They say love is the most powerful force in the universe; and they’re probably correct.
They also say love makes people do all sorts of crazy things; and I’m certain of that.
I’ve also come to discover that love brings out all sorts of crazy people, craziness in general, and what’s referred to in the world of narcissism as “crazy-making” behavior. Only the type of love encountered with a narcissist isn’t love at all, it’s abuse; I refer to it as fake love.
There is no more dangerous and painful relationship than a relationship with a Narcissist. These relationships are often categorized by abuse of every kind (physical, verbal, mental, emotional, financial…), exploitation, gaslighting, manipulation and a total disregard for the other person by the Narcissist. People who are highly empathetic, commonly referred to as Empaths, are as kind, generous people who are plugged in deeply to other people’s emotions, often knowing us better than we know ourselves. They are sensitive, kind and nurturing to a fault. They will unfailingly place the needs of other people before their own. Empaths find themselves entangled with Narcissists a disproportionate amount of the time comparatively speaking and because it seems such an unlikely pairing in a lot of ways, this dynamic deserves some investigation.
Narcissists are selfish, emotionally and morally bankrupt individuals who are unable to feel empathy for others in any true or meaningful way. They do not consider other people’s feelings at all; indeed, they don’t even realize other people have feelings in the same way that they themselves do.
At first glance, it’s easy to see why the Narcissist is attracted to the Empath. Empaths are everything the Narcissist is not: kind, caring, emotionally aware, supportive, in control, able to have relationships and make friends. True to his nature, The Narcissist covets things he does not have and he endeavors to take them from anyone who does have them (or at least ruin them so that no one has them). The Empath gives freely of herself, making herself a glowing beacon for the Narcissist. He can take and take and take, and in return she will give and give and give. This is the nature of the relationship between the two and it will never change.
In the beginning, the powerful “vibe” the Narcissist gives off will resonate very deeply within the Empath. It catches her attention, and she is drawn to him as magnetically as he is drawn to her because of it. His presence is often very emotionally intense and most Empaths are attracted to that, whether they realize it or not. He may also be hard to read emotionally (his vibe is intense but it may be very distorted, like static on a TV where one cannot see the true picture) and since reading other people’s emotional states is often very easy for the Empath to do, she may be drawn to him in spite of herself in an attempt to figure him out. In short order, he will reveal his lifetime of abuse (real or embellished) along with a carefully-crafted commercial pitch showcasing how wonderful he is (usually not real) – and how wonderful she is, even though he just met her – and she will be effectively snared because she does not realize at first that the intense emotionality she is reading from him has nothing to do with her. It is all for himself.
It would seem unlikely that the Empath would fall for this considering that she is very in tune with others’ emotions and their true selves. Can’t she see what he really is? The answer is yes, she can. Most Empaths sense something “wrong” about the Narcissist very quickly, sometimes during the first conversation. But she can also see something else, and it overrides everything else: how wounded and broken he is inside, beneath all the lies and abuse. He needs. It’s not an act on his part or a mistake on the Empath’s part; the Narcissist really is fundamentally wounded and broken inside. A large number of Narcissists are skilled at appearing helpless and lost. That’s because in many ways, they truly are. Her mistake is in thinking she can help him.
This is the attraction. She wants to help him. It is her fatal blind spot, because the Narcissist cannot be helped and more importantly, he does not want help. Yet even when she can see this clearly, his wounds are clearer. They are evident in everything he does, even in the horrible things. Especially in the horrible things. Since it is unrealistic to expect that the Narcissist possesses the insight to be able to recognize his problems, it is up to the Empath to recognize the situation and resolve it. The first (and most important) thing she must realize is that the only way to resolve the situation is to get out of it. That can be a very hard truth to face. No one wants to believe they have wasted years of their life on someone who literally does not care or appreciate it at all, but this is the trap the Empath finds herself in – especially when she is dealing with a Narcissist who (in his manipulative moments) swears this is not the case. Don’t be fooled. It is the case, and it will never change.
