How Long Does the Love Bombing Phase Last? (Case Study)

One of the most misunderstood behavior patterns in the narcissistic realm is the love bombing phase. The reason being that depending on the type of narcissist a victim is dealing with, the love bombing phase could manifest in many different ways.

With grandiose narcissists the love bombing phase will circulate around their grandiosity. There will be a lot of spontaneous moments, grandiose gifts and trips, high levels of intimacy, and an overwhelming sense of connection. The feeling they get from seducing others into the abuse cycle is a MAJOR source of narcissistic supply for them.

A grandiose narcissist in a red and white shirt love bombing his victim

When it comes to communal narcissists, the love bombing phase will circulate around their charitable nature. That’s right, communal narcissists accumulate narcissistic supply by doing charitable things for others! Of course, this is only if there is an audience to witness their “greatness” but nevertheless they often do wonderful things. So, the love bombing phase will likely be a display of their “wholesomeness” and will inspire you to find the best version of yourself.

A communal narcissist in a white dress showing of her charitable nature during the love bombing phase

With malignant narcissist the love bombing phase is plagued by their paranoia, intensity, and need for control. They’ll want to know what you’re doing, where you’re doing it, and who you’re doing it with at ALL times. They’ll often buy their victims gifts they use to control them like cell phones, cars, houses and so on. It may seem like an obvious red flag but malignant narcissists are often very successful so their demeanor often makes people feel secure, which is how they draw people in.

A malignant narcissist buying his girlfriend a new phone during the love bombing phase to have control over her.

And finally, covert narcissists. The love bombing phase with a covert narcissist is quite peculiar. They aren’t as social as the other types of narcissists. In fact, they often come off as incredibly depressed. The love bombing phase with a covert narcissist will make you feel as if you need to rescue them because they’re masterful at portraying themselves as the victim in any given scenario.

A covert narcissist portraying herself as underrated by the world during the love bombing phase.

With that being said, have you ever wondered how long the love bombing phase lasts? Well, we did. So we went out and conducted a study among 221 survivors of narcissistic abuse who experienced a love bombing phase to find out.

Study About the Duration of the Love Bombing Phase

For this study we interviewed 59 survivors of grandiose narcissistic abuse, 53 survivors of malignant narcissistic abuse, 52 survivors of communal narcissistic abuse, and 57 survivors of covert narcissistic abuse and asked them the following questions:

  1. Why did you gravitate towards the relationship?
  2. How long did it take for you to be interested in the narcissist?
  3. How long did the love bombing phase last?

This study focuses on the pre-dating love bombing phase. Our participant’s answers do not refer to the post break-up love bombing phase.

Key

In the table below we’ve listed the most common reason among our participants for gravitating towards the relationship, the average amount of time it took for our participants to be interested in the narcissist, and the average duration of the love bombing phase. If you’re interested in seeing every single participants individual answer, the link to the study can be found at the end of the article.


Terms You Need to Know to Understand the Data

  • Unhealthy/Abusive Childhood: The participant grew up in an unhealthy/abusive environment so they felt like they gravitated towards their narcissistic ex because their grandiosity made them feel good and when the narcissist began to be abusive, it felt familiar.
  • Security/Stability: The participant’s narcissistic ex made them feel very secure and/or stable.
  • Idealization: The participant felt that they gravitated towards the relationship because they convinced themselves that the situation was better than it actually was in their head.
  • Overly Empathic/Rescuer: The participant felt that they ended up in the relationship because they were overly empathic, too optimistic, and/or had an unhealthy need to “rescue” the narcissist.
  • Financial Abuse: The participant felt that they ended up in the relationship because they weren’t able to take care of themselves financially at the time.
  • Love Bombing/Intermittent Reinforcement: The victim didn’t feel like there was one particular thing that caused them to gravitate towards the narcissist. Instead they felt like the entirety of the love bombing phase and all the manipulative behaviors it entails is what dragged them into the abuse cycle.
  • Rumination: The participant was incredibly anxious because they saw the red flags but they also felt like they were being too judgmental or that they were simply afraid of commitment. So, they decided to give the relationship a chance.
  • Fear: The participant was terrified of the narcissist’s response if they were to reject them.
  • Children: The participant was pregnant with the narcissist’s child so they pursued the relationship to have a healthy environment for their child to grow up in.
  • Low Self-Esteem: The participant has a very low self esteem so the attention that the narcissist was giving them was addicting.
Type of NarcissistWhy Did You Gravitate Towards the Relationship?How Long Did It Take for You to Be Interested in the Narcissist?How Long Did the Love Bombing Phase Last?
GrandioseUnhealthy/Abusive Childhood3.20 Months5.64 Months
MalignantSecurity/Stability2.07 Months3.52 Months
CommunalIdealization3.71 Months7.34 Months
CovertOverly Empathic/Rescuer1.96 Months5.63 Months
These were the most common answers and average scores from the data we collected from the participants. A link to the full study is available at the end of the article.

