"Mirror, Mirror on the wall . . . where did he go, and why doesn't he call?"

How To Avoid Dating a Narcissist

So you've met (what appears to be) a great guy. He talked a good talk. He even walked the walk for a minute. But then things took a turn. Something didn't feel right. Words and actions weren't aligning. Emotional distance crept in. And then the questions began. What did I do? What didn't I do? Was it me? Is he scared? What the hell is going on? 

What's going on is that you may be dating a narcissist. 

I spent years married to one. The affects of that experience still linger in my life to this day. Even being divorced for 17 years, watching recent decisions of his from afar often triggers me into remembering the fresh hell that was life with him.

I've also worked with many narcissists over the years and encountered them in social circles as well. Narcissists are highly skilled psychological abusers - both covert and extroverted in style - and can leave you suffering post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for years. 

So how can you spot one to avoid dating a narcissist? 

Start by answering these simple questions first. Does the person you're dating make you question your self-worth? Do they almost seem deliberate in their attempts to damage your confidence? Do they regularly send you into a downward spiral leaving you emotionally mired in self-doubt? Do you feel like you're fighting a constant uphill battle that leaves you endlessly trying to prove yourself worthy to win this person over? 

If so, you may be dating a narcissist. And you're probably completely exhausted. 

How to Avoid Dating a Narcissist

Look for patterns of the narcissistic cycle of abuse, which is as follows:
  • Idealization (You're amazing!)
  • Devaluation (Something is wrong with you!)
  • Discarding (Go away, I don't need you anymore!)
  • Hoovering (But I'll be back to pick up the pieces!)
So, what is this narcissist cycle of abuse all about? What's the end game for the narcissist here? The game is this -- narcissistic supply.

The above cycle is "grooming" -- a cycle of abuse that ensures the narcissist maintains a constant supply of attention (from you). You are literally being groomed to be victimized. When you see this pattern of psychological abuse playing out in your relationship -- RUN - don't walk to the nearest exit.

This is not about love and passion. It's about control and emotional manipulation to ensure the narcissist's fragile ego maintains superiority over you (and everyone else in their lives). In the narcissist's world, everyone gets their turn in this abusive cycle.

How to Spot a Narcissist

1.) The Empty Vessel Makes the Most Noise: The Narcissistic Need for Attention

This noisy empty vessel concept can be considered the flag pole in which other red flags will be raised upon, according to Dr. Ramani, a leading expert on narcissism, NPD and narcissistic abuse.

Picture yourself in a social setting - a bar, an office party, a restaurant, a crowded room, etc. You hear a voice that rises above the rest. You scan the room and spot the source. They're loud. They're charming. They're magnetic and they've garnered themselves a captive audience. They come across as confident, knowledgeable, and educated.

Problem is, they're not saying much.

They're like an empty vessel that's been hit with a stick - and sound is now ringing, ringing, ringing out of the hollowness of that vessel, reverberating in waves over the surrounding area, entrancing everyone.

They're telling stories (about themselves). They're using wit, humor and sarcasm to enthrall others (with tales of their own experiences). They're dismissive of others around them who try to contribute to the conversation (quickly talking over them, steering the conversation back towards themselves). They're discussing successes, theories and ideas (that are all their own).

Those in their audience seem captivated (by all of their grandstanding and tall tales).

Raise the flagpole. You may be in the midst of a narcissist.

They're not always loud, either. As Dr. Ramani points out, they sometimes instead us voice inflection to create a sense of mystery, speaking in whispers, leaning in close, or taking long pauses in between words. 

What you're really spotting here is this: big presence = dramatic, intense energy that seeks validation from others. Otherwise known as an "attention whore."

2.) Brr, It's Cold in Here: The Narcissistic Need for Superiority and Emotional Distance

Narcissists are adept at giving off an air of detachment. This is red flag number two. 

You suddenly find yourself wanting to be noticed by them. (Oh me, me - pick me, please, I'm over here!) But you can't quite reach them. They're aloof. They feel somewhat distant and almost untouchable. And you find yourself starting to believe that they're somehow superior to you and others.

They must be, right? 

They must have some magical knowledge that's so powerful that they have to go to great lengths to remain above others and just out of reach, for fear they might pass that superior knowledge off to those undeserving of it.

You immediately sense that only a chosen few receive such a reward from this individual. They must have something that everyone else wants, right?

The narcissist remains wholly unavailable (emotionally) and detached (emotionally) in order to continually remain above the fray, so as to wield power over their kingdom (of admirers) like an Emperor.

The 4 Stages of Narcissistic Abuse

1.) Idealization and the Narcissistic "Need to Feed:" The Bait and Hook 

This brings us to red flag number three. They've just set the bait. You ate it up - hook, line and s(t)inker. 

