I was love bombed, hard.
Have you ever wondered how some people seem to get others to do anything they asked, without questioning them? In many cases, it often has to do with the way a person motivates them to do things.
Being human often means that what motivates us is usually fairly simple. Sometimes, we want money. Other times, we want love and acceptance. What most psychologists can tell you is that love, approval, and acceptance often are the hardest things to refuse.
That’s why many cult leaders, salesmen, and abusers use love bombing to hook their victims in — and keep them there.
I remember the first time I ever fully understood what love bombing was. I was a very, very lonely teenage girl with no friends to speak of. It was my first year in college and I was too weird for most kids at my campus. So, unlike other students in my university, I went off to the goth club to try to make some new friends. And I did. One girl, who we’ll call Candy, had invited me to a rave her friend was throwing.
To say that party was a life-changing event was an understatement. It changed who I was, how I saw myself, and who I would become later on in life. The kids there told me things I never heard from anyone before. It was there that, for the first time in my life, I heard people tell me I was beautiful. Up until then, no one aside from the people who wanted to sleep with me ever said that.
But it was so much more than being called beautiful. Rather than calling me a nerd and a weirdo, they complimented my taste in fashion. Instead of telling me I was wrong for being proud of being strange, they praised it. They told me what an amazing individual I was, and one even told me how shocked he was that people couldn’t see how much I had to offer.
The kicker for me happened when I decided to dance using my hula hoop. Before this party, the last time I brought a hula hoop anywhere, my classmates in high school destroyed it for fun. They called me a freak for dancing with it.
Instead of making fun of the hula hooping skills I had, they cheered me on as I twirled in my hoop on the dance floor. It was the best night of my life.
Later on, one person in that group pulled me aside and asked how I liked the party. I’m not sure if he realized it but when he talked to me, I was crying tears of joy. For the first time in my life, I felt like I belonged to something. I felt loved, appreciated, and accepted just the way I was.
I told him that I loved the party, and everyone in there. I meant it.
“You know, you can be one of us forever,” he said. “Come to more of our parties. We need people like you. We’d love to have someone like you with us. Can’t you see how beautiful you are here?”
At that moment, I would have done anything for him. It didn’t matter what it was. I just wanted the warmth, love, and acceptance I felt at that party then and there. If he told me to take a bullet for him, I would have. If he told me to jump, I would have asked how high.
And this led to a lot of people using me until I had nothing left to give. I ended up paying for food for them, giving them shelter, shrugging off having them steal from me, and even just tolerating the fact they broke up a lot of relationships I had. Eventually, I realized I was broke, used, and hurt by them. But at the same time, I didn't want to leave them. They were the only ones who made me feel cared for for a very long time. I felt like I owed them loyalty.
I was love bombed, hard.
That’s the thing about love bombing that people don’t understand is that it’s incredibly powerful. When you think someone loves you that much, when you begin to associate a person with a positive emotion, you automatically start wanting to do more for them. And people use that to their advantage.
It’s way easier to control a person who likes you than a person who dislikes you, and that’s why love bombing works. With love bombing, you get them to like you and also get them to associate good things with you. And slowly you turn the tables on them until all they want to do is find a way to work things out so that things are back as they used to be.
I’ve learned the hard way that the people who are the sweetest to you rarely are the people who want nothing from you. People who make a point of making you feel super special in the form of random presents, super-exclusive party invites and other things will often make for you pay for it in spades. So if you notice that you're constantly being showered in compliments, being flaunted for being so happy with someone, and being given too many presents those first few months, you may want to take a step back and look at the situation as a whole.
What you find out might be good, or it might keep you from drinking the Kool Aid.