61 Devastating Signs Of Emotional Abuse In A Relationship

Nothing is more damaging to your confidence and self-esteem than being in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Unlike physical abuse, which rears its ugly head in dramatic outbursts, emotional abuse can be more insidious and elusive.

In some cases, neither the abuser nor the victim is fully aware it’s happening.

The most obvious scenario for emotional abuse is in an intimate relationship in which a man is the abuser and the woman is the victim.

However, a variety of studies show that men and women abuse each other at equal rates. In fact, emotional abuse can occur in any relationship — between parent and child, in friendships, and with relatives.

What Is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse is a form of brain-washing that slowly erodes the victim’s sense of self-worth, security, and trust in themselves and others.

In many ways, it is more detrimental than physical abuse because it slowly disintegrates one’s sense of self and personal value.

It cuts to the core of your essential being, which can create lifelong psychological scars and emotional pain.

It involves a regular pattern of verbal offense, threatening, bullying, financial control and constant criticism, as well as more subtle tactics like intimidation, shaming, and manipulation.

Emotional abuse is used to control and dominate the other person, and quite often it occurs because the abuser has childhood wounds and insecurities they haven’t dealt with — perhaps as a result of being abused themselves.

They didn’t learn healthy coping mechanisms or how to have positive, healthy relationships. Instead, they feel angry, hurt, fearful and powerless.

Male and female abusers tend to have high rates of personality disorders including borderline personality disorder (BPD), narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and antisocial personality disorder(ASPD).

Although emotional abuse doesn’t always lead to physical abuse, physical abuse is almost always preceded and accompanied by emotional abuse.

The victim of the abuse quite often doesn’t see the mistreatment as abusive. They develop coping mechanisms of denial and minimizing in order to deal with the stress.

But the effects of long-term emotional abuse can cause severe emotional trauma in the victim, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you aren’t sure what constitutes emotionally abusive behavior, read the list of signs below.

Here are 61 signs of emotional abuse in a relationship:

Domination and Control

1. Says things to upset or frighten you.

Maybe you are tender-hearted, sensitive, or easily upset. Your abusive partner has found your Achilles heel and is playing you for all it’s worth. If you don’t obey, go along, or toe the line, your partner is going to threaten and scare you into it.

2. Becomes overly and inappropriately jealous of attention from or conversation with others.

Your partner doesn’t like the idea of sharing you with anyone—even in the most innocuous, innocent situations. He or she will make sure you never cross the line again by inflicting the pain of extreme jealous tantrums and threats.

3. Monitors your time and whereabouts.

Nothing is more controlling and dominating than someone checking up on you constantly and managing what you do and where you go. Emotional controllers are masters at monitoring you and will either guilt you into staying put or threaten you if you step out of line.

As a result, you feel like you’re under house arrest with no freedom or decision-making powers.

4. Monitors your telephone calls/texts or email contacts.

This kind of monitoring is just another way of controlling you and crossing your personal boundaries. You feel like a child whose parent suspects you’re up to no good—except you aren’t a child.

You’re an adult with a right to privacy and a right to contact whomever you wish without interference.

5. Makes decisions that affect both of you or the family without consulting you or reaching an agreement with you.

An emotional abuser will attempt to put you in a secondary (or bottom-rung) position in the family by neglecting or refusing to include you in important decisions.

He doesn’t want his position of power to be usurped or undermined if you have a differing opinion. She doesn’t really see you as an equal decision-maker in the family, so why even consult you?

Eventually, you forget how to make decisions and rely on your abuser to manage things.

6. Controls the finances and how you spend money.

You don’t know how to access your bank accounts because your partner won’t give you the passwords.

You can’t make a purchase without asking permission and getting an “allowance” from your partner. You may not even know how much money you have or how your partner is spending it.

All financial control and decision-making are in your partner’s complete control, leaving you helpless and completely dependent.

7. Repeatedly crosses your boundaries and ignores your requests.

Your partner doesn’t care that you’ve asked her not to leave her dirty dishes in the sink. She does as she pleases.

You might ask your partner to put the kids to bed tonight because you’re exhausted, but it’s not going to happen because he has other plans. Your boundaries and requests are rarely honored.

8. Makes subtle threats or negative remarks with the intent to frighten or control you.

Your partner might say things like, “I’m going to take the children, and you’ll never see them.” Or, “If you leave, you’ll never get a penny from me.” Words are used as weapons to keep you in line.

And your abuser has an uncanny way of knowing exactly what your Achilles heal might be. He or she chooses words that have the most power to manipulate you.

Signs of Verbal Abuse

9. Shows complete disregard and disrespect.

Everything about your partner’s words and language reveals his or her contempt for you.

Maybe she talks down to you or laughs at you. Maybe he starts humming or looks at the newspaper while you’re trying to talk.

Your abuser’s words and actions when you speak tell you volumes: you are worthless in his or her eyes.

10. Disregards your opinions, ideas, suggestions, or needs.

Your point of view and emotional needs are not important to the abuser. He or she doesn’t really care how you feel or what your opinion is.

If you try to express yourself, they will either ignore you or tell you your thoughts and feelings are wrong or stupid.

11. Makes “jokes” at your expense.

Both you and your abusive partner know the intent of the “joke.” She isn’t kidding when she makes fun of your latest job setback in front of her parents.

You can feel the edge in his humor when he jokes about your weight gain.

Cruelty and disrespect are masked with humor, but you see through it clearly and know your partner is twisting the knife to make you feel bad about yourself.

12. Uses sarcasm or “teasing” to put you down or make you feel bad.

Sarcasm is using words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say in order to insult, demean, or show irritation.

Your abuser might say she is teasing, but you know the truth behind the words. Sarcasm, when used by an abuser, is a passive-aggressive behavior that allows the abuser to pretend as though his or her words were meant jokingly.

It’s an attempt to keep you off balance and uncomfortable enough that you’ll back off.

13. Swears at you or calls you names.

Just like insults and threats, swearing and name-calling is a base attempt to frighten and demoralize you.

Unlike the more covert abuse method of sarcasm, swearing and name-calling are about as direct as your abuser can get.

He or she has so little respect for you and for common decency that saying offensive, derogatory things is not beneath them.

Once you’ve been called these names enough, you begin to believe them and accept the behavior as normal.

14. Creates circular, never-ending conversations to confuse and exhaust you.

Some abusers seem to thrive on stirring the pot with exhausting, circular arguments.

They can go on and on with confusing, long-winded tirades that ultimately leave you so exhausted, you give up.

You will say or do just about anything to avoid getting trapped in this vortex of confusion and contention—and that’s exactly what your abuser wants.

15. Regularly points out your flaws, mistakes, or shortcomings.

Your abuser is going to make sure you know about it when you make a mistake or don’t live up to his or her expectations.

Nothing gets by your abuser, and you are given no grace when it comes to being imperfect in any way. You feel unloved and unlovable as a result.

Demanding and Controlling Expectations

16. Orders you around and treats you like a servant.

“The sink is full of dirty dishes. Get up and clean them right now.” “Make me a sandwich. I’m hungry.” “I’m tired of listening to the kids’ whining. Do something about it.”

You aren’t treated like an equal adult in your own home. You’ve been relegated to the position of server-in-chief. You jump when your spouse says jump.

17. Gets extremely angry when he or she doesn’t get demands met.

If you don’t jump when your abusive partner tells you to, you’ll pay for it. The consequences might include yelling, cursing, door slamming, pouting, or put-downs.

He will make you so anxious or uncomfortable that being a servant seems like the best alternative.

18. Demands obedience to whims.

Some emotional abusers thrive on the role of being a puppeteer and watching you dance according to the way they manipulate you.

Just because they can, your partner will ask you to hop up to get something the moment you finally sit down to relax. Because she is too selfish to walk the dog or take out the trash, she demands you handle it every time.

19. Treats you like a child and tries to control you.

Your abuser doesn’t see you as an equal partner. He or she views you as a child who needs to be managed and controlled.

You aren’t as smart, wise, or competent as your abuser, so he or she thinks it is necessary to manage all of the decisions and rules in the household.

20. Behaves like a spoiled child.

Sometimes it feels like you’re living with a toddler or sulky teenager rather than a grown-up. Whining, moaning, pouting, complaining, and temper tantrums are the manipulative tactics of choice for your partner.

They attempt to guilt, shame, or frustrate you enough to coerce you into compliance.

21. Acts helpless to get his or her way.

“I just can’t cook as well as you do. You need to fix dinner.” “The kids never listen to me. You tend to it.” “Paying the bills gives me anxiety.

You need to handle it.” Your abuser feigns helplessness, inability, or dire consequences if he is required to handle normal tasks that he is perfectly capable of handling. It’s like pulling teeth to get her help, so you might as well just do it yourself.

22. Requires his or her permission before you can go anywhere or make a decision.

Your abuser holds you on a tight leash. If you want to go out with a friend, you better get his or her OK. If you want to buy new shoes, your abuser has to approve the expense.

You are no longer an independent adult but rather a child who must ask before any favor will be granted.

23. Has an inability to laugh at themselves and can’t tolerate others laughing at them.

Your abuser has no humility or self-deprecating humor. If he or she makes a mistake, you better pretend it never happened.

You can’t find the humor in his or her human foibles, or you will risk the wrath of someone who has zero tolerance for others (especially you) making light of his or her slip-up.

