What Is Narcissistic Love Bombing?

Love Bombing

Has an enthusiastic new romantic partner ever overwhelmed you with effusive texts, lavish gifts, or plans for the future? Did it feel wonderful but with an undercurrent of unease, perhaps due to the speed and intensity of the romance? Did your love interest get prickly or refuse to listen when you tried to slow the pace of your romance or set boundaries? If so, you may have been subjected to narcissistic love bombing.


Love bombing is when an individual lavishes another person with love “bombs” of attention, affection, and praise early in a new relationship in order to influence or manipulate them. It’s typically used as a tactic in romantic relationships but may be seen in other types of relationships, such as friendships and work dynamics.

Love bombing is when an individual lavishes another person with love “bombs” of attention, affection, and praise early in a new relationship in order to influence or manipulate them. Click To Tweet

The term love bombing has become popular over the last several years – especially among young people. Do a search for #lovebombing on TikTok, and you’ll get hundreds of thousands of results!

A 2022 survey found that 70% of more than 1,000 participants, ages 18-55, had experienced some form of love bombing. Women encountered it at a significantly higher rate than men.

In some cases, love bombing may be innocent. In other cases, it’s a form of emotional abuse. At some point, the love-bombing period stops. A new phase follows, which may include gaslighting, criticism, or controlling behavior, and in some cases, physical abuse. Love bombing is not to be taken lightly.

Here’s what you need to know about love bombing, including clear signs on how to recognize it.


People engage in love bombing for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Narcissism
  • Attachment issues
  • Loneliness
  • Genuine love

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

1. Narcissism

Although love bombing is not a diagnostic term, mental health professionals typically use it to describe the manipulative behavior that narcissistic or abusive individuals employ in early romance. It is used to gain power over a person—often someone vulnerable and appearing in need of a “savior.”

Using gifts and affection, the narcissistic love bomber essentially taps into the recipient’s internal reward system. This helps quickly create a bond that can have addictive-like qualities. This serves to make their partner feel dependent on them.

Indeed, when you’re the object of a love bomber’s desire, you might feel safe, secure, and totally adored. This is because these grand gestures initially boost your self-esteem and make you feel worthy and desired.

However, the secret motive of the love bomber is not simply to seek love. Research shows that narcissistic love bombers, who tend to be lacking in self-esteem, ultimately want to gain control over you.

2. Attachment Issues

Not all love bombing is conscious or manipulative. In some cases, unconscious or unresolved attachment issues propel an individual to love bomb.

For example, someone who has an insecure attachment style may love bomb in an effort to “secure” the relationship quickly, because they fear being abandoned. Unfortunately, the love bombing may overwhelm a partner and turn them off, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Alternatively, an individual with an avoidant attachment style love bombs to feel in control over the level of intimacy. When the partner reciprocates, they typically get overwhelmed by the closeness and push them away, which leads to the opposite of love bombing: ghosting.

3. Loneliness

Sometimes love bombing can simply be enthusiasm from a lonely person who is desperate for a close relationship.

4. Genuine love

Love-bombing behavior may be an expression of genuine love, especially if an individual comes from a family or culture that is demonstrative with affection. In addition, it’s important to note that men tend to fall in love more quickly than women do, research has found.

In general, new love can be overwhelming. Brain-imaging research shows that falling love affects the brain in the same way cocaine does. It can trigger a flood of neurochemicals that produce a sense of euphoria. At the same time, it activates areas of the brain that lead to intense focus and obsessive thoughts about a new love interest.

On the flip side, new love can reduce activity in brain networks involved in judgment and negativity. The neural systems responsible for critical assessments basically shut down. It’s as if the brain is driving us to fall in love and stay in love.

To protect yourself, it’s important to be able to assess and discern dangerous love-bombing behavior.


