The Narcissist’s First Impressions & Typical Grandiosity

The narcissist knows how to make a great first impression. That is how they begin their grand deception. They will put on the charm, ooze intelligence and seem so considerate that you just can’t help but feel like the luckiest girl in the world. You ask yourself how you could have landed the “last good man” to have walked this earth. However, if he seems to good to be true, then he most likely is.

I remember this such feeling. I was so excited and proud to have my narcissist over at my parents for the first time. It happened to be Christmas Eve, and he showed up at the door bearing personalized gifts for each of my parents, my grandmother, my brother and his girlfriend. At the time, I thought that it was so considerate and showed amazing generosity. I believed that he really must have liked me to want to win over my family with these thoughtful gifts. Waterford crystal wine goblets for my parents, and a leather men’s grooming dap kit for my brother and honey scented organic lotion gift basket for my grandmother. However, looking back, it was overkill. It was suspicious.

Before the night of the dinner, he told me he was going shopping to buy my family presents and I had told him that it was not necessary, especially since he had not even met any of them yet! But he insisted, he said that he did not want to appear at a Christmas party empty handed. I feel that the need to bring presents for people he had never even met was more about how he felt he appeared, rather than him wanting to be thoughtful and kind. Narcissists are very concerned with appearances and how they are perceived. This is a good example of that. This is also an example of “love bombing.” He was going above and beyond to shower me with oodles of attention with the intention of lulling me into a state of ease so that I would blindly trust him. All this effort was to make it easy for him to manipulate and control me.

I met my narcissist on a popular online dating site, first mistake. We agreed to meet at a Japanese steak house for dinner for our first date. I remember not knowing what to wear on a cold November evening.  I did not want to be overdressed, as I had done once before on a different date in the past and was a bit embarrassed, so I thought I better go more casual. I wore a beautiful knit designer sweater and a pair of great fitting jeans and high heeled leather boots, topping the look off with a fabulous, embroidered swing coat.  The narcissist was wearing a collared shirt and khaki’s (his strict wardrobe). The date went well and I felt safe dressing up a bit more for our second date, showing up wearing a more fancy little black dress and knee high boots, which he loved. He made a point of telling me at that time how he was not so sure of me the first date because of my choice to wear jeans. He laughed out loud and said that he was thrilled that I dressed the part on our second date. I found it odd that he could be so judgmental over something so inconsequential. But I just brushed it off. Next mistake.

Later in our relationship, I discovered that one of his many hatreds was of people who wore jeans. (Which for me was very difficult, because I love mine!) Well, I looked great on our first date despite the jeans, but on that second date he made sure to set the standard for me. After that moment, I knew better than to ever wear jeans when I was out with him on a date in the future. Whenever anyone asked about how we met, my narcissist always made a point to tell them that I was lucky to have gotten a second date with him on the account of me having the audacity to wear jeans on our first date. He was a snob, despite the fact that I come from a much better family background than he. But I strongly believe no one should act as if they are better than anyone. I have friends from all walks of life and am legitimately happy for others when something good goes their way. On the other hand, he does not and is not. It goes to prove another facet of narcissism, being “grandiose.” I always felt belittled for my choices, I simply could not be me. He chipped away pieces of me slowly and steadily for the next 7 years.

He always took longer getting ready to go out than I ever did, but then he acted like I took longer. I would even time myself, to prove it to myself that I was believing correctly. He would fuss over what clothes to wear and I would just throw something on. However, he had no problem letting me know what clothing I should or should not wear. I was not even “aloud” to wear my super comfortable Juicy Couture jogging pants outside the house. And if we had plumbers or other construction workers over for any reason, I was certainly not permitted to wear my juicy’s around them because he felt that those pants were “too revealing.” I thought that this was ludicrous because my regular pants were tighter fitting than those baggy sweat pants. I once tried to argue with him on that and he said that if I wanted to wear those pants (around my own house) when workers were present, it must be because I am wanting to be flirtatious with them. His reasoning was insane!

