Gaslighting: Examples, Definition and How to Deal

Gaslighting: Examples, Definition and How to Deal

(Prefer to watch/listen? Click here to see the video, which contains additional information, on YouTube)

A narcissistic abuse recovery coaching client told me that when she was school-aged, her mother would have a lot of trouble getting up on time in the mornings to get her off to school. Back then, no one had cell phones, and my client’s mom hadn’t bought her an alarm clock of her own yet – so she had no way to get up on time herself. My client would later learn that her mother had been dabbling in certain activities that were messing with her sleep schedule, but at the time, she wasn’t aware of it.

Anyway, she told me how, each time her mother would wake up late, she would be sort of verbally attacked. Her mother would say things like, “Well, you’ve made us late again!” And then would tell the school that her tardiness was because her daughter wouldn’t get up on time.

Another client shared that the one thing that gave her comfort growing up in her toxic family was her cat. Sadly, he passed away when my client was 14. And when he found out about it, her father told her to stop crying because she never really loved that cat anyway.

That same client ended up meeting and marrying a narcissist in her early 20s and was going through an ugly divorce when she first reached out to me. She told me that her soon-to-be ex-husband had a way of playing the same kinds of games with her. She said he was always making her doubt herself. He’d say things like:

“I never said that!” (When he’d CLEARLY said that!) followed by “You’re always making up stories,” when she insisted on what had actually happened. It made her feel like she was losing her mind. She literally started doubting her own perception and experiences. She said it went on for years and it wasn’t until she found an article I had written that she realized it really WAS NOT her.

And then there was the client who told me that her mother was always trying to make her think everyone was using her and would leave her when they were done with her. For example, her best friend in high school, her mother said, was only friends with her because no one else liked her. And when she got married, her mother told her that her husband was only tolerating her and that he would leave her when someone better came along. The underlying message was that the client better stay connected to her mother, lest she find herself lying in a ditch and alone when the bottom fell out of her life, which, as her mother said, it inevitably would.

I heard another story where a man kept telling his girlfriend that she smelled bad. This went on for so long that she became obsessed with being clean. She would ask perfect strangers to smell her, and of course, no one ever caught a whiff of anything unsavory – except for her boyfriend. She would later learn that his father had told her to always tell his girlfriend that she was smelly, because, he said, it would make her be extra clean and not want to get too close to other men.

Identifying and understanding Gaslighting in Narcissistic Abuse

What do these stories have in common, besides the fact that each of these people was clearly dealing with toxic people who might have also had narcissistic personality disorder? Each is an example of a very specific manipulation tactic that is used by narcissists and other toxic people called gaslighting. And that’s exactly what we’re talking about, today – gaslighting. And I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about it – what it is, how it works, the signs and how to recognize it in your own life – and what to do if it happens to you.

Hidden Signs of Gaslighting in Toxic Relationships

Gaslighters actively and intentionally confuse their victims in some pretty terrible ways. They might cut you down and build you up in the same day – and then tear you down again. And while they might come out with an unexpected positive point (think of this like a “crumb of affection” – it’s intermittent reinforcement and it leads to trauma bonding), they will often alternate this with outrageous accusations toward you with no logical reason.

The thing is that gaslighters make you feel crazy because they act like your reactions to their abuse aren’t rational. So if you find yourself feeling like you might be a little crazy (which is, of course, the end goal of the whole gaslighting technique) or even if you’re aware that you’re dealing with a narcissist and want to recognize it as it happens — understanding the signs can be the first step to making your life a little better.

That’s because, when you’re aware of the behaviors that cause the narcissist to engage in gaslighting, you can react differently and change the course of the outcome. Plus, this gives you the option to sort of look at it like a scientist – as in, logically and not emotionally. For me, that was one of the most important things I learned during my own recovery. I needed to be able to categorize and label the behaviors on a logical level. Once I understood on that level, then I was able to go back and figure out how my own emotions had been affected. At that point, I could connect the emotions and the facts, and move forward in a healthier way. I want to help you do the same thing.

Get more information on gaslighting and the hidden signs of gaslighting in this video.

Even the so-called normal relationships in our lives can suffer from misunderstandings and miscommunications, but when someone starts using the manipulation tactics involved in gaslighting, chances are they might also be a narcissist — and if you’re going to maintain a sense of self, you’ve got to understand what this is and learn what you can do about it.

The Only Way to Deal with Gaslighting

So, how do you deal with gaslighting? If you can’t simply walk away from the narcissist and go no contact, the very best way you can manage gaslighting in narcissistic abuse is to use something called the gray rock method.

What is the gray rock method? 

The gray rock (or grey rock) technique was named and first published by a writer called Skylar, who advises that you act boring and don’t react to the narcissist’s attempts to engage you in drama. The tactic is highly effective but also infuriating for narcissists to experience. If you’re going to use the gray rock method, you’ll need to do so carefully if you are dealing with any physical abuse, as the narcissist may not react well.

You can learn more about the gray rock method here. 

Question of the Day

Did you recognize any of the signs of gaslighting I explained today? Is it part of your reality? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

Resources to Help with Gaslighting in Narcissistic Abuse

If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional who is trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. You have to decide what to do from here – if you’re not sure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. It’s totally free.