24. Is intolerant of any seeming lack of respect.

Laughing at your abuser is definitely seen as a lack of respect, but that’s not the only thing that can get your abuser riled up.

If you don’t take him or her seriously, or you neglect to follow directions or advice, your abuser takes this as a sign that you aren’t being respectful. Even having your own opinions or ideas can be viewed as a lack of respect.

25. Is lacking empathy or compassion for you and others.

You might be sick or depressed, but your abuser doesn’t seem to care — especially if your issues interfere with what he or she wants or needs.

There is a striking lack of empathy and compassion when you are going through something difficult, and you can never count on him or her being there for you. You may see this lack of empathy from your abuser with your kids and others as well.

26. Views you as an extension of themselves rather than as an individual.

Your abuser sees you as a supporting cast member in a show that’s all about him or her. You exist to make your abuser look and feel good.

If you don’t do that, he or she views it as a complete betrayal and a loss of self. Who you are as an individual doesn’t matter — unless it reinforces your partner’s self-interests.

Emotional Blackmail

27. Escalates abusive language or behavior if you talk back.

Yelling, cursing, and name-calling are deeply offensive to you, and your partner knows it. That’s why he resorts to it the minute you give any pushback to his demands. If you want to keep the peace, you better just comply and do what he says.

28. Uses guilt trips or shaming to get his or her way.

Your abuser really knows how to play the victim. “I thought you cared about me? Why won’t you do this?” “If you were a real gentleman, you’d be happy to buy me a new car.” Any refusal by you is positioned as a character flaw or cruelty.

You don’t have a right to say “No” without feeling bad about it. Your abuser knows exactly what makes you feel so bad that you’ll give in.

29. Behaves dramatically in public until you agree to do what he or she wants.

Nothing is more embarrassing and shameful to you than airing your dirty relationship laundry in public. But your abusive partner doesn’t seem uncomfortable at all with it.

In fact, she’s happy to have a temper tantrum at a restaurant or family gathering in order to get her way. He doesn’t mind picking a fight in front of your neighbors if it means you’ll acquiesce.

30. Withholds sex or affection to get his or her way.

You crave his physical affection and hugs. You long for the intimacy and connection that you can only find during sex. Yet your abuser has found a way to turn affection and sex into a tool for pressuring you.

When you don’t submit to his wishes, you get the cold shoulder. Your hugs are pushed away, and your touch is rejected. Unless you finish all the chores and promise to watch the kids for the weekend, you’re not going to get any sex.

31. Is frequently emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable.

You frequently find yourself saying, “What’s wrong? Is everything OK?” Your spouse has turned as cold as Siberia, and your conversations have become one-word utterances with no effort on her part to show kindness or closeness.

You’ve learned through experience that the only way to melt the iceberg is by yielding to her wishes.

32. Gives you disapproving or contemptuous looks or body language to make you feel bad.

Your abuser doesn’t have to say anything. He or she can just give you “that look” — the one you have seen hundreds of times that says, “You better stop now or else.”

It sends a wave of anxiety or shame through you because you know you’ve once again angered or disappointed your partner.

Unpredictable Behavior

33. Has unpredictable emotional outbursts.

Screaming. Cursing. A crying jag. Inappropriate laughter. Knocking a lamp off the table. A calm discussion can escalate in a matter of seconds into a full-blown eruption of emotion. You are so caught off guard by this outburst, you have no idea how to respond.

34. Shows a “Jekyll and Hyde” temperament with wild mood swings.

This morning she woke up happy and loving, but by lunchtime, she’s so cold and rude, you wonder if another person has inhabited her body.

One minute he’s laughing and having fun with the kids, but the next he’s barking out orders and yelling about the dirty dishes. Riding your partner’s hourly emotions is like being on a roller coaster wearing a blindfold. You never know what to expect next.

35. Stomps out of a room during an argument or heated discussion.

You’re in the middle of working through a conflict or discussing a serious topic when, out of the blue, she marches out of the room and refuses to talk. Rather than deal with the issue at hand, your partner makes a dramatic (and infantile) exit to show you who’s boss and that you’re not worthy of a serious, mature conversation.

36. Sulks and refuses to talk about an issue.

Unpredictable behaviors often involve your partner resorting to juvenile performances. You may be discussing an issue like two adults, when suddenly your partner doesn’t like the turn of events and decides to pout, scowl, or refuse to talk. You feel like your partner has transformed into an unpleasant teenage version of himself when he can’t get his way.

37. Shakes a finger or fist at you or makes threatening gestures or faces.

He doesn’t have to actually slap you for you to feel the sting of his rage. All he needs to do is get in your face and pull back his fist.

She doesn’t need to lay a finger on you for you to flinch at the look of hatred in her eyes. Real physical abuse feels like it’s just a hair’s width away from this angry moment, and you truly fear for your safety.

Chaos and Crisis Creation

38. Acts jealous and suspicious of your friends and social contacts.

No matter how innocent, platonic, or wholesome a relationship might be with a friend, coworker, or even family member, your spouse has a way of twisting it into something sordid, selfish, or wrong.

She acts out with jealous tantrums or accusatory questions. He’s sure your friends are out to get him or tear your relationship apart.

39. Acts out to be the center of attention.

It’s your child’s birthday party, but your spouse makes a big show by wearing a provocative dress and flirting with the other dads. You’re in the middle of telling a funny story at a party, and everyone is laughing—except him.

He interrupts to tell you that you’re telling the story all wrong, and he takes over. Your partner can’t stand being on the sidelines of any occasion, especially if you’re getting any attention.

40. Makes a big scene about small or insignificant life problems.

The holiday turkey gets burned, and he has to announce what a lousy cook you are in front of the entire family. You forget to bring some important documents to the meeting with the accountant, and she makes sure everyone knows you always make stupid mistakes like this. Your partner trolls through life, looking for reasons to have a blowup and make a scene.

41. Does something to spite you, just to get a rise out of you.

Your spouse knows you want to be early to get a good seat at your son’s basketball game, but she intentionally takes her time getting ready to make you late.

The emotional abuser knows what you value and what’s important to you, and he or she deliberately undermines your wishes to watch you squirm or gain the upper hand.

42. Threatens infidelity or divorce to throw you off balance.

Nothing heightens the tension and creates drama like the statement, “There are plenty of men who would treat me much better than you do. I think it’s time I find one.” Maybe he stirs the pot by announcing, “I’m done with this crap. This marriage is over.” Even if you know it’s an empty threat, it still feels like a punch in the gut.

43. Uses neglect or abandonment to punish or frighten you.

Your abuser wants to make you suffer, so he or she will just stop participating in the relationship. Maybe he or she will stop coming home at night or take trips away from home without telling you. After arguments, he or she might take off in the car and neglect to call so you will worry.

Character Assassination

44. Belittles, insults, or berates you in front of other people.

Your spouse or partner waits until there’s an audience of people you care about, and then the insults begin. The slights may be subtle or more direct, but everyone in the room feels the tension in the air and knows what’s going on.

Even if your friends and family don’t believe the insults, you feel humiliated and shamed nonetheless.

45. Puts down your physical appearance or intellect.

“When are you going to lose weight? I don’t want to be with a fatty.” “How stupid can you be? Even a kid knows better than that!” Appearance and intellect are the two easiest targets for an abuser, especially if he feels insecure about his own looks or intellect. If the attacks happen often enough, you begin to feel ugly and stupid. You worry that if you leave the relationship, no one else would ever want you. In fact, your abuser may remind you of that fear frequently.

46. Belittles and trivializes you, your accomplishments, or your hopes and dreams.

Whatever successes you’ve enjoyed, whatever achievements you’ve obtained, whatever goals you set—your abuser will find a way to minimize them. You won’t see pride shining in his or her eyes for your success. Instead, you’ll see jealousy, contempt, or passivity. The one person whose good opinion matters most to you refuses to give you a morsel of praise or support.

47. Tells you your feelings are irrational or crazy.

Maybe you are sensitive, sentimental, caring, affectionate, and loving.

You might have a soft spot for the pain of others or feel emotions intensely. You might simply want a hug, a calm conversation, a loving response, or a supportive comment. Your abuser isn’t capable of showing these emotions or doesn’t know how to. So he or she derides you for having them. Your feelings have no value because they make your abuser feel “lesser than.”

48. Turning other people against you.

Your abusive partner feels threatened by the positive attention, praise, or love shown to you by others. Rather than feeling proud of you and the way others respond to you, she’ll throw you under the bus in front of others or behind your back.

She wants to taint your reputation in order to make herself look like the star or to prevent you from having outside influences or distractions.

49. Corrects or chastises you for your behavior.

No matter what you do, it never seems good enough for your partner. He or she is constantly pointing out what you do wrong or how you could be doing it better. You are made to feel incompetent and stupid, even when you have done your best.

50. Shares your personal information with others.

Your abusive partner uses your personal information as a weapon against you. If you’ve shared something private or shameful with your partner, he or she doesn’t treat that information with dignity and compassion. Rather, it’s seen as a useful tool for controlling, manipulating, and shaming you.


51. Accuses you of being crazy or being the abusive partner.

You know she’s lying, manipulating you, and treating you like dirt—or is she? You know you rarely feel loved, but she claims you are off your rails and unappreciative of the good treatment you receive. Any time you push back or question, even just a little, she loses it and claims you’re being abusive. You feel completely trapped and confused.

