So, you met someone great, right? They almost seem too good to be true, like they could be your soulmate if you even believe in that sort of thing. You guys have everything in common and they worship you based off of nothing more than a first impression and maybe a couple of dates. Something feels a little off, but you ignore it. You figure that it’s just your fear of having something real when you’ve met so many people that were afraid to admit how into you they really were.
No one wants to hear that their Prince Charming (or Cinderella) is actually the villain, but if something feels off, it probably is. Narcissists are extremely gifted at making their partners feel like the crazy ones and are so attractive and charming that no one would believe you if you claimed otherwise. They use a special set of skills that they’ve been forced to develop from years of insecurity and neglect, made to keep you as their source of supply until you become so depleted that you feel like you are the one who depends on them.
1. Love Bombing
This is the phase when you will have the most fun you will ever have with a narcissist. Unfortunately, it’s all an illusion and it comes with an expiration date. They will give you their seemingly undivided attention while they attempt to hook you with things that “only the two of you” have in common. They will tell you how different and special you are, how they have no idea how they could have lived this long without you, how different you are from their crazy/stupid/trashy exes. They will take you on nice dates, mirror your sense of humor and interests, and even divulge into intimate parts of their past in the hopes that you will confide in them as well. The hardest part of recovering from narcissistic abuse stems from convincing yourself that the person you knew in the love-bombing phase was carefully crafted, manipulative, and designed to fool you. Also, past this phase, you will have no chance of convincing mutual friends that this person is actually unapologetically apathetic.
You are not the only person they have love-bombed, are love-bombing, or will love-bomb in the near future. They have a ton of other people they are using these exact “one and only” phrases with. It won’t be long until they start giving you subtle jabs about other women and how they are just a little bit better than you. It’ll be so passive aggressive that if you call them out on it, you will be “overreacting” and “dramatic”. They will blur the lines between those who are “just friends”, convincing you that you have nothing to worry about, when in reality, they don’t have any friends. They have those who provide them with narcissistic supply, and those who get discarded.
It can be hard when you see them with their new supply not to get jealous. Or, you may even feel sorry for the new victim as they embark on a downward spiral of what’s been coined as death by a thousand paper cuts. Resist the urge to warn them. They won’t listen, it makes you seem like the crazy one, and in all honesty, you probably wouldn’t have heeded that warning in the love-bombing stage yourself.
3. Maintaining a charming public persona
You will never convince shared friends that this person is what they are. Accept that as soon as you can. People will try to convince you that you were the crazy one, you got too attached, this person didn’t mean to hurt you but gosh you’re just too sensitive. Don’t buy any of it. You know firsthand how charming the narc can be, how wonderful they are with their wordplay, how gifted they can be at making their audience feel special. You know who they are and what they are. It doesn’t seem fair, but don’t try to shatter their image. You will not succeed. Only they can successfully shatter their image, which will happen if anyone else gets close enough.
4. Gaslighting/ Word Salad/ Blanket Statements
The narc will do a wonderful job at convincing you that you are overreacting or that they didn’t do/say what you are accusing them of. You can try to confront them, but they will gloss over any wrongdoing on their part and either charm you or intimidate you into retracting your statement. They do this so skillfully that you will be the one to apologize for whatever they did to wrong you.
These digs to your personality/looks/intelligence will come off as jokes. If you try to tell the narc that you don’t find these funny, you will be accused of being too sensitive. This could come in the form of them grabbing you inappropriately in public and excusing it as being playful. This could be them commenting on how attractive your friend is, but claiming to mean it as a compliment, not a slight to you. This could come in the form of them keeping you in the dark on something that you need to know in the name of protecting you from the harsh truth. This is the most painful of all stages with the narcissist, aside from the early stages of No Contact. Much like love-bombing, no one is exempt from the narcissist’s skillful and subtle emotional abuse. That’s exactly what it is too – it’s not “being mean” or “miscommunication” – it’s abuse.
Similar to trying to shatter their public persona, no one will believe the terrible things the narcissist had to say about your mutual friends. They will put down anyone that you consider a friend, to the point where you question yourself why you hang out with this person. Then once you decide to distance yourself from everyone, you will see the narc spending more and more time with these people. It will reach a point where you feel that this person is all you have because they are the only one who understands you, and you are the only one who can “save” them from this crappy world they live in.
If you do ever decide to cut the narc out, and you deserve applause if you do, they will undoubtedly come back. It could take any amount of time, but their return is inevitable. Do not feel flattered by this, as they do this with everyone that once formed as a source of supply. It’s not out of affection, it’s out of starvation for attention. They will claim to own up to everything that they did wrong, tell you how wrong they were to treat you so poorly, tell you they had an epiphany and really you two were meant to be all along. They don’t mean a word of it, which you will soon find out if you decide to forgive them. Again, it is difficult to recognize a genuine apology from the one of a narcissist. Block out any other opinions and go with your gut on this one. The only way to beat a narcissist is to go No Contact.