The Tinder Swindler is love bombing in action – here’s how to identify it IRLFebruary 10, 2022
Written by Leah Sinclair
While many of us watched The Tinder Swindler in awe, there were a few key things we could all take away from it when it comes to dating – including how to identify love bombers.
If you’ve been on any social media platform this week, you’ve probably come across The Tinder Swindler at some point.
The Netflix documentary that has captured the world’s attention follows the stories of a group of women who are tracking Shimon Hayut, a dating app user from Israel who conned them out of huge sums of money.
For two years, Hayut convinced women that he was wealthy billionaire Simon Leviev, luring his victims with lavish dates and using grand romantic gestures in the early stages of their relationships to gain their trust.
From dining at the finest restaurants and staying at luxury hotels to giving them massive flower bouquets and travelling on private planes, Hayut’s deceit has been the talk of the internet – and particularly, how he is the perfect example of a love bomber.
“Love bombing is when a person gives you a disproportionate amount of attention and praise very early on in a romantic relationship,” says dating expert Abi Blears.
“It’s a common manipulation technique used by narcissists and toxic people who use it as a means to create an intense romantic attachment in order to enable them to control and manipulate the person at a later date.”
While Hayut may be an extreme example of an IRL love bomber, many of them wander among us, conning their way into our hearts way before we realise the depths of their deception.
“You can’t necessarily avoid coming across a person who love bombs but it would be harder to fall for it if you have strong boundaries from the outset and realistic dating expectations,” adds Blears.
So how can we identify love bombers – or even recognise the signs if we’re experiencing love bombing in our current relationships?
Well, Blears highlights five key signs we can look out for:
Showering you with gifts and praise early in the relationship
“Very early on in dating they shower you with praise and gifts, seeming to want to spoil you and treat you like a princess,” says Blears.
“It might feel too good to be true like you’re being swept off your feet or like they’re a character from a romantic movie. If it seems too good to be true and unsustainable over time, it probably is.”
They move too quickly
Blears says love bombers tend to push the pace very quickly, wanting to move from a first date to a relationship, to even moving in together at a rate that is quicker than what you’re used to.
“It’s like they’ve decided to go ‘all in’ on you even though they cannot really know you well enough to make an informed decision,” she says.
They contact you too much
“Love bombers become increasingly demanding of your time, calling and messaging you several times a day just to see how you are and what you’re up to,” warns Blears.
The expert says they’ll often claim that they miss you, can’t get enough of you or perhaps state that they think you might be soulmates.
They mirror your opinions and agree with everything you say
While the idea of dating someone who thinks similarly to you is appealing, there are definitely levels to this.
“Love bombers can be extremely attentive and agreeable and all their opinions and needs seem to be exactly the same as yours,” says Blears. “This might lead you to think that they think exactly the same way as you do, or you might suspect they are not being truthful about their views.”
Your friends are concerned about your relationship
If your friends express concern about your relationship this is definitely something to take note of, according to Blears. “This is especially telling if your friends don’t normally do this. Our friends have our best interests at heart and are able to be more rational because they are not directly involved.”
Dealing with the ups and downs of dating is hard enough and the concept of encountering love bombers certainly doesn’t make it easier.
But by equipping yourself with the tools to identify these traits and create clear boundaries and expectations prior to jumping into a relationship, you’ll be able to have what you need to catch and walk away from a love bomber.
“If you suspect you’re being love bombed, my advice would be to pace your relationship slower,” says Blears. “Refrain from making any big decisions or labelling the relationship as official.
“It’s important to remain grounded and realistic. This can be difficult if the relationship becomes physically intimate early on, or if you don’t have any space or time away from them. Create the space and see how that impacts the dynamic between you. If you’re going to be with someone for the rest of your life there’s rarely a valid reason to rush it.”
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