….. have plenty of tricks, tools, and shenanigans up their sleeves to hook you, and then work hard to keep you hooked. Make NO MISTAKE, these strategies are done purposefully and with INTENT, are meant to confuse, upset balance, and create upheaval; you as the target, as the victim, is the only one who suffers. It is an unsettling reality to know the person with Narcissist Personality Disorder (NPD) does not CARE (and has NO ability TO care) about the chaos caused in another’s life. Let’s talk about a few of these manipulation strategies, break them down, and discuss what must be done to rid yourself of such toxic treatment. Most importantly, the ‘person’ we are presented with in the beginning of the relationship DOES NOT EXIST. The person ‘created’ and shown to us is the BIGGEST and most horrible manipulative trick a narc uses; the real person behind the ‘mask’ is a monster, in human form. We just don’t know it in the beginning.
“What an awful trick of evil manipulation to present to someone all they could ever hope for in a partner, then over time, take it all away.” L.A. Gilliam
Here’s the deal: An individual with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), or even a ‘garden variety narcissist’, or ANY narcissist (narc) is motivated in their behavior by a few major drives. Up front and center is the need for power, control, constant admiration and attention, and truly believing they are ‘special’ and different from others and as such, deserve ALL the best, while giving NONE back (or next to ‘none’). Due to a variety of complex factors ranging from dysfunctional early childhood development, faulty parental attachment, heredity, genetics, and even brain function and structure abnormalities, the individual who is afflicted with NPD is NOT normal, does not perceive the world in the same ways emotionally and mentally healthy people do, and lives in a totally different reality than others. It must be accepted and acknowledged that people with NPD are different. And dangerous. No matter which underlying factors are present, which factors are absent, there are very real ‘hallmarks’ of narc behavior the victim will be exposed to, AFTER THE INITIAL MIRRORING PHASE of the relationship.
You see, in the beginning, the narc will MIRROR back to us our very selves; they take keen note and COPY our body posture, tone of voice, facial expressions, topics discussed and opinions and give those things right back to us, as a chameleon of sorts. This serves a deep and meaningful purpose for the narc; what better way to ensnare someone than to ‘pretend’ (and it is ALL pretend) to be everything that person is themselves? This ‘mirroring’ for the victim creates a feeling of being comfortable, and often we may think to ourselves, “How in the world did I get so lucky to meet someone who is so similar to me?” But man oh man, this is where the MANIPULATION all starts.
This mirroring will last as long as is necessary, along with ‘love-bombing’ (overly attentive, giving effusive positive attention, possibly coupled with gifts, compliments, and gestures of affection – ALL FAKE). This manipulation ensures the victim BECOMES HOOKED – after all, who doesn’t want to be treated in such special ways? Who doesn’t want to be flattered, feel valued, and special? However, this is the VERY stage where WE need to be very careful. Often, the victims are so ready and willing to view these demonstrations as ‘real love’, it doesn’t occur to us we are being manipulated, and manipulated for the narc’s gain. It just doesn’t occur to us that a person would create a ‘false persona’, present this persona to us as genuine, and then NOT be THAT person! WHO DOES THESE THINGS? A narc does, and a narc can do IT WELL. This manipulation for the narc’s gain is EXACTLY what is happening; we are manipulated to the ends of the very Earth, all in an effort of TRAPPING us, and trapped we become.
At some point, and this will be different for all of us, the ‘person’ we were presented with in the beginning fades away. Typically, it is a subtle comment here and there that rubs us the wrong way, perhaps a slight difference of opinion that leaves us feeling unsettled. Our opinions were always so aligned before, right? So, why now is there a difference between you and this person that seems to come out of nowhere? The ‘switch in persona’ may come with one sentence. It may come with one broken promise. However, when the ‘switch’ occurs, it is ALL downhill from there. The REAL person behind the chameleon facade, the mask as it were, is now making an appearance, and will become MORE prominent from here on. The ‘false persona‘ will no longer be present, unless the narc needs to bring it back to the forefront of the relationship to again snare the victim, who has caught on to the manipulation and abuse. This cycle repeats over and over and over. Over time, we ‘see’ the fake person less and less, and experience the abuser more and more. This is not a fluke; this is the REAL person finally making their true character known. LET PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR GUIDE YOUR ANALYSIS HERE, not what the relationship looked like, or felt like, in the beginning.
After the real person makes their appearance, victims MUST ACT. We must NOT deny what we are experiencing, and we must not put our faith in ‘what was’ in the beginning of the relationship. If you are with a narc, what WAS in the beginning of the relationship WAS FALSE, fake, and MANIPULATION to ensnare you! We must now adjust our very perception of reality, we must question and analyze what is truly happening. This change in behavior CANNOT, and should not be attributed to the person (narc) just having a bad day, or a stressful event, or health concerns. No. No. Just NO. All too often and to their own detriment, the victim will explain away, or rationalize this change in behavior, thereby awarding the narc even MORE power, and the ‘green light’ to continue their abusive behavior. Acting to protect ourselves in this stage of the relationship – the ‘awakening’ to the REAL person behind the mask – IS CRITICAL. If we do not act by removing ourselves, by setting STRONG AND FIRM boundaries (if the narc is a family member or colleague, etc.), the narc will continue their abuse. We, the victims, become less and less, falter more and more, and continue to lose solid footing and strength. We MUST ACT at this stage, for to not do so, is to allow the eroding of our very selves, and the healing process to follow is a tough one, once we finally GET OUT.
So, there we have it – the very initial manipulations of a narcissist, and the likely first signs of the real person behind the mask. Please, whenever you meet someone and sense ‘this is too good to be true’, allow time (do not rush into ANY relationship – narcs love to rush!!) and repeated patterns of behavior SHOW YOU the true character of said person. Do NOT believe words. Do NOT fall for love-bombing (see above). Distance yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically while you assess the TRUE character of this person. Again, the person ‘created’ and shown to us is the just THE most horrible manipulative trick of a narc; the real person behind the ‘mask’ is a monster, in human form. We just don’t know it in the beginning. Protect yourselves. Best, L.A. Gilliam
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