52. Invalidates or denies their emotionally abusive behavior when confronted.

You finally have the courage to speak up to your partner about his or her behaviors, but you are met with a blank stare and a complete denial.

No matter how many examples you give or how convincing you might be, your abusive partner refuses to admit that he or she is emotionally abusive.

53. Accuses you of lying or having a bad memory.

He comes home with a brand-new sports car and swears the two of you discussed it. You know you didn’t. You would never have felt comfortable spending that money on something so frivolous. But he’s relentless in claiming he discussed it with you, and you were fine with it. Maybe he did. Maybe you’re going crazy. You’d feel so bad if you were wrong about your memory.

54. Hijacks a conversation to confuse or divert the subject away from your needs.

You finally have the courage to express the pain and hurt you’re feeling about her abusive behaviors, but before you can get through the first sentence, the conversation has suddenly become all about her.

Rather than listening to you, she starts yelling and complaining that you never listen to her and that you only care about yourself. Wait, what’s happened here? You’ve completely lost your train of thought and what you wanted to communicate.

55. Plays intentional mind games.

Whether it’s conscious or not, your partner has an uncanny way of jerking you around with his words. One minute he says he loves you more than anyone, but the next he’s pushing you away and refusing your affection. She swears she only has eyes for you, but she waits until you’re watching to flirt openly with your neighbor. It’s like your partner wants to make you crazy.

56. Blames you for his or her bad behavior.

He says he wouldn’t drink so much if you weren’t so demanding. She says that the only reason she yells at the kids is that you don’t show her enough love. Whatever your abuser’s bad behavior happens to be, you are the cause of it. And the argument your partner presents is so compelling, you start to believe it yourself.

57. Accuses or blames you for things that aren’t true, such as infidelity.

You have opened your calendar, your phone, and your computer to your partner to prove your innocence. You’ve offered to give him proof that you were indeed doing what you said you were doing.

But nothing is going to convince him that you aren’t lying. You will be accused and blamed, even when it becomes clear you aren’t at fault. Logic and truth mean nothing to your abuser.

58. Accuses you of being “too sensitive” in order to deflect their abusive remarks.

Your abuser’s snide remarks or passive-aggressive behaviors are all in your head. You are just too sensitive to see things clearly. At least that’s what your abuser wants you to think. He wants you to believe he is the grown-up, while you are just an overly-needy child.

59. Tries to make you feel as though he or she is always right, and you are wrong.

You may know in your heart of hearts that you are right about something. It could be trivial or important, but your abuser digs in and won’t admit that you are right.

He or she is so convincing and adamant that you begin to doubt yourself.

60. Makes excuses for their behavior, tries to blame others and has difficulty apologizing.

Your abusive partner never steps up to personal responsibility. He or she deflects and blames rather than acknowledging and apologizing. You’ve lost complete respect for your partner because of his or her inability to own the issues that a causing so many problems.

61. Blames you for their problems, life difficulties, or unhappiness.

All of the bad things that happen to your partner are your fault. At least that’s what your partner thinks. If he or she is depressed, lost a job, or has some other difficulty, you are the reason it’s happening.

If only you were a better partner, he or she would finally be happy and successful. If you hear this enough, you begin to believe it.

The first step for those being emotionally abused is recognizing it’s happening. If you observe any of the signs of emotional abuse in your relationship, you need to be honest with yourself so you can regain power over your own life, stop the abuse, and begin to heal.

For those who’ve been minimizing, denying, and hiding the abuse, this can be a painful and frightening first step.

The stress of emotional abuse will eventually catch up with you in the form of illness, emotional trauma, depression, or anxiety.

You simply can’t allow it to continue, even if it means ending the relationship. A professional licensed counselor who is trained in abusive relationships can help you navigate the pain and fears of leaving the relationship and work with you to rebuild your self-esteem.

Here are some strategies for reclaiming your power and self-esteem for the short term:

Put your own needs first. Stop worrying about pleasing or protecting the abuser. Take care of yourself and your needs, and let the other person worry about themselves — even when they pout or try to manipulate you and control your behavior.

Set some firm boundaries. Tell your abuser he or she may no longer yell at you, call you names, put you down, be rude to you, etc. If the bad behavior occurs, let them know you will not tolerate it and leave the room or get in the car and drive to a friend’s house.

Don’t engage. If the abuser tries to pick a fight or win an argument, don’t engage with anger, over-explaining yourself, or apologies to try to soothe him/her. Just keep quiet and walk away.

Realize you can’t “fix” them. You can’t make this person change or reason your way into their hearts and minds. They must want to change and recognize the destructive quality of their behavior and words. You’ll only feel worse about yourself and the situation by repeated “interventions.”

You are not to blame. If you’ve been entrenched in an abusive relationship for a while, it can be crazy-making. You start to feel like something must be wrong with you since this other person treats you so poorly. Begin to acknowledge to yourself that it is NOT you. This is the first step toward rebuilding your self-esteem.

Seek support. Talk to trusted friends and family or a counselor about what you are going through. Get away from the abusive person as often as possible, and spend time with those who love and support you. This support system will help you feel less alone and isolated while you still contend with the abuser.

Develop an exit plan. You can’t remain in an emotionally abusive relationship forever. If finances or children or some other valid reason prevents you from leaving now, develop a plan for leaving as soon as possible. Begin saving money, looking for a place to live, or planning for divorce if necessary so you can feel more in control and empowered.

Can an emotional abuser change?

It is possible if the abuser deeply desires to change and recognizes his or her abusive patterns and the damage caused by them. However, the learned behaviors and feelings of entitlement and privilege are very difficult to change.

The abusers tend to enjoy the power they feel from emotional abuse, and as a result, a very low percentage of abusers can turn themselves around.

According to author Lundy Bancroft, here are some of the changes an abuser (either man or woman) needs to make to begin recovery:

• Admit fully to what they have done.

• Stop making excuses and blaming.

• Make amends.

• Accept responsibility and recognize that abuse is a choice.

• Identify the patterns of controlling behavior they use.

• Identify the attitudes that drive their abuse.

• Accept that overcoming abusiveness is a decades-long process — not declaring themselves “cured.”

• Not demanding credit for improvements they’ve made.

• Not treating improvements as vouchers to be spent on occasional acts of abuse (ex. “I haven’t done anything like this in a long time, so it’s not a big deal).

• Develop respectful, kind, supportive behaviors.

• Carry their weight and sharing power.

• Change how they act in heated conflicts.

• Accept the consequences of their actions (including not feeling sorry for themselves about the consequences, and not blaming their partner or children for them).

Shared from http://www.liveboldandbloom.com

Explaining the “Love Bombing” Tactics Often Used by Narcissists

The Danger of Manipulative Love-Bombing in a Relationship

Dale Archer M.D.

Spot the warning signs of love bombing early and recover faster with these tips.

“Lisa,” a 30-year-old patient, came to see me regarding a tumultuous relationship: Two years prior, she had met the perfect man, “Jake.” This was a guy who called every day, sent flowers, planned romantic getaways, and was so thoughtful and understanding about everything. After just a few weeks, Lisa was head over heels in love and thought, “this must be my soul mate!”

Then one day, Lisa got a call from an out-of-town college girlfriend, who wanted to go out, have a few drinks, and catch up. She made plans to go, but rather than say, “Have a great time!” Jake became very angry. How dare she spend time with a friend without his permission? He started screaming, “You don’t deserve me,” and stormed out.

Lisa was in shock. How could this loving man, who had been attentive, caring, thoughtful, and considerate in so many ways, suddenly get so angry over something so trivial? Distraught, and desperate to put a positive spin on it, she decided his anger was further evidence of his tremendous love for her; it was protective, not controlling.

Over time, a pattern developed. Whenever Lisa tried to spend time away, Jake got angry. According to Mr. “Soul Mate,” she was being “selfish.” Any desire to maintain past friendships simply proved that their relationship wasn’t enough, and wasn’t meant to be. During these times, he would belittle her and say she would never find someone like him again. Eventually, he would break up on the spot and disappear. Then, after spending some time apart — usually about as long as it took Lisa to stop feeling devastated — the “perfect” version of Jake showed up again, flowers in hand, professing his love, saying they had to make it work, and this time would be different.

This pattern repeated at least five times over two years. Somewhere in the middle of the craziness, driven by confusion and frustration, Lisa came to see me for help. But despite being in therapy, it still took several more cycles before she took charge of the situation and ended things for good.

“Love Bombing”

The first people to use the term “love bombing” weren’t psychiatrists: they were members of the Unification Church of the United States (sometimes known as “Moonies”). In the 1970s, their founder and leader Sun Myung Moon said:

“Unification Church members are smiling all of the time, even at four in the morning. The man who is full of love must live that way. When you go out witnessing, you can caress the wall and say that it can expect you to witness well and be smiling when you return. What face could better represent love than a smiling face? This is why we talk about love bomb; Moonies have that kind of happy problem.”

Notorious cult leaders Jim Jones, Charles Manson, and David Koresh weaponized love bombing, using it to con followers into committing mass suicide and murder. Pimps and gang leaders use love bombing to encourage loyalty and obedience as well.

