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Is she being LOVE-BOMBED?


Over 20 years ago, I was set up on a blind date, and when he called, I felt such an immediate connection. He was funny, charming, confident. It just was intoxicating. We stayed on the phone for hours. My cheeks hurt. After that conversation, he wanted to see me the next morning for breakfast, I could barely sleep, I was giddy. 

The next day, the connection was so immediate. We went on the date. There's a lot of other fun stories about that date. But from that point forward, we spent every day together. And it was amazing. 

This is Alisa Goodwin Snell with the Lasting Love Podcast, where we feature Real Life, Real People, and Real Love. 

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(full podcast transcript below)

This is Alisa Snell with the Lasting Love Podcast where we feature Real Life, Real People, and Real Love. And today we're going to be featuring more of my Real Life, Real People, and Real Love story. This has actually been a difficult one for me to prepare for, because it's been over 20 years, and I don't really go back there. I don't think about it. It’s been forgiven. And in many ways, it's been relegated to the Forgotten Place where I just don't go there. I don't dwell on it until I'm meeting with a client and they share similar stories. 

Over 20 years ago, I was set up on a blind date, and when he called, I felt such an immediate connection. He was funny, charming, confident. It just was intoxicating. We stayed on the phone for hours. My cheeks hurt. After that conversation, he wanted to see me the next morning for breakfast, I could barely sleep, I was giddy. 

The next day, the connection was so immediate. We went on the date. There's a lot of other fun stories about that date. But from that point forward, we spent every day together. And it was amazing. 

This is Alisa Snell with the Lasting Love Podcast where we feature Real Life, Real People, and Real Love. And today we're going to be featuring more of my Real Life, Real People, and Real Love story. This has actually been a difficult one for me to prepare for, because it's been over 20 years, and I don't really go back there. I don't think about it. It’s been forgiven. And in many ways, it's been relegated to the Forgotten Place where I just don't go there. I don't dwell on it until I'm meeting with a client and they share similar stories. 

As you can probably tell my experience with, we'll call him Sam, did not end well. And the best way for me to tell my story is to tell it the way that it evolved for me. 

So when I met him, it was exciting, fun, romantic. He was committed. He wanted to spend time with me. He would say things like, “I've never felt this way before. I've never loved anyone like I've loved you. I've never felt these kinds of feelings for anyone before.” And it just really made me feel special and important. It was just romantic, and everything I'd ever hoped or dreamed of. So it just made a lot of sense that I would want to spend all of my time with him. Especially when he wanted to spend all of his time with me. He was flattering. He would send me flowers. And it just felt so natural. It was like we were in an instantaneous relationship, without all of the insecurity that leads up to a relationship. And it just felt so secure. 

I stopped spending time with my friends and family as much or doing some of the other things that I used to do. But hey, that's what you do when you're in a new relationship. And we were talking about getting married. And he wanted to get married really quickly. So it just seemed like it was just the natural transition in relationships. 

There were a few things I had to ignore, dismiss. But otherwise, it was just so wonderful and exciting and fun. There were things I couldn't tell my friends and family about because I didn't want them to think negatively of him. But hey, you know, we were just so well fitted for each other. He had the same values and liked a lot of the same things. It's like we had the same mind in a way we just fit so well together. 

But when we didn’t, like for instance, when I wanted to go back and play racquetball, and I loved it, he kept me up for hours telling me how he couldn't trust what other people were thinking when I would play racquetball with them. Which were most of the time, people I didn't know, but would just be there and we would jump in and play racquetball together. And he would say, “Well, you know, that makes me uncomfortable, because you don't know what they're thinking.” And I would say, “Well, but you know me. You know what I'm thinking. I don't get together with them after. I don't share my number. There's nothing wrong. Like I've been doing this for years. I love this sport.” And he kept me up for hours until finally, I was willing to admit that, yes, maybe racquetball wasn't as important as our relationship. And if he needed me to sacrifice that, well, that's just what you do in a relationship because you love the person. 

And there were some other red flags. But why talk or focus on those? There were so many good things that were going on in our relationship. And then there were times when it wasn't so good. Like the time he went through some of my photo albums and found a picture of me with somebody from a dance and asked me questions about the relationship, and then asked why I was keeping these pictures and that I needed to get rid of them. And he made fun of the other person and made fun of me for being with that other person and what was I thinking. And at first, he was hilarious. Like the jokes he would tell would just make me laugh. Yes, they were sarcastic and yes, they were condescending and critical. But my goodness, they were creative the way he would twist his observations about this other person. And the dramatic way he would tell it, I couldn't help but laugh, partially because I love him, and I don't want him to feel bad. And it was easier to laugh. 

