Love Bombing & Covert Narcissism
Yesterday I wrote a very personal rant on a recent whirlwind mind-fuck by a severely personality-disordered person. I thought I could tell the signs of Narcissism and Sociopathy, but I forgot about Covert Narcissists.
Now I know. Rather, now I remember.
Covert Narcissists are even harder to spot than Narcissists and Sociopaths, thus the “covert” part of the description. Some experts believe the Covert Narcissist is actually a subset of Borderline Personality Disorder, another Cluster B Personality Disorder.
The Love Bombing is the same, although with Covert Narcissists, much of the seduction and manipulation of the highly empathic and sensitive person consists of pity and victimization. Covert Narcissists are perpetual victims, have extremely low self-esteem, and feed off the adoration of others, that is until some perceived insult or threat makes their target no longer worthwhile. This entire cycle is called the Idealize – Devalue – Discard Cycle.
I’ve written about Narcissism, Sociopathy, and other forms of Emotional and Sexual Predators on this blog, so you can read up on those experiences / lessons there if you’d like. As in that post, which still gets hundreds of hits daily (despite my two-plus-year abandonment of this blog) because so many people find my painful experiences helpful in their own lives and relationships, I hope these recent posts will give you all some further insight and foresight into the veiled world of Narcissism so that you may not feel the heartbreak I do. So you can recognize it.
Each time, I recognize it sooner and sooner, or rather — reveal it by being authentic, open, and compassionate. Still results in heartbreak and betrayal/trauma bonding, but the sooner you see it, the less pain there will be.
For the rest of this post, I will take excerpts from other articles and link to them. For examples of how this latest (Covert) Narc used Love Bombing / Idealization to capture my adoration and love (read: narcissistic supply), and how it quickly and inevitably (with a Cluster B disordered person) led to a drastic and painful devaluation, followed ultimately by being harshly discarded, read my rant WARNING: HUGE RED FLAGS AHEAD
First, there are clear behavioral distinctions between a false and authentic self. The Narcissist / Sociopath have false selves to cover the cavernous emptiness on the inside. This is sometimes easier to see in an Overt Narcissist, with their haughty arrogance, charm, and grandiosity (think Trump), but it manifests in a different way in a Covert Narcissist.
COVERT NARCISSISM – or the Shy Narcissist…
Covert Narcissists dangle their vulnerability in front of you as bait, just waiting for your good nurturing mothering/fathering instincts to kick in and rescue the poor little lost child they are presenting to you. As soon as you reach out a helping hand, their jaws snap shut on you…
-Coverts are quiet, insecure and passive…
-Coverts are marked by failed ambition, chronic feelings of emptiness, fragility, low functioning and when depleted can frequently sink into outright depression…
-Coverts are known for presenting themselves as vulnerable victims who can even use that vulnerability as a hook to bait you in!
You will never see them coming, they will flaunt their vulnerability in front of you to capitalise on your compassion, they will flatter and charm you with their “shyness” to get close enough to you that they can get their fangs deep into you.
All the flattery of the initial meeting is a phase in which they are sizing you up, quite possibly full to the brim with boiling envy and narcissistic rage that you have something that they “deserve” to be given the purpose of which is to learn your weaknesses and vulnerabilities so they can drain you dry.
A Covert/Shy Narcissist will have grandiose fantasies but will also be plagued by a feeling of unworthiness and thus shame for even having fantasized about his or her greatness. This type of narcissist, is likely to be characterized by an incapacity to sustain ambitions or to pursue even attainable goals with full dedication, yielding to others rewards that he or she may legitimately deserve. The final result is often significant masochistic self-damage, self-pity, feelings of hurt, and depression.
Covert Narcissists are perpetual victims, using pity and sympathy to reel in a kind, empathetic target. You are their savior. Their inspiration. Their new lease on life.
