Psychopaths and love-bombing

So, I’m aware that I haven’t updated this blog in a long time. It was a bit difficult to come up with content for a while, and life also got in the way. Oh, well, better late than never. 

Today I stumbled upon a couple of websites via Facebook, to which I have been having quite the emotional reaction. It still blows me away that I’m still piecing together some of the things that happened to me, making sense of them, and discovering that the experiences have names. Being able to name something, and learning more and more that I’m not the only one, is a validating experience.

Several years ago, I met a man online. He was the first to make contact. Within weeks, we were flirting with each other, and we began talking on the phone. He professed his love for me not long after that and began a long-distance relationship. This man was incredibly sweet, funny, loving, charming, and kind. He told me he’d had his heart broken by cruel exes; and I couldn’t believe that anyone would be so horrid to such a beautiful, kind, sweet man. It was as if he worshiped me. He contacted me frequently and we began talking about marriage and children. He told me that we were perfectly matched; he’d been exactly what I was looking for and vice versa. I was told that wherever I moved, he would go with me, since I was his “princess.” The first time we met in person, he asked me to marry him, saying he wished he had an engagement ring on him right then and there, and overwhelmed me with physical affection. I’d never been hugged and touched so much in my life. He did rush me into sex but it was all happening so fast that it was making my head spin and with all of this love and hugging thrown at me it was hard to stop and think. I still remember the elation I felt, that I finally found my soulmate after I’d grown up lonely with low self-esteem and had begun fearing ending up alone. I was thrilled that the sweetest man in the world wanted me. We were madly in love, or so it seemed. He continued to frequently reassure me that I was his “fiancee” after our first visit. 

But the engagement ring never happened, and he started to pull away and grow moody, the first warning signs that the elation was short-lived and would soon be replaced by my living in anxiety and fear. What I did not know is that this man was a psychopath. He was incapable of feeling love, just really good at faking it. Soon, this whirlwind honeymoon stage would end and one of the most painful, confusing, soul-crushing experiences of my life would begin. 

Ten years later, even after much journaling, reaching out, making sense of the experience and learning to name various aspects of it, and getting therapy and self-help, some of that pain and anger is still with me. It may stick with me for the rest of my life. One of the things that hurt the most and left me feeling the most confused and betrayed is the bait-and-switch of that incredible, elating honeymoon stage that turned out to be all lies. Just today, I learned that there is a name for it, and it is a common technique that psychopaths use to get their target tightly hooked into a relationship so the manipulation and abuse can begin. “Love-bombing.” It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of being smothered in love-bombing, over-the-top romantic gestures, and things moving so fast that I didn’t see it for the red flag it was. I wished I had been warned about love-bombing before that relationship, but at the same time, he was just SO charming. 

Here are some of the links I found, describing love-bombing, its purpose, and what it leads to:

Psychopaths and Love: Covert Emotional Manipulation Tactics

Psychopaths and Love: Red Flags of a Psychopath

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

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Victim-blaming and the Law of Attraction

I was going to lump this into another post about victim-blaming, but I think this opinion rant deserves its own post. I’m about respecting other people’s belief systems when possible. But I can’t help but feel triggered and angered by The Secret, a.k.a. The Law of Attraction. For those who are unfamiliar, it’s a New Age belief that we attract everything that happens to us, good or bad, depending on the kinds of thoughts we think and the energy they generate. For example, if a person wants a new job, if they think lots of positive thoughts about getting that job then the universe will draw it to them, “manifesting” the job.

I think the reverse side of the Secret coin is very offensive and dangerous to abuse survivors and others, for that matter… the belief that your thoughts not only attract the good things that happen to you, but the bad things, and that the state of our lives is the reality we created ourselves. Some strong believers in this system include abuse in the things we attract. I think this is a pretty offensive form of victim-blaming that promotes not only invalidating comments from others blaming us for what happened, but terrible guilt and shame for the person who’s been abused or who has fallen on hard times, thinking they must have thought too negatively, worried too much, or done something wrong to “attract” this to themselves. Not only does this victim-blaming make me angry, but it simply doesn’t make sense. Who sits around thinking, “I want to be raped!” Or “I want to be in a terrible bus accident!” or “I want an unexpected natural disaster to happen!” If it’s true that we attracted everything that’s ever happened to us, what about people who were abused early in life, for one example? Did they want it? Did they themselves “create the reality” of abusive caregivers? Of course not, and it’s incredibly offensive to blame the child. There are numerous other examples of abuse and natural disasters and financial problems that the person did not think about or wish upon themselves before it happened. And countless others of us who are in life circumstances that are less than ideal. For instance, I really wish I had a job right now. I was trying to stay positive about a particular job opportunity and a rejection letter from that job just landed in my email inbox. If the Law of Attraction really worked, think how many more of us would be rich by now.

Victim-blaming aside, I think the Law of Attraction also creates a breeding ground for anxiety and shame. If you’re trying to think positive in order to manifest what you want, and any “negative” thoughts creep into your head, as they inevitably will from time to time, it may possibly lead to a cycle of obsessing, fear, and beating yourself up. And I imagine it must be hard for a person struggling with depression to keep all their thoughts positive for fear of generating negative energy and manifesting bad things.

The Law of Attraction is scientifically unproven. But, so are a lot of other things. There is nothing wrong with positive thinking, certainly. Often it spurs positive, proactive behavior to help us reach our goals. But if you sit passively and do nothing, you’re much less likely to reach your goals. Some self-help techniques that promote positive thinking and positive action without the victim-blaming can be found here, as well as some more commentary on what makes the Law of Attraction belief system harmful.