Young Love in the Age of Social Media

Young Love in the Age of Social Media

Let’s set the scene: You’re scrolling social media, and suddenly you come across a word you don’t know. “What is a ‘cheugy’? Do I have ‘rizz’?” You do a bit more research and find out that cheugy means out of style, and rizz is short for charisma. Feeling satisfied and accomplished, you lock this new knowledge into your head, prepared to use and identify these terms in the future. 

This same phenomenon is occurring with words relating to mental health and relationships. Terms like ‘love bombing’, ‘gaslighting’, and ‘attachment styles’ have all become popularized, thanks to video-sharing sites like TikTok. But what do these terms mean?

Here’s a breakdown of some trending terms your teen, or you, may hear when scrolling the site.

Love Bombing

Love bombing occurs when a person, usually a significant other, uses excessive attention, admiration, and affection to influence a person’s actions early in the relationship. These actions can cause the recipient to feel more dependent on the love bomber, creating opportunities for abuse to occur.

 Signs a partner is love bombing include:


Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that allows the abuser to create self-doubt and confusion. This creates a power imbalance and often distorts reality for the recipient. While gaslighting is more common in relationships, it can also occur in relationships with friends, family, or co-workers.

Examples of gaslighting include:

Attachment Style

While attachment styles are a relatively new topic of discussion on social media, the theory behind attachment styles has been around since the 1950s. Developed by psychologist Mary Ainsworth and psychiatrist Job Bowlby, attachment styles directly result from the dynamics we had with our caregivers as children. Attachment styles describe how we respond to emotions and how we react to and behave in relationships.

The four attachment styles and their characteristics are:

  1. Secure attachment. This person is more likely to trust and be trusted, love and be loved, and easily create connections with others.
  2. Anxious attachment. This person is more likely to have fears of abandonment, seek validation, and fear their partner will leave them.
  3. Avoidant attachment. This person is more likely to fear intimacy, struggle to trust others, and create distance in relationships.
  4. Fearful-avoidant attachment (aka disorganized). This person is more likely to fear and crave affection simultaneously and show reluctance to let others in, while feeling the desire to be loved by others.

Have you, or your teen, experienced love bombing or gaslighting, and need some help processing these potentially abusive behaviors? Our mental health counselors and support groups are here to help! Learn more about both of these services here.