A couple of days ago I touched on the subject of what happens when the narcissist returns after the discard phase but I didn’t really address why the narcissist returns. While there can be a myriad of reasons, generally it all boils down to one reason: you are the perfect supply to feed the narcissist. Odds are, the narcissist has invested countless hours, effort, and energy in grooming you to cater to them and in fulfilling their needs through trauma bonding, interspersed with both positive and negative comments (e.g. pointing out things that are wrong with you but stating how they overlook these shortcomings and still love you), as well as periods of high arousal (generally sexual/physical) and lows (usually “tough times”) over long periods through shared experiences that are designed to reinforce your dependence on them. It would be much, much more difficult for them to find another empathic source and reinvest all that time and energy “training” them, as it were, to replace you. So, they return.
Think back to when you first met the narcissist. That initial meeting, and the subsequent courting phase, probably seemed idyllic, perhaps even paradisical, bordering on fantasy. But then slowly, over the course of the next few months, the narcissist began gently and surreptitiously pushing boundaries in an attempt to see just how far they could push you, whether or not you’d push back and, most importantly, if you’d stay. There might have been an unexpected event that shook you and or your relationship to the core but the narcissist convinced you to stay with them and to work through it together. But it wasn’t just one event, it was another, then another, and another, then, pretty soon, you’ve survived quite the sordid collection of events, “…designed to tear two people apart but look at us, we’ve made it! That’s how strong our love is.” Sound familiar?
My narcissist, Julia, was a master at this type of duplicitous manipulation. There was a set of double-standards that applied to everyone but her. For example, over the course of the 4-½ years we were together, twice she traveled to Spain, and both times her (narcissist) ex-husband, Mr. B. who is also a multi-millionaire, just “happened” to be traveling to Europe at the same time! What a coincidence, right?! And, care to guess what happened? Yup! Both times, “something unavoidable” necessitated they end up spending a majority of that vacation together. If, whilst involved with Julia, I had pulled a stunt like that with my ex-wife, or any woman for that matter, it would have been unacceptable and she would have lost her mind! Of course, she denied anything happened between them and I was gullible enough to trust that she was telling me the truth. But that’s not to say that it didn’t put a strain on the relationship while it was going on. So those were just two of the trials by fire that we overcame “together.” And let’s not forget the two times (that I know of) where she was unfaithful to me. The first time was about nine months into our relationship when she decided to give Mr. B. and their marriage another chance. Now, if she had done this the right way, it wouldn’t have been so deplorable – yes, it would have been just as painful, but at least she would have done it honorably. The short version of the story:
She and her family had just returned from vacation in Florida and Mr. B. wanted to come to her mother’s, “…to talk to (her) mom about something. [She] want[ed] to be here and see what he’s going to tell her.” I implored her not to stay, saying that something just didn’t feel right about the whole thing. At the time, I didn’t realize it but it was actually her I didn’t trust, and rightly so, though I projected that fear and thought it was actually Mr. B. whose motives I should question. She assured me everything was fine and would be fine. She said she’d call me as soon as he left. That was at around 5:00 PM. I finally gave up waiting at 11:00 PM and went to bed. The next morning I texted: nothing. I called: nothing. I e-Mailed: nothing. Then, finally, at 3:16 PM, she e-Mailed saying that she was going to give him and their marriage another chance. Now, if she’d have had the decency to end it with me first, before going back to him, that would have been honorable and, as painful as it was, I would have respected that. She had a 45-minute drive from her mom’s to her apartment, so it wasn’t like there wasn’t an opportunity for her to call me as she was driving the night before. Regardless, less than a week later, she called me saying she’d made a huge mistake, that she still loved me, and she wanted to be with me. It was at this point I should have told her, “You’ve made your bed and decided with whom you’ll lie in it. Goodbye.” but I didn’t. Like a fool, I took her back and forgave her. The second time, she outright slept with another guy after we’d had a simple disagreement (where neither of us made any comment about it being over). We disagreed. I hung up. She slept with him.
Does this whole manipulative and destructive dynamic sound familiar? It should. It’s akin to Stockholm Syndrome and it’s a favorite trauma-bonding tool of the narcissist. Something bad happens, generally the doing of the narcissist, and there’s a sudden opportunity where the empath (victim) and the narcissist have to overcome and triumph against the odds. So, you see? This is how the narcissist bends, twists, and contorts your reality to mesh with their life so that they can still be and do as they please, but you are expected to abide by a mysterious and ever-changing set of rules and guidelines that apply to only you. These rules and guidelines are in a constant state of flux and always changing so they can ever provide as favorable an outcome for the narcissist. In the book, The Betrayal Bond, by Dr. Patrick Carnes, Ph. D., Dr. Carnes writes that the victim/abuser bond is especially strong, almost unbreakable, when there are repeated instances of trauma in the relationship. The victim feels the need to rescue the abuser through a repeated series of events involving both seduction and betrayal. This is a very convoluted and time-intensive process that the narcissist simply cannot afford to repeat ad infinitum. After all, there’s always the very real possibility that a new narcissistic supply might see thorough their ruse and bolt or, worse yet, call them out on their unacceptable behavior. This is the reason why it’s so important that the narcissist maintains your codependent relationship at all costs. And this is the main reason why the narcissist returns.
In my second post yesterday, I delved into the subject of one of the narcissist’s favorite tools to use against their empath, the Silent Treatment. It’s an absolutely abysmal method of “teaching someone a lesson,” and a method of punishment the narcissist has absolutely perfected. With my narcissist, there would be bouts of anywhere from one-to-three months where she would give me the silent treatment. Finally, I would just fall apart and text her, basically saying she’d won and I was moving on. Invariably, within 24-hours, she’d respond with how much she missed me and wanted to see me. And thus would end the discard phase and begin the hoovering phase where she would do almost anything and everything to win me back – but only for a short while and only if she felt it worked to her advantage. This toxic cycle would go on to repeat, ad nauseum, over the 4-½ years we were together. In the end, she finally went too far one too many times and I blocked her on my mobile and e-Mail. I have no idea if she ever tried to call or text me. I’d like to think that she did and realized she’d screwed up but, let’s be honest, the reality is she probably already had several secondary sources she’d been grooming to take my place for some time. Another subject I addressed in my first post from yesterday.
So, if your narcissist reaches back out to you, just remember, it’s not because they actually miss you or the love you share (regardless of what proclamations and affirmations they make), it’s the fact that they either can’t find someone else who’s as willing to put up with their unacceptable and unforgivable behavior and or because they’re finding it too hard to groom someone else to be the perfect empath. So don’t hate yourself for being the amazing, gentle soul you are, my friend. Pity them for being too blind to see and love you for the amazing, gentle soul you are.