One of the most common characteristics of an introverted narcissist is a sense of “withdrawn self-centeredness”…
Narcissists are often oblivious to, or dismissive of others’ thoughts and feelings. Even when you tell them how their attitudes and actions are generating adverse consequences, their response will be more about themselves. Such is the self-absorption…
…some introverted narcissists are “exquisitely sensitive.” They tend to be affronted by any signs of real or perceived slights, and handle criticism poorly. In the face of negative feedback, some introvert narcissists will defend with an increased sense of superior smugness and dismissal (fight), while others will respond with sullen withdraw (flight).
As mentioned earlier, part of the introvert narcissist’s insecurity is the inability to genuinely connect with people. To this extent, the aloofness and/or smugness serve as a defensive mechanism keeping people away, lest the narcissist is exposed for her or his interpersonal inadequacies.
My recent “ex” was extremely self-centered with his health and struggles, understandably, but he showed absolutely no empathy for me and mine. No empathy is the hallmark sign of a deeply disordered person, especially a Cluster B personality-disordered person or a sociopath.
He took great offense at some innocuous comments and reacted irrationally, immediately causing him to withdraw sullenly and threaten flight. Of course when I bent over backwards with apologies and empathy, it must’ve gotten him drunk on Narcissistic Supply… keeping him around for a little longer until the 3rd perceived slight, which apparently caused such Narcissistic Injury and Rage, the Devalue/Discard happened immediately after.
His inability to connect with people became increasingly apparent during our relatively-short interactions. With only 3 significant relationships in his 50 years, and none lasting over 1.5 yrs (even in his technical 4-year marriage, they were separated after 1.5 yrs). He has very few friends.
The following is the typical path of a “relationship” with a Narcissist or Sociopath:
1) Love Bombing / Idealization;
2) Narcissistic Injury / Rage;
3) Devalue / Discard;
4) Hoovering (possibly)
Love bombing is effective, as it moves the relationship forward very quickly. You might spend 10 hours talking on a telephone conversation. Or might receive constant text messages during the day. Numerous emails, or Facebook contact.
This is mind control. The message that you receive is:
- He is really keen on me
- He is really like me, we have so many common interests
- You have known him for far longer than you actually have
It is important for the sociopath to move the relationship forward very quickly. If he didn’t you might notice that there is a lack of friends from his past. You might notice that he doesn’t actually have a job. You might notice that he doesn’t actually earn what he says he does.
His motive, is always control. By love bombing you, he effectively, in a very short space of time, has control over you. Ownership. He isolates you from other people. You can, within a very short space of time, feel that you have been with someone for 3 years, or that have that feeling that you have known this person all of your life. This gives you the false impression that this man is your soul mate. Someone special, that you do not want to let go of. It feels good.
At first, it’ll all seem too good to be true. You’ll spend hours talking, and maybe you’ll get sweet little texts all day long. He will “like” every Facebook status you post, and maybe even comment on them all about how amazing/smart/beautiful, etc. you are…
He will say all the right things, and it’ll just feel like you truly know him within days or weeks. You’ll feel like he understands you like no one else ever has, and no matter how smart you are, you’ll fall for it all – hook, line and sinker…
This will lead to the inevitable next step – he starts mirroring you; that is, he will start “reflecting back to you” exactly what you really want to hear.
