The Narcissist’s Dating Game
Written by Randi Fine, Narcissistic Abuse Expert
Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine
Disclaimer: Though the abuser in this article is referred to with male pronouns and the abused with female pronouns, in no way is the author insinuating that narcissists are predominately male and that those they abuse are predominately female. That is entirely untrue.
Narcissists do not have what it takes to build successful relationships. Ruled by diabolical minds, they see others as their extensions rather than separate individuals with independent thoughts, desires, and needs.
Narcissists are not capable of the compromise and compassion that must exist in partnerships, are devoid of empathy, and are completely self-centered. A romantic conquest is chosen by the narcissist for only one reason; to meet his needs. True reciprocity will never exist. They may become companions but there will never be an actual partnership.
A great deal of heartache could be avoided if we knew what we were up against from the start. But if we never experienced this kind of relationship before or do not have a working knowledge of the narcissistic mind, we cannot possibly know how to avoid it.
When two people are first attracted to each other, a powerful chemistry occurs. They feel giddy, delirious, and euphoric. The magnetism between them is powerful, passionate and lustful. Caught up in this whirlwind of emotions, differences are not weighed and logic is absent.
This period of what feels like true love is called the “infatuation” or “Honeymoon Stage.”
It’s only natural for us to want love and acceptance. Who wouldn’t want to be showered with attention and treated as the most attractive, desirable person on Earth? Every new love relationship, healthy or unhealthy, starts off that way and it is very easy for someone to get caught up in the rapture.
We all hope the euphoria of the honeymoon stage will last forever, but it never does. It is not meant to. In successful relationships where couples stay the course, the pair eventually moves from that heady feeling to a place of comfort and security. That is when true love begins.
From that launching point, the relationship builds and grows stronger. Love endures. Respect is mutual. Partners can depend on each other. Plans are made for the future. Agreements are followed through.
None of this is true when it comes to relationships with narcissists. In these relationships the honeymoon stage is similar to the one I described, but the punch-drunk feelings are only experienced by one party—the victim. The narcissist enjoys this stage too, but for different reasons. He loves the feeling the fresh new narcissistic supply gives him.
Initially, the narcissist is charming, complimentary, charismatic, and captivating. If there was a list of everything their love interest ever dreamed of in a partner, every box would be checked. He is the idealized personification of the “knight in shining armor,” or “Prince Charming.” If the narcissist is a woman she is seen as a “goddess” or “enchantress.”
Though this utopian situation feels real to the love interest, it is not. The narcissist is not at all whom he is pretending to be. He may act like “Mr. Wonderful,” but it is all an act. At the same time he is wooing her, he is interviewing her to size her up and figure out how to trap her. Believing he is truly interested in what she has to say, cares about what she wants, and is empathetic toward her feelings, she fully exposes herself. Should the capture prove successful, the pretenses will quickly drop and she will never again see the person with whom she fell in love. All her revelations will be used as ammunition against her.
The narcissistic abuse campaign begins immediately after he secures the union. Once that happens he rapidly withdraws his affection and denies the victim’s right to her individuality. From that point on she is ridiculed and demeaned by him for nearly everything she does and says. She is made to endure illogical cruelty. Surprise attacks come out of nowhere and intimidation is the norm. Whenever she tries to express herself she is provoked, humiliated, and berated. He tells her over and over that she is ugly, stupid, and crazy.
Wanting no boundaries between them, she gradually loses her right to privacy. Her cell phone, computer, email, social networking sites, and journal must all be accessible to him. He feels entitled to eavesdrop on her private calls. All the details of her work and social life are expected to be forthcoming upon his demand.
She is falsely accused of impropriety. He blames her for things that are not her fault and then makes her grovel for forgiveness. He uses emotional and physical withdrawal to punish her.
The partner must undulate with the narcissist’s unreasonable, ever-changing demands in order to stay in his good graces. She must constantly indulge him, stroke him, and revolve her world around him. Ever fearful of losing the supply she gives him, he repeatedly tests her devotion. She must constantly prove her love.
In the beginning of the relationship the partner asserts herself as an individual. She will try to do it again from time to time after the campaign of abuse has begun, but will eventually stop because it only makes things worse for her.
After repeatedly being subject to the narcissist’s campaign of abuse and devaluation, she finally submits to the belief he conditioned her to adopt—that his needs and preferences are far more important than her own. Though she continues having her own needs and preferences, as a willing subordinate to the narcissist she voluntarily curbs them.
Capitalizing on the delusion he has created in her, the narcissist systematically chips away at her self-esteem. He reinforces over and over how defective, incapable and worthless she is. He holds her responsible for everything that goes wrong in his life. And he convinces her that she is to blame for the unhappiness she feels and all the problems the two of them are having. Beaten so far down from his unrelenting castigation, she internalizes all the blame and claims every insult.
Mesmerized by the Svengali-like influence the narcissist has over her, she makes him her entire world. She puts him on a pedestal, aggrandizes, adores and worships him. Gaslighted by him through constant reinforcement that her instincts and memories are wrong, she questions her own judgment. She eventually loses the ability to think for herself and must depend on the narcissist to tell her who she is. The dependency that forms makes it harder and harder for her to survive without him. Confusion becomes her new normal. She can no longer function as an independent individual.
This is copyrighted material. May only be shared with author’s permission and proper attribution.
Randi Fine is an internationally renowned narcissistic abuse expert and coach. She is the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing and Recovery, the most comprehensive, most well researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.