The veiled abuse that’s love bombing
At the beginning, everything seems perfect— too perfect. You think you have found someone who is not only into you, but also showers you with attention and admiration. But then, later on, you realise it was just a tactic…
Jasmine Atieno @sparkleMine
Love is a beautiful thing to find. But the reality is that we live in such materialistic spaces that dating has been made all about who does this more than the other.
Young men and women are out to date someone who is best at sustaining them materially.
And while some people are lucky to get it all, others unknowingly fall prey to love bombers eventually getting caught up in the most toxic situations they never imagined.
Love bombing is characterised by excessive attention, admiration and affection with the goal to make the recipient feel dependent and obligated to that person.
Twenty-eight year-old Mombasa-based radio host, Esther Mumba, shares how he got away from the snares of a love bomber.
“I met the man in my neighbourhood. I had just finished college and was searching for a job. He said his intentions were to marry me and wasn’t out to play games.
So I asked him for some time, you know, to get to know him a little better because I did not want any drama with a married man or baby mama situation.
He started putting pressure on me on when exactly to expect my response. To which I told him to be patient.
Before I knew it, the gifts started streaming in and well, it was just so unexpected,” she shares.
It started with small money transfers a couple of times without her expectations. When she enquired, he would respond that it was for some lunch.
Then it got to inappropriate gifts and this became a clear red flag for Esther. “One of those days, he sent a girl to my home with a small bag.
Inside the bag were shoes, size 39, which is actually my size. But how did he know?
There was some bras and earrings too! He wasn’t my boyfriend, and this was totally uncalled for.
So, I talked to my mum about it and she advised that I change my line. I was soon to move away from Malindi to Mombasa where I had been called for a job. So I just cut off links,” she adds.
Mary*, another young woman found herself on the spot when her pursuant started sending gifts to her at her office.
“It started with flowers accompanied by intimate messages sent to me at my place of work.
I wasn’t dating him and I wasn’t even thinking about it as such. But people started making fun of me talking about ‘finally Mr Right’.
He would send teddy bears with cuddly messages. I made it clear that I hated it. So he reverted to M-Pesa.
I decided to give it a shot, you know, without sexual intimacy and it was hard.
He would call me in the middle of the night, if I did not pick up, he would make a fuss and talk about how I was with someone else.
This was it, I just started avoiding him. I cut him off completely. Blocked his number and did not respond to any messages. I did not want problems,” she shares.
According to relationship counsellor Raymond Mwaura, love bombing originated from Mormons where its leaders weaponised love for their own gain. It’s modern meaning doesn’t veer too far off course.
Since it is human nature to want to be accepted and loved, it’s hard to understand why love bombing is a negative thing.
This is where the distinction between intention and outcome becomes important.
Love bombing is meant to create feelings of obligation and dependency in the ‘object’ of attention.
There isn’t really a sense of mutuality when you are love bombed. In fact, what looks like chivalry and good, old-fashioned romance at first can quickly descend into feeling like you are being bombarded and there’s no space to just breathe.
That kind of almost-obsessive attention is also a red flag because it’s connected to patterns of control and abuse. This type of behaviour is often linked to narcissism.
“Love is subtle as it’s an emotion that has a need for connection where human beings have innate desire to belong, like and has needs to be met.
A narcissistic personality has tendencies to isolate, control and destroy or dominate.
So love bombing is used to overshadow an individual with excessive presence and guilt feeling to enslave someone from personal boundaries and privacy in the name of ‘I love you so much.’
An individual finds that every moment they are given gifts or loved they are reminded that they owe the person love,” says the expert.
Mwaura says how true love has no fear and every person should watch their contribution in their love process.
The single most important guideline when you are dealing with a psychologically manipulative person is to know your rights, and recognise when they are being violated.
As long as you do not harm others, you have the right to stand up for yourself and defend your rights.
“Avoid people who engage in love-bombing. It is important to assert yourself and your boundaries out loud, even if it feels rude to do so.
Speak to others about the emotional manipulation and get their validation. Take your time instead of being rushed into decisions you may regret.
Love bombing may suffocate a person from seeing the other persons fault and they feel indebted to the person,” advises counselor Mwaura.
However, love-bombing doesn’t always mean you are dealing with a narcissist.
It can occur outside of a narcissistic relationship, particularly if a person is needy, lonely, or happens to be naturally generous and attentive.