This is when you start believing the relationship didn’t work out because of you and things you’ve done (or didn’t do). In truth, the narcissist fabricated every single emotion and event that has resulted in this outcome. It was their intention from the very start.
Sometimes though, the narcissist has a new person in their lives, but they strive to keep it under wraps. It depends on their social status among their inner circle, their business colleagues, and personal friends. They have an image to maintain, after all.
In this scenario, the narcissist breaks up with you several times and disappears during weekends or for whole weeks at the time, claiming that they need time to breathe and reflect so they can get a clear picture of their feelings for you and the relationship. What’s really happening is they have another person lined up – and they are love bombing that person with such intensity, they can’t be bothered with damage control when it comes to the relationship they have with you. Therefore, they make it appear as if they need “alone time”, “time to breathe”, and/or “time to ponder things through”.
Regardless of which scenario they execute, each has the same goal – to reawaken your primitive fears of abandonment and bring them to the fore. The narcissist “discards” you – often repeatedly – during important times in your life for a specific purpose, and it boils down to the basics of trauma bonding.
2 – Trauma Bonding
You know you’re trauma bonded when you comprehend on a logical level that you need to leave the narcissist, but can’t seem to go through with it.
Your friends and family don’t understand why you stay with someone who treats you so poorly.
What they can’t relate to is that your abandonment triggers have been reactivated over and over again, which happens when we experience a break in an important bond with someone we’re emotionally attached to. Each time the narcissist triangulates or abandons you for days or weeks, it unleashes a new round of intense insecurity. You want to be reassured and loved by the very person who keeps betraying and abandoning you.
Young children react this way to parents or caregivers who mistreat and abuse them. Even animals react this way to an indifferent or cold parent. According to Susan Anderson, author of The Journey from Abandonment to Healing:
A researcher who studied imprinting in ducks noticed that when he accidentally stepped on the feet of a duckling that was imprinted on him, the duckling followed him more closely than ever. Researchers investigated this phenomenon and it turns out that pain, whether emotional or physical, causes the body to release endogenous opiates that create a tenacious type of addiction to an object known as a traumatic bond.
Narcissists discard their primary supply sources during the worst possible times to triangulate and form trauma bonds with their victims, ensuring they never forget the narcissist or the relationship. All other narcissistic manipulations aside, these two devastating tactics alone are enough to instill PTSD and a myriad of other psychological injuries. Some victims are misdiagnosed as having Bipolar disorder when they are actually experiencing symptoms of repeated abandonment trauma.
What to do next
Though it feels like everything has been ripped away, what’s happening is that your primal and true self is crying out, much like an infant crying for its mother. Triangulation and repeated abandonment carried out by the narcissist strengthens insecure attachments, guaranteeing you will feel jealous, needy, and worried all the time, perpetually seeking reassurance and validation from the narcissist – the very person who will never give you either of those things.
It may feel as though you can’t survive this, but you can begin your recovery by planning out your No Contact strategy and exit plan. Stop trying to have a heart-to-heart with your abuser in order to get them to understand your point of view or discuss the ever-elusive resolutions to your relationship problems.