This is because, by becoming your ideal man, he gains a tiny bit of control over you. He can only gain the control if he has your full attention – and he knows the best way to get it…
Narcissists play on our insecurities, and they tend to be rather attracted to empaths (mostly because they’re easy targets as they tend to be very in touch with others’ emotions – the narc uses this to their advantage)…
Through this tactic, the N can have his target under his spell quite quickly. It happened for me in two weeks, although there were also moments of Narcissistic Injury (see below) where he freaked out irrationally over perceived slights/insults around sexuality, 3x in 10 days. Shut down. Withdrew. Became cold. It took a lot of soothing and apologies from me to bring him around the first two times. The third and final time he went into full Devalue/Discard mode:
The relationship cycle typical of extreme narcissistic abuse generally follows a pattern. Individuals in emotionally abusive relationships experience a dizzying whirlwind that includes three stages: idealization, devaluing, and discarding…
Ultimately, the person with narcissism discards his or her dating partner, who served as a source of narcissistic supply to fuel the ego of the individual with narcissistic issues. When the target asks for compromise, reciprocity, empathy, integrity, honesty, and boundaries (all healthy and valid requests that people with extreme narcissistic qualities generally do not engage in), the person with narcissism may decide that the target has lost his or her luster and is tarnished—no longer the “perfect partner” to fluff the ego feathers. Inevitably, the discarding occurs when the person with narcissism either disappears or orchestrates his or her own abandonment by engaging in some form of egregious emotional abuse. The outcome is often shocking for the survivor, unclear as to how someone that he or she fell so deeply in love with could throw it all away.
In most cases, survivors of narcissism were able to offer empathy, compassion, authenticity, honesty, reciprocity, and compromise during the relationship. People with narcissistic tendencies are drawn to such empathic, deeply feeling people and know that, on some level, they personally are lacking in emotional depth and substance. By being in a relationship with such a nurturing, loving person, the person with narcissism is able to consume that person’s authentic love and extract narcissistic supply.
As I write in my RED FLAGS post, he was telling me he loved me one day, at the end of a two-week cycle of love bombing, and the very next day he told me we were absolutely incompatible and discarded me.
As I mentioned, these narcissistic injuries caused narcissistic rage, which in an Overt Narcissist can be violent, angry outbursts, but in a Covert Narcissist
NARCISSISTIC INJURY — the RAGE and why the Devalue / Discard often begins.
Having anticipated the praise as fully justified and in accordance with (his) “reality”, the narcissist feels that his traits, behavior, and “accomplishments” have made the accolades and kudos happen, have generated them, and have brought them into being. He “annexes” positive input and feels, irrationally, that its source is internal, not external; that it is emanating from inside himself, not from outside, independent sources. He, therefore, takes positive narcissistic supply lightly.
The narcissist treats disharmonious input – criticism, or disagreement, or data that negate the his self-perception – completely differently. He accords a far greater weight to these types of countervailing, challenging, and destabilizing information because they are felt by him to be “more real” and coming verily from the outside. Obviously, the narcissist cannot cast himself as the cause and source of opprobrium, castigation, and mockery.
This sourcing and weighing asymmetry is the reason for the narcissist’s disproportionate reactions to perceived insults. He simply takes them as more “real” and more “serious”. The narcissist is constantly on the lookout for slights. He is hypervigilant. He perceives every disagreement as criticism and every critical remark as complete and humiliating rejection: nothing short of a threat. Gradually, his mind turns into a chaotic battlefield of paranoia and ideas of reference.
Most narcissists react defensively. They become conspicuously indignant, aggressive, and cold. They detach emotionally for fear of yet another (narcissistic) injury. They devalue the person who made the disparaging remark, the critical comment, the unflattering observation, the innocuous joke at the narcissist’s expense…
Narcissistic rage is not a reaction to stress – it is a reaction to a perceived slight, insult, criticism, or disagreement (in other words, to narcissistic injury). It is intense and disproportional to the “offence”.
Raging narcissists usually perceive their reaction to have been triggered by an intentional provocation with a hostile purpose. Their targets, on the other hand, invariably regard raging narcissists as incoherent, unjust, and arbitrary.
This below quote describes perfectly my recent ex’s reaction.
a Narcissist is over sensitive to anything that may cause a Narcissistic Injury. They are always looking for slights, and these may not necessarily be real, but only in their own perception of the world and those around him. They go on the defensive, striking first before you can further injure them. They will devalue you and reduce you to nothing in their eyes in order to lift themselves up and protect their own fragile sense of self. Narcissists in this state are desperate, irrational, and incapable of seeing things outside of their own point of view.
