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Ask Ava, Episode 154: "What’s the difference between love bombing and someone genuinely wanting to make me happy?"

March 09, 2023 Safe+Sound Somerset Season 1 Episode 154
Ask Ava, Episode 154: "What’s the difference between love bombing and someone genuinely wanting to make me happy?"
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Ask Ava, Episode 154: "What’s the difference between love bombing and someone genuinely wanting to make me happy?"
Mar 09, 2023 Season 1 Episode 154
Safe+Sound Somerset

Episode 154: "What’s the difference between love bombing and someone genuinely wanting to make me happy?"

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Episode 154: "What’s the difference between love bombing and someone genuinely wanting to make me happy?"

Support the Show.

On today’s episode, we’re answering a question from local teens about love bombing.

This is Jessica Skultety, Outreach and Prevention Manager at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic and sexual violence response organization. We’ve been providing services at no charge to survivors for over 40 years.  

Jessica: So, today's question from local teens is: “Dear Ava, what’s the difference between love bombing and someone genuinely wanting to make me happy?”

And today we’re joined again by Safe+Sound Somerset volunteer Ella Blank, who goes to the University of Maryland. Hi Ella, thanks for joining us today!

Ella: Hi everyone! For this question, we can start with a definition. Love bombing is when a person showers a partner with displays of affection very early on within a relationship. This can be anything from an overabundance of attention, compliments, promises, anything to grand gestures and gifts. It’s usually a tactic people use to manipulate or rope their partner into staying with them, and can lead to an unhealthy relationship. Sometimes people do this when they are trying to get someone to date them, which can be problematic, especially if the other person isn’t expressing interest.

J: Yeah. Also, at the beginning of any new relationship, there’s a lot of excitement and newness. You might have heard of the “honeymoon phase.” Right? But what happens when one partner does SO MUCH for the other person, that it creates an environment where their partner is relying only on them? For example, survivors tell us that abusive relationships will often start out for them as “the most passionate” or “the most exciting time in their life.” Sometimes it feels “too good to be true.” 

E: Definitely. Also, it can happen even without intending to. If someone’s lovebombing, it can create an environment where someone feels like they HAVE to do things, or they HAVE to go out with them. These relationships tend to move very fast. If your relationship is moving fast, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad, but it can be a warning sign. 

Love bombing can be unintentional, and sometimes the partner doesn’t even realize they’re doing it. Maybe they’ve learned the behavior from their own parents, friends, or from media. But it’s important to think about the impact our actions have on other people, even if we mean well. 

J: Right. We also need to talk about love bombing because these behaviors, like you said, can quickly become unhealthy. As the partner receiving this attention, you can listen to your gut and your instincts. Love bombing is often motivated by one person’s self-interest, while someone who genuinely wants to make you happy would be doing it out of real feelings, without expecting any kind of payback. It can be hard to see the difference! 

E: Yes! Genuine gestures should feel natural and make you feel happy. While love bombing might make someone feel excited and cared about at times, it can also make someone feel anxious, frustrated, unsafe, or uncomfortable because of its intensity. The other partner might not feel like they can say anything because their partner has taken things too far, or they’re worried that they’ll make them mad, and they want to avoid conflict.

J: Absolutely. We hear that a lot, about people wanting to avoid conflict. But, here are some signs that someone is love-bombing instead of truly caring:

1.     Constantly complimenting you, showering you in praise and affection without any regard for themselves or others. They are constantly giving and expecting the same amount of attention from you. 

2.     Encouraging you to spend more time away from family and friends, and most or all of your time with them. This can actually be someone isolating their partner on purpose. In a healthy, safe relationship, both people realize that the relationship is just one part of their life, and they leave time and space for themselves and their friends and theirfamily – even during the “honeymoon phase” of a new relationship.

3.     Another example of love bombing: someone showing up constantly or sending gifts unexpectedly. These can actually be stalking behaviors if they are unwanted.

4.     They might push your boundaries and guilt trip you in the name of love or in your relationship. Your own boundaries are important and keep you safe. For example, if you didn’t want to start having sex with someone right away, but they are pressuring you, that’s not good.

 E: Exactly. Here are some other signs of love bombing:

5.     They want to know anything and everything about your life very quickly. They don’t seem to really care about your privacy, and this could also mean that’s they’re constantly communicating with you via text or DM, and expecting constant responses.

6.     They could be making huge grand gestures to present a perfect or ideal version of themselves to you, and it doesn’t match up with their real selves. This could be if you’re already together, or if they’re trying to convince you to go out with them.

7.     They bring gifts like flowers, chocolate, special purchases, but they make you feel guilty for these purchases, or pressured afterwards. Gifts that are given in a respectful and healthy way are given without any expectations of something in return. Sometimes a partner will want something in exchange for doing something for you, and that is not okay and does not feel good. 

8.     Sometimes the relationship will be moving very fast. For example, the partner says “I love you” or insists on moving into together, pregnancy, marriage, or long term partnership very early on, and you’re feeling uncomfortable. Remember, you get to make decisions here, too. 

J: Yes. Partnership is a two way street. And it’s good to be careful around a new partner. To protect yourself, it can really help to really think about their actions and words. If you think you might be love bombed and manipulation might be the motive here, ask yourself these questions:

1.     “Are their words (or other gestures of affection) lining up with their actions?” 

2.     “Are their actions transactional?” Which means, like Ella just described, do they make you feel like you owe them something in return for something?

3.     “Is there pressure to move the relationship along quicker than I feel comfortable?” 

4.     “If I deny any of their requests, do they make me feel bad about it?” 

If you’re really unsure about the motives of your partner, it can help to talk to friends or family and get an outside perspective. Manipulators are good at deceiving others, so by talking to someone else who sees your relationship from another view, can help. You can also call or text the Safe+Sound helpline to talk it out, at 866-685-1122.

E: Yes. It can also help to think about fantasy versus reality. Just because we see something happening in the media, like on TV, or in movies, or in songs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right or healthy for us. You can ask yourself questions like, how do I want to be treated in a relationship? What does safety look like for me? What boundaries are non-negotiable for when I’m with a partner? 

J: Right! It can really help to think about these things in advance, or throughout the first stages of your relationship. You can also change your mind and check in with yourself throughout that relationship. It never hurts you to do that, to check in. So, thank you again so much for being here today, Ella!

 E: Of course, thank you so much for having me!

To speak with an expert about relationship or sexual violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential helpline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning. 

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