But, then Bob starting asking Tina some questions that she found too intrusive for a first date: “Why had her last relationship broken up? How many previous sexual partners did she have?”
Tina tried to change the topic, but Bob kept going back to ask her even more intrusive things. What he found amusing and interesting topics of conversation, Tina found painful and embarrassing. Bob was tone-deaf to Tina’s hints, so she decided to be more direct: “Your questions are making me uncomfortable. They feel too personal for our level of relationship. Let’s just enjoy our date together and talk about something else.”
Instead of just changing the topic or apologizing, Bob got defensive and attacked Tina: “I was just trying to get to know you better. Why are you so sensitive?”
Tina took this as a warning sign that she and Bob would not be a happy couple. She wanted someone who cared about what she felt, and it was obvious to her that Bob was too wrapped up in his own agenda to suit her needs. She ended the date early. Later, when he contacted her again, she thanked him but said that she did not think that they were well-suited and refused to see him.
Tina’s refusal seemed to heighten Bob’s interest. She received a flurry of flattering text messages over the next week asking her to give him another chance.
Giving Chase as a Narcissistic Response to Rejection
This is one of the typical narcissistic responses to rejection. The more Tina pulled away, the more Bob pursued her. For Bob, the ground had shifted. It was not that he liked Tina more than before, but he felt the need to convince her to see him again. He hated that Tina had made the decision to dump him before he had decided to dump her. It became a matter of pride for Bob to get Tina back.
Many people get seduced back into relationships with narcissistic people because the person pursues them in what feels like such a flattering way. They mistake the narcissist’s desire to win, for love of them as an individual. This is a basic misunderstanding of what is going on. This pursuit has nothing to do with your good qualities or their positive feelings about you. It is all about the narcissistic individual’s self-esteem. At this point, they could care less about you and your good qualities. All they care about is winning.
“Withhold admiration from a narcissist and be disliked. Give it and be treated with indifference.” — Mason Cooley
Let me share with you a few basic rules that we can extract from the example of Tina and Bob that may help you avoid ongoing unpleasant relationships with people who have narcissistic disorders:
Rule 1: If you have already rejected them for bad behavior, do not take them back. It is highly unlikely that they will behave any differently in the future.
Rule 2: If they did not respect your boundaries at the beginning of the relationship, they will not respect your boundaries later.
Another Example: Tara and Sam and the jewelry store
Tara is a very beautiful, very acquisitive, and very narcissistic woman. She and Sam had been dating for a few weeks. One day they were out together for a romantic evening and they happened to pass a jewelry store. Tara stopped and started telling Sam how beautiful everything in the window was. The store was open and Tara suggested that they go in just to look. Sam felt uncomfortable but wanted to please Tara so he agreed.
Tara stopped in front of the showcase filled with bracelets. “Oh Sam,” she said, “I hope you don’t mind if I try on a couple. They are so beautiful!” Sam did not know how to gracefully say “no,” so he instead said, “Of course. Whatever you want.” Tara tried on quite a few, then narrowed it down to her two favorite ones. She put one of them on each wrist, and asked Sam in front of the salesperson, “Which do you like best?” Sam felt trapped. He had not intended to buy Tara an expensive present, but once he said that he liked one better than the other, he somehow felt obligated to offer to buy it for Tara. Tara walked out pleased with herself and her new bracelet and Sam felt angry and miserable.