Love Bombing

Love bombing is a term that was invented to describe how narcissists lure their potential target into their narcissistic orbit, it has absolutely nothing to do with genuine love, it is a manipulation technique that narcissists use to make their potential target feel like they are adored, admired and exciting so that the person thinks that they think that they are the most important person in the narcissist’s world, that the narcissist is head over heels in love with them.

They flood you with all kinds of communications that are available to them, it could be phone calls, text messages, emails, messages on social media sites, flowers and other presents. This is most common in potential romantic liaisons but it can also happen with new platonic relationships too.  The narcissist will constantly compliment you and you will feel flattered by all of their attention and will be lulled into a false sense that the narcissist is really besotted by you.

When the narcissist is physically around you they will listen intently to everything that you say, hang on your every word, feign interest in the things that you are interested in or hold important.  They will seem like they are really in touch with your feelings, dreams and values and that they really want to get involved in a committed relationship.  Attention blasting would be a more accurate term.

You might feel a little uneasy about this as it can feel over the top, exaggerated or too good to be true.  This is because it is, there is nothing sincere or balanced about this type of behaviour.  It is being done as a means to an end.  To have you give them narcissistic supply.  You might even feel like you are not giving enough back if you do not mimic some of the narcissists behaviour, in fact the narcissist will let you know (albeit subtly) that you need to give more and so this type of behaviour will become normalised to some extent.  The intense listening and mimicking that the narcissist does is just a ruse that they employ to harvest information about you so that they can and will use it against you at some time in the future.

While as the target of love bombing you might feel flattered there will also be the inevitable nagging feeling that you are being preyed upon and the endless attention and interrogation about what they were doing and who they did it with, will often feel suffocating and infantile as no adult usually pries into the life of another adult with such intensity.  It simply isn’t healthy.  “Light hearted stalking” might also occur at this stage, they could be waiting for you outside your work with a bunch of flowers or they might know that you are going for a drink with some friends and turn up at the bar where you have told them you will be “because they just happened to be in the area too”.

The level of attention might even garner envy or admiration from friends and family and they might comment on how lucky it is to be held in such high esteem.  It is very confusing for you t because your gut will tell you that something isn’t quite right but all the evidence/advice will mitigate against them.

As a result of all of the information harvesting that the narcissist did, they will have been able to find out exactly the sort of person you are is looking for in your life and will   metamorphosize into that person.

It is at this stage that you let down your guard and let the narcissist into your life.  You will not see the lying, cheating or the parasitical nature of the narcissist at this stage because you simply don’t know them well enough.  You will not notice that they narcissist expects you to do everything for them and will give back only the very bare minimum to stop the whole relationship from falling apart (at the beginning).  However, like an infant the narcissist will push the boundaries to see just how much they can get away with and unless you hold your ground those boundaries will be pushed without limits.  Trying to get them to co-operate or contribute financially can feel like more effort than it is worth, it might be met with narcissistic rage (a ploy used to get their target to back down) or it might make you feel like you are being a terrible nag because you have to keep asking the same thing over and over again.  This is a typical narcissistic strategy, to make you out to be something negative for something that they will or will not do.  They flip their faults onto you, and narcissists while highly sensitive to any sort of criticism, will have absolutely no hesitation in calling other people horrible names, telling them who and what they are in a very negative way.  Because they do it to everybody you may think that it is just bluster, it is not.  It is a deliberate ploy to break your spirit.  No matter how strong you are if you are constantly given negative feedback about everything that you say and do, it will eventually break you down (not you, anyone)

The narcissist will constantly tell you how fantastic they are themselves and how amazing the relationship is, how great you make them feel and that they have at last found their soul mate.  There are two things that you will notice at this stage and those are that the narcissist will move in for “the kill” very quickly, that is that they could start to talk about moving in together on the second date.  The other this is that you will feel that you don’t feel as strongly as the narcissist does about the relationship and in some way you will feel badly that you just cannot see it, that there must be something lacking in you.  This is all part of the grand design.

