If you haven’t had a toxic relationship, consider yourself lucky. But also consider that you are not immune to the allure of narcissists or sociopaths until you have experienced their traps and machiavellian tactics. Do not fret. Crazy relationships are like the chicken pox virus: it oftentimes happens once, and then it usually never happens again.
If you’re currently in a toxic relationship, you are probably wondering, How did this happen? I’m a smart, independent, feisty female. I should’ve known better. Oh honey, you were deceived. Although it may have started under the pretence of heaven, it led you into a deep, dark hell.
If your partner displays any of the following signs or does the following things: run far, far away. Pack your stuff and get out. Flee the scene. Disappear. Put your apartment on AirBnB and relocate to Costa Rica (or somewhere not listed on your public Pinterest board).
1. You’re perfect. And they’re perfect.
One of the biggest red flags in dating is that of idealization. It’s not that they’re lying: they truly believe you are perfect. They see no flaws in your physical appearance, your character, your dreams or aspirations. You are everything they hoped their significant other would be and more. You are a divine, special unicorn of a person (impossibly cringeworthy, but “unicorn” best encapsulates the animating spirit behind it).They do not perceive you as a human being—you are some goddess, angel, sweet, never-killed-a-spider Victoria Secret model.
That is, until you’re not anymore. Over time, their rose-colored vision will fade, and they will start to be disillusioned with your humanness. They will begin to criticize everything. Nothing will be enough for them.
2. Woe is me.
Narcissists and sociopaths often prey on empaths. And what quality distinguishes an empath from the crowd? A bottomless well of empathy for others. If this person is bad news, they will likely reveal a complex, traumatic past that they have heroically overcome—all within the initial stages of dating. By gaining your sympathy and amazement, they gauge how naive and innocent you are.
3. “They were crazy.”
Nothing is quite as disturbing as a person who purports that all their exes were crazy. No ripple in the relationship was due to a stone they’d thrown; it was always due to some emotional upheaval in their unstable partner. What is most likely is not that they have had marvellously bad luck in relationships. They probably used a creative concoction of gaslighting, manipulation, cheating and lying in their relationships, using the convenient stamp of “crazy ex” to cover their tracks. But rest assured: history is the best predictor of the future, and if they have a trail of drama behind them, a trail of drama lies ahead of them.
4. “I’ll show them.”
Oh, dear, sweet narcissist. Nobody cares like you think they do.
But alas, they will strive to show everyone just how great they are, to strengthen the husk surrounding their empty and insecure core.
A narcissist is always under the illusion of the spotlight effect—they constantly perceive that all eyes are on them. They typically have carefully curated social media accounts and grandiose plans for their lives. They live for validation, and strive to prove themselves at every turn. Their fragile egos cannot handle any threat of embarrassment—or heaven forbid, the terror of perceived inadequacy.
5. “It’s us against the world.”
Run! Run, run, run, run!
The narcissist is instinctively distrustful of others. They cannot feel that the world is a supportive, connected place. For them, life is oozing with cheats, liars, and competitors. But, they seem to forget the axiom of all axioms: our view of the world is an admission of our own character.
The narcissist will think this statement is flattering. Who wouldn’t want to be in permanent cahoots with them, conspiring for all of time to conquer the world?
They will try to draw a line in the sand between your relationship and the “rest of the world.” But remember: there is a fine line between being half of a dynamic duo and being the hostage of a narcissist.
Remember: you’re not Blaire Waldorf, and they’re not Chuck Bass. If their life is all one giant scheme, they’re bad news.