First of all, she differentiates between the popular use of the term–vanity and self-absorption–and the actual disorder.
And I found it all very familiar, using it to describe to my husband just what Richard did. Though it can also apply to others in my life whom I have identified as narcissists, such as my abusive ex Phil. For example:
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. 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 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.
…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.
Richard did this to me. For two months, as he lived with us, he spent nearly ALL his time with me–talking to me, watching TV with me.
And before he moved to town, he would occasionally spend hours talking to me on the phone. Just before he moved here, he talked my ear off, calling so often that my ears actually rang. (All platonic and my hubby was okay with it.)
It gave me the impression that he loved to be with me, because what else would I think? I thought he was drawn to me, that we were two peas in a pod, that our platonic bond was secure and impenetrable, that we were close, true friends for life.
He made me addicted to his company. For a shy, quiet person who struggles to make friends and was very lonely, this was a special, golden friendship.
(And before anybody brings that up, I don’t believe in “emotional affairs” or that this is somehow “inappropriate” because we are of opposite sexes. That’s a bunch of bull dreamed up by insecure people.
“Emotional affair” is just psychobabble making mountains out of molehills, and being so controlling that your spouse’s very thoughts cannot be his/her own.
It’s perfectly fine to have close friendships and spend lots of time talking to friends–even when you’re married–even when you’re of two different sexes! That’s called friendship, and romance is a separate thing that, hopefully, includes friendship.
And, well, we lived in the same house for months, so spending time together was perfectly natural. Also, over time I learned that Richard loves to talk and has lots of male and female friends.
So while I had every reason to believe that he loved to spend time with and talk with me, I had no reason to see this as “inappropriate” somehow.
We NEVER spoke of being in love or wanting to leave our spouses, nor did we “sext”; it was always platonic.
Caring about a friend does not make you a cheater. My marriage was never at risk, nor did we take the emotional place of each others’ spouses or neglect our own households.
It has only been the crap I have found the past several years on the Internet, which calls this somehow “wrong.”
Various sources before then–TV shows, magazine articles–spoke of being a modern, grown-up, feminist woman who trusts her husband even with other females.
In real life this has never been a concern for my husband or me, or our friends, so finding such insecure crap on the Net was shocking.
I have also found plenty of writers on the Net who see no problem whatsoever with chatting with your opposite-sex friend for hours!
And yes, I’ve had people on the Net scold me as if there were something wrong with having a close friend of the opposite gender, and I’ve dealt with Tracy’s obsessive jealousy over this, so this isn’t just paranoia.)
Then when his wife moved in, I got tossed aside and forgotten–and he and his wife both began to treat me like there was something wrong with me for wanting to spend time with my BFF.
He began to poke fun at me, using all sorts of words that hurt and confused me, while she began abusing and bullying me for being shy and quiet. Meanwhile, I had no clue what happened.
But discovering narcissistic personality disorder explained everything at last.
What did he get for it? A combination of narcissist supply and our generosity in his poverty.
Some people complain that the term is being used too much, and labels people as monsters.
But for those of us who have been through this, the term is an explanation and salvation. It saves us from constantly beating ourselves up and wondering what happened.
As I wrote in the comments of this blog post,
I have no sympathy for my recent abuser/bully because the day she ripped me apart without justification, she wrote on Facebook, “I’m having a GREAT day!”
Then when she discovered my blog, she sent me a message saying I’m “not all there” and that she and her husband “had a good laugh.”
Then they went to MY PRIEST to complain about me, and I’m pretty sure I heard her use the word “self-righteous.” If that’s not sociopathy, then what is??!!
As the blogger replied,
Oh yes – those that ‘delight’ in others being in pain and think it’s ‘funny’ and ‘laugh’ about it, are showing very high narcissistic traits. Possibly sociopathic.
They are simply delighting in evil.
She also wrote here about how the attacks of narcissists are essentially the same as childhood bullies on the playground, acting out of an insecure ego, giggling at you, getting others to help gang up on you. But it is childish, immature behavior.
And in response to my description of Tracy laughing at me for my blog this other blogger wrote,
…Yes, anyone who wants to ‘laugh’ at what is written etc, is highly immature and this is a classic sigh of narcissism.
