Idealization and love-bombing
Highly skilled manipulators know how to seduce their prey — even without bothering them. They are skilled wordsmiths and mental puppeteers, yanking the strings every step of the way. They know your love language and they know how to appeal to everything you wish to hear. They open doorways, they take one out on extravagant dates, so they simply take their time with foreplay — both physical and verbal. Their first chivalry masks their cruelty. Their tenderness is a really persuasive façade for their chilly inside.
The idealization phase can simply be described as pure, unadulterated ecstasy — both for the sufferer and the predator. Love-bombing — the excess praise and flattery that the predator pops on the victim — might as well be crack cocaine. It is a common manipulation used by cults to control their members — and in a relationship with a narcissist, you become a one-man cult. Your loyalty to these becomes servile, disturbingly teetering on the edge of worship. Plus it’s usually as you’re pursuing their lead.
The target is dressed to become addicted to the narcissist’s loving words and affectionate actions — not knowing they are hollow. We begin to invest in the predator as they appear to invest in us. They reflect our deepest desires and needs; they mirror our interests, hobbies, and perspectives. They tantalize us with the promise of a brighter future, a connection where we are deeply validated and cared for. We get used to the daily praise and laser-focused attention. Sex with the narcissist throughout the idealization phase is explosive — stuffed with just the ideal amount of tenderness and aggression — that the narcissist knows exactly how to bring us to greater heights. It’s since they ’t researched what we like and have learned to mimic it. Little do we know, gender will afterwards be utilized as ammunition.
Throughout idealization and love-bombing, our location on the base is secure and total. We become the middle of the narcissist’s world — or so we think. Really, they become the middle of ours as we attempt to measure up to the ideal picture they have of us. They make us feel like God, simply to appeal to their own God complex.
On the way, we deepen our investment since the bond feels really special and unique. We feel we’ve met our soulmate our other half, our “twin fire. ” That which we’t actually met is someone who’d burn us to ashes without a second glance if it meant getting everything they desired. This connection is improved in a way that needs our attention on a physical, religious and even biochemical level — and we know it, we begin to rely on this new individual for survival. And that’s as soon as the danger begins.
Within even the most perfect period of idealization, you will find tiny moments of fame and fleeting red flags. Predators will constantly ‘examine’ the boundaries of the victims early — with provocative comments designed to make the sufferer doubt their perceptions. There will always be slippings of the mask at which we get a terrifying perspective of the true self.
Nevertheless these are so rare during this phase that we are led to doubt whether we’ve ever noticed anything in any way. Throughout love-bombing, the luckiest of survivors pick up on the cracks in the narcissist’s hide and see the empty shell beneath — and they don’t attempt to rationalize or resolve the shattered pieces. They can depart with their savings and sanity intact — they are able to leave, still whole. The rest move on the devaluation phase, to be broken and invisibly.
An adept mental predator knows how to exploit a target’s strengths in addition to their weaknesses. From the very start of the connection, they ’re carrying a list of those qualities you have that would enable them to exploit you. That means that they’re not merely zooming in onto your exposure, they’re also preying on your resilience and empathy — your skill to bounce back and your capacity to sympathize with their excuses for poor behavior.
When devaluation begins, it’s not necessarily sudden. In fact, it may be like a gunshot in the dark or even a silent murmur in the corner. You just ‘sense’ that something has shifted, but you’re not certain why, how, where, or even when. Your lover stops taking your calls. They draw with no explanation. You view them interacting with others in a playful, flirtatious way — in the same way they used to behave with you. They praise others the way they used to praise you. The coveted partnership you two used to share seems to have been displaced onto another replacement target (or many targets) — someone who is now on the receiving end of the flattery and focus that you once cherished.
Meanwhile, you appear to be on the receiving end of the criticism, their harsh insults, their boundless rage attacks. The amount of disappearances, discrepancies and marked evidence of adultery start to climb. When they pull off they pull with full force — and they enjoy seeing your embarrassment when you pine for them. They enjoy knowingly provoking you to react, which makes you out to become the mad one. And they adore bringing in others into the dynamic of the relationship — whether they be friend, foe, ex, or stranger.
Then there’s that the stone-cold silence following stonewalling you during arguments. The narcissist’s silent treatment is deafening — and it hurts, literally. You are feeling an invisible, strong wall placed between both — it’s an inexplicable sense of being trapped yet tethered. You annoyance for the individual you’d constructed in your mind — a person he or she had been too happy to portray for a short period of time.
But the man or woman you love does not exist. And this really is really a painful reality for — let alone someone that has a high level of investment in the connection — to swallow.
Targets that are devalued are torn to shreds by the verbal and emotional battery inflicted by their own narcissistic partners. Their mind is infiltrated with disempowering belief systems and messages about their value. They reside day-to-day in a perpetual battle — a power struggle that never seems to finish. They try to not internalize the criticism and blame, but they are feeling ashamed about being treated so viciously. This is not a shame that’s theirs to take — it goes to their perpetrators. However they feel it down to their bones. It burdens them sleepless nights and through countless tired times. Throughout the vicious cycle, pain is occasionally mixed with pleasure. Victims are overjoyed at receiving crumbs of focus from their abusers — only to be ruined by blow after blow.
Those that can endure the devaluation phase unfortunately move onto the last phase (though, to be fair, there is no such thing as a ‘closing’ phase to a narcissist, that never seems to allow his or her victims move).
Those who can escape and ‘discard’ the perpetrator first don’t really escape, as they tend to be stalked and harassed years afterwards by the vindictive narcissist.
Those that are lost suffer a horrific trauma as well — they are pummeled by the narcissist’s cruel and callous indifference as they are seemingly refused and disposed of by someone who they thought loved them. After having their entire body, mind and soul offended, used, destroyed, they are then subjected to the ultimate betrayal. They are left in a way that leaves no closed. The discard is staged in a way that’s excessively painful and embarrassing for the victim. Maybe it occurs in people, or occurs shortly following the narcissist has galivanted off with their new sufferer. Perhaps it is accompanied by a sickening twist of events, an unraveling of shocking truths about the degree of the narcissist’s betrayals or a particularly violent rage attack. However it occurs, it is merciless and calculated to ruin.
Supporters of narcissistic abuse are often brought to their knees and left blindsided by the narcissist’s departure. They are depleted, drained, belittled, diminished. They are left with more questions than answers, more doubt than certainty. Many fall into depression, spells of stress, and suffer the symptoms of trauma. Some commit suicide or get close to the precipice of death. If they are unfamiliar with or well-versed concerning the cycle of abuse, they have a inclination to blame themselves to be mistreated, not realizing this cancerous predator has only squeezed them dry.
If the victim survives the discard, the only path left would be that the very long road to healing. That is, unless they get entangled in the narcissist’s matches once more and squeezed back into the traumatic vortex of the connection. If that’s the case, the cycle only begins again.
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