More Help for Dealing with Gaslighting in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

When the Narcissist Moves On: Jealousy and the New Source of Supply

When the Narcissist Moves On: Jealousy and the New Source of Supply

(Prefer to watch/listen instead of read? See video on YouTube)

About a year after my divorce was final, I got a call from my ex-mother-in-law, letting me know that my ex was getting remarried. I was only mildly surprised – mostly that it had taken him almost two years to meet, successfully propose and schedule a wedding with his would-be second ex-wife. In hindsight, I’m actually kind of surprised it took him that long because usually, narcissists move much quicker. Still, I have absolutely no doubt he was dating and being “in love” with someone – more likely, more than one person, shortly after I left him, but for me, I didn’t even start dating until the divorce was final, and that itself took close to a year after I left.

Even though I did not in any way want him back, part of me felt some kind of way about this whole situation. It wasn’t that I felt jealous. I felt…confused. I felt like I wanted to contact this woman and tell her what she was in for. But if I’m being honest, I wanted to know how he was treating her. Was he being nice? Had he suddenly become the person I’d always wanted him to be? Had all the time and effort I spent trying to help him get it together finally benefitted someone, even if it wasn’t me?

Part of me hoped that he would be different for her. But the other part of me knew he wouldn’t.

It would be about five years later that I’d finally speak to her. When my now-husband decided to adopt my oldest son (the one I’d had with my ex), I had to reach out to the ex. He agreed to sign the papers because it might mean that he would no longer be on the hook for child support. Understandably, despite the fact that she’d never met or spoken to my son because he’d spent literally no time at all with my ex, his then-wife was quite concerned about the situation and showed up with him when I met him to sign the papers.

Once everything was resolved, she ended up calling me several times to discuss her husband and their relationship. She wanted to know if her experiences were like mine. It turned out that her marriage was nearly identical to mine, except she didn’t tolerate as much of his crap as I had. This led to his increasing the intensity and frequency of manipulation and gaslighting. Either way, though, she ended up divorcing him not long after. He’d end up married twice more after that, as far as I know.

The one thing I had felt worried about was that he would be better for someone who wasn’t me. But after having the opportunity to talk to both his second and third wives, I learned the truth: he was the same person for them as he’d been for me. He never changed.

Will the Narcissist Change for the New Supply?

Have you ever felt worried that your ex would somehow change for their new “source of narcissistic supply?” If so, you’re not alone. In fact, I hear this question all the time. People want to know: will the narcissist change for the new supply? Will they take everything I tried to teach them and use it successfully in a new relationship? Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about today – narcissists and their new sources of supply – how they treat them and whether their new relationship is as good as they make it seem from the outside.

So, you’ve finally had the nerve to leave your partner, who you’re pretty sure is a toxic narcissist. And now, after years of psychological and emotional mind games, and you’re finally starting to breathe again. You are finally free of this horrible, selfish energy and you feel like you’re a brand new person! Life is just starting to get really, really good.

And then it happens. In-person or on social media, you spot your former would-be soulmate with someone new. You are startled and it feels like you’ve been slapped in the face. But pretty soon, you notice that there’s something different about them. They seem happier, brighter. Relaxed, even. They’re having a good time with a new person – maybe even someone who looks a little like you or who has something in common with you. They’re laughing, talking and even being charming.

“Who IS this person?” you wonder.

You’re confused. You’re hurt. You’re angry, maybe. A far cry from the narcissist you recently knew, your ex has somehow transformed themselves back into the amazing person you fell in love with. But seconds later, almost as if time is moving in slow motion, you realize what is happening. Your narcissist has found their next victim – and they’re in the process of love bombing this person, and for just a moment, you get a front-row seat.

Listen. I know it stings. I know it hurts when you see the person you fell in love with re-emerging after you’re away for a while. And I know that you wonder (at least a little bit) if somehow he narcissist was right all along – and if it really WAS just you.

(Side note: I PROMISE you that it wasn’t you.) Let’s talk about it.

The Truth About Narcissists in Relationships

Time for a reality check, my friend: you were never the problem in your toxic relationship. I’m not saying you were perfect. I’m not saying you didn’t make mistakes. I’m just saying that the majority of your issues in the relationship were a direct reaction to the mind games and manipulation that you were putting up within the relationship.

First, let me acknowledge that while every step in the healing process after a toxic relationship with a narcissist can be very painful, this one is probably one of the most confusing. See, while the bigger part of you knows that the narcissist is never going to REALLY change, this other little part of you still loves them – or, to put it more accurately, the version of them that you once believed was real. The one you signed up for in the first place. And that’s the part of them that they’re parading around now – so it’s like you’re mourning “that version” of the narcissist all over again.

But let me repeat: the problem was NOT you! The problem was that the narcissist took you for granted. They got used to having you around. They got spoiled by your supply. And they got bored, or you demanded that they behave like an actual grownup. Or maybe they got shiny new object syndrome, or they said they didn’t love you anymore, and left you to pursue whatever it was they wanted in the moment. Maybe you just finally had enough and you left the narcissist yourself.

Either way, the relationship ended, and you moved on. Or at least, you’re trying to. But you keep asking yourself that question: will the narcissist treat the new supply better? Will the new person get a better deal than you had?