The Narcissist cannot and will not change. He is not capable of the type of emotion, empathy and compassion necessary to render him a fair, loving, satisfying partner – and he can never learn. He cannot learn how to be a “real” person. This ability is learned in the first few years of life. By the time the Empath meets the Narcissist, it is already far, far too late. He cannot be helped.
It is important here, too, to remember that all blame is not laid squarely on the Narcissist. The Empath must take responsibility for her own actions and acknowledge the hard and embarrassing truth that her needs were being fulfilled on some level by the relationship, regardless of how painful or horrible the relationship was. If she cannot do this, she will continue to seek out relationships with other Narcissists and the pattern will not be broken. The problem (and pattern) is not solely with one person, because any relationship – even one with a Narcissist – is reciprocal. The Empath stayed in the relationship far past the time when she knew the relationship was unhealthy, dangerous, abusive or unfair and she must take responsibility for that. Only by acknowledging this can she truly break the cycle and be free.
For a narcissist this is taken to the extreme, as they know they need their own needs met, they must sustain their sense of grandiose imagery, and they must satisfy their grand egos. The most important of these emotional needs is to be the subject of attention in order to support self esteem and self worth. This creates an interesting dialogue between the false sense of self and the true sense of self. The ego is working overtime between being nothing and being something. Therefore, the quality and reliability of the supply or target becomes paramount, because this makes up the identity and provides a pivotal point upon which the narcissist feeds off of their own self to create a new illusion, a mirror image, while projecting what they think others wish them to be.
How a narcissist represents themselves to the public is different than how they view themselves from within and behind closed doors. They feel destroyed, they feel worthless, they are constantly struggling with this internal struggle of sense of false self vs reality. Therefore, the supply provides them an outlet to feel worthy, to feel valued, and to be able to attempt to sustain these emotions that constantly play over and over in their minds.
The supply or target is there to nurture their every need, to provide whenever needed, and to be a source for which he or she can once again feel important, powerful, and in control. A narc needs supply like a human needs food for mere survival. The narcissist has to value this supply because it’s truly all he has, it’s the lifeline for his existence, for his ability to move forward from one relationship to the other. The narc must convince themselves that their supply is omnipotent, beautiful, worthy, and perfect in every way in order to continue in life. Just imagine being a human being void of approval, attention, self worth, self esteem, and having to seek everything you need to survive from an external environment and other sources to fulfill your every needs , desires, and wants for self sustainability.
The process of courting has begun, the charmer, the don Juan, the chameleon, the pro con , then is introduced. Narcissists are smooth talkers, believable, and appear very successful, full of worth and value to others from the outside world. For a narcissist so much energy and time is spent securing a supply , and acquiring their needs be met, that the energy needed to sustain this is overwhelming.
Therefore, they must make good use of their time and energy by maximizing every opportunity or benefit that they can exude and or take away from the supply. It’s quite unbelievably a case of supply and demand, the more the supply gives out the more the narcissists takes to fulfill their own selfish needs and what they lack from within is replaced by what is taken from others who are not knowledgeable that this is even occurring to them.
This is why you often hear victims say they feel lost, they don’t recognize who they are, because they truly gave of themselves to the relationship to please the narcissists not knowing about the void that exist. A narcissists is a bottomless pit, a black hole, void of any and all emotions.
Most normal couples enter relationships not for what can be taken from it, but what is freely given. Not for what can be used but what can be provided. Who can ever imagine getting involved with someone only for the benefits or gains of the ONE – The NARC. Keep in mind the new supply need not be human as even inanimate objects, groups, loyal harems, followers can provide supply for a narcissist. Groups that might include church groups, political affiliations, governmental organizations, etc…
Yet, sadly when you enter a relationship with a narcissist this is what you in fact entering into, a relationship with just one – in essence you are in a relationship with yourself. You will give, you will lose your own sense of self, you will be degraded and broken down to a lesser form than when you started because in order for a narcissist to get this supply they need to make you feel pity, sympathy, and sadness for them. They prey upon supplies who exhibit these traits of compassion, love, empathy, kindness. They use this to their advantage only to then discard them later on.
