6 Signs of Love Bombing with Dr. Steve Sultanoff

Signs of Love Bombing with Steve Sultanoff, PhD

LOVE BOMBING is a manipulation technique used by one person to gaslight another in order to control and dominate them. It is commonly used by highly narcissistic people and people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), but it can be used by other types of manipulators as well. The aim is to give the perpetrator an advantage over the recipient of the abuse. This is accomplished using a schedule of intermittent reinforcement that alternates between love bombing and devaluation to deliberately induce, escalate, and then soothe anxiety in the victim-survivor. One of the dangers of love bombing is that it feels so good it can be difficult to recognize it for the psycho-emotional abuse that it is. Today, we’re going to highlight 6 Signs of Love Bombing with clinical psychologist Steven M. Sultanoff, PhD

For more than thirty years, Dr. Sultanoff has been a professor at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology. He’s also served as a clinical supervisor and spent twelve years as clinical director of a psychology training network. In 2012, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award in therapeutic humor from the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor.

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: What is something most people don’t understand about love bombing?

Dr. Steven Sultanoff: The extreme narcissist is a “big game hunter.” He is stalking his prey, and the thrill is in the hunt and capture of the prey. In order to capture the prey, the narcissist will go to almost any length to achieve that goal. The result is self-congratulatory: “Look what major feat I accomplished!” In other words, “I made you fall for me.”

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: What you are describing it sounds more like entrapment than love.

Dr. Steven Sultanoff: He is on a quest to “do” whatever it takes to achieve the goal: capturing a “love” connection or perhaps more accurately capturing the object of his desire. Nothing will stand in the way. Whatever it takes (behaviorally) he will do. He will shower the “love object” with whatever might be pleasing including gifts, flowers, romantic getaways, etcetera.

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: This is an excellent analogy because it illustrates how little a narcissist’s behavior has to do with the person they are pursuing and everything to do with their self-image. What’s the pay off for the narcissist?

Dr. Steven Sultanoff: Once the goal is achieved, he will feel “full,” valued, worthy, etcetera until the moment of the accomplishment wears off.

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: So, they obtain narcissistic supply through success in pursuit and conquest of someone they regard as “prey”. It gratifies their ego and fills them with a sense of pride in their ability to manipulate the person they targeted. What is the first major red flag that people should look out for?

Dr. Steven Sultanoff: One tell-tale sign is over the top extreme behavior that, of course, feels like being nurtured and loved.

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: But in reality it’s neither of those things because the narcissist is using the capture and conquest of their “prey” to feed their ego. Dr. Sultanoff, you have been practicing for over thirty years. Please share something you’ve observed about narcissists in your clinical experience.

Dr. Steven Sultanoff: Most narcissists are men, although women are not immune to the disorder.

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Indeed, that’s consistent with the research. Can you please share some other signs you think might help people recognize when they are being love bombed?

Dr. Steven Sultanoff: Narcissists are frequently absolutely charming and they make a great appearance. For example, they are often coiffed meticulously. They are usually generous with money and material things, showering the object of their affection with an assortment of gifts mostly of monetary value but not necessarily. Depending on their style and expertise, they may offer more personal gifts such as poetry, writing songs, sunsets on the beach, looking at the stars, etcetera for their partner. They make a major effort to be in contact with their partner and may frequently text or email with lots of emojis or other endearing extras.

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: It’s often said that narcissists target people who have one or several blind spots. Can you talk a bit about this?

Dr. Steven Sultanoff: One sign that is often overlooked is the partner’s reaction to the love bomb. If you feel enamored, giddy, or enthralled especially to the point of discussing all the gifts with others then you may want to examine the relationship. It is easy for the partner to be “sucked into” the love bomb since it “feels” so good to be loved at such an extreme level.

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: That’s a very astute and helpful tip! Dr. Sultanoff, do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share on this topic?