Why the Narcissist Becomes the Person You Fell In Love With When You Leave

Maybe it would help you to understand why the narcissist has suddenly become Mr. or Ms. Perfect again. Here’s the truth: now that the relationship has ended, whether it was the narcissist’s idea or yours to end things, the narcissist was left without a source of regular narcissistic supply – and it is not possible for a narcissist to exist for long without it. Sure, they’ll have their little circle of supply. Friends, family members, even people they’ve cheated on you with. But now that you’re no longer officially together, the narcissist is out there on the prowl again, seeking out the new source of narcissistic supply that they need to save them from themselves.

This is normal – it’s exactly what you should expect from a toxic narcissist. And while a small part of you might secretly hate the new supply, the other part of you sadly already knows that it isn’t going to be all hearts and flowers for this person either. That’s right – if you really think about it, you’ll know exactly know how this story is going to go.

Narcissistic Abuse Has a Standard Cycle

Now, as you know, narcissists are very hard to live with, and even a reasonably intelligent person would feel ashamed that they tolerate the narcissist’s manipulative tactics. This means that the new supply is probably keeping any drama and BS under wraps. And if you’re being honest, you might have done the same thing back then, especially on social media. I remember being really embarrassed if anyone found out what I’d been dealing with, so I told very few people.

Here’s what you need to remember. Narcissistic abuse runs in cycles. In case you aren’t familiar with it, the standard toxic relationship pattern that narcissists use is pretty basic: initially, they love bomb and idealize you. Then they devalue and discard you. Then, many times, they hoover you back in, and the cycle can begin again.

This happens in varying iterations and it happens often inside the same relationship over and over for decades sometimes. But if I’m in your shoes at this point, I’m going to make use of the no-contact/low-contact thing and use it to my advantage. That means to block them both on Facebook so you can stop torturing yourself by stalking their profiles. It means you will not listen when some well-meaning flying monkey tries to offer you updates on the narcissist and the new supply.

It means you’re going to move forward and focus ONLY on what you can control (not what you can’t), and since you couldn’t control the narcissist while you were together, you sure as heck can’t now (nor should you want to – this person no longer your problem!). If you have kids together and you can’t go completely no contact, then you go low contact, meaning that you ONLY deal with the narcissist about the business of raising the kids. Nothing else.

But how do you deal with the painful reality of watching your ex narcissist be perfect for someone else?

How to Deal When the Narcissist Moves On with Someone Else

1. See the Patterns!

Start by remembering what you dealt with and by recognizing what the new supply will deal with soon enough, if they’re not already going through it. (And even if you’re tempted to warn your narcissist’s new supply about what they’re getting themselves into, don’t do it – even if your intentions are good. Since chances are they’re still in the love-bombing or idealization phase, and since your ex has likely told them a lot of lies about you, they won’t likely believe you anyway and you’ll end up regretting the decision to reach out.)

2. Realize the Truth!

Don’t sit around thinking that the narcissist’s new supply will end up getting the benefit of all the work you did trying to fix them. It doesn’t work like that. The narcissist is and always be exactly who they are. Narcissists do not change. I’m not saying they can’t – because I believe that if a narcissist were to really dig in to discover and heal their core wounds, it might be possible. But I’m saying they don’t. In all the years I’ve worked in this business, I’ve never seen it happen. I’ve never seen it happen with any narcissist in my own life and I’ve interviewed and worked with a number of psychologists and other experts who will tell you the same thing: a narcissist does not change (not for long, anyway). The most you’ll get is a temporary behavior modification, and that’s only if the narcissist gets something out of it.

3. Grieve the Relationship!

This is one place I failed in my early recovery. Rather than grieving the relationship, I decided to avoid my feelings and just move forward. That turned out to be a bad idea as it would later come back and bite me in the butt – and while the grief process will wait, it will not just go away. Eventually, you’re going to have to grieve the person you signed up for and let them go.

4. Be Honest with Yourself!

Remember that you’re not really mourning the person you lost; you’re mourning your illusion of who you believed they were. It’s an ever-turning cycle that the narcissist will repeat in varying iterations for the rest of their life. Be glad you’re off the wheel.

5. Put Yourself First for Once!

Stay focused on you, and on making your own life better. You have already been tortured enough – if you let this situation keep making you miserable, you’re only allowing the narcissist to continue the abuse and control you from afar. Take back your life, my friend, and choose to be happy, in your own way. Focus on what you can control and not what you can’t.

6. Focus on Healing.

It’s time for you to heal and release the anger and sadness. As you work on your own healing, the layers of anger and sadness will soon disappear. One of the hardest things for me and for many survivors of these kinds of relationships was mourning the illusion of that perfect relationship we wanted to truly believe that we had. Letting that go was a big step for me and many other survivors have told me the same thing.

7. Don’t Overthink the New Supply.

NEVER compare yourself to the new supply, unless it’s to feel sorry for them as you take note of the pattern that you’re thankfully no longer subjected to in your life. Don’t do yourself the disservice of trying to think the new supply somehow “better” than you; the truth is that narcissists are very picky, so chances are, if the new source of narcissistic supply “seems” better somehow, it’s only because the hasn’t ruined them just yet.

