When a narcissist comes into your life it is like being hit by a freight train.
One day you were going about your everyday life, and within a very short amount of time, before you could even catch your breath you were swept up into an entirely differently reality.
Gary Zukav makes reference to a Hindu poem “Destruction never appears weapon in hand. It comes slyly on tiptoe, making you see bad in good, and good in bad”.
Narcissists come in hard, they come in fast, and once a narcissist has decided that you are a target, he or she doesn’t waste time.
The process almost all narcissists know how to use very well is known as ‘love-bombing’. It is a powerful tool.
Wikipedia describes ‘love bombing’ as this:
Love bombing is an attempt to influence a person by lavish demonstrations of attention and affection. The phrase can be used in different ways. Members of the Unification Church (who reportedly coined the expression) use or have used it themselves to mean a genuine expression of friendship, fellowship, interest, or concern. Critics of cults use the phrase with the implication that the “love” is feigned and the practice is manipulative. It has also been used to refer to abusers in romantic relationships showering their victims with praise, gifts, and affection in the early stages of a relationship.
In this article I will explain how narcissists use love bombing throughout a relationship (especially in the early stages) in order to hook you, as well as how to CLEARLY identify the signs of love bombing and RUN AWAY before it’s too late.
The Narcissist’s Reality Before You Came Into the Picture
Let’s start with the background of where the narcissist has come from before he or she begins to plot how to get you into their world.
The narcissist is likely to have had narcissistic supply dry up, or is in the process of devaluing and discarding a former source of narcissistic supply. This means that the narcissist is looking to build new sources of supply.
Narcissists have no True Self – their inner self has been completely engulfed by the False Self. Therefore any reverence for life – love, compassion, empathy, integrity and genuine connection is null and void.
Because of the narcissist’s barren and internal emptiness he or she needs mirroring to survive. His or her flagging and erratic self-worth and self-value is precariously balanced on the need for outside attention.
To be without narcissistic supply (attention) is the difference between emotional life and death for a narcissist. The narcissist’s internalised wounds often resulting from the unhealed wounds sustained from the mother (or sometimes the father or other authority figures) are relentless. These are the ‘voices’ that continually tell the narcissist ‘you are no good’, ‘you are worthless’, ‘you are a total failure in life’, ‘you don’t deserve to exist’.
The narcissist does not have the resources to deal with, process or heal this inner terminal self-degradation, because he or she dismissed the True Self and created a False Self in its place.
This False Self is pathological – it is false. And through this faux self which requires constant stimulation and reinforcement of the narcissist’s grandiose version of himself (to escape inner constant torment) people are needed to feed this fake construction.
Normal life disappointments can be processed by people who are non-narcissists with relative ease. A narcissist does not have the inner mechanics to deal with ‘disappointments’ ‘set backs’ or the confronting of his or her ‘reality’ – that he or she is in fact imperfect and not the grandiose false version that is presented to the world.
Constant narcissistic supply is necessary to avoid him or herself, as a bottomless and never-ending quest to escape dealing with the emotional annihilation of what the narcissist really feels about him or herself.
A narcissist low on narcissistic supply needs to secure narcissistic supply as soon as possible. This will be his or her all-consuming focus.
And this is where love bombing comes into play…
The Difference Between Neediness and Pathological Narcissism
You must understand that the narcissistic emotional ‘love’ model is not the normal human one we know. Narcissists are insatiably needy. We know there are ‘needy’ people in the world – but the normal human version of ‘needy’ bares very little resemblance to a narcissist’s neediness.
Needy people are needy people, and have low self-esteem and deficient self-emotional resources, but they are not the pathological, relentless and lethal version of ‘neediness’ that the narcissist is.
Needy people are often very unskilled at the art of persuasion and romance, and may be very off-putting in their advances. It has often been said neediness is the worst cologne – and this is very true. ‘Normal’ needy people often don’t secure love relationships quickly because people are repelled by their shaky advances.
The narcissist is a completely different ball game. He or she is the most needy of all the needy people (requiring narcissistic supply like a heroin addict requires heroin), and his or her literal emotional survival has depended on acquiring narcissistic supply.
