One key difference between loving and lovebombing
How do you tell the difference between madly in love and lovebombing? That was a question that I found myself asking recently. What are the signs that you want to pick up on?
It happened when my lovely partner and I were dining, quietly, in a favorite restaurant in Venice, world capital of bad hair. My hair was unbelievably bad, my fringe having morphed, from the humidity, into a hideous, handlebar moustache above my eyes.
The restaurant where we were has always served great food. Over the years it has become a foodie Mecca and, on this occasion, the well-heeled foodies were out in force. While we ate, an American woman in her late twenties walked in, sporting a glorious pair of Manolo Blahnik’s, an exquisite tuxedo dress, magazine-perfect hair and an Italian boyfriend with a Cheshire cat smile.
The grand spectacle
The two made a grand entrance on an unmissable cloud of mutual adoration. Once seated, he constantly smiled at her. She constantly smiled back at him. I was free to observe them as closely as I pleased because they were never going to pay attention to Bad Hair in the background. They were the star attraction after all.
After their first course, he got up to go to the bathroom – except that he couldn’t just go to the bathroom. First, he had to walk round to her side of the table and impart a noisy kiss on her lips, while placing a proprietorial hand on her neck – presumably because parting, even for a comfort break, was such sweet sorrow.
When he returned, everyone in the restaurant heard him park another noisy kiss on her lips with the proprietorial hand, once again, coiled around the back of her neck.
What did he love about her?
Now, by this time, I was watching intently. The noisy kisses made me wonder just how new the relationship was. There were no rings in evidence, which suggested that they were, indeed, in the very early stages of their relationship.
She was expensively dressed and groomed and had a $10,000 (approx.) Chanel bag, perched on a little stool beside her, making quite the statement. He wore a sizable watch which could have been expensive… but I am afraid that from where I sat I couldn’t identify it. Otherwise, his attire was no match for hers.
Having seen many such couples over the years, I will admit to being a tad cynical. I couldn’t help wondering what he loved about her. Or even whether he was deeply in love with her or the merchandising.
The mission statement
After their second course, when she went to use the restroom, she too indulged in the noisy kiss routine, both on leaving and returning – although her hand rested, a tad more submissively, on his shoulder.
When she sat down again, their loving conversation resumed with smiles and laughter until… they hit an opinion.
I don’t know how it happened (maybe I actually looked away for a moment) but I saw him state an opinion He was quite categorical about it. It wasn’t, by any means, an exchange of opinions that occurred. Rather, it looked like a mission statement, on his part. He seemed to be saying,
“You need to know that this is how I see it. Whatever your opinion and however you arrived at it, I am simply not interested. Mine is the definitive opinion on the matter and you need to understand that. This is how I work and how the dynamic between us works.”
Apparently, there had been no great lead-up to this. But the expression on his face said clearly that he was irked and deadly serious.
I don’t think that she realised that something very important had shifted between them, but it had. Somehow, she had crossed a line – that she likely didn’t even know was there. He was letting her know that that kind of insubordination would not be tolerated.
The limitations of the relationship
The love that was so intense it could hardly bear a toilet-break did not respond well to a small stress test. In fact, that love proved too fragile even to cushion the naive girlfriend’s failure to understand that there was no space in the “relationship” for her to express her own opinion, freely and civilly.
The lovebirds left soon after, without subjecting the rest of us diners to any further PDAs.
Of course, I can’t know how that story ended.
But I can guess.
If she was either smart or lucky, she would have cut her losses, ended the relationship then and there and galloped off into the night with her Chanel bag on her shoulder.
If she was already as deeply invested in the lovebombing as she appeared to be, then she would have worked to patch things up and…
You know, in general terms, how the relationship would play out from there. You know the increasingly stark landscape of misery that would, inevitably, lie ahead.
The key difference between loving and lovebombing
The difference between loving and lovebombing that this story illustrates is that genuine love allows another person to be and express themselves freely. Love also makes allowances for mistakes, missteps, misunderstandings and whatever else.
Nor does love need to grandstand in the way that those two did.
Genuine love is about the people involved. It is not about having to garner as much attention as you possibly can from other people by any means available. (Since they were able to dress and groom themselves adequately, my guess is that they were probably also wise enough to know that kisses don’t have to be loud enough to reverberate through a restaurant – even a smallish one.) But lovebombing is always intended to be, at least in part, a spectator sport.
Lovebombing always has an agenda. It is designed to portray\ itself as the most special and romantic thing ever. The lovebomber sells you on the exceptionality of their product. It’s meant to be incomparably beautiful, intense and romantic. Even the kisses have to be louder and larger than life.
Yet it can’t even negotiate a teeny-weeny hiccup without turning it into a major drama – in which one party establishes their Alpha credentials and the other gets belittled.
Lovebombing starts out so beautifully. You really do get to live out Love’s Young Dream. Briefly. But then the rules of the game are changed, unilaterally, by the lovebomber, and you are left wondering what happened and how something that seemed so wonderful could disappear into thin air.
Lovebombing might feel, at the time, like the most – most love, most attention, most validation – you have ever had from another person. That is because you are getting ALL that you will ever get from that person in one, brief, hyper-concentrated, saccharine hit. Once it’s over, you are left with a lot of shattered pieces of yourself to reassemble. If that is where you find yourself, my Break Free Membership will offer you all the tools, techniques and mind-set shifts you need to reclaim yourself and keep yourself safe going forward.
Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.
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