What did you just experience? If it felt like a confusing mess of emotional upset and you have been constantly walking on eggshells after first being made to feel like someones perfect love or soul mate you may have just experienced the cycle of abuse that happens with a narcissist . What are your thoughts?
If you’re recovering from narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship and you’re thinking about dating again, you might want to know what to look for so you can avoid getting involved with a narcissist again in the future. In this video, I’ll explain exactly what you need to know in order to avoid getting sucked in by another narcissist and how to narc-proof all of your future relationships – plus, I’ll share my personal secrets for surviving and thriving in new relationships after narcissistic abuse.
What is love bombing?
Love bombing is also called idealization. This is one phase of the narcissist’s typical abuse cycle. Love bombing usually happens during the initial stages of a relationship with a narcissist. Officially, “love bombing” is a perception of the narcissist in which they attribute exaggeratedly positive qualities to themselves and, in this case, specifically to the person with whom they’re in a relationship. Since love bombing/idealization is part of the narcissistic abuse cycle, it can happen intermittently throughout the relationship as part of the intermittent reinforcement pattern narcissists use to keep their victims hooked.
Love bombing might also be called idealization. It happens in the early parts of the relationship for the most part,and can be intermittently sprinkled throughout the years (usually decreasing in frequency as time goes on) as part of a cycle of intermittent reinforcement that almost seems designed to keep you hooked. This usually happens during the initial stages of a relationship with a narcissist, this is a perception in which the person attributes exaggeratedly positive qualities to the self or others. During this phase, the narcissist idealizes you and places you on the highest of pedestals, making you feel like you’ve met your soulmate. They seem to like everything you like, want everything you want, and care about all the same things as you. You might keep pinching yourself and asking yourself where this person has been all your life. For a brief time, everything feels perfect. This is why you are so shocked when you later hit the devalue phase during which the narcissist will start to manipulate, insult and attack you,
What is Healthy Romantic Interest?
Early on in a healthy relationship (with a neurotypical non-narcissist), even when the relationship is healthy, you might feel like spending every moment together – and for a short time, you might actually even do that. But for the most part, you’re going to be still living your life, seeing your friends and family, and generally, this person will be added to your existing world, at least at first.
Over time, this healthy relationship will smooth out into a more comfortable rhythm that feels natural and good to both parties. Both parties keep their friends and family, and both maintain their hobbies and interests. Sometimes they do things together, and other times, they do things apart. In a healthy relationship, you start to feel comfortable sort of letting it all hang out around each other, and while you might on occasion argue, it never ends in someone being punished, belittled, or otherwise dehumanized.
You probably already know that statistically speaking, nearly EVERYONE is more willing to overlook little flaws at the beginning of a relationship – and nearly everyone is a little more careful with how they treat their partners early in the relationship. And even in so-called “normal” relationships, as time goes on, nearly everyone finds something that used to be cute or at least tolerable about their partners to be at least remotely irritating. Nearly everyone argues, and nearly everyone admits to being mean to their partner when they didn’t need to be at one time or another.
What’s the difference between healthy relationship interest and love bombing from a narcissist?
A narcissist will almost always proclaim love or soulmate status very early in the relationship, and this will almost always lead to insta-commitment on his/her part – as in, immediate and too-familiar-too-fast, and not really sustainable in the long run since neither of you really knows the other one yet.
A healthy person will take his/her time and get to know you before rushing into things. To be fair, there are a few real-life cases of “love at first sight” that are totally legit – but if we’re being honest with ourselves, those are few and far between. And if this person is really your “One,” they won’t mind taking things slowly.
2. The TIME factor
“I just want to spend every second of every day with you!” ~The Narcissist, rolling over and stroking your face as you wake up together for the third time, 76 hours into your first date.
“I can’t stop thinking about you…hope you’re having a good day.” ~A Healthy Person, texting you at lunchtime the day after you had an amazing third date.
When you meet a narcissist, you can find yourself just completely and absolutely bowled over and just WOWed by his/her level of awesome – so much so that all you feel like doing is being near him/her. And, truth is, the very same thing can happen with a new healthy love interest, too.
The difference here is that while a healthy relationship can and often does have an infatuation phase, it also still allows you to stay involved with the other important parts of your life – family, work, spirituality, etc. It does NOT require or beg you to dump your life and your people in order to avoid missing anything.
A “healthy” person MIGHT want to spend every moment with you but will understand and support your need to continue with your regular life while you get to know one another – even if it means he tags along for your family events and on outings with your friends sometimes. It does NOT require you to stop living your own life – that’s a red flag of narcissistic behavior.
3. The Drama Factor
When you’re dealing with a narcissist, there are lots of red flag signs early in the relationship – and one of them is often a drama factor. Narcissists often shock you early in the relationship with some strangely placed little outburst or fit – and one that’ll quickly be righted and for which he/she will often apologize.
For example, maybe she will blow up at a waiter a little too aggressively when the food shows up cold, or maybe he will be super-bitchy to a friend or relative on the phone.
