Narcissistic Abuse: A Common Misconception

General Warning: It is important to note that I am not a counselor nor a therapist with an education in Narcissistic Abuse. What I share with you here is based off of my own 1st hand experience as well as what I have learned while working through those experiences in counseling and through my own personal research. What I share, I share in hopes of helping others get out of similar situations, help avoid them entirely and to share with others who have been through it. 

Fortunately and unfortunately (since I wouldn’t wish this experience on my worst enemy), we are not alone. 

“You Shouldn’t Get into A Relationship to Try Change Someone…”

One of the most common misconceptions I have faced when sharing my experience with Narcissistic Abuse is people responding with, “You shouldn’t get into a relationship to change someone.” 

And, I whole heartedly agree – you shouldn’t. 

In this type of relationship – you are not at all trying to change the person you met on Day 1. The problem is, the person they sold you on Day 1 and got you to fall for over the following days, weeks, months and years –never existed

Instead, that person hid behind a perfectly crafted façade or “mask” to draw you in.  

It ends up being one of the hardest things to wrap your head and heart around in the end. And, the inability to understand that there are people who operate at this level, can keep you in the relationship for much longer than you should be.

Narcissists (from my experience) are very good at reading a room and sizing people up. If you get their attention because you have something they want or admire, you fall into their crosshairs. 

From there – if you have no idea what you are up against – they will watch and mimic your behavior. They will be overly attentive as they listen to your dreams and fears. They will be quick to share “me too” moments to create a stronger bond with you. They will drop gifts, make promises, talk of the future (moving in together, marriage and children), they will be quick moving (at the start) to “lock down” the relationship and give you their undivided attention and affection – until something happens within the relationship that changes the dynamic in the narcissists favor. 

Until that point – you will be wholeheartedly fooled into believing you have finally met “the one”. 

When the dynamic changes and the narcissist senses you are “hooked”, the entire relationship will slowly begin to unravel until it is completely flipped on its head.

What Might you Experience in a Romantic Relationship with a Narcissist?

  • The narcissist (he or she) will begin testing and pushing your boundaries to see how much you will bend.
  • They are usually drawn to people who will make them look good – someone who will help boost their ego and/or appearance. That said, God forbid you out shine them in any way because if you do, they will begin an emotional and mental assault to knock you down a few pegs. Then, they will punish you for “changing” in result to their attack. 
  • You will get an endless number of promises they never intend to fulfill. And, if they do follow through, it’s usually just a way to lure you back into the relationship when you want to leave. 
  • Displays of love in the early days will be replaced with resentment, judgement, contempt and belittlement. You will find yourself walking on eggshells daily and your body functioning in a constant state of “high alert”.
  • Over-the-top gifts will be used to draw you back in when you show signs of seriously wanting to leave. If you try to refuse the gifts, you will be guilted into feeling unappreciative. 
  • They will set relationship goal posts (with or without you agreeing) and anytime you get close to the “finish line” they will move the post. They may even cause a fight with the sole intention of getting out of following though. EX: You may both agree to move in together after a year of dating due to leases, etc. BUT as that day nears, they intentionally start a fight that feels completely out of place and may follow it up with saying, “Clearly we can’t live together – you don’t understand me at all!” 
  • You may find all the fears you shared with this person and insecurities they saw in you along the way will be used against you
  • They may isolate you from family and friends
  • They will criticize how you look, how you dress, what you weigh, etc.
  • They will minimize your feelings and needs. Your problems aren’t as bad as theirs, your family isn’t as important as theirs, their career will come before yours, their needs are more important than yours, if you are hurt by something they have done they will write it off as you being too sensitive, etc.
  • They will make you question your sanity to the point you may find yourself in a mental “fog” – leading you to struggle with basic problem solving and affecting your memory. They will then belittle you for it. 
  • They are known to be serial cheaters while expecting complete and utter faithfulness from you. They may also even blame you for their infidelity or try to convince you that you should feel “lucky” they “picked” you over the person(s) they cheated on you with. 
  • In addition to cheating, they may regularly belittle or embarrass you in a sexual manner 
  • They may find ways to control the finances, knowing it is harder to leave if you do not have access to funds. They may leave you in complete darkness on the relationships financial standing. And, out of the “kindness” of their heart, they may even give you an “allowance” only to criticize how you choose to spend it. They may leave you feeling guilty when you need financial help (after they’ve taken steps to make you financially dependent on them) by going on about being broke… only to watch them then go out and drop money on a new motorcycle, boat, tools, clothing or other high-ticket items for themselves.   
  • They will (depending on how long you stay) break you down and completely hollow you out mentally and emotionally. They will leave you feeling like an empty shell while fooling you into believing that you’re unable to make it without them. This is why they are regularly referred to as “emotional vampires”.
  • They will use word games to confuse and distract you when you try to call them on their bad behavior. Many times, you will be left not knowing which end is up.
  • They master the art of lying and will not back down unless you have rock solid proof. If you do have proof, expect whatever they lied about to be your fault.  
  • They will show you a complete lack of empathy when you collapse under the weight of their abuse. In fact, they will most likely blame you for how they treat you the entire way. 
  • When others are around, you may be fooled into a sense of hope because the person you fell for will reappear for your guests. However, after a while, you may begin to notice that person will “leave” with your guests. 
  • They may seem to take joy in kicking you when you are already down
  • You may find, in times when empathy would be expected (by normal people), they come off as acting. They go through the physical motions of looking empathetic but you will see no actual feelings seem to be present. Their “empathy” will come off as very cold and disconnected.
  • They are never at fault. They will never accept accountability unless they can twist and use it to gain sympathy from others
  • Some may use therapy as a way to trick you into staying, “Look at me working on me and us – you should want to, too” even though they have done the damage and have no real intention of fixing themselves.
  • All of the above may lead to you losing all hope, all sense of self, all confidence, all motivation and… you may eventually find yourself wishing for death.

