Do you fear getting sucked back into another relationship with a narcissistic predator? Is this fear impeding your ability to find true love?
Before you even consider jumping back into the dating pool, you must be fully recovered from your previous relationship. Time alone does not heal this kind of abuse. If you don’t take the necessary steps to completely recover from your past trauma, the odds of repeating an undesirable dating/relationship pattern are colossal.
A healthy partnership requires a solid sense of self, strong boundaries, mutual respect, willingness to compromise, and shared values. It should be based on want, not need.
Successful relationships require acceptance of people as they are; not the potential of who you hope they will become or what they say they intend to become. That always leads to disappointment.
There is no need to fear dating as long as you know what red flags to look out for. Narcissistic predators are all motivated by the same end goal, and the tactics used to capture emotional hostages (relationships) are very similar. Some may be covert in their approach, some overt.
If you do decide you are ready to begin dating, there are ten red flags that will clearly indicate a predatory person:
- Narcissists like to move things along quickly. They cannot keep the ruse up for very long; it is an act, not their true nature. Make it clear that you want to take things slow and then, no matter how much pressure they put on you or how amazing the love bombing feels, stick to your guns. If they cannot capture you quickly, they are likely to move on.
- Narcissists usually bash previous partners and represent themselves as victims of infidelity or abuse. They grandly exaggerate the story or completely invent a new one. Nice, normal people do not act that way. Do not move forward with someone who does.
- In the honeymoon stage, narcissists display fake personalities, though it is often hard to tell. They mirror the personality of whomever they intend to trap. They claim to like the same things the other people like and have the same opinions. They present themselves as the person’s perfect match–their soul mate. Be wary of anyone who seems to match you on all levels.
- Many narcissists say they love you before they even have a chance to get to know you. Some will say it before even meeting you. Don’t fall for it. Recognize this warning sign and run the other way.
- Narcissists know how to create intense chemistry between them and their targets. They set scenarios where intimacy can easily occur. Do not go to their home or bring them to yours until you are certain who you are dealing with. Do not cook dinner for them or allow them to cook dinner for you. Having sexual relations with a narcissist will bond you to him or her and create a chemical addiction in your brain. Once this happens you will be psychologically and emotionally trapped.
- In the honeymoon stage, narcissists test their targets to see how forgiving, understanding, selfless, and generous they are. They will usually do or say something hurtful or outrageous to see whether you will call them on it or let it go. Calling them on it demonstrates you have boundaries. Those with strong boundaries are useless to narcissists. Ignoring it, forgiving them, or showing compassion gives them the green light to move forward. They know they will be able to manipulate and control you.
- Narcissists “interview” potential targets. They want to know everything about the person; their hopes, disappointments, dreams, and goals. They gather this intel for two reasons – to create the specific persona they will use to trap their victim and to learn about the person’s vulnerabilities. Later on, they will use these vulnerabilities to customize the emotional and psychological abuse. To avoid this, talk in generalities or keep redirecting the conversation. Do not pour your soul out to anyone before you know and can thoroughly trust the person.
- If you do not initially find the person appealing or are not attracted to him or her and then you suddenly believe you cannot live without that person, you have been brainwashed. This is not a normal response. Narcissists have the uncanny ability to brainwash innocent victims very quickly and put a “spell” on them. Recognize what is happening to you and put an end to it. Do it immediately. As time goes on it will become harder and harder to break away.
- Much of what narcissists tell you are lies or fabrications. Listen for discrepancies and ask questions. Some things will not make sense. Don’t try to fill in the gaps with assumptions. Think like a detective.
- Deliberately challenge things they say. Narcissists cannot be wrong about anything. If you tell them or even insinuate they are wrong about something they will have extreme, unsettling reactions. When you see that, do not second guess yourself. You did not cause their anger. They just cannot handle criticism of any sort.
It may seem like everyone you meet is a narcissist. If you feel that way you are not being paranoid. The dating pool is flooded with predatory people. Trust your instincts. They are never wrong. If something feels off, it probably is.
Be prepared to weed out the bad ones. There are wonderful people like you who are looking for partnership or romance. You will find each other.
What an informative article! Thank you, Randi, for sharing your knowledge and insight!
Randi Fine is an internationally renowned narcissistic abuse expert and coach, and the author of the groundbreaking book Close Encounters of the Worst Kind: The Narcissistic Abuse Survivor’s Guide to Healing, the most comprehensive, most well-researched, and most up-to-date book on this subject. In addition to helping survivors recognize their abuse and heal from it, this book teaches mental health professionals how to recognize and properly treat the associated abuse syndrome. She is also the author of Cliffedge Road: A Memoir, the first and only book to characterize the life-long progression of complications caused by narcissistic child abuse.