If there’s a kind of trend single millennials throw their avocado-laden, empty hip-pockets behind, it’s a dating trend.
From breadcrumbing and negging to benching and ghosting, we aren’t very good at shrugging our shoulders when messed around while dating. Instead, we’re in constant pursuit of labels to aptly define our mistreatment.
He’s sending sporadic messages? He isn’t just unreliable, he’s a total breadcrumb. Her insults come a little too freely, and hit you in the crux of your insecurities? She’s a negger.
Of course, you could probably just substitute every so-called ‘trend’ with an overriding sense that some people are unequivocal arseholes, or you get a little more creative, finding categories for behaviour and using them to make sense of a relationship may have gone belly up.
And so comes the latest ‘trend’ the news cycle is breathing great amounts of oxygen into this week: Love bombing.
Listen: Breaking the cycle of bad relationships:
According psychiatrist and author Dale Archer, love bombing is “an attempt to influence another person with over-the-top displays of attention and affection”.
He writes, for Psychology Today:
“We’re not just talking about romantic gestures, like flowers and trips. Love bombing invariably includes lots of romantic conversation, long talks about ‘our future,’ and long periods of staring into each other’s eyes.
The common thread is a cycle that starts with intense courtship and idealisation over a very short period of time — days or weeks, not months. Idealisation is when partners see each other as ‘perfect,’ ‘meant to be,’ or ‘soul mates’.”
Archer says as intense as the relationship can get in a short space of time, before long, he or she will begin to be riddled with jealously and harsh words.
“The once-loving boyfriend suddenly became the harsh critic, finding fault and threatening abandonment.”
To further his point, Archer tells the story of an old client. He calls her Lisa.
Lisa is infatuated with a new partner, he showers her in love and affection and gifts and flattery. After a few weeks, she organises to see a friend for a drink. He cracks. He is jealous, a little bit nasty. She’s surprised – this man isn’t the same as the one who affirms all day long. Then the overwhelming affection washes the sting of his words and actions away. It’s cyclical. It happens again and again and again.
Archer, of course, is telling the story of textbook abuse, a relationship with the hallmarks of an emotional form of violence.
So why not call it like it is?
Somewhere in the depths of his explanation, he stumbles on this point.
“The important thing to remember about love bombing is that it is psychological partner abuse, period. When one person intentionally manipulates and exploits another’s weakness or insecurity, there’s no other word for it. Love is not about controlling who you see or what you do.”
Which is, you would think, exactly the point.
Love bombing is a dating trend, a cute excuse for a vague partner. It’s not about love at all, and we certainly don’t need to repackage behaviour with a much kinder spin.
Love bombing is abuse, plain and simple. It ain’t no trend.