Love bombing works so well, some have tried to use its powers for good. In 2010, British author and psychologist Oliver James recommended love bombing as a technique for parents to get their troubled children to behave better. A reporter for The Daily Express tried the technique with her son and reported:

“It’s not rocket science that showering a child with affection will impact positively on their behavior but what surprised me was how much my behavior changed. Love bombing enabled me to see my child through a fresh lens, my disposition towards him softened and he seemed to bask in the glow of positive attention.”

Though it has a long history, this article covers love bombing used as a manipulative technique, to maintain power and control in a relationship.

How Love Bombing Works

Love bombing is an attempt to influence another person with over-the-top displays of attention and affection. We’re not just talking about romantic gestures, like flowers and trips. Love bombing invariably includes lots of romantic conversation, long talks about “our future,” and long periods of staring into each other’s eyes. It’s the combination of words and deeds that makes love bombing so powerful, especially considering today’s technology. The ability to call, text, email, or connect on social media 24/7 makes it easier to be in constant contact with the object of one’s affection than ever before.

Love bombing works because humans have a natural need to feel good about who we are, and often we can’t fill this need on our own. Sometimes the reason is situational, brought on by an event, like divorce or job loss. Other times, it’s more constant and traces back to our childhood. Whatever the source, love bombers are experts at detecting low self-esteem, and exploiting it.

The paradox of love bombing is that people who use it aren’t always seeking targets that broadcast insecurity for all to see. On the contrary, the love bomber is also insecure, so to boost their ego, the target must at least seem like a great “catch.” Maybe she’s the beautiful woman, who’s lonely because her beauty intimidates people, or he’s the guy with the great career whose wife left him for his best friend, or she’s the hard-nosed businesswoman, who’s avoided marriage and motherhood because her childhood was so traumatic.

On paper, these folks are attractive, but something makes them doubt their own value. Along comes the love bomber to shower them with affection and attention. The dopamine rush of the new romance is vastly more powerful than it would be if the target had a healthy self-image, because the love bomber fills a need the target can’t fill on her own.

It wasn’t Lisa’s “fault” she was love bombed. Love bombers are manipulators who seek and pursue targets. They’re like emotional vampires, because they use attention and affection to build trust, as a means to maintain control, and end up sucking the emotion and joy for life right out of their partners. In fact, “drained” is a common term the victim will use.

My patient Lisa is real person (name changed), but she represents a composite of many patients I’ve had over the years, mostly female, who have been victims. The common thread is a cycle that starts with intense courtship and idealization over a very short period of time — days or weeks, not months. Idealization is when partners see each other as “perfect,” “meant to be,” or “soul mates.”

This is not to say that idealization by itself is unhealthy in romantic relationships. Over time, all couples can grow to think of each other in these ways, but the key is “over time.” No matter how perfect the connection, how great the sex, or the seemingly endless list of mutual interests, you can’t get to really know someone in less than six months. That’s why “love at first sight” is often a recipe for disaster.

The Phases of Love Bombing: Idealization, Devaluation, Discard (Repeat)

The key to understanding how love bombing differs from romantic courtship is to look at what happens next, after two people are officially a “couple.” If extravagant displays of affection continue indefinitely, if actions match words, and there is no devaluation phase, then it’s probably not love bombing. That much attention might get annoying after a while, but it’s not unhealthy in and of itself.

On the other hand, if there’s an abrupt shift in the type of attention, from affectionate and loving to controlling and angry, with the pursuing partner making unreasonable demands, that’s a red flag.

This is classic psychological conditioning at play here. Just as the love bombing is the positive reinforcement (you do what I want, and I’ll shower you with love), the devaluation is the negative consequence (you did something wrong, so I’m punishing you).

Devaluation started when Lisa stepped away to spend time with a friend. The once-loving boyfriend suddenly became the harsh critic, finding fault and threatening abandonment. His abrupt change in attitude was all the more jarring, because it seemed provoked by objectively neutral behavior. Spending time with friends isn’t associated with betrayal. After all, two healthy people who adore each other have no reason to be jealous, and part of the joy of new love is bragging to friends and family about it, right?

Not for love bombers. These manipulators use devaluation to control romantic partners. No matter how confident they might appear, they lack self-esteem and use others for validation. Devaluation becomes a tool to keep the victim isolated and dependent. Jake devalued Lisa, tearing her down to solidify his power over her. When she gave in to his angry outbursts, canceled plans, and avoided friends, Jake felt more powerful and in control, and when Lisa pushed back or defended herself, he felt threatened, and would use the threat of a breakup as further punishment.

Most couples involved in this toxic cycle will go through multiple rounds of idealization and devaluation. Each time, the devalued partner has to work harder to get back in the love bomber’s good graces, usually by sacrificing something that competes with him for attention. I’ve seen patients who’ve given up family, friends, favorite hobbies, financial stability, and even health, all in an effort to earn back a love bomber’s affection and attention.

Note: In the following examples, I refer to the love bomber as “he” and the victim as “she” only because in the vast majority of cases, love bombers are men.

The final phase in the love bombing cycle is the discard, which usually happens for one of three reasons:

1. The devalued partner no longer supplies what attracted the love bomber in the first place. Seeing his partner as exhausted, broke, depressed, or less attractive, the bomber discards her for someone shiny and new.

2. The devalued partner gets fed up and starts pushing back, demanding reciprocity for sacrifices or defending boundaries, making it clear she refuses to be manipulated anymore. Feeling exposed, the love bomber discards his non-compliant partner for one who doesn’t yet see behind his mask of phony perfection.

3. The love bomber uses the discard as part of the manipulation, fully planning to reconnect in the future. Think of it like devaluation on steroids. He disappears, sometimes without warning, leaving the victim feeling devastated and confused. Then days, and sometimes months later, he reappears, out of the blue, professing undying love and promising to change. Curiously absent in many cases is an apology. Instead, the return is a test of his power and control, a challenge to see if his discarded partner can be conned into another round of abuse. If so, the cycle repeats.

No matter how these manipulators do it, the discard comes as a shock. Even for the partner in scenario #2 who pushes back. How could this happen, especially after all the sacrifices to make him happy? Aren’t soul mates supposed to stay together forever, no matter what?

3 Early Warning Signs

Spotting the love bomb is both easy, given enough time, and difficult over the short run. There’s more to it than raising an eyebrow if someone sends you flowers after the first date. In fact, that could be a sweet romantic gesture. So how do you know if the guy who has you daydreaming at work, and feeling like a teenager again, is a love bomber? If any of the following occur before six months have passed, slow down, take a step back, check your boundaries, and remember the old adage “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

“I know we’ve just met, but we’re perfect together!”

Manipulative love bombers don’t just walk up and say: “We belong together.” They have to give you evidence that it’s true. That’s why they target the vulnerable. Masquerading as “good listeners,” the bomber gathers intel on your likes, dislikes, insecurities, hopes, and dreams. Before you know it, they’re saying you have so much in common, therefore you must be soul mates.

A good litmus test is to think of your best friend, how much you have in common, and how often the two of you agree (or disagree). Now consider how long it took to build that bond. Is it likely someone you’ve just met knows you as well as your best friend? If you find yourself saying, “Yes, they do!” warning bells should be ringing.

“Our future’s so bright, we’ve got to wear shades!”

Love bombers aren’t just confident you belong together for all time; they describe the future in detail, as if it’s a Hollywood screenplay. They use phrases like “We’re going to be so happy together…” and “Someday, when I take you to Europe…” and “I can’t wait for my parents to meet you…”

Notice how all these statements are foregone conclusions, not questions? Love bombers don’t ask; they declare how things will be, with conviction. They don’t sound crazy, because chances are you’ve already shared your hopes and dreams, while they were being such “good listeners.” All they have to do is pretend to be the hero who will make those hopes and dreams come true.

This is how the love bomber tricks you into thinking he is indispensable to your future happiness.

“You’re so perfect, you deserve the best of everything!”

To manipulate you into thinking you’ve just found your soul mate, the love bomber builds you up to an idealized object. They constantly point out all the good traits you possess, and minimize any of the bad. Mention that you’ve gained a few pounds, and the bomber will say how much healthier you look with a little extra weight. Hubby left you for a younger woman? The reply will be he’s blind, stupid, crazy, and you’re the most beautiful woman alive. Complain about the boss who doesn’t give out compliments, the love bomber will say she’s an idiot for not recognizing your talent!

The love bomber is there to give you the self-image you wish you had, but lack. In fact, they’ll make putting you on a pedestal a round-the-clock project: Text sessions that last for hours, depriving you of sleep; flowers sent to work, with notes extolling your virtues; surprise visits, trips, gifts, all with the same message: “You deserve nothing less!”

If you fear that you may be in the early phase of a love bombing attack, picture that you are at railroad crossing with a locomotive barreling down the tracks. The warning sign there is true here as well: Stop. Look. Listen.

Stop: Slow things down. Have a talk and say: “I really love everything about you, but let’s slow things down a bit, it’s moving too fast, and I’m a bit scared of that.”

Look: Actions speak louder than words. If his words and actions are not in sync, that’s a big red flag.

Listen: Listen carefully to what he says, and don’t be afraid to challenge the assertions. If he says: “We will be perfect together,” reply: “Well it’s early, but so far, so good.”

Also, remember that love bombers hate to be challenged, and a snarky reply to any of your comments above is another warning.

