The Psychopath’s Hook: Love Bombing, Sex and Flattery

Nobody is lured by anyone through initial criticism and abuse.  If a psychopath undermined your self-confidence on the first date, you’d quickly dispatch him on his way. Relationships with psychopaths are about utility and power. The psychopath will use you for whatever purpose he wants–sex, money, a mask of normalcy–and keep you in your place by getting you to focus on your weaknesses and pouncing on your insecurities. However, no relationship with a psychopath starts that way. On the contrary, once they set their eyes on you as their main target (their “prize”), psychopaths typically engage in whirlwind romances. They can’t get enough of you. They want to see you and make love to you all the time. They flatter you constantly. They tell you that no woman they’ve ever been with is as smart, as beautiful, as classy as you are. You are the one true love of their lives. Their only love. Victims tend to eat the flattery up, since after all, who doesn’t like to be told such positive and beautiful things? They don’t ask themselves a common sense question: Why is this guy flattering me so much?

This is, indeed, the first question you should ask yourself if you’re being “love bombed,” as they say, by anyone. How many healthy individuals do that? And what makes you so special that out of all the people in the world you turn out to be the most beautiful, brilliant and exciting of all?  Could it be that this man has an ulterior motive? Could it be that he told each one of his main targets the same lines? And if so, why? To show you how absurd love bombing is and why you should display great caution when you encounter it, just consider the following analogous examples. We tell our children not to approach strangers who try to lure them with nice words and candy. Those individuals are probably social predators, pedophiles. But why do grown women accept such flattery without raising an eyebrow? Shouldn’t the advice they offer their children also apply to them?

To offer a second common example: in the seventies a lot of women hitchhiked. They didn’t necessarily ask themselves why is this stranger being so nice and giving me a free ride? Most of the time they were safe; a lot of the time, they weren’t. Some got picked up by social predators–rapists and even murderers–whose “niceness” was only a lure. There is a pattern emerging here. Most normal people don’t love bomb. They do not engage in over-the-top flattery; they do not make promises of eternal love right off the bat; they don’t call you the love of their lives without even knowing you. These are patterns of behavior that should be suspicious because they are very common lures for predators.

Psychopaths commonly engage in love bombing as their hook, to sink their claws into their victims. The flattery, declarations of love and romantic encounters bond and attract the victims to them. This process is not reciprocal. Since psychopaths attach to others without emotionally bonding to them, they only bond the target, not the predator. Such techniques pump up the victim’s confidence and get her addicted to the supply: of flattery, of romantic words and gestures, or constant displays of “affection” and love making. But only one person–the victim–is actually  making love. The other one–the predator–is conquering her, getting her to depend upon his presence and approval, so that he can later tear her apart. That is a psychopath’s main goal: to exercise control over his targets and ultimately harm them. The psychopathic bond is, as Sandra Brown aptly puts it, “a relationship of inevitable harm.”

When victims are still in the honeymoon phase of the psychopathic bond they rarely believe that the person who appears to woe and romance them so much, the one who claims to adore them, intends to use, control and ultimately destroy them. But as the relationship with a psychopath unfolds, this underlying goal becomes more obvious. He starts to get you to focus on your weaknesses. He starts to tell you the criticisms leveled against you by other people (supposedly) so that you focus on those issues. Initially the criticisms don’t come from him (supposedly). They come from your colleague or your friends or his family members. Then, slowly, they start coming from him. Maybe you should exercise more. Or lose some weight. Or you don’t wear the right kind of makeup. Or professionally you’re not successful enough. Or you’re no longer as sexually exciting to him. Bit by bit, criticism by criticism, the psychopath undermines your self-worth. This process may happen in a few months or may be painfully slow and gradual, a matter of years. Either way, it’s highly effective. You are already used to his flattery and validation. What are you doing wrong that you’re no longer getting them? Your sense of who you are and self-confidence begin to slip. You do what you can to regain his approval, or perhaps even his idolatry. His “love”.

The moral of this story? If someone is too positive and flattering and gives you too much attention in the beginning of a relationship, it generally means you’re in for a very bumpy road later on, filled with criticism and manipulation. When somebody starts love bombing you, don’t ask yourself: How in the world did I get so lucky? Ask yourself: What does this guy want from me? In a psychopathic bond, the idealization phase of flattery and wild declarations of love is by far the most dangerous because that’s when a psychopath conditions you in a positive way to pin your self-worth on him. Once you do that, he gradually and steadily conditions you to accept his increasingly negative criticism, to chip away at your identity and self-esteem. This eventually happens in every relationship with a psychopath. You will not be the exception that confirms the rule. Nobody proves to be a psychopath’s “one true love,” no matter how much he flattered them and said he loved them in the beginning.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness



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