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Updated: Oct 18, 2021

One thing that keeps people locked in unhealthy and toxic relationships is the narcissist’s secret weapon, "love bombing".

Love bombing is a process of grooming in which the narcissist uses flattery, praise and promises to fulfill their own desires. By making you feel loved they are able persuade you into fulfilling requests with little or no resistance from your end.

We all long to feel adored. And we need attention and validation at the beginning of a relationship. This feeling can be euphoric and exhilarating. Like a love drug, the high can be both enticing and irresistible. It’s amazing to be unconditionally loved, accepted and appreciate.

But this is not a constant in a toxic relationship. This narcissistic abuse cycle involves the narcissist withholding love and attention. After an intense period of seduction and admiration, the narcissist knows you are open to their influence and control. It's at this point that they withdraw their attention, subjecting you to unanticipated denigrations and leaving you feeling confused and worthless.

Suddenly you can’t do anything correctly. Suddenly you become the enemy, the stupid one, the cruel drama queen who is always overreacting. You start feeling insecure and uncertain of your every move. You find yourself walking on eggshells around your own home, ashamed and fearful of every step you take.

Meanwhile your tormentor subjects you to bouts of furious or explosive anger. Rewarding your openness and vulnerability with verbal abuse, physical threats or just a silent sulkiness.

The narcissist will prey on your fears, making you believe that they're doing something good when really, it's just their way of tearing down your defenses. Getting you to give them what they want. Your attention (positive or negative) becomes their narcissistic supply.

You've been seduced by the illusion of "love." The feeling that everything is possible even if logic says otherwise. A narcissist's love bombing is like a hallucinogen that causes you to crave their approval. They'll give you compliments and affection when it suits them, but more often than not they will use cruel treatment in between these periods of niceness - encouraging their victims to seek constant validation from them.

When we are treated poorly, it's normal to feel anger and disappointment. But what happens when someone treats us well the following morning? This is something called "the small kindness perception". We find ourselves searching for evidence of small signs or acts of kindness which gives the narcissist credit for not being all bad. We tell ourselves that he has redeeming qualities and 'positive traits' despite the obvious patterns that are forming.

If you can identify inconsistencies in your partner’s behaviour and it follows a pattern of excessive attention one day and then completely ignoring you the next... and the behaviour keeps getting worse.... you need to stop trying to comply with your abusers’ rules in the hope of returning to that loving place.

Trust your gut and question those ideas of masculinity that assume that men are in control of the relationship and women should be flattered by small acts of intermittent kindness and flattery. This in not how love feels and should not be mistaken for such.

Want to learn more?

  1. Enroll in our online course, "Identifying the Narcissist"

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