Photo of a couple enjoying a picnic with a bouquet of flowers.

New relationships are exciting, especially when you meet someone you instantly click with. In many cases, feeling connected and comfortable can be a sign of a healthy relationship to come. This is true whether it’s a new friend or potential romantic interest. However, a relationship that starts off feeling great can also shift in ways that are not so great once the excitement and novelty wear off.

Here are six things to know about love bombing.

1. What is love bombing?

‘Love bombing’ is a popularized term used to describe overwhelming and often incongruent affection during the early stages of a relationship. One person goes above and beyond to please the other person by giving excessive compliments, pushing for commitment or more time together, making grand gestures and sending over-the-top gifts.

While these behaviors aren’t always indicative of love or relationship bombing, they can become worrisome when they cause someone in the relationship to feel overwhelmed, manipulated or disingenuous. It’s important to keep in mind that love bombing differs from initial friendship or courtship by what happens next, after people are more settled into a relationship.

3. What does love bombing look like?

Love bombing is characterized by a number of behaviors that are typically meant to sweep someone off their feet or make a new relationship feel extra exciting. However, it’s important to recognize when these behaviors make you feel uncomfortable. This can be especially difficult when it seems like these are things that you shouldn’t feel bad about. How can such positive things feel yucky?

Knowing how to identify what feels good and what doesn’t can help inform discussions around boundaries and comfort level. It can also serve as a guide for making important decisions about the relationship moving forward.

Here are some behaviors to pay attention to:

Extreme flattery

Receiving compliments can make us feel good and boost our confidence. On the flip side, too many compliments can feel overwhelming.

Love bombers will often:

  • Give sweeping compliments before they really know someone.
  • Insist on how much better or more unique someone is compared to other people, especially their exes or other friends.
    Over communicate their feelings.
  • Repeat the same compliments again and again.
  • Flatter someone so much that the compliments may feel forced, fake or inauthentic.

Getting too personal too quickly

Getting to know someone is important, but if it feels like someone is getting too personal too quickly, it may feel invasive or awkward.

Love bombers will often:

  • Readily divulge highly personal details within the first few encounters (e.g. detailed dating history, medical/psychiatric history, financial or family issues, etc.).
  • Take an extreme interest in the other person's family, career and hobbies.
  • Ask probing questions or pry in an effort to know everything about someone right away.
  • Ask the other person to share secrets with them before properly earning their trust.

Pressure to commit

All relationships have different timelines. If someone takes the reins or forces a relationship to move faster than the other person is comfortable with, it may be a sign to hit pause.

Love bombers will often:

  • Pressure someone to commit to a relationship very early in the relationship.
  • Insist on meeting close friends or family early on.
  • Want to move in or get engaged within a relatively short period of time.
  • Have early and intense talks about the relationship’s future such as “when we move in together” or “I can’t imagine my future without you.” 

Declarations of love

Deeper connections don’t happen overnight, even if sparks fly on the first encounter. 

Love bombers will often:

  • Insist on being soulmates.
  • Make big displays of affection or grand gestures in public or on social media.
  • Say “I love you” very early on in a relationship (and may get upset if the sentiment is not reciprocated).
  • Insist they will “wait” for the other person if they cannot commit to a relationship right now (even if they don’t mean it).

Intense clinginess

It’s normal to want to text, call and spend time with a new friend or potential partner. However, if someone becomes too clingy, it may quickly become overwhelming.

Love bombers will often:

  • Text, call or want to hang out non-stop, even if the other person is busy.
  • Invite themselves along to the other person’s plans.
  • Make the other person feel guilty for ‘neglecting’ them.
  • Isolate the other person from friends or family.
  • Ignore the other person’s time, schedule and commitments. 

Over-the-top gifts

Gifts can be a nice gesture, but if they are excessive or feel conditional it can be a sign that someone is trying to exploit or manipulate their partner. 

Love bombers will often:

  • Shower partners in unneeded or unwanted gifts.
  • Take gift-giving to an extreme (e.g. buying five bouquets of flowers instead of one).
  • Buy overly expensive or excessive gifts early on (e.g. jewelry, electronics, travel, etc.)
  • Remind the other person of how much they’ve done for them or given them.
  • Use gifts as a way to make the other person feel indebted.


It’s normal to feel some jealousy in any relationship, whether it’s a partner, friend or colleague. However, persistent, intense jealousy can limit a person’s autonomy.

Love bombers will often:

  • Get upset any time their friend or partner spends time with other people.
  • Justifying bad behaviors by turning things around on their partner (e.g. texting an ex to get back at their partner for texting a platonic friend).
  • Isolate their friend or partners from others including friends or family members.
  • Stonewall the other person or use the silent treatment to get their way.