But then I would get to that point where I would say, “Well, you're really starting to hurt my feelings now. Please stop. Like no, I mean, you're kind of being insulting, and it just hurts my feelings. Can we change the subject?” And he would keep going, and he would keep going. And then as it would continue, I would get more withdrawn and upset. And then he would say, “So what are you going to do break up with me now? Are you really going to walk away and leave me?” How could you do that to me, and he would push me away. And then I would reassure him, and tell him that I wasn't going to leave him and make him feel all better. 

And if I didn't, if I tried to hold my ground, it would just get a lot worse. And I remember, on one incident, we were on a hike. And we were having this kind of a back and forth where my feelings were hurt. And he was teasing and teasing and teasing. And at one point, I kind of pushed away from him because he was teasing me and I slipped and I fell into a stream. And he just laughed and laughed and laughed. And I was wet. I was hurting. And there wasn't any comforting, and I couldn't understand what was going on with him. Why was he treating me this way? And he was trying to make it better. I felt embarrassed and uncomfortable hurt. 

And we met up with a friend after the hike. And he was just really acting like I was going to break up with him now. And I was trying to reassure him that I wasn't, but he wasn't apologizing for any of the things he said. And my friend was asking me how I was doing and I seemed off. And she's like, I just think that this is just the pre-marriage jitters. And you guys, you know, you guys will figure this out. And I'm like, yep, you're right. I'm sure that that's the case. And we just went back to how it was before. we just ignored it and moved on. 

There were other things that I didn't share with my family as well. Like the fact that he was 29 years old and had already been divorced twice. I didn't share with them these things that he would do in terms of keeping me up late if I disagreed with him or had a different opinion on something. And we would keep talking and he would keep going through why I was wrong until I agreed with him that his opinion was right. Things like, he had a particular actor I felt was a repulsive comedian that he really liked and I didn't agree that this comedian was someone I enjoyed watching or seeing the movies that this comedian was in. And he's like, “Well, you just need to watch every single movie he's been in until you liked him as much as I do because it's just not going to be okay if you don't like him.”

And sometimes I would think he's just teasing, or, Hey, it's not that big a deal. I can watch the movies. Certainly, he's not serious about that. But he was determined I was going to watch all of the movies. And it just made it easier if I told him that I liked this comedian. It just made it easier. And so I started to just go along with what he was saying because there was so much more peace that way. 

And then when I would want to spend time with friends and family or see friends and family. It seemed like it was always really difficult to do that. Or we would arrive to a party late and we would leave early and he would be somehow offended by something someone did or said at the party. We're engaged. Of course, I'm going to want to make him happy. It's not that big a deal. I could understand why it would be difficult. And so I just went along with it. It just seemed easier. And even though they were my family, I figured in time, he would get more comfortable with them. 

Other things that were difficult. When we were talking about getting married, he wanted to get married right away. And I was like, “Well, you know, like, eight months, six months down the road.” Like that's when I was thinking we would plan the wedding. And he said to me, “Well, you must not love me as much as I love you. Maybe I should reconsider.” There was always a lot of pressure. And if I didn't agree, it felt like he was rejecting and pushing me away. But it was my fault. And we would be breaking up if I didn't do it his way. But it was my fault. We'd be breaking up because I didn't love him as much as he loved me. 

Also on that first phone call when I said that there were several things about the date that were interesting. And the first phone call, remember how much fun that first phone call was, there was one thing that stood out in an uncomfortable way for me on that phone call. And it was when he asked me what I did and I told him I was a counselor and marriage and family therapist. He said, “Well, I don't believe in that stuff. I don't think that somebody who is a counselor is any better than anybody else. And, you know, I don't think people need counseling, and a lot of people spend their money on that. It doesn't make any difference.”

And on that first phone call, I was very much aware of the fact that I did not want him to think I was better than him. And so it's like, “Well, I agree with a lot of what you're saying, and I see where you're coming from. And yeah, you know, sometimes counseling doesn't make a difference for some people.” And I was validating his feelings, I wanted him to feel comfortable.  But remember, all of this was happening in the middle of a lot of fun laughter and playfulness. And we just had so much in common. 

