The love bombing phase can manifest in a variety of different ways depending on the type of narcissist you’re dealing with but there is one thing that every single narcissist does during the love bombing phase that you should be aware of.

During the love bombing phase a narcissist will use very powerful manipulative behaviors to fill the void in their victim’s life. They’ll use mirroring to uncover every single aspect of their victim’s identity and use the information they gather to future fake the victim into a false sense of hope.

The love bombing phase sets the tone for the entire relationship. Through mirroring, future faking, and cognitive dissonance, terms we’ll dive into later on in this article, the narcissist is able to use the love bombing phase on which he or she can launch the narcissistic abuse cycle into full swing.

Having a comprehensive grasp of the typical behavior commonly seen in a narcissistic love bombing phase puts you in a very powerful position where you can not only protect yourself from love bombing, but dismantle the narcissistic abuse cycle as well. 

How? 

Two of the most important steps one needs to take when escaping the narcissistic abuse cycle is to acknowledge that what they’re experiencing is abuse and breaking the trauma bond. However, the only way these two steps are manageable is by understanding how the beginning of your abusive relationship enabled the abusive cycle. 

A victim of narcissistic abuse realizing that her relationship started with love bombing not true love

The information in this article is really useful to know for ALL types of narcissistic relationships, even if you haven’t experienced the love bombing phase. 

Keep in mind that the love bombing phase can manifest in many different ways depending on the type of narcissist in your life. So, if you’re unsure about whether or not you’ve experienced the love bombing phase, be sure to check out How Long Does Love Bombing Last (Case Study).

A Deeper Look at Narcissistic Mirroring and Future Faking

The Yin and Yang relationship that narcissistic mirroring and future faking has with each other is arguably the most manipulative duo in the realm of narcissistic abuse. Mirroring, the healthy kind, is simply when we unconsciously reflect back the behaviors those close to us exhibit. 

In any type of healthy relationship, mirroring often strengthens the bond between the two individuals. In a narcissistic relationship, mirroring also strengthens the bond, only this time it is a trauma bond. 

Narcissistic mirroring is when a narcissist will shift into a predatory mode where they devote a significant amount of time to learning every single aspect of your identity astonishingly fast. They’ll learn what makes you happy or sad, your insecurities and vulnerabilities, they’ll even learn your goals and mimic them back to you. 

“I had been planning on moving to Australia after I graduated college to attend university for years. My narcissistic ex-husband went on and on about how that was what he wanted to do too so that is what I planned for. The year we were supposed to move, he manipulated me into believing that buying a condo in Canada that we could rent out while we were in Australia was a good idea. We ended up moving into the condo, we got engaged, and the rest is history. He never wanted to move to Australia.” Brie

This was actually a really good example of the Yin and Yang relationship that narcissistic mirroring and future faking have with one another because it magnifies the dependence they have on each other. 

What do I mean?

Narcissistic mirroring does two things. First, it makes the victim feel as if they’ve met someone who understands them better than anyone else ever has. As I mentioned before, it strengthens the trauma bond. Second, it gives the narcissist all of the information they need to be able to use your core values to maintain power and control over you. 

With the information they gather from mirroring, they’re able to create very, very powerful future faking phases. So, in Brie’s case, the narcissist in her life mirrored her aspirations of moving to Australia and finishing her education and then used that information to future fake her into buying a condo they’d rent out to earn some extra money while in Australia. 

But shortly after the purchase of the condo, he manipulated her with a surprise proposal to get her to give up on the plan of moving once and for all. 

Future faking is all about the narcissist getting what they want, when they want it. It is a very powerful manipulative tactic designed for coercion, control, and dominance and it requires the data that a narcissist collects while mirroring to be effective. 

A narcissistic woman in a green shirt writing down all the different ways that she can manipulate her partner.

Narcissistic mirroring and future faking is EXACTLY how narcissists are able to fill the void in their victims lives during the love bombing phase. It creates such a strong trauma bond because the victim is left feeling like they’ve met someone who is meant to be in their life. 

It is a lot easier to normalize, rationalize, and justify abusive behavior when you feel like it is coming from your soulmate, best friend, beloved family member, or trusted co-worker. 

“I spent such a long time suffering because I was waiting for him to be the person he was in during the love bombing phase. It was like the longer that I waited the more desperate for love I got. It got to the point where all he would have to do was open a door for me and I would fall in love with him again.” -Mai

4 Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse Talk About Their Experiences With Narcissistic Mirroring and Future Faking

This is actually a really interesting part of this article, especially if you’ve already read the case study we did about the duration of the love bombing phase.