Now it's time to shine. Do a little dance. Will they notice you? Will they give you their attention? No? Okay, dance some more. Maybe say something witty. Twirl your hair. (Oh me, me - pick me, please, I'm over here!) Put on some make up. Behave desperately. Lower your standards. Compromise your values. Dance until you can dance no longer to prove your worth to them - to prove you're worthy OF THEM. 

If you've succeeded at that, then job well done. You are now on their radar, and they're coming in hot. Let the love bombing begin! You feel special, don't you? 

This narcissist is now giving you what you've worked so hard for - their attention. 

It's coming in wave after wave after glorious wave. It's washing over you and you're glowing. The narcissist is going out of their way for you. They're responding to your texts in record time. They're making themselves available to you on weekends. They're texting you good morning. They're texting you goodnight. They're taking you on (lame) dates. You may even be spending (lame) weekends at each others place. 

A narcissist has a constant need for attention. Congratulations! They're now officially pursuing YOU for that constant supply of it. 

2.) Devaluation and the Narcissistic Need to for Superiority: You're Not Good Enough

Discarding is soon to follow. But it's impending arrival will be proceeded by red flag number four, which is devaluation.

The pick up artist (PUA) community calls these devaluation tactics "negging" - subtle negative comments meant to trigger your insecurities and weaken you into becoming easier prey and a much more willing victim. And it usually looks something like this.

"Is that really what you're going to wear tonight?" Devaluing your appearance. Or after eating a meal you just prepared they say, "My mother's cooking is the best in the world." Devaluing your skills. Or "You should go brush your teeth." Devaluing your confidence.  

I'll throw this in as an additional personal observation of my own. Narcissistic men, in particular, may even begin to tell you stories (or any story) about other women that have come before you. 

They can talk about an ex non-stop (implying a comparison). Or they'll give away their deep-rooted insecurities by telling you some less-than-honorable sex stories (in an attempt to imply that they're sought-after and highly valued by the opposite sex).

Devaluation can be subtle or downright brutal. Whatever you do, don't fall victim to these narcissistic devaluation tactics by immediately becoming insecure. Call them on this BS and signal to them that you're onto them, you're confident, and this childish crap doesn't work on you. 

If you do that, the narcissist will likely punish you with their penchant for the silent treatment

All is fair in love and war, right? A narcissist knows the best way to win is to weaken his opponent. By decreasing your sense of value, a narcissist sends you into a weakened state of "unworthiness" thus making you easier to conquer (and to keep around for constant feeding of their very fragile ego).

3.) Discarding and the Narcissistic Need for Control: Taking out the Trash

By now, it's clear that something doesn't feel quite right. If you're dating such a great individual, then why do you still feel so alone? Uh, oh. Red flag number five. 

All of a sudden, the momentum that was building just came to a screeching halt. The glorious waves that were washing over you just dried up. It's like you've just been air-dropped into the middle of the Sahara desert. You find yourself feeling trapped, stranded, and all alone.

Not only does the narcissist now own your headspace. But even better, they've dumped you before you (figured them out and) dumped them. Your value and sense of self-worth just plummeted. Damn, it's hot in the desert. So why not take a dive into the sea of self-doubt? After all, swimming in self-doubt feels lovely, right?

Discarding is how a narcissist maintains control (and hooks you up to their feeding tube for the constant incoming flow of attention they've now primed the pump to receive from you).

The narcissist is always in the drivers seat (psychologically manipulative need for control). And like any good Emperor - constantly running off to conquer new lands.

With the narcissist, it's not about reaching a destination (relationship). It's about chasing and conquering (tricking around with people's heads and emotions in order to control others so as to maintain a feeling of superiority over them). 

If a narcissist has just rejected you, you're doing great - scratch that, you're doing AWESOME. As Dr. Ramani says, "Narcissists aren't rejecting you - they are rejecting your supply:"

4.) Hoovering and Narcissist Entitlement: Sucking Up the Dirt 

But don't worry. Unfortunately, they'll be back.

The narcissist just hurt your feelings pretty deeply, right? Perfect! This puts them into a superior position to come back to "hoover" you up like the dirt they've left you feeling like. They've treated you like dirt and they're returning with a vacuum cleaner to suck you up again. Red flag number six.

If they've done their job right, by now you're completely addicted. They've got your head spinning, your heart is involved, and you're so down in the dumps and preoccupied with proving your worth to them that you never even consider breaking free. After all, who would want you, right? This experience is telling you that you're not good enough. If the narcissist doesn't want you then who will? 