Constant reassurance

Everyone has insecurities, but if someone needs constant reassurance, praise or validation, it may be a sign that something deeper is happening.

Love bombers will often:

  • Put themselves down with the expectation that their partners will reassure them.
  • Get upset when their friend or partner doesn’t respond to texts or get back to them quickly enough.
  • Ask for confirmation of the other person’s love for them or reassurance that they’re just as committed to the relationship.

Sudden distance or coldness

Does everything seem okay… until it’s suddenly not? If someone suddenly becomes cold or distant after showing over the top affection, it could be concerning.

Love bombers will often:

  • Disappear without warning, even when everything seemed fine.
  • Withdraw or get angry when others set or reinforce healthy boundaries.
  • Belittle others for not being “committed enough”, especially if the other person wants to slow things down.
  • Point out their partner’s flaws after previously 

Important note

In any relationship, it’s important to be mindful of our own emotions and experiences. If you feel embarrassed about the intensity of a new relationship or you downplay it because you think people may judge you, those are good signs that you may need to take some time to reflect on the relationship. Most importantly, if something feels off, it probably is. Trust your instincts and intuition. There isn’t an obligation to stay in a relationship that isn’t good for you.

3. Why is love bombing harmful?

Love bombing can cause emotional turmoil for the recipient as the relationship progresses.

During the beginning of the relationship, a love bomber may bombard the other person with excessive love and affection. They may seem to be too good to be true and create excitement about the importance of the relationship or the possibilities of where it could go.

However, when they sense that the other person has become comfortable and the relationship is more secure, their behavior may start to shift. Love bombers may begin to exert control over the other person.

Here are some red flags to look out for:

  • Limiting a person’s access to friends or family
  • Gaslighting the other person (e.g. shifting blame, denying the truth, minimizing or dismissing the needs of others, using love or friendship as an excuse for harmful behaviors, “forgetting” something took place, etc.)
  • Acting out of unreasonable jealousy
  • Engaging in other abusive behaviors like intimidation or physical harm

This is why love bombing is considered a form of abuse, and it often leaves the affected person feeling disoriented and confused about what changed.

4. What should someone do if they suspect love bombing?

Love bombing behaviors and patterns can be subtle. Keep in mind that kind gestures aren’t automatically indicative of love bombing or manipulation. If you’re in a new relationship and feel like something is amiss, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to terminate the relationship. Instead, take time to slow down and reflect on your perspective.

Here are some strategies you can use:

Set boundaries

Boundaries represent the limits, rules or expectations that we set in order to protect our own well-being. Setting and enforcing boundaries can help you navigate relationships in a more positive way and help us avoid feelings of anger, resentment or burnout over things that may have otherwise been left unsaid. In a new relationship, it can be helpful to set boundaries around how much time we want to spend with someone, how often we want to text or call throughout the day, how soon we want to meet friends or family members and what types of displays of affection we are or are not comfortable with.

Take inventory

Taking time to reflect on our life and relationships can help us identify what is going well and what is not. When taking inventory of a relationship, be sure to account for your own perspective and experiences as well as your friend’s or partner’s. For instance, it’s important to consider where you’re both coming from, what you both want out of the relationship and how you want to move forward with one another. 

Consider asking yourself things like:

  • What was your life like before this relationship?
  • How has your life changed since being in this relationship?
  • Do you spend your time differently now than you did before?
  • Is there anyone you’ve lost touch with since this relationship started that you wish you hadn’t?
  • Do you and your friend or partner want the same things out of the relationship?
  • What expectations do you have for the relationship? What about your friend or partner?

Answering these questions can help you clarify your relationship and make it healthy for everyone involved.

Learn what to look for in a healthy relationship

Talk to an objective third party

Talking to others about a situation can help us gain perspective. Keep in mind that friends and family members are often invested in what they think is best for us, especially when it comes to relationships. It's important to choose a trusted person who can offer an objective perspective without judgment. If they share concerns about someone we are in a relationship with, we can try to understand why they see it that way. They may identify something that we might be missing  or minimizing.. 

If you don’t think your friends or family can remain objective, consider talking to a mental health provider about what you’re feeling and experiencing in a relationship. This can be a great way to explore your own boundaries, expand your healthy relationship skills, identify what you value in a friend or partner and get clarity about what you want.

Accept that sometimes things just don’t work out

Give yourself permission to change or leave a relationship that feels unhealthy, and remember to show yourself compassion and kindness through this process.

Prioritize your safety

If a romantic partner or friend oversteps your boundaries or makes you question your safety, including when attempting to end a relationship, it can be important to have a safety plan in place.