As the relationship progresses the narcissist will evaluate the potential content, quality, and source of supply. They want to get the most benefit, the most cost vs reward, and the most for their money. Surely after examining the relationship if the narc deems the target worthy to continue than the over evaluation begins which is known as infatuation. Soon therefore, the love bombing , smothering of gifts, and attention seeking signs will be exhibited. To the target they will feel like being on cloud nine having attention coming from everywhere around them. Feeling that things couldn’t get better, they begin to lower the boundaries, become more comfortable , and look forward to hope for more to come. Yet it’s in this hope for more, that the narc knows they have the supply where they want them.
The empty promises soon come out, the mask eventually falls, the real narc is now revealed. Perhaps it’s subtle, perhaps small disagreements that are dismissed as simply having bad days, perhaps it’s small petty issues that arise or perhaps a dose of narc rage was exhibited unexpectedly. The narcissists is inhumane, lonely, and lacks a true sense of self. Regardless of gender narcissists devalue and discard leaving victims far behind, as they didn’t see it coming, had no idea they were involved with a personality disordered person, and have no idea the years of recovery it will take to proceed forward after a relationship with a narcissist.
The narcissist however, since he or she was not truly invested fully in the relationship simply moves on without remorse, regret, guilt, or feelings of any type. They simply walk away in the most inhumane way possible. Whether kids are involved or not it doesn’t matter, as kids become simply extensions of themselves that can be groomed for equal attention and benefits to the narcissistic parent. Narcissists are like the famous movie line …Gone with the wind.
It’s the victims who must then pick up the pieces and try to repair the damage that has been done. Often times the victims have been subjected to extensive trauma, abuse, and mental mind games so severe that they require therapy and years of counseling to overcome. Some common types of victim trauma can be: Stockholm syndrome, Battered men or women’s syndrome, Cognitive Dissonance and Disassociation, PTSD ( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) as well as many stress related illnesses.
For narcissists it’s all about power and control. Malignant narcissists are the most dangerous as they are predators who hunt their prey. They are able to violate the rights of others because they are incapable of feeling empathy. Viewing others as mere objects , as puppets, while they are masters of their own mind games is sickening yet it’s the only way they know to exist. They will cross the line into physical and sexual violence when they know they can get away with it, and feel that they are always above the law. Rules don’t apply to them is there motto.
There is no real success in treating people with NPD. They’ll never feel bad for their actions towards others(unless they get caught, and it effects them directly), they’ll never actually love anyone outside of themselves, and they’ll never be able to make a real apology because in their world – their mind – they don’t make mistakes, they are what they do and it’s always right.
The Phases of the “Fake Love” with a Narcissist, Sociopath or Psychopath
1. The Idealization-Devaluation-Discard Phase. Narcissists and those with antisocial traits tend to subject romantic partners through three phases within a relationship. The idealization phase (which often happens most strongly during the early stages of dating or a relationship) consists of putting you on a pedestal, making you the center of his/her world, being in contact with you frequently, and showering you with flattery and praise, as well as being bombarded with affection, intimacy and sex. You are convinced that the narcissist can’t live without you and that you’ve met your soulmate. Be wary of: constant communication, 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 constant 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 or she is interested in making you dependent on their constant praise and attention.
The devaluation phase is subsequent to this idealization phase, and this is when you’re left wondering why you were so abruptly thrust off the pedestal. The narcissist will suddenly start to blow hot and cold, criticizing you, covertly and overtly putting you down, comparing you to others, stonewalling you, emotionally withdrawing from you and giving you the silent treatment when you’ve failed to meet their extreme “standards.” Since the “hot” aspect of this phase relies on intermittent reinforcement in which the narcissist gives you inconsistent spurts of the idealization phase throughout, you become convinced that perhaps you are at fault and you can “control” the narcissist’s reactions.