In that study, one of the questions we asked the participants was “why did you gravitate towards the relationship” to see the similarities and differences among the different types of narcissists the participants had to deal with and this is what we found…

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.

As you read the four stories of the participants below, try to identify which type of narcissist they were dealing with and I will reconnect with you at the end of the paragraph. 

Angela’s Story

“My ex made me feel like I wasn’t invisible for the first time in my life. He is a really big deal in the town that we’re from so being with him made me like I wasn’t disposable. Our dates were always very dramatic and spontaneous, we had such an intense connection, and we got to travel a lot. Coming from an abusive household  where I felt worthless, having that level of attention is what made me ignore all of the red-flags that he showed.”

Becky’s Story

“We both were educators at the local high school. He was loved by everyone. Not necessarily because he was a good teacher, but because he was everyone’s best friend. He would donate all of the time and money he could to various different school related activities and he devoted his time to helping his students. That’s what drew me in. The love bombing phase circulated around our shared passion of helping our students. I felt like together, we could make a difference in our students’ lives. Once I started believing that, his charm took over and I started thinking about the difference we could potentially make in our own kids’ lives one day. He helped me find my passion and purpose in life

John’s Story

“She was a force to be reckoned with and I loved it. I’ve always felt like I’ve been on the meeker side of the spectrum so having someone as dominant as her was a nice change. I felt like she would be able to help me bring order to my life. The love bombing phase for us was really intense. At the time I thought she was pushing my boundaries in a healthy/motivating way. But looking back, my boundaries were completely violated. Nevertheless, at the time she helped me feel like more of a man and that was something that I had communicated with her so now I know it was just mirroring, not a true connection between two people.  

Cassandra’s Story

“We actually met through mutual friends. He was a bit standoffish at first but once I got to know him, I fell for him immediately. To this day I’m still unsure, but at the time I felt like he was so underrated. I mean he had so many different gifts that he could help this world with but they weren’t being acknowledged by society. It made me feel obligated to help him out of his rough patch and into the light. I felt like if I could just help him reach his true potential that he would do the same for me and together we’d be unstoppable. 

Do you think you guessed correctly? 

Angela was dealing with a grandiose narcissist. She came from an abusive household so the attention that her narcissistic ex was giving her was the attention that her parents never gave.

Becky was dealing with a communal narcissist. Communal narcissists are really difficult to spot because they get their narcissistic supply from doing good things for other people. In Becky’s case, she felt like she would be able to change the lives of her students with the help of her narcissistic ex. He helped her find a purpose in life and made her idealize/romanticize the future. 

John was dealing with a malignant narcissist. The malignant narcissist in his life gave him the structure, security, and stability that he was lacking. Malignant narcissists are very, very dominant, often successful, and powerful. 

Cassandra was dealing with a covert narcissist. Covert narcissists are MASTERFUL at victimizing themselves. So, when Cassandra’s narcissistic ex portrayed himself as severely underrated by the world, it triggered her desire to rescue others and she fantasized about the life she would have if she could just get him out of his self-induced depression.

What Does Cognitive Dissonance Have to Do With Love Bombing?  

Leon Festinger, a social psychologist in the 1950’s, molded the theory of cognitive dissonance, an inconsistency among beliefs, knowledge, and behavior which causes a lot of psychological tension.

The theory suggests that in an attempt to reduce the tension, we often try to make everything consistent by changing the element(s) that are inconsistent. 

This is a very common behavior among survivors of narcissistic abuse, especially in the beginning stages of the relationship. Take Angela, Becky, John, and Cassandra’s stories for an example. When they first met their abuser, they all felt a really strong connection because the narcissist was using manipulative tactics to fill the void in their life.

You can’t blame them or any other victim of abuse either, we all want to find true love.

But what happens in many narcissistic relationships is that as soon as the relationship moves into the devaluation phase, the narcissists abusive demeanor contradicts the falsified identity they displayed throughout the love bombing phase.

So, instead of dealing with the psychological tension that comes with having to acknowledge the person you’ve envisioned a life with is actually an insecure abuser, cognitive dissonance sets in and people often rationalize, justify, and normalize the abuse they’re enduring to protect their image of their abuser and to reduce the psychological tension.

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

The love bombing phase is a really, really powerful form of manipulation that incorporates some of the most malicious behavior patterns that narcissists often exhibit to fill the void in your life that you might not even be aware of.

Narcissistic mirroring and future faking are two very important behavior patterns to be able to identify so for more information be sure to check out Why Do Narcissists Use Mirroring and What Is Future Faking and Why Do Narcissists Do It for a comprehensive grasp of each behavior.

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