The idealization phase (which often happens most strongly during the early stages of a relationship) consists of putting you on a pedestal, making you the center of his world, being in contact with you frequently, and showering you with flattery and praise. You are convinced that the narcissist can’t live without you and that you’ve met your soulmate. Be wary of: constant texting, shallow flattery and wanting to be around you at all times. This is a technique known as “love-bombing” and it is how most victims get sucked in: they are flattered by the attention they get from the narcissist. You may be fooled into thinking that this means a narcissist is truly interested in you, when in fact, he is interested in making you dependent on his constant praise and attention.
Love can make you do crazy things; love can also make you turn bat-shit crazy.
At age 30 I’d given up on the idea of finding love altogether. So far I’d only managed to land 2 short-term relationships: one studying abroad at 21 (and the relationship wasn’t even conducted in English), the other when I was 25. In both instances I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and both fizzled out after a few months. 8 years had passed since my last pretend-relationship ended, and every attempt I’d made since had been nothing but an utter flop. I’d become convinced that I’d never find true love, that I’d never even experience my “sexual awakening,” and that I was destined to spend my life all alone, living in celibacy. But then one hot, sweltering, Saturday night in August, 2013, it happened, right when I least expected it…
This handsome young man sent me a message online. His email was original and cute; it actually make me laugh out loud:
My friend wants to know if you think I’m cute.
I replied and the rest is history… unfortunately…
To say we hit it off well would truly be an understatement, we hit it out of the ballpark. After a good 30 minutes of non-stop chat, it dawned on me that I’d never connected with someone like this before, neither online or in person.
This was amazing! Our chat session moved nearly as fast as the relationship did. Surprisingly, he had more in common with me than anyone I’d ever met.
He was so inquisitive about every aspect of my life: I was so overwhelmed by the fact that he wanted to get to know me so well, figure out what made me tick, and make the effort to meet the real me, not just the superficial me in my profile picture. I won’t deny I was loving the attention… because, well, I was finally getting attention from someone! What ensued was a 2 hour chat session free of awkward, type-free moments, leaving me with this sense that I’d known him for years. Next we spent 2 more hours talking by phone: our likes and opinions were so similar it seemed like fate brought us together. From music to films, from art to food, he was interested in everything that I was. And my tastes are rather unique, slightly odd, and don’t reflect popular culture by a long shot. I was blown away by our strange commonalities, wondering to myself, how could this possibly be?
But I quickly stopped questioning and just accepted what was happening as it was amazing. We continued talking by phone while he spent the evening at his brother’s house in the suburbs. Then he called me again as he left for home, continuing to call whenever above ground on metro, then on the bus, then on another metro, and all the while leaving me with goosebumps as the night progressed. He was about to arrive home when he suddenly twisted his ankle , letting out a massive scream. He begged for me to come over and help him out, as he was now in pain.
He’d already asked 4 times and I’d declined; it was so late, and I wanted to make the best first impression possible, so I’d declined, suggesting we meet the next day. But after hurting his ankle, he said he needed the help of a nurse, and so I agreed to come over and meet him. When he opened his door, an electric current ran throughout my body, I became frozen in one giant stare: he was exquisite to look at, this couldn’t be real, it had to be a dream only… I wasn’t dreaming, this was for real.
And he seemed equally as impressed with me, at least based on his smile. I watched it grow wider and wider by the second, causing mine to do the same; this seemed magical.
His eyes were hypnotizing. My eyes couldn’t help it, I didn’t take them off him for practically a year. Yes, he was easy on the eyes, he was sexy, and he greeted me wearing nothing but tattered jeans shorts. I could barely speak, I was almost shaking.
We stared into each others eyes for what seemed like an eternity, then he ushered me into the living room to sit down and talk. I was already enthralled; I was so glad I left my comfort zone and met him that night because I never did anything like this ever. After what seemed like an eternity of mutual gawking, he began asking me a series of questions; he said he always did so when meeting someone new, only little did I know his list of questions were never-ending and had an ulterior motive outside of just getting to know me.
