Don’t ignore a gut feeling (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)
When you’re in the early stages of a romance, it’s oh so easy to miss the red flags – especially if they’re disguised as love hearts and roses.
Such is the case with love bombing – something that seems wonderful (who doesn’t like being showered with affection and gifts?) but can in fact be a precursor to a controlling, abusive relationship.
So how can you tell when it’s happening?
Cathy Press, a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor who specialises in abuse related issues, says there are four questions you need to ask yourself.
Are they on the charm offensive?
There’s a distinct difference between being lovely and telling you everything you want to hear.
If someone is coming on super strong with the romance and compliments, this may be a warning sign.
‘They may say that you are just what they’re looking for, that you are special, that they’ve never met anyone like you before, that they feel lucky to have met you,’ Cathy tells Metro.co.uk.
‘At the start of a relationship the Charmer will convince you that they think you are wonderful and that they are really into you, when they are actually luring you into a false sense of security.
‘This would be identified as the grooming process, which is present at the beginning of all abusive relationships.’
Being showered with affection and gifts? Not always a good thing (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Are you moving quickly?
One date in, are they already pushing for a commitment? Does it feel like a whirlwind romance?
Proceed with caution.
Are they showering you with gifts?
‘The Charmer might spoil you by buying you gifts – maybe clothes or a new mobile phone, jewellery or other things that you might not be able to afford for yourself,’ Cathy explains. ‘You may think that if they spend money on you or treat you, they must think highly of you – but where the Charmer is concerned, this is not necessarily the case as they will have an ulterior motive.
‘When you are made to feel special by someone, you are more likely to view them positively and develop warm feelings towards them.
‘You have to ask yourself: Is the gift to genuinely treat me and make me feel special? Or was it given to make me feel indebted and to perhaps be used later as leverage when they want me to do something I don’t want to do?’
Does it all seem a bit too good to be true?
Healthy relationships aren’t Disney movie like perfection. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
‘They’ll tell you that they love you and that you mean everything to them, that fate has brought you together, you are “meant to be”, and that they can’t live without you,’ Cathy notes.
‘They build you up and puts you on a pedestal. Once you are completely charmed and believe that they think the world of you, you feel “loved up” and begin to invest your feelings in the relationship. You feel positive towards them, excited about the way they treat you and may even start to feel as if you love them.
‘Once you are hooked in and are experiencing feelings towards them, your partner may start to behave as if they “own” you – that you are theirs.
‘To experience love bombing is a fantasy and should be treated with caution.’
Slow things down (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
What to do if you suspect you’re being love bombed
Okay, so you’ve asked the questions above and the answers are yes, yes, yes, yes. Now what?
The key is not to ignore that gut feeling or allow yourself to be swept up by the apparent romance.
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‘If you find yourself in the midst of a charm offensive and are feeling that this person is too good to be true, you should probably take this thought seriously and take a step back,’ Cathy recommends.
‘You may have a niggling feeling not to trust what is happening or feel a bit pressured that things are going too quickly, but if you feel so loved up you may override the instinct or ignore your gut feeling.’
If you’re spotting signs of love bombing, try slowing things down and suss out the person’s reaction. If they don’t respect your boundaries and keep up the behaviour, get out of there and cut off communication.
It’s worth talking to a professional to help you safely leave the relationship. Try talking with Refuge or Women’s Aid for guidance and support.
Cathy Press has been working as working as a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor for over 25 years, specialising in domestic and sexual violence and abuse related issues with children, young people and adults.
Her new book When Love Bites: A young person’s guide to escaping harmful, toxic and hurtful relationships is out now priced £14.99. Visit Escape The Trap for more information.
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