Dr. Steven Sultanoff: Bottom line, if he is too good to be true, he likely is too good to be true. Look for the signs of excessively loving behaviors, look for feeling immersed in his love, look for constant actions of his love and desire to be with you, and finally look beyond his loving actions and ask yourself, “What is the substance behind the actions. Is he who I can love if all these loving actions were not present?”

Dr. Sultanoff’s 6 Signs of Love Bombing

To summarize, Dr. Sultanoff highlighted six signs of love bombing and they are:

  1. Too good to be true
  2. Charm
  3. Flamboyance
  4. Generosity
  5. Excessive Attention
  6. Euphoria

Visit Dr. Sultanoff’s website humormatters.com to learn about therapeutic humor.


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What Narcissists Look For in A Partner with Dr. Rick Patterson

what narcissists look for in a partner

DR. RICK PATTERSON spoke candidly with me about what narcissists look for in a partner. He is the author of Shame Unmasked: Disarming the Hidden Driver Behind Our Destructive Decisions, an insightful book about the inner thoughts associated with extreme narcissism. In his work, Dr. Patterson underscores that toxic shame is the driving force of narcissistic aggression.

He explains “A person with internalized shame believes he is inherently flawed, inferior and defective. Such a feeling is so painful that defending scripts (or strategies) are developed to cover it up. These scripts are the roots of violence, criminality, war, and all forms of addiction.”

The role of narcissism in toxic relationships

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Dr. Patterson, what is something most people don’t know about love bombing?

Dr. Rick Patterson: As a reforming narcissist myself, I’ve seen this play out in all types of venues. Love bombing isn’t just a romantic thing. It can happen in any relationship anywhere, including the workplace or where you worship. 

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: As a recovering narcissist, could you share your thoughts on what qualities a narcissistic person or NPD looks for in someone they think will be susceptible to the love bombing tactic?

Dr. Rick Patternson: A narcissist can sense someone’s need and their openness to being manipulated.

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Your mention of need is interesting because it’s a word associated with being impoverished, lacking, or hungry. Could you explain a bit more about what you mean when you say that someone is open to being manipulated?

Dr. Rick Patterson: Someone experiencing love myredbook sacramento bombing is thinking that this attention doesn’t make sense combined with a feeling of needing it to make sense.

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: In your opinion, what drives the need to make the absurd make sense?

Dr. Rick Patterson: Ironically, someone’s need for attention from a narcissist comes from their own narcissism.

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Given that narcissism is a trait that exists on a continuum that we all have, it makes sense that a highly narcissistic person or someone with narcissistic personality disorder would excel at recognizing and appealing to narcissism in others. What exactly does a narcissist see when they set their sights on someone?

Dr. Rick Patterson: They see the narcissism of the person they target presenting as neediness, which opens them up to a person whose narcissism presents as manipulative. Both individuals have complementary and codependent forms of the same shame-based malady.

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: One is the yin to the other’s yang.

What drives narcissists to manipulate others?

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Let’s talk about what motivates a narcissistic person to love bomb someone. What drives this behavior?

Dr. Rick Patterson: There is something in it for the narcissist.

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: So, it’s avarice. The narcissist is seeking to benefit from the person or people they love bomb.

Dr. Rick Patterson: This happens in volunteer organizations and the workplace all the time. Volunteer organizations need people to work for free. The best way to make that happen is through compliments. There is nothing wrong with donating to a cause – just do it for the cause and not the person showering you with attention. Your workplace has also learned that they can pay employees less when they give more compliments. They describe it as “worker retention”, but it helps “retain” workers when they can’t pay as much.

The role of sociotropy in narcissistic abuse

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: If a person has been targeted for narcissistic abuse what are three things they need to understand and be mindful of going forward?

Dr. Rick Patterson: Think about these things:

  1. Neediness – Your need and your openness to being manipulated
  2. Resources – There something in it for the narcissist to shower this attention.
  3. Vulnerablity – A willingness to give up your freedoms for praise.

Narcissistic Abuse Rehab: Excellent points. An excessive need for approval and acceptance can cause people to lapse into denial when confronted with red flag behaviors. Sociotropy or people pleasing creates blindspots. It’s a green light for a predatory personalities.

