Pt. 2 Maybe Your Ex Really Was A Narcissist…

Pt. 2 Maybe Your Ex Really Was A Narcissist

A little while back, I wrote a slightly polarizing piece about falling into the empath -narcissist blame game.

It’s still ridiculous, at times. People argue about who is the empath and who is the narcissist — as if relationships are that neat and tidy.

However, there are some truly dangerous individuals — usually masters of disguise — who display a range of the ‘Dark Triad’ traits.

Here are key red flags which tend to signal narcissistic tendencies:

1) Love Bombing: It’s been said, but it can’t be said enough. ‘Falling in love’ is a terrible metaphor in general, but an apt one when it comes to getting sucked into a relationship with a narcissist.

A narcissist will try to override your initial intuition by showering you with love, kindnes, thoughtfulness, and, using their calculating perceptions to validate you in the ways you desire most — you name it — to keep your senses so overwhelmed that by the time you understand what was going on, you’re already caught in their web.

They will say all the right things at all the right times… And, you will feel like ‘this is it’ and ‘this is the one’. Alas, this is a meticulously, cultivated illusion. No one comes off as perfect as a narcissist when you first meet or get involved with them. It’s quite literally too good to be true.

2) From here, you’re likely to notice an array of odd behaviors manifesting. Things will sometimes cool off, rather quickly…because they’re exhausted from keeping up the ruse… And, since they avoid responsibility and usually believe their own lies… they will think you deserve to be punished for making them ‘act like someone who cares’… which they are…not.

3) Narcissists are obsessed with a perfect, idealized version of love; and, no one will ever measure up to it in real life. Therefore, as soon as they are faced with the mirroring of their own imperfections (and, yours) in a relationship, they will have one foot colloquially out the door…but you will not know this until it’s too late.

3) Notice how other people in their life treat you. Are they excited to meet you or see you? Or do they seem nonplussed, confused, or even threatened? Early on, a narcissist will plant seeds…the beginnings of tiny narratives which will grow into vines until you are strangled by them and trapped in their world and the version of you which they think makes them look best. Sometimes, often times, making them look best, is done by making sure everyone is primed to think that if anything happens — which it almost inevitably will — it’s obviously your fault.

4) Even if it’s not readily apparent or direct, they will isolate you from people in your life as well. They will expect you to be on call at their whimsy….but they won’t be on call for you. They’ll call when it’s convienent, on a whim, for them. They will expect you to put them before your family and even children.

5) Depending on the severity of their issues, you could quickly find yourself being abused in any manner of ways, surrounded by people who not only defend the narcissist at all cost (i.e. ‘flying monkeys’) but place the blame on you for the abuse you received. The breadth of the slander and the intensity of attacks can take your breath away and have serious consequences on your life and reputation.

6) When you attempt to call them out on their behavior they will quickly flip the script and blame you; or, they will attack your character under the pretense of any and all other ostensible issues as a diversion tactic.

7) Your human reaction to these mounting injustices, the accompanying and compounding feelings of helplessness, and, the rage at the injustice of it all will be used as fodder to destabilize you and make you look like the crazy one, or the immoral one.

8) The slander campiagn has usually started — as a form of insurance — long before issues begin coming to a head. This was done intentionally to set the stage to discredit your accounts of abuse.

9) The narcissist may disappear for periods of time (or ‘stonewall you’ if they don’t want to face their behaviors when you wish to discuss them) with no notice only to show back up and start the love bombing process all over when they get desperate for validation, or sense that they are losing control over you. 

The ‘art’ of sucking you back into their chaotic orbit is commonly known as ‘hoovering’.

10) They will play on all of your deepest vulnerabilities to manipulate you at this stage. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is off the table. Often, no behavior on their part is not justifiable in their minds.

11) Against your better judgment, you will feel a magnetic pull towards the person even though there is no logical explanation. You may make excuses for them. You may decide you want to ‘save them’….

My advice? Save yourself…


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Dr. Courtney Parker


Dr. Parker holds a PhD in Health Promotion and Behavior from the University of Georgia, where she previously earned a…

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