If they're a pro at this, they can get at least a year or more out of you by recycling you through the four stages of narcissist abuse over and over again. If they're an amateur, they're set up for at least a few months. 

But YOU, my dear, are about to enter HELL.

All the while, the narcissist will be working all their other options simultaneously in the background. They've got a huge need to feed so they also need to ensure they've got to have a transplant to replace you (once you catch onto them and bolt away from them).

But don't get angry. These folks are broken. A narcissist is a pathetic creature.

Hurt People - Hurt People: The Narcissists Neglected Childhood and The Coffee Maker

Many narcissists grew up with troubled childhoods, particularly, in neglectful parental atmospheres. 

Mom and dad may have been embroiled in warfare of their own for years and distracted and neglectful of their children. They may have been drug addicts or alcoholics. They may have divorced and one of them could've abandoned the family unit, never to be seen or heard from again. The parents themselves could've even been victims of abuse and neglect as children, harboring fears of abandonment, never even letting their own children really get close to them.

These folks did not receive the love and support they needed as children. As a result, their emotional growth stopped at the point the trauma took place. They learned that love can create pain. And you can get all the support and attention you need if you just learn to manipulate it out of those around you.

Picture a narcissist as an 8 year old child, desperate for attention and love, but not receiving it. The child learns to get the attention they need by being a trickster and emotional manipulator. Is mom too sad to pay attention to you because dad left? Is she on the sofa crying all the time? Is she on the phone crying all the time? Just throw a tantrum, break a dish on the floor, and voila' - you've got moms attention. Not only that, you've just gained control of her. She's checking you for cuts, she's wiping tears from your face, and she's coddling you in an attempt to console you.

Perfect! The child has just learned how to emotionally manipulate others (by behaving badly) in order to receive the love and affection they so desperately need.

Ever seen a child bashing their parent? Pulling their hair, kicking them, screaming and punching at them. That's the "I hate that you left me and don't love me" cry for help. And if the child does this after a parent has just returned from an outing without the child, that's a sure sign of resentment and neglect coming from that child directed at the parent. It's an attachment disorder developing from emotional neglect.

It's okay to feel bad for these people. But do NOT think that love will fix them. They are chronic repeaters. They don't want to change their way of life because it works for them. They're in the drivers seat. They're in control. Emotions mean nothing and are simply signs of weakness to them. So don't think showing yours will do them any bit of good. 

A narcissist will actually become angry at you for showing your weakness (emotions) and resentful of the fact that you actually "feel" things. They'll make it very clear to you that you "don't go there" with them. If you feel like you're walking on eggshells, tip-toeing around their emotional explosivity all the time, it's because you are. 

This goes deeper in adulthood than a child's need for love. In adulthood, this is now about control and superiority over others. To a narcissist, people are things. Things that only serve a purpose or a use. As Dr. Ramani says, you need a coffee maker. You don't love a coffee maker. But when you don't have a coffee maker, you sure do notice it's absence, right?

Well, YOU my dear, are the coffee maker.

These are generational childhood wounds that your love simply cannot heal. So don't even think about it. Years and years of therapy barely even help a narcissist. You sure as hell aren't going to do it after a few dates, a few months, or even a few years of tolerating their BS.

Speaking of Wounds: Trauma Bonding and the Addiction of Empathetic People

You may be as shocked as I was to understand this aspect of narcissist abuse. This was a game changer for me. I truly feel that understanding this concept was the catalyst that began my healing. So pay very close attention to this.

You know that concept of Yin and Yang, right? What one person has another person needs and together, the two fit like a glove. Well, narcissism has its own brand of Yin and Yang.

The person that's full of empathy (Yin - YOU) and the person that lacks empathy (Yang - the narcissist).

That's moth to a flame stuff right there. And here's where it really gets interesting so listen up. Once you've had an experience with a narcissist -- the abuse you've suffered will keep drawing you back to even more of them! The moth loves the flame that can destroy them.

It's "the one that got away" type of stuff. You were never quite "good enough" to land that one. So when someone else comes along that literally triggers the memories of the feelings of that past psychological abuse - the unworthiness of it all - you will find yourself ensnared all over again attempting to prove yourself worthy.

"Why, why, why does everyone discard me?!"

Well, the truth is people don't keep discarding you. It's only because you're continually dating a narcissist, one right after the other, that this happens. 

"Discarding" and "devaluing" are all part of the narcissistic cycle of abuse. And you will find yourself addicted to it, because your sense of self-worth is now tied to it. The "constant waiting" for the short term reward lights up the same areas of the brain that addiction lights up once the "reward" (breadcrumb of attention) you've worked so hard for is finally granted for a hot minute. 

