If you are or have been married to a sociopath or a narcissist, you’ve probably experienced "love bombing," whether you realize it or not. Love bombing is a common technique that narcissists and sociopaths use to gain and maintain control in a relationship.
In the Beginning
When you first meet, the narcissist uses love bombing to speed up your relationship. A normal relationship might unfold over a period of months, but narcissists typically work hard to hasten this process. The narcissist will spend hours on the phone, text you multiple times a day, and even take time off of work to be with you constantly. You tend to see it initially as his infatuation and deep love for you—love at first sight, soul mates, or whatever you’d like to call it. You get the feeling that you’ve known him for years, rather than days or weeks. You feel protected, understood, and safe.
All the Stuff He Says
Narcissists are nothing if they aren’t predictable. A narcissist in the midst of the early love-bombing phase has a set of classic lines that don’t change much from one narcissist to the next.
- You understand me like no one else ever has.
- I feel like I’ve finally found my soulmate.
- I’ve never felt like this before.
- My ex was a narcissist -- she was toxic.
- I feel like I can finally trust someone again.
Blah, blah, blah.
It is the same stuff, meant to make you feel special and irreplaceable. You know how you’ve warned your kids not to take candy from strangers? Well, this is the equivalent of that.
When You’ve Had Enough
That moment when you’ve had enough, and you decide that you are done, he’ll pull the love bomb technique back out to try to keep from losing control. It doesn’t matter if he has been verbally abusive or physically abusive; the pattern will be the same.
- I am sorry. I will change.
- I never meant to hurt you.
- I love you, and I can’t stand the thought of losing you.
- You are everything to me.
- You are my whole world.
- I can’t live without you.
- I promise I’ll ____________.
He’ll begin calling you on the phone, texting you, and showing up at your favorite coffee shop. You’ll get flowers. You’ll come home from work one day to find him at the house fixing the kitchen sink that you’ve asked him to fix for years.
And you become confused.
Has He Really Changed?
You begin to wonder if you were wrong about him, and think maybe he has really changed. After all, he’s so charming! He holds the door for you, compliments you, and listens to what you have to say. Your walls begin to crack and you feel like you did in the beginning—all warm and fuzzy, special, and loved. All of a sudden you are sure that you’re making a mistake, and you decide to give him another chance because this time it’s for real.
Only it’s not. It’s not for real, he hasn’t changed, and you are not about to get your happily ever after. You have been love-bombed—a form of brainwashing that has been used by numerous groups and individuals from religious cults to Ted Bundy. If you go back, things will soon be worse than they were to begin with.
Learn to Be Love-Bomb Proof
Rule number one is that you weren’t wrong about the narcissist. He is a self-serving, lying, cheating, bag of slime. He can shapeshift as much as he wants, but as long as you force yourself to trust your gut, he won’t be able to trick you ever again—not that he won’t try.
All of the rules for dealing with a narcissist apply.
- Don’t engage
- Ignore him
- Cut off communication
- Communicate through an arbitrator or lawyer whenever possible
- Don’t believe him
- Don’t allow yourself to feel flattered
Walk away. You are no longer his source, and you don’t want to feed the emotional vampire that he is on the inside.
Ah, the Drama
Keep in mind that narcissists thrive on drama, and it’s best if it is public. So, they’ll bring you flowers at your office so everyone can see what a witch (with a capital B) you are when your refuse these tokens of his affection. I know a narcissist who had a fight with his wife and was fine...until he got out into the driveway and decided to put on a show. He laid his head on his car and sobbed until numerous neighbors came to see if they could comfort him.
You will look like a class A creep—don’t let it bother you. Remind yourself that he needs the drama, and you need the relief. Don’t try to explain yourself, and don’t worry about what other people think. They don't know the whole story.
When they come to you to try to talk some sense into you, politely tell them it’s none of their business. Your explanations will not make a difference, and you’ll probably get a reputation as a complainer. He’s already told them you’re the crazy one.
Sex as a Weapon
The narcissist is very good at using sex as a weapon. In my marriage, sexual neglect was used to maintain control and keep me in a constant state of meltdown. I wanted affection more than anything, so that is what was withheld.
Well, until the time that I told him I needed to sleep in another room to clear my head. He begged me to sleep in our bed and promised to give me my space. It was literally the one time in our marriage I had specifically said that I did not want sex, I did not want affection, I did not want him to touch me.
Within fifteen minutes of getting in bed, I felt like I was at a drive-in theater with a 16-year-old male octopus. Within thirty minutes, I was forced to do the one thing I said I didn’t want to. Afterward, I was told that I made it clear I wanted it. I was humiliated, I felt weak, I felt controlled, and I gave up my thoughts of moving into a different room.
Sex went back to a normal schedule—once every couple of weeks or when he wanted it.
A narcissist is brilliant at using sex as a weapon. Be on your guard against it. No means no, whether you are married, divorced, or strangers.
No means no, no matter what.
Get Your Emotional Flack Jacket On
A relationship with a narcissist is a war, and you’d better be prepared. Don’t be fooled by love-bombing, lying, and the drama. Talk to people who have been where you are and understand what a narcissist does and how he operates. Join First Wives World today for the networking and support that you need to get you through.
Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User : Emilie Rhaupp