It will come as no surprise that many men in the early stages of a relationship are getting the affection levels wrong.
More surprising is the fact that, more and more, we’re being too affectionate. Men are usually accused of not being affectionate enough, so this is something of a turn up for the books.
Our eagerness to show new girlfriends just what we think of them even has a name: love bombing. And apparently at the start of a relationship love bombing can send out all the wrong signals.
So here’s what constitutes a love bomb, and what you can do to make sure you get the affection levels right.
What is love bombing?
Obvious love bombing is pretty easy to identify. Perhaps, after sleeping with someone for the first time, you feel an irresistible urge to utter the L word. That on its own might not constitute love bombing, but failing to resist the urge does.
Similarly, after three successful dates you suggest the fourth should be dinner at your mum’s house. There’s nothing like early exposure to a protective mother to make new dates run a mile.
And then there’s being a text pest. It’s possible that two months into a relationship, at the height of happy hormone time, she’ll appreciate and even reciprocate those 15 daily texts. But two weeks in she might think they’re a bit weird.
“Phoning more than once a day, or getting sulky if texts aren’t replied to within the hour, are classic examples of a man having the ‘too much, too soon’ syndrome,” says Kate Taylor, relationship expert for top dating site match.com.
She also identifies other love bombs, like bringing expensive presents to the first few dates, cancelling previous arrangements just to see your new date, and wanting to get together more than three times a week.
Of course, as Taylor says, some women like nothing more than being carpet bombed with your affection from day one, so you’ll have to play it by ear to some extent. But if in doubt, give the love bombing a miss.
Why is love bombing wrong?
As men, we’ve had it fed to us that women like us to show our feelings, and that keeping them hidden is a failing.
So some of us, on some occasions, have gone the other way. We really like someone, so we show it, right from the off. We assume she’ll appreciate the cards, texts and impromptu, unscheduled visits. But it doesn’t always work like that. According to Kate Taylor, overplayed affection – even if she likes you lots in return – can cause suspicion.
“We love emotion, but more than that, we want to be loved for who we really are,” she says. “After just a couple of weeks of dating, it’s unrealistic to think you know everything about us.
“That’s why it’s so unsettling when a man declares love too quickly. We think it’s all just based on our physical appearance, or our social persona, and we get scared that when you know the real us, you’ll fall out of love just as rapidly as you fell in.”
In other words, most women don’t believe in love at first sight, even if they’d like to. If you appear too smitten too soon, they’ll wonder what you’re really smitten with.
How do men get the balance right?
But as Taylor says, women love shows of emotion. At the same time, it seems they don’t like us to show too much emotion too soon. So how on earth do we get the balance right?
The answer, she says, is to wrap your desire in the clingfilm of fun.
“Use humour to keep the mood light. If you’re dying to send a card or a mushy email, keep it funny and brief. We’ll think it’s charming rather than alarming.”
Don’t cancel pre-existing plans to be with your new girlfriend, adds Taylor, but your new girlfriend will be pleased if you keep her in the loop.
“Make sure you honour pre-existing plans to pursue any hobbies and interests you might have, but keep us updated about what happens,” says Taylor. “A funny, newsy text about your day is a welcome evening event, as this way we’ll know you’re a well-rounded guy who leads a fun and interesting life.”
The key, perhaps, is this. She wants you to keep doing your own thing. She doesn’t want the pressure of being the centre of your world (yet). But she does want to think she’s on your mind.
And it’s important to her because that way, she knows that any deeper feelings that develop will be genuine.
“It’s attractive to us when someone looks as if they’re taking a little bit of time to make up their mind about us as a new partner,” says Taylor. “We feel that love that develops like this – based on an understanding of a partner’s character, rather than just their legs, face or bum – has a far better chance of lasting because its foundations are secure. Plus, it’s more challenging and keeps us on our toes.”
So there you have it. Be interested, but not obsessive. Let her know that you’re looking forward to your next date, but not counting the hours. Keep expensive gifts and a meeting with good old ma for a few more months down the line. Love bombing will will wipe out a relationship before it’s even begun, but getting the balance right will give it room to blossom.
Source: Hugh Wilson, MSN