And he had the same values that I had. Which if I looked at it a little bit more closely, he was doing those values more diligently, going to church and showing interest in the religious things that we prioritize in my religion. I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And so we have temples that we go to. And he was all of a sudden prioritizing, getting back to the temple and going to the temple. But if I look closely at it, he hadn't been doing any of those things before we met that I thought he was, but it just seemed inconsistent. I wasn't sure how soon before we met - was he doing those things or not? And as I looked more closely, it seemed like, it only started after we started dating. But certainly, that was probably just a matter of coincidence. And there were a lot of reasons why he was less involved in the church prior to that. So, Hey, he's going in the right direction. Why worry about it? 

In the lead up to getting married, there were just these kinds of experiences. But again, so many other positives. There was one important one prior to getting married, that was particularly concerning. And that was, we were talking about, and he was from the south, we were talking about someone who was African American. And he said, “Just so you know, none of our children can play with black children. And they cannot be taught that black children are our equals. And black people are equal to white people.” And that was the first time I had ever heard him say something like that. I had noticed that he had some negative things to say about Hispanics, but I had never noticed him be so blatant about the fact African Americans weren't his equal. 

And he even went into a story where his dad had had to fire someone or let someone go because the business was going through a slump. And there was an African American man that worked there. And he was a by far better employee than the other men, but because he was black, that was the man that had to go. 

So you know, there were these concerning things. But I was also having what I felt were spiritual experiences in this relationship with him. So I just took it on faith that it was going to be okay. And I wasn't sure how seriously to take it. And I thought I could influence him. And after all, we were only one week away from getting married. So it was really difficult for me to make a big issue out of this, and I loved him, and I wanted to be with him. And I was certainly sacrificing a lot and had made a lot of changes already to be with him. 

Additionally, no one knew the things that I was experiencing. I wasn't telling people about the things that he was doing and saying. They didn't know he had been divorced twice. My family did know that he'd been divorced once. But I just didn't want people to judge him. Because they didn't know him well enough. I wanted them to get to know him. And I just didn't think it was a big deal. 

He told me that his first wife had had a misunderstanding about something that looked like it could have been an unfaithful moment. But it was just a misunderstanding. But it ended their relationship. And then in his second marriage, she had had an affair. And so it just seemed like you know, bad luck, and that he had had a hard go of it. And he also sounded like he regretted that he hadn't treated his second wife better. And as a result, maybe he had pushed her into this other man's arms. And so it just seemed plausible that he had just had bad luck. 

I didn't tell people what was going on in the relationship. And when we just got over it, and I ignored some of these issues, things were just so great. Any efforts to talk through these issues or to ask more questions, or to push back didn't go well. But you know, for the most part, we were having a great time and I would just recover quickly and treat the relationship like it was okay. And we would be fine. So I was uncomfortable, but I was confident that I loved him. And I wanted to be with him. And I was having just enough spiritual experiences, that it just felt like everything was going to be okay. 

The wedding comes, the honeymoon comes. And that's when everything started to change. 

Love bombing is a very common part of how those who are personality disordered pull you in. I became dependent and reliant on him very quickly. Because I was not spending time with friends and family. He was making it difficult for me to spend time with friends and family. I wasn't telling other people what was going on. And there was such a high price that I had to pay whenever I would express my feelings, needs, and opinions. So I stopped doing that. 

I was feeling some of the red flags and warning signs, but he was love-bombing me with so much praise and adoration and time and attention. And he just made me feel so good. He was so in tune with what I wanted to feel, what my insecurities and issues were. And he really played to that. He learned what I valued and what was important to me. And he gave me what he thought I needed to see so that I would stay. And because I was afraid of conflict and I had issues leading into this, fears of not being good enough, fears of being wrong of causing problems. I was a peacemaker. Because of those things. I didn't ask difficult questions. I didn't follow up. I didn't question his story or say, “Wait a second. So help me to understand your first wife came into a situation that didn't look right. And she thought you were being unfaithful. So then what did you do? And how did she get that perception? And how did you try to fix it? And what did that mean?” Instead? He just ran away he left. He didn't try to resolve anything. But I didn't ask him any questions about that. I didn't ask him any questions about the fact that he was a 25-year-old man who was dating an 18-year-old girl who was still in high school. And he was still legally married to his first wife. 

I didn't ask a lot of questions. I didn't want to see the truth. I wanted to love and be loved. And that's how I got into this difficult situation. Not just because he was really good at the game. But because of my issues that led into it. Instead of me recognizing that he was insulting my profession, and six years of my education and hard work to become a marriage and family therapist. Instead of addressing the fact that he was insulting and minimizing that, I was primarily focused on making him feel comfortable. Those issues were my contribution, my way of being over-responsible, fixing things, making people comfortable making everything all better. That was my responsibility that drew out his irresponsibility. And didn't call him out on his behaviors, red flags, and warning signs. And when I did, it didn't go well. So I just stopped trying and I didn't tell anybody else. 

