“I love you” after the 4th date. Sweet talk or a classic case of love bombing?

Hi Evie. I met a guy on a dating app, and we really hit it off. We have similar interests, and on our first date, he was super sweet and thoughtful (even bought me my favorite chocolate that I had mentioned briefly during one of our midnight phone calls). On every date since he’s bought me a gift of some sort and is super attentive. The problem is, he’s coming on quite strong. We’ve only been on 4 dates and he told me last night he loves me. I do like him a lot but I don’t feel ready to say it back especially as we’re still getting to know each other, but I feel like he’s being weird with me now because I didn’t say I love him too? I don’t know, I guess my gut tells me something is up, but at the same time, all I’ve ever wanted is someone romantic and sweet like he is. My friends don’t like the sound of him, especially his messages since last night. Am I overthinking things? – Savannah, NI 

Dear Savannah, 

Let’s get one thing clear, you’re not overthinking anything. Listen to that gut feeling girlfriend because let me tell you, it’s sending these signals for a reason! You’re right to think he’s moving too fast – he is. It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent the best part of the week on the phone chatting until the early hours of the morning, you still don’t know each other. 

Based on the information you’ve given, it does sound like you’re being love-bombed. This is where someone, usually quite manipulative or narcissistic, will come on very heavy and very fast. They know exactly what it is you crave and they use that to their advantage. Think compliments, gifts, and attention. 

The fact that he’s acting “off” with you for not saying you love him back is also a major red flag. This shows he’s not respecting your boundaries or allowing you the time to get to know him (and your own feelings) organically. 

Savannah, I’d love to be wrong about this, but my own gut feeling tells me you should probably proceed with caution (or don’t proceed at all to be on the safe side). Listen to your gut feeling and don’t buy into a fantasy someone else is creating for you. 

And if you’re still not sure, look out for the following signs of love bombing (bear in mind, they can take months or longer to appear):

  • After the initial stage of “wooing” you, love bombers turn to the “devaluation” stage. This is where they change their behavior. They’re less sweet and affectionate, and more controlling, abusive, and critical. You’ll feel very confused by their change in behavior, and do whatever you can to make things right. This is exactly what they want.
  • After the devaluation stage comes “discard” or “hovering”. The former is when they’ll drop you faster than a hot potato. In other words, you no longer serve a purpose for them. The latter is when they come back for round two, love-bombing you all over again and restarting the cycle. 

There are sweet and romantic guys out there who won’t rush the process and who will respect your boundaries. My advice is to hold out for one of those and save yourself the heartbreak of getting more involved with this guy (especially given all the red flags that have cropped up in such a short amount of time). 

Best of luck, 

Evie 

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Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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