Christine Regan Lake

What is Narcissistic Love Bombing? (and it’s Cycle) 

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Christine Regan Lake

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In this article we will be exploring; What is love bombing? The reason why narcissists love bomb you. The typical length of time that a narcissist will love bombing you, and the silent treatment you receive after a fight.

What is Narcissistic Love bombing?

The narcissist love bombing cycle is a coping mechanism that a narcissist learned as a child having grown up in a toxic and/or narcissistic family in which they were not taught how to have healthy relationships.

Why do Narcissists Love Bomb?

A child who grows up in a narcissistic home will learn to model their parents behavior in learning how to get what they want in interpersonal, romantic, and business relationships. The child and future narcissist learns that relationships are all about using control and manipulation as a means to get what they want from the other person.

Love bombing is the first phase of something known as trauma bombing. In trauma bonding a person will bond someone to them by reverting back and forth from loving behavior to negative or cruel behavior. The love bombing phase is very prevalent in the beginning of the relationship. It is meant to bond the new person to the narcissist as quickly as possible so that they have time to build a connection quickly.

Narcissistic relationships are characteristic of this kind of ‘instant relationship.’ Healthy relationships build over time, first starting out with a solid friendship and then evolving romantically.

The love bombing phase may also include a fast move toward sexual activity – thus creating a sexual soul-tie to the individual which happens whenever you have sexual intercourse with someone. This creates an additional tie that will bind the new person to the narcissist.

The love bombing phase will be intense and will be implemented for maximum effect to make the recipient feel as though they have never been loved like this before. The person on the receiving end will feel that they can do no wrong and that they are cherished and adored by their new partner.

Sadly, this phase will not last long. Once the narcissist feels as though they have their new partner ‘hooked’ then they will start with the devaluation phase. They will start making little criticisms or insults to their partner to start to widdle away their self-worth and self-esteem. Sooner rather than later the person will begin to feel as though they can do nothing right. They will begin to start to doubt themselves, their self-worth, competence and value.

At this phase there will be lots of gaslighting and manipulation. The reason that the narcissist will love bomb you is because they are terrified of being rejected. In a study by Murray and Holmes, 2009[1] they found that most relationships are riddled with behaviors that people use to self-protect against being rejected by their mates. And, their behavior is moderated based upon the level of reflective trust they feel toward their partner. Reflective trust refers to how much they believe their partner truly cares for them and is committed to the relationship.

It can be valuable to speak to someone if you feel as though you have been a victim of narcissistic trauma.

What Love Bombing is NOT?

Love bombing is not done from a manipulative stance to get something from another person. The challenge with distinguishing between what is a natural, organic desire to be generous and complimentary to your new partner and toxic love bombing comes down to knowing the intent of the person doing it. Which, when you are first getting to know someone can be hard to discern.

It’s important to remember, not everyone is a narcissist, and we all have some narcissistic traits. Some people have simply observed unhealthy behaviors from their parents when they were children, and they are not conscious of what they are doing. This is where owning your voice and speaking your boundaries comes into play whenever you feel your boundaries have been violated.

To skillfully navigate a relationship it requires a combination of healthy communication, discernment, personal boundaries, and a clear knowledge of what your standards are for your intimate relationship. You need to know what your values,  ‘musts’ and ‘deal breakers’ are so that you can decide whether a given connection is worth your time.

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How Long Does the Love Bombing Last?

The love bombing phase is a very intense period. The length can vary depending upon a variety of factors including distance, how often you see each other, and how much narcissistic supply they are receiving from their new partner. That said, generally speaking it has been averaged that approximately 4-5 months is a good range to estimate a love-bombing phase will last in a typical narcissistic relationship. 

The love bombing phase is incredibly intoxicating because all of the love, affection, and attention releases huge amounts of oxytocin and dopamine which is why people can become addicted to the narcissist. And, this is ultimately why so many people stay in a toxic relationship longer than they should. And, it has been proven that being a victim of narcissistic abuse can cause brain damage. It is an insidious cycle for the victim because they erroneously think that if they can figure out what they need to do or say to the narcissist to make them see how true their love is for them, it will bring their partner back to who they were in the beginning of the relationship.

A recent study that specifically examined love bombing as a trait in relationships was able to determine that there is a strong correlation between someone with an insecure attachment style  and low self-esteem having a tendency to love bomb in their relationships.[2]

Narcissist Love Bombing Cycle

There is a very predictable pattern or cycle that a narcissist follows in their interpersonal connections. This can happen with a friend, business colleague, or romantic partner. A narcissist is a narcissist and thus their interpersonal skills affect all of their relationships in much the same way..

The way in which the ‘love bombing’ might be conveyed to a business colleague will obviously look quite different from the way in which they will show it to their love partner — but the cycle is the same.

