Getting hit by a love bomb feels glorious! The lavish attention and affection seems to answer our prayers. We’ve found Mr. or Ms. Right―our soul mate; unsuspecting that we’ve been targeted by a narcissist. The bomber abruptly changes colors and loses interest, and our dream comes crashing down. The rejection is excruciating, especially at the height of romance. It’s a traumatic shock to our heart. We feel duped, betrayed, and abandoned. We’re confused and try to make sense of the nightmare that was once a dream. What we thought was real was in fact a mirage. We search for answers, doubt and blame ourselves, often losing trust in ourselves and the opposite sex.
Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT is a marriage and family therapist. She is a relationship expert and author of “Codependency for Dummies” and “Conquering Codependency and Shame: 8 Steps to Freeing the True You,” as well as five ebooks. She has worked extensively in the field of addiction and codependency. Her work is informed by training in Self-Psychology, Voice-Dialogue, Dream Analysis, Jungian Therapy, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Somatic Work, EFT, and Hypnosis. She has also previously supervised other therapists as an AAMFT Approved Supervisor and practiced law as an entertainment attorney.
Sometimes, partners are ghosted by their disappearing suitor, are dumped by text, email, or a call. If they’re rejected in person, they’re bewildered by the coldness of the narcissist, who just recently expressed love and promised an amazing future together. They may discover that they’ve been disposed of for a new prospect, cheated on, or two-timed all along. It’s devastating and can be hard to let go, because all of their memories are happy and wonderful. It takes time to accept the truth of who the bomber really was. Denial protects victims from the painful truth that relationship was not what they imagined.
Love bombing and narcissistic supply
Research shows that love bombers have low self-esteem and are often narcissists; although not all narcissists are love bombers, and some non-narcissists are. Despite a façade of confidence and independence, narcissists feel insecure and empty. They require constant reassurance or “narcissistic supply” from those around them, but, like vampires, it’s never enough to fill their emptiness or satisfy their hunger. Rather than confidence, they actually fear that they’re undesirable. Their sense of self is determined by what others think of them, they try to control what others think to feel better about themselves. Thus, love bombing is thus a means to seek attention, to boost their ego, and fulfill self-enhancement needs for sex, power, and control. When they’re depressed, have suffered a loss, or are disenchanted with their last conquest, they look for new narcissistic supplies.
Many narcissists employ seduction, engage in game-playing, and use relationships for self-enhancement. Dating is intense and moves quickly. The attention can be dizzyingly exciting to the recipient. There’s frequently excessive communication, reflecting bombers’ neediness for affirmation, usually by text or social media, where they can exercise more control at a distance.