But then again, he is a narcissist, there is no sense to what they think. All they care about is their image and how their extensions of self (you and any children) help perpetuate that image. They are controlling, manipulative and do not care about your feelings because they have no empathy and are not capable of remorse. The narcissist is a shell of a human being, hollow, void of feeling, an empty vessel.  They truly believe that they are God’s greatest gift to us, but it is simply a belief of a dreadfully deluded mind.

Can a Narcissist Sincerely Love Anyone Other Than Themselves?

Is a narcissist capable of truly loving another human being?  This is a provocative question because “love” is defined as “a strong affection, attachment or devotion for another arising out of kinship or personal ties, as well as an unselfish loyal benevolent concern for the good of another.”  Narcissists by nature are selfish creatures only concerned about themselves, so it natural to believe that this selfish state of mind cannot possibly coexist with love.

The very description of a narcissist is a person who is incapable of empathy.  Empathy is “the feeling that you understand and share another persons experiences and emotions.” Therefore, if you cannot truly understand someone and share in their emotions, you cannot really love them.  Empathy is the basis for all love.  Unfortunately, because narcissists do not have the capacity to empathize, they cannot tap into real emotions that are vital to feel love, nor are they capable of giving unconditional love.

To a narcissist, love is what YOU can do for them.  As sad and shocking as it seems, you my dear, were not loved by your narcissist, you were tolerated, you were absorbed, controlled, owned, and reprogrammed by him or her.  To a narcissist, he or she views it as a privilege for you to be in their life.  There is no true reciprocity, no give and take, no connection, no acceptance or devotion, trust or growth.  All those essential components needed to create and sustain a healthy, viable relationship are absent.

You may find yourself struggling with the memories of your narcissist showering you with attention and “love” in the beginning of your relationship. You may want to believe that this cannot have been just an act, but unfortunately it was. This love-bombing phase encourages you into a false sense of security with him or her so that you drop your defenses and trust them blindly.  This makes it easy for them to manipulate and later destroy you.  Then when you feel that you cannot take any more abuse, you begin to pull away.  At that point, the narcissist jumps back into the love-bombing phase again to lure you back to their control zone.  It is a vicious cycle that will continue until the narcissist gets bored and decides to move onto an easier target, or until you break free from it yourself.

So as the definition of love goes, does your narcissist unselfishly put you and your interests before their own?  No, because he or she has no capability to feel authentic, true love. The bottom line is that you deserve to be loved, cherished and heard, and a narcissist is simply incapable of it.

 

 

 

*Definitions of “love” and “empathy” are taken from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary

Ways that Narcissists Abuse

What are the ways that narcissists abuse their victims? Where do I begin? In my relationship, his preferred abusive tactics included belittling me, challenging me, denying, raging, lecturing, over-reacting to perceived criticism, pouting, threatening me or giving me the silent treatment. The abuse was not continuous, there were times where we got along great (as long as we were doing what he wanted to do.)

I began to notice that the abuse would occur in any circumstance where he felt like he was losing control over me or the situation. Thus, he abused me to control me. In each of these circumstances, he made it seem like I was the one at fault, that I was the unreasonable one. The abuse would continue until I apologized to him for whatever he felt that I did wrong.

Any time that I stood up for myself or asserted my opinion, (that was conflicting from his) he would abuse me. If I ever played devil’s advocate for anyone that he was having problems with at work, by pointing out how they might feel or why they may have said what they did to my husband, he would get offended and say that I was not “on his side.” He was incapable of understanding other people’s emotions and felt that people were out to get him. So when I tried to point out that it was not the case, he would get angry with me and say that I am defending them and not him. So how does the abuse start in a narcissistic relationship?

Pedestal and the Pit– Narcissists are fast movers. They meet their victim and groom her to believe that she is the most wonderful, funny, intelligent and beautiful woman in the world. The narcissist will shower love, attention and praise on its victim at dizzying speeds. They will want to commit quickly, pronounce everlasting and perfect love within a month of meeting. This early phase is called love bombing. The narcissist places its victim on a pedestal for all to see, but then after he has hooked her, he will knock her down into the pit. He will devalue her, belittle her, shame her into believing she is worthless, stupid, careless, and disrespectful. Then when he sees that he is pushing her too far, he will put her back on the pedestal so she stays put. This cycle of the pedestal and the pit continues for the duration of the relationship.