8. Skip the “What Ifs.”

Don’t “if only” and “what if” yourself to death. It’s common to have feelings of regret after any relationship ends, and you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t wonder what you could have done differently or whether something you did or said could have been the trigger that caused it all to go downhill. But that’s not the truth, and it’s not helping you – it’s only causing you more pain – and chances are, you couldn’t have changed the situation without going completely insane trying to make the narcissist happy. Remember that the narcissist will NEVER be truly happy, because true happiness comes from within – and they are empty on the inside, at least on an emotional level. Now it’s time to live in the moment and to think about how you want the future to go.

What do you think?

Question of the Day: Have you ever experienced watching your ex-narcissist get involved with a new person, or even just appear to return to the person they used to be, and how did it make you feel? What advice would you offer your fellow survivors in this situation? Or are you currently dealing with this issue? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

Why Do Narcissists Copy You? The Shocking Psychology of Mirroring in Narcissists

Why Do Narcissists Copy You? The Shocking Psychology of Mirroring in Narcissists

(Prefer to watch/listen instead of read? See video on YouTube)

I remember thinking I’d met my soulmate within a couple of weeks of meeting my ex. It was so crazy how much we had in common. He was an artist like me and even wrote dark, brooding poetry as I did at the time. We liked the same music and we both loved to dance – the list could go on and on. And while I didn’t think much of him when we first met, it wasn’t long before I was telling a girlfriend that while we seemed so different, I couldn’t believe how much we had in common.

Of course, I’d later understand that he was likely a toxic narcissist, and relationships with narcissists move quickly. So, within less than a year, we’d be living together and married with a baby on the way. It was around this time that I’d be smacked in the face with the fact that much of what he’d claimed we had in common was a complete fabrication. But why would he do this?

Why do narcissists copy your personality as well as the personalities of others? Is it a manipulation tactic? Do they know they’re doing it? Well, I have a theory on this, and the answers to these questions will go much deeper than you might expect. So, that’s exactly what we’re talking about today – the psychology of how and why narcissists copy the personalities, behaviors, hobbies and speech patterns of the people in their lives.
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Narcissists, Codependency, and Mirroring

Narcissists have a way of copying you, or mimicking you or in some cases, nearly becoming you. And, when you think of narcissistic mirroring or copying, you think of the average narcissist who sort of takes on parts of the identities of other people. But what you may not know is that this behavior, as annoying as it can be, is often the result of an early childhood wound caused by a lack of mirroring. And while narcissists manifest this by imitating people around them, any of us could have been affected by the same childhood wound and could be manifesting it through our own codependency. Yes, I’m serious. Let’s talk about it.

What Is Mirroring?

Mirroring is the usually subconscious replication of another person’s nonverbal signals.  In layman’s terms, mirroring is when you reflect back the mannerisms, behaviors, and other behaviors of other people. It causes us to adopt different facial expressions, body language, as well as tone and for some of us, will lead to empathy.

As adults, we may use mirroring subconsciously as a way to create rapport with others. And, despite what a lot of people will tell you, mirroring isn’t a narcissistic behavior, technically. In fact, mirroring is a normal part of the development of humans. It begins as early as the day you’re born and is a requirement for the normal development of babies, toddlers, and kindergarteners. It helps them to develop their identities. But what happens when a tiny human doesn’t experience this important connection during infancy and early childhood?

How Does a Lack of Mirroring in Early Childhood Affect You Long-Term?

As infants, humans will naturally adapt to whatever parenting we get. When our parent is depressed, anxious, stressed, or even distracted often, they don’t always give us the eye contact we need. In these cases, and in the case of a parent who might have narcissistic personality disorder, we are nearly doomed on a psychological level when we don’t get the kind of connection we need for our brains to develop normally.

See, published research tells us that beginning when we’re born and throughout our in early childhood, regular eye contact with our mothers indirectly helps us develop a sense of self.

For most people, the natural times to give this kind of eye contact would happen during feeding, diaper changing, and other kinds of physical care of their babies. And you would think that it’s a sort of natural thing for most people to look at their babies and talk to them or coo at them, right?

Good Enough Parents Vs. Toxic Parents

The thing is that most parents do this naturally, even parents who might not be considered “good” parents by the average person. And even when “good enough” parents do what comes naturally to them, babies and toddlers will reciprocate and even begin to initiate eye contact and connection over time.

But when our mothers have the problems I mentioned or any other issue that causes her to not focus while she’s feeding and caring for us, for example, she might not give us the eye contact that we’d so desperately have needed to properly attach to her. This leads to us losing not only our ability to develop our authentic selves, but it leaves us instinctively feeling that our needs haven’t been met.

That is because we are receiving an unconscious message that we don’t matter – and later, if our mother IS a narcissist, we learn that in order to have any value whatsoever, we must meet her needs (and the needs of others). This kind of perception can manifest in several ways, becoming a big part of the core self we develop. It will, in nearly every case, affect our relationships in adulthood as well.

Two Extreme Ways a Lack of Mirroring Can Affect Your Adult Relationships

Since the lack of mirroring in early childhood leads to you feeling unimportant and that your value comes from how you serve other people, you would naturally become more attractive to someone like a narcissist. You spend your life trying to make the people around you happy and take care of their needs in order to feel like you’re worthy.