Recovery From Love Bombing

On the other hand, if you’re reading this too late, and need to recover from love bombing, follow these steps:

Go No Contact

No contact means just that, none, nada, zero, never. Block him electronically, and make clear in writing that attempts to contact you by showing up at your home or work will be considered harassment. Be prepared to follow through with a restraining order if needed. Manipulators often think “No” is a challenge, and will pursue even harder unless you draw a clear line upfront.

You cannot remain “friends” with a love bomber, nor can you leave yourself open to communication. The love bomber will keep trying to exploit your insecurities to get you back, and the cycle will repeat again, and again, and again.

Reconnect With Family and Friends

Remember Lisa, and the way Jake cut out her family and friends? The key to her recovery was reconnecting with a healthy support network.

The love bomber isolates you as a means of control, so no one else can give advice and say, “Lisa, what the hell are you doing? Get out now! ”

Family and friends can’t stand the love bomber, because they see all the changes and want the old you back. You may need to apologize for disappearing, but friends will understand. In fact, coming clean about the devaluations and breakups will make them sympathetic if they are true friends. Imagine a close friend telling you the same story — would you encourage reconciliation, or do everything in your power to keep your friend from going back for more abuse?

Love Bombing is Abuse

The important thing to remember about love bombing is that it is psychological partner abuse, period. When one person intentionally manipulates and exploits another’s weakness or insecurity, there’s no other word for it. Love is not about controlling who you see or what you do.

Healthy relationships build slowly, and are based on a series of actions, not a flood of words. Love bombers are experts at talking, but when held accountable for their words, they tend to lash out. It’s normal to feel confused, or betrayed, and the urge to make excuses for the love bomber is strong, because they’ve worked hard to tie your self-esteem to their good opinion. And that’s what makes this cycle of idealization, devaluation, and discard so devastating. Love bombers exploit the natural human need for self worth, and turn it into shame, regret, and self-loathing.

Final Thoughts

The last thing I want to touch on, and it’s a delicate subject, is that there are things you can do to make yourself less of a target for a love bombing raid. We never want to blame the victim of abuse, but these are things to keep in mind BEFORE you are love bombed:

Maintain healthy friendships. Stay in contact with your family. Have close friends that are open to discussing and giving advice on things that are happening in your dating life.

Make sure you are fulfilled in your work life. Be outspoken about your needs and wants in a new relationship and always take it slow. Finally, remember to stop, look, and listen.

In closing, I want to say that Lisa ended up marrying a great guy and is now a mom with a fantastic career as well. There are happy endings.

Full article:


The Narcissist: A Chameleon Void of Any Authenticity

A chillingly familiar account of experiences. The most amazing thing about a narcissist is their ability to change to suit any relationship. They are similar to chameleons in that they can change on a dime effectively altering who and what they are to blend into any environment for their own self gain.

However, it’s important to note these inconsistencies serve one purpose to get attention, the ego stroked, and their needs met. The truth is their behavior, the narc rage, the devalue and discard is exactly the same. All of the projection, the malicious acts, the lying, hovering, smearing, lack of conscience, and the lack of remorse is identical to past relationships.

A narcissist has many different masks to suit each new supply and consequently each changing environment.

Narcissist may refuse to do one thing or refuse to give up certain things only to go and do exactly what they stated they didn’t believe in, didn’t do, or never would do.

Take for example my own situation with my malignant narcissist and remember this is only an example , each case might be altered to suit the relationship and the narcissists individual needs.

In my case:

• He rarely took family photos as he refused to acknowledge cameras directly with eye contact

• No discussion as he would have you talk to his back or follow him while walking room to room

• No communication only emails/handwritten notes he left behind while running out the door at end of day with your agenda &errands clearly written by him

• No assistance with anything involving: family, friends, kids, vacations, homes, rentals, housework, special occasions ie. birthdays, holidays, weddings, etc.

What was my narc relationship like: A life full of secrets, promiscuity, adultery, and infidelity. Nothing that ever added up as every action is and was questionable. Countless other woman always ready and waiting in the background. Many late night business meetings, late arrivals home, no personal phone calls as it was long distance ( as I learned he would call the girlfriend in waiting after leaving our home to have her ready upon his arrival from five states away).

One thing worth noting is a narcissist will ask you a question such as this: Do you have anything else to tell me or offer me?. This is a way for them to learn more information, gather up your personal information, that they can later twist or alter in an effort to use against you.

They always want to know what others have (so they can get a good feel for what you possess),the items that you can then use against them to prove the truth about them ie. documents, newspaper articles, pictures, emails, court records and papers, etc.

The narcissist knows when you learn about the facade, when the mask falls, when the love bombing and honeymoon phase has ended, and you begin to question actions, realize you’re doing all the work and putting in all the effort, and your in a relationship that is one sided that you will start to examine the narcissists more closely, you won’t accept his or her statements as fact, you will go to whatever resources you have acquired. This might mean talking to friends, gathering up relevant information, locating those documents which now he or she knows exists.

Remember: that day when he did the discovery and questioned you on them. He’ll now go to your best friend and tell her lies, he might go to a family member and try to establish a friendship or convince them you’re crazy. He might go into that safe where you mentioned you had all the documents.

It could be as simple as how many credit cards you have in your possession(seems innocent enough) until you have to leave this toxic relationship with them ,and the narc has hidden the cards or casually misplaced them or even lost them. Now you find yourself without a way to escape, without funds, without assistance to leave the relationship.

Keeping victims financially dependent upon them, without resources to leave is something the narcissists seek to acquire. Barefoot, pregnant, unwed, unemployed, without financial dependence fits well here.

It’s all about power and control and keeping others below them. The narcissist senses a sort of power, has a grandiose ego, they feel they are truly above the law. These subtle ways of inquiry helps provide them with exactly what they need.

Watch for the subtle and casual questions that might seem innocent at the time, that will pop up from time to time throughout the relationship.

Relationships with narcissists are not give and take, they are one sided with one person doing all the work to keep it all going.

In my situation: The entire relationship centered upon him and his needs. The kids and I for all intense purposes did not exist , we were mere extensions, treated like servants and pheasants , and I was merely a “kept woman and business partner” ( as he termed me).

There was no priorities in which family came first, no love or affection with myself or our children, no family activities or active involvement in each others lives. He would never sit in the same room as our children or myself, nor did he ever sit down to eat or watch tv together in the same room. Family time for him was a tv set and dropping kids in front of it. There was a lot of hiding in various locations throughout the home or outside the home especially during holidays and special occasions. There was a lot of empty promises, and broken dreams and excuses for always being busy or lacking funds as his reason to not accept responsibility or accountability for raising our family together. We seen more of his backside than his front, so much so I took a picture of his backside to use as a mental reminder of the way things were and to never go back once I left .

As fast as he walked into our home, is as fast as he walked out, like two ships passing in the night without a connection or history together. The only reason our marriage lasted 11 yrs was because he only had weekend visits as he resided five states away. If I asked for a photo of just us he’d decline, if I asked for a trip for our family he’d decline (unless I paid). If I requested he become more involved he would miserably join in but just for one day to please me and it was unbearable as if forced and insincere. If I asked to do things together such as dinners, dancing, working out in gyms, or running races together he declined. I once asked him to go to DC a place he knew well as he lived and worked there he responded with ,” why would I want to go to a place I see every day.”

Will narcissists change like chameleons adapting to a new environment with the new supply?: Yes in fact, guess where he went on a trip with the new supply on his birthday? The very place he refused to go with his own family. Narcissists will alter their behavior just enough to make the new supply believe in them, thinking they changed, making the new supply think everyone else was wrong or had personal vendettas. Clearly they are on cloud nine, not wishing to think this wonderful person could be so destructive. Not thinking the past lover or spouse wants to spare them the same pain they experienced.They do not understand that the narcissist never changes, the pattern is the same, in time he or she will experience the exact same result.

When I requested a pet for our home, he declined because he worked in an environment in which dogs weren’t always taken care of properly, yet the new supply had a dog and he allowed it into the home. This was so different from his norm, that one of his long time friends since grade school questioned this behavior on a social media site, and he noted he has no purpose for small dogs but big dogs serve a purpose. Even his former co workers were flabbergasted on this dog issue. Narcissist change in the sense they have to alter their behaviors to fit the specific environment. What worked on you is not the same technique that will work on the next one. Narcissist can’t simply have the same routine for each new supply.

Can you imagine always having to change yourself to avoid your own authenticity? Never truly being true to yourself.

Will having a family in mourning change a narcissist?: No ,Losing a family member due to cancer is hard enough, but when we lost his mom and grandmother to lung cancer it was tremendously difficult as this was the only family he truly had as a divorced family. The narc had put his mother down constantly for her smoking, knowing it caused her med problems, feeling she could’ve simply stopped. He never once helped her quit, he rarely helped her, and never allowed me to meet her till she was nearly on her deathbed. I then recalled the old adage from my parents telling me how a man treats his mother is how he will treat you. You can tell the measure of a man by his family. Nothing could be truer than watching the interaction between the narc and his mother. He couldn’t care less about her, yet she continued cooking, cleaning, picking up his dry cleaning, and creating a nest egg for him as she provided him her pension , for him the only child (now in his early 40s) yet still he showed no love, no remorse, no emotions.

