“What time is it, and how do we get out of here?” asked comedian Amy Poehler while she presented an award towards the end of…
It is easy, in the early stages of dating someone, to get caught up in the excitement, where you want to know everything about them, and they want to know everything about you. But what about when things are moving a little too quickly? In a lot of cases, it’s possible to just pump the brakes a little—but in others, it’s possible that the person you’re getting involved with has a narcissistic personality, and they’re using you to fuel their intense need for attention.
In a recent in-depth interview with Men’s Health, clinical psychologist and narcissism expert Dr. Ramani Durvasula explained how a fast-moving relationship with a charismatic person who is intensely interested in you might not necessarily be the idyllic whirlwind romance that it first appears.
“I think the media often paints romance as being incredibly over the top, and people get so overwhelmed, so bowled over by this charm, that they’re sometimes missing the red flags,” she said. “Because the narcissistic person is so oriented to getting narcissistic supply, to getting validation and adoration, they have a whole bag of tricks that are designed to help them do that.”
This manifests in many different ways, depending on the individual. For example, a grandiose narcissist, whose outward behavior is typically confident and charismatic, might deploy love-bombing: this is, much like it sounds, where they bombard somebody with attention, from text messages to lavish gifts, in a bid to move the relationship forward at an accelerated pace.
Meanwhile, a vulnerable narcissist might seek to rapidly forge that connection through other means, by sharing a litany of personal woes with prospective partners. The aim here is to elicit sympathy, and to create the impression that they are baring their soul: but it’s a trap. “The person on the receiving end might think that it’s a good thing that they’re being so open and sharing so much,” Durvasula said. “The other person might even feel compelled to start sharing their own vulnerabilities.”
However, Durvasula warned that the honeymoon period with a narcissist is shortlived, as the appeal lies primarily in the chase. Once you are embedded in that relationship (moving in together very quickly is another huge warning sign), they will begin to apply their charms elsewhere in order to cultivate other sources of narcissistic supply, and you will be left wondering where that charming person went, and doing whatever you can to try and get them back.
This is a fruitless endeavor. “They’ll talk about their day, their interests, their friends, but when you try to weigh in about something you’re interested in, they’ll seem distracted,” said Durvasula.
And if you begin to question this new dynamic?
“You’ll start seeing a pattern called gaslighting; this is where your reality is being denied. So you’ll say something, and they’ll say ‘That never happened. That’s not true. You’re crazy. I think you’re too sensitive.’ And you’ll start to think that maybe you are too sensitive, and then you find yourself scrolling through old text message, and see that it did happen. And so you’re almost wasting this time trying to get linked back into your reality and getting increasingly confused.”
Read more about what to do if you find yourself in a narcissistic relationship in the full interview here.
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