While you and I might have developed the “disease to please,” if our mothers were unable to connect with us on this level, those who develop toxic narcissism or even narcissistic personality disorder are affected differently. See, when narcissism manifests, it is because those who develop that way have developed the trademark lack of empathy as a result of not having felt understood, appreciated or tuned in with their parent. So, unlike those of us who became people-pleasers, narcissists are unable to see others as whole people – they can’t understand or appreciate the autonomy of anyone else.

Worse, the lack of mirroring in infancy can lead to a very toxic legacy in your family. That’s because, for example, when a mother doesn’t naturally mirror her babies, chances are she didn’t receive mirroring in her own infancy and early childhood. As a result, unless she chooses to develop the awareness needed to overcome this and to intentionally change the pattern, she won’t be able to offer it to her kids either. This leads to her trauma being passed on to her children, and this can continue in families for generations.

How Does Mirroring Lead to Copycat Behavior in Narcissists?

Maybe you’ve noticed that the narcissist in your life picked up some of your hobbies or ideas – or even certain personality traits you have. Your reaction might have been to worry, and then you might have thought you were reading into it too much. Or maybe you thought it was an amazing bit of kismet and that you’d finally you met your soulmate, as I did initially with my ex.

But by now, you’ve realized you’re dealing with someone who might be a narcissist. And you are painfully aware that narcissists are manipulative. Mirroring can be used by narcissists as an almost unconscious manipulation tactic and it can be used consciously by sociopaths and psychopaths.

When adult narcissists use mirroring, they copy your behaviors, mannerisms, speech patterns, and personality traits – it can really be extreme and for some of us, a little disconcerting. Since narcissists feel like they have no substance, it is almost like they cannot exist without being a reflection of someone else – or more than one person. This, as I explained, is likely due to that early childhood wound of not getting the kind of nurturing they needed on an emotional level – their mothers often didn’t give them the eye contact and recognition that they needed to properly self-actualize.

When the Narcissist Suddenly Changes Their Personality or Behaviors

Often, when you’re in a long-term relationship with a narcissist, you’ll notice a shift in their personalities over the years. For the average narcissist, you might see a sudden shift in personality when they start spending time with a new person. Or, if they are your parent, they might take on some of your own qualities, habits, or hobbies as you develop them, and this might continue into adulthood.

What’s interesting about this is that it can be a “tell” if you think about it. Why? Because when they do suddenly change, you can often just look around at the people in their lives and figure out exactly what is going on. Chances are that they are either jealous of someone and taking on their qualities, mimicking them, or they’re obsessed with them and taking on their qualities, behaviors or mannerisms for that reason.

Why Do Narcissists Engage In Mirroring in Relationships?

As you know, narcissists are by nature very competitive, and when you’re in a relationship with them, it can feel like they want to take your identity in one way or another. In the case of mirroring, they will almost become you on some level. Ironically, they will often find you attractive for whatever quality they will eventually take on, and as the relationship progresses, you may actually lose that part of yourself. for a codependent, this can be devastating and have lifelong effects. But what is the psychology of the mirroring behavior for narcissists in adult relationships?

There are several reasons that narcissists engage in mirroring in adult relationships, including the following.

Narcissists don’t have a stable identity

I’m not talking about the kind of identity theft in which criminals use your information to open up rogue bank accounts to hurt your credit – though narcissists aren’t above it. They never established a real sense of identity growing up, thanks to the lack of eye contact and human connection in early childhood. They might be literally attempting to adopt your identity.

A tactic to win you over

Mirroring in narcissists also happens when they really want to win you over. I like to call this a sort of “soulmate scam,” because they will pretend they like and dislike the same things that you do. For instance, if you love Fleetwood Mac but strongly dislike The Eagles, then ‘coincidentally’ they will too. Meeting someone who is so much like you might make you feel like they’re your soulmate and cause you to warm to them more quickly.

They pretend they are being intimate

Narcissists are not by nature able to express true empathy. Certainly, in some cases, they are able to fake it when they need to, but generally, they don’t have the skills or even the desire to have a connection that is real. But they need narcissistic supply, and in order to get that, they need relationships. They logically understand that intimacy is important. So, they pretend, and they learn to do this by watching your own behaviors. In other words, they fake intimacy by imitating you.

While narcissists will stop actively mirroring you after the love bombing or idealization phase, they’ll also continue to hold on to whatever qualities or traits they’ve picked up from you, unless and until they find someone else to imitate.

So, what do you think?

Question of the day: have you experienced a narcissist who copied your identity, and if so, were you surprised by the answers I shared today on why that happens? Do you agree or disagree with my theory? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

7 Reasons Why Narcissists Don’t Give Closure

7 Reasons Why Narcissists Don’t Give Closure

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One of my clients shared with me that her ex broke off their relationship in the most interesting way. She said that her ex told her he needed a little space, and abruptly moved out after 23 years together. He said that he wasn’t ending their long-term relationship, and in fact, that he wanted to start dating her again. He wanted to fall in love with her all over again, he claimed. He almost made it sound exciting and healthy.

He said he was in a rut and needed to shake things up – he needed to find himself. She was of course devastated, but she tried to play along.

Of course, what I haven’t mentioned about this situation is that this man spent the previous 23 years systematically manipulating and psychologically destroying my client. He had future-faked her for years – so much that they were literally engaged for two decades, but never actually married.