Gaslighting– Narcissists use this stealthy method of abuse to disorient the victim in order to make the victim feel like she is going mad. The term was named after the classic 1944 movie “Gaslight.” This film featured a husband dimming the gaslights of the house and when his wife asked him about it, he would say that they weren’t. He would hide items from her, then make her think that she did it. In short, gaslighting is crazy-making abuse. The victim feels like she is losing it because events are happening and the narcissist is denying anything is wrong. An example is when a narcissist hits the victim and then denies ever doing so. In my case, my narcissist would lose items and blame me for taking them. And if it was obvious that I was right about something that we had disagreed on, he would change his statement and claim that he was the one who was right, even using my exact language. It made me so furious! Gaslighting occurred daily in my relationship. He would use the toilet in the upstairs guest room, not flush, then when I would ask him about it, he would deny it was him. I know it was not me or my kids. Gross.

Projection– The narcissist projects his own feelings and insecurities onto his victim. If he is cheating on his partner, he accuses his partner of cheating. If he is lying, he accuses his partner of lying. The narcissist cannot accept responsibility for his own thoughts and actions and projects his own mental garbage onto the unsuspecting victim. The narcissist is the one who feels that he is the victim in the relationship.

Lectures– My narcissist would go on and on about whatever was bothering him that I did. He would find fifty ways to say the same thing until I would break and just accept everything as my fault and apologize, even though I did nothing wrong to apologize for. He would treat me like a child that was behaving badly. I always felt intimidated and scared of him when he would go on his rants.

Guilt trips & Pouting– Used as a way to let you know his wants and he will make you feel bad for not giving him what he wants. They commonly use “always” and “never” statements. For example, my narcissist would constantly tell me that he never felt that I cared about being intimate with him, (despite the fact that we were intimate at least 2-3 times a week! I felt that after 7 years of marriage, he didn’t have anything to complain about!) But he did not feel that it was enough. On the nights that I just wanted to go to bed due to the extreme exhaustion of taking care of my children and him, schooling and everything related to the house, he would pout and guilt trip me to make it seem like I did not care enough about him because I wasn’t giving him enough “attention.” Please! So he would keep pouting until I relented and just “did it.” I tell you, that when he would pressure me that way, I felt as if I was being raped because I did not want to have sex, but had to in order to shut him up so that I could finally go to bed in peace. And looking back, I really HATE him for that. This is an example of Sexual Abuse.

Financial abuse– Occurs when a narcissist has all the control over the financial matters in the household. In my case, he never put my name on the checking account. I asked many times if I could be on the account but he said that if I wanted cash, I had to ask him for it. (Which I never did.) He said he didn’t want me to be able to write checks and possibly overdraw the account. This so-called concern of his was unfounded because I am very financially responsible and would never do such a thing. So, I had no access to any money. We even had a debit credit card but he refused to give me the pin number. He let me use the credit cards and he would pay them off but if I was charging too much in any given month, he would make sure to speak up and let me know that I need to cut back. He was so paranoid about the money, he would check his banking, credit card statements and retirement accounts each day!

Silent treatment– Used by the narcissist to induce your fear of abandonment by withholding his attention and affection. When the narcissist comes around and starts talking again, you feel relief and the anxiety dissipates. I call this form of abuse “Dark and Broody.” My narcissist was a professional at being dark and broody. I knew when trouble was lurking because he would get all quiet and look like a dark storm was brewing inside of him. Then after the storm, he would come out with a secondary form of abuse like rage, threats or lecturing me. During his dark and broody stage, I would get sick to my stomach at the fear of the impending doom I was about to face.