There are Four Distinct Phases in the Narcissistic Relationship; 

First: The Idealizing Phase

As mentioned above, in this phase the new partner can do no wrong. They are bombarded with gifts, compliments, time, and attention. This is a highly addictive phase because all of the positive energy being bestowed on someone releases massive amounts of feel good chemicals in their brain like oxytocin and dopamine.

Second: The Devaluing Phase

Phases one and two will definitely overlap because part of what makes the trauma bond so powerful is the back and forth experiences of having positive and then negative attention. The partner who is being love bombed will continually seek ways to try to return to the intoxicating feelings they first experienced when they first met the narcissist.

The devaluing phase is meant to systematically destroy a person’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Someone with low self-worth will remain in an unhealthy and toxic relationship because they are too afraid to leave because they don’t think that anyone else will want them. A person with a diminished sense of self-esteem will continue to allow themselves to be criticized, bullied, and disrespected in the relationship. The longer this devaluation goes on, the harder it can be for someone to walk away as the foundation of their strength and confidence has been dismantled. 

Third: The Discard Phase

By the time the narcissist discards their partner they have either grown bored with the connection, or they have sucked the person so dry they feel there is no more narcissistic supply to be had.

Having rung the person out for all they could get they discard them to move on to another person who they believe can fill their cup and provide a new, fresh source of narcissistic supply to bolster their ego.

The discard will more than likely be swift and brutal with no explanation. They will want to leave their partner wondering “What just happened?” They want to leave the person without any closure so that the person will continue to pine for them in their absence and they want to keep the door open in case they ever decide they want to return to that person.

Fourth: The Hoovering Phase

The hoovering phase named after the hoover vacuum describes when the narcissist circles back around to you to try and ‘hoover you back up’ like a vacuum – to suck you back into their circle of narcissistic supply.

This will look a lot like the love bombing phase you experienced when you first met this person. They will be as sweet, charming, funny, and charismatic as they were when you first met. You will want to believe that this person is genuine. Yet, it is important to remember that this is a manipulative tactic they are using to draw you back in and once they believe that they have lured you back into the fold, they will then commence the devaluing phase again to start chipping away at your foundation again.

It’s important to remember an insecure partner is a narcissist’s best friend. The best thing you can do is remain in no-contact and keep working on your emotional healing work to strengthen your confidence and learn to understand the pitfalls that come with connecting with a narcissistic partner. 

11 Signs You Are or Have Been Love Bombed by a Narcissist

  1. They bombard you with flattering compliments and flowery praise.
  2. They are in constant communication with you via calls / text messages.
  3. They splurge on expensive gifts to impress you. 
  4. They rush into a commitment very early in the relationship.
  5. They call you their  “soulmate” or “twinflame” almost immediately.
  6. The relationship feels incredibly intense (the empath/narcissist polarity)
  7. They ignore you when you set boundaries
  8. They are uber affectionate and try to rush sexual intercourse
  9. They demand your undivided attention
  10. They try to isolate you from your friends and want you all to themselves.
  11. They expect you to respond to texts or calls immediately 

A Number of Ways They’ll Reveal Themselves:

They want to show you off to their friends

It’s all about making themselves look good to their friends. You’re nothing more than a luxury accessory that they want to show off. You’re like a shiny new toy that they are obsessed with. But, as with all toys at some point in the future they become bored with and go seeking a new shiny toy to distract themselves with. 

You Have an Instant Relationship

Narcissistic relationships are characteristic of this kind of ‘instant relationship.’ Healthy relationships build over time, first starting out with a solid friendship and then evolving romantically.

The love bombing phase may also include a fast move toward sexual activity – thus creating a sexual soul-tie to the individual which happens whenever you have sexual intercourse with someone. This creates an additional tie that will bind the new person to the narcissist.

They Buy You Expensive Gifts

Who doesn’t love receiving a beautiful gift from someone that loves you. You’re probably thinking…. Why is getting an expensive gift a bad thing? It’s not a bad thing, yet, it can be a sign that someone is trying to draw you in closer to them with manipulative intentions. Especially if they buy it very early in the relationship. Why would they spend so much money on a stranger? As I said, it can be a manipulation tactic to help bond you to them very quickly.

If they have low self esteem it can be done as a way to impress you with an expensive gift which in their mind proves how successful they are. Remember a confident person has no need to try and impress anyone. Not every person offering you a gift is a narcissist trying to impress you so just keep your eyes open and listen to your gut. 

You Have a Constant Craving to Go Back to the Beginning of the Relationship When You Were ‘perfect’ and They Were Loving

As time goes by in your relationship and you find that the love bombing and attention has faded and has since been replaced with being on the receiving end of snarky comments, insults, and gaslighting you will organically have a pull to want to return to the early days in the relationship when things felt so warm, soft, and perfect. Yet, you’ll find that it is an impossibility to actually get that feeling back.

