In pop culture, the expression “narcissistic” is tossed about freely; for the most part alluding to vanity and self-retention. This lessens narcissism to a typical quality that everybody has and makes light of the indications shown by individuals with genuine issues. While narcissism exists on a range, narcissism is a certain identity issue that is very extraordinary.
It’s vital in any sort of relationship that we figure out how to distinguish the warning signs while communicating with individuals who show harmful narcissism traits, so we can shield ourselves from manipulation and abuse, set limits, and make the right choices about who we keep in our lives. Understanding the idea of narcissistic abuse and how it influences us enormously affects our capacity to take part in self-care and own our power.
Watch out for the following covert manipulation tactics when you’re dating someone or in a relationship.
1. The idealization-devaluation-discard phase
Narcissists and those with antisocial traits tend to subject romantic partners through three phases within a relationship.
The Idealization stage (which regularly happens mostly at the beginning of dating or a relationship) comprises of putting you on a platform/pedestal, making you the focal point of his/her reality, being in constant contact with you, and giving you praise and compliments. You are persuaded that the narcissist can’t survive without you and that you’ve met your perfect partner. Be careful about consistent messaging, shallow adulation, and needing to be near you all the time. This is a procedure known as “love-bombing,” It is the way most victims get sucked in. They are burnt out on the “games” people play with one another and are charmed and flattered by the steady flow they get from the narcissist. You might be tricked into suspecting that this implies a narcissist is really keen on you, but actually he or she is keen on making you subject to their steady acclaim, and you become reliant on their continuous praise and attention.
The devaluation stage comes after the idealization stage. This is the point at which you’re left asking why you were so suddenly pushed off the pedestal. The narcissist will all of a sudden begin to blow hot and chilly, reprimanding you, criticizing, and clearly putting you down. They start comparing you with others, pulling back emotionally towards you, and giving you the quiet treatment when you’ve neglected to meet their “standards.” Since the “hot” part of this stage depends on sporadic support in which the narcissist gives you conflicting bouts of the idealization stage you wind up convincing yourself that maybe you are to blame and you can “control” the narcissist’s hot and cold responses towards you.
Even though the narcissist can be very possessive and controlling over you since he or she sees you as an object and a spring for their narcissistic supply, the narcissist is inclined to project their behavior onto you. The narcissist tries to make you appear as though you are the clingy one because you respond to his or her withdrawal and withholding techniques, despite the fact that the desires for constant contact were set up right off the bat in the relationship by the narcissist himself.
You are misdirected into believing that if you simply learn not to be so “clingy,” “needy,” or “jealous”, the narcissist will compensate you with the loving behavior like they had shown you at the start of the relationship. The narcissist may utilize these and other comparative words to gaslight their victim when they respond to being incited by their abuser. It’s an approach to keep control over your authentic confused responses to their stonewalling, withdrawal, and irregularity.
Most relationships that are abusive contain a certain amount of gaslighting, a procedure narcissists use to persuade you that your view of the maltreatment is incorrect. Amid the devaluation and discard phases, the narcissist will regularly comment on how emotionally unstable you can be. Everything is your “issues,” and lays the blame for the abuse at your feet. They will constantly use phrases, for example, “You incited me,” “You’re overly sensitive,” “I never said that” or “You’re too serious, it was just a joke” after the narcissists’ damaging upheavals. Put-downs are a regular thing and are used to gaslight you into feeling that the abuse is your fault, or that it never even happened, or that you have your wires crossed and misread the situation.
Narcissists are experts in making you question yourself and the maltreatment. This self-doubt enables you to stay within abusive relationships, even when it’s clear that the relationship is a toxic one because you’re led to mistrust your instincts and interpretations of events.
3. Smear campaigns
Narcissists keep harems since they want to have their egos stroked and they require consistent approval from the outside world to feed their requirement for admiration and to affirm their pompous feelings of self-importance. They are sharp chameleons who are likewise accommodating people, transforming into whatever identity suits them in the circumstances with various kinds of individuals. It is nothing unexpected, at that point, that the narcissist starts a smear campaign against you not very long after the discard phase. This is done to paint you as the unstable one. This is typically fruitful, with the narcissist’s supportive group of people which usually comprises of other narcissists, accommodating people, empaths, and also individuals who are easily swayed.
This smear campaign accomplishes three things:
1) It depicts you as the abuser or unstable person and deflects your accusations of abuse.
2) It provokes you, thus proving your instability to others when trying to argue his or her depiction of you.
3) Serves as a hovering technique in which the narcissist seeks to pull you back into the trauma of the relationship as you struggle to reconcile the rumors about you by speaking out against the accusations. The only way to not get pulled into this tactic is by going full ‘No Contact’ with both the narcissist and their harem.
All healthy relationships thrive on security; unhealthy ones are loaded up with provocation, insecurity, and betrayal. Narcissists get a kick out of produced love triangles and bring in others to agree with their perspective. They do this to an excessive degree to play puppeteer to your feelings. In the book Psychopath Free by Peace, the strategy for triangulation is examined as a common way the narcissist keeps up authority over your emotions. Triangulation comprises of bringing the presence of someone else into the dynamic of the relationship, regardless of whether it be an ex-sweetheart, a present fling on the side, a relative, or a total outsider.
Contrary to solid relationships where any feelings of jealousy or insecurities are talked about and managed constructively, this is not so in a relationship with a narcissist. The narcissist will put down your feelings and continue inappropriate flirtations and affairs without a second thought or even batting an eye. Triangulation is how the narcissist keeps up control and holds you under tight restraints. You’re so caught up competing for his/her attention that you’re less inclined to concentrate on the warnings or red flags in the relationship or search for ways to escape the relationship.
5. The false self and the true self
The narcissist takes cover behind the protective layer of a “false self,” a build-up of characteristics and qualities that he or she shows to the outside world. Because of this ‘armor,’ you are probably not going to appreciate the full degree of a narcissist’s savagery and absence of empathy until you reach the point of the discarded stage. This can make it hard to pinpoint who the narcissistic abuser really is – the sweet, beguiling, and apparently remorseful individual that shows up soon after the abuse, or the abusive partner who ridicules, refutes, and belittles you consistently? You endure a lot of intellectual disharmonies attempting to figure out the narcissist you were initially introduced to with the tormenting practices he or she subjects you to. To adapt to this subjective cacophony, you may point the finger of blame on yourself for your abusers’ damaging and abusive behavior. You will probably attempt to “better” yourself when you have done nothing wrong, to begin with, to maintain your faith in the narcissist’s false self amid the devaluation stage.
During the discard phase, the narcissist uncovers the true self – the really harsh and the genuinely abusive identity underneath the shallow facade raises its ugly head, and you get a look at the remorselessness that was lurking inside from the beginning. You witness his or her cold-hearted, callous, and complete detachment as you are discarded. You may think this is just a passing lapse into heartlessness, but, it is as close you will ever get to seeing the narcissist’s true self.
The manipulative, scheming charisma that existed to start with is no more – rather, it is supplanted by the genuine contempt and hatred that the narcissist felt for you all along. The thing is, narcissists don’t genuinely feel compassion, empathy, or love for other people – so amid the discard stage, they think nothing literally for you aside from the energy of having depleted another wellspring of supply. You were merely one more wellspring of supply, so don’t trick yourself into imagining that the magical connection that existed before was in any way genuine. It was an illusion, much like the identity of the narcissist was an illusion.