And what happens any time you try to leave?

That charming person you fell for at the start miraculously appears. And – for a short time – they are “back”. Giving you the false hope to hang on, that things will get better, etc. If you try to cut off all contact with them, they may reach out through mutual friends, family, etc. who are unaware of the abuse to force you into talking to them. These people, not knowing any better, may guilt you into giving this person another chance. Then, once the relationship falls back into a place where the narcissist feels they have you back under their spell they revert back into the monster they have been all along.

It is a never-ending, hellish rollercoaster of highs and lows that is surprisingly hard to get off of, especially if you do not understand what the hell you are dealing with. 

For those of you thinking, “I’d never fall for that shit…” – I never thought I would either. 

The problem is, none of the above happens overnight. And, if you don’t know what to look for – you or a loved one could be next.

Narcissists are the ultimate Jackal & Hyde. 

What Makes It Worse…

Many times, these types thrive at work. They will have friends, family and co-workers that sing their praises, they appear to be the good neighbor, the good friend, the perfect son, daughter and parent to outsiders. 

From the outside, they appear to have their act together. 

The fact that so many could look at this person so highly makes you question your own sanity. 

However, when you look a bit deeper at the relationships the narcissist has with these people – they don’t run very deep. The narcissist only lets them see the same perfectly crafted façade you fell for. And you will find they spend limited time with these people because – let’s be honest – one can only pretend to be something they are not for so long.   

This allows the narcissist to play both the abuser and victim. 

And, what happens to a friend, family member or co-worker who manages to see through their act?

God help them.

The narcissist will be quick to discard and discredit them because they no longer see the narcissist how they wish to be perceived and no longer serve a purpose to the narcissist… which is usually to boost their ego. 

If you have never experienced the above – I am so grateful. I hope you take something from this and never do experience it first-hand. If you are someone who is currently stuck in something that sounds like the above – you can get out. It may not be the easiest thing to do but I promise you – life will be so much better for it. And for those who have also lived it – if willing – please share your story below. 

The more narcissistic abuse is talked about and put out in the open – others will have a better chance at spotting the signs and protecting themselves from it.    

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