place, they need your responses in lightning-fast time.
Again, this kind of conduct might be indicative of guilt. A narcissistic spouse who has cheated will often project that behavior onto you, requiring your presence at all times and/or your responses to texts or calls immediately. They will be suspicious of you, even if you’re not the one cheating.
3. Unrealistic and Broken Promises
The narcissistic spouse might also try to win back your love by making sweeping and unrealistic promises. They will claim that they can make everything better, that they can make your life better, that they can provide anything you need in order to keep you with them.
Because they need your constant attention and emotional validation, they will become desperate if they think they are losing that narcissistic supply. Grand promises serve to provide you with what will likely turn out to be false hope. Unrealistic promises of a better life together will quickly become broken promises.
4. Intruder Alert
Another indication that your spouse is love bombing you is that their attention will become intrusive. The typical pattern of a narcissist is to charm you in order to reel you in, then, once they feel secure in your attention and obedience, they will withhold affection and generally behave in a demeaning manner. If you become upset by this behavior, threatening to leave, then the narcissist will lavish you with attention as they did at the beginning.
They will invade your personal and professional spaces with their declarations of love, such as sending flowers to your office or interrupting your time with friends and family with phone calls and the like.
5. No Boundaries, Full Commitment
The love bomber will also begin to violate your boundaries, staking claims on your heart and soul—“nobody else has ever meant as much to me”—as they demand a re-commitment to the relationship. This is the more subtle form of love bombing, where the narcissistic spouse demands to be recognized as your sole soul mate.
Their need for you to be all in will come at the cost of your individuality and the fulfillment of your needs. They might claim that everything you want is exactly what they want, but this is because they are mirroring your needs. Over time, the façade will again fall away, and they will become the self-centered and needy person of before.
6. Claiming Victimhood
In the event that you don’t respond to the above attempts at love bombing, then the narcissistic spouse will use manipulative self-pitying behavior to garner your sympathy. This is a common pattern, as well. The narcissist needs their supply of attention and validation, and when that is threatened, they play the victim.
They need you to rely on them above all else, and their neediness is both smothering and effective at activating your compassion—especially if you are an empath as empaths can be especially vulnerable to narcissists. It reignites the relationship if you feel compelled to rescue the narcissist.
7. Overwhelming Unpredictability
Finally, you will know that you are being love bombed if you feel overwhelmed by the narcissistic spouse’s misplaced gestures of love and generosity. Or, you might feel overcome by their excessive declarations of passion and eternal commitment.
The love bomber also typically behaves in unpredictable patterns. They swing from displaying extreme neediness to unconcerned detachment, from passionate declarations to belittling tirades. Their concern lies with their own insatiable need for attention and validation. Without you, the narcissistic spouse has no sense of self-worth, so they will practice love bombing until they secure your compliance.
While it may initially feel good to be the recipient of love bombing behavior, it is ultimately another weapon in the narcissistic spouse’s arsenal of manipulation. They need you for their sense of self-worth, and when they have your validation, they will cease to make attempts to show you generosity and affection.
When you become disgruntled by their failure to provide emotional support or to meet your needs, they will return to love bombing mode in order to get you back. This pattern repeats itself throughout the relationship unless the narcissist gets help—or you decide to move on.
Understanding narcissistic tactics like love-bombing is the first step toward learning how to manage narcissism. A free copy of my “Narcissistic Rejection Guide” can also help. You will learn how to say no and even push back against these kinds of manipulative tactics. Click on the following link and I’ll send it directly to your inbox for free!
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