With all of the territory that being a therapist comes with, being both a blessing and a curse, at times I’ve never valued my education more than I do when it comes to dating. Having the ability to identify and diagnose mental illnesses, especially personality disorders, is a blessing to a single woman. Not everyone can spot the signs of being involved with someone with a true disorder, nevertheless most people aren’t even aware that they are suffering from one themselves. This is why I regard my knowledge as a secret weapon in the dating world. However, when it comes to specific masterminds such as the Narcissist, they conceal their true identities so well that at times, even my trained eyes are subjected to having the wool pulled over them.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder afflicts both men and women, however the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Fifth Edition, reports that of those diagnosed, approximately 75% are male. The disorder usually emerges in late adolescence or early adulthood. Typically, something happened to these individuals in the stages of their early development to cause them to feel inadequate and split themselves into two parts, a “real self” and a “false self”. The real self consists of their true identity that they do not like or want others to see. In order to keep the real self hidden, they create the false self consisting of everything they wish to be. They do this to gain the praise, attention and adoration that they need to exist.
Being egotistical, arrogant and self centered are just the surface traits of a Narcissist, (or N). What sets N’s aside from the rest of the population is that they are unable to feel certain emotions such as guilt, remorse, empathy and especially love. Instead they observe then copy strategically rehearsed responses learned from others who they interact with. Because they are incapable of genuine human emotion, or simply put, “dead inside”, they need to feed off of the emotion and attention of others to feel alive. In order to get this fuel or “Narcissistic Supply”, they construct a calculated plan and carry it out in 5 basic stages.
If you are experiencing any or all of the following situations and have struggled to make sense out of someone’s behavior, especially their disappearance after weeks of bliss with them, it’s likely that you are entangled with a Narcissist.
When a Narcissist has their eyes set on you, empty flattery is their first step in gaining access to you. During this intense pursuit of you, they will often bombard you with compliments, non-stop messages and followed through with plans to see you consistently. Their undying attention and affection towards you will make you feel like you have finally met your ideal partner. They may say things like they’ve never met anyone like you and that you could be the one. It’s very easy to get drawn into this not only because they use their limitless supply of charm, wit and sex appeal, but they also find ways, by careful observation and research, to connect to you on a deeper level so it actually looks and feels as if you have so much in common. This phase has been referred to as “love bombing”.
During love bombing, also referred to as the “golden period”, their fast tracked obsession with you often includes making future plans early on, aka future faking- “we will do this”, “when we do that” or “I can’t wait to…”. N’s will move at a fast pace only because it means easier access to your supply. They may want you to meet their friends or family soon into the relationship only to prove something admirable about themselves. This is why they will say things like, “I can’t wait to show you off to my friends”. Your perception may be that they like everything about you, but what they really like is how you make them appear to others.
What sets this sociopath apart from others just trying to get into someone’s pants by bombarding them with the things they want to hear is that the N blows hot and intense right out the gate for deeper reasons other than a sexual conquest. The N literally depends on sex, not just for physical enjoyment but for control and exertion of power.
When the Narcissist has been successful in their love bombing stage, they have a much easier time getting what they need in their “seduction phase”. This is because they have coerced you to do things their way and you are much more eager to oblige because you have been tricked into thinking the relationship is meaningful and that they have significant feelings for you. This is all a part of their master plan because sex is their biggest source of fuel.
Narcissists will rock your world in the bedroom, especially the Somatic Narcissist, the type of N that is driven by their looks and is usually physically fit and attractive. You will believe that they are so focused on pleasing you because there is a deep connection to you. However, because N’s study, copy and recreate what causes bliss in their partners sexually, they know what will give you the best sexual experience of your life, and they deliver. Lights on and mirrors facing of course, so they can see not just your responses but how good they look during their gifted performance. Sex with them will hook you deeper while you then begin confusing really good sex with love. Once they have you addicted to them, and their sex, they know they can feed as much fuel they need off of your supply.
Because they’re driven by their constant need for self serving admiration, Narcissists do not have the same connection and experience with sex as we do. To them, it’s more mechanical as if it’s really just masturbation with someone else’s body parts as they are using that body as a tool for the physical sensation only. Yes it may feel good for them, but the ultimate goal is to serve themselves in the praise that they are a god at pleasing you and are the best you have ever had. This is why they will often ask for repeated confirmation of how good it is or if you have told others about the amazing sex you have.
They exploit your passion for sex with them by pushing your boundaries to see how far you will go for them. The further you go, the more control they have, the bigger the fix they get. They may ask for sexual pictures and videos of you which they keep in an arsenal for additional fuel when they need it. Likewise, they will send you unsolicited pictures and videos of themselves with the intention of you keeping them for reminders when they are no longer around and you crave them. Thus, leaving an imprint and desire for them to return, which secures their access to you even after the relationship has ended.
