A question that many people who are experiencing narcissistic abuse often have is, “How do I know if I am in the love bombing phase or the honeymoon phase?”
The key difference between the love bombing phase and the honeymoon phase is the timing. Narcissists use the love bombing phase to gain control or influence over you in the beginning stages of the relationship while the honeymoon phase is used throughout the entire relationship to secure your devotion.
This article is going to guide you through each of these phases so that you can grasp a comprehensive understanding of the difference between the two.
The Love Bombing Phase Helps Narcissists Gain Control or Influence Over You
The love bombing phase is often described as a period in the beginning of a narcissistic relationship where a narcissist overwhelms another person with affection, attention, gifts, and flattery in order to gain control or influence over them.
However, it is much more complex than that because love bombing is actually an elite combination of mirroring and future faking.
In this context, mirroring refers to a narcissist’s ability to absorb a ton of information about your identity and use that information to create a falsified identity that you can identify with.
For example, imagine that you have a narcissistic friend and they know that one of your goals in life is to start a pizzeria in your hometown.
One day, your narcissistic friend comes to you with a bunch of information that they gathered about starting a pizzeria and says that they would like to start it with you.
Why is this mirroring?
Well, the narcissist doesn’t actually care about starting a pizzeria with you. They only care about gaining control and influence over you.
They know that they can do this by creating a falsified identity that you can identify with so they tell you that they want to start a pizzeria with you.
Over time, having these types of interactions with the narcissist is going to manipulate you into feeling heard, understood, and supported.
Moving on to future faking, this is a tactic that occurs when a narcissist makes a false promise in the future to get you to do what they want in the present.
Let’s go back to the pizzeria example. Imagine that your narcissistic friend has some debts that they have to pay off that you don’t know about.
They ask you, “Hey can you loan me $10,000? My cousin has a bunch of pizzeria equipment that he will sell to me.“
You say, “Hmmm. Can I meet him first and check out the equipment?”
Your narcissistic friend says, “No he is only going to sell the stuff to me. Don’t worry, I will pay you back $100,000 once our amazing pizzeria takes off.”
This is future faking because the narcissist has no intention of paying you back. They are simply making a false promise in the future to get you to give them the $10,000 so that they can pay off their debts.
What does any of this have to do with love bombing?
Well, when a narcissist love bombs you, what they are really doing is using mirroring and future faking to fill a void in your life.
In romantic relationships, this void usually circulates around one’s desire for true love, hence the reason love bombing is often defined as an overwhelming amount of affection, attention, gifts, and flattery.
Amongst family and friends, this void usually circulates around one’s desire for a like minded and emotionally available, responsive, and consistent family member or friend.
In the workplace, this void usually circulates around the goals and aspirations that one has for his/her own career.
So, love bombing is a manipulation tactic that narcissists use in the beginning stages of their relationships to maneuver past any boundaries that you may have set so that they can gain control or influence over you.
If left unchecked, love bombing can manipulate you into believing that the narcissist is someone that you can safely attach yourself to, which is exactly what the narcissist wants to happen because it gives them control and influence over you.
Our article “What Do Narcissists Do During the Love Bombing Phase?“ will help you grasp a better understanding of the love bombing phase.
The Honeymoon Phase Helps Narcissists Secure Your Devotion Throughout the Entire Relationship
As we mentioned before, the honeymoon phase is used throughout the entire relationship to secure your devotion.
Let’s dive deeper into what this means.
Once a narcissist realizes that they have control or influence over you, they are going to stop pretending to be you “Mr. or Mrs Perfect” and begin their abusive pursuit of narcissistic supply.
This shift in behavior is known as the devaluation phase.
During the devaluation phase, narcissists will subject you to the most intense forms of abuse and manipulation imaginable.
Generally speaking, they are able to do this for such a long time because you are holding onto the belief that they are someone that you can safely attach yourself to.
However, everyone has their breaking point.
There will come a time in most narcissistic relationships where the person being abused will mentally check out of the relationship.
When this happens, they will no longer be a viable source of narcissistic supply for the narcissist.
If you didn’t know already, narcissistic supply is validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control.
Narcissists are heavily dependent on narcissistic supply because they use it to suppress their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions so that they can construct a positive self-perception.
The biggest sources of narcissistic supply that narcissists have access to are the people that they abuse.
So, when the person that they are abusing mentally checks out of the relationship, it creates a massive void in their life.
To regain control of the narcissistic supply (i.e. the person that they are abusing), narcissists will use the honeymoon phase to secure their devotion.
To “secure someone’s devotion” means to gain their loyalty and commitment, making them devoted to the relationship or to the person.
Now, this can take many different shapes and forms but generally speaking the honeymoon phase occurs after the narcissist does something incredibly abusive and manifests in the form of hoovering and intermittent reinforcement.
Hoovering is a manipulation tactic that occurs when a narcissist says and/or does exactly what the person that they are abusing needs to hear and/or see in order to give the narcissist another chance.
Intermittent reinforcement is the delivery of a reward at irregular intervals.
What does all of this look like when it is put together in the honeymoon phase?
Well, imagine that you have cut ties with the narcissist in your life because they slapped you in the face.
A few days after the incident they send you a message that says, “I’m sorry for hitting you. I have no idea what got into me. I just finished my first therapy session. I am ready to change for you. Please don’t let this mistake ruin what we have. I love you so much.”
This is hoovering.
Because a big part of you is still holding onto the belief that the narcissist is someone that you can safely attach yourself to, this hoovering works and you go back to them.
Now, narcissist’s aren’t psychopathic or psychotic, they know the difference between good and bad behavior.
Because of this, they know that they can’t just immediately begin their abusive pursuit of narcissistic supply after you’ve given them another chance.
So, for the next week or so, they go right back to being “Mr or Mrs Perfect,” like they were during the love bombing phase.
After months, years, or even decades of abuse, this shift in behavior acts as the “reward” of intermittent reinforcement.
This is what the honeymoon phase is.
The narcissist is using love bombing tactics, such as showering you with excessive affection and attention, to create an intense emotional bond and to secure your devotion to them.
Unfortunately, this means that you will be more likely to stay in the relationship, even when the narcissist begins to engage in abusive or controlling behavior again.
For the narcissist, the honeymoon phase is all about maintaining power and control over the person that they are abusing.
Our article “What Is the Devaluation Phase?“ has a ton of helpful information about the devaluation phase.
What Should You Take Away From This Article?
The love bombing phase is a tactic that narcissists use to gain control or influence over you in the beginning stages of the relationship. The honeymoon phase is a tactic that narcissists use throughout the entire relationship to secure your devotion.
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This information is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for clinical care. Please consult a healthcare provider for guidance specific to your case. This article discusses narcissism in general.