Is It Love-Bombing or True Love? 


Recently I was asked, “How can you tell the difference between someone who is just romantic and head-over-heels in love with me, or someone who is toxic and love-bombing me?” Here are some of the key differences between true love and toxic relationships.

People who are in true love don’t fall in love, they ascend into love. They’re cautious and patient. Love shouldn’t be something you fall for. Falling symbolizes being off balance. When you’re on unstable footing your defenses become lowered, and your guard drops, and as a result, you become more weak and vulnerable.

Love-bombing is anything but patient. It’s too much too soon. It’s an intense tsunami of emotion and early declarations of eternal everlasting love. It’s an exquisitely wrapped gift with nothing inside. It takes off like a rocketship, but then as quickly as it reaches the Earth’s atmosphere, it implodes. It’s inconsistent. It’s self-serving. It’s absent of any real foundation. It’s ceremonious validation of nothing and promises of everything.

Good relationships grow into love as they develop and deepen. The relationship is not taken lightly. Declarations of eternal everlasting love are proven, rather than professed.  And the relationship does not serve as a means to fill a void. It is steady, consistent, and builds over time. It’s not just superficial gestures or gushy Facebook declarations. The love is seen in the cumulative actions that have established a pattern of behavior that can only be viewed (not heard) over a good amount of time.

Love-bombing consists of one person attempting to unite with the other to fill the holes and gaps in within themselves. It is the formation of an incomplete person joining with another to make one big, flawed toxic mess.

The love bomber is looking for something outside of themself to make them feel complete. They use the other person as a human helium tank and create a very fragile whole, that does not have the strength to stand the test of time.

True love prefers to be two independent people who complement each other and together become a team, each carrying their fair share of the weight in the relationship. They never strive to become one. They maintain their separateness. They have healthy boundaries. They’re two independent, complete individuals looking to enhance and compliment each other.

True love isn’t about filling voids or gaps. It’s about strengthening each other through their individuality and encouraging the other to fulfill their passions, interests and maintain their outside friendships and hobbies. Their relationship is not riddled with control, fear or insecurity that drives them to hold back the other from being the best version of themselves.

Love-bombing is engulfing. It seeks to enmesh, resulting in weighing the other partner down in isolation and control. It can feel flattering to be showered with so much attention at first, but will feel stifling as time goes on. Love-bombing tends to pull the love-bombed partner away from their passions, outside interests, and friends. Toxic relationships decay into stagnation. The love-bombed partner starts to lose their ambition, change their ways and neglects their own needs and desires.

Toxic partners will have meaningful conversations or fights over text messages. Arguing is natural, texting them isn’t. Healthy people will not spend their time discussing important issues over their mobile devices. They will set aside time to have real face-to-face conversations. This way words and meanings can’t be misinterpreted, thoughts can’t be misunderstood, and Emojis don’t replace real emotion.

Toxic partners argue just for the sake of arguing. They would rather be right and win because that is what makes them happy and feel good about themselves. People who are able to give true love will argue in person, and they fight for solutions that benefit both partners. There is never a winner and a loser. They strive to create win/win outcomes because the other partner’s happiness is as important to them as much as their own.

Toxic partners feel threatened by outsiders. Healthy couples are confident in their love, they enjoy being in the company of others and know that healthy relationships are strengthened by socializing with like-minded friends. They have built a solid foundation over time that is not threatened by potential distractions and insecurities.

You can’t have a healthy relationship with two unhealthy people or even one unhealthy person for that matter. A relationship will only be able to function at the level of the lowest functioning partner. When someone is using you to complete them, it forms an incomplete relationship.

Toxic partners expect their partners to meet their needs of nurturing and caregiving. Emotionally healthy partners don’t expect their partners to meet their every expectation. And they don’t expect their partner to mind read their needs. They view each other as a teammate, not a caregiver, mother, father, ATM machine, psychic or on-call servant.

Healthy relationships get better and stronger over time. They continually evolve. Feelings deepen as time passes, and as each partner learns more about the other.

Love-bombing is the exact opposite, over time these relationships destruct and decay. Positive feelings are replaced with criticism and contempt. There is only stagnation and imbalance as the toxic partner expects more and more from the relationship while giving less and less in return.

In the end, the love-bombed partner feels confused, less confident, and less happy, as the relationship progresses. It goes without saying that good relationships should be equitable, reciprocal and build you up, not tear you down.

ing_9351 Bree Bonchay, LCSW, is a psychotherapist with over 18 years of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships and shares her insights about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and psychopathy in her blog FreeFromToxic. Her articles have been featured in major online magazines and she has appeared on radio as a guest expert. She is also a dedicated advocate, educator, and facilitates survivor support groups and workshops.