She confessed to me that she’d tried to leave him repeatedly, thanks to several episodes of cheating, but he’d always sucked her back in. In fact, they’d gotten engaged 20 years ago because of the first cheating episode. She told me that he’d showed up at her mom’s house, where she’d retreated to after finding him with another woman, with a ring and a big public proposal. He’d wooed her back into submission, and this pattern would continue, much to her chagrin.

Each time she tried to get him to set a wedding date over the years, he always had an excuse. They didn’t have the money. She was pregnant. Their dog died. He wasn’t sure if she REALLY loved him. He wasn’t sure if HE really loved HER. Then she was pregnant again. And now, after 23 years of not-wedded not-bliss and two children who were now a young adult and a teen, he was doing it yet again, and this time, she was sure it would stick.

But she couldn’t seem to let go of him, and she didn’t know why. She had become so enmeshed with him that she didn’t even recognize herself anymore. She knew she wanted to be done so she could finally move on with her life, but she couldn’t figure out how to even begin to do it. Why? Because, like all narcissists, he absolutely refused to give her the closure she needed to move forward and let him go.

Narcissists Don’t Do Closure!

Narcissists have a way of leaving you hanging, don’t they? They just don’t do closure. But why? Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about, today: narcissists and closure – why they don’t give it, how you’re affected by the lack of closure, and how to create closure for yourself.

First, let’s discuss what I mean when I say closure. It’s a sense of resolution or a sort of “conclusion” at the end of any relationship. Unfortunately, this is often denied to survivors of narcissistic abuse. This leaves us feeling obsessed with figuring out the details and implications of our toxic relationships – we find ourselves stuck and spinning as a result of not getting closure. This leaves many of us feeling the need to either find our own closure or spending years trying in vain to emotionally heal after these toxic relationships, unable to move forward and not understanding exactly why.

Why don’t narcissists give you closure at the end of a toxic relationship?

There are so many reasons narcissists don’t give you closure. But for the most part, their reasoning (or lack thereof) probably falls into one of the following points.

1. Narcissists Only Care About Themselves.

You know that narcissists are not capable of being empathetic. They simply cannot put themselves into the shoes of anyone else. That is one reason that they won’t give closure. They will ghost you without a second thought, and the idea of wondering how it would make you feel when they do that is a completely foreign concept to them. All they know is that they had their reasons, and they don’t even consider your feelings. They may even seem shocked when you ask them why they’ve done what they’ve done. Truth? Teaching a narcissist empathy is like trying to teach a fish to ride a bike – a frustrating, impossible endeavor.

2. They Don’t Think You Deserve It.

Since narcissists don’t have empathy, they can’t imagine that you might even NEED closure, much less deserve it. That’s right. Despite the fact that you have spent a long time bending over backward to make sure they get what they need, now that it’s over, they don’t figure they owe you anything at all – and sadly, this includes closure. Plus, by not giving you closure they ensure that you’ll keep thinking about them – and what narcissist doesn’t want that?

3. They Don’t See You As a Whole Person.

This one is tough to hear, sometimes, but it’s the truth. Narcissists do not see you or anyone they’ve grown close to as real, whole people. Rather, you’re almost like an object to them – an object that they can use and consume at will, and toss aside when they’re done with you. And, they have no issue whatsoever coming along and picking you up and using you again, when they’re ready. They literally see you as less of a person than they are – which, if I’m being honest, is kind of ironic in a way, given their own shallow nature and the probability that you are a deep, thoughtful and compassionate person. How do I know that? Because narcissists can’t manage long-term relationships with anyone else – they need someone who will take care of their emotional needs (and often, all of their other needs as well).

4. Because You Want It.

Did you ever notice how, when you’re really stressed out or times are hard, narcissists have a way of sort of “kicking you when you’re down?” Narcissists can be real sadists, and part of them loves to see you squirming in emotional distress. And even though narcissists cannot empathize with you, they still get that you would appreciate closure and maybe that it would help you move on. And not only does knowing this gives them a bit of a power buzz, but it assures them that you won’t be able to move on when they need your supply again. Which brings me to my next point.

5. They Need Your Supply, Maybe.

Narcissists require narcissistic supply. You, as the narcissistic supply, are used by the narcissist for attention, validation, admiration – all the “supply” they need to feed their ego. On to of this, the narcissist often has a circle of supply or “narcissistic harem,” and like it or not, they’ve pegged you as one of them. Now, this circle or harem might include people they’re cheating with, their mothers or fathers,  various friends, coworkers, neighbors and other family members. You might be (or have been) their primary source of supply for a long time. And since you’ve been such a good source of supply up to this point, the narcissist figures they might want to “use you” again at some point. So by leaving the door open, you’re left spinning and, if the narcissist has anything to say about it, you won’t be moving on with your life. This way, when they need you, they can wiggle their way back in again when it is convenient for them.

6. They’re Not Secure with New Supply  Yet.

Speaking of narcissistic supply, there’s another possibility: the narcissist is actively trying to procure a new source of supply, and they’re not 100 percent sure yet that they’ve got it all locked down. The new supply still has the nerve to think that they are as important as the narcissist in the relationship, and so the narcissist might still need to dump on someone when they feel stressed or overwhelmed. And since they’re actively love-bombing and idealizing the new supply, they may not feel comfortable enough to take the mask off yet. So, if the narcissist can find a good reason to connect with you when they need to blow off some steam or get some comfort, they most certainly will do that. And even when the new supply is fully locked in, they may still want to keep you on standby, just in case. After all, as I mentioned, they don’t see you as an actual person, so why wouldn’t they use you when and how they can?

