So you thought you finally met the woman or man of your dreams. Sure, they came off strong in the beginning. The compliments seemed a bit excessive and even premature. Ignoring that annoying voice in your head, the relationship developed at a rapid pace, faster than most of your other relationships and friendships.
At some point, you may have questioned their sincerity and adoration of Instagram? Maybe you had doubts about her like, “Is this person a psycho or is it love at first sight?” After all, how could someone who knows you well enough after only a few weeks (or a few days) see all of your wonderful qualities in this artistic extravaganza? How could someone who barely knows you seriously love you in such a short time and be willing to commit to you so quickly?
The answers are that they cannot and cannot. I was numb with flattery or with love.
A client once asked, “Well, what man wouldn’t fall in love with a beautiful woman who says you’re the most amazing man she’s ever known and the best sex she’s ever had?” In fact, many men and women do not fall for it. In fact, they become suspicious and anxious especially if the compliments are overblown and they are pressured into making a quick commitment (eg, going engagement ring shopping after only a week or wanting to move in together right away).
Relationships with narcissists, boarders, dramatists, and sociopaths
- Whatever the DSM rating is – start in the opposite direction.
Meaning, the relationship starts off with a really intense and decadent dessert, and by the end of the relationship, you’re dumpster diving for leftovers. A relationship between two emotionally mature people with boundaries and healthy senses of self develops steadily over time and builds to candy after establishing pesky little things like friendship, intimacy, and trust.
Not so with narcissists and other emotional predators and con artists. They are like used car salesmen or relationship salesmen. For example:
Well, hey, Carl/Connie Codependent, do I have a deal for you today! Just someone who is smart, intelligent, sophisticated, cultured, well traveled, intuitive, honest, loving, handsome, beautiful, sexy, talented, blah, blah, blah as you can see what a great opportunity this is. And because you’re so special to me, I’m going to give you this deal and just you (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
Your life will never be the same if you hitch your cart to my star. Together we will create crazy works of genius! What do you mean it sounds too good to be true? Thought you were smarter than that? It’s okay, I forgive you for doubting my motives. Now, I’m just going to need you to sign here, here, and here. Don’t worry about it, it’s just fine letterpress. Yes, the devil is in the details.
Now, if an unscrupulous salesperson slipped up at you at the local used car lot and laid them down nice and thick like this, wouldn’t you reflexively raise an eyebrow at their patter? You might be wondering, and rightly so, if the salesperson is trying to offload inferior merchandise for personal gain at a great cost to you. No matter how bright and charismatic a narcissist may seem, at first glance, under the hood, they are all lemons. And not ripe, plump, juicy lemons that you can make lemonade from. It is the hard type that only produces a few drops of juice even when using a commercial juicer.
It’s a painful thing to accept once the narcissist reveals who they really are. Seeing behind a mask can cause you to go into extreme denial. How else can you survive after that, right? If you don’t understand the dynamics in the game, it’s hard to understand how things degenerated from the initial intense love celebration you shared with a narcissist to vilification and tossed away in the scrap heap. It’s very easy to understand once you know how relationships with narcissists and borderlines begin, develop, and evolve. Abusive personalities repeat these patterns over and over with each new target and relationship.
Stages of a relationship with a narcissist
There are three predictable relationship stages with most narcissists, borders, dramatists, or sociopaths: idealization, devaluation, and disregard. Eleanor Payson describes this very well in The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists.
stage of realization
First, there is the stage of idealism that you can never go wrong with. You are not like any other man or woman they have ever known. You are better, kinder, smarter, more talented and more lovable. Only you can truly understand a narcissist’s pain and see his misunderstood little black heart. You are her hero or angel – not like all the former lovers who were so nasty and abusive to the perpetual victim, Mrs. or Mr. Narczilla.
The idealization stage with the narcissist is when the love bombardment occurs. Love bombing is a term borrowed from the recruitment techniques used by cults. Love bombing usually only works on individuals who are susceptible to it. Predators love soft targets. If you are not easily charmed or manipulated, most predators will leave you alone.
What makes someone an easy target?
- Parent family issues that caused the development of codependent traits such as a strong desire for approval, acceptance, a sense of belonging, and a fear of loneliness. If you didn’t get the love and validation you needed as a child from your parents, you probably still crave it as an adult, but find it through intimate relationships. If you don’t learn to present these things to yourself, you are likely more vulnerable to the superficial charms of narcissists and other abusers.
