If you’ve ever been in love with a narcissist, you’re probably aware of how good they are at manipulating relationships.
One of their tools of manipulation is something called love bombing, which appeals to the dreams and hopes their targets have of being loved unconditionally, being rescued from past emotional harm, and never having to worry about infidelity or betrayal.
The more you know about your emotional triggers, the better equipped you’ll be to protect yourself. You’ll learn how to identify manipulative people, how to recognize if you’re dealing with love addiction, and find the courage necessary to let go of toxic relationships.
Maintaining no contact is one of the most important things you can do when you’ve ended a relationship with a narcissist. But it can be extremely difficult.
To help you take steps toward maintaining no contact, let’s review why love bombing is so detrimental. Then, learn about steps which will allow you to heal from your toxic relationships and focus on your recovery and transformation after narcissistic abuse.
What Is Love Bombing and Why Is It So Addictive?
The main reason why it’s difficult to leave toxic relationships is that they’re highly addictive. It’s hard to recognize this in the moment, though.
To better understand the formation of love addiction, let’s take a look at love bombing.
Love bombing refers to a variety of words or actions that make the receiver feel loved, valued, and cared for. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a negative thing, but it can be when it’s used by someone who has ulterior motives.
When used by a narcissist, love bombing is a tool of manipulation. Often, when those who are in a relationship with a narcissist express the desire to end things, the narcissist showers them with words of love.
The term “love bombing” originally referred to actions that members of cults would use to lure new members.
Alex Myles of ElephantJournal.com states that, when in a relationship with a narcissist or sociopath, love bombing starts during the very first meeting. These are often considered whirlwind romances and, as Myles says, it can be “a dizzying experience.”
The love interest of the narcissist is so flattered and overtaken with their emotions that it can be difficult to see through all the love bombing to the heart of the matter. They create a fantasy world, totally absorbed in the euphoric ‘high’ from the feelings evoked by the narcissist’s validation and interest in them.
The problem with love bombing is that, once the narcissist or sociopath is bored, they end the relationship. This leaves the other person feeling hurt, broken, and craving love. After all, they’re used to being showered with words of love and devotion. Once it’s gone, or the narcissist gets angry and abusive and stops their displays of affection, their partner is left feeling empty, even desperate. The target realizes their fantasy of having finally found true and unconditional love was just an illusion, after all.
Symptoms of Love Addiction
Loving a narcissist can have adverse effects on your physical, mental, and emotional health because they prey on the fantasy their partners have about true love and yellow brick roads. If you’re curious as to whether you’re dealing with love addiction or not, take a moment to review the following symptoms. These are just some of the most common symptoms of love addiction.
- Obsession with a romantic love interest
- Mistaking sex or romantic attention to mean there’s long-term potential and/or a true emotional bond
- Believing you can be loved in a “special way” that will make you happy for the rest of your life, as seen in popular romantic comedies or romance novels
- Compulsive behaviors regarding the relationship
- Lack of control – reacting immediately to emotional triggers without thinking of consequences
- A strong desire to go back to the narcissistic individual
- Striving obsessively to maintain the chemistry and romantic intensity that seemed present at the beginning of the relationship
- Since reaching adulthood, you haven’t spent any time alone. You’ve always been in a relationship or you start a new one immediately after one has ended
The problem with love bombing is that it’s too good to be true. And this is something that victims of abuse find out rather quickly.
Of course, a thoughtful partner will show affection, say kind words, and make romantic dinner reservations. But the narcissist goes above and beyond. They shower their victim with so much love that it literally becomes something they crave. To be showered with such seeming affection activates the same pleasure centers in the brain as other types of addictions such as those to drugs, alcohol, and food.
Then, the narcissist pulls away, either because they want to leave the relationship, they’ve found another target, or because they’re angry at their partner. They blame their partner for ruining the relationship and for making them angry. The partner becomes afraid of losing the narcissist because they’re now addicted to the “love” they’ve been shown. It’s a vicious cycle.
Maintaining No Contact and Other Healthy Ways to Cope with Love Addiction
You do not deserve to be with someone who treats you this way. Their actions and behavior are unacceptable. Deep down you probably realize this, but the idea of leaving is scary. Feelings of fear, self-doubt, and of whether you’ll find love in the future run rampant.
The key to recovery and transformation after narcissistic abuse may initially seem counterintuitive. The key is maintaining no contact with the abuser. This is one of the first steps you need to take to break free from your love addiction.
It’s important to note, though, that like any addiction, love addiction has withdrawal symptoms. How can you healthfully work through these?
- Don’t give up. Again, this is an addiction. There may be times when you are overcome by your feelings. That’s ok – forgive yourself and move on. Remember: you don’t deserve to be in an abusive relationship.
- Get educated. Learn about your addiction. This will give you the upper hand. The more knowledge you have, the more you’ll be able to plan for and recognize triggers.
- Always be kind to yourself. Don’t ever treat yourself the way your abuser did. You’re not them, and you don’t deserve what they put you through.
- Get help. Talk to someone regularly about what you went through and what feelings you’re currently dealing with. The regularity is a good way to work through low points. Plus, the person you’re talking to probably sees more progress than you do. It’s good to hear how well you’re doing from someone outside the situation.
Recovery and Transformation After Narcissistic Abuse are Possible!
While you’re in the midst of an abusive relationship, the thought of getting out and feeling happy and healthy again seems impossible.
However, once you learn about your addiction, take steps to remove narcissistic people from your life, and get outside assistance, you will be able to overcome your love craving.
And, in time, you’ll make a full, healthful recovery and transformation after narcissistic abuse. You’ll get there – don’t give up!