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Initial (selective) love-bombing

This is a section of a longer paper. There is a roadmap for the entire paper, and you can download the PDF.


Those who exhibit SBCMB may begin or renew personal relationships with selective “love-bombing.”

By this, we mean that a person who exhibits SBCMB may begin a new relationship with you—or seek to re-establish a relationship with you after a period of absence—by excessively praising or commending you, or giving you gifts, or sacrificing things, or spending close personal time with you, etc. However, it soon becomes clear that there is a definite reason for their love-bombing. They are “loving” you because, in their minds, you have demonstrated, by your presence with them or your willingness to talk to them, that you support or affirm them. The love-bombing appears to be an attempt by them to reward and reinforce your support and affirmation of them.

The love-bombing behaviour can have several effects. In terms of the dynamics of your relationship with them, it feels intense and heady, it breaks down personal boundaries, and it puts you personally in their debt. It can also change your own behaviour. The love-bombing can seem very gratifying to you; it appeals to your own sense of worth, and you can enjoy the closeness and feelings of loyalty it creates. It may cause you to respond to them with excessive praise and thanks in return. Nevertheless, it is important to realise that this love-bombing is highly conditional. It is clear that they are loving you, not for your sake, but for theirs, to reward you for your response to them, and to put you further in their debt.

At this point we need to affirm, in the strongest possible terms, that this is far removed from true love as it is understood in the Bible. While the person may use the words “I love you,” their actions demonstrate that what they mean is “I need you (emotionally).” This view of love is, sadly, only enabled and reinforced by the current pervasive view of “love” in our society as a strong emotion of neediness. Jesus’ love, by contrast, is a love that demonstrates itself in true other-person-centred care and self-giving sacrifice for the sake of others (Ephesians 5:1–2). It is true that Jesus’ sacrifice should call forth a response from us. However, Jesus’ sacrifice was not like an act of love-bombing designed to put us in his personal debt so that we now have an obligation to repay him out of forced loyalty or guilt. Rather, Jesus’ sacrifice was the self-giving sacrifice of the divine Son, who loved us even before we had done anything good for him, and who brings us into a loving relationship with God as our true heavenly Father. This should create in us security and freedom, not a guilt-ridden form of loyal obligation. Jesus’ self-giving love enables us to love and give ourselves for others, freely and without fear.[1] It is this view of love that needs to be affirmed, over against the kind of selective and conditional love-bombing that can be practised by those who exhibit SBCMB. Indeed, we are convinced that this message of God’s love in Jesus Christ is a primary remedy for such dysfunctional ways of relating that our world wrongly calls “love”. We need to pray: pray that both we and the person exhibiting SBCMB might know, or know more deeply, God’s love for us in Jesus (more of this below).


[1] For more on this, see Lionel Windsor, “Imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1–2),” Forget the Channel 11 September 2019, http://www.lionelwindsor.net/2019/09/11/ephesians-5-1-2/

Read the next section: Making themselves the greatest victim


Copyright © 2021 Lionel and Bronwyn Windsor

Note well: Because of time and energy constraints, we’re not personally able to respond to any queries or comments about this paper. So please realise in advance that if you send us a message about this paper, you are unlikely to receive any response from us.

To read the whole paper: Slow-burn crazy-making behaviours

Slow-burn crazy-making behavioursOnline: a roadmap for the entire paper Download the entire PDF

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