The narcissist will constantly monitor you to see how well their manipulation is working.  Their exaggerated language is deliberate so that even if you don’t return the complements in exactly the same lavish language that they use you will feel obliged to accept it and return some of it.  When the narcissist sees that their ploy is working they will simply raise the bar, or push the boundaries.  You might feel that it is all moving too fast (because it is), but the narcissist has to move fast for fear of losing you or for being found out for being the insincere fraud that s/he is.  The narcissist will give a running commentary on how amazing and brilliant the relationship is going, how friends are jealous and will categorically deny any “let’s slow down” or other caution comments that you might make.

It is worth noting that the narcissist will not ask you how you feel and if you express doubts the narcissist will just flip it back on you with a comment that will be designed to make you feel that the fault is with you.

Once they have hooked you with their charm and flattery you will only then begin to realise what the narcissist is really like.  They will have already have started to erode your confidence and self-esteem.  This doesn’t happen overnight, it is done on a very slow almost undetectable way, so that you might just think that the narcissist is being sloppy with the language that they use, but they are not.  Their put downs will get stronger as the narcissist sees that they have eroded your willingness to defend yourself, eventually it will end up as undisguised abuse, except when they are in public and then the narcissist will perform like the perfect partner.

It is important at the love bombing stage to listen intently to how the narcissist describes other people, especially their exs.  They will probably oscillate between how amazing they were in bed etc. and how they didn’t understand the narcissist.  The first comment is to try to make you feel inadequate, and the second is to make you feel like they really need you.  This contrast creates confusion and that is their intention and you will start to doubt yourself and what you think/feel and in this state of confusion you will be much easier to control.  That is what it is all about for the narcissist is control and power.

A narcissist has to try to make you invisible because their own self-esteem is so weak, that they have to diminish everyone around them for the fear that if another person shines even slightly, that they will just disappear completely.

It may sound like the narcissist is a great strategist, but this is not the case.  Think of the spoilt child that makes their nanny’s life hell, well it is the same thing with a narcissist.  It is not sophisticated as their behaviour is infantile.  The reason that most of us don’t see it coming is because adults simply do not behave that way. 



FOG Fear, Obligation Guilt

Emotional blackmail is one of the narcissists favourite forms of manipulation.  FOG stands for Fear, Obligation and Guilt, they use it to threaten either overtly or indirectly, to quietly punish you for non-compliance to their demands

  • Such as pretending to be sick
  • Using their own false/exaggerated fears to manipulate you to serve them
  • Weakness and vulnerability to make you take care of them


  • react with a totally inappropriate rage
  • Call in exaggerated favours that they have done for you in the past
  • Pull rank
  • Demean/call names
  • Tell you it is your duty

Remember that you are always dealing with a narcissists sense of entitlement emotional blackmail is the used because they are unwilling or unable to make a direct request for what they want.  Why should they have to bother?  They are entitled to what they want anyway and a direct request would involve you doing them a favour (which to a narcissist means they would be in debt to you in some way).  They cannot negotiate either as that means relating to the other person and their situation and needs.  The narcissist is not interested in either, they just want what they want and they usually want it now!

Emotional blackmail in intangible, there is no logic to it and the leverage that they use will be something that you feel is instinctively wrong (gut feeling) but they will be so convinced that they are right and entitled that it is easy to think “if they are so certain maybe I am missing something” or “if they feel that strongly about it”  The other thing that they do is provide very mixed messages,  such as “you are not making enough money, the Smiths next door have just bought a new car/gone on holiday”, you work harder and longer hours  and you are met with “you are never at home/you don’t spend enough time with the family”.

If you pull them up on the fact that they cannot have it both ways, they will see your standing up for yourself as insubordination/criticism and you will be met with rage, sulking or storming off (followed by some sort of punishment), it is a complete double standard and you will always be wrong in the eyes of the narcissist.  They will use all kinds of “tools” to make you in the wrong in their eyes and make you doubt your sanity and theirs.  The temptation is to just go along with what they say for the sake of a peaceful life.  This approach does not work with a narcissist because they just push the boundaries out further, remember they are always looking for drama and love to evoke emotion in others.  You will never be able to satisfy a narcissist, there may be moments of calm but these are fleeting and if they think that you are relaxing in the relationship they will definitely go on the offensive again.  They want you to be hyper reactive and in a perpetual state of danger management, it makes them feel powerful and it does not happen by accident it is designed to confuse and keep you off balance.