A healthy relationship will naturally lose some of its excitement the longer you are together. A typical honeymoon phase in a relationship usually only lasts about the first year and half to two years, but what replaces that romantic excitement is a sense of deeper commitment, understanding, and emotional closeness. 

They Discard You When You’re No Longer Useful

The narcissist will discard you when you are no longer useful to them. Usually this happens about the time that you have started to see through their manipulation and their tactics no longer work on you. Or, they have become bored with the relationship and want the excitement of finding a new, ‘better’ source of narcissistic supply. The discard phase can be very ugly depending upon the personality of the narcissist. And, they may implement a smear campaign to  try and make you look like the bad guy in the relationship so that everyone sides with them after the break up. They want to paint you as a villain and themselves as the hapless victim of your bad behavior. 

Covert Narcissist Love Bombing

The covert narcissist is the hardest narcissist to identify because they have become incredible actors. They will have your family and friends believing they are the best boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife that ever existed. They will have everyone fooled and people will not understand why you think this person was toxic to you. You may feel crazy because no one sees the person that you see. The covert narcissist will use love bombing as a way to manipulate you to keep you in the relationship. 

Photo by
Afif Ramdhasuma on Unsplash


Narcissist Love Bombing After Fight


You will find that the narcissist will return to love bombing you after you have had a fight. If they are not yet done with you and ready to move on to a new supply they will reel back in with words of praise, gifts, or being romantic again. Some narcissists are truly addicted to the adrenaline of fighting and you will find that they tend to engage in fights and quarrels quite often. It gives them a massive adrenaline rush. And, chemically their body is addicted to the chemicals released during the fight/flight cycle that is triggered during a fight.

Narcissists engage in manipulative and abusive tactics for a number of reasons: 

  • They want to control you because it gives them a sense of power
  • They want you to cater to emotional, physical, sexual, or financial needs
  • They like the power of making you subservient to them
  • They want your entire life centered around them which helps to feed their ego. [3]
  • They tend to be jealous and envious of others who have more than what they have. 
  • They are unable to take personal accountability for their actions. Everything is someone else’s fault. They are always the victims. 
  • They love bomb you so that they can quickly have you form an attachment to them before you have had enough time to see through their persona and realize who they truly are. 
  • They are hypersensitive to criticism and are offended whenever anyone offers constructive advice to improve themselves or their work. 

How to Stop Love Bombing?

You ultimately have no control over what another human being does, however, you can try to communicate to your partner if you are uncomfortable with some of their love bombing tactics.

You can let them know that excessive texts are not something that works for you, or that you are uncomfortable taking such expensive gifts so early in the relationship. The most important thing is to keep your eyes open, communicate your boundaries, take things slow, and never, ever do anything that violates your personal values or beliefs just to try and make your partner happy.  

Love Bombing to the Silent Treatment

When the narcissist moves from love bombing to the devaluing phase you may experience ‘the silent treatment.’ The silent treatment is just one of the ways a narcissist will devalue their victim. It is an emotionally immature coping mechanism for someone who has not done their emotional healing work. Healthy communication is the hallmark of a healthy and healed adult so for someone to engage in the silent treatment it is a telltale sign that this individual has not done their inner child work to heal the wounds of the past. 

The Purpose of the Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is used as a way to punish you. They want to trigger feelings of hurt, rejection, confusion, and overwhelm. It has been scientifically proven that the most destructive thing you can do to a person is to ignore them. Ignoring someone is more destructive emotionally and physically than actively criticizing or hurting them. This goes back to the primal days of living in tribes. To be cast out from the tribe was certain death. So when a narcissist is ignoring you, he wants to hurt you. He wants to punish you for whatever you have done (in their mind) that they believe was a slight or betrayal. Which, to the highly insecure and over-reactive, paranoid narcissist would be pretty much anything.

If you are being ignored and given the silent treatment try not to take it personally and realize that this is an emotionally immature tactic used by a wounded individual to get back at you. Acknowledge it for what it is and keep moving forward. 

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

Final thoughts… 

Being in a toxic relationship with a full blown narcissist or even someone who simply has many narcissistic traits can be incredibly exhausting emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually and financially. It can leave you feeling like you were run over by a truck. This is why I strongly recommend that people focus on detoxing emotionally and physically and embrace focused self-care after a break up. After being on the receiving end of narcissistic abuse you need to pour deeply into your own cup with self-love. And, finally it is critical that you learn to forgive both the narcissist and yourself because hanging onto anger, rage and resentment from the past will make you sick. 



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