Instead of thinking, “Whoa, that’s too early” when the love bombing starts, it’s like you’re basking in some sunshine after a long, cold winter. You want to believe you’ve finally met someone who sees you and everything you have to offer. The narcissist or borderline sees what you have to offer – a desired need and a high threshold for abuse – and then starts exploiting it and you.
- You’ve experienced a recent loss such as the death of a loved one, the termination of your job, or some other major life stressor. If you’re in the midst of grief or a sudden turn, it can cause you to ignore the red flags that you might otherwise register if you were in a stronger emotional state.
- You possess 3 N’s: Kind, Naive and Non-Confrontational. Individually, these traits increase your vulnerability to narcissistic abuse. Having all three doubles the risk and puts a bull’s-eye on your forehead. It’s good to be nice, but don’t confuse being nice with being a doormat. Some childlike innocence is a good quality, but not if it blinds you to the fact that there are bad people in the world who willfully and maliciously deceive and harm you.
Not everyone has a kind heart or a better nature deep within themselves. Some people are basically corrupt to the core. There are rattlesnakes walking around in human suits. Finally, prepare to be bullied if you’re a conflict avoidant. Peacekeeping and appeasement are not the same thing. Moreover, it is often healthy and correct not to maintain a weak “peace”. Especially if it means tolerating abuse and treachery.
At the height of your idealism stage, you’re enjoying your time in LA-LA-Land, except now and then, a dark cloud blocks out the sun’s rays. An inexplicable tantrum occurs out of nowhere. Even though it can’t be explained, the narcissist (or you) will explain it away – or just pretend it never happened.
Usually, you won’t be the target of the narcissist’s first outbursts of rage, rage, and pouting. He or she will tell you that he or she “triggered” something you said or did that reminded him or her of his or her ugly old ex. You should be more careful next time not to do or say anything to upset your fragile narcissist! tsk, tsk! Or, the episode will be blamed on a mean boss, a mean co-worker or the mean neighbor who is suing the narcissist for going on the neighbor’s property and cutting down trees without permission. Mean, mean old neighbor!
What is really going on with these rare initial occurrences?
The narcissist is testing your limits – in other words, how much shit are you willing to put up with? What are and where are your limits? Will you defend and enforce your limits? Or will you resign yourself to preserving the peace and narcissistic “love” no matter what the cost, including your own dignity? Eventually, the narcissist will stop blaming strangers for their bad behavior and start blaming you. Indicate the stage of devaluation.
What is elevated (you are raised above the narcissist’s pedestal) will eventually be demolished (by the narcissist, of course). why? Because you disappointed your narcissist, you silly one!
You have not given an endless amount of love, adoration and care. You didn’t make them successful overnight – you held them back all those years by providing them with a stable home life! I felt a bit of resentment at being angry at you and calling you names. You begin to see your narcissist more clearly and realistically. I wanted love and support to be two-way in the relationship.
Demanding or expecting reciprocity from the narcissist is the kiss of death. He or she will give occasionally, but only if it makes them feel or look good to do so, and it always comes with a price. Narcissists do not give without expecting to receive, and they expect to receive more than they give. It’s narcissistic mathematics.
The narcissist may also begin to devalue you simply because he is bored. Stability is boring. comfort? conviction? comfort? Boring, boring, boring. If the narcissist is not distracted by some drama, conflict, lawsuit, affair, self-aggrandizement, or fraud, he may actually have to look at himself and deal with it. Then they may realize that they alone are the architects of their misery and they can’t have that. Therefore, if they are bored or disappointed with life or themselves, someone has to be blamed.
Once the devaluation phase begins, neglect is inevitable. It may take a few months, years, or, in some cases, decades, but it will happen. There is no turning back to idealism once you see behind their masks and human feet of clay – no matter what empty promises and lies the narcissist tells you. You might get some pounding in the form of Hoover if he’s not quite ready to ignore you. This is usually because the narcissist’s next source of supply has not yet been secured.
The narcissist may promise that things will be better if you do more, sacrifice more, give more, or not hold them accountable or expect anything from them. If you’re hell-bent on making it work with a narcissist, despite all signs that it’s time to jump off the plane and pull on the fly rope, you have two options at your disposal to delay the inevitable.
First, you must accept the narcissist as someone who is severely emotionally impaired and integrity-challenging. He or she will not have an epiphany and suddenly become an insightful, empathetic, and respectful human being who possesses empathy and a conscience. They have spent their entire lives avoiding it. will not happen.
