Love bombing makes partners feel adored and idealized, and they mistake the intense attention for compassion, love, and tenderness. Love bombing is deceitful; it feels like the adoration many long for, yet it is a romantic red flag.
In recent pop culture news, we have witnessed an example of love bombing through Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s emotional separation. After his separation from his wife, Kim, Kanye bought a house on the other side of the street. During a concert, Kanye love-bombed Kim, begging her to take him back. He also delivered a truckload of roses to her home on Valentine’s Day to convince her to love him again.
Kanye’s love-bombing tactics were not effective; they did not seduce Kim. Kanye felt rejected, which he demonstrated by cyberstalking and harassing Kim online. What played out between Kim and Kanye feels depressingly familiar: a man who refused to take no for an answer. Most disheartening is that media outlets and fans treated this as a spectacle of his bipolar symptoms instead of destructive stalking, harassment, and psychological violence.
Love-bombing is a Myth of Romantic Love.
Hollywood movies have taught us that it’s romantic for a man to aggressively pursue a woman who has rejected his advances. These movies portray showering a woman with unwanted gifts as a thoughtful, passionate gesture of love, not manipulative love bombing. Moreover, celebrities have normalized love bombing actions for social media gains. Consequently, we don’t see love bombing as a red flag and secretly desire similar romantic gestures.
Recent research indicates that the media normalizing and romanticizing love bombing creates positive beliefs around stalking behaviors. This is proven by the existence of an entire TV Tropes category called “Stalking is Love,” dedicated to men relentlessly pursuing women. Yet, it is only OK when a man does it. If a woman calls her ex, she’s immediately characterized as “crazy” (yes, the “crazy woman” trope does exist). This is yet another double standard for women to endure. By the way, double standards feel and are inherently abusive.
Love Bombing in Films
Sorry to ruin some cult favorites, but ignorance is not bliss—especially when you’re being stalked, manipulated, and abused. Here are some popular films that demonstrate love bombing (some more overtly than others):
- The Notebook
- 50 Shades of Grey
- Beauty and the Beast
- 10 Things I Hate About You
- Moulin Rouge
- She’s All That
- Say Anything
- Crazy, Stupid, Love
- (500) Days of Summer
- Love Actually (sadly, a personal favorite)
- 50 First Dates
- About Time
- The Wolf of Wall Street
What did Hollywood teach you about love?
I invite you to watch any of these movies. Jot down instances of love bombing; maybe find a friend to do the same and compare notes. Think about the movies or shows you grew up watching. What was your abusive ex’s favorite film? What do your kids watch, and what are they learning about love? These are important questions to reflect on if we are to raise a generation capable of choosing healthy love.
Wishing you a month filled with celebration and reflection.