You are mislead into thinking that if you just learn not to be so “needy” or “clingy,” the narcissist will reward you with the loving behavior he or she demonstrated in the beginning. These are words that narcissists often use to demean victims when abuse victims mourn the loss of the idealization phase or react normally to being provoked. It’s a way to maintain control over your legitimate emotional reactions to their stonewalling, emotional withdrawal and inconsistency.
Unfortunately, it is during the devaluation phase that a narcissist’s true self shows itself. You have to understand that the man or woman in the beginning of the relationship never truly existed. The true colors are only now beginning to show, so it will be a struggle as you attempt to reconcile the image that the narcissist presented to you with his or her current behavior.
Even though the narcissist can be quite possessive and jealous over you, since he or she views you as an object and a source of narcissistic supply, the narcissist is prone to projecting this behavior onto you. The narcissist makes you seem like the needy one as you react to his or her withdrawal and withholding patterns even though the expectations of frequent contact were established early on in the relationship by the narcissist himself.
During the discard phase, the narcissist abandons his or her victim in the most horrific, demeaning way possible to convince the victim that he or she is worthless. This could range from: leaving the victim for another lover, humiliating the victim in public, blatantly ignoring the partner for a long period of time, being physically aggressive and a whole range of other demeaning behaviors to communicate to the victim that he or she is no longer important.
Although “normal” relationships can end in a similar this manner as well, the difference is that the narcissist often makes it clear he or she intends to hurt you by giving you the silent treatment, spreading rumors about you, cheating on you, insulting you and disrespecting you during the discard phase. Unlike “normal” partners, they ensure that you never have closure, and if you decide to leave them, they might decide to stalk you to show that they still have control. The victim often feels trapped, betrayed, and unable to get out of the situation they suddenly find themselves stuck in.
2. Gaslighting. While healthy relationships have room for respectful disagreement and consideration of one’s feelings, with the narcissist, gaslighting and constant emotional invalidation become the norm. Gaslighting is a technique abusers use to convince you that your perception of the abuse is inaccurate. During the devaluation and discard phases, the narcissist will often invalidate and criticize your emotions, and displace any blame of his or her abuse as your fault. Frequent use of phrases such as “You provoked me,” “You’re too sensitive,” “I never said that,” or “You’re taking things too seriously” after the narcissists’ abusive outbursts are common and are used to gaslight you into thinking that the abuse is indeed your fault or that it never even took place.
Narcissists are masters of making you doubt yourself and the abuse. This is why victims so often suffer even after the ending of a relationship with a narcissist, because the emotional invalidation they received from the narcissist made them feel powerless in their agency and perceptions. This self-doubt enables them to stay within abusive relationships even when it’s clear that the relationship is a toxic one, because they are led to mistrust their own instincts and interpretations of events.
3. Smear campaigns. Narcissists keep harems because they love to have their egos stroked and they need constant validation from the outside world to confirm their grandiose sense of self-importance and fulfill their need for excessive admiration. This is why they are clever chameleons who are also people-pleasers, morphing into whatever personality suits them in situations with different types of people to get what they want.
Beware of people who seem to shape-shift suddenly before your eyes into different personas — this is a red flag that they are not authentic in their interactions with you and others. It is no surprise, then, that the narcissist will probably begin a smear campaign against you not too long after the discard phase, in order to paint you as the unstable one, and that this is usually successful with the narcissist’s support network which also tends to consist of other narcissists, people-pleasers, empaths, as well as people who are easily charmed. This smear campaign is used to accomplish three things: 1) it depicts you as the abuser or unstable person and deflects your accusations of abuse; 2) it provokes you into responding, thus proving your instability to others when trying to argue his or her depiction of you; and 3) serves as a hoovering technique in which the narcissist seeks to pull you back into the trauma of the relationship as you struggle to reconcile the rumors about you with who you actually are by speaking out against the accusations. The only way to not get pulled into this tactic is by going full No Contact with both the narcissist and his or her harem.
