The Tinder Swindler is currently taking Netflix by storm and if you don’t already know who Simon Leviev is then I suggest you take a look. Spoiler alert; he’s a wrong un. This is a classic tale of love bombing. Boy and girl both swipe right and she is immediately swept off her feet by this too good to be true guy. Almost too perfect a guy. Handsome (debatable), charming (some of the time) and did we mention that he appears to be stinking rich. He whisks her away to wine and dine in the world’s finest restaurants, private jets galore and staying the only the best hotels money can buy. Think Pretty Woman without the paying by the hour part. We need to learn some lessons from the Tinder Swindler!
Sidenote: True love does not look like a Hollywood movie.
Another sidenote: When something or someone seems too good to be true, chances are it is too good to be true.
Have a read of my own Tinder Tales to find out some of the horrors I found whilst attempting online dating.
What Is Love Bombing
“Love bombing is an attempt to influence a person by demonstrations of attention and affection.
It can be used in different ways and for either positive or negative purposes.
Psychologists have identified love bombing as a possible part of a cycle of abuse and have warned against it.”
Love bombing is emotional abuse. There is a difference between the first flourishes of a new relationship and love bombing. The butterflies of meeting someone new. The little heart skips when his name pops up on your phone. Those nerves on your early dates. That is all perfectly normal. The boost of dopamine and endorphins you get from being made to feel special, needed, loved. It all increases your self-esteem. The build-up of getting to know someone new over time. This is not love bombing. This is normal.
The love bomber will present themselves in an ideal image. Too perfect. They will seek to gain your trust and have you under their spell quickly. They go hard and fast. You may not realise you are being love-bombed until it is too late. And then you may find yourself stuck in their endless cycle of narcissistic abuse. They will have reeled you in very quickly to a satisfactory level of loyalty and dependency. They will have showered you in overwhelming levels of attention and gestures and will want, expect, recognition for it.
The love bomber is well aware that they have gained control of your heart and mind. They have obtained their much-needed ego boost and craving for power and control. At this point, the partner serves no use to them and the emotional abuse will start. The love bomber will start the process of withdrawing from the relationship whilst ensuring there is always an open door for their return.
Signs You’re Being Love-Bombed
I’ve been love-bombed a few times. The signs were always the same and I didn’t spot them until after I’d endured the emotional turmoil their actions brought. They all started the same. Intense messaging the minute they had my number. And by intense, I mean constant.
One messaged me so much that my phone would need charging at least three times a day and when I checked my phone bill statement at the end of the first month there were thousands of messages. Thousands. And then there were the emails to me at work, all day, every day. It became relentless and overwhelming very quickly. If I was out with friends, my phone would be going constantly. And when I say constantly, I really do mean constantly. It was embarrassing. If I didn’t reply quick enough then the barge of messages would start about how I didn’t care about him and the extreme manipulation. He demanded my attention 24/7. In the end, I had to threaten to report him to the police for harassment. He was obsessed, and not in a nice way.
Whilst the flattery and excessive compliments did wonders for my ego at first, it was not worth any of it.
Another guy very quickly figured out my vulnerabilities and insecurities and acted to isolate and distance me from pretty much everyone I knew. He kept me in his bubble, he said to protect me, but I never figured out what from.
And then there was the one who bulldozed his way into my life and never gave me a minute’s peace to actually figure out what was going on. It was intense. Very intense, very quickly. But once he had control of me the constant emotional abuse very nearly sent me over the edge.
Love Bombing Is Dangerous
With one of my love bombers the manipulation was so intense there were times I thought I was losing my mind. The gaslighting was constant. I felt worthless. He had me in such a vice-like grip that I thought the whole world hated me and only he could ever love and protect me. Another one doing the protection thing. He didn’t want me working, again to protect me from something or other, so I was dependent on him financially. He isolated me from all my friends and family. I was totally alone. It all happened so quickly that when I finally came to my senses, I didn’t know how the hell I had ended up in that situation. A whirlwind I wasn’t in control of.
It was torture. But getting away was probably worse. Then he upped his game. When someone is love bombing you with the intent of emotional abuse, they feel like you owe them something. Remember, it’s all about satisfying their ego. They have showered you in all this love and attention and want the credit and recognition for that. When you reject it and take back control and thus remove their power, in their minds, they are the victim. They have formed a very unhealthy attachment to you and must be in total control of that. Only they can withdraw. Only they can leave.
I can honestly say that I don’t know what would have happened to me if I hadn’t have gotten out when I did. It took me a long time to recover, and I still have reoccurring thoughts of some of the things he did. Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. The wounds run very deep.
The Love Bombing Low Down
If you hear any of these terms or spot any of these signs, take a long hard look at your relationship and ask if it really is as good as you think it is:
Constant attention both given and expected in return
Bombard you with gifts
It all feels very unbalanced and intense
Over the top gestures
Say exactly what you want to hear
Lots of PDA, often at inappropriate times and places
Use terms like soulmate, partner, wifey, love of their life, very early on and frequently
They push for a big commitment very early in the relationship (move in together, engagement, joint bank accounts, kids etc)
If you notice any of these signs of love bombing, set your own boundaries and see how your partner responds. If they overreact and do not respect your wishes, then get out, now!
What To Do If You’re Being Love-Bombed
I wish there was a simple answer to this one, like get the hell away. The methods involved in love bombing are so manipulative and so intense that if someone tells you the cold harsh truth, you’ll question it. You’ll question everything. It is so difficult to see clearly as their grip on you is so tight and the attachment is strong. But if/when you see them for that they truly are, you must consider your own safety first. Tell someone, anyone, that can hear you out and understand and help you formulate a plan to remove yourself safely from the situation. Stop all communications and block them everywhere. This won’t necessarily stop them from contacting you, but it puts enough of a distance from them to give you some space.
Love bombing however is also a common tactic used by cults or even in non-romantic circumstances. I’ve seen people use the same methods in work situations. Shower a person in praise and gratitude to get them to be on board with something. But the minute they don’t dance to the right tune the abuse and gaslighting will start. They will be ostracised from the team. The abuser in chief will suddenly change their opinion of the once superstar team member.
MLM’s use similar tactics to recruit new members. Make someone feel part of something. Shower them in the love of their newfound friendships. Isolate. Brainwash. Create a group based on unity and loyalty. Then banish with a whole bag of bitching when the person realises it’s just another pyramid scheme scam and the products are a load of rubbish.
If anyone uses any form of emotional abuse on you in any situation, you’re only responsibility is to protect yourself. Their emotions are not your responsibility. Leave them to it.