Therefore the narcissist has been able to intricately learn and perfect the craft of how to secure narcissistic supply – quickly, flawlessly and expertly. Narcissists appear to be very confident, and very much ‘in their power’ when romancing and wooing you.
Those who understand narcissistic behaviour realise the intense cycle of idealisation (adoring) and devaluing (abhorring).
The start of a love bombing episode with a narcissist is TOTAL idealisation. Valuable and consistent sources of narcissistic supply are necessary for the narcissist to escape into his or her magical world again of being adored, special, unique and ‘wonderful’.
When a narcissist decides a love partner is a valuable source of narcissistic supply – he or she will completely overrate, idealise this person and put them on a pedestal.
In the narcissist’s pathological landscape this offers the ‘greatest bang for buck’, that he or she has secured the most intelligent, creative, good looking, amazing, wealthy, resourceful or incredible source of supply possible.
The narcissist convinces him or herself (narcissist’s have incredible child-like imaginations) how INCREDIBLE this source of supply is.
This is how the narcissist highly values the narcissistic supply he or she has just ‘won’.
Inevitably the initial adoring comes at a very high price for the person who has been secured for narcissistic supply, and the fall, the devaluing is imminent – when the False Self is not being fed exactly what it requires – and the previously adored partner will be devalued and discarded.
This will always happen, because any critique, ‘slight’ real or imagined, or differing opinion undermines the narcissist’s grandiose version of self and is interpreted as the narcissist as a complete attack and possible annihilation on his or her precarious emotional foundation.
Once narcissistic supply has dried up, or the narcissist is confronted too often with his tormented inner self, without ‘the right’ narcissistic supply from you as relief, the narcissist has the ability to switch relationships quickly, just as he or she can completely change jobs, lifestyle and communities. All source of narcissistic supply which are not cutting the grade are dispensable.
Unhealthy Romantic Behaviour
Unfortunately there have been too many romantic movies, books and songs written about undying instant love, and couples getting together quickly, romantically and living happily ever after.
I am not saying this isn’t possible – but it certainly is not probable, and if you have ever been narcissistically abused then it is TOTALLY not worth the risk of EVER falling into an instant relationship in the future.
The truth is if what has presented to you is a real relationship, then absolutely it will stand the test of time, and you are narc-proofing yourself by taking your time.
This is not about being paranoid; it is about being a mature, sensible and healthy adult.
Someone who moves very quickly to secure you into a relationship and / or a sexual connection is not someone who is sensible or mature themself and is not being mindful about the long term implications of a relationship.
It is obvious they are also not concerned with empathy for you – in regard to the long term consequences of a relationship.
Such as ‘I don’t want to rush things before I am really sure, and play with this person’s heart and emotions. I want to be really sure, so I don’t unnecessary hurt this person or myself.’
Rushing, which of course includes love bombing are all the signs of instant gratification which narcissists are famous for (I need energy / attention / drama / stuff now and quickly to avoid my inner demons and tortured true self.)
Anyone who puts their heart on their sleeve immediately, or asks you for a committed relationship after one date (or even a few), or starts showering you with intense and incredible compliments straight away is VERY suspect.
This is NOT what normal healthy adults do.
When a narcissist is in the courting phase of securing narcissistic supply, he or she thrusts all available energy at the target of new narcissistic supply. The narcissist is full of energy, excited, and very forthcoming with future dreams and plans (which of course are everything you want to hear). Energy, gifts, compliments, effort, charms, talents and emotions are lavished on the new target.
The narcissist is a chameleon. He or she is able to mould, shape-shift and become anything that you want him or her to be. The narcissist has no real dreams, passions, preferences and certainly no real human values. Everything that the narcissist has crafted in his or her life has been for one reason only which is to secure narcissistic supply.
This is why so many people report that the narcissist seemed to have the exact same viewpoints, goals, future dreams, values and aspirations as themselves. All of this was false, the narcissist actually has no identity for him or herself, the narcissist steals identities to know he or she exists.
You need to know the narcissist is a pathological liar. If he or she is speaking, or writing an email or text you have absolutely no way to know whether or not the information is a lie. The narcissist is engulfed by an all pervasive False Self – which means this person is a phony – through and through.
