Have you ever been in a relationship where the person treats you like no one else ever has? They shower you with love, affection, and attention, making you feel like the most important person in their world. But just as quickly as they built you up, they tore you down, leaving you confused and questioning your worth. This rollercoaster ride of emotions is a classic characteristic of narcissists. They have a unique way of treating you better than anyone ever has, yet worse than anyone ever has, leaving you even more confused about who they are and what has happened to you.
Without any apparent reason, a narcissist can switch from treating you with kindness and affection to mistreating you with cruelty and indifference. It’s as if they have a switch that they can flick on and off so fast that you fail to see what is happening. There is no middle ground or grey area with them. It’s either black or white, good or bad. They oscillate between loving you and hating you, without any warning or explanation.
The speed at which they change their behaviour towards you can be traumatic and bewildering. One minute, you are engaged in a pleasant conversation or sharing laughter, and the next, they withdraw into silence or express anger and aggression. You find yourself desperately seeking answers, asking them what is wrong or if you have done something to upset them, only to be met with more silence or indifference. What just happened? What did you do wrong? These questions echo in your mind, further fueling your confusion.
Sometimes, their mistreatment is subtle yet cutting. For instance, you might compliment them in front of others, only to receive a horrid glare in return. Or, in the midst of a pleasant conversation, they suddenly raise their voice and unleash a barrage of verbal abuse. You are left defending yourself against unfounded accusations, all while wondering how the atmosphere has turned so toxic.
When you try to seek clarity and understanding from them, it often irritates them even more. You simply want to know what happened, but they would rather provoke you further than engage in a constructive conversation. They might say things like, “You should know what’s wrong,” before resorting to destructive behaviours such as punching walls, breaking objects, or storming off with an incredible sulk. Their goal is not to resolve the issue, but rather to gain power and control over you.
So why do narcissists change their behaviour so rapidly and unpredictably? It’s because their perception of relationships, communication, and reality is fundamentally different from ours. They manipulate you into their false reality, where you are constantly walking on eggshells, never knowing what might trigger their wrath. They idealise you in the beginning, making you feel like you are living in a fairytale, only to drag you into a nightmare that is their narcissistic world.
What may seem illogical and nonsensical to genuine, caring individuals makes perfect sense to narcissists. They can change their behaviour at the drop of a hat because they interpret every interaction and situation through the lens of their insatiable need for admiration and control. A seemingly innocent comment or action can trigger a narcissistic injury, causing them to perceive it as criticism or a challenge to their superiority.
For example, they might react negatively because you didn’t laugh hard enough at their joke or failed to provide the positive attention and energy they crave. They might feel criticised and challenged if you complimented someone else in their presence or simply asked about their day. However, they will never communicate these feelings to you in a healthy and constructive manner. Instead, they lash out, reducing you to tears and gaining emotional reactions to exert more power and control over you.
Remember, you were never the problem. Their behaviour did not start with you, and it will not end with you. The constant shifts and alterations in their treatment of you are their self-defence mechanisms to confuse you, elicit emotions from you, boost their fragile ego, and gain control over the situation and over you.
But you can break free from this cycle of abuse. Recognise that you deserve better and that their erratic behaviour is not a reflection of your worth. Surround yourself with supportive and caring individuals who will treat you with the love and respect you deserve. Seek professional help if needed, as breaking free from the grip of a narcissistic relationship can be challenging. With time and healing, you can move on to a happier and healthier life.
Remember, you are not alone, and there is hope for a better future.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.