Verbal abuse– Insults, put downs, aimed to wound the victim’s self esteem. These words cut like knives, hand crafted to strike at our most fragile self. Narcissists reach into their arsenal of the victim’s phobias, weaknesses and disappointments in order to use against them to mutilate their soul. Once, when all was calm, I asked my narcissist why that when he was upset, he would say the most cruel, untrue things to me intending to hurt me. He responded that sometimes he doesn’t play fair and that he would work on that in the future. However, he never stopped using his malicious verbal daggers on me when we had disagreements.

Physical abuse

Rage– Rages occur when the narcissist yells and uses body language to intimidate its victim to get the response that he wants. I hated when he would fly into a rage in front of the children, which he did many times. My narcissist would work himself up into a rage when he felt threatened. He was like a tiger in a cage, pacing back and forth in the room, just gearing up for a feast. Then he would fly into a rage over some of the smallest things. One night, after book time with the children, I wasn’t responding to one of his requests fast enough and I commented that “I guess I cannot do anything right.” And he freaked out and started yelling at me in front of the kids. He screamed that I was “being disrespectful and that he deals with bitchy nurses all day and that the last thing he wants is to come home to a bitchy wife!” It was horrible. My 3 and 6 year old were scared, then my son asked me “Mommy, why is daddy yelling at you?” My heart was broken for them. I had to scurry them off to their bedrooms and I promised that I would be back to tuck them in. Then I had to go back to the kitchen where he was, pacing back and forth, he was physically vibrating, ranting loudly, calling me a bitch and making comments like, “Now I see why your ex almost hit you” stuff like that. Bringing up distressing moments of my past that were told to him in confidence, totally unrelated to our relationship, were designed to inflict pain. This is just one of the many examples I have of what a narcissistic rage can look like. Scary stuff.

Threats and manipulation– Narcissist uses intimidation, to get his victims
to doOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA as he pleases. By using fear to control or influence is serious abuse. My narcissist would threaten to put our home schooled children into public school and send me to work if I did not go along with something he wanted to do. If I ever had any complaints or seemed too tired during the day, he would say “Are the kids too much for you to handle mommy? You are too tired to have any time to give to your husband, maybe you need a real job so that you can see how easy you have it now, and I can stay at home.” He would tell me that he came first and the children come second. I couldn’t believe it when he said that to me. What a distorted view of a family relationship. Narcissists are the most selfish creatures on the planet. Children need unconditional love and support, and yes, dad’s should take second fiddle to the children.

Tit for tat– Narcissists will do nice things for you, but with strings attached. There is no such thing as a altruistic narcissist. There is never something nice done for someone without an expectation of a return. My narcissist would attempt to buy into his co-workers good graces, at least for a while before they could no longer stand to be around him. He would buy lunch for his co-workers once a month, because he expected that they would be nice to him in return. I told him that he did not have to do such things for people to treat him well, but he believed otherwise. Then when a co-worker would have a problem with him for whatever reason, or he considered them to be moody he would ask me, why? I told him that just because he buys them lunch doesn’t mean they are going to treat him like a king every day. He couldn’t wrap his head around that notion.

There are so many ways that narcissists abuse their victims. Abuse techniques that Sam Vaknin has also noted include: “Wounding “honesty”, ignoring, smothering, dotting, unrealistic expectations, invasion of privacy, tactlessness, sexual abuse, physical maltreatment, humiliating, shaming, insinuating, lying, exploiting, devaluing and discarding, being unpredictable, reacting disproportionately, dehumanizing, objectifying, abusing confidence and intimate information, engineering impossible situations, control by proxy and ambient abuse.” (The Mind of the Abuser-Dr. Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self-Love)

In a nutshell, narcissists are evil creatures void of empathy, they can be male or female. However, there are 3 times more male narcissists than female. If you can identify any of these methods of abuse occurring in your relationship, you need to take warning. Only you can save yourself.

Once a narcissist, always a narcissist. They never change, but that is a topic for a later date.

How did I get myself into this mess?

I love old pearls of wisdom, delicious tidbits of advice that goes in one ear and out the other.  One of my favorites is “Look before you leap,” and don’t forget the classic “Trust your gut.”  I am bringing these bits of knowledge up because I keep kicking myself that I did not take fair warning from them.  I did not trust my gut and I did not look before I leaped.  I had my eyes closed.