Love bombing is the tool that those who are Narcissistic Personality Disordered use to ensnare someone so that by the time you finally see and get uncomfortable enough with the things that you're learning, or seeing, or their behaviors, by the time you're finally confident enough, in the problems that you're seeing that you start to talk with them about it, you're already married. You're already living with them. You’re already financially obligated to them. You’re already entrenched in their lives and in their situation so that you can't easily get away. 

If I had known him longer and dated him longer. I would not have probably married him. If I had shared details of what I was experiencing with others, they would have strengthened me in having difficult conversations and holding him accountable, and delaying the marriage, I probably would not have married him. 

The difficulty with love bombing is that it's so good in the beginning, and it feels so great. And you want love and need that attention and affection and adoration that you get in the beginning. When they start to pull it away and withdraw it from you, you’re always convinced that somehow it's your fault and if you are just good enough and better, you're going to get that love, value, and admiration from them again. It became part of and consumed, consuming need for his love validation and approval that I was never able to maintain from that point forward. No matter how hard I tried to recapture that love bombing beginning, it only kept getting worse from there, but I was hooked. 

I would not be doing what I do now had I not gone through this experience at such a young age. It was the driving power and motivation for me to help other people to identify the early warning signs of the abusive and manipulative as early as the first three dates in hopes that you'll be able to prevent falling into these traps. 

I questioned my own ability to trust myself after this, I needed to know how to trust myself, trust the goodness of men, trust marriage and relationships. And it was my desire to love and be loved, to trust and to want to trust, to see the best in others, it was my desire for those things that actually made me the most vulnerable to getting it wrong the second time. That's why I created the Three-Date Rule for identifying the abusive and manipulative to protect myself from myself so that I would have a process that I could trust because I didn't really trust myself anymore. I needed a process that I could trust that would help me to navigate and avoid these kinds of relationships in the future and to identify them very quickly so that I could get out of them before I was attached. 

You will learn more about my theory for identifying the potentially abusive and manipulative within three dates in future podcasts. Please go to the LastingLoveAcademy.com to sign up for my email list and to subscribe so you can hear these audios as soon as they become available. 

But before we go, I want to highlight the important points of love bombing. They dominate your time and attention right away. There is a love-hate switch. If you look really closely, you'll notice that they will talk about past relationships in a way that they have either been abandoned by others in the past, people don't understand them, that others are evil or bad. But you're different, you're kinder, you're better. You are smarter, funnier prettier, kinder, you are better than other people. And that sense of immediate adoration, it creates a feeling of expectation that you don't want to hurt or disappoint them. And even if we question whether or not they know us well enough to think that we're all of that, there's this desire within all of us to not prove them wrong. So when they get their feelings hurt, they get upset, we tend to try to give them the behavior that they're praising in us, even at the cost of our own feelings and needs. 

Other parts of love bombing is withdrawing you from friends and family, making it difficult for you to spend time with friends and family, removing you from hobbies and personal interests that you enjoy.

Oftentimes, they will want commitment and exclusivity right away, they will pressure you to either get married or to move in together. They will ask for your help with money. Or they'll encourage you to quit a job or drive their vehicles in a way that makes you more dependent and reliant on them. Oftentimes, if you have children, they will immediately want to engage in caretaking and being involved with your family and your children, which makes it harder for you to pull away because of the attachment of others. There will often be pressure on you to not tell other people about your experiences with them. They'll ask you to keep secrets, not just from the general population, but from those people that you know and trust. They'll expect that kind of loyalty. 

When there is conflict, they will often be more upset or unreasonable or irrational or keep you up late and exhaust you until you agree to their perceptions or expectations. You'll start to feel like you're giving and giving and giving more of yourself for the relationship. And in the beginning. You'll just get an abundance of love and appreciation, warmth and support and encouragement when you give up these things. But in time, if you don't give up these things, they'll become more angry rejecting defensive, stonewalling critical, or they will threaten to break up with you. 

In my case where my former spouse, Sam would say I didn't love him as much as he loved me and put pressure on me to prove to him that I loved him as much as he loved me. When confronting them on the things that they do or say, they won't directly apologize or take responsibility, but instead will play the victim get angry blame you, project the shame on to you, deny that they did it at all, treat you like there's something wrong with you. They’ll use terms like, “Well, everybody knows that you don't do this, they'll shame they'll belittle. But again, in the middle of all of this is a tremendous amount of love and appreciation and warmth. 