What Can We Take Away From This Study?

A really interesting part of this study is the fact that there’s a different reason for the participants gravitating towards the abusive relationship for each type of narcissist. While we can’t be sure as to the reason why, it would be a VERY logical guess to assume it had something to do with the narcissist’s behavior patterns.

Grandiose

Grandiose narcissists are often the center of attention, talk of the town, and most likely to reach “celebrity” status. They’re flashy, confident, charming, charismatic, intelligent. They use all of the characteristics to create a very powerful love bombing phase and pride themselves in their ability to seduce others.

So, if someone who grew up in an environment where their needs were often neglected, the amount of attention grandiose narcissists give to their victim’s during the love bombing phase could make them feel really good about themselves, causing them ignore the red flags and gravitate towards the relationship.

Malignant

Malignant narcissists are POWERFUL. Everything about them is so intense. They have a hyper focus on power, profit, and pleasure which often lands them in very powerful and successful positions.

Which is congruent with the fact that many of the participants felt that they got into the relationship because it made them feel safe and secure.

Communal

Communal narcissists are really good people… on the outside. They’re the type of narcissists who will volunteer in their community, go to developing nations to do good things, donate large amounts of money to good causes and so on.

When you get love bombed by a communal narcissist, it can make you feel really good about yourself and the direction of your life. They’ll often bring you in on their charitable actions which makes you feel even better about yourself and leads you to constantly think about the good you could do together, which is a form of idealization, the most common answer we saw among our participants.

Covert

It is really hard to kick someone when they’re down. Which is why covert narcissists attract people who are overly empathic and/or have a need to rescue others. Covert narcissist portray themselves the most victimized people on the planet. They have so many hidden “talents” that people just “take for granted” and it makes others feel really sorry for them.

Many of the participants who dealt with covert narcissists reported that they felt as if they saw the greatness in their abuser during the love bombing phase. They believed that if they could just help them out of their depression, they thought that the covert narcissist would go on to do wonderful things.

There’s more…

Researchers have suggested that grandiose narcissism and covert narcissism are interchangeable under the right circumstances. It’s believed that if a grandiose narcissist experiences enough narcissistic injuries for an extended period of time, they’ll show many characteristics of a covert narcissist

If a covert narcissist gets the validation and admiration they desperately need for long enough, they’ll morph into a grandiose narcissists.

It’s no coincidence that the scores of grandiose narcissists (average of 3.20 months before the participant was seduced, and an average of 5.64 months for the duration of the love bombing phase) were very similar to the scores of covert narcissists (average of 1.96 months before the participant was seduced , and an average of 5.63 months for the duration of the love bombing phase)


The intensity of a malignant narcissist should not be underestimated. As you can see, the time it took for the participant to let their guard down (average of 2.07 months) to the moment the relationship turned from love bombing to devaluation and discard phase (average of 3.52 months) was the shortest among all of the types of narcissists.

Malignant narcissists are the type of narcissists that are often misidentified as psychopaths. They are often sadistic, have a strong need to constantly prove their dominance over others, and are masterful at manipulation, extortion, and exploitation.


The vulnerability of a covert narcissist is very deceptive. They have an insane amount of grandiosity, arrogance, and entitlement however it manifests in a very, very sullen manner.

They are masterful at weaponizing guilt and shame to keep their victim’s trapped within the abuse cycle which explains why the participants who experienced covert narcissistic lowered their guard much more quickly than the rest of the participants (average of 1.96 months).


Communal narcissists are arguably the hardest type of narcissists to identify. The reason being that their charitable nature hides their grandiosity, arrogance, need for validation and admiration, and sense of entitlement in plain sight.

Their approach to accumulating narcissistic supply, doing good things for others, is such a large aspect of their identity that it makes it really difficult acknowledge the red flags, which is probably why they have the longest love bombing phase (average of 7.34 months).


We are really excited to announce that we’ve been ranked #8 on Feedspot’s Top 70 Narcissism Blogs of 2022! We’re really happy to rank this high in the early stages of our organization and we can’t wait to see what the future holds!

For every single answer that the participants gave, please click the link to the PDF file below!

References:

Fluctuation between grandiose and vulnerable narcissism.


This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

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