Who doesn’t like to be wined and dined by a love interest, whether it’s a new one or someone you’ve been seeing a while? After all, they seem to do all the right things: they’re chivalrous, are communicative, get you flowers or other thoughtful momentos for seemingly no reason at all. So, at what point do these grand gestures become signs of the dreaded love-bombing issue? “It's all in the title, ‘love bombing’: An explosion of love that dropped and came out of nowhere,” Lisa Velazquez, self-love coach, dating/relationship expert, and founder of Lisa Talks Love, tells TZR in an email. “It came out of nowhere because the person has no real basis to feel this way — they don't truly know you, so what warrants them to be so invested in what they say and do so early on?”
So what, you ask, is the main sign of love bombing to look out for? According to Velazquez, timing is everything. In essence, she explains, it’s too much, too soon. Similarly, Julie Spira, online dating expert, dating coach, and founder of Cyber-Dating Expert, says that a love bomber gets to work right away. “They will shower you with lavish gifts and bombard you with signs of affection to buy your love and win your heart,” she tells TZR in an email. “When you're being love-bombed, every date might include bringing you an enormous floral bouquet and might be accompanied by a gift, such as a designer bag or an over-the-top piece of jewelry. They will also send you notes of affection (or texts) professing their undying love.” She says the goal is often to make you feel so desired and loved that you'll find yourself thinking this could be "The One."
“But remember — not everyone who is generous and brings you flowers is a love bomber,” says Spira. “There are millions of romantics who are sincere and enjoy writing love letters. The difference between a romantic and a love bomber comes down to manipulation. A romantic person will take the time and be consistent. A love bomber has a plan and experience to back up their agenda. When they see you aren't signing up for their program, they will drop you in a heartbeat whereas a sincere romantic will agree to move at a pace that's comfortable for you.” So if you’re not quite sure if your romantic interest fits the bill, here are ways you can tell if you’re being love bombed — and what to do about it.
While communication is the pillar of a healthy relationship, a love bomber overcommunicates — in an unhealthy way. “They [typically] call, text, and message you over social media 24/7,” Dr. Joanne Frederick, licensed mental health counselor, founder of JFL & Associates Counseling Services, LLC, and author of Copeology, tells TZR in an email. “While frequent communication might be normal when you're first dating, it's a red flag if the communication feels one-sided and becomes increasingly overwhelming. You may begin to notice that they text you way too early in the morning, late at night, and every hour — whether you respond or not.”
Spira adds that a normal relationship that goes through all the communication cycles will include frequent texts to stay in touch. “But they won't overwhelm you and take over your day with the expectation of an immediate response,” she says. “A love bomber, on the other hand, will bombard you with ‘I love you’ and ‘I miss you’ text messages all day long. You'll wake up daily to the sound of their text chirps and will feel like this person has been in your life for months or years instead of days or weeks.”
They Want All Your Time And Attention
A love bomber also wants all your time and attention, says Velazquez, which is manipulative, as it is a tactic to isolate you from your loved ones. As a result, you no longer have a support system for a voice of reason in your life other than them. So when the love bomber reveals who they really are, you'll have no one to turn to but them.
“Their investment is substantial at first, but the goal is to manipulate you once they've gained your trust and isolate you from your friends (who are suspicious about your new relationship),” adds Spira. And when your focus isn't on them, you may notice they become angry, Frederick explains. “This can be either rushing you when you're on the phone with friends or refusing to leave your place after you say you have an early meeting in the morning,” she says. “Someone who is your ‘true love’ would not want all your time and energy focused on them alone. They would respect your boundaries, other commitments, and ideas.” On that note, Velazquez adds, “Remember who you are and know that love should never feel like you're being bombed.”
They Do (Many) Over-The-Top Gestures
While it may be nice to be spoiled by your love interest, a love bomber takes it to a whole other level with way-too-lavish gifts. “Love bombing often involves over-the-top gestures, including inappropriate gifts delivered to your job (for example, dozens of roses instead of one) or sending a private jet to pick you up for a vacation — and not taking ‘no’ for an answer,” says Frederick. “All of this can seem harmless initially, but the point is to manipulate you into thinking you owe them something. Most often, love bombing is done by a narcissist with the intent of drawing in and gaining control over the person who is being love bombed.” (If this description makes you think of Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler documentary, you’re right on the money.)
They Push For Physical Intimacy Quickly
When you're involved with a love bomber, they push for physical intimacy quickly. “This is because of the intense emotional connection physical intimacy can create quite fast,” says Velazquez. “With affection, you'll start to build trust because their touch becomes both familiar and safe. Then that can lead you to have sex rather quickly. And the love bomber knows you'll want to experience what you would consider love due to the sum of all these feelings. But what you don't know is that, this has been their plan the entire time.”
