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Do people know they’re love bombing?

Love bombing is a technique where someone overwhelms a person with excessive affection and attention in order to gain control or significantly influence their behavior. It often occurs at the start of relationships or when attempting to repair a damaged relationship. But do people actually realize when they are love bombing someone?

What is love bombing?

Love bombing involves lavishing someone with flattery, praise, gifts, and affection in an attempt to influence them. It is an attempt to accelerate the bonding process and gain emotional control. The “bomber” uses constant texts, calls, gifts, and compliments to show how much they care. This overwhelms the recipient’s ability to make rational decisions about the relationship and connect with the bomber.

While it may seem like genuine care and affection, there are often ulterior motives with love bombing. It can be a manipulation technique used by narcissists, sociopaths, and people with antisocial tendencies. The goal is to achieve control and power over the recipient. Once that power dynamic is established, the love bomber may become indifferent, critical, or even abusive.

Signs of love bombing

There are several common signs and patterns that emerge with love bombing:

  • Excessive flattery and praise, even when undeserved
  • Over-the-top gifts and tokens of affection
  • Discussing long-term plans like marriage very early on
  • Constant communication via texts, calls, emails
  • Jealous or controlling behavior
  • Wanting constant contact and validation
  • Adamant declarations of love and devotion
  • Showing up uninvited and unexpected
  • Showering with affection then withdrawing unexpectedly

This behavior tends to be excessive compared to what is normal at that stage of a relationship. The recipient often feels overwhelmed but also exhilarated by this influx of attention and devotion after a period of love bombing. The bomber uses this to establish emotional dependence and control.

Why do people love bomb?

There are a few key reasons why someone may resort to love bombing tactics:

  • Narcissism – Narcissists love bomb to satisfy their own ego and self-image as being highly desirable. They crave validation and admiration.
  • Control – Love bombing creates an unequal power dynamic where the recipient becomes dependent. The bomber can then exert control.
  • Fear of abandonment – Some people use love bombing due to fears of being alone. They try to establish commitment quickly.
  • Manipulation – Love bombing is used to manipulate the recipient’s emotions and decision making to get what the bomber wants.

In many cases, the love bomber has antisocial tendencies like narcissism, psychopathy, or Machiavellianism. But regular people can also pick up and use love bombing tactics, often subconsciously, for the reasons mentioned above.

Are people aware they are love bombing?

In many cases, love bombers are fully aware of their behaviors and intention to control or manipulate the recipient. But there are also scenarios where love bombing is subconscious:

  • They may genuinely believe this outpouring of affection is normal for them.
  • They are unaware of their own narcisissm, insecurity, or fear of abandonment driving the behavior.
  • They pick up manipulative behaviors from past relationships.
  • The tactics work for them, so they become normalized and subconscious over time.

Even without awareness, the love bombing still functions to accelerate bonding and gives the bomber power in the dynamic. The lack of self-awareness means they often don’t see the behavior as problematic or damaging to the recipient.

Signs a love bomber is self-aware

There are some signs that suggest a love bomber is consciously using the techniques:

  • Their over-the-top claims of affection seem insincere or forced.
  • They have a pattern of short, intense relationships.
  • Their admiration is based on superficial traits like wealth or looks.
  • They become cold, critical, or abusive once control is established.
  • Their motives are driven by ego, jealousy, or entitlement.
  • There are signs of other manipulative behaviors.

Conscious love bombers often have dark triad personality traits. They know exactly how to perform love bombing to elicit the desired reactions. For them, it is a deliberate strategy rather than a subconscious behavior.

Can a love bomber change?

For someone who uses love bombing unconsciously or due to insecurity, increased self-awareness could potentially change the behavior, especially with professional help. But for conscious love bombers with ingrained narcissistic or antisocial traits, the prognosis for change is much poorer.

Habitual love bombing requires a level of emotional manipulation and lack of empathy that is highly resistant to change in adults. Even if the bomber moves on to other tactics, the antisocial core tendencies typically persist.

However, in some cases intensive therapy over an extended period – such as schema therapy or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) – can foster behavioral change and improvement in conscious love bombers. But it requires considerable time, effort, and awareness from the bomber themselves, who often don’t see their behavior as a problem.

Protecting yourself

If you are the recipient of intense love bombing behaviors, here are some tips:

  • Notice if their admiration seems based on shallow traits.
  • Consider their past relationships and attachment style.
  • Don’t let yourself get swept up in constant communication and gifts.
  • Recognize that such intensity so soon is not normal or healthy.
  • Be alert for any belittling, controlling, or manipulative actions.
  • Never feel pressured into major commitments too quickly.
  • Pay attention to any confused feelings or emotional highs and lows.
  • Trust your gut instincts if something feels “off.”

Love bombing can be immensely flattering and exhilarating at first but will inevitably leave damage. Being able to recognize it early is key to protecting yourself against this emotional manipulation.


Love bombing involves an excessive influx of affection and admiration, often early in relationships or after wrongdoing. While some love bombers are completely conscious and intentional with this emotional manipulation, others may lack self-awareness.

Subconscious love bombing can be driven by insecurity, fear of abandonment, narcissism, or manipulative behaviors learned in the past. Even without awareness, love bombing establishes an unhealthy power dynamic and false sense of intimacy.

Conscious love bombers with antisocial traits are fully aware of their manipulative behaviors. They crave power, control, and validation. Change is unlikely for these habitual love bombers. Increased self-awareness and therapy could potentially help subconscious love bombers.

Being able to recognize love bombing early is crucial to protect yourself against this highly damaging dynamic in relationships with narcissists or other manipulators. Pay attention to love bombing signs and listen to your own instincts.