Dating as we know it has changed. We now find ourselves scrolling through dating profiles and social media to try and find our future spouses. As hard as we try to spot the red flags before meeting them in real life, we miss some that just aren’t there until further on in the relationship. Two forms of manipulative behavior that we need to look for in dating are gaslighting vs. love bombing. Let’s dive into what each is and how to spot the signs.
Gaslighting is defined as “a form of sustained psychological manipulation that causes the victim to question or doubt their sanity, judgement, and memories”. Gaslighting occurs when your partner will purposely challenge your triggers by bringing up situations that they know upset you. They then will accuse you of overacting about the situation even though they knew it would bother you. Gaslighting uses fear or shame to control others by alienating you from friends, family, and even work.
Seeing the warning signs of gaslighting is extremely difficult to see because they cause you to question your experiences. However, there are some signs that you can look for to determine if you are experiencing gaslighting. Your partner makes you question your perception of reality. They challenge your perceptions of situations of yourself, your thoughts, your feelings, and even their behavior. They tell you that you didn’t really see or experience that and make up the story how they want you to see it. Your partner persistently and blatantly lies to you and makes you question everything. You may start to feel insecure about yourself and begin to breakdown. It is important to realize that you are not the problem, and it is your partner.
If you are in a relationship and you are hearing “I am doing it because I love you”, “Stop overreacting, you are being dramatic”, or “You are just so sensitive”; then you may be in a relationship where you are experiencing gaslighting.
It is important to know that gaslighting is not the only form of manipulative behavior in a relationship. We now must look out for love bombing!
Love bombing is defined as “the action or practice of lavishing someone with attention or affection, especially in order to influence or manipulate them”. Love bombing is used by narcissists, abusers, and even con artists. This form of manipulation is often a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder and is largely an unconscious behavior about getting the person, then devaluing them.
At first, love bombing seems great thanks to all the dopamine and endorphin boosts from bombers lavish gifts and attention. However, once the love bomber gains the trust of their partner, the conning, manipulation, and abuse begins. Love bombing started amongst famous cult leaders. They would love bomb new recruits to encourage them to join their fellowship.
There are signs of love bombing that you can look out for. This includes extravagant gifts, obsessive flattery, constant complimentary texting, or always expecting a prompt reply. A love bomber may say “I just want to be with you all the time” or “It’s you and me forever, right?”. Their actions can include demanding your attention, time, and isolating you from your family and friends; excessively compliment you and shower you with affection; or persuading you toward making a commitment to them very early on in the courtship. You don’t need to be experiencing all these signs to know you are being love bombed. It can be just one or two.
Overall, both gaslighting and love bombing can be an extremely dangerous. Once this person has you hooked, they can begin to withdrawal, but know they can come right back to you whenever they want. If you are feeling unsure about your relationship, reach out to a friend or professional to help you!
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