4. Triangulation. Healthy relationships thrive on security; unhealthy ones are filled with provocation, uncertainty and infidelity. Narcissists like to manufacture love triangles and bring in the opinions of others to validate their point of view. They do this to an excessive extent in order to play puppeteer to your emotions. In the book Psychopath Free by Peace, the method of triangulation is discussed as a popular way the narcissist maintains control over your emotions. Triangulation consists of bringing the presence of another person into the dynamic of the relationship, whether it be an ex-lover, a current mistress, a relative, or a complete stranger. This triangulation can take place over social media, in person, or even through the narcissist’s own verbal accounts of the other woman or man. The narcissist relies on jealousy as a powerful emotion that can cause you to compete for his or her affections, so provocative statements like “I wish you’d be more like her,” or “He wants me back into his life, I don’t know what to do” are designed to trigger the abuse victim into competing and feeling insecure about his or her position in the narcissist’s life. Unlike healthy relationships where jealousy is communicated and dealt with in a productive manner, the narcissist will belittle your feelings and continue inappropriate flirtations and affairs without a second thought. Triangulation is the way the narcissist maintains control and keeps you in check — you’re so busy competing for his or her attention that you’re less likely to be focusing on the red flags within the relationship or looking for ways to get out of the relationship.5. The false self and the true self. The narcissist hides behind the armor of a “false self,” a construct of qualities and traits that he or she usually presents to the outside world to gain admiration and attention. Due to this armor, you are unlikely to comprehend the full extent of a narcissist’s inhumanity and lack of empathy until you are in the discard phase.
This can make it difficult to pinpoint who the narcissistic abuser truly is – the sweet, charming and seemingly remorseful person that appears shortly after the abuse, or the abusive partner who ridicules, invalidates and belittles you on a daily basis? You suffer a great deal of cognitive dissonance trying to reconcile the illusion the narcissist first presented to you with the tormenting behaviors he or she subjects you to. In order to cope with this cognitive dissonance, you might blame yourself for his or her abusive behavior and attempt to “improve” yourself when you have done nothing wrong, just to uphold your belief in the narcissist’s false self during the devaluation phase.
During the discard phase, the narcissist reveals the true self and you get a glimpse of the abuser that was lurking within all along. You bear witness to his or her cold, callous indifference as you are discarded. This is as close you will ever get to seeing the narcissist’s true self.
The manipulative, conniving charm that existed in the beginning is no more — instead, it is replaced by the genuine contempt that the narcissist felt for you all along. See, narcissists don’t truly feel empathy for others – so during the discard phase, they often feel absolutely nothing for you except the excitement of having exhausted another source of supply. You were just another source of narcissistic supply, so do not fool yourself into thinking that the magical connection that existed in the beginning was in any way real. It was an illusion, much like the identity of the narcissist was an illusion.
Looking back on my life…
I was blessed (or perhaps cursed with naivety ultimately) to have known real love from the moment I made my debut on this planet. My family is the epitome of unconditional love; it’s almost disgusting, but my folks always seem to do what’s right, not what’s convenient or easy, because they let love guide all they do. They were high school sweethearts, they got married and were still virgins (or say they say, but I believe them), and some 60+ years later they’re still happily married and the best of friends. I’ve never met two people more at peace with life and with each other than my parents are. They showered me and my sister with undying support that’s never diminished, no matter what, not even during the ordeals of the story set fourth in this collage of sorts, this blog, or whatever you want to call it.
Growing up, only this pure, stable, selfless form of affection was that which I knew to exist. I assumed that finding the same for myself, that settling down and having a family of my own one day, wasn’t just a possibility, but rather it was a given.
That’s not what I have come to find, I only found the opposite. It doesn’t mean I’m giving up, but I’d be lying to say it hasn’t changed my outlook on love. I now look for red flags meticulously, although even with my experiences, it’s still easy to be deceived.
