Love bombing is a term that people now use sometimes to describe partners who may be displaying their excitement in ways that feel excessive or overwhelming, with large romantic gestures or frequent contact. In these situations, this partner might actually be open to hearing about changing the pace or respecting the other’s boundaries. Love bombing, in reality, is the use of excessive affection, admiration, or gestures to aim for control in the relationship. Love bombers often try to hurry the relationship along to make the other person feel obligated to them. They may try to guilt their partner into feeling bad about not returning their feelings or gestures, demand all their partners time and attention, and become possessive. They’ll often withdraw the affection as a form of punishment when they don’t get what they want.
The term “triggered” is now frequently used to describe experiences that make a person feel anger, frustration, or shock. While someone might be uncomfortable or have a strong emotional reaction, that is different from the experience of triggers. Being triggered or activated is a complex physiological response that is attached to a traumatic memory. The body responds in a protective or survival way, which often includes flight, fight, or freeze reactions. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, dissociation, hypervigilance, or panic attacks. When we misuse or weaponize the term “triggered”, we take away from the very real and painful reactions that survivors of abuse face when reminded of their trauma.
Recently, we’ve seen the term “boundaries” be weaponized by partners as another way to attempt to gain control of someone else’s behavior. If the language of “boundaries” is being used to be manipulative, controlling, or fully focused on another person, this is harmful to a relationship. Boundaries, in actuality, are about the relationship with yourself. They are limits set to protect yourself and communicate your preferences and needs. Boundaries are built on the foundation of respecting everyone involved in the interaction and allowing people to make their own decisions. In healthy relationships, boundaries include advocating for ourselves while knowing not to inflict our will on other people.