If you’re not susceptible to flattery, you likely won’t be susceptible to love bombing. Love bombing or idealization is the pathological version of the honeymoon stage in healthier relationships. It’s an insincere manipulation tactic, or con job. The person with whom you think you’re falling in love doesn’t really exist.
Narcissists, borderlines and other emotional con artists tailor their seduction to your insecurities, vulnerabilities and unresolved childhood wounds. The attention they shower on you that feels so good isn’t what you think it is. It isn’t about genuine interest and affection.
It may seem like they’re intently listening to you to establish mutual rapport and understanding. But they’re not. They’re studying you. Many of my clients fall for these individuals because they feel heard, seen, understood and appreciated for the first time in their lives. Or, the second, third or fourth time depending on how long the pattern has been occurring.
Healthier, non-disordered people actually listen to each other and have two-way conversations. It’s how emotional attunement, healthy bonds, appreciation and admiration are built over time. Initially, it may seem like narcissists or borderlines are listening to you with sincere interest. What they’re actually doing is “listening for.” Listening for anything they can later turn into tools or weapons to manipulate, control and exploit you.
Love bombing doesn’t create healthy attachments. It creates an emotional and psychological dependency on the person who’s making you feel good about yourself. This is why so many people crash and experience withdrawal symptoms when the love bombing and/or relationship ends.
My clients don’t have difficulty letting go of the self-absorbed, hypocritical adult toddlers with whom they spent the majority of the relationship. They struggle letting go of the fantasy woman or man who loved bombed them at the beginning of the relationship. The wish to return to the emotional symbiosis/mutual admiration society is powerful.
During love bombing, the false selves of the narcissist/borderline and the codependent (or the narcissist/borderline and narcissist/borderline) idealize each other and “fall in love.” In other words, you’re not a hero or knight in shining armor. And she’s no fairy princess. In reality, you’re a codependent with insecurities and self-worth issues going back to your family of origin. The narcissist or borderline is an abusive, exploitative predator who’ll happily and sadistically take advantage of your desire to be loved and admired.
So don’t be flattered by love bombing. Recognize it for what it is — dependency forming seduction and manipulation.
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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