WHAT ARE THE SIGNS SOMEONE IS A NARCISSIST?
A Narcissist can be a spouse, partner, ex, parent, and even children, but what exactly is a narcissist? Narcissists are very good at what they do, it can be years after a crazy horrific experience before the victim realizes they were in the trap of a narcissist. . Knowing the signs is critical for self protection.
According to the American Psychology Association, a narcissist is obsessed with self. Here is a list of a few traits that I believe someone who is obsessed with self demonstrates:
A narcissist will initially be the victims greatest dream for a partner. Sadly, it doesn't last long.They typically target and mirror their prey and promise them they are everything the prey ever dreamed of. They rush the relationship forward and try to start the sexual aspect as quickly as possible to further entrap the victim. They may even claim a desire to quickly marry the victim. They will love bomb emotionally, spiritually and sexually long enough for the prey to be captured and controlled. Then, they will begin to slowly and insidiously deliver a nightmare. Anything the narcissist promised during the love bombing phase will never materialize.
This is where the narcissist's sole goal is to devalue the victim. They want to erode their self esteem and self worth. They see some prey as weak and easy prey. They see others as strong and a harder capture. They will blame the victim for something they did or try to convince them something happened that didn't. They may accuse their victim of cheating when they are the one cheating, also known as projection. The effects of gaslighting on the victim result in feelings of confusion that cause the victim to struggle to make decisions. The victim typically walks on eggshells and may even start apologizing for everything and questioning their own judgement.
As soon as they have gained control and the admiration of their prey, they will start isolating them from their friends and family usually stating they don't like them or they don't feel they are good enough for the prey. Getting the prey isolated keeps the prey from being alerted by others the dangers they see in the narcissist. This is the beginning of the devaluing stage which will continue and escalate throughout the relationship. The narcissist's goal is to destroy the self esteem and self worth of their prey. If the victim has told them anything about their painful past or things they are ashamed of, the narcissist will take every opportunity to throw it back in their face to further devalue them.
Intermittent Reinforcement is a psychological abuse tactic that narcissists use to gain control. They may be sugary sweet one minute only to be condemning, critical and hostile the next. It's the mean/nice abuse tactic that physical abusers also use. Also known as the Jekyll & Hyde tactic. Or, they may make promises only to ghost the victim instead. This can cause confusion and severe anxiety in the victim. The narcissist uses this tactic to maintain control of the victim so when they return out of the blue, the victim will be grateful to see them and gladly welcome them back. The narcissist expects the victim to prioritize them but the victim will never be a priority.
Narcissists almost always cheat and may have a plethora of addictions that can include porn, sex, alcohol, substances and gambling. The cheating is part of their devaluing tactics. and their never ending need for constant fuel from others besides the victim. Often times if caught, they will use love bombing tactics to regain control of the victim that may be attempting to flee. The narcissist uses love bombing while the victim is in shock at their discovery and will claim it will never happen again. Of course, this is exactly what the victim wants to hear. Unfortunately, there is really no remorse with the narcissist and they will be back to their cheating and addictions the second the victim is back under control.
When the narcissist finds a greater fuel supply from another, they will typically discard. Unfortunately, it is unlikely they will be gone forever. They must have constant fuel. So, after they severely traumatize their victim with a sudden discard, they will reappear from time to time. When they reappear they will appear with more love bombing or claiming they want to be the helpful friend to the victim. However, they won't be willing to give up the new supply, unless the new supply got smart and ran for their life. Their reappearance is called hoovering (named after the hoover vacuum cleaner) and they will do this strictly for the purposes of extracting negative or positive fuel from the victim. It has absolutely nothing to do with caring about the victim because they are incapable of love or empathy. It is strictly for fuel supply.
Trauma Bonding is where the victim still feels the narcissist can change and may still feel what they believe is love for the narcissist regardless of how many horrific things they have done to them. Trauma bonding is the reason many abuse victims go back to their abuser over and over. The Trauma Bond remembers the love bombing and idealization in the early part of the relationship. This causes the victim to romanticize the good and minimize the abuse. They think this is love but rather it is a trauma bond. If the victim was discarded, they will experience withdrawal symptoms so when the abuser reappears or wants the victim back, the victim in their trauma bonded state will return to the abuser.
Cognitive Dissonance is essentially fantasy versus reality. The victim may say the abuser was good to them but when they are asked to explain what exactly was good, they aren't able to give much supporting evidence. They may say something like "He was good to me" as the fantasy belief when the reality is "he cheated on me". Cognitive Dissonance causes the victim to stay too long in a relationship they know is bad for them because they believe the fantasy over the reality. Denial keeps them from reconciling the truth.
Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that is caused by a relational or relationship traumatic event. It can result in a victim getting activated or triggered with anxiety or emotional dysregulation like rage, crying or isolation. The victim may relive the traumatic event if a new experience has similarities. This can happen in a new relationship if the victim feels rejection or abandonment and gets activated. The victim may also experience flashbacks. For example, if the victim experienced infidelity and saw photos of the unfaithful partner with the affair partner, the victim may flash back to the images months or years later they saw in the photos.
The victim may avoid healthy relationships or see them as boring. This can be caused because the intermittent reinforcement or emotional unavailability of their previous abuser may have translated to their brain as excitement. This will make the emotionally available suitors feel engulfing and can cause the victim to run from it when they should be running to it. Conversely, they may become overly anxious instead and want an immediate relationship or connection because they fear the new partner will leave like the abuser did. If the victim runs from healthy relationships they may continue their pattern of attracting unhealthy or toxic partners.
The victim may struggle with emotional regulation. They may experience various emotions individually or simultaneously like rage, anxiety, depression, excessive crying, sadness, or isolation and not know how to control it. They may seem fine one minute and emotional the next.
The victim loses their identity in a narcissistic abusive relationship. Following the abuse they struggle to feel complete. They may have adopted the bad opinion of themselves that the abuser inflicted on them. They may struggle with repetitive thought processes that tell them they are not worthy of love or they are not good enough. They may believe this as truth and may look for validation in new relationships or from friends. Even with validation, they have a hard time believing the validation because they were conditioned by the narcissist to believe they weren't good enough or not worthy. The may have lost all conscious knowledge of who they are, their character, and their desires. Often victims look back after recovery and claim they "were a shell of a person" when they got away from the narcissist.