What you can be sure of is every statement the narcissist makes – true or false (which is totally irrelevant to the narcissist) – is driven by the all-consuming need to acquire and contain narcissistic supply.
You need to GET REAL, this person showering you with compliments and attention does not even know you.
He or she has no idea until getting to know you whether or not you would make a good partner (which is exactly what you should be thinking as well) and this due-diligence takes time. It necessitates getting to know someone first (as a friendship first) to ascertain and build a healthy synopsis from.
The truth is narcissists aren’t worried about all the details of a long-term relationship. A narcissist is simply concerned with securing narcissistic supply as quickly as possible.
For some reason you fit this bill. You have great positive energy – which the narcissist can drain, you are attractive and intelligent – which is a good fit for the narcissist’s ego to show off, you fall for the narcissist’s charms – which means you will easily provide the narcissist with sex, you are successful and have resources – which the narcissist can start extracting from you…and the list goes on and on.
These are the things that make the narcissist exert his or her pathological laser like focus to do whatever it takes to secure you into a relationship – and as quickly as this can take place.
Being a narcissist and securing reliable and steady sources of narcissistic supply is exhausting, and his or her energies must secure a payoff and quickly.
For the narcissist it is about filling the need now, and making you as dependent as possible of him or her, so that he or she can extract narcissistic supply for as long as the narcissist chooses to.
Subconsciously (at least) narcissists know their relationships fall apart and are doomed to fail. Therefore the long view is not important.
Healthy Courting Behaviour
People who date healthily and who do have a True Self are not playing the game of needing instant gratification and needing to secure narcissistic supply.
They are mature and sensible enough to realise that a potential life long relationship takes time to ascertain, it takes time to get to know a person, and time to see if a love relationship could work healthily.
Mature, ‘normal’ adults do not start using excessive charm, target quickly and start professing all the reasons why you are so incredible, their soul mate, how much they love you and ‘where have you been all my life’, and all the reasons why ‘you are so different from all the others’.
They do not try to get in to an instant relationship with you – they take their time to get to know you.
They do not start sending incredible long romantic texts (that resemble something out of a movie or book), they do not write you exquisite love notes and letters, and they do not act out ‘over-the-top’ romantic statements and surprises.
Healthy mature adults may feel intense feelings of connection, but they will keep their cards to their chest for a while, they will see if these feelings are reciprocated by you, and they will play it gently and respectfully – and take their time.
In stark contrast narcissists will forge ahead, put it all on the line with love bombing and even when you tell them you are not ‘where they are at yet’ (if you aren’t) will carry on love bombing, telling you they have a right to declare their undying love, and don’t respect or hear that you may need some time to catch up to their feelings of ‘love’ (which appears to be ‘real’ but of course isn’t).
This is one of the surest ways you know you are with a narcissist. He or she will not back off on the love bombing if you don’t feel the same way.
The ‘romantic’ gestures, statements, text messages still continue and may even intensify.
Then if you don’t cave in to it, they may try to bully you, guilt you, confuse you, appeal to your compassion, frighten you (with threats of abandonment) or use another manipulative tactic to force you into succumbing.
You see a narcissist likes to win. He or she does not want to exert the force of love-bombing without securing the prize. To not win constitutes an enormous narcissistic injury. If it can’t be achieved by love-bombing, then cruel manipulation may ensue.
A non-narcissistic person, if they really wanted to develop a healthy relationship with you, would willingly back off, give you some time and respect ‘where you are at’.
A narcissist certainly won’t.
How to Flush Out a Narcissist When You Meet One
It is so important to not get caught up with love bombing, because being intensely idealised is one of the surest signs that further down the track you will be horrifically devalued and abused.
When you are the new source of narcissistic supply – the narcissist is high on his or her drug, and appears to be madly in love, incredibly attentive, adores you, worships you – and will tell you just how much you are adored and worshipped.
I know this can be incredibly difficult to accept at first, but you must be very clear, this love is not about ‘you’ as a person – it is about you being a supplier of the drug – narcissistic supply. It was never about you, it was always point blank about the narcissist ONLY.
You were simply an object dispensing narcissistic supply, and in the early days you supplied it in great measure. Partially due to the fact that you felt so loved and adored by the perfect partner that you had wanted all your life, and because the narcissist is so ‘high’ on ‘what a fantastic source of supply you are’.