Check out these safety planning tips

5. How can I help a friend who is being love bombed?

It’s never a good idea to try and control someone else’s behavior. This is true even when we are trying to be good friends and get our loved ones out of relationships that don’t seem all that great. When we try to convince or persuade others, we often lose our ability to be a supportive listener and forfeit our loved one’s trust in the process. Opening up a conversation and holding space for a friend to process whether or not they think they want to make a change or not is one of the best ways to offer support. 

Here are a few tips for starting a conversation if you suspect someone is in an unhealthy relationship

Invite them to the conversation

It can be tempting to jump head first into a serious conversation or offer advice. However, this often causes the other person to feel defensive, making it harder for them to hear your perspective. Instead, invite a conversation and keep the door open for future dialog. You can say something like, “Hey, I wanted to check in with you about your new relationship.” If they say no or not right now, ask if there is a good time that you can sit down together to talk. If they say yes, you can say something like, “If you're open to it, I want to hear how things are going and what you’ve been up to.”

Listen first

When starting a conversation about something that is deeply personal, it’s important to prioritize listening. Ask your friend how their relationship is going. What are they looking for in the relationship? Are there things that are going really well or anything they don’t like or are unsure about? How do they feel about the way the relationship is progressing? Take time to listen to them without judging or interjecting your own perspective. It’s also important to keep in mind that relationships aren’t always all good or all bad. Allow your friend to share how they’re feeling and what they’ve noticed from their own perspective and experience.

Go deeper

Seek to understand what your friend is saying. If they mention something that concerns you or relates to your own concerns, ask follow up questions. For instance, if they mention that their partner has already said “I love you” but they’re not ready yet, ask them to elaborate on how it makes them feel. Does it make them uncomfortable when their partner says it? Do they feel pressured to say it back even if they’re not ready? Does their partner get upset if they don’t say it back? Allow your friend to explore their feelings and how different behaviors may be impacting them.

Be specific

As you understand your friend’s perspective more, there may be an opportunity to share your perspective. It’s always best to ask if they are open to hearing what you think. If you share concerns, it’s better to use specific examples of things that you’ve noticed, explain why it concerns you and ask them what they think of how you see it. For example, you may bring up the fact that their partner gives them lavish gifts even though they've only been together for a short period of time. If this is the case, you can share that you’re concerned because you wonder if it feels like their partner may expect them to pay their partner back if the relationship doesn’t work out or make them feel bad if they can’t return the gesture.

Be patient and show up with empathy

Put yourself in your friend’s shoes and try to see things from their perspective. Remember that they may be feeling flattered and excited about the attention they’re receiving. These feelings can often override their intuition about the situation and cause them to glaze over things that concern them. For that reason, it may take time for your friend to see things that aren’t working for them. It is also possible that they won’t share your concerns or perspective. Be patient and don’t force your perspective on them. This can often push them away. However, you can set boundaries to take care of yourself.

Ultimately, it's important to remember that you can't control your friend’s decisions about their relationships or the way they live their life. The most important thing you can do is to keep the door open for offering support, no matter what they decide to do.

6. What resources are available?

If you or someone you know is struggling in a relationship, there are resources available to help.

Campus resources

The Office of Victim Assistance (OVA)

OVA provides free and confidential trauma-specific counseling and advocacy for students, staff and faculty around various traumatic experiences, including intimate partner abuse and domestic violence. Call 303-492-8855 (24/7) to talk to an advocacy counselor. You can also browse more information related to intimate partner abuse on their website.

Available for: students, staff, faculty

Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS)

CAPS works with students to address a variety of mental health concerns, including navigating relationships. They also offer process therapy groups to help students learn valuable skills related to building and maintaining healthy relationships with friends, family and romantic partners.

Available for: students

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP)

All CU Boulder staff and faculty can access free counseling services through FSAP, including short-term individual, relationship and family counseling. Employees do not need to use paid time off (PTO) or sick time in order to access FSAP services, including during the workday. 

Available for: staff, faculty

Don’t Ignore It

This free online resource can help students, staff, faculty and community members navigate reporting options and get help for themselves or others. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Don't ignore it. 

Available for: students, staff, faculty

Community resources

The Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN)

SPAN provides a number of services to the Boulder community, including a 24/7 crisis line, shelter, counseling, legal advocacy, housing and transitional services and anti-violence education.

Violence Free Colorado

This organization can provide information on shelters and 24/7 hotlines throughout Colorado. They also provide other information related to intimate partner abuse and domestic violence specific to Colorado.  

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

This hotline is available 24/7 and offers support in more than 200 languages at 1-800-799-7233. You can also chat with someone through their website at All phone calls and chats are confidential.

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ communities. Access 24/7 support by calling 1-866-488-7386. Support is also available through online chat and texting.