When you're with a non-love bomber, however, they won't try to escalate the relationship physically if you're not ready. Although they wear their heart on their sleeve, their intention will be to build a real connection that can lead to a healthy relationship with you, Velazquez explains. This is because they genuinely want to be with you, so they'll have no problem pumping the breaks and having the relationship move at a healthy pace.
They Will Want Commitment Right Away
“A love bomber will quickly say ‘I love you’ and want to define the relationship to become exclusive within days,” says Spira. “They’ll be talking about a future together, including living together or even marriage, to seal the deal.” If you hesitate, the love bomber might pressure you to commit and buy into the plan — or threaten to leave you to find someone else who wants a committed relationship, she explains. So although you want a committed relationship, the love bomber takes an unhealthy approach toward having one. “Deep love takes time — the courtship cycle is both romantic and necessary — and I believe all relationships need to journey through all four seasons,” says Spira.
Frederick agrees, saying the love bomber expects immediate commitment. She says a telltale sign of a love bomber is that they’ll pressure you into rushing things and begin making big plans for the future. For example, they'll mention things like moving in together and having kids when you've only known each other a short while. “Something to keep in mind is that genuine relationships take time to develop,” she says, recommending you take note if your partner seems overly eager to get close before fully knowing you. “This is especially indicative of love bombing, especially if the feelings are not mutual,” she says. “Love bombing runs hard and fast, and things will move quicker than they should, which is a huge red flag. If what they say sounds like it's right out of a film, tread lightly. A storybook love story is excellent for entertainment, but true love and relationships seldom look like the movies.”
They Will Be Upset If You Want To Slow Things Down
“When a person is a love bomber, they will be upset and push against you slowing down the pace of dating them, because then they cannot achieve their goal of manipulation,” says Velazquez. “But when a person is genuinely sweet and has good intentions, they will be okay with you slowing down the pace of dating because they genuinely desire to get to know you and want to be with you.” She says you can tell a lot by the way they react when you ask them to slow things down. “If you genuinely like the person who is coming on too strong and want to date them, just be honest and tell them,” she says. “You can say, ‘I appreciate you sharing your feelings with me. I like you, too. But you're going too fast for me. I would like for us to get to know each other better by taking things slowly to develop a connection over time to see if we are right for each other.’”
What To Do If You Think You’re Involved With A Love Bomber
Frederick says that if you feel like everything is moving too quickly in the early stages, you should sit down and reflect on it. “Falling in love should be savored and not feel rushed,” she explains. “More often than not, you will be able to know if you're being love bombed, as everything feels like it's moving unnecessarily fast. Stay in tune with yourself and go with your gut, so if something seems off, check in with yourself and your partner before getting more involved.”
In this case, it's essential to set clear and healthy boundaries: begin by refusing gifts, establish limitations on time spent together, and respond to overwhelming texts at your own pace, not theirs. “You can also firmly communicate that you do not want to rush and be prepared to walk away from the relationship if your wishes are not respected,” Frederick adds. “Confiding in, and maintaining, a support system can also be critical. Friends, family, support groups, and licensed therapists can help you understand what type of person you're dealing with and how to respond appropriately. If you think you're being love bombed, focus on getting support for yourself, not the other person.”
Velazquez adds that in the dating era of #WestElmCaleb and #TheTinderSwindler, it's your responsibility to vet the people you date. “Be sure to keep your trusted friends in the loop if you realize you're dating a love bomber or you’re falling for someone too fast,” she says. “And never give a love bomber any money or your personal identification info. Someone who truly cares for you wouldn't take advantage of your feelings, body, and livelihood for personal gain.”
Check In With Yourself, Too
“Recognizing and guarding against love bombing isn’t just a matter of recognizing who the other person is,” Frank Thewes, therapist and founder of Path Forward Therapy, tells TZR in an email. “Recognizing their red flags is only the external part of the love bombing scenario. It has a lot to do with who you are and how well you know yourself.” He says that people who are more secure and in touch with themselves — and who foster self-confidence and self-esteem — will likely recognize a love bomber sooner. They will also be less susceptible to love bombing because they don’t have a need for it. “Love bombing is an effective intoxicant — external validation — heaped on us in a quantity and frequency designed to overwhelm,” he adds. “If we are better at validating ourselves — and don’t need to believe that compliments and constant attention bring value to us — then we aren’t as likely to respond to, or buy into, love bombing.”
Spira argrees. “Suppose you're lonely, vulnerable, and seduced by overwhelming attention and affection,” she says. “In that case, you might sign up prematurely for a life with someone — the love bomber — you barely know who might have ulterior motives to control you and even your bank accounts.” So make sure to proceed with caution and recognize a love bomber before it’s too late, she adds.