Narcs have an emotional maturity of around aged 4, as my doctor & I discussed and she said this insight I had was correct. They are emotionally children, in adult bodies. Yes. the internet is full of them, sadly.
I first looked into narcissism when Sam Vaknin’s writings linked narcissism with abuse, and yes, I knew firsthand that Tracy was abusive. So I knew she was a narcissist because she abuses everyone: her children, friends, her husband, me.
But discovering Richard’s narcissism was unexpected–and helped me on the way to freedom from the hurt and pain. It also explains Phil’s behavior years ago.
So I will use the label if it fits: if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc. etc.
I’m not a psychiatrist, neither do I have anything to do with prescribing or requiring treatment, so I’m not making a “diagnosis,” and my opinion will not toss Richard/Tracy into a doctor’s office or affect their employment etc. etc.
I am certainly allowed an opinion on what a diagnosis would be if they ever got one, just as I have opinions on whether I have a flu or a cold, or whether I am an introvert. Also, the “label” is not about demonizing people.
The “label” is about learning how to recognize abusers before we’re victimized again–and about letting go of the narc as we realize he never really loved us. These are both good, healthy things that take us out of our “victimhood.” And then I pass along my lessons to my readers.
Back to the original post:
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.
….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.
Phil did that, spreading rumors about me, telling people I was abusing him so they would scold me and try to force me to do Phil’s will. And the insults and disrespect I got from Richard and Tracy, fit as well.
And yes, I’m the one who left Richard/Tracy, but they stalk me online to this day. Any time I tried to block them, or begged them to leave me alone, they came in more fervently–even though they are nominally “Orthodox Christians” and were going through Lent with me at the time.
There is more good stuff in that blog post that I identified with: the gaslighting (trying to make me think I imagined the abuse or his discarding me), the smear campaign, the narc needing a “harem” so he keeps changing his persona in front of your eyes. The false self/true self. That was Richard to a T.
Today, my husband decided to stop being friends with someone who he thinks is a narcissist. I hesitate to use the label, because most people are not narcs, and I don’t want to go label-crazy, like people often do after finding out about this stuff.
But I had just read him Arabi’s blog post last night, with comments about how it all sounded like Richard and Tracy, and he also sees it as matching his own experience with this other person.
And in the course of discussion over that, I noted how Richard and Tracy claimed I was not “welcoming” of Tracy when the whole family lived in our house, while Hubby was very welcoming.
Hubby and I both noted that no, Hubby was very UNwelcoming: He retreated to the basement every night for hours, playing on the computer, while I was the welcoming one, not “deserting my post” as he put it, spending those same hours upstairs with Richard and Tracy. All Hubby did, was provide a place to stay and not kick them out.
We both see this as gaslighting. And I believe the reason for this gaslighting was that I recognized Tracy as an abuser, while Hubby was away and oblivious to most everything she did. So I got the full-on narcissist treatment, while he got treated kindly (mostly, up until the end).
In any case, I’m not getting a narc treatment from this other person, while Hubby feels he’s the one getting it now. I’m not close friends with that person, who very clearly has a huge system of local friends and family who fit into that slot already for him.
(This is one reason why I have trouble making close friends in Fond du Lac: People tend to have friends and family already here and long-established. I don’t feel like anybody needs me.)
But unlike Tracy, Hubby and I do not force each other to be friends with all the same people. If a friend of mine does not get along with Hubby, Hubby is free to let that one go–while I am free to continue the friendship. And vice versa. I even told Hubby he could be friends with Richard and Tracy, but he did not want to because of how they acted.
The way to peace and quiet, is to not force each other to share friends. Sometimes your husband’s friends will rub you the wrong way, or your friend will mix with him like oil and water.
That does not mean the friend is bad and must be jettisoned. It just means not everybody gets along with everybody. I knew this, but unfortunately, Tracy did not, and keeps trying to force friendships with Richard’s friends. Which means he has lost several friends besides me.
But Hubby and I don’t do things that way. That is the way to peace.
Though on the other hand, Richard’s narcissism only became clear to me BECAUSE of Tracy’s draconian rule. I did not even know what a narcissist was, other than someone who loves himself a bit too much.