The Love Bomb: What is Love Bombing; Why Does It Matter?

Updated June 17, 2024by Regain Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Love can be a great thing, but many use it to manipulate and abuse others. We’ve all heard stories about abusive partners luring and keeping people using certain techniques or manipulation tactics. Today, we’ll be looking at the phenomenon known as “love bombing” – where certain people will shower you with gifts, only to have an ulterior motive.

What is love bombing?

Is your partner manipulating you?

Love bombing is a manipulation technique where the person uses excessive adoration to influence the person they’re targeting. While it may seem sweet, there is an ulterior motive behind the love bombs.

Examples include:

  • Sticky notes with messages of love on them. They cover the bathroom, your bedroom, your car, etc. A couple of messages here and there are fine, but if someone is sticking an excessive amount, this could be a red flag – especially early on in a relationship.
  • Sending flowers every chance they get. Again, there’s nothing wrong with flowers as a gift, but someone trying to love bomb you will send them all the time, and you may have enough flowers to grow a garden.
  • Excessive texts. If this person is constantly sending love texts, especially as soon as you wake up, it may be a red flag. A couple should be in communication, but if there’s constant communication that never ceases, this may be a problem.
  • They may buy expensive vacations out of the blue. In most relationships, vacations are planned out and budgeted. The bomber will send you plane tickets in a love bomb without even talking to you about it first.
  • Pressure to rush in.  They may talk about moving in, marriage, or any other big step early into the relationship. This is their way of making you lose your independence.
  • They say extremely hyperbolic phrases. They may tell you that you’re the best person they’ve ever met, even though they haven’t known you for long. They will tell you that you’re the most beautiful person in the world, etc. Saying hyperbolic phrases once in a while can be nice, but someone who says it excessively may be someone to watch out for.

Why are these bad things? Because this is a technique used by narcissists and abusers to manipulate you.

Why do people love bomb?

Someone who is loves bombing may be doing it for a few reasons:

  • They have nothing to offer personality-wise; in fact, their personality is toxic, so they compensate by giving you gifts or excessive praise.
  • They are trying to make themselves look like they have more money than they actually do to impress you. Once you’re “hooked” by their tactics, you may realize they don’t have as much as they let you believe they did.
  • They are trying to control you. They enjoy controlling other people, and the best way they can do that is by baiting and switching. First, they bait you through gifts and praise, then when your defenses are down, they become controlling and manipulative.
  • They may love bomb as a way to make you forgive them for something, rather than own up to their mistakes.

Simply put, people love gifts, attention, and praise. When receiving these things, we might be blinded to red flags, more inclined to believe the other person’s overtures of interest as sincere, and to let them in closer, faster.

History of the phrase

The phrase was believed to be coined by the Unification Church of the United States. The phrase was created to mean expressing concern, interest, friendship, or just a fellowship with others. However, even this definition was criticized, with some people saying that the phrase was meant to unify church people while claiming everyone outside was hostile.

In 1996, Margaret Singer, psychology professor, wrote more about this phenomenon, saying people were love bombing to recruit to join other cults. According to her, it was feigned and not really a sign of love, but instead, a manipulation tactic to lure and keep people in the cult.

The phrase then went outside of a cult and described the actions of gangs and pimps that are used to control others. Finally, it moved on to the definition we’re looking at today, which is where narcissists use romance bombing as a way to get into and maintain an abusive relationship.

Love bombing vs. true love


You may wonder how you’re supposed to tell the difference between someone romance bombing you and someone who is genuinely trying to express their love. While it may be difficult for some, there are ways to figure this out, including:

The excessiveness

The best way to tell the difference between a love bomb and someone trying to express genuine affection for you is to look at how excessive their gifts or gestures are. Someone who buys you the occasional gift probably isn’t romance bombing you. Someone who makes a cute song for you probably isn’t manipulating you. A person who buys you a gift every day, texts nonstop, or makes a daily habit of unending praise, however, may be raising red flags to pay attention to.

It seems too good to be true

If the gifts and gestures seem too good to be true – as if the person is straight out of a fairy tale – then there is a good chance that it is. Oftentimes, the love bombs are there to compensate or mask the person’s true intentions.

There’s a feeling of being rushed

A healthy relationship won’t make you feel like you’re being rushed into the relationship. Meanwhile, someone who is loving bombing will make you feel like you need to be in the relationship right now or get serious if the two of you are dating. In any relationship, you should never feel like you’re being rushed.

It all goes away soon

Once you’re together with the person, have moved in with them, and become dependent on them, then their true colors shine. They may become openly controlling, critical, or even begin verbally abusing you.

The love bombs resume when you’re upset

There is nothing wrong with gifts or with praise in a relationship. Still, love bombing usually only gives gifts during the beginning of a relationship to rush you into a closer relationship or commitment. Once you’re committed, the gestures will stop and only resume once you begin to see their true nature and want to leave or are upset with them.

How to manage a love bomber

If you feel like someone is romance bombing you, here are a few ways to deal with them.

  • Politely refuse the gifts, or say you’re not interested. A person who isn’t trying to manipulate you will move on, while a manipulating person may become nasty or double down on the gift giving.
  • If you get into a relationship, make sure you have people outside the relationship. If the partner doesn’t want you talking to anyone, you need to leave the relationship ASAP.
  • Communicate that you don’t want to rush into things and that excessive praise or gifts are uncomfortable. Someone who cares will be understanding and open to discussing it. Someone who isn’t will double down or become angry. Depending on the response, you can choose between continuing the relationship or not.

Seek help!

Is your partner manipulating you?

If you’ve experienced the red flags described in this article, it may be hard to trust people again, and you may mistake genuine gift-giving as a manipulation tactic. Finding the balance between fear and healthy skepticism is difficult, and getting back into a relationship after an abusive one is even harder.

Thankfully, there are ways you can recover from the relationship, and one way is to seek therapy. A relationship counselor can help you in a few ways about love bombing, including:

  • Helping you identify red flags and signs of an unhealthy relationship.
  • Helping you learn what healthy relationships look like.
  • Teaching you how to spot early signs of abuse.
  • Supporting you with ways to refuse or leave a relationship.
  • Working with you to develop coping strategies.

Studies have found that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy and offers several advantages. When working with a Regain relationship therapist, you can meet online from a comfortable, safe location of your choosing, at a time that works best for you.


Love bombers are manipulators. It can be easy to get wrapped up in their attention and praise without realizing what is actually happening. Pay attention to the warning signs discussed in this article. If you feel like you need help with your relationship life, talking with a therapist can help. If you’re in a relationship and having difficulties, therapy can help you sort things out and process options. Reach out and let a Regain counselor help. 

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