by : Stacey Steele
MIrror Mirror: Narcissist in Love Part III
In Part I and II you learned about what narcissism in a relationship may look like and how the tactic of 'love-bombing" is used. Part III explores further tactics.
Why did the narcissist cross the road? They thought it was a boundary!
Have you ever been in a relationship or friendship and thought "wow, this person is like a version of me!"? Then after some time, this other person is nothing like the person you met? Likely you were 'mirrored'.
A person living with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), or narcissistic traits, likely had to grow up in an environment where their own needs were either neglected or they were indulged without responsibility or accountability; they develop an external locus of control, a way of seeing the world as "things happen to me, my actions are not my fault" vs an internal local of control which is "I make things happen, I take responsibility for my actions".
The NPD gives up their personal responsibility to the world around them and relies on creating close relationships where the other person(s) meets their every need.
In order to make this effective, the abuser may use a process called mirroring. Along with 'love bombing', this is a bright red flag. You meet someone and connect immediately. It seems uncanny that you have all the same interests, and you have never felt more listened to and seen in your whole life! After a while, you notice that this person is very different when around their co-workers, family, and acquaintances. When you are together, they don't seem to have characteristics or opinions that differ very much from your own. When you are with other people, it's like this person changes and denies that they even held those interests and beliefs that align with yours (something called 'gaslighting' which will be in Part IV).
Mirroring means imitating and copying another person's behavior traits. Mirroring can even go as far as mimicking another person's opinions and a vocal style. Combining love bombing and mirroring creates a strong barrier between you and the outside world. As this occurs, the process of alienation begins and interferes with your relationship with other people.
Does any of this sound familiar? When you look back on a relationship and understand that you were not the willing recipient of a love bombing or mirroring but actually the victim of a covert tactic used to manipulate you, it can be another betrayal.
What can you do at the start of a relationship?
Keep your scheduled friend dates, yoga classes, appointments, family functions. Though the beginning of a new relationship can be euphoric, maintaining your own identity is healthy and necessary.
What can you do if you are in the relationship?
Be assertive and identify the conflicting behavior and how it impacts you. Ask for clarification. Note the initial response and more importantly, if the behavior changed.
What can you do after the relationship?
Get clear on what your green flags are! What are you a yes for in a relationship? Write it down and keep that list as your "external brain" when meeting new people.