Dr. Patterson: The danger for the recipient of love bombing is the needier you are for the praise you receive – in other words, the more shame drive you have – the less likely you will be to see what’s going on. Find someone you trust to give you some clarity.

Shame Unmasked: Disarming the Hidden Driver Behind Our Destructive Decisions is available for purchase on Amazon.


Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse.
In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org.
In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.


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FKA Twigs Opens Up To Gayle King on CBS This Morning

FKA twigs interview with Gayle King | CBS This Morning

FKA twigs opened up to journalist Gayle King on CBS This Morning about the alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of actor Shia LaBoeuf. In her first television interview since taking legal action against him in December 2020, the Grammy nominee also took the opportunity to name and define some of the common behaviors of perpetrators of domestic abuse.

With California’s new coercive control legislation in force as of January 1, 2021, twigs’ lawsuit against LaBoeuf may set an important new precedent as California is the second state in the USA to criminalize coercive control.

In the claim she filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court, twigs (born Tahliah Debrett Barnett) describes LaBeouf as “a danger to women,” who kept her “in a constant state of fear.”

She describes experiencing an ongoing pattern of abuse in her relationship with LaBoeuf that included verbal, emotional, physical abuse, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Specifically:

  • Non-fatal strangulation
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual battery, and
  • Infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease.

On February 12, 2021 LaBoeuf’s legal team issued a statement that the actor denies “generally and specifically each and every allegation.”

His behavior became gradually more and more abusive.”

FKA twigs

FKA twigs is now speaking out in the hope of helping others spot the signs of domestic abuse in intimate relationships and, most importantly, for survivors to know that they are not alone.

Knowledge is Power

Once twigs understood that the harms that were allegedly inflicted on her by LaBoeuf were intentional, she reached out to Sistah Space, a London based service specialized in supporting abuse survivors of African heritage.

She started to learn about the manipulation tactics used by perpetrators of coercive control and developed an awareness about the attitudes that drive these destructive behaviors.

Empowered with new knowledge, twigs was able to escape and begin the healing process.

She shared that, in retrospect, the relationship had red flags from the very start. She described some of them to Gayle King in the interview.

Boundary violation disguised as romantic gestures

“In the beginning he would jump over the fence where I was staying and leave flowers outside my door and poems and books.” twigs told King, “And I thought it was very romantic, but that quickly changed. I understand now that that’s testing your boundaries. But it didn’t stop there, you know. His behavior became gradually more and more abusive.”

Love bombing and devaluation

She also described her experience of the idealization or love bombing phase of the cycle of abuse to King, as LaBoeuf “putting me on a pedestal, telling me that I was amazing, over the top displays of affection just to knock me off the pedestal, to tell me that I was worthless, to criticize me, to berate me, you know. Pick me apart.”

Learn more about love bombing in our interview with Harvard trained psychotherapist Madelaine Claire Weiss.

Gaslighting

“Abusers use gaslighting,” said twigs, wringing her small hands and taking a deep breath before she continued, “Which is where somebody minimizes your experience. It’s, like, altering your narrative and not listening to you, and denying your experience.”

Battery

“Eventually, it did become physical,” she said softly, dropping her gaze for a instant before lifting her eyes to meet King’s stare, before bravely giving a detailed account of how her relationship with LaBoeuf spiraled into violence.

Summary

There are many important lessons to be learned from FKA twigs about domestic abuse that may dispel the manifold myths that form the loopholes that help perpetrators evade justice. The reality is that because of its systemic nature, domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of financial status, fame, education, or social standing.

Watch Gayle King’s full interview with FKA twigs below.

Watch Gayle King’s interview with FKA twigs


Confidential support is available 24/7/365 to anyone experiencing abuse.
In the USA call 1-800-799-7233 or log on to thehotline.org.
In the UK call 0808 2000 247 or log on to nationaldahelpline.org.uk.


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