To showcase this chameleon behavior further: When the narc parent passed he put a memorandum in the paper, yet I questioned this behavior as when she was alive he spent very little time with her. After I moved into her home, a home she welcomed me into, we became close. She told me her son was a loner, and had problems, so much so she had a hard time keeping track of it all especially his wondering eye and promiscuous ways. I later found the paperwork she discussed of which she had to mark down who he was involved with at all times because the dates became intertwined. Before one relationship ended he was already on to the next and so this was the story of his entire life.

My Narcissist made it a habit, a lifestyle: Running away from the truths, from responsibility, from accountability, and if caught it was easy to walk away as he was never connected personally to any subject matter. The normal behaviors of denial, fabrication, smearing and altering facts, and hide from the truth by leaving behind past friends, past relationships was commonplace. Always reinventing a new self, a new life, a new job, a new project that will produce new results. In fact resigning from work, because people were catching on or questioning the behavior and actions, was just as easy as leaving behind a family with no remorse, no apologies, and no regrets.

If you find yourself playing detective in a relationship you know it’s time to vacate. I found myself questioning everything that came from him. I once ran into a person he considered his best friend, yet this person hated him. The rage and hurt was apparent when I spoke to him. I couldn’t believe the narc could say they were best friends after learning how he deceived this individual numerous times at work while cashing in on travel expenses that he felt he was entitled to, or that should’ve been shared rather than kept for the one : The Narc.

It was amazing how narcs alter and change on a dime.

It took years into the relationship with my narcissist before he told me he wasn’t a family man, not lovey-dovey or romantic (in his terms) and would never be involved. He hated dogs, hated smokers, hated unemployed women or stay home moms, truly disliked overweight women ( in fact as a size 10 and being 5’9 framed woman I was even criticized ), he disliked the lower class uneducated white women who didn’t put much effort into their appearance calling them derogatory names in front of me. He informed me he could have sex with anyone as it didn’t matter, it wasn’t making love it was a mechanical act. Marriage to him meant nothing, as he informed me it was merely a piece of paper.

Narcissist are chameleons as they can alter any situation to their benefit and for their own needs. When I didn’t work he would crucify me, stating I had to work once my daughter became of age to attend school, ironically the new supply has a child older than our oldest son who is 14 and she still doesn’t work.

I presumed based on his commentary on smoking and weight issues he would never allow a heavier individual or a smoker to ever be in his home, especially knowing our son is medically disabled with respiratory problems, yet he allowed her into our home. I had to then ask the courts to keep the smoke away from our children as it was detrimental to them. Keep in mind the new supply is a wonderful woman but in terms of past experiences and past narc statements doesn’t fit the mold.

The new supply: Possessed every characteristic and trait that he noted he’d never allow, yet she is a new source of energy and supply for him to pick up where we left off. The new supply is in denial as to the horrendous past, and refuses to accept the truth as evidenced in the trail of destruction from past relationships, court documents, police records etc.

This mixed pattern of behavior is disheartening to a victim because they would expect the way they were with them would be the way they are with the next partner. Victims might then question their own actions or behavior thinking maybe it was them, maybe he or she wasn’t attractive or attentive enough.

Remember: The narcissist is a narcissist. He or she will change tactics, behaviors, and even brush up on their acting, read more behavioral books, modify and alter behaviors to suit their own needs and agenda but you can be sure they have not changed.

Remember it’s all a façade, their is no real self. They do not appear as they truly are, they are able to effectively sell themselves, always reinventing, always trying to be something they are not to impress the masses.

Narcissist are not authentic or true to themselves. If they always hated the color red, and you say that to them, they will suddenly put on a red shirt. They never want their agenda made public .

So then how can they do this?

Because their is no real person there. They are fragile and crack under pressure, they repress their emotions and have learned to not care about others or be true to themselves.

Sam Vaknin notes,“Narcissists are already dead. There is no person that exists”. They need energy from others to survive and fill up their false sense of self. Narcissists survive by having a constant source of supply and having the ability to cast off their inner self loathing and self projection on to someone else.

Making their problems your problems. Making others always feel sorry for them, never accepting accountability or responsibility for their own actions which in turn allows them the space they need to create the delusion of ‘existing’ going.

In order for a narcissist to get back at you and punish you they will seek out and find your weak spots to trigger a reaction. By having a reaction to the narcs constant degradation, negativity, toxicity, mental mind games, and behaviors creates stirred up internal emotions and reactions which allows a narcissist plenty of supply which they need to survive.

Melanie Tonia Evans noted,” The ABSOLUTE TRUTH is this: When we are being delivered our wounds on a plate – we DO hang around, we DO stay in the game – for AS LONG AS it takes us to get the message and do the work on healing our inner wounds.”

The only way a narcissist can exist is to find people weak spots and try to use those fears, those inner wounds, against them.

If it provides energy or food for the narcissist by granting one wish to the new supply to get back at a previous romantic partner or ex supply then they will do it just to illicit a response from the former supply.

In essence they make others feel bad for their own insecurities that they are projecting upon others to make them appear as their own.

Remember: You are the target.

How can you prevent this from occurring:

• Heal yourself,

• Work on any internal fears or inner wounds that might exist,

• Love yourself to raise your bar higher.

• Stay true to yourself, and don’t believe the hype.

• Know your value and never settle for less than you deserve.

• Never allow toxic people to have any control over your own emotions and actions.

• Remove anyone who is no longer serving your needs.

• Surround yourself with supportive individuals especially those who’ve experienced narcissism.

• Educate yourself about NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) and similar disorders, traits, characteristics. Maintain no contact with strong boundaries.

By Donna Hines

What to Expect From Narcissistic People When They Get Old

As Narcissists and narcissistic people age, the results are not pretty. Where they might have been able to charm and manipulate their way through life efficiently when they were younger, most lose social and psychological power over others as they begin to age.

Not only do their bodies start to fail them over time, but once they lose the “cute” of their youth, if they haven’t emotionally or psychologically matured, most conversations with them end up feeling dreadfully painful.

Since Narcissists seldom mature emotionally much older than the age of 6, it’s truly traumatizing to have to listen to them.

With 13 or 14 years old being the psycho-social and emotional cap for the EQ [Emotional Quotient] rather than the IQ [Intelligence Quotient], having to work with or deal with most is like having to subject yourself to a cross-country car ride with a combative or angry teenager at best.

For that reason alone, the findings of the new study seem to line up directly with what seems to happen in life to most Narcissistic people.

They tend to dominate their social environment using brutal, covert situational abuse tactics, but as their social circle starts to narrow inevitably during old age, they are able to find fewer and fewer people emotionally and psychologically capable of providing care due to the narcissistic predator’s unquenchable thirst to abuse.

When Narcissists were children, they might have been seen as part of the in-crowd or as the leader of a mean-spirited clique. Conversely, their personality may have been so extreme they were set apart from the school crowd, noted for having deviant but strong “stylish” personalities.

[Think about the loner rebel who is mean to everybody except their preferred few. If a narcissistic child or teen seems to have a posse, understand it’s a red flag warning that they might be running with a narcissistic clique or criminal crew.]

Then, by middle school, their bodies start to change. And all bets are off until the child turn biologically into an adult.

Those Narcissists who are good looking have a tendency to turn into Somatic Narcissists. Many who are bright intellectually but less than fortunate in the looks department tend to lean towards developing the Cerebral Narcissistic side.

Depending on the source of their narcissistic temperament (nature or nurture), all will begin to show glimpses of who they are to become in the future around this age.

Seriously — pay attention to children who (for whatever reason) start behaving badly in middle school. Forensic psychology and the study of personality development does not excuse behavior — it helps victims and authority figures understand how to best approach addressing the socially abusive character and actor.

If they did not come out of the womb with an egocentric personality like Oppositional Defiant Disorder or develop the early warning signs of Childhood Conduct disorder, chances are they have either witnessed traumatizing events, been subjected to trauma themselves, or there truly is something they are hiding from you.

[Note: Children who start acting out by late Elementary or early Middle School years have often times experienced being bullied at home or sexually abused. Resist the urge to minimize negative behaviors or to back down about the need to set healthy boundaries with children of this age; bad tempers are not normal no matter what Enabler friends try to tell you. The very same person trying their hardest to convince you that a child’s behavior is age appropriate is the one most likely to have situationally and covertly abused the youth.]

If they are truly toxic by nature and are biologically incapable of feeling empathy, their egocentrism lends itself to the development of NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) in later life. By the time kids turn 18 they can, technically speaking, be diagnosed — but truly, it is between the age of 18 and 28 that the personality fully forms, calcifying their nature into something people who are not afraid to make pop cultural reference in the field of psychology might refer to as a “head case”.

Connect the Dots  Why no one seems to know Narcissistic Abuse is common

If they have a sadistic or malicious streak, it will lead them to develop comorbid disorders like ASPD. If you have ever heard the phrase “bat$hit crazy” or “Psycho!” used to describe the temperament of a person, understand it’s a red flag they might have a Cluster B personality disorder that reflects an egocentric perspective prone to rage and violent incidents.

Such controlling, abusive, grandstanding, bullish, and manipulative tendencies tend to become more overt over time in a person with ASPD… and the same goes for people who are Malignant Narcissists.

