9 Signs You’re in a Narcissistic Abusive Relationship
Do you recognize any of them?
The best thing you can do when you find out that you are in an abusive relationship with a narcissist is to leave. Ideally, you should leave the relationship early to minimize the negative effects of the abuse on your mental health.
Unfortunately, it takes a long time for narcissistic abuse victims to recognize the abusive patterns. It takes them even longer to realize that they are being manipulated. By that time, damage to self-esteem, self-image, social abilities, and mental health, in general, would’ve happened.
Recognizing the signs of narcissistic abuse as early as possible can save you years of pain and suffering. In this article, I am going to share with you the most common signs that you’re being manipulated and abused by a narcissist.
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Love bombing is the act of expressing affection and devotion exaggeratedly. A narcissist uses love bombing extensively at the start of a new relationship. They also use it when they want to suck their partner back into the relationship after a breakup.
Lines that are common to hear from a narcissist during a love-bombing campaign are “You are everything to me,” “I don’t want anything from life but you,” “You are incredibly smart and beautiful,” “There is no one like you in the whole world,” and “I would do anything to make you happy.”
I am sure you’ve noticed the problem here. Those are common love lines that all couples use. How can you distinguish between narcissistic love bombing and innocent expressions of love?
The answer is carried in the expression itself. Love “bombing” happens excessively. These lines are said tens of times every day and repeated over and over again. The words usually feel hollow and fake.
If you feel uncomfortable with how many times you’ve been told you’re “too good to be true” today, that’s a sign to take a step back and re-evaluate the relationship.
Love bombing can also take the form of physical gifts. You find yourself showered with gifts, expensive or otherwise. Or it can take the form of acts of service, where all your needs are fulfilled even before you express them.
Unfortunately, love bombing can still happen without malicious intent. So, it’s not a definitive evidence on its own. The advice is to take a hint of it and look for one or more of the other signs below.
This is a typical technique that is used along with love bombing. The narcissist describes you in a much-exaggerated way. They might describe you as “incredibly kind,” “unbelievably strong,” or “very understanding.”
Why do they do that? It simply opens the way for the start of the emotional abuse that will start in the next few weeks. When they repeatedly describe you as “very understanding,” you start to view yourself in that light.
Later, when you protest when they treat you badly, they will accuse you of being “rigid” and will ask in a wounded tone “why can’t you understand me?” This creates conflict within yourself, and it opens the door for the push-and-pull technique they use to keep you unbalanced.
Similar to love bombing, such complements might be said without malicious intent. However, there is no mistaking the next signs. They are textbook abusive behaviours.
To be able to manipulate you without the interference of other people, a narcissist seeks to cut your ties with your social circle. This can be done in so many ways. I will summarize them for you.
1. I don’t like them
The “I don’t like X” technique is used against people you don’t have very strong relations with. Friends that you talk to now and then are not a strong threat to the narcissist’s control scheme. Nonetheless, they are usually the first to go because they are the easiest to get rid of.
The narcissist will tell you that they don’t feel comfortable in the presence of X and Y of your friends. They will ask you “not to talk to those friends when you’re in my company.” Eventually, this will evolve into “don’t talk to them at all, please, for me.”
2. They hate me
The “they hate me” method is used with people you are a bit closer to. You won’t like it if the narcissist told you to cut ties with them. So, the narcissist will create fictional scenarios in which they will negatively interpret your friends’ actions to convince you that your friends hate them.
In time, as you want to avoid conflict, and as your relationship with your partner becomes intimate, you start seeing less and less of these friends until you stop completely.
3. Creating conflict
When your social circle is small enough, the narcissist will start to act on your family ties. Usually, this happens around the time when you move in together/ get married, depending on your cultural norms.
The narcissist will create conflict with your family members. But they will convince you that it was your family’s fault that the conflict happened. They are very persuasive, and you tend to believe them because you love them.
Eventually, you will find yourself completely isolated from any source of social support. You are cut from any support that can help you deal with the emotional abuse that the narcissist can inflict on you. They only allow you to have trivial connections that can offer no real help.
This term is derived from the name of a movie called Gaslight. In that movie, the husband manipulates the lighting in the house. By changing the gaslight pressure in the lamps, he convinces his wife that she is going crazy.