In the beginning, when I met my husband, he was wonderful.  Perfect, too perfect.  We liked the same travel spots, music, history, TV shows.  We even shared some of the same mannerisms, even doing fake British accents.  I called him my “male twin.”  This relationship seemed to be a match destined to be.  However, I was unaware of the calculating cruelty that was lurking under the surface of his seemingly calm waters.  You see, narcissists hook you in quickly, they use charm and sweep you off you feet.  Then after they have you under their spell, they change just as rapidly because they cannot keep their mask secure.  This is the phase commonly referred to as “love bombing.”  Our romance moved at lightning-fast pace.  We met, got engaged after three months and married four months later.

Looking back, that was a crazy thing to do, and after all, “hindsight is 20/20.” (Just thought I would throw another “pearl” in there for you.)  I chalked up the cyclonic engagement and marriage to convenience and necessity.  When I met him, he was already en route to begin a new job in a different state and would be gone in a few months. I told him that I would not be a Placeholder Imagelive-in girlfriend.  Thus, I rationalized that since we were so well suited, we would be an exception to all those doomed married couples who rushed to the alter before really knowing each other.  However, I should have seen the obvious issues bubbling to the surface before walking down the isle.  But I was immersed in the syrupy haze of the fairy tale.

He had expectations and conditions prior to marriage.  He made me give up certain friends that he did not see as acceptable. Then, he insisted that I delete every male acquaintance off of my facebook account.  If not, then he would call off the engagement.  He said that it was neither respectful nor appropriate of me to have any male friends, just as he did not have any female friends.  He did not even have a social media account and he hated the idea of me having one at all. So I had to fight just to keep my account because he felt it was intrusive on “our” privacy.  I rationalized that since his ex-wife allegedly cheated on him, that was the root of his vulnerability and hypersensitivity.  I truly believed that he would mellow out in time and really trust me.  However, that proved to be terribly wrong. I should have questioned more seriously as to why he did not even want me to add his parents or his brothers to my facebook. He claimed “that his family members would meddle with our marriage and try to cause trouble because they were still in communication with his ex wife and their 4 year old daughter.” He would tell me stories of how his parents wanted him to work it out with the ex for his daughter’s sake and that he resented them putting their noses in his business.  Shameful. After much research, I now realize that this kind of paranoia, hypersensitivity and jealousy are a few of the telltale signs of NPD, as well as blaming others for your problems.  He NEVER took responsibility for his actions.  But that is the topic for a future blog.

That should have been enough to tip me off that he was bad news, but I blindly believed his excuses.  I thought I should give him the benefit of the doubt.  But then it got worse when he began pressuring me to go off birth control right after the wedding.  He insisted that the point of marriage was to begin having a family.  I agreed.  But I also stated that I was not ready, and since it was MY body, it should be my decision.  I told him that I wanted to spend some time with him, just as a couple.  I thought it would be wise to have time to get accustomed to the big change of living together and getting to know our way around a new city and state.  I suggested that we could try to start a family after a few months, but he would not hear of it.  He argued that “why are we getting married then if you don’t want to start a family right away?”  He guilt tripped me severely and trapped me into sacrificing some of my values and beliefs.  Next, he insisted that I sleep naked.  Which I thought was very odd but figured that would wear off after the honeymoon phase.  It didn’t.  He would whine about me wearing pj’s daily, until I eventually gave in.  He would twist my wish of wearing pj’s into me not wanting to be close to him.  At the time, I figured it was a compromise to make my husband happy.  However, it is not a compromise when it means that you must trade your values, beliefs or comfort level in exchange for another’s desires and wants.

You see, I looked but I did not see. There were signs everywhere that there was more trouble than meets the eye in this early stage.  Therefore, I leaped into a marriage without really seeing the red flags.  If I would have just opened my eyes and trusted my gut, I would have saved myself a ton of heartache.  Listen to old adages, they have withstood the test of time for a reason.  It may save your life one day.  Now what are some of the signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?  Stay tuned.