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9 thoughts on “Is It Love-Bombing or True Love? 

  1. Thank you! I love this article! It really helped me to define one relationship level from the other and to see where we have been immature, and the things we will change or work on together. I can see where I let my partner down by being in the immature mode, when all I really want is to be in the mature couple happy peaceful mode. I will share this with my partner and we can continue to grow in the right direction! I will not text it either. Lol. face to face. Thank you, Ms. Bonchay! 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for this well written article. It sadly, but accurately, describes what happened at the beginning of our marriage, and even worse, the reason for it’s desintegration.

  3. Thank you for this blog. I was discarded 3 weeks ago and I’m in a deep depression. I miss him and I don’t understand why he stopped loving me.

    1. Gigi, keep reading and educating yourself about NPD. It takes a while for everything to sink in and an even longer while to feel better. It’s not easy move on after narcissistic abuse but I promise you it will be the best thing you do for yourself. Xx

  4. “toxic partners will have important conversations or fights over text messages”. well, that depends…Bear in mind that it’s much harder to , for example, say “No” to toxic in person . In person she/he can manipulate you much easier.Oftentimes they’ll insist you do meet them in person ( or they’ll stalk you – arrange ” accidental ” meet etc. – prepare yourself for such an eventuality ) before they’ll tell you that “something”. I know , my toxic ex did just that , after being told ” No” earlier, and when I did repeat ‘ No” again , this time in person, she started bowling her eyes out. I had never seen her crying before and my heart melted… well, she loved bombed me. I paid dearly for that later. One needs to know beforehand how vulnerable to manipulation one is and I’d be careful to always meet in person . But to my defense… I was 17 then . Good post.

  5. This is all so true! I honestly believe these guys actually believe they’ve met the best person ever during the idealisation phase. They can’t love real people because they can’t really love, so those first weeks when the target is still perfect in their eyes the love bombing continues until they see you as a real person, with flaws and a past, or if you are too independent. Then they attack.

    In my case, the narc in my life treated me like I was the most important and amazing person he’d ever met. Until I started sharing with him my doubts and he saw some flaws in me. Within a day (less than 12 hours) it was on to devalue. He then triangulated with with a girl who is 14 years younger than he is (in early 20s) and who he always made a point to tell me is “very important to him” This went on for weeks. He even convinced me to help her with a school project! This girl lives in another country, and their relationship is long distance and they spent real time with each other over a short period about a year ago. She even has a boyfriend now, so of course he can’t let go. It is easy for him to idealise her all the time, with her being so far away, she can never make demands and she’ll never be a “real” person to him.

    Right now, I am going through something odd regarding this person. He discarded me a month ago after getting very very angry with me. He had asked me to answer this girl’s questions via email and I did. I sent a follow up email the next day and he called me right away telling me how awful I was for not obeying him, that I invaded his privacy and I was to never have contact with his friends because he keeps all of his friends separate from each other and his mom and brother. Weird. He was so cruel I broke down. I remembered he told me once that everyone he cared about left him. I jokingly asked him, “Why are you an awful person?” Of course he said no.

    Within a week, he started the silent treatment. I ran into him randomly and he treated me like I had the plague. It was odd. I am no contact now. But I can’t help feeling like I am the one with the problem even though he abused ME. My issue now is that I have all these obsessive thoughts. Intellectually I know this guy is toxic, but I think about him all the time and ask myself over and over “What is wrong with me? Why doesn’t he like me?” And I have even started stalking this girl on Social media. Checking her out. I finally had to block her to stop myself from looking at her. I keep asking myself, “why her and not me?” It is really toxic thinking and I know he wants it this way. Why is my min doing this when i know he is toxic. I feel like a loser because not even a loser like him wants me. I feel like i can’t trust people anymore. And why did I believe him even though my heart kept saying GET AWAY. I didn’t listen to my gut. I don’t want to think like this or compare myself to his other victim. I have sent two messages that had no reply and even one on his birthday that I know he saw and he didn’t even say thank you. It threw me back, even though I am working hard to move forward.

    How can we get over the obsessive thinking about whether they are happier now, comparing myself to the OW, and just missing him, even though there were so many times I felt like he was an awful person. It is really destroying my well being at the moment and eating away at my sense of worth.

  6. Thank you for the clear examples! I’m a BPD/narcissist magnet, but learning to read the signs… my curb is overcrowded… lol

    The newest candidate compliments often, but isn’t in a hurry and I set a boundary. After a month he did send me a xmas gift that was within my interests, not his. Intellectually we connect, spiritually we take different stances, and so on… I think this one may need more review, but per your list… it’s not rushing and there are our personal differences.

  7. I’m learning a crash course on the emotional abuse I have endured. It’s very scary and confusing, alot to handle when it all comes crashing down.

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