The blackmailing only works if you comply, the narcissist will make a demand either forcibly or subtly “You have to do… ” or they might just say it with their “little voice” peppered with sighs so that you ask “what is wrong” and then they reel you in implying that s/he will get sad, sulky or angry if you do not meet their demand or will make the demand after they have reeled you in “I would feel so much better if you would just do…”

You might not want to rush to their aid (again) but they will manipulate in two ways, you will feel sorry for them or you don’t like neglecting your friends/partner in their hour of need.  Your line of reasoning could be “if I called a friend when I was THAT upset, how would I feel if they turned me down”, the reality is that they are acting and you would never get so upset by trivia like a narcissist does, but the same rules do not apply.  They have just violated your boundaries a little further and this is a win for them.

If you try to get out of what really amounts to obeying them, they will put on more pressure either by being melodramatic or by pushing on one of your vulnerable spots.  Again this can be either direct or indirect depending on what they think will be more effective.

When you obey their demands they know that their manipulation has worked and they will employ it again and again in various ways.


  • Fear of abandonment
  • Fear of upsetting a lonely elderly parent
  • Fear of temper tantrums and confrontation
  • Fear for your own physical safety


  • “After all the sacrifices I have made for you”
  • “You never ….”
  • “You always …”
  • “I can’t do it”
  • “You are so ungrateful”
  • “You did that because..”
  • “Why won’t you?”
  • “I would do it for you”
  • “You are so selfish”
  • “I need your help” (means you do this for me while I do something more pleasurable)
  • “It is your duty”


  • For having done something to upset or offend
  • For being cold hearted
  • For not pulling your weight in a relationship
  • For spending too much time at work
  • Not earning enough money
  • Having interesting/useful friends
  • Being happy/enjoying yourself

Institutional Grooming

Grooming is when a narcissist goes on a publicity campaign to promote themselves as a lovely person, rational, fair and charming.  They will work hard at trying to get the trust of professionals, usually concerned with family courts where alimony, property and custody of children are involved.  They will also groom doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, social workers and anyone else who they consider useful to have on their side.  Grooming is always emotional abuse, always dishonest and always intentional.  The reason that they do this is so that the professionals who have contact with the victim will doubt or disbelieve in the authenticity of what the victim tells them.

In a setting where the abuser and the victim appear together, the abuser will seem cool, calm and collected.  They will lie with absolute confidence and will have their story very well-rehearsed.  If they do not like a question, they will just pretend to have misunderstood or merely change the subject.  They victim on the other hand will have been abused, probably over a long period of time and will be emotionally and probably physically worn out.  They will have been gas lighted to an extent where they might question their own reality and the narcissist will use this to their advantage and can manipulate in a very subtle way that can easily go undetected.  The victim will have been trained that “I might not punish you now for saying something negative about me, but I will punish you later”.  They can convey messages like that one in a fleeting glance, the slightest twitch in their face or by briefly clenching their fist.

Because this threat has been looming over the victims for a period of time they may appear to be incoherent, inconsistent and even openly lying.  The narcissist will throw their net as wide as possible so that the victim will find it almost impossible to get support and any allegations that they might make will be not taken seriously, not investigated thoroughly or simply ignored.  So, teachers, therapists, police, people in sports clubs, churches and charities will all be included. They do this to maintain their desire to have a glowing image, but also because if the victim cannot get support anywhere they are much easier to continue to abuse.  In addition, the narcissist sees this as a game and the more people that they can hoodwink or woo the bigger sense of personal “achievement” they have.

This type of institutional grooming increases the damage done to the victims because they have nowhere to turn.  Hence, they lose trust in their would-be support system and this further isolates them which means that the abuse can continue for longer.  They also lose trust in themselves.

The main core of the emotional abuse will be done when there is no one else around.  So it is the victim’s word against the abusers.  When the victim is exhausted, worn down and confused (abuse always creates confusion), the confident calm abuser might easily look like s/he is the one who is telling the truth.

