Getting hit by a love bomb feels glorious! The prodigious attention and affection seem to answer our prayers. We have found Mr. or Mrs. Right: your soul mate; without suspecting that we have been attacked by a narcissist. The bomber abruptly changes color and loses interest, and our dream collapses. The rejection is excruciating, especially at the height of romance. It is a traumatic shock to our heart. We feel cheated, betrayed and abandoned. We are 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 confidence in ourselves and the opposite sex.
Sometimes partners are fooled by their missing suitor, dumped by text message, email, or a call. If they are rejected in person, they are taken aback by the coldness of the narcissist, who recently expressed his love and promised an incredible future together. They may find out that they have been scrapped by a new prospect, duped, or misled all the time. It is devastating and it can be difficult to let go, because all of your memories are happy and wonderful. It takes time to accept the truth of who the attacker really was. Protect victims from the painful truth that the relationship was not what they imagined.
Bombardment of love and narcissistic offer
Research shows that love bombers have low self-esteem and are often narcissistic; although not all narcissists are love bombers, and some non-narcissists are. Despite a facade of confidence and independence, narcissists feel insecure and empty. They need constant reassurance or “narcissistic supply” from those around them, but, like vampires, it is never enough to fill their void or satisfy their hunger. More than confidence, they actually fear being undesirable. Their sense of self is determined by what others think of them, they try to control what others think in order to feel better about themselves. Thus, the love bombardment is a means of seeking attention, boosting your ego, and satisfying self-improvement needs for sex, power, and control. When they are depressed, have suffered a loss, or are disenchanted with their latest conquest, they seek new narcissistic supplies.
Many narcissists employ seduction, play games, and use relationships to improve themselves. Dating is intense and moving quickly. The attention can be dizzyingly exciting for the recipient. There is often excessive communication, reflecting the need for assertion by attackers, usually via text message or social media, where they can exert more control from a distance.
Idealization and devaluation
For a narcissist, it is not enough to be loved or appreciated. It only counts when the other person has highly valued status or qualities, such as wealth, beauty, special talents, power, celebrity, or genius. Narcissists idealize potential partners to increase their own lack of self-esteem. The thought is, “If I can win the admiration of this attractive person, then I must be worthy.”
As reality creeps into the relationship, they discover that their partner is inadequate or fear that their flawed and empty self will reveal itself as expectations for emotional intimacy rise. Any slight or imaginary crack in the ideal image of your partner feels painful. As the narcissists’ view of their perfect partner deteriorates, their hidden shame causes more and more discomfort. They in turn project this onto their partner, whom they criticize and devalue. This is particularly true of perfectionist narcissists. When your partner’s brilliance fades, he or she no longer provides a satisfying object to boost self-esteem. They discard their partner and look elsewhere for a new source of narcissistic supply. When relationships with narcissists endure, the couple feels exhausted, hurt, resentful, and alone. Disrespect and lack of affection damage your self-esteem over time.
Narcissists have insecure attachment styles that are avoidant or anxious, or some combination. People with insecure attachment styles feel a basic insecurity derived from relationships with first caregivers. They doubt the trustworthiness of others to meet their emotional needs and base their self-esteem on the behavior and responses of others. One showed that people with an insecure attachment style were more likely to engage in love bombing.
Most codependents also have low self-esteem and insecure attachment styles and seek relationships to validate their worth. His unconscious belief is: “If I am loved, then I must be kind.” Although some codependents may behave in ways that appear needy and insecure, narcissists hide their need and act confident, in control, proud, and even conceited, like a male peacock flaunting its feathers. For insecure codependents, this screen is very attractive. They are impressed and attracted to the traits they wish they had. They too idealize narcissists, who absorb their admiration. Narcissists are skilled and charming communicators, adept at making people admire and appreciate them. Both narcissists and codependents can adapt to the tastes and needs of others, but for the narcissist it is a tactic of seduction; For the complacent codependent, it is a way of relating and their personality style.
When codependents experience a love bombardment, their low self-esteem also increases. They finally feel seen and appreciated, unlike in their childhood. They imagine a future free of their inner emptiness and loneliness with this ideal partner who will always love them. In the initial phase of mutual admiration, they either overlook or see no potential differences or problems.
The good news is that we can change our attachment style. In the meantime, it’s important to go slow on dates. Hasty intimacy doesn’t rush love, just our attachment. It is an attempt to satisfy personal psychological needs. It takes time to get to know someone. This is how trust and love grow in a healthy relationship. Mature daters will not use improper seduction or charm, or make premature promises or expressions of love. They take the time to date someone to assess whether someone will be a good long-term partner, and they don’t want to disappoint or hurt them.
Stay connected with your body and your feelings. In the intensity of a new romance, ask yourself if your “excitement” isn’t really anxiety about rejection and uncertain hope for a promising future. Do you feel free to be open and honest and set limits or are you walking on eggshells? Are you complying to please your partner? In other words, can you be authentic, say “no” and express negative feelings? That usually takes time and trust. Codependents often think, “I trust people until they give me a reason not to.” Mature people know that trust must be earned. Love bombers lie, but it takes time to realize this.
Watch and hear how your date treats and talks about others and your ex. Does he shower you with praise, but command, blame, or belittle other people? Your date may one day treat you that way.
© Darlene Lancer 2018