Narcissists are jealous of anyone who has more resources than they do such as status, power, beauty, money or success because it endangers their existence. If there is someone out there better than them, it threatens access to their supply. Because excessive levels of jealousy and envy are characteristic traits of an N, they strive harder to prove their worth. They do this by boasting their appearance, physical strength, intelligence, accomplishments and lifestyle. Social media is a lifeline for the N because they can put themselves on display showing off not just how good they may look, but all the places they go and things they do.
When the Narcissist shows signs of jealousy in a relationship, it can be initially perceived as a flattering confirmation of their intense feelings for you and fear of losing you. N’s know that showing some level of jealousy is normal and even healthy in conventional relationships, so they stage it. Most of the actual jealousy that N’s experience is pathological, which is much different than typical jealousy. This form of jealousy indicates that the Narcissist believes they have exclusive ownership over their victims, despite their own outside romantic relations with others. Regardless of their lack of real connection to you, they need to know that you are a slave to them, sexually, emotionally and physically. And if anyone comes along that might threaten this, they will make their mistrust and disdain known, often utilizing their famous blame shifting technique.
Narcissists expect instant gratification to fulfill their needs. This may range from expecting you to answer their texts or calls immediately, to pressuring you to do things their way, socially, interpersonally, and/or sexually, so as soon as they encounter the slightest resistance in getting what they want from you, not only do they throw tantrums or lash out, but your supply then becomes tainted or old. They then begin to turn the tables on you while planning their escape. When the “devaluation phase” begins, they will typically stick around while they are lining up new supply.
Once the N is confident that they have secured your love, undying devotion and addiction to them, they become bored easily and the void in their head from lack of emotion begins to emerge again. The high they were feeding off of is waning and they begin to question your worthiness, that perhaps you weren’t so special after all. They will then begin to devalue you, withdrawal and eventually disappear with no regard or remorse for your feelings as they have already moved on to the next target and source of new and exciting supply. Their ability to hurt you by removing themselves as a form of punishment to you gives them more fuel. This is the purpose of the devaluation phase.
Because victims can’t wrap their heads around what went wrong and how someone who seemed to worship them could abruptly change their mind, they become more needy and clingy in search of answers as they try to fix things and get back the golden period when things were amazing with their N. This behavior towards them generates more supply for them. As victims start to compromise their integrity and degrade themselves in allowing the N to return sporadically, hoping things will go back to the way they were, N’s regard this as pathetic and desperate and validates their victim’s addiction to them.
The Narcissist isn’t one to throw away a potential piece of supply. They will keep up this “I want you, I don’t want you” mind game going for as long as it suits them or as long as you allow it. They will breeze in and out of your life as if nothing ever happened, completely oblivious and indifferent to your suffering. This phase is referred to as “hoovering”, as they suck you back in and push you back out.
During hoovering, they will randomly feed you crumbs of attention, just enough to keep you emotionally invested. Time is of no concept to the N, so they will make an attempt to pop back in whenever they feel like it, typically when they fear you have finally moved on or have figured out what they really are. No matter how much time has passed they will often reach out to you with something that is usually meaningless. They do this as a form of checking to see if your supply is still available to them. If you respond they get this confirmation, regardless of what you say, even if it’s negative. Any form of attention is still fuel to the N and generates a high. This is why the only way to rid yourself of a Narcissist forever is to go no contact.
The Narcissist has no real identity, only an illusion of themselves built on their ability to control other people. When they lose said control, this illusion is shattered. Ignoring the Narcissist makes them feel small, worthless, and powerless. When you go into No Contact mode, you are shifting the power to yourself, and they lose not just control but they’ve lost their God-like power over you and access to your supply.
Understanding the working mind of the Narcissist can prevent you from stepping into the trap. This is especially helpful when dating someone you meet online because you will often not know anyone in their circle or have access to people who can speak to their personality and genuineness. Unless you do, that person is a blank slate and can be anything they want and claim to be. This is why dating apps are a breeding ground for Narcissists. They can scoop up multiple women at a time in a matter of minutes with their sexy pictures and bold and witty messages. They crave this attention so they entertain it even when they have no desire or intention to ever meet up with someone.
If you missed the signs and have had to endure the wrath of the N you may ask yourself how you let this happen, why you didn’t see it and how they could do this to you? There is one simple answer to every question you have, they don’t care. So under no circumstances should you try to tell the N how you feel and/or what they are. Not only will you be breaking no contact but showing emotion, any type of emotion, is fuel to the N, so you are fighting a losing battle. They are aware of what they are. They also do not have empathy. Most of all, you cannot change a Narcissist. Even behavior modification therapy with individuals with NPD is very difficult. It’s a lifelong battle characterized by an ingrained dysfunction in the way that they think and how they view the world and themselves.
As an empath, and a non-dysfunctional human who is able to feel emotions, I find it sad that Narcissists have no real existence. I do not feel sorry for them, but I can’t help to think that if they were, in reality, all that they pretended to be, combined with their sex appeal, power and charm, they really would have so much to offer in a relationship. Unfortunately, good looks and great sex can only get you so far. So, the N will continue, as their lives go on, in a never ending pursuit of their perfect partner that doesn’t truly exist, to complete them. If that person isn’t you, consider yourself lucky.