A narcissist will deny, lie and twist the truth so artfully and confidently that the victim can often be numbed into silence.  They may have blocked out what was said to them on some level and be tone deaf to abuse because it happens so often and can be done in quite a subtle with some of their worst abuse buried in false concern, “I am really worried about you, you really over react to everything.  That cannot be good for your health, I think you need professional help”.  The reality is that we all want to think that our partners or family members have our best interests at heart and it is very painful to realise that they don’t, so we can often interpret their false concern as sincere even if their words contradict their actions and body language.

In a family context one parent can go to considerable lengths to discredit the non-abusive parent.  This type of grooming is always traumatic for the victim with long term consequences for both the abused parent and the child(ren).  It can also come in the form of physical abuse, sexual abuse, drive the victim to commit suicide or a narcissist can murder their victim (it is not common, but it certainly is not unheard of).  To the narcissist other people (including their own children) are just there for their game playing and “enjoyment”, so they do not care about the emotional or physical consequences of their actions and it is very difficult to prove in a court of law since more often than not it is one person’s word against another, courts demand “beyond reasonable doubt” and narcissists are such good actors, it can be very difficult to prove that they did anything wrong.  An added complication is that the abuser can accuse the victim of parental alienation, of turning their children against them.  This is a situation that does genuinely happen where usually a mother will play the victim and complain that she and her children are terrified of the husband, cry and wail about the injustice of it all, when in fact she is the abusive one.  It often boils down to who can put on the best “performance” in front of the professionals.




Giving and receiving


Narcissists have three main currencies that they value and they are:

  • Control
  • Power
  • Money (and other resources)


Things like:

  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Loyalty
  • Kindness
  • Trustworthiness
  • Honesty
  • Honour
  • Integrity
  • Sincerity
  • Support
  • Conspicuousness
  • Friendship
  • Discretion
  • Unity

Are not traits that the narcissist values.  At least not with their dealings with other people, they will expect other people to exhibit these traits towards them.

Every act of generosity from a Narcissist is a purchase, either to bolster their public image, to buy credit in terms of favour from others or to buy access to someone (as in the love bombing stage in a potential new “relationship”) or to improve their public image, such as a charitable donation.

If you have grown up in a narcissistic family of origin, you can very often feel unworthy of receiving from others.  This is not just in a material but also in terms of accepting

  • Compliments
  • Help with things
  • Attention

The reason for this is that asking for things sends you into an emotional flash back of being refused things when you were a child, the flashback is not conscious but the feeling of fear resonates from when you asked and were refused by your cold and neglectful parents for the fundamental things in life such as a cuddle, to have friends over to play, bring you do the doctor when feeling sick, comfort you when you felt scared or pick you up when you fell over.   That is why so many children of narcissistic parents “know” that they need to over compensate to get a small amount of “love” or attention.  You feel like it is always up to you to do all the running in relationships and that if you don’t everyone will walk out of your life and you will be alone.

Narcissists are very attracted to people who have this programming and can select them in their usual predatory way.  A child of a narcissist will very often feel empty if they give to/take care of themselves because they will have been taught that if they are not constantly focused on their parents, siblings or the needs of others (to create a good impression for the parent(s), i.e. “such a good, kind generous child, so well brought up) that they are being selfish or “naughty” and will almost certainly be punished.

The narcissist parent(s) will also have programmed the child to know that since they have a roof over their head and food on the table that they child is indebted to the parent(s) in a way that they know they will never be able to repay, they are also taught that they are a guest in the house that they live in and they have no rights in that house (in short, they have no home).  This feels like entrapment, is very unhealthy and suffocating for the child because they have no escape, they are hostage to their parents/family.  It is made known that the parent(s) can call in their “credit” at any time, irrespective of the difficultly, fear or compromised position it puts the child in.

So if someone gives to someone who had been brought up in this way, that child will feel safer if they over compensate in their giving to avoid having their independence robbed and being put into a state of ownership by someone else.

The problem with this is that over giving makes it very easy for people to take advantage of the giver (not only narcissists).  Takers will never stop taking, that is what they do.  It is up to the giver to put down the boundaries on your time, attention and resources otherwise you will end up emotionally and financially impoverished.