Secondly, you must also accept their mistreatment without hesitation. And never tell them their behavior is offensive. Doing so makes the narcissist feel bad about themselves or themselves. Remember what happens when a narcissist or borderline feels bad about themselves? They blame someone else (i.e. you). In addition, calling their behavior offensive means that you do not accept them for who they are. I got you?
You may not be immediately put down if you tolerate the abuse and look the other way when the narcissist is looking for a new resource elsewhere, but there is no equal, reciprocal, and healthy adult relationship with this person. If you accept these terms, please understand that your narcissist will not value you or think, “Wow, my husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend must really love me for giving me such free judgment and accepting me as I am.” Rather the opposite is true. The narcissist will have less respect for you because you put yourself down and humiliate yourself in order to maintain the relationship at any cost (eg, staying in the relationship when they are having affairs in public or becoming physically violent).
The narcissist will not see you as loving and committed to him or her. This is when the narcissist becomes more sadistic than you can imagine. why? Because you showed the narcissist there is no limit he or she can violate that would cause you to withdraw your love. Please do not do this yourself. Take any shred of self-confidence you have and walk away. If you don’t have children or joint assets, go ghosting. Complete radio silence.
Don’t take the bait and respond to angry messages or feigned remorse. Narcissists and borderlines have no true remorse. They feel sorry for themselves once they finally reap the consequences of their bad behavior, but this does not mean feeling remorse for hurting others. As Rhett Butler said to Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, “You’re like a thief who’s not in the least sorry he stole, but he’s very sorry he’s going to jail.”
But, but does your narcissist sound really sincere when they say how much they miss you? Well, there might be a grain of truth to that. However, it would be more accurate to say that your narcissist misses the ease you brought to his life and the supplies you provided. This is not love and you deserve better. Continuing to engage with the former narcissist in any way allows him or her to continue feeding on you. It’s time to take your power and resources back for yourself. Let the narcissist pull the resources elsewhere, or, God forbid, finally do it to themselves.
Ultimately, once you secure a new source of supply (eg, ass kissing, financial support, innovative sex, someone who believes the narcissist’s false self is the real self), you will be left out. The new offering is tastier, juicier, and more powerful than the depleted old supply seen behind the narcissist’s mask. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably never been so upset about your relationship. Narcissists and the borderline triangular. This is important to understand because the narcissist will not usually shrug until he or she has a new source of supply, a third party to replace the old supply. As the devaluation stage progresses, the narcissist seeks and cares for new supplies. Once they find their new champion angel, that’s it.
Given that narcissists are insatiable, sucking vortexes of neediness, there is never enough attention, love, comfort, emotional breast milk, or whatever resource one desires. Like an alcoholic who hides bottles of vodka all over the house, narcissists need emotional back-up.
In Karpman’s drama triangle there are three roles: victim, persecutor and rescuer. There are two versions of the triangle; The narcissistic version and the objective reality version. The narcissist sees himself or the victim as his abuser and exploiter (the old view) as his persecutor and his new source (eg, the lady/mistress) as the savior. In effect, the narcissist is the persecutor, the new source is his/her helper/partner (unwittingly or intentionally) and the old source is the victim.
At the beginning of your relationship with the narcissist, when you were the new provider/rescuer, you may have aided and abetted the narcissist in harming your predecessor. You were once the hero or the angel, and now you’re the big old person who doesn’t appreciate your narcissism anymore. The new show is just as much the answer to narcissists’ problems as you once were. Rinse, wash, repeat.
You might be cast again in the role of the savior if you are foolish and self-destructive enough to hang around and wait until the narcissist becomes disappointed or bored with the current new offering. But remember, even if this happens, the narcissist will again become disappointed or bored with you and those around you. Just get out of it
What about the new show/savior? He or she is likely to be an unlucky codependent who sees his or her narcissist as a poor, downtrodden, and disrespected victim. Do not begrudge the new offer. The narcissist will do to them what the narcissist did to you. Alternately, the new showrunner/savior might also be another narcissist, borderline, dramatist, or sociopath who saw your narcissist coming from light years away and then began their mutual love bombing.
If the new show is a predator or another troubled accomplice, the two will eventually screw each other up, in which case they keep a safe distance and pop some popcorn. Or you can heal and move on with your life and never look back. Well, okay, enjoy some schadenfreude, and then move on and don’t look back.