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What Is Love Bombing? 8 Signs Your Partner Is Doing It to You

Keep an eye out for these red flags in your dating life, therapists say.

The feelings and emotions at the beginning of a relationship can be a mix of thrilling and stressful. You're learning more about each other, and there's often a distinct feeling of not being able to get enough. But there is a point where people can take the overwhelming early stages a bit too far, giving their partner excessive attention and affection. When this is done as a manipulation tactic, it's known as "love bombing." We consulted experts to explain exactly what love bombing is, warning signs to look for, and what you can do if you're being love-bombed.

RELATED: Covert Narcissist Traits: 8 Signs to Look For.

What is love bombing?

gifting red roses
:ArtistGNDphotography / iStock

It's great to feel loved and appreciated by your partner, especially if your relationship is new, but love bombing is different. As the name suggests, love bombing occurs when someone figuratively "bombs" you with anything from affection to gifts.

It's often used as a form of manipulation to compel a partner to stay in a relationship or overlook bad behaviors, according to Beth Ribarsky, PhD, professor and director of the School of Communication at the University of Illinois Springfield.

"Love bombing is the overabundant use of attention, affection, or gifts to connect with another person and gain their interest," clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD, author of Date Smart, tells Best Life. "Love bombing sets the stage for a relationship based on overabundance; this is a tough act to keep going in the long term, and disillusionment and disappointment often result."

It's important, however, to distinguish love bombing from enthusiasm or excitement.

"What sets this behavior apart from passionate love or an anxious attachment is that it is done with manipulative intentions, such as making the target feel obligated to stay with the bomber or overlook their bad behaviors," Ribarsky shares. "Love bombing is effective because when someone showers us with affection and interest, it can send off a flurry of positive neurotransmitters. We enjoy feeling valued and simply special."

RELATED: "Breadcrumbing" Is a Toxic Dating Trend on the Rise—How to Spot It in Your Relationship.

How long does love bombing last?

couple on their first date smiling

According to Ribarsky, love bombing can occur at any point in a relationship, but it generally crops up early on.

"Although love bombing can happen at any point in a relationship, it tends to happen most often at the beginning of a relationship—often as a way to make the target feel obligated to the pursuer sooner than normal," she explains.

There's no real timeframe for how long this may go on, but you may notice a distinct shift when the love bombing is coming to an end.

"As love bombing drops off, a relationship built on overabundant displays often deteriorates; if a true love connection was never formed, the target of the love bombing often feels let down and uninterested," Manly says.

Love Bombing vs. Future Faking: What's the difference?

Loving happy couple talking to each other at home

While love bombing involves an overwhelming amount of attention and likely material gifts, future faking is a bit different.

According to Psychology Today, future faking is when a partner gives you a detailed description of the future of your relationship—without really seeing any future with you. The tactic is typically used by people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) to gain control and trust in a relationship. After they've secured that, a narcissist will change their tune, becoming closed-off and distant.

This dramatic shift can confuse a partner, especially when they remember the "fake" future they were presented with.

RELATED: How to Date Every Attachment Style.

8 Signs of Being Love-Bombed

1. They give you over-the-top gifts.

Cropped shot of a loving husband giving his wife a gift. Boyfriend surprise his beautiful girlfriend with present while she is sitting on the sofa in the living room at home. Focus is on the gift.

If your love language is receiving gifts, chances are you're thrilled when your S.O. picks up something special "just because." But you'll recognize a love-bomber if these gifts are excessive or more grandiose than you'd typically expect.

"Gifts are one of the core love languages. However, a love-bomber will lavish their partner in over-the-top gifts, such as expensive travel, jewelry, or clothing," Ribarsky notes. "And, although this can initially feel nice, a love-bomber is doing it as a way to make their partner feel indebted to them."

2. Grand gestures turn into grand requests.

When it comes to love bombing, strings are always attached, as the goal is to control you as opposed to conveying genuine feelings of love.

"A major key to spotting love bombing is that the grand gestures usually turn into grand requests," says Bethany Nicole, a relationship expert and author. "The partner begins to make big asks of the other person—things like moving in together, sharing bank accounts, lessening their time spent with others outside of the relationship, or checking in on a regular basis."

3. They start "soulmate talk."

Woman talking having a serious conversation

Another red flag of a love-bomber is talk about being "soulmates." According to Ribarsky, when someone starts talking about fate or even saying "I love you" early on in a relationship, it should send up red flags.

