While it’s always a red flag when someone comes on too strong, it’s hard not to get sucked in when you really like the person. They’re exactly what you’ve been looking for and you have tons of chemistry. You’re hesitant to let your guard down, but you like them, so you do. That’s why it’s even more jarring when someone goes from love bombing you to ghosting you. Sadly, this is becoming more and more common in the dating world. Here’s why — and how to protect yourself.
Love bombing then ghosting: Why do people do it?
- They like feeling powerful. Their disappearing act has nothing to do with you personally. Instead, it’s all about feeding their own ego. As certified dating and relationship coach Treva Brandon Scharf tells Bolde: “It’s all about power and control. Full stop. They may like you and be attracted, but it’s their unfulfilled ego and low self-worth — not their heart — that’s ultimately calling the shots. Their need to manipulate and avoid vulnerability overrides any genuine feelings of love. When they lose interest or know that they’ve ‘conquered,’ that’s when they ghost. It was all a ruse, never real in the first place, so why give any real reasons for leaving?”
- They got bored with you. Many people love the early stages of a relationship. It’s new and exciting and everything is so intense. In this case, love bombing isn’t necessarily a conscious behavior, but the ghosting when they ultimately lose interest and the initial passion wanes certainly is. As they become more comfortable and your relationship settles down into something more normal and sustainable, they dip.
- They have a fear of commitment. It could be that they have unresolved attachment issues from their childhoods. In that case, they desperately want love and connection with another person, but when it happens, they don’t know what to do with it. They freak out and get scared. Disappearing from your life without a word is easier than confronting their issues.
- They manipulated you to get what they wanted. Whether they thought they had something to gain by dating you or they simply wanted to get you into bed, this might be the case. Love bombing was their way of gaining your trust and getting what they were after. Once they had it, they ghosted because you were no longer useful in their life. This is a harsh pill to swallow, but sadly, it happens.
- They’re desperate for attention and validation. Love bombers don’t always overwhelm you with affection because it’s genuine. It’s often about themselves. They feel that sweet nothings and over-the-top gestures will make it more likely they’ll receive the same in return. People who exhibit this behavior are generally extremely insecure. This is how they seek validation.
- They were in it for the chase, then got bored. “[They] might be attracted to the intensity of the early stage of a relationship, which can make it feel exciting and thrilling. However, if this intense feeling isn’t reciprocated, it can be easy for the partner who is love bombing to feel hurt or rejected, which may lead them to ghost (disappear without a trace) instead of communicating their feelings,” explains licensed social worker Candace Kotkin-De Carvalho, LSW, LCADC, CCS, CCTP. Ultimately, the reasons why people love bomb and then ghost are complex and can depend on a range of factors such as past experiences or mental health issues.”
Early warning signs that someone might do this to you
While there’s no way to guarantee you won’t become a victim of this toxic behavior, there are a few red flags to look out for to decrease your chances.
- They’re overly complimentary early on. It’s nice to feel wanted and appreciated. However, there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. Being called beautiful or complimented on your intelligence is great. However, if it’s one compliment after another to the point that it feels insincere, it probably is.
- They buy you extravagant or inappropriate gifts. Buying expensive or inappropriately intimate gifts is a huge part of love bombing, and it’s likely an indication they’ll end up ghosting you in the end. They act as if you can be bought and believe that by showering you with presents, they’ll get what they want from you. When that doesn’t happen (or even if it does), they’ll bounce.
- They get aggressive or angry when you don’t reciprocate their feelings. One of the most alarming things about people who love bomb are that they expect you to mirror their extreme behavior. They want wildly dramatic declarations of love and dedication and if they don’t get it, they become irrationally angry or even violent. Watch out for this.
- They’re extremely hot and cold with you. One minute they’re clingy and needy and you can’t get rid of them. The next, they act like they don’t care whether they speak to you or not. This is likely because it’s impossible to maintain such intense behavior 24/7. And if their motives aren’t genuine, they’ll need a break to regroup and re-energize before hitting you with another round.
- They demand commitment but don’t offer the same in return. They want you to be exclusive and promise you won’t date anyone else. However, they can’t promise they’ll delete their dating profiles or stop seeing other people. They believe that love bombing you will convince you to dedicate yourself to them, but since their motivations aren’t genuine, they’re not willing to do it themself.
- They promise things they can’t possibly deliver. “A love bomber will tell you everything you want to hear, then once they tell you, they’ll ghost because they can’t possibly live up to it,” Scharf says. “A love bomber/ghoster will always overpromise and underdeliver.”
- They suddenly start bailing on plans. If someone who has been love bombing you for weeks suddenly starts canceling plans or simply not turning up, ghosting is the inevitable next step. It won’t be long before they’re gone completely.
How to deal when someone you thought was into you ghosts you out of nowhere
- Try not to take it personally. At the end of the day, you cannot control someone else’s behavior and you’re not responsible for it. While their disappearance may feel like a personal failure, that’s not the case. You are important and worthy of love. Their failure to recognize that doesn’t chain the facts.
- Take a break from dating for a bit. While we’re not implying that you need to stay single long-term, giving yourself some breathing room after you experience love bombing and ghosting is a good thing. It allows you to process your experience and recover from the hurt it caused so you can go back into dating feeling positive and ready.
- Assess your own behaviors. It’s not your fault that you’re the victim of love bombing from someone who ultimately ghosts you. Still, your own relationship patterns may attract people more likely to engage in this behavior. That’s why it’s so important to self-reflect so that you can correct any issues. You might even consider working with a therapist. “Be honest with yourself about when you’re in an unhealthy relationship and avoid any behaviors that might enable the cycle of love bombing and ghosting,” advises Kotkin-De Carvalho. “For example, it may be tempting to keep pursuing someone who has ghosted you or to return to a relationship that has been abusive in the past. However, by working with a therapist or supportive friend, you can develop healthier coping strategies to break these unhealthy patterns, set boundaries, and walk away from unhealthy relationships.”