Not once did he interrupt me as I answered each one, instead listening carefully, intrigued by learning about all my inner-workings. He was different than guys I’d encountered before; he didn’t seem pretentious, he didn’t seem conceited, he was all about learning who I was, which was such a welcomed change from guys I’d met in the past. He was so nice, and seemed so genuine, to describe him as charming would be an understatement. He continued asking question after question, and I just sat there, answering each one in great detail, unable to stop staring at his face. After answering more questions about my family, my future, my past, and lots about my career in HIV than I’d ever done previously, he boldly stated something akin to the following:
I really like you, I can tell already. But I’ll be honest: I’ve had a lot of boyfriends, I’ve been through a lot in my life, and I prefer to cut to the chase and avoid wasting your time or mine.
I was startled by how forward he was, and also a slight bit impressed. While I was ready to hear the worst and stopped talking, I prepared myself for yet another disappointment in meeting a guy that was my type and seemed, at least initially,interested in me. He continued by asking:
What exactly are you looking for? A friend, a fuck, or an actual boyfriend? Do you even know what you’re looking for?
I nodded my head yes, he continued…
I know exactly what I’m looking for, exactly what I want and need; and I won’t settle for anything but. I’ve settled in the past, and paid for making mistakes in doing so.
I responded by saying I wanted to find a life partner ideally, but I didn’t arrive to his house with the expectation that it was going to be him, of course. I explained that I was a bit inexperienced on account of my upbringing in the Church, plus my job in HIV hadn’t helped make me any more comfortable with guys. So I definitely wasn’t looking to hook up off the internet for sure I informed him. Then he continued by asking:
Please be honest with me: have you ever cheated on a guy before? Would you ever consider cheating on one? What do you think about ‘open relationships’? What do you think about monogamy and gay men – do you think its even possible?
I’d never cheated before but I didn’t really have a chance to with my lame ass dating history. Regardless, I thought cheating was immoral, dangerous and wrong. I believed that an open relationship was a broken relationship and I had no interest in pursuing something like that. I watched as his smile grow even wider.
He replied, informing me that he believed that fidelity was the most important part of a relationship. Cheating, dishonesty and being reckless were exactly what he was weary of, and trying to avoid at all costs. He didn’t want “fun” or a hook-up, he said he’d had experienced plenty in his past, only he failed to tell me just how much experience he had in his past.
Instead, he said, he was looking for a partner that felt as strongly about love and monogamy as he did. This couldn’t have been more perfect.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; this was a first. The fact that he was the one initiating this conversation, and right after us meeting, impressed me beyond belief. He went on to explain why fidelity was so important to him, and then it all made sense why he’d addressed his concerns right off the bat: cheating had nearly destroyed his life. Not his cheating, of course, that I was glad to hear, but rather the cheating of others.
He recanted the sad story of his father, who was a chronic cheater. At age 12, he watched as doctors removed life support from his his dad, who died from complications of AIDS. His mom was also infected as a result, but she was able to start medications and was still alive and healthy. She re-married a guy, only to be cheated on again; she raised his child and treated her far better than her own son. At age 17 she kicked him out of the house because of his “lifestyle,” which I presumed meant being gay. And he told me all about living on the streets, fending for his life among lecherous gay men, it sounded like such a nightmare.
Yet he stood before me so well-composed, I’d never have imagined he’d had such a rough life. Next he next went into great detail about his last 2 relationships, and how horrible his ex-boyfriends treated him, all the while cheating. He felt violated and betrayed, he couldn’t sleep as he feared his health had been jeopardized. Then I suddenly noticed a change in his tone and demeanor that seemed a bit “off”, like he was filled with animosity as he expressed his disdain for other gay men:
I hate gay men; they’re all a bunch of giant whores.
I was slightly taken aback by his words, and the change in his tone, it seemed a bit harsh and out of character. But after thinking about his past… it made sense, at least in that context, cheating seemed to be the common denominator in all his past woes. He told me about ALL of them. One relationship ended in violence, destruction of his belongings, and a false restraining order being sought against him. The one prior ended with him being beaten and left for dead. I knew each one of those monsters by name and practically address and social security number within days of us meeting; I couldn’t fathom how people could behave like such animals. He sure had a lot of boyfriends compared to me, I started losing track of how many as he went from one to the next to the next in reciting his history of terrors. He’d lived with almost all of them, as well, in fact this was his first time living on his own.