Non-narcissistic people know this as ‘feelings of obsession’ (even if we don’t want to admit it). To the narcissist it is TOTALLY about getting the DRUG – narcissistic supply.
Beware of someone asking you intense inner and personal questions.
Beware of the words “I want to know everything there is to know about you”.
This is a definite red flag especially when coupled with love bombing.
Narcissists enmesh, they ensnare, engulf and bond intensely and quickly. Any information derived from you is to know how best to control you as a source of narcissistic supply. And the narcissist will use this information mercilessly in the future to exact punishment on you when you are not maintaining his or her False Self sufficiently.
What you will find out down the track is just how important narcissistic supply is, and how unimportant you are in comparison.
You will discover the narcissist will lie, cheat and use any pathological method to get it and secure it. You will discover that when the narcissist is no longer having his or her ego stroked by you, that the brand of narcissistic supply will now become how much the narcissist can affect you, create fear, paranoia and pain within you, (negative attention serves the narcissist the same as positive attention) – this is when the narcissist will use projection to label you as all the things that he or she does not take responsibility for (lying, adultery, abuse, selfishness, manipulation, etc).
Where does ‘love’ come in to it now?
It doesn’t – the fact is it never did.
You will also discover that the narcissist will not hesitate to replace you with other sources of narcissistic supply, or seek ones out on the side if the drug you are providing is not up to scratch. (And it never can be consistently because the pathological False Self is never sufficiently appeased for any durable length of time).
So this is the awful eventuality if you end up with a narcissist – and the chances are if someone is love bombing you – this is EXACTLY what you are signing up for.
I believe in love – absolutely and so should you. But ONLY with mature, real people who actually do have a True Self and are capable of being real love.
So how do you know that someone is the real deal?
Watch and listen. Have you heart open, but be very sensible. Don’t fall for gushing and love bombing statements, or ostentatious favours, offering of gifts, assistance and over-the-top romantic compliments.
Make the remark and be firm about it “It’s far too soon to be saying / offering that, you don’t even know me, and I don’t know you”.
Make it clear that you are in no hurry to enter a relationship and you would like to get to know someone first. Do not allow someone to sweep you off your feet, and force their way in to your life, bed and heart.
If the person attempting to do this does NOT HEAR YOU and pull up, and refrain from doing it – GET AWAY and STAY AWAY.
A few weeks (or even months) of spending time with someone – without having sex – and without making a commitment to be in a relationship is one of the healthiest moves you could ever do. If this person is keen and a genuine love connection with this person is possible – they will ABSOLUTELY respect your decision – and they will NOT continue to love bomb you with attention and adulation.
If this person is real and mature they will wish to walk this sensible line anyway.
If you meet someone who agrees to take their time with you – and you know they are present, able to be by themself, and don’t show signs of being in side relationships with others (which narcissists usually do) then this is a great sign that you are engaging with someone who is a True Self.
Obviously you need to have done enough work on yourself to not be needy (partners of narcissists are notoriously prone to ‘dependencies’), and to not be so empty or lonely that you want to rush things, and to not fear that this person will run off with someone who they can hook up with much quicker.
Anyone who has been narcissistically abused knows the gamble of letting someone enmesh with them quickly – and how in reflection the narcissist preyed on your vulnerabilities to make you dependent on him or her so that you could be targeted and snared for narcissistic supply, which of course set you up for soul-shattering abuse.
I know exactly how hard it is to get out – despite suffering the horrific devaluing and discarding episodes. Especially when dealing with an altruistic narcissist, I remember saying “If only this could change it would be perfect!”
Please understand a love relationship with a narcissist is merely an illusion, it was never real, and it is never going to be.
I hope this article has helped you get clear, and realise what was really taking place when you met the narcissist, and how to be very clear about people who use love bombing on you in the future.
I would love to hear your comments about this article, and I would also appreciate it very much if you pass this information on to help people avoid narcissists in the future.
Latest posts by Melanie Tonia Evans (see all)
- Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse Story #11 Debbie - December 5, 2013
- How Common Painful Belief Systems Lead Us Into Narcissistic Abuse - November 28, 2013
- Two Exciting Announcements - November 20, 2013