The Difference Between Love Bombing And Honeymoon Phase
The butterflies. The lovey dovey eyes. The rush of hormones with every notification. They say the honeymoon phase, which accompanies all the euphoric feelings marking the early days of a romantic relationship, only lasts a few weeks or months. Love bombing, on the other hand, has a more definied expiration date, because the emotional manipulating types who employ this tactic often get bored and move on to a new targets after a couple of months or so.
But is there more to it? How can you tell the difference between a pure and innocent honeymoon phase and something a lot more sinister, like love bombing? Let’s investigate.
What is love bombing?
The term “love bombing” refers to a form of psychological manipulation that sees the target showered with excessively flattering and over-the-top messaging aimed at sweeping them off their feet. It mostly relates to romantic contexts, or even abusive relationships, but the same dynamic can also be found in cult psychology, where the recruiter love bombs a potential new member in order to hide the cult’s malicious real nature.
It’s important to note, however, that overt affection and excessive attachment on their own do not describe love bombing: this can only be denoted by further unhealthy intents or patterns. Psychologist Dale Archer describe the many phases of love bombing in action with the acronym IDD: "Intense Idealization, Devaluation, Discard," and the way to identify this behaviour as SLL, "Stop, Look, and Listen." If those two acronyms make sense to you on a personal level, pay extra close attention to your partner’s behavior and watch out for any love bombing tactics at play.
What is the honeymoon phase?
The honeymoon phase is all about that new love, fresh infatuation, can’t-get-enough-of-each-other life. There are no fixed timelines, but couples usually report honeymoon stages lasting between a few months to a year or two. This is not to say it’s all downhill from there! It’s just that after a few months, the shine of those early days wears off and a couple can begin to enter a more comfortable, rooted, sustainable phase of affection and longer-lasting committed partnership.
Sure, the small cracks and real-life dilemmas you’d pushed aside at the beginning might be more noticeable once the honeymoon phase wears off… but that is actually a great thing, because it means you and your partner can have the kind of conversations that no one really wants to start in the first few months of a new relationship, and build on a more steady foundation.
Signs you are being love bombed
Often, love bombers will attempt to use over the top flattery to get what they want and get their target to fall for them faster. The problem, of course, is not a simple compliment, but the pattern of stripping the other person of their objectivity –and the fact that they might be trying to get you so used to excessive praise so that they can take it away at the first occasion and leave you disoriented and needing more. That’s when things usually turn dark, and the love bomber switches from showering the target with love to withdrawing and emotionally abusing them.
If you try to end things with someone and they try to stop you by saying phrases like “no one will ever love you as much as I love you” or “after all I’ve done for you…” they might be a love bomber whose grift has gone wrong.
Often, love bombing can take the form of a barrage of texts, calls, social media comments, check-ins and the like. You might be thinking this is a nice show of love, but does your new partner get upset if you don’t pick up their calls? Or if you make plans with your friends, and not them? Intense levels of communication are normal during the early stages of a relationship, but it’s important to remember that you are your own person and that no partner should ever try to control the other.
Another thing to remember is that two people can be very compatible, love each other very much, and not like the exact same things all the time! It’s great to have shared interests and hobbies, but have you ever been with someone clearly trying to mould themselves into your perfect match? It’s creepy! They might use phrases like “it’s unbelievable, we have so much in common” or “no way, we’re basically made for each other” and it’s usually pretty transparent.
The takeaway: love bombing vs honeymoon phase
Because most couples go through a very intense period of infatuation at the start of their relationship, it can be hard to discern between a simple honeymoon phase and a true case of love bombing. If you suspect your partner might be love bombing you, you can pay attention to situations you might be finding yourself pressured into --such as big celebrations too early on, making you feel indebted or dependent on them, boundaries not being respected, and sudden shifts in your partner’s usually idyllic behaviour.
Romantic gestures during a classic honeymoon phase are meant to be thoughtful, loving, and come from a place of genuine interest. A love bomber’s actions are often more idealized, controlling, and bordering on purely selfish.
Love bombing is a form of emotional manipulation, remember, and what may start off as slightly too much to take can turn unhealthy really quickly. If you notice your partner becoming angry or displaying controlling, abusive behaviour, it doesn’t matter how heavenly the rest of the relationship might feel: those are big red flags and you shouldn’t ignore them!