You're an addict that's anxiously awaiting your next fix.

And once you've had a significant experience with a narcissist, you will find yourself "trauma bonding" to those personality types over and over again. Constantly reliving the narcissistic cycle of abuse, like an addict that cannot give up their drug, hanging on for dear life waiting to receive their next fix.

Why, am I hooked you ask? Because victims of abuse tend to subconsciously seek out situations that feel "comfortable" to them. Thus repeating the cycle of abuse over and over again in their relationships. Your brain is now addicted to the drama.

And the abuse doesn't end there. Do you know what else victims of narcissistic abuse do? 

Rumination and the Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse

Victims of the cycle of narcissistic abuse ruminate like nobodies business. "Rumination" is part of the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that results from narcissistic abuse. 

Going over things that happened and all the nitty-gritty details again and again, rolling them around in the mind like a crystal ball that's supposed to provide the answers. All the whys, what ifs, coulda', woulda', shoulda's - rolling around in the mind in an endless loop. Closely examined from every single angle possible again and again.

All of which is a self-sabotaging process of attempting to figure out where YOU went wrong. It's now you abusing yourself as a result of the feelings of unworthiness that have been constantly cast upon you. Because it MUST be YOUR fault that nobody wants you, right? 

Dating a narcissist is actually a very DANGEROUS game of cat and mouse. People want you. People value you. It's only the narcissists you keep dating that don't.

The Narcissists Feeding Ground: The Modern Dating World

Now, all of what I just described above may come across as the harmless trifling's of modern day dating, right? Those things otherwise known as "The Game." Replete with all those fancy new phrases like ghosting, love bombing, hoovering, etc.

Well guess what? Those things aren't new. They've been traits that psychologists have been exploring for years surrounding NPD and the narcissistic personality disorder.

Even uglier, this stuff is now being TAUGHT (as dating pick up artist methods).

Some chump somewhere along the line discovered he was a narcissist, attended therapy, and instead of using what he learned to help himself -- he figured out a way to use it nefariously against women, began teaching it to other men -- and made millions of dollars doing it.

And guess what? That chump finally accepted that he was a narcissist, and that his tactics didn't lead to love, instead they led to a lonely hookup lifestyle - and is now supposedly completely reformed and considers his manifesto book cringeworthy to read.

Men, if you're reading this, just stop. Seriously, just stop. Or you're going to end up a lonely old man sitting in his recliner grieving the days gone by and ruminating on the lonely life you've led. Your family may all be dead and gone, your children will be grown living their own lives, and you'll be sitting there - thinking and drinking, stagnant like fungus - drowning in sorrow over the choices you've made for yourself and facing the realization that you're going to die alone. Trust me on this. I've seen it with my own eyes more than once.

These tactics are like a bacteria that has infected the dating pool, damaging people's psyches.

Modern dating tactics not only permit narcissists to feed like crazy on others, but they also encourage and enable narcissistic tendencies to grow and be cultivated in young adults. It's now becoming socially acceptable to be a narcissist. Society is all too ready to reward these people for the less than honorable manipulative methods they use to propel themselves through life.

But guess who holds the keys, ladies? 

Let's get real. YOU have something THEY want (sex). You hold the power. 

When dating a narcissist, it's all about two things: the constant supply of over-the-top attention received from you, and the chase to get it. That's it. Nothing else.

So stop rewarding poor treatment and bad behavior from men with MORE of your attention. 

If you feel the need to constantly prove yourself worthy to a man, then he's not the right man for you. Period. Case closed.

Learn to Recognize a High Value Man

A good man, an emotionally high value man, that's relationship-ready will be vulnerable with you. He'll share his emotions freely. He'll share his thoughts freely. He will prioritize you and go out of his way for you. And he will make attempts to let you know where you stand with him. 

He'll say it (words) AND do it (align with actions). 

A good man doesn't want to risk losing a good woman by playing childish games. 

A good man exhibits good behavior. He does good things. He hangs out with good people. And he's able to recognize a good woman when he finds one. And when that happens, he doesn't pull any punches when it comes to winning her over and taking her off the market. 

So if you've got a guy that's constantly throwing metaphorical punches at you -- knock him out. He's disqualified.

Healing from a Narcissistic Relationship: Narcissistic Education

Now it's time for healing. Pull out a tub of ice cream, grab a blanket, and go visit Dr. Ramani's channel

Stand your ground! Learn to recognize the symptoms, learn to disconnect. You've got the power to say NO THANK YOU and break the cycle of narcissistic abuse!

And remember this -- it's not about love. It's about power, control and the need for endless narcissistic supply.

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Anonymous said...

I love this Article.Thanks for helping us.You are the best MOA!

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