"It's often a love-bomber's attempt to escalate a relationship more quickly, pressuring the other to commit," she explains.

Ribarsky also points out that the idea of soulmates isn't always a positive thing.

"Of course, it is incredibly fulfilling to find someone who complements you," she says. "[But] the idea that there is only one person on the entire planet for you is frankly overwhelming and a bit discouraging."

RELATED: 10 Dating Red Flags You Should Never Ignore, Therapists Warn.

4. It's intrusive and overwhelming.

While grand gestures are often one-time things, such as a birthday present or anniversary gift, love bombing is more of a constant barrage of attention.

"If your partner is love-bombing you, he or she might also be very annoying and always trying to control you in other ways, like constantly checking in on you, monitoring your social media, and getting jealous easily, even without any reason," explains Laura Wasser, a relationship expert and chief of divorce evolution at

5. They demand attention.

couple going over their their home finances on a laptop and smart phone while sitting at a table at home

If you find that your new partner is commandeering all of your time, pulling you away from other responsibilities or loved ones, that's another love-bombing indicator.

"A love-bomber will want to know everything about you and will often share excessive information about themselves as an attempt to get more information out of you," Ribarsky cautions.

She continues, "Although it is flattering that someone wants to spend their time with you, a love-bomber will often express jealousy if you are spending your time with others or indicate disappointment if you do not respond as quickly as they'd like."

6. Your boundaries are not respected.

You can't seem to set boundaries with a love-bomber, either.

"They don't listen when you say 'no,'" says Madeline Lucas, LCSW, therapist and clinical content manager at Zeera. "Instead of respecting your 'no' they will try and convince you to do what they want you to do."

Wasser adds, "If your partner is unwilling to respect your boundaries, it might be time to cut ties. It's important to prioritize your own well-being and safety. Don't be afraid to reach out for support from friends, family, or a professional if you need it."

7. It feels disingenuous.

A man covering a woman's eyes at the dinner table so he can surprise her with red roses.
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

If your gut is telling you something is amiss, don't ignore it. In many cases, you'll get an inkling that you're dealing with a love-bomber, even though it can be a tough pill to swallow.

"I had a client whose boyfriend showered her with gestures of gifts, flowers, and love letters but … the gestures seemed to be more grand than thoughtful," Nicole shares. "For example, gifts of two dozen roses when she didn't even like roses, and love letters that shared a lot of emotion but not a lot of individualized details. It felt like the gestures could be translated to any partner, as opposed to a specific partner."

8. It's too much, too soon.

If you feel your partner is displaying these over-the-top gestures before you even know their middle name—or, more importantly, who they truly are—this can be another sign of love bombing.

"They rush to define the relationship or accelerate commitment," Lucas says. "They might want to introduce you to their family and friends immediately, or they very quickly start speaking about 'locking down' or formalizing the relationship, instead of allowing [it] to take its natural course … Love bombing is, in turn, more a projection of a connection or bond that isn't there yet and may never be."

RELATED: 10 Things Men Do When They're Not Interested, Dating Expert Reveals.

Is love bombing a form of abuse?

Young Couple Arguing and Fighting

According to experts, some forms of love bombing can be abusive, specifically "narcissistic love bombing." But Ribarsky notes that love bombing in general can be a form of emotional abuse, because "it centers around controlling their partner."

Are love-bombers always narcissists?

While love-bombers are often narcissistic, that's not always the case. Manly cites narcissistic love bombing as "intentionally manipulative" and emotional abuse.

"Rather than coming from a true place of inner passion and interest, manipulative love-bombing has a negative goal," she explains. "The purpose of manipulative love bombing is to gain the interest and attention—and even the trust—of another person with the goal of 'capturing' the individual for personal gain. This type of love bombing is often the first step in a cycle of abuse where 'love' is given conditionally and intermittently and then replaced by increasingly toxic behaviors."

However, that is not to say that all love-bombers are narcissists. Anyone can love bomb in a relationship, but a narcissist will want to gain control early on. According to Manly, they may also be more likely to love bomb if they saw this behavior modeled as being "healthy" while growing up.

Healthy Relationships vs. Love Bombing

Young unhappy couple trying to take selfie
New Africa / Shutterstock

We all like to feel special, especially in a relationship, but experts stress the need to differentiate between healthy affection and one-sided emotional abuse.