And you're so amazing and I would never hurt you. And you can trust me, that’s a key part of love bombing, is they very quickly try to put you in a position where you depend and rely on them. And they have expectations that you trust them right away, even though you don't know them very well yet, because they want your commitment and exclusivity and dependence and reliance before you have a chance to get to know them. 

They often don't give you the full story. So if you ask a lot of questions to get more information about them, or to verify, or just because you're curious, and you want to understand how these, how all these pieces come together, you'll find that they give you vague answers. They divert. They change the subject. They play the victim. They cry. They will use a variety of different tactics to avoid giving you the details of their past relationships. 

Another telltale sign of somebody who's a love bomber is they have a lot of broken relationships, a lot of lost relationships, or people that have become burned out on them. They often will say that they struggle with fears of abandonment, and you'll feel a lot of pressure to prove to them that you're not going to do to them what others have done to them. 

I forgot to mention an important piece in the tactics of a love bomber, and that is that they will often pressure you for sexual contact. The reality of sexual touch is that oftentimes, once we become involved sexually, we want it to mean something. We either end the relationship because it was just a one-night stand, or we want to be exclusive. We want it to mean something to us and to the other person. And it just supercharges the person to become more committed than they actually know and can trust the person. 

Seduction and pressure for immediate sexual relationships is a big part of the Narcissistic and Borderline Personality Disorder pattern. 

So a Narcissistic person is oftentimes very self-centered and focused on what other people think of them and their image. And they look really great on social media. They’re very preoccupied with their appearance. So sometimes Narcissists are harder to identify because there's a lot of praise, recognition, and success that Narcissists can have. And the importance that they place in other people admiring them means that it takes a while for you to see the truth because their public image is very critical and important to them. 

With Borderlines, however, they oftentimes will show more of their emotional weaknesses, in that they struggle with either some amount of raging, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, victim playing, cutting behaviors, eating disorders. And so we often find that those who are Borderline tend to be women more than men, and people who are Narcissistic tend to be men more than women. That doesn't mean that there's any guarantee in that regard. But in both cases, it does take time to identify these qualities. Unless they talk very openly about how important their image is to them. They named drop or they talk about their hospitalizations, injuries. They’ve got obvious cutting, or they talk about some of the raging that they've done. It's interesting to me how Narcissist and Borderline people really do reveal quite a bit of their disorder to other people because it's so normal to them, that they don't realize how much they're revealing.

There is a book written by John Van Epp, How to avoid marrying a jerk. If you're familiar with that book, you probably can recognize some of the terms that I've been using. And my theories correlate very nicely with his theories. 

The fact of the matter is when you have feelings, and needs, opinions, and you have expectations to maintain your quality of life, your opinions, and your friends and other relationships, people who are love bombing will oftentimes get frustrated and angry. And if you don't give them what they want right away, they'll manipulate you and then find a different target. 

So this is a quick overview of love bombing and the dangers of love bombing, I realized that there are some fun and infatuated relationships out there that start off in a somewhat similar way. But if you set boundaries you express your feelings and needs, you push back, they actually handle that experience very differently. They might feel a little jealous or threatened. But then they realize and they'll say, “Well, you're right, and I can see where you're coming from. And it's really not that big a deal. And this is something I need to work on on my, you know, on my end.” So there's a lot of ways they'll show more empathy and personal responsibility and exercise self-control, because they can see the wisdom of a balanced dating experience, and they don't expect you to change everything about you to be with them. That is the difference between these intense romantic relationships that start off very intensely and love bombing. 

I hope that this has been helpful. If you appreciate these podcasts, please support me and the time that it takes to create these podcasts by sharing them with others who you feel would benefit from them, or sharing them on social media, liking, and subscribing. 

This is Alisa Goodwin Snell with the Lasting Love Podcast. Please check out the LastingLoveAcademy.com, where you can benefit from my 30 years of experience as a Marriage and Family Therapist and Dating and Relationship Strategist and my extensive Lasting Love Academy for as little as $27 a month. We have plans to suit all needs and situations as well as those who are looking for a personalized, lasting love experience in which we assist you through all of the stages of dating and relationships. 

I look forward to you joining me at the LastingLoveAcademy.com and I hope you'll tune in next week. For more Real Life, Real People, and Real Love Stories. 


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