Technically speaking, the more issues they have as comorbid problems, the more likely they are to be less and less covert when they abuse someone. What you find is as they age, if there is a predisposition to egocentrism and crazy-making behaviors, the senior citizen Narcissist or person with Anti-Social Personality Disorder tendencies is likely to skip maturing with age.

If they are a Malignant Narcissist (an extremely toxic form), they tend to get worse with age. Rather than growing up or learning how to be a better person over time, they all (almost unilaterally) end up acting more overtly mean.

Truly, Narcissists, Sociopaths, Psychopaths and other toxic people spend their productive years honing the art of how to abuse people. This is how their power and control “wheel” tends to wobble over time. Learning how to effectively control, dupe, con, and connive during their youth:

1 Most thrive well into their 20s and 30s, having given the impression to everyone they have been popular or the “cool person” since childhood.

2 By the time they reach their 40s, the tables begin to turn.

3 As they begin to show age and resent it, they lose the power to charm and entrance people by using their looks.

4 By the time they hit their 50s and 60s, most narcissistic people start to lose friends and have less influence.

Seriously, it’s all part of the way karma works. Narcissists don’t devolve over time. They are cursed to remain the same, only become less and less successful at their attempts to bully or manipulate the psychology or emotional bodies of other people while acting covertly.

While healthy people in their 40s and 50s are starting to hit their personal best, professionally and personally speaking. If they [the 80%-ers, not the Narcissists] chose to marry young, their children hit high school and college graduations and the “empty nest” seem to happen right on time.

Parents who mature along with their children — perpetually remaining in the adult hot-seat — reach child graduation time with a sense of relief coupled with familial pride.

Simply getting a child through high school and into college is a tremendous milestone of success for functional parents. Not only is it a pleasure to still be young enough when kids graduate to be able to pursue new career goals (with parents unencumbered fiscally and physically), finding a pet-sitter is the most challenging caretaking event when and if the opportunity to travel arises.

Narcissistic people have a different life lesson coming to them during these transitional years. Rather than celebrating empty nest, children of Narcissistic Parents and toxic families turn 18 and cannot wait to fly. Many children of Narcissistic parents fail to finish high school or college.

Either they don’t have the study skills normal, loved children develop with the help of parents over time (because they parents themselves failed academically) or the chaos the Narcissistic Mother or Narcissistic Father has created throughout the duration of their childhood cripples them socially and emotionally from a functional perspective throughout their 20s.

If they refuse to get help — instead, turning to drugs or alcohol use to abate anxiety — the children are doomed to repeat the pattern of self-sabotaging themselves or bullying other people throughout their life.

Parents who are Narcissistic may see the child as competition. Somatic Narcissists might be jealous of a child once it stops looking like a baby they can control and starts to look like a competitor for physical attention.

• Moms who are toxic might criticize a daughter (for instance) on the sly for things like being too fat, too pretty, too ugly, too stupid, or too thin — noting that the opposite characteristics are true. Such caustic words serve to drive the daughter’s self-esteem into the dirt so the mother can feel better about her own appearance or bragging rights. Such caustic gaslighting and criticisms truly can and do scar daughters for life. The longer they remain in contact with a toxic parent who undermines, the less likely you are to see them succeed as women in life. It is only by going no contact and doing the internal work necessary to re-parent the inner child that women in their 20s and 30s are able to reclaim power over their self-esteem and functionally crippled [gender-crushed] emotional life.

• Fathers might be jealous of a son’s growing physical prowess. They may antagonize as a boy starts to turn into a man, frequently trying to wrestle or pick fist fights. The circus monkey behavior is equivalent to a wild animal needing to brutalize younger animals in a pack in order to establish dominance. Once the son reaches their masculine prime at 18, they are typically more likely to fly the proverbial coop so to speak, as the rivalry between themselves and dad only exists in the father’s eyes. While the son seeks guidance and emotional counsel, an unfit father guilty of toxic parenting only role models things like dysfunctional communication patterns and brutal misogyny to their son at what should be a key point of growth and development in their life.

• Strong willed children who are loving will stay in touch with parents, typically taking on a crusade of trying to save and re-educate them. Smart kids learn how to go gray rock early on, noting moving out of state to go to college while paying all their own expenses may give them the opportunity to save themselves while going low to no contact with abusive family members (parents, siblings, extended relatives, close family friends, relatives by blood or marriage, and grandparents included).

Connect the Dots  How to spot an abusive personality type prone to violence

Narcy people get more obstinate about their need to “win” arguments or social interactions they have artificially projected an air of competitiveness into while attempting to gaslight friends and family into thinking they are being victimized in a narcissistic rivalry.

Narcopaths (Narcissistic Sociopaths) also tend to get more demanding and caustic with verbal abuse as time passes.

On the other hand, run-of-the-mill Sociopaths (rather than Psychopaths) tend to be able to socialize more stably over time.

They still are dangerous and unpleasant to have to spend significant personal time around, but still… they tend to have less violent rages than their angry Cluster B friends and family.

While a Psychopath or a Malignant Narcissist is likely to rage frequently and for their cruelty to increase over time, the flat-line emotional nature of the Sociopath leaves many of them able to successfully navigate and make friends (at least) in a corporate, well-structured, predictable environment.

But both personality types, as untreatable personality disorders (rather than treatable conditions), can only be managed. Literally — managed. As in BY THE VICTIMS.

Narcissistic people live their life as pathological liars (so they never truly develop character). The ultimate bullies, they grow up to become the crassest, cruel, opinionated, and/or obstinate old people.

All Cluster B personality types are toxic by nature. Primarily self-centered and competitive by nature, they constantly perceive intentional slights where none was ever intended.

Truly, the people who are forced to care for such difficult people as companions or caregivers suffer the most as Narcissists age. ANd the problem is expected to get worse rather than better as narcy Baby Boomers — raised by toxic parents — reach their golden years, leaving their own Gen X children at their mercy as current Enablers and future caregivers.

The narcissistic people themselves spend most of their time finding fault with others, manufacturing chaos for others out of boredom, or spend their time pitching temper tantrums while attention-seeking while attempting to impose their will on others by frightening them with their conspicuous displays of contempt and rage.

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Uncovering, Exposing Narcissistic Abuse. Share. Research. Educate. Learn…and Unmask.

Question words, question actions, but never doubt an established history of behavior patterns.

A victim of Narcissistic abuse will only see whatever a highly skilled Narcissistic abuser wants them to see and very little else, until they grow tired of holding up their mask. Eventually however, it will always fall off. Over time it will become too exhausting for them to keep holding their mask steady and in its place. They become resentful of the constant work involved in their own creation. If dealing with an “Aging Narcissist” as previously discussed, there will be an even more intense, more serious set of issues growing and developing. Co-occurring substance addictions, if present, will also further complicate and exacerbate these behavior patterns. A Narcissist will begin to (repeatedly, once again) blame their very familiar cycle of unhappiness and emptiness on their current partner, often unbeknownst to the partner if dealing with a highly skilled covert Narcissist. The current partner who was so “perfect” and everything they’d been long searching for during all those years spent with all the wrong ones, now becomes the natural scapegoat of their returning emptiness within themselves. Suddenly, the things they fell in love with and valued most about them, become the things they learn to resent and hate the most about them. They create situations and facts that do not exist in reality. The lies, the stories, the numerous tall tales eventually become tiresome, too burdensome to keep straight and to continue telling repeatedly to the same person while continuing to risk exposure. Over time after telling them for so long, they may even begin to believe these tall tales as truths themselves. It will seem easier and more exciting to the Narcissist upon reaching complete exhaustion, to begin again fresh with a new, unsuspecting source of Narcissistic supply. The path of least resistance. A clean, blank slate. A stranger. Especially if this pattern of behavior has already been established as a long running history of past behavior for the Narcissist. Then this history will begin to repeat itself once again. That’s when reality and truth will appear most clearly, without further doubt or questioning.

It’s important to know and understand the 3 Phases in the Cycle of Narcissistic Abuse and Gaslighting. Be very mindful, Phases 1 and 2 can go on virtually undetected for many years with a highly skilled and seasoned Narcissist, and when this familiar lifelong cycle is completed, it begins all over again with a new Narcissistic supply source.

Phase 1: Idealization. Mirroring, Adopting/Adapting, Integrating & Projecting. Constant “Love Bombing” tactics as previously discussed.

Phase 2: Devaluing. Subtle, Covert Emotional & Mental Abuse. Can be cleverly disguised and undetected beneath regularly stated words of “love” and affirmation, continued affection, and the narcissist’s physical expressions of “love.”

Phase 3: Sudden Discard. Emotionless, Illogical, and Without Explanation, Discussion or Empathy.

If you have reason to be suspicious, do your due diligence. Research. Question. Pay close attention. Whenever feasible, and if possible, speak to lifelong friends and acquaintances, long-time associates, bosses, relatives, neighbors, and yes if possible, even exes for their established history and patterns of behavior. Verify grandiose tales of accomplishments, successes, make sure they are theirs to tell and not borrowed tales. Check into these things to trace and uncover their behavior patterns. Investigate claims of close relationships with famous people, athletes or celebrities. These are all important red flags to look for and indicators that should not be ignored. Be very wary of the “enablers and tongue biters” who are still in the narcissist’s fold who may have ulterior motives for their steadfast positions of support for the narcissist. Be astutely aware of how to recognize Narcissistic Triangulation attempts initiated by the Narcissist between current and previous partners (or supply sources), Narcissistic Victim Blaming, and Narcissists Playing the Victim. We will be discussing these further in the future.

