It’s a painful thing to accept once your narcissist reveals who they truly are. Seeing behind the mask may cause you to go into extreme denial. How else could you stay after that, right? If you don’t understand the dynamics at play, it’s difficult to comprehend how things deteriorated from the initial intense love fest you shared with your narcissist to being vilified and tossed away onto the scrap heap. It’s actually pretty easy to grasp once you know how relationships with narcissists and borderlines begin, develop and devolve. Abusive personalities repeat these patterns over and over again with each new target and relationship.
The Stages Of A Relationship With A Narcissist
There are three predictable relationship stages with most narcissists, borderlines, histrionics or sociopaths: Idealize, Devalue and Discard. Eleanor Payson describes this extremely well in The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists. First, there is the idealization stage in which you can do no wrong. You’re unlike any other man or woman they’ve ever known. You’re better, kinder, smarter, more talented and more loving. Only you can truly understand the narcissist’s pain and see into their misunderstood
little black heart. You’re her hero or his angel — not like all those past lovers who were so nasty and abusive to the perennial victim, Ms. or Mr. Narczilla.
The idealization stage is when the love bombing occurs. Love bombing is a term borrowed from recruiting techniques used by cults. Love bombing typically only works on individuals who are vulnerable to it. Predators like easy targets. If you’re not easily charmed or manipulated, most predators will leave you alone. What makes someone an easy target?
- Family Of Origin Issues That Caused You To Develop Codependent Traits such as an intense desire for approval, acceptance, a sense of belonging and a fear of being alone. 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 seek it through intimate relationships. If you don’t learn how to provide these things for yourself, you’re more likely susceptible to the superficial charm of narcissists and other abusers. Instead of thinking, “Whoa, this is too much too soon” when the love bombing begins, it feels like basking in the sunshine after a long cold winter. You want to believe you’ve finally met someone who sees you and all that you have to offer. The narcissist or borderline does see what you have to offer — a need to be needed and a high threshold for abuse — and then sets about exploiting it and you.
- You Experienced A Recent Loss such as the death of a loved one, job termination or some other significant life stressor. If you’re in the throes of grief or a sudden transition, it may cause you to ignore red flags that otherwise might have registered if you were in a stronger emotional state.
- You Possess The 3 N’s: Nice, Naive and Non-Confrontational. Individually, these qualities increase your vulnerability to narcissistic abuse. Having all three multiplies the degree of risk and puts a bulls eye on your forehead. It’s nice to be nice, but don’t confuse being nice with being a doormat. A certain childlike innocence is a good quality, but not if it blinds you to the fact that there are bad people in the world who will purposefully and maliciously deceive and hurt you. Not everyone has a good heart or a better nature deep down inside. Some people are fundamentally rotten to the core. There are rattlesnakes walking around in human suits. Finally, prepare to be bulldozed if you’re conflict avoidant. Peacekeeping and appeasing aren’t the same thing. Furthermore, it’s often healthy and right that a tenuous “peace” not be maintained. Especially if it means tolerating abuse and treachery.
At the zenith of the idealization stage, you enjoy your time in LA-LA-Land, except every now and again, a dark cloud blocks the sunshine. An inexplicable rage episode occurs out of nowhere. Inexplicable as it may be, the narcissist (or you) will explain it away — or just pretend like it never happened. Typically you won’t be the target of blame for your narcissist’s first tantrums, rage outs and pout outs. She or he will tell you they were “triggered” by something you said or did that reminded them of their horrid, old ex. You really must be more careful next time not to do or say anything to upset your fragile, delicate narcissist! Tsk, tsk! Or, the episode will be blamed on a mean boss, a mean co-worker or the mean next door neighbor who is suing your narcissist because he went onto the neighbor’s property and cut down trees without permission. Mean, mean old neighbor!