Love Bombing and the Narcissist
To say I came from a toxic background is an understatement-I was born in an asbestos filled house with lead paint built on a nuclear dump site. Mix that with delusional, high intensity love stories in books, plays, movies, TVs and music and you have the perfect disastrous mix of what became of my relationships with the opposite sex. I was starved for love and “positive” attention. My parents might as well have painted a target on my heart and tattooed my forehead with “Abuse Me, I Can Take It”.
Enter the narcissist.
They could smell me from a mile away, easy prey. Charm is their camouflage. They have fooled most if not all of the people around them enough that no one is the wiser. If you’re like me, you vet this new person who’s showing you interest and receive a good report. If anyone has a negative thing to say about them, the narcissist has a good reason that makes complete sense. Narcissist won’t keep anyone around them that could blow their cover, and anyone that still lingers they discredit with grace. No one TRULY knows a narcissist. They are the master of the masks.
They bait you with compliments and affection. The narcissist will communicate with you throughout the day with sweetness, letting you know that they’re thinking about you constantly so that YOU think about them with positivity and the ever addictive dopamine’s the brain is firing off. They are slowly and surely becoming your drug of choice. They shower you with gifts, attention, time, physical touch, acts of service, sex, and love languages you didn’t even know existed. They will mirror your love style. You compliment them, they compliment you. You show affection, they show it back. They like all the same things you do, have all the same interests, eat the same types of food. They will make future plans with you or talk about the future you two will have together fairly quickly. As far as they are concerned, they have found their soul mate. How could they not be the person of your dreams? Simple, they have moved faster than is normal without giving you both the chance to really get to know each other on a deeper level. Instead of taking the proper time to develop the relationship they have begun a dopamine induced love affair that is only headed for disaster. If it feels too good to be true, it probably is. You are me, and I am a romantic fool.
Then comes the next phase: Devalue. Once you have committed body mind and soul, you’ll notice a change in their behavior. They’ll start slowly mixing negative behavior like belittling, lying and gas lighting with the dopamine driven positive behavior. You feel something is off, but they convince you it’s all in your head. You’re the love of their life, remember? And if you start to pull away they revert back to the previous love bombing tactics until you’re back in their grips. The narcissist will say things like, “No one will love you like I do,” “You’re crazy,” “Why do you always do this? Nothing is wrong.” You question your own sanity and convince yourself every relationship has its hills and valleys. They’ll isolate you from friends and family. They might even suggest that you don’t discuss fights or your fears with anyone, just keep it between you two. If no one can talk sense into you or show you how awful this person is, then they can continue to feed off you without fear of losing control. Slowly but surely you find your entire self esteem and worth as a human wrapped in this person. They have you right where they want you.
All these things can happen to the most healthy person with a healthy background. But those who grew up in the nuclear dump or nearby have a harder time seeing the bright red flags waving. Our lives were built on red flags. Abuse and love walked hand and hand throughout our whole upbringing to the point where it’s just normal. Sure they make you feel stupid at times, but they come home to you every night. If you wouldn’t have said that, he wouldn’t have gotten upset with you and pushed or hit you. She cheated on you because her sex drive is more than you can handle, you just need to be more accommodating to her needs. Our fear of abandonment supersedes rationality. We remind ourselves how good it felt in the beginning with the goal of getting back to THERE. The narcissist is never truly held accountable for their actions and abusive behavior. Why should they be when you’ll take them back every time? Many times they’ll construct a grand apology with no intent of truly changing. And if you do happen to get them into counseling, they just learn ways to fool you better. This cycle repeats until finally….
They drop you like a bad habit. They have used your supply of energy and love and have depleted your energy and self esteem. Maybe they cheated on you for the last time and you’ve had enough. Or, they abruptly decide they’re done and leave you with a laundry list of questions. What about this future? I thought I was the person of your dreams? Wait, aren’t we soul mates? The narcissist has conquered you and won, and now has moved on to the next conquest. They waste no time. You’re left witnessing them love bombing their next victim and it hurts, it hurts bad. You’ll question whether it was REALLY that awful (yes, it was) and if maybe you can work on the relationship if they’re willing to (no, don’t). You’ll stalk their social media, talk about it constantly, rehashing everything with anyone that will listen. Even though you know they were no good, you’ll cherish the good memories and grieve the loss of a fantasy that existed for a moment. That is okay! There is still pain over losing a toxic person.
What now? CELEBRATE! You no longer have a succubus making you second guess your intuition. No more lies, no more abuse, no more living in a fantasy that will never be reality. They are not your problem anymore!!! Consider getting counseling. Figure out what it is about these types of people that draw you in, why you ignore all the red flags, and why you are so starved for love and attention that you don’t make rational decisions in love. Reframe your thought processes and change your habits. Trust me, one narcissist is enough for a lifetime. Block them on social media, block their phone number, under any circumstance DO NOT contact them. Do not give them the chance to win you back with their charm, we all know it only lasts so long. Each time you go back, the honeymoon phase gets shorter and shorter and the abuse, lies and emotional damage gets worse.
Most of all, forgive yourself. It’s ok to want a story book romance. It’s ok to be fooled. It’s ok to love, lose, and decide to love again. Do things that make you happy, work on being the best you possible. Surround yourself with friends and love ones, change your look, take a vacation, join a gym. Once you are happy and HEALED, get out there and try it again. This time you know what to look for, you’ll see the red (and sometimes pinkish red) flags, and the toxic dump you came from is a distant memory that no longer defines you.
I believe in you.
- Start Here: A Crash Course in Understanding, Navigating, and Healing from Narcissistic Abuse by Dana Morningstar
- Psychopath Free by Jackson McKenzie