Love Bombing is a Powerful Drug
I had dinner last night with my very good friend, Jessica*. She called me last minute to meet her at a little spot that serves great Mexican food. As I was diving in to my chicken chimichanga, I asked her THE question:
“How are you doing since your breakup with Jim*?”
Jessica met Jim about six weeks ago. This guy was a charmer. He swept her off her feet with his constant adoration. He flooded her with flowery poems and loving phone calls. He showed up every day on her doorstep, helping her with errands, walking her dog, and cleaning her house. He talked to her about how they were going to spend the rest of their life together, and how she was his soulmate.
And then there was the sex.
Sex with him was mind-blowing. The way he touched her, moved his body with hers while he was fucking her. He hit all the right places, and it was the first time she’d experience an orgasm in her 50-plus years of life. She loved her newfound orgasms, ones she’d never had with her former husband of 27 years.
Yes, he was a dream come true. In fact, he was too good to be true.
Let me reemphasize that:
He was too good to be true
As they got to know each other, red flags started showing themselves:
- He was still married but divorcing his third wife. He’d had a restraining order in the past with one of his other wives. He mentioned some other things that showed he had a very checkered past with women.
- He drank every night until his speech slurred.
- He never helped pay for all of the groceries she was buying to feed them. Instead, he helped himself to the food in her fridge, taking grocery bags of her home-cooked meals home with him when he left her place.
- He didn’t know anything about her life, nor did he care. He never asked her questions about herself. He wasn’t interested in her career, her family, or her friends. He only talked about what he was going to do to her at their next sexscapade.
- Although he didn’t know anything about her life, he talked about himself a lot. He talked about his work, his four daughters (that he never saw), and his troubled past.
- When he met her daughter and granddaughter, he didn’t talk to either of them the entire weekend they were there. This was so obvious that it made her daughter very uncomfortable, and she wanted to leave. He also made raunchy sexual innuendos about Jessica in front of her daughter, something Jessica asked him NOT to do during her daughter’s visit.
- Their only social outing was with me and my husband and another couple. He sat there, stiff and quiet while the rest of us socialized and laughed and shared conversation with each other. He did not join in with us. Instead, he scoffed at us.
Jim covered all of those dark pieces of himself with his showering of lust for Jessica. He called her “baby” and whispered all the right things into her ear. He got her hooked on that oxytocin.
It was a concerted effort for me and Lori* (our friend who was half of ‘the other couple’) to show her that the patterns we saw in Jim all added up to a manipulative love-bomber, and most likely an abuser.
And Jessica saw it. Finally.
After a lot of girlfriend conversation, Jessica slowly started to realize Jim was manipulating her heart and throwing her into an instant relationship before she got to know him.
The week before our dinner, Jessica sat down with Jim and told him it was over. They cried together. She handed him back his leftover belongings from her place. She thanked him for coming into her life. He thanked her for being so kind with him about the breakup. She drove home that evening and felt pretty good about how well everything went.
Two days went by… then he started texting her.
At first it was warmhearted. He said he was happy they’d met each other. He wished her well. Then another text: he talked about when they first met. Then another and another. In the next text, he reminded her of his upcoming birthday and how he was going to be alone.
Then he asked her if she could spend time with him on his birthday. Just as friends.
She felt guilty about dumping him right before his birthday. She agreed to spend that day with him.
Before she knew it, they were texting each other back and forth. He started calling her baby again. Before she knew it, she was getting hoovered back into a relationship with him.
That’s when she asked me out on this impromptu dinner date. What she’d been doing with Jim again wasn’t feeling right with her.
“I need some help,” she said, laying out the entire scenario of what happened after she broke up with him. She told me everything. She knew it was wrong, but, couldn’t they just be friends? Or maybe see each other casually? FWB? It was a Thursday evening as we sat, diving into our Mexican food and margaritas. She started talking about going out to his place to surprise him on Sunday.
Jessica’s heart was heavy. She was still detoxing from the sex. And Jim was saying all the right words again, making her feel desired. It didn’t even occur to her that Jim was manipulating her again. She thought she was the one directing the relationship, but she wasn’t. He’d taken control of the wheel and he was driving her back into his arms, like he wanted.
We talked for two hours. She wanted to save herself, and she instinctively realized she needed a check-in with reality. By the time we were done talking, she vowed she was going to let him know she stood by her decision to break off the relationship, and that she wasn’t going to spend his birthday with him. Even though it sounded mean and cold, she was going to tell him anyway.
A couple days later, I called her.
“How did everything go with Jim?” I asked.
“I did it. I told him. I’m not going to talk to him anymore.” she said. She drew a line and she told him she was done.
I hung up and felt relieved for her. My friend was strong-willed. She realized the wrongness of this cat-and-mouse game, yet was still able to pull herself away from a situation that made her feel so good is quite courageous on her part.
It’s been a couple weeks now, and she just contacted me to let me know she has a date with another man. She hadn’t heard from Jim since her last text to him.
She said this one thing that stuck with me:
“The further I get away from the relationship, the better I can see that it was all wrong.”
It’s so true. Being up close, it’s hard to see everything. The more you pull yourself back, the more you can see the entire picture.
*Real story, not real names.