The only way to get over a Narcissist is to go into No Contact. None. No Facebook. No email. No Twitter, Instagram, texting, calls…. no anything. BLOCK BLOCK BLOCK. It’s the only way to break that betrayal bond and to clear your head of the royal mind-fuck you’ve just endured. The only way to recover your balance and even identity.
Often, however, a narcissist will return to old, discarded narcissistic supply when they’re running low or lost their alternative source. This is called HOOVERING, like the vacuum cleaner. They suck you back in with more Love Bombing, promises, apologies, etc…
So this is one reason why I publicly post personal rants and such. It reduces the chance they’ll come back because they know I will expose their narcissistic ass. The other reasons are because it’s cathartic for me to vent/express myself as part of the process to shake the aftereffects of narcissistic abuse as well as to soothe my anxieties. If I block them and publicly expose them, it’s so unlikely they’ll come back, I’m not as nervous when I open my email or pick up my phone, fearing there will be something from them.
The Narcissist has no real identity, only an illusion of themselves built on their ability to control other people. When they lose said control, this illusion is shattered. This explains why they shift into turbo gear when you implement No Contact. No Contact makes the Narcissist feel small, worthless, and powerless. They whip themselves into a frenzy because they need your supply to maintain their false image. When you go into No Contact mode, you are shifting the power to yourself, and the Narcissist loses their sanity because they’ve lost not only their God-like power, but also their emotional punching bag. …
Think of how you feel after being fed upon by the Narcissist and discarded. You’ve been emotionally and financially abused and cast-off like a paper bag from McDonald’s. You suffer from PTSD/C-PTSD, Trauma Bonding, Stockholm syndrome, crippling self-esteem, and depression. The reason you feel this way is not only because of how you were treated, but because you’ve effectively internalized the way the Narcissist feels about himself. This explains why they must devalue and discard their victims, because once they are no longer able to absorb and internalize the Narc’s self-hate, the Narc is forced to find a new receptacle.
A Narcissist’s Love Letter
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the way I feel when I’m with you. I love myself through you. I love seeing myself through your eyes. I love seeing myself through my eyes imagining how I look through your eyes. I love having someone new to tell my stories to, to express my opinions, and to share my profound theories and beliefs about the important things in life. I love hearing myself say these things as I imagine how they sound to you, and how enthralled with me I imagine you are.
When I say I’m in love with you, I love having someone beautiful to wear, like a new outfit. I love the way you feel on me. I love the way I feel about me when you are with me.
When I say I’m in love with you, I love not being alone. I love not being that tree falling in the forest. I love having a full-time, personal audience.
When I say I’m in love with you I mean I love being your mystery, your riddle, being what keeps you up at night, your obsession. I love being your altar, your sacrament, your icon, your miracle. I love being your answer. I love being the object of your sacrifice. I love being your pain.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I’m in love with being your sun, monopolizing your orbit, being your gravity, keeping you drawn back to me no matter how hard you try to jump or fly, keeping you down. Keeping you mine.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I’m in love with breathing your air, sucking your blood, eating your dreams. I’m in love with being your drug, your dagger, your suicide note.1
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the story I can tell to my next lover, about my ex-lover, about how beautiful things were, how intense, how storybook, what a couple we were, and how you gradually, inexplicably, painfully, bit by bit, disappeared.
It’s been very helpful to me to read these articles today as I’m processing my grief at losing who I thought was a good man, a good friend… but in actuality turned out to be a highly disturbed, severely personality-disordered person. These articles pretty much outline and explain the beginning, middle, and end of our very short relationship.
Heartbreak and confusion are valid and natural responses to narcissistic abuse.
Thank you for reading my public emotional processing. 🙂
May you all find peace.
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~ by omgrey on January 11, 2017.
Posted in Romance & Relationships, Trauma & Recovery
Tags: author, broken heart, covert narcissist, grief, healing, heartbroken, love, love bombing, narcissism, narcissist, narcissistic personality disorder, o.m. grey, olivia grey, passion, rape survivor, romance, shattered