While gaslighting, the narcissist uses a similar trick to make you think you are losing your mind. When gaslighting, the narcissist will deny their knowledge of things that took place. They will accuse you of lying or fabricating events. And they will tell you that you misunderstood their words or misinterpreted their intentions.
Gaslighting can take place with a positive, light tone, like “Oh, honey, I would never do that to you. This never happened. It’s all in your head.” Or, it can be done in an aggressive, dark tone, like “You are just lying to make me look bad. It’s all your fault. I never harmed you in any way.”
Another method of gaslighting is to make you question your judgement. If you ask for help in a specific situation, the narcissist will tell you that you “messed up things, as usual,” or that you “will never understand people, because you are so innocent.” Planting the idea that you can’t trust your own mind will leave you disoriented and always doubting yourself.
This is a flagship of manipulative relationships, narcissistic or otherwise. It’s very important to learn how to spot it. Narcissists do it in such a smart way that makes you happy to be controlled.
Gaslighting will leave you feeling disoriented and not worthy of love. So, you will greatly appreciate any positive feeling that the narcissist feeds you. With the repetition of such cycles of gaslighting and love-baiting, you become vulnerable and open to being controlled. It’s like training a circus animal: you learn to obey to get the treats and avoid the punishment.
Trivializing Your Problems and Exaggerating Theirs
Nothing that bothers you matters to the narcissist. They will always try to persuade you that your problems are trivial. Nothing is annoying about them spending more time with their friends than with you. You’re just being silly.
On the other hand, their problems are always valid and important in their eyes. If they have a problem at work, for example, it’s more important than anything that is going on in your relationship. They can ignore you for days in a row just to settle their issues at work. If you complain, they immediately gaslight you.
A narcissist is always in need of praise, affection, and validation. This is one of the core characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder. Because of that, they are always self-centred.
They hate it when someone else steals their light. If you turn out to be the one who steals their light, they will do all in their power to break you and dim you so you would never outshine them again.
The narcissist will always talk about how amazing, smart, important, and impressive they are. They will fabricate stories about how they met and impressed important people, or how they managed great feats of success at work.
If you try to share your own stories, a narcissist might listen without interest for a couple of minutes, then they would change the subject back to them as soon as possible. They have zero regards for what you want to share.
Narcissists love to put you in “your place.” They are vengeful and can take offence very easily. Anything you might do can provoke the narcissist to take revenge on you.
Their favourite way of taking revenge is public humiliation. They will make fun of you in front of your friends and family. They will use the personal, private information that you have confined in them to affect their revenge.
If you get offended and ask them why they did that, they will either gaslight you into believing that you are over-reacting, or they will blatantly tell you that this was a lesson for you not to cross them again.
The repetition of such incidents will leave you with a profound sense of mistrust and a feeling of being exposed in your relationship. Slowly, this sense of mistrust will expand to other people around you, increasing your sense of isolation.
Other manipulative techniques that are used by narcissists are Passive-Aggression, Silent Treatment, Neglect, and Physical Abuse.
Each of these is self-explanatory and I will not waste your time talking too much about them.
Hoovering and Stalking
Sometimes, if you drop a narcissist, or if they leave you, then they feel a need to get back to you, they will start showing up to places they know you frequent. This can include social media groups.
They will usually fake a surprise when they meet you and will try to act as if this was not planned. It usually is, though.
Hoovering will work best if the narcissist is the one who ended the relationship. They can suck you back into the circle of abuse and take what they can from you while it lasts.
In the next article, I will discuss with you the effects of such techniques on your mental and psychological health.
If you recognize any of the above signs in your relationship, please seek professional counselling. Seek the required help to start on your therapeutic journey.
. . .
Narcissistic abuse: the signs, and ways to cope
12 Signs You’ve Experienced Narcissistic Abuse (Plus How to Get Help)
How To Spot Narcissistic Abuse: 15 Behaviors & Warning Signs
Recognizing the Signs of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome
6 Signs of Narcissistic Abuse Therapists Need You to Know
11 Signs You’re the Victim of Narcissistic Abuse
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