According to Manly, love bombing will be "on another level," with the love-bomber displaying "false and inflated" efforts that are likely to disappear when they tire of the relationship.

"Although the person thinks the love bombing is real and a sign of devotion and love, the love-bomber engages in 'loving' behaviors for personal gratification and self-inflation. This type of behavior is a red flag because of the manipulative, self-absorbed nature of the underlying dynamics," Manly says.

She continues, "In healthy relationships, displays of affection and attention are geared toward building a true connection based on attunement and consideration for the wellbeing of the other person."

RELATED: 10 Red Flags You're Dating a Gaslighter, Therapists Say.

5 Strategies to Handle Love Bombing

1. Do your best to maintain your boundaries.

Couple sitting on the floor talking together

While a love-bomber might push back on the boundaries your set, Ribarsky stresses the need to define them. When you are firm with them, boundaries make it difficult for a love-bomber to overstep or find ways to manipulate you.

"If you aren't comfortable spending all your time with them, express your desires," she recommends. "For example, you might say, 'I'm really trying to take my time in this relationship, and I'm quite busy right now. So, right now, I am only comfortable seeing each other a couple of times a week.'"

2. Communicate discomfort.

Letting your partner know how you're feeling is key in any relationship, but especially in the case of love bombing.

"Being clear with how you are feeling (i.e., rushed, pressured, over-benefited) can be a big first step in ensuring that the interest is genuine," Ribarsky says. "However, an expert manipulator will often be well-versed in gaslighting, too—making you feel crazy for feeling that way. So, you have to be very confident with what you're feeling and why."

3. Get some perspective.

Woman journaling in bed
Cast Of Thousands / Shutterstock

If you suspect you're dating a love-bomber, take a step back and try to take an objective perspective, Manly recommends. You might accomplish this by journaling about red flags or speaking with friends or a therapist.

4. Talk it out.

If you're able to, it may also be helpful to discuss your feelings or concerns about love bombing with the person you're dating.

"When you feel as if you've had the chance to assess the situation objectively, talk with the love bombing person about your concerns," Manly advises. "A narcissistic love-bomber may 'explode' or 'self-destruct' when confronted with respectful honesty, so you'll learn a great deal from the nature of the person's responses."

5. Trust your gut.

As tempting as it may be, especially if you're excited about the prospects of a new relationship, don't ignore your intuition.

"It is easier said than done to trust our guts. But, if something is feeling off, it's likely because there is an underlying reason. It's not just you overthinking!" Ribarsky warns.

RELATED: 3 Toxic Dating Warning Signs That Most Men Miss, Relationship Coach Says.


soul ties - couple putting their faces together
PeopleImages / iStock

Is love bombing always a red flag?

Once you're able to identify love bombing, you might be able to discern when a partner has actual bad intentions.

"When love bombing is manipulative in nature, it's definitely a red flag. In some cases, love bombing is based on genuine, intense interest in another person," Manly notes. "Some people are naturally very enthusiastic and giving when love-struck; love bombing that comes from this authentic space of emotional and physical generosity lacks a manipulative quality."

Still, even if it's well-intentioned, love bombing can be unhealthy—particularly if the person being love-bombed feels overwhelmed or unsafe.

Can love bombing occur in friendships?

Love bombing is also not exclusive to romantic relationships. According to Manly and Ribarsky, it can occur in friendships as well—but it might not look the same.

With a friend, you're probably not discussing love or being each other's soulmates, but you could still be getting gifts or  receiving gestures that feel a bit too extravagant.

"It isn't uncommon for a friend love-bomber to do so because of a fear of losing the friendship—so they will attempt to manipulate the other into feeling obligated to stay in the friendship," Ribarsky says.


couple drinking red wine in the kitchen during the day time

At the end of the day, you want to be wary of love bombing, keeping an eye out for it in your dating life and with new people you meet.

"A form of love bombing can occur in almost any relationship," Manly says. "When one person purposefully uses displays of affection and attention to manipulate another person's feelings and behaviors, love bombing is at work."

In addition, don't hesitate to reach out for help if your situation with a love-bomber seems to escalate.

"If you feel stuck in the clutches of a love-bomber, reach out to a mentor, trusted friend, or psychotherapist for support," Manly urges.

This story has been updated to include additional entries, fact-checking, and copy-editing.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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