7. They Are Giving You a Message.

Throughout your relationship, regardless of the nature of it, the narcissist has been making a few things clear: they see you as powerless. They don’t want you to have any control whatsoever over the relationship, much less your own life. They want you to understand that, as far as they’re concerned, you don’t deserve any recognition for what you’ve done for them – no, not even for the years you spent trying to make them happy. And, sadly, they want you to believe that you are so unlovable, that you don’t even need to be acknowledged. This is all part of their cycle, part of the way they control you throughout the relationship.

Narcissists and Closure: What You Need to Know Now

This part is going to be a little tough, but you need to know that someone usually gives you closure because they actually care about you and the relationship you had. They give closure because they want peace and they care enough about you to want you to be happy. The narcissist knows that if you have closure, you’ll be able to find that peace and to move forward without them. By keeping you in their toxic loop, they keep you open for a hoover and they are able to keep taking, future faking and using you at will. It would require them to take personal responsibility for how they’ve treated you, and it would mean ending the lies and manipulation they’ve been using to keep you emotionally engaged. Just the idea of real, genuine closure is unthinkable to a narcissist.

There are many things you can do to get the closure you need, and I’ve talked about this pretty often. See the video for additional information.

So, what do you think? Question of the day: Have you struggled to find closure after a relationship with a toxic narcissist, and if so, how’d you deal with it? If not, are you worried that you won’t be able to get closure if and when you do end your relationship? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments below this video, and let’s talk about it.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Resources

 

6 Reasons Why Narcissists Don’t Answer Questions

6 Reasons Why Narcissists Don’t Answer Questions

(Prefer to listen instead of read? Click here to see/hear on YouTube) My ex was the king of crazymaking. A couple of days before our wedding, our best man and maid of honor (which was our whole wedding party) came to town, so we decided to go out and have our bachelor/bachelorette parties – which were really just a night out on the town with our individual friends. He and his friend went one way, while my friend and I went another. And since my friend was a recovering alcoholic, we had a sober night out. But when my then-fiance came home that night, he was so intoxicated, I am pretty sure he didn’t even know his own name!

As you can imagine, it wasn’t enjoyable for me, being stone-cold sober and fully aware of everything that was happening. It was more than just worrying about his seemingly excessive level of intoxication, though. It was also that I was overly concerned with what they had done on their night out.

Now, let me just be totally transparent here. I’m not saying I was in any way perfect. In fact, I admit to being overly concerned with a lot of things back then. Honestly, I was very insecure about myself, thanks to growing up with a toxic mother, and being that I was only 22 when we got married, I still had a lot of growing up to do.

And that, along with the fact that I instinctively didn’t trust him any further than I could throw him, is probably why I insisted that we create rules for ourselves for that night out, ahead of time. And of course one of the things that we agreed on was that we wouldn’t go to certain kinds of places. I’m sure you can imagine what I mean. But in hindsight, I’m about 99 percent sure that he did go to one of those places that night and that he lied about it. Well, maybe “lied” isn’t the right word. Unless we’re talking about a lie by omission. And if I’m being honest, part of me thinks that more could’ve happened that night than I care to know.

But like always, he would tell me what he thought I wanted to hear and then just go ahead and do whatever he wanted. Ironically, somehow, that night would, in so many ways, be very representative of that relationship as a whole.

And, just like anytime I’d catch him red-handed doing something he shouldn’t, or something he promised he wouldn’t, he got really weird that night.

While a normal person might own up to what they’d done, or at least try to discuss it, my ex was confusing. See, he was hard to read. And rather than send me running, it drew me in – because I could read nearly everyone else.

When he was guilty, he might or might not argue with me. He might or might not defend himself. He might try to say things that made me feel better, or he might say things that would hurt more – depending on his mood and his goals at the moment. What I mean is that at the beginning of the relationship, he was more likely to pretend to care how I felt, but as time progressed, there would e occasions where he’d pretend pretty hard that he cared – at least, when it served him to do so.

But he did this one thing that was totally perplexing to me, even when he was still in the idealization phase of the relationship. If I’d ask questions – especially about something that could somehow incriminate him or get him in trouble, he would literally just say…nothing at all.

Now, it wasn’t exactly the silent treatment. Maybe it was a kind of stonewalling. But it wasn’t that he would not talk to me during these times. It was just that he wouldn’t answer any of my totally valid questions. He’d either say nothing, or he’d say something that was in no way an answer. So, for example, if I asked, “did you go to the strip club last night?” He’d say, “Well, I told you I wouldn’t,” but never actually say he did or didn’t go.

It drove me crazy. I mean CRAZY. And I’m pretty sure that was his intention.

Now that I think about it, it wasn’t ONLY when he was going to get in trouble that this narcissist wouldn’t answer questions. There were other times where I’d ask him a perfectly innocent question – such as whether he’d go with me to an event or something, and he’d refuse to answer those questions too. He’d say stuff like, “We will see.” And then I couldn’t make plans. And these are just a couple of examples of this all-too-often used manipulation tactic.