Suddenly he stopped talking and became silent; I noticed a few tears running down his face, and I hugged him tightly. Eventually he stepped back and I saw he was smiling, and then, out of nowhere, he kissed me.
It was amazing, I felt myself catching on fire. I was mesmerized by his resilience and optimism on life. He was a true survivor, he was an inspiration, and I felt so grateful to have had this chance meeting that led to such a profound first date. He overcame all these obstacles in his life, and there he stood in front of me with confidence, knowing exactly what he wanted, unwilling to settle for anything less. Plus he’d managed to succeed in his career despite having no family support, with the exception of his brother. He loved his job, too, telling me all about his marketing career with a non-profit. He created his current position with his boss, just for him. His plan, already in the works he said, was to open his own non-profit.
He was so smart, charming, witty, worldly, charismatic, and also… quite handsome; he seemed to have it all, he appeared to be the real deal, he was the total package. This was the first time I remember feeling comfortable being myself around another guy; in the past I always felt, well, kinda awkward. But he seemed to like me just the way I was… finally, someone who “got me.”
Hell, he even complimented a few of my major quirks and insecurities without me even mentioning them — the things about myself that left me feeling uncomfortable, he somehow saw them, and really liked them! It was like he could read my mind, only my darkest thoughts he found to be bright and illuminating. It seemed like the stars had aligned that first night we met, it felt like, after waiting patiently for eons without finding anything and giving up altogether on the dream of love, that finally the heavens were smiling down upon me.
He said that being with me was unlike being with anyone he’d ever been with before, that for the first time ever he felt completely safe with someone after being with so many monsters. He even said I might be exactly what he’d been looking for his whole life!!!! I could feel my face turning beet-red as he fed me these beautiful words, this had to be divine after all these years of waiting to find love, finally I’d met the perfect love.
Then he said something bold that left me shocked while getting ready to leave:
I think I met my soul mate tonight…
I think I may be falling in love you already.
I nearly fainted when I heard this. He asked when he could see me again, which turned out to be that evening, and then the next day, and the next, and before I knew it, the two of us were inseparable.
Out of nowhere my life pulled a complete 180 on itself. I always doubted love could exist in my life; and when I least expected it, of course, that’s when I met my perfect match.
I went from always being alone to always having a handsome, partner-in-crime at my side. And all he wanted was to be with me as often as possible, to follow me everywhere I went.
I wasn’t used to this type of attention, but I enjoyed every moment of it. I was living life for the first time. I had rediscovered hope. And I was starting to fall in love, as well. And while awkward at first, with time I got it down quite well, as he “taught” me how to have sex, how to be a sexual being; he taught me how to feel comfortable in my own skin, which I’d yet to experience before.
Once a target has been chosen, it’s almost like the Narcissist gets tunnel vision. They are hyper-vigilant in their pursuit and will project the perfect image that their victim wants them to be. They are excessively caring, loving and attentive at this stage. They shower their targets with attention, compliments and literally sweep them off their feet.
They place their target on a pedestal, idolize and worship them. Their target is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Here the Narcissist is ecstatic, full of hopes and dreams. They will talk and think about them constantly, they are euphoric. This is as close as a Narcissist will ever get to feeling love. This kind of idolization is what others would call infatuation.
The victim is likely so caught up in all the attention and is usually thinking at this point, that they have found their soul-mate. Their pursuer is exactly what they want in a partner (because the Narcissist is mirroring what they have learned appeals to their target) and they can’t believe how lucky they are and that this catch is still single.
What they don’t know, or could ever be prepared for, is the nightmare that comes next.
I was living life for the first time ever – as in – really living life, enjoying everything, and seeing a beautiful future ahead of me. I also witnessed the monthly data allowance on my phone plan eat itself up in days due to his bombardment of texts, selfies, and “I love you’s,” but it was worth every single dime. He was quick to say how he wanted to spend his life with me, how he was certain that I was “the one.” And I believed every word he said like magic had entered my life. Finally I’d found my perfect match. Screw the fact that I’d been single 30+ years, it was worth it to finally meet my prince Charming.