We will also be discussing next the individual qualities that make a person more susceptible, more likely, and more vulnerable to heavy pursuit from and eventual victimization by a narcissist. What is it that draws a narcissist to a victim? There are specific things they look for and target. It’s important to know and recognize these traits if you have them, to avoid any future abuse or successful targeting from a Narcissist, especially if you’ve been a prior victim of abuse.

In closing for now, one final thought:

A brand new broom always sweeps well, at first.

The Aging Narcissist: Getting Worse with Age and Loss of Professional Identity

Big Sissies: How and Why Narcissists Get Worse with Age

Aging is hard. For so many of us, losing our vitality and facing our mortality is a scary, painful grind. But we discover upsides, like knowing stuff, slowing down to listen, seeing our kids and grandkids thrive and helping them when they falter, enjoying long-term connections with family and friends, recognizing our core values and releasing shallow pursuits, reaping the fruits of our professional and personal labors.

The wise among us take time to reflect, savor, and continue finding ways to grow and give back, like deeply ringed trees breathing out life-giving oxygen.

Aging Narcissists: Big Sissies

Bette Davis aptly said, “growing old is not for sissies.” Pathetically, there is no bigger sissy than a narcissist. And as their sources of self-worth and identity dwindle, they become more brittle and weak, likely to wither at first frost rather than root in for winter and bloom again.


Instead of maturing, mellowing, and gaining wisdom, people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), unless helped with treatment (which is very rare), remain emotionally stunted children whose deficient empathy and self-centered neediness intensify with aging. They view growing old as a series of ravaging defeats that they struggle against with denial, rage, resentment, and/or depressed resignation.

Having relied heavily on externalities such as their looks, wealth, possessions, connections, fame, or professional achievement to fortify their fragile self-esteem, older narcissists find themselves increasingly stripped of their defenses and diminished in their ability to charm, influence, impress, manipulate, and otherwise control others. Since narcissists nearly always refuse to take responsibility for their actions or circumstances, they grow bitter and feel victimized by life, blaming others for their disappointments.

Going to Extremes

Narcissists tend to age into extreme versions of their worst selves. And when dementia comes into the picture, it only exacerbates matters. Aging narcissists typically become more

1 desperate,

2 deluded,

3 isolated,

4 paranoid,

5 defensive,

6 bitter,

7 angry,

8 rigid,

9 mean, and

10 abusive.


Because of narcissists’ lack of compassion and their antagonism, as they age their relationships and friendships often falter or fail, leaving them lonely and isolated:

▪ Spouses may have left or withdrawn to avoid their criticism and combativeness.

▪ Adult children may have pulled away or cut contact altogether because of their toxic influence.

▪ Their grandchildren may be estranged from them because their adult children have asserted boundaries to protect their kids.

▪ Friends may have pulled away because of their unmasked arrogance, selfishness, and envy.

▪ Neighbors and other community members may have rejected them because of their callous behavior and rude assertions of superiority and entitlement.

▪ Extended family may have excluded them because of their divisiveness.


As their personal power fades and their social sphere narrows, narcissists are more likely to look for scapegoats anywhere they can. Their increasingly desperate grandiose delusions often bring out bigotry and assertions of superiority over marginalized people, including other old people. Aging narcissists often express ageism, sexism, homophobia, and racism to bolster themselves against their tormented feelings of lost power over others.

Full article: https://narcissistfamilyfiles.com/2017/09/26/big-sissies-how-and-why-narcissists-get-worse-with-age/

Love Bombing: A Narcissist’s Secret Weapon

Suzanne Degges-White PhD.

A whirlwind romance should never feel like a manipulation of your heart.

If the growing number of matchmaking businesses is any indication, most everyone wants to be in a relationship. Whether you want to be “in love” or “be loved,” there’s likely a specialized business out there somewhere ready to hook you up with “likeminded adults,” “discreet older gentlemen,” “rural Romeos,” “Christian singles,” or whatever your “type” might be. While communication technologies and internet connections make it a lot easier to find potential partners, they also increase the risk that you will be meeting some less than perfect matches along the way to romantic bliss.

When you are openly advertising your interest in a romantic relationship, you are also signaling your availability to any “circling” narcissists. And if a narcissist senses that your guard is down, the narcissist may assume that you are an easier target for manipulation. And one of the most effective ways of manipulating a potential partner is through flattery and metaphorical love bombs.

Love Bombing Can Feel Good . . . Until It Doesn’t

Love bombing is the practice of overwhelming someone with signs of adoration and attraction. It’s flattering comments, tokens of affection, love notes on the mirror, the dresser, the kitchen table, the windshield of the car, the laptop case, and you’re beginning to get the picture. It’s flowers delivered at work with hearts dotting the i’s in the names. It’s texts that increase in frequency as they increase in expressions of the fervor of the love bomber’s affection. It’s surprise appearances that are designed to manipulate into spending more time with the love bomber and less time with others or on your own.

We all love to be loved … until it begins to feel like being stalked.

Well, when someone is telling you just how special you are, it can be intoxicating at first listen. However, when a person is using these types of comments to keep your focus trained on him and to keep bringing you back in if you’ve started to back off, it can be a case of manipulation. Not everyone who whispers sweet nothings in your ear is a narcissistic jerk, but if you’re feeling that something isn’t just right about the person or the relationship, the constant reminders of how good you are together – when you know that you aren’t – -can be an effort to keep you tethered. It’s often the first line used by a potential abuser, as well.

Why do narcissists love bomb?

Narcissists, though, can be another story altogether. Narcissists are known for their skills at manipulation as much as their penchant for self-love. Narcissists use flattery and attention as tools to get you under their spell – they build themselves up as the perfect partner so that they will gain your trust and affection – and adoration. Narcissists also have usually learned through experience that once partners see through their facades that the relationship may be on its way to self-destruction. Once they have convinced you of how good the two of you are together, a narcissist will try to shape your role in the relationship into a member of the “supporting cast” or the “adoring fan.” Narcissists typically fail at maintaining equal and mutually healthy relationships.

Narcissists move quickly to avoid detection – and the more someone tries to flatter you into submission, the harder you need to look to explore his motives.

But if they say they adore me, how can they be narcissists?

Nonstop attention and roses every day can sound appealing in theory, but if you were the object of this type of person’s affection – and you had only just met them – you’d probably think it was more creepy than charming. Most of us prefer relationships that unfold in a relatively organized way. It’s normal to feel a rush of excitement at every glance, touch, or meeting at the start of any new romantic relationship, but when someone’s trying to move it along too fast, it can be a more than a little disconcerting.

When we think of the narcissist’s “love bomb,” remember that the end goal of most emotional campaigns is a “win.” When the narcissist uses her best warfare, she’s doing so in order to capture her prey before the prey gets too wise to the game at hand. It’s like when you’re trying to entice your dog to come to you at the dog park – you use your sweetest voice, pet names, and maybe even bring out the special treats. You want to win over your dog’s trust and get him close enough to you to snap the leash back on his collar. Narcissists are going to do whatever it takes to get close enough to a romantic interest as quickly as they can before their romantic object bolts.

This may sound a little cold, but narcissists don’t really see others as “people” in their own right – they are objects that are used to satisfy the narcissist’s desire for connection or manipulation.

Again, there may be other explanations for those “love at first sight” stories. Sometimes people do just click from the start and the relationship builds at a healthy pace that is comfortable for both partners. Other times, there may be a desperate, lovesick soul trying to do anything possible to attract a partner. This latter case often brings out a feeling of pity in the pursued, whereas narcissistic pursuers generate a different feeling altogether. Sometimes anxiety, sometimes fear, sometimes revulsion.

We really have to trust our intuitions to figure out what the case really is when we’re the object of someone’s too heavy pursuit.

True Love or Narcissistic Manipulation: How Can You Tell and What Should You Do?

There’s an (too) often used saying that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. And, for time immemorial, this saying still brings a ring of truth. When someone is building you up into more than you know that anyone could actually be — or gifting you in ways that are beginning to feel a little too extravagant or co-opting your time because they want to spend so much of theirs with you, while surreptitiously manipulating you to have little time to spend with your other friends or family, these are signs that the relationship isn’t quite as balanced as it should be.

Again, a single rose on the first date might be kinda’ sweet, but a dozen roses delivered every day becomes a little bit concerning.

When a relationship is moving too fast – or a partner is trying to push the relationship too forcefully – it’s essential that you call your partner on it and let him know how you’re feeling. If he’s willing to listen to you and to dial it back a few notches, then there’s reason to give him and the relationship more time to develop, if it’s meant to do so. If your partner won’t listen to your protestations and just tries to excuse away the smothering behavior, that’s a sign that there’s likely less freedom and more manipulation in the future if you stay in the relationship.

When you’re eager to find a partner, it can be exciting to be the focus of courtship by someone you find attractive. Beware, though, because narcissists are skilled at putting on the mask that their audience will find most attractive. Healthy whirlwind romances do happen, but if you’re feeling like you’re in the middle of a tornado of attention and it’s more unsettling than not, it’s time to step back and have a conversation with your partner. If they’re unable to change their behaviors to better match your needs, then it’s unlikely that this person is the match for you.

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