At the beginning of a “romantic” liaison with a narcissist, they might tell you “you are too independent, it doesn’t feel like I can do anything for you”, what this really means is “I don’t feel like I can control you”.  It is a manipulation to get you to depend on them and once you do they will immediately reduce their abundance of giving and you will have to give much more as time goes on to get the same return.  This will leave you feeling completely deflated as you will never be able to do enough for the narcissist because they will keep pushing the bar up higher and higher until one day you will realise that you have nothing left to give.

The other thing about narcissists is that they are really bad at sharing things.  The do not get the concept of sharing or negotiation. This unfortunately can often include children and lead to the parental alienation of one parent.  A narcissist will give or not give, but compromise and negotiation do not sit well with the narcissist mantras of “Me, Myself, I”, “Mine, Mine, Mine” or “Win, Win, Win”.  If a narcissist gives they consider it a purchase, if they choose not to give it is because they cannot see that there is anything in it for them.  It doesn’t matter how desperate the other person could be, how closely related they are to the narcissist or how easily the narcissist could afford to give the other person what they want if they cannot see any personal gain in giving, then they simply will not do it.

If you meet a non-narcissist you may feel uncomfortable with a situation of equal give and take.  However, if you don’t let people give to us it feels to them that a barrier has been put up (and they are right) and so they will never really bond with you.  Giving and receiving makes most people feel connected and not purchased.  Giving for most people is not paying off a debt or buying credit to maintain independence and avoid “ownership” by the narcissist.




Narcissists use constant manipulation to devalue their victims to the extent that a victim will feel worthless extremely anxious and sometimes suicidal.  The “point” of this manipulation is twofold, to push their victim down so low that they (the narcissist) feels better about themselves, and someone who has been chronically abused will have a damaged spirit and will be much easier to control.  They use threats to cultivate fear, anxiety and despair in their victims and their victims can be anyone who they feel that they can get away with bullying.  This can include their own children, family members, co-workers and friends, they usually do it where they have the “upper hand” such as a parent, an elder sibling a boss or someone like a church leader or person in position of authority.

Manipulation is very hard to understand because they will always imply that you have done something to deserve them being cruel to you but they won’t tell you what it is, that is because there is no reason, they just categorically refuse to take responsibility for their own nasty behaviour.  Their behaviour bares the same scars as physical abuse, except that they are invisible and resonate within a victim’s body in the same way except that in general this type of abuse is not recognised in the same way, not even by many mental health care workers.

A narcissist will manipulate in many different ways but the main ones are:

  • Unpredictable reactions, they keep changing their reaction to the same stimuli. One day something is no problem, the next day (or hour) they will react in a completely different way such as rage, sulking or the silent treatment leaving their victim constantly on edge, trying to second guess the narcissists reactions all of the time and can never relax
  • Unreasonable demands on their victim such as attention, sex or money. No matter how much is done for the narcissist they will always let the victim know that it is not enough and they need to try harder.   They start will constant trivial demands to “train” their victim to obey them.
  • Creating arguments amongst friends or family members, being rude to people to watch and feed off their emotional reaction.
  • Violating boundaries by telling the victim who and what they are. They do this in an inoffensive way to begin with but eventually they will name call, demean and tell they victim that they know what they are thinking, their motivation behind certain actions, or how they would behave in any given situation.  This they feel entitled to do without asking any questions of their victim about how they feel or what they want.  Narcissists are only in a relationship for what they can get out of it, they are not interested in the other person per se.
  • They speak in very vague and general terms to avoid responsibility but will want to have precise details of what their victim did, said or who they saw at all times. They may well check their victims phone or phone the person the victim said they were with, just to make sure.
  • The narcissist will not tell much about themselves, will know little on the details of their family life or be able to express any genuine feelings. They are pathologically secretive, they live in terror that someone will see them for what they really are, they are closed minded “it is my way or the high way”, they bristle with self-righteous indignation at all times.  Yet they will ask outrageously personal questions of others even when they have only recently met

Narcissistic abusers can attack at any time using sarcasm, name calling, sneering and blame shifting whenever they perceive a threat or are just simply bored and want a bit of “action”.