So let me ask you. Have you ever experienced this – a narcissist who just won’t answer your questions sometimes? So why don’t they answer your questions? What does it mean? How can you tell? Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about today – why narcissists don’t answer your questions and how to read that behavior.

Why don’t narcissists answer questions?

Have you found yourself in this situation, wondering why anytime you ask a narcissist a question, you don’t get a straight answer? I know – it is extremely frustrating, to put it mildly.

1. They Don’t Think You Deserve Answers

They really do think you don’t need or deserve the answers to your questions. This is hard to admit to ourselves, but narcissists really don’t see us as “whole people,” or at least they don’t see us as people who are quite as “real” as they are. What I mean is that a narcissist sees you as a sort of extension of themselves, and at the same time, they see you as somehow “lower than” or “less than” they see themselves. By giving you a straight answer, the narcissist would be acknowledging that you are important and that you deserve to be treated like a real live human. They would be honoring you as someone who they saw as an equal, or even as a superior. Giving you a straight answer would essentially be acknowledging that your feelings, thoughts, beliefs and ideas are as important as their own – it would mean they would have to have some level of empathy, and they just plain don’t. This brings me to my next point.

2. They Really Don’t Care How You Feel.

Like I said, narcissists don’t have any empathy for you or anyone else. And even when they appear to care how someone feels, you can bet it’s only because in that moment,it benefits them to do so. Maybe they want something from you, or they want to shut you up so they can go and do whatever they want. But when it comes to answering your questions truthfully – or at all – it would require a certain amount of concern for your feelings, and they just can’t go there, if they’re going to maintain the facade that keeps them going. And speaking of false fronts, this brings me to number 3.

3. They Like It When You’re Confused.

Narcissists don’t answer questions because they like it when you are confused and uncertain. So rather than give you any sort of clarity, they either don’t answer at all, or they only offer very vague answers. Or, in some cases, they’ll say something that is completely out of context. They may give you a little “word salad,” or they might just straight up gaslight you. In any case, they want to keep you in control, and if you are feeling confused and uncertain, you will keep walking on eggshells around them and that is exactly what they want from you. And, of course, this is also a way they hurt your self-esteem because when they don’t give you a proper answer, they’re also openly disrespecting you.

4. They Want to Deflect and Project

When you ask a narcissist a question that feels like an accusation, the narcissist instantly goes on the defense. If you ask them why, they’ll tell you something like, “I hate being investigated,” or “You’re always accusing me of something.” The truth is that narcissists won’t answer questions that they deem accusatory in any way – even if they’re not. For example, if you asked them why they didn’t put their dishes away after they were finished, they might turn around and say something like, “What, are you saying I’m a slob?” Then they will take it even further, either attacking you for being so mean to them, and/or pointing out all the times you’ve ever not put your own dishes away or let the laundry pile up. Or they’ll point out the fact that one time 10 years ago, they helped you out by washing your dishes for you and they’ll ask how come you never do anything to help them (despite the fact that you literally bend over backward every day to make their lives easier).  Before you know it, you’ll be the one feeling guilty, begging them to forgive you for having the nerve to ask them to put their own dishes away – and that’s exactly what they want.

5. They Want to Kill Time.

One simple reason that narcissists don’t give you answers is that they have not yet figured out a good lie to tell you. So, in order to make time to dream up a real whopper, they stall so they can kill enough time to figure it out. They will keep stalling as long as they have to in order to  come up with a believable lie. Or they might just stall long enough that you’ll forget about it completely – at least that’s what they hope for. After all, they don’t feel the need to provide any sort of closure or satisfaction for you, and let’s not forget that they are completely happy with leaving you hanging anyway – which, of course, brings me to my next point.

6. They Want to Take Over Your Brain.

Narcissists love to see themselves as mysterious and fascinating.  They enjoy the idea of you being laser-focused on them – and having to guess what they have been up to or what they are doing offers them the assurance that you’re only thinking of them. They want to take up ALL the space in your head, and by not answering your questions, they feel that they are finally getting the proper amount of attention from you. You won’t be able to think of anything else, they reason, and that’s how they like it.  It’s just one of the many debts they feel you owe them as their primary source of narcissistic supply.

So how do you deal with a narcissist who won’t answer your questions?

Honestly, the best thing to do is to never expect a straight answer from a narcissist. Always take everything they say with a grain of salt, and don’t hang your heart on the idea that they might one day be real with you. Understand that narcissists will do their best to always leave you hanging and will never give you the answer you need for the sake of their own agendas.

This is exhausting and painful if you’re not careful. But when you can learn to see a narcissist for what they are, limitations and all, you can really empower yourself. Because when you understand what to expect from them and you can identify and label their behaviors, it can really take the sting out of some of it. It’s a way that you can reassure yourself that it really ISN’T you, that their manipulation and drama is always all about them and their own issues. You just happen to be one of the cogs in their toxic machine – at least until you figure them out. Speaking of which, here’s what to expect when the narcissist knows you have figured them out. Take a look right now, if you have time. It’ll give you some real insight into their psychology.

Question of the Day: Have you ever encountered a narcissist who wouldn’t answer your questions? How did you handle it? What tips would you offer your fellow survivors who are dealing with this issue? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it!

 

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