Being “Managed Down” by a Narcissist
In the beginning of a narcissistically abusive relationship, targets have a sense of “fair, equitable treatment”. We also sense that something is “off” or not normal about the way a narcissist begins to treat us, right out of the gate. We try to stand up for ourselves, asserting our needs, and telling them how we feel uncomfortable or put off about the way the narcissist interacts with us to no avail. We simply aren’t respected as individuals.
Narcissists have an extremely self-serving style of communication with others. First of all, they manipulate, exaggerate and downright lie to us to get us to fall under their spell. This first phase of over doing communication is called “Love Bombing”. Love bombing communication is used by the narcissist to make inroads into our life, mind and heart so that all of their later oddities, peculiarities, demands and not so normal requests, aren’t as off putting to us as if they’d have led us there immediately. Communication in this phase is used to further the narcissist’s agenda and can be summed up by the euphemism, “You catch more flies with honey, than you do Vinegar” meaning: manipulative word grooming will pull you into the narcissists abnormal world of delusion & pain while pulling the wool over your eyes and is more effective at keeping you stuck than being told outright that you’re crossing over the threshold of hell to dance with the devil.
The type of Normal communication it takes to build a solid foundation of trust is reciprocal, transparent, honest, and forthwith. If you have questions or concerns, those concerns are met with respect. However, in a narcissistic relationship, your normal requests for communication and respect WILL be BLOCKED. Narcissists communicate on their terms only. They will respond when they want to respond, to what they want to respond to, to continue to further their agenda, which they never lose sight of. While agendas can vary from person to person, with certainty, the narcissist’s #1 goal with others is to gain “supply”. Simply put, supply, as the narcissists drug of choice, are all the “feel goods” given to them by others, used to regulate their self-esteem. A narcissist’s agenda is ALWAYS at odds with normalcy because complete self-absorption in relationships just doesn’t allow a normal relationship to exist. It’s completely one-sided and not a “relationship” at all.
The healthier and more aware we are of what we deserve, the more issues around communication we will have when trying to assert ourselves to a narcissist. We can expect that calling them out for shoddy communication will begin to make us the target of projection, blaming and shaming. They feel the shame of being put down. They feel the need to project blame and justify why they can’t give us what we need. They shift their communication from sweet talking us to chastising and verbally berating us. We could be called, “Needy, insecure, pushy, demanding, or told that we need to ‘chill’ or settle down, etc. Anything that casts our healthy needs for communication as derogatory and shifts the blame and shame from the narcissist to ourself.
Most targets begin to feel that these “communication problems” explain why the narcissist has been less “love bombing”. (kind, flattering, sweet talking, etc.) We can mistakenly blame our own healthy needs for good communication as being the reason the narcissist chooses to reject us or treat us differently than they did in the beginning. They aren’t rejecting us, their love bombing was never an honest way of communicating with us in the first place; they’re pushing us and testing us to see how much they can get away with. If we don’t walk away at this point with the realization that it’s not “US” who can’t communicate or is causing “problems” by desiring communication, we will stay to be managed down further.
Once a narcissist knows that we are willing to accept: shoddy communication, lies, stories, excuses, blame, pity parties, diversions, red herrings, etc. They begin to feel safe enough to let the rest of their façade or mask slip. They now know we will be waiting to hear from them when it’s convenient for them, that our effort to please, give benefit of doubt and acquiesce to their “my way or the highway” bullying type of communication will cause us to put the rest of our life on hold, to make ourselves available when the narcissist arbitrarily appears to make a demand of us. Nevermind, they’d just disappeared for days with no explanation, giving us the silent treatment, they expect and feel entitled to the fact that we’ll be there waiting for them with open arms and baited breath. Because the “Love bombing” manipulation has done it’s job to keep us stuck there, that’s exactly what many of us did.
Our feelings and needs, in action, become secondary and non-existent to a narcissist. We find ourselves in a “relationship” in word only – where we are stuffing our authenticity, our spirits, our feelings, desires, opinions, thoughts and rights – in order to catch a fleeting glimpse of the original “love bombing” which we mistook as genuine desire and love.
Being managed down by Narcissistic Abuse is a death by a thousand cuts. Each little cut represents each hard fought and lost battle with an entirely one-sided and self-absorbed individual to preserve our rights and our dignity, while the other person maintains the firm and fixed belief that we simply don’t have any. In their minds, we EXIST to let them win these battles. I’ve always said, a narcissist feels entitled to live TWO LIVES. Theirs AND OURS.
LET’S NOT LET THEM.
See also: The boiling frog is a parable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.