You’ve met a seemingly-perfect guy. He is attentive, enjoys spending time with you, shares your interests. He’s even said he loves you. So why do you feel something’s not quite right with your whirlwind romance? Here’s SIX TOP SIGNS that you may be an abusive love-bomber’s latest target.
#1. He declares he loves you extremely early in the relationship – perhaps before you’ve even decided that there is a relationship. My first abusive ex, whom I later came to call His Royal Highness (though never to his face!), was my boss. He told me he loved me. I told him I didn’t love him – crikey, I barely even knew him. Tears shone in his eyes. ‘Oh,’ I thought. ‘If he’s so upset then he must really feel that way.’ It took only a few more months before we started dating.
Like my ex, an abuser will – for the duration of your relationship – continue to use ‘I love you’ solely to manipulate you.
#2. He has no hobbies or interests – but takes on yours as his own. He never showed an interest in Reiki or appliqué crafting before, but suddenly he’s the expert. If you go to classes, he’ll sign-up too. This helps convince you that you’re Made For Each Other. It also enables him to ‘guard’ you during your outings, and insinuate himself into every corner of your life. Before long, you’re doing everything together and everyone else is pushed out. The first step in isolating you is complete.
#3. He maintains relentless contact. Closely linked to #2, the bombarding love-bomber texts or calls you continually. He ‘surprises’ you by calling over unannounced. He writes you long emails at 3am. You may feel flattered that you are clearly so much on his mind, but actually what he is doing is ensuring that he is rarely out of yours. As he sets the pace and does not allow you breathing-space, you’re far more likely to go with his flow.
#4. He agrees with just about everything you say, whether it’s your musings on global politics or your preference in pizza toppings. He voices no opinions of his own at this stage – but believe me, you’ll hear a lot more of them once he feels confident that you’re firmly hooked. As his mask slips, Mr Agreeable morphs into a domineering monster.
#5. He paints you the picture that you want to see. If you long for a ‘happy ever after’, he sets himself up as your dream Mr Darcy. If you’ve been abused by a past partner, he’ll show you his strong, protective side – coupled with outrage against men who treat women that way. My second abusive ex knew all about my first, and wanted me to see him as The Protector. Unfortunately, this became the first link in the trauma-bonding process – where he had the power, and I didn’t.
Want to get married someday? So does he. Sure you want children in the future? So does he. See yourself travelling the world and having great adventures with the love of your life? He has the same vision.
Whilst it is great to meet someone who shares our hopes and dreams for the future, tread cautiously to determine whether this is simply a love-bombing tactic. If he says he wants children someday, how does he behave with the kids already in his life? If he’s already a doting uncle, for example, that is reassuring. If he cooes at baby photos with you but scowls at a bawling toddler when he thinks you’re not looking, you may want to reassess.
#6. He treats you. Expensive gifts, dinners, flowers, quirky little presents ‘just because’ keep heading your way. Many people in genuine relationships do this because they like making each other happy. But for a love-bomber, the lavish displays are manipulative – they are designed to convince you of his (or her) sincerity. Also, remember the old adage, ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’? An abusive love-bomber does. You’ll be repaying him, with interest, later.
Love-bombing is not love
Love-bombing can easily be mistaken for genuine, Real Deal love. However, it is absolutely, definitely, 100 per cent NOT about love. It is a manipulative tactic designed to achieve a specific goal. From an intimate partner perspective, love-bombing can be spotted through its two main characteristics: speed and magnitude.
- He moves too fast for your comfort, making it harder for you to assess whether you are headed in the direction you want to go.
- He does too much, his proclamations and displays are more grand and sweeping than people would ordinarily put out there.
Why does he do it?
Though psychopaths and narcissists are often accomplished love-bombers, people without personality disorders can and do also use love-bombing. An abuser who uses this technique is deliberately charging-up the natural relationship process, so he can:
- Convince you he’s The One
- Relax into his natural, abusive state as soon as possible
- Create the optimum conditions so you do not leave him when the abuse emerges.
When an abuser love-bombs, this is a deliberate attempt to manipulate you in the direction of his choosing. It is also the start of a process to condition you so you don’t leave when the domestic abuse emerges.
If you suspect you are being love-bombed, try taking a step back. If your man respects your wishes and your boundaries, you likely just have an overly-enthusiastic suitor on your hands. If he doesn’t, you are probably dealing with an abuser – and you need to hit that red Eject button!
Has a love-bomber made you their target? When did your alarm bells sound, and why?
ALSO SEE: 15 signs your partner may be a budding abuser, in Early Warning Signs.
© Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-14