And if you question him or mention the behavior to him, he will explain it away by explaining why he is justified in his treatment of that person – such as “oh, he has owed me money for like 15 years – he deserves what he gets,” or ” she has always had it out for me!” – it’s never the narcissist’s fault.
They might break down if something major happens – they lose their job, a friend dies, their dog dies or something else that YOU might also feel like breaking down about. But they won’t freak out if they ask you for some money to buy a soda and you don’t have any change. See what I mean?
4. The Empathy Factor
If you’re in an early relationship with a narcissist, there are little subtle things that will happen in your conversations that can tip you off if you watch for them. Simple patterns that will be evident if you know what to notice.
One of the biggest is how empathetic the narcissist is capable of being. Watch what happens when someone in your or the narc’s life experiences pain or tragedy in their lives – see how the narcissist behaves. You can tell when someone is genuinely concerned versus when someone’s sort of “being polite,” right?
A narcissist can be a really good actor, and he might even be really good at follow up questions when he’s in the love-bombing phase. But when things are “back to normal,” a narc will change the subject if the topic varies from something that interests him – often rudely or by creating a big scene to get the attention back on himself.
If you’re the one dealing with the trouble, a healthy person who’s “really into you” will show genuine concern when someone you care about is hurt or goes through hard times, and he/she will never make the pain or tragedy ABOUT THEM at all.
Instead, they’ll stand by you in whatever way is appropriate at that phase in your relationship – whether that means stepping back to allow you time to deal with the issue or to grieve with your family, or it means to literally stand by you while you go through it.
If your love interest is the one dealing with the trouble, he will be concerned as much as you might be about a similar situation, and he will want you to stand by him in whatever way is appropriate at that level in your relationship – while a narc will want you to feel sorry for him/her while you baby and spoil him/her to help end the pain (whether it’s their personal pain or not). It’ll be all about the narc, not the person actually experiencing the issue.
What are the best ways to avoid narcissists in relationships?
So, here are three easy steps you can take to avoid becoming involved with a narcissist in the future.
It’s so simple, you won’t believe it – but it works.
Are you ready for this? Here’s what you need to do to avoid getting involved with a narcissist again in the future.
1. You have to TAKE YOUR TIME in the relationship.
Make a rule for yourself that you won’t go too fast and commit too soon. For example, after I left my ex husband, I made a rule for myself that I would not allow anyone to propose to me until we had been monogamously dating for at least one year – and then I decided that I’d make it a long engagement just to be safe.
This can apply to literally any personal relationship, and even to professional ones on certain levels – that is, you sort of maintain your guard in each type of relationship for an appropriate length of time before you assume you can trust them.
2. You have to STAY CONNECTED to other people!
In order to keep your life in balance and protect yourself from getting enmeshed with another narcissistic abuser, you really need to be careful to still actively cultivate relationships with a variety of people in your life, even and especially when you’re in the beginning phases of new relationships and friendships.
Remember how bad it felt when you were isolated from everyone by the narcissist? This is the time that you need to be especially vigilant of staying connected. And, seriously, I don’t care how in love you are, and I don’t care how much you think it’s YOUR idea to stay in bed for 17 days straight and ignore your phones – DO NOT DO IT!
Promise yourself that you’ll have regular contact with the other important people in your life, even if you need to schedule it.
Get yourself connected to a good support network and stick with them – and consider having a recovery buddy who will check in with you on a regular basis and help you remember to remain connected to your network of support and love – this will help to ensure that you don’t inadvertently fall into your old patterns.
This can happen before we realize it!
3. Listen to your gut.
Remember when you got involved with your narcissist and you felt a little “off” but you couldn’t quite put your finger on it? Or maybe you never felt quite comfortable in the relationship, like you might lose it at any moment? Maybe you lived in fear of being alone or of falling flat without him/her.
This is another very important part of protecting yourself from getting involved with another narcissist – you have to listen to your “gut” – your heart – those feelings that creep up inside you when you don’t want to listen to them.
If something doesn’t feel right, there is a reason! If you’re not sure, go back to #1 – just take your time. There’s really no reason you need to rush, right?
If it’s truly a healthy and mutually good relationship and the person you’ve been waiting for all of your life, time will be of no concern – just take your time getting to know each other and enjoy the process. It can be deliciously satisfying.
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this to be the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. Offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery, as well as some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist – If you’re looking for a therapist for narcissistic abuse recovery, either because you cannot afford coaching and want to use your health insurance or because you have additional issues you need to address that do not fall within the realm of coaching, you will want to find the right therapist for you – and as far as we’re concerned, that therapist must understand what you’ve been through. This page offers assistance to help you do exactly that.
Narcissistic abuse is a pervasive, covert type of abuse that involves the exploitation and psychological abuse of one partner in a toxic relationship. This kind of abuse can affect a personal connection, such as marriage, partnership, friendship, or family relationships. When you’re dealing with a narcissist in the family, they will often abuse everyone in the household and even affect the extended family members. Even professional relationships and acquaintanceships can be affected by narcissistic abuse.
