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The love bomber is not to be trusted

PERHAPS I'm a particularly suspicious fish, but I cringe at the notion of a love bomb.

Better Together, apparently, plans to use wthe tactic in its No campaign.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg are oft accused of using the love bomb technique, as were the Georges Bush. Careful hand gestures, moderated, calm voices, charm. The love bomb is used by people with something to sell that no-one wants to buy.

The phrase was first coined to describe a technique used by the Moonies to convert targets into followers. It is a technique used by manipulative lovers.

It's also a niche approach to reign in the tantrums of children, giving them unlimited love and letting them believe they're in full control when they're actually nothing of the sort.

In 1994 the US Department of Defense received a proposal from an air force lab to build a weapon that would distract the enemy by making them sexually irresistible to each other. Basically, a spray-on love potion. A declassified memo noted: "New discoveries needed."

Love bombing - the preserve of manipulators; cults, politicians and jerks.

See, you've been here before: newly courting, he keeps you where he wants you by focusing on your insecurities, on what's gone and going wrong in your life. In truth, he cares little about you beyond how he can use you to get what he wants, normally power.

But it doesn't start that way. It starts with the love bomb, that foul technique. Every attention is focused on you, he can't get enough of your quirks, he flatters you. He will flirt and admire.

You're susceptible to this. Everyone needs to hear positive things. Everyone wants to hope life will be better with this new person in it.

He comes to your house, he's tricky to get rid of. He'll post notes through your letter box when you don't answer the door. You can try to ignore him but he won't take "no" for an answer. Eventually he's everywhere you look. He grinds you down. You start to pay attention.

Soon, you believe the promises. You begin to think, "what if?"

The process is not reciprocated - it's a one-way technique. Only one person is doing the loving - you, the target.

In the early days of love bombing, which sounds an unhappy combination of affection and violence, you believe the affection and false promises. You're in the honeymoon period. There are few facts needed when promises are made. Shiny word pictures are painted, rivals are seen off with criticism, claim and counter-claim.

He makes himself the only attractive option and you the most attractive, intelligent prize - you must be, you chose him.

But eventually the end game becomes more obvious. Self worth is eroded. You internalise his faults. Doubt sets in, quietly, in the breast.

"I dated this guy?" you think. "What's wrong with me?" "I voted for this guy?" you think. "What's wrong with me?"

You still defend him to your friends and at dinner parties but, privately, in the quiet moments while you're cleaning your teeth, you look in the mirror and know you're still a decent person. You just backed the wrong pony. At this point the oxytocin mist lightens and you need a get-out plan.

If I had to give advice to younger women, late teens, just starting out, I'd tell them to ask plentiful questions. You can still have a strong sense of worth yet query why this stranger is giving you so much attention, so early, when barely they know you. What do they want in return, is the question?

Because, in the end, you can't change him. He is who he is.

Love bombing may seem a quirky, innocent phrase but I wouldn't trust it. Not in the bedroom and not at the ballot box.

Contextual targeting label: 
Weddings

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