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Love Bombing and Limerence, a Potent Mix

How Your "Twin Flame" Can Burn You.

Love Bombing refers to the over-the-top enactment of idealized love that some narcissists engage in early on in relationships, particularly romantic relationships, when they are trying to make someone fall in love with them. Unfortunately for the recipient, it doesn't end well.

During the Love Bombing phase, the narcissist becomes your fantasy partner, based on their assessment of what you are looking for. The narcissist mirrors you: your interests, your desires, your reactions. Some will even engage in deceit to make your lives seem parallel or to make your meeting them seem like destiny. They might shower you with attention and gifts, ply you with compliments and praise, and offer the promise of undying love and future dreams in a way that is intoxicating. You'll feel like you've found your perfect soulmate, maybe even your twin flame.

If things are too perfect and moving too fast, that may be a sign of Love Bombing.

However potent the feeling might be, this is not true love, or even an authentic connection, but, rather, a form of manipulation.

Love Bombing is amplified by limerence, a term coined by Dorothy Tennov that describes that intense mix of desire, passion, and obsession that verges on addiction that can happen early on in romantic relationships. You can hardly stop thinking about them; when you're apart your memory of them invades your every thought. Your mood hinges on their emotional responsiveness. Your reunions with them seem to cut through the banality of everyday life and take you to dizzying heights.

It's a potent mix.

And it's a long drop from that height once the narcissist shows their true colors.

Here's What's Going On

Some narcissists in romantic relationships go through a cycle known as Idealization - Devaluation - Discard.

Here's how the Idealization Phase goes:

The narcissist has a need to feel special at all times, since he can can only feel special or worthless.

[Why this is the case: The Narcissist's Alternate Reality]

And since he sees human relations in terms of a hierarchical structure of status, he looks for someone he looks up to, someone who make him look good, which makes him feel good.

He's looking for the perfect mate. Once he's found her, he needs to attract her, and keep her enthralled. This is how the Love Bombing starts.

The narcissist also has a need for constant Supply, that is, constant admiration to bolster his shaky self-esteem. (Their need for this validation is so paramount that the term "Supply" is used for both the validation provided and the person providing it.) What better Supply than adoration, a hallmark of limerence.

So the narcissist has found his perfect mate, and through the mirroring and fantasy of the Love Bombing phase, has hooked you as the perfect Supply. You think you've found your soulmate, you're in seventh heaven, and will give him your all.

Here's What Happens Next

As the relationship proceeds and the two of you get comfortable enough to "let down your hair" with each other, you'll naturally become more aware of each other's quirks, flaws, and faults. Unfortunately for you, an idealizing narcissists has a low tolerance in this area. You not being so perfect is a problem for him, because being admired or even adored by someone who's beneath him doesn't cut it. And since the narcissist is special and perfect, your being imperfect puts you beneath him. You will never be loved and respected for who you really are, flaws and all. In fact, you are sinking lower in status and will be looked down upon.

Thus the Devaluation Phase begins.

The narcissist will become disenchanted by the less-than-perfect you. He will become intolerant of your imperfections and will at best become indifferent, and at worst start peppering your interactions with criticisms, unfavorable comparisons, and put-downs. In which case you'll eventually find you are being emotionally abused.

[Examples of narcissistic reactions: Is It Healthy, Obnoxious, Toxic or Narcissistic? ]

The narcissist can go back and forth between idealization and devaluation. This crazy-making behavior is a form of intermittent reinforcement and causes a tie that binds called trauma bonding. It has you coming back for more despite the emotional abuse: the promise of a future that harkens back to the early days of idealized romance.

Eventually, though, you are likely to withdraw your adoration. With that you have ceased to become useful to the narcissist. You are no longer providing Supply. If conflict sets in, you become an outright threat. From here it's a short skip to the Discard Phase.

The discard usually comes abruptly. You have lost all use to the narcissist and have, in fact, become a liability. An imperfect partner with a penchant for conflict does not provide the narcissist his gold: constant admiration from an admirable source. As soon as a new source of Supply is found, you will be discarded.

Sometimes, however, the narcissist will keep you on the line. The easier to reel you in to cause envy in another Supply and keep the two of you competing for the narcissist's attention. All the more so if you show potential for giving him what he needs again: adoration and perfection.

If, on the other hand, it is you who start to leave and the narcissist finds you to be of more value than not, even as just an "alternate," the narcissist will attempt to "Hoover" you back up (suck you back into the relationship) with Love Bombing, and the cycle starts over.


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