While narcissistic abuse can result in profound emotional and psychological harm, as well as long-term physical effects, the covert nature can make it difficult to spot and even more challenging to manage. Worse, if you find yourself involved in this kind of relationship, your self-confidence and self-worth are often so low by the time you realize it, you can’t or won’t leave.
Of course, narcissistic abuse has a fairly uniform cycle. It can help to understand it if you’re wondering whether you’re in an abusive relationship – or trying to decide if you should stay or leave one.
What is the cycle of narcissistic abuse?
The cycle of narcissistic abuse is a pattern used by a narcissistic personality disorder, psychopathic, or sociopathic person to entrap their victims. For the most part, victims will experience four main phases, including the idealization phase, also known as love bombing, followed by the devaluation and discard phases. After that, the narcissist will often try to bring you back into the relationship, or at least into their “circle of supply,” through a tactic we call the hoover maneuver. The hoover maneuver can involve several different manipulative behaviors designed to get your attention. This cycle will repeat throughout the relationship, whether or not it’s ever officially ended. In many cases, the “final discard” only happens when you choose to end it yourself. This is because the narcissist will continue to use you for narcissistic supply as long as you allow it in most cases.
What are the effects of narcissistic abuse on the victim?
It’s a common red-flag symptom of NPD abuse, and it’s one that many victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse and gaslighting in relationships report: they feel like they don’t matter. They feel like the narcissist made it clear that they aren’t good enough, or at least that they’re not as good as the narcissist.
If you’re struggling with this kind of abuse now, you probably get what I mean – that feeling of feeling like you are always sort of “faking it” and like you don’t even really believe yourself when you talk. That’s a form of disassociation and it’s a common symptom of PTSD and C-PTSD, which are unfortunate but all-too-often seen side effects of this type of abuse.
What is dissociation?
Dissociation is a disconnection from your physical surroundings. It’s when you feel like you’re sort of watching the world from somewhere deep inside your head, or above it, or somehow disconnected from it. Like you’re “not really there” or like you’re watching life through a movie.
Narcissists treat you like a possession.
The worst part about how narcissists treat people like possessions is that there are no limits to who they will use to get what they want. And there are no limits to how low a narcissist will stoop and who they’re willing to hurt.
An Example of How Narcissists Treat People as Objects
I present to you a real-life example of a narcissistic father who uses his two daughters and their mother as pawns in his manipulative gaslighting games.
Narcissist Sperm Donor? A Tale of Two Babies
This is the story of two little girls; we’ll call them Sally and Cally. They are half-sisters, these two, and they’re only a month or two apart.
Their father, we’ll call him Jack, cheated on Sally’s mother (let’s call her Sue) with Cally’s mother (we’ll call her Ann), according to Sue.
According to Jack, he and Sue were “on a break” when Cally was conceived. All Ann knows is that she got pregnant thanks to an encounter with Jack and that she gave birth to Cally as a result of it.
Days after Sally was born, Sue catches wind of Ann’s pregnancy and imminent due date. She confronts Jack, who initially denies it but somehow convinces Ann to lie about it if Sally should confront her directly.
Eventually, Cally is born and looks very much like her half-sister Sally, and everyone begins to suspect that Ann’s daughter is really Jack’s “love child.”
When Jack is finally confronted about this in public, he gets angry and loses control – he thinks everyone has turned against him and he watches in horror as his elaborately built house of lies tumbles down around him as the truth about his ridiculous behavior spills forth into his circle of friends and family.
Everyone finds out that Cally exists and is shocked at the resemblance she bears to Sally. Not only that, everyone learns that Jack has never even so much as met his slightly younger daughter and that he has no intention of doing so.
He says its due to stress and negativity in his relationship (or lack thereof) with Ann, but in reality, it’s just because Cally doesn’t serve a need in his life at this moment. He feels completely justified in his discarding of his own flesh and blood because of the negativity in his relationship with her mother – completely disregarding the fact that his daughter is not a possession but an actual human with actual needs and a real live soul.
In the meantime, as his relationship with Sue inevitably erodes in light of this information, Jack cannot help but implode as she understandably recoils and pulls away on an emotional level.
So, just as he’s completely denying the existence of one daughter, the other is only used as an attempt to manipulate the woman he wants to possess – call his own, who at that moment, happens to be Sue.
As the situation grows in intensity, Jack starts desperately seeking a flying monkey – he calls and texts everyone he knows, trying to figure out who’s on his side – who’s really his friend. And of course, which ones might sleep with him (you know, to take his mind off the stress caused by that “evil Sue” – Sally’s mom).
And speaking of Sue, it’s all he can talk about – how horrible she’s been to him, how she’s “keeping his daughter” from him. Meanwhile, Sue’s looking for a new babysitter because Jack has said he will no longer take care of Sally while Sue’s at work – just another attempt to control her, of course.
All of this, of course, is Jack’s desperate attempt to retain control of what he wants. The women and the children in is life are pawns and nothing more – they are treated more like possessions and less like people.