I grew up in the Bible belt of the region, which probably wasn’t the greatest environment to grow up being gay. My parents were always supportive but our church and community were quite archaic, homophobic, hostile and ignorant. I wasn’t “out” back then, I couldn’t even say the word gay, but I knew I was for as long as I can remember.
My dream was always to get out of my little Podunk hick town and live in the big city where I could be comfortable being myself and finally find the love of my life.
But all the years I wasted fighting who I was left me under-prepared to function in a gay relationship, it left me eons behind my gay counterparts regarding my sexual maturity, I was 25 years old and still clueless as all could be, believing my Brady Bunch roots were what I’d be coming across at any moment. So my move to the big city was a bit of a let-down, I didn’t fit in at all, I didn’t know what I was doing, I was a trusting fool just waiting to get duped, and duped I got a plenty.
I assumed the gay world was like the world I knew growing up, not the dog-eat-dog world I soon found myself on the sidelines of. I did my best to escape from it and find some middle ground, but the only thing I found was loneliness.
I ended up working as a nurse, specializing in HIV for a decade and I loved it; subconsciously I think it left me feeling like my lack of a romantic and sex life was OK, as it kept me from facing things like HIV or other ailments that I saw on a daily basis on the job. I learned everything about that pesky bug although it didn’t matter in the end.
If only I’d have specialized in psych instead of infectious diseases, I’d have recognized the red flags flopping in the wind when I thought I’d found “the ones.” I was wrong. I was dead wrong. And I’ll pay for these mistakes for the rest of my life.
Life’s not all pretty pictures like those Kleenex commercials paint it out to be. Life and love, more often than not, are a chaotic work of art that seems like meaningless pandemonium on canvas.
This is the love I’ve come to know, although now I recognize that it’s not actually love at all, it’s fake love, it’s abuse.
I didn’t learn my lesson the first time either, I’d just taken a sigh of relief when the second one hit out of nowhere and was 100 times more severe. Eventually, I learned all about fake love’s pathology, I could lecture on the topic I believe. Only I didn’t know how to take what I’d learned and put it into action fast enough to save myself from impending doom.
Enter, read and learn.
And may you be more prepared to better discern what is actually love versus it’s imposter, differentiating between the two is not as easy as one might image. Often fake love sweeps us off our feet, convincing us that this is the one, only it’s pure evil.
It aims to destroy you, nothing more, and nothing less.
What can appear to be mutual bliss is all too often a one-sided plot that’s never revealed to you in due time, and never will be if the predator has his way with things. You’re fooled, you’re exploited, you’re confused, you’re shell shocked, your left with traumatic pain, and you’re left to pick up the pieces all along. And don’t be surprised if going to others makes you feel all the worse, because they often judge you:
Why didn’t you get out of that relationship, why did you choose to stay? You know better than that!
Easier said than done. Blame the victim, it’s easier for some than looking into the reality of science behind trauma bonding and Stockholm syndrome. Finding authentic love doesn’t have to be difficult, it doesn’t need to pass through land minds first like it did for me. And for me it doesn’t have to remain this way if I can figure out how to get myself back on track now, but that will take some time and a great deal of effort. But I’m willing to give it my all.
This is my story.
It’s beginning I can’t change no matter how much I wish I could.
My future: I still have a chance at finally owning my reality if I fight hard enough for it.
May you never find yourself in a similar predicament like where I found myself, jaw on the ground, confused, angry and feeling like my life was ending; or even worse, possibly set up to face an angry judge for crimes fabricated unknowingly by one ex. This is no joke, I came to experience the largest and most technologically advanced smear campaign in the history of narcissistic personality disorder – funded by taxpayers, too.
Think I’m joking about that one? I only wish, but this is all 100% true.
I certainly hope you have far better luck that I’ve had in your search for love.
I’m not giving up, however; I don’t want to spend my life alone.
Plus giving up now it means I’ve allowed evil to win in the end.
And that’s no way to end any story, especially not mine.
First song composed / performed by me.