Although every relationship is different, nearly all instances of love bombing will include the following:

  • Excessive flattery and praise
  • Constant sharing of feelings
  • Showering you with gifts that you don’t want or need
  • Intense talks with you about a future together very early on in the romance (within days or weeks)

Additional signs of love bombing may include:

  • They shower you with over-the-top gestures (a romantic trip for the weekend, creating fairytale-like dates, sending 100 roses, etc.)
  • They say exactly what you want to hear
  • They refer to you as their “soulmate” or suggest your connection is “destiny” or “fate”
  • They push for commitment early in the relationship
  • They get upset with boundaries
  • They’re very needy
  • They want you to respond quickly to texts and calls
  • There’s lots of PDA and posting on social media
  • You feel uneasy like you have to tread lightly
  • They introduce you to close friends and family too soon
  • They prefer you alone, isolated from your family and friends
  • You have a feeling of being “swept off your feet”
  • They seem too good to be true


Love bombing has 3 stages:

  1. Idealization

During this phase, your partner bombards you with over-the-top expressions of love and affection. It serves to draw you in and let your defenses down. You may experience a feeling of being swept off your feet or that the love bomber is too good to be true.

  1. Devaluation

At this point, you start to relax and get comfortable in the relationship, but red flags begin to appear. Perhaps your partner will try to control you by limiting your time with family and friends. You may see flashes of anger, especially if you say no or attempt to set a boundary.

They may withdraw their attention and become critical of you or suddenly cut off contact or blame you for the issues in your relationship. This is called gaslighting. In some cases, they will employ fear and intimidation to control your behavior and may even use physical violence.

  1. Discard

When a love bomber realizes they can no longer get what they want from you, they will likely discard your relationship and move on to a new one. This usually happens if you confront them about their harmful behavior or make an effort to implement healthy boundaries.

Love bombers try to avoid accountability. They will typically leave before cooperating or compromising.

If you leave a love bomber, they may return later. Typically, they will begin again with extravagant and lavish gestures in an attempt to win you back. They may also say they will change. However, instead of changing, they simply start a new cycle of abuse.

Experts say that the best indicator of an unhealthy love-bombing situation is your gut feeling. Healthy love generally makes you feel good. Toxic relationships make you feel stressed and uneasy, doubting your perceptions.


Love bombing can harm your self-esteem and sense of self-worth. You may have feelings of shame and self-doubt. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and confused, wondering how you became so dependent on a person you hardly knew. Be understanding and kind to yourself.

Love bombing is a form of emotional abuse that can lead to feelings of despair, anxiety, depression, and guilt. Look for support from non-judgmental, understanding friends or family members.

If you’re having trouble getting over post-love bombing symptoms, consider psychotherapy with a qualified mental health professional. Immediately seek help if you have experienced physical abuse. You can call the domestic abuse hotline: 800-799-7233.

If you recognize love bombing in yourself, working with a mental health professional can help address narcissism or other underlying issues driving your behavior.

Love bombing and other relationship issues can’t wait. At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, clinical evaluations, and therapy for adults, teens, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.


  1. Love bombing can also occur in cults and/or some churches.

    Comment by Jolene Bridges — October 2, 2023 @ 5:00 AM

  2. Very important article!

    Comment by Denise Caruselle — October 2, 2023 @ 5:28 AM

  3. This article helped me better understand an incident that happened to me. I was feeling vulnerable after my husband of 36 years left me for his younger coworker. An acquaintance offered me a job and at first she showered me with praise and attention. I already had a part time job I enjoyed, but she wanted me to quit that so I could work for her full-time. When I resisted she became very critical . She called me to her office and spent two hours discussing all my personality flaws. I tried to defend myself by pointing out that I had many friends and family members who did not see me the same way she saw me. She said my friends were not real friends and they were lying to me. She seemed pleased when, about an hour into this conversation, I broke down in tears. I realized what was happening to me was a pattern in her office, as employees often quit within days or weeks of being hired. There were a lot of tears in the office, and people would be there one day and gone the next. It was difficult for me to resign because it felt like another failure and rejection coming on the heels of my divorce. Fortunately, as soon as I resigned I felt pride in how I handled the situation. I didn't confront her behavior, I just took care of myself by walking away and I got support from the people who have been my friends for years–people who I knew truly cared about me. I had labeled this incident as "crazy-making" but after reading this article I see how it was narcissistic love bombing and I understand why I was susceptible to it. Thanks for the information!

    Comment by Sandra — October 2, 2023 @ 8:41 AM

  4. What could be discussed more is love bombing in online scams.

    Comment by Rev. Maureen — October 4, 2023 @ 1:02 PM

  5. I couldn't resist commenting. Perfectly written!

    Comment by online slots for real money usa — November 23, 2023 @ 7:32 AM

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