Exploring the Expanded Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse aka "Why You Can't Leave the Narcissist in Your Life," from Kristen Milstead

Posted by tonyoverbay

Tony walks through Kristin Milstead's Expanded Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse from her article "Why You Can't Leave the Narcissist in Your Life" https://fairytaleshadows.com/why-you-cant-leave-the-narcissist-in-your-life/

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[00:00:06] Hey, everybody, welcome to episode 41 of waking up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch podcast and not a lot of business to take care of up top here. I continue to have the marriage a marriage magnetize your marriage workshop, which is about an hour and a half long. You can find that at Tony over Baker slash workshop. And I'm also still looking for couples who would like to anonymously be coached on an upcoming magnetic marriage subscription based podcast that I have a few episodes recorded now and it's phenomenal. And if you've not gone to couples counseling before or seen couples or heard couples be coached, then I think it's going to be a great place to start to just understand what that process can be like. And I work in my four pillars of a connected conversation and [00:01:00] taking ownership and accountability and what it means to be differentiated and do you want love or control and all of those wonderful things. So if you happen to be listening to this podcast and you and your spouse would be interested, you can send a message through my website at Tony over eBay.com or you can send a message to info at Tony Overbay and just let me know that you might be interested. And one of my I'll have an assistant reach out to you, might have you fill out a little bit of paperwork and we'll talk more about that and I'll keep you up to date on when that podcast is going to be released.

[00:01:33] And actually, I think it's safe or fair for me to probably mention in every episode because I'm continuing to get more and more traction, which I'm grateful for with this podcast. And I had another a handful of men, both categories. So men that reached out this week that said that they feel like their their spouse, their wife may be the person that's exhibiting more of the narcissistic traits or tendencies or the emotional immaturity. And they were interested about a group because I've got my private [00:02:00] women's Facebook group that continues to grow. So if you're a woman in a relationship with the narcissist in any way, shape or form, whether it's a spouse, a parent, a coworker, whatever that looks like, please reach out to me. If you're a guy in that situation, I would love to be able to have a group there. And I also have a group of men that I got two more this week that reached out. And so I'm getting a little group together of men who say, maybe it's me and I want to see if I can improve my marriage or and so I just I appreciate someone who is maybe being confronted with the, hey, you may be a narcissist or have narcissistic traits or tendencies or there's some emotional immaturity there.

[00:02:37] And one of the big steps, the first steps is saying, okay, I guess I don't know what I don't know and tell me more. And if you are a guy who is in that situation, please drop me an email and we'll I think I've got enough to really start putting something together and I'm really looking forward to talking more to people that are maybe waking up to their own narcissistic traits or tendencies. Because I've made no mistake that I've been talking about that [00:03:00] on my Virtual Couch podcast for years. When I talk about my own narcissistic traits, tendencies, Dustin's. And then once we, we throw out that concept of emotional immaturity, man, the bells and whistles went off for so many people. So I think that there's a lot of work that can be done if you are willing to take a look and do a little self confrontation and be able to recognize that you are maybe viewing everything through your own lens. And what would that look like to step outside of my ego, even if I feel like I'm being attacked or I feel defensive. So I'm looking forward to doing more with people that are saying, Hey, maybe it is me, so feel free to reach out and please keep your stories come in as well. If you heard last week's episode, it was one of those where the majority of the episode was dedicated to someone who had shared an email and talk about response.

[00:03:47] I received so many emails from people that just wanted me to let the person who had sent that email know how much that meant to them, how they felt like it brought sanity or they weren't alone. And so those stories are powerful. [00:04:00] So feel free to send those to me. And if you do, go ahead, let me know if you're okay with me sharing that or not. And it's okay if you just want to send a story just to be able to get it off your chest or it's part of a journaling process for you. But you can send those through the website, Tony over eBay.com or you can also send those to Contact@tonyoverbay.com. I am excited to share today. It's interesting because saying I'm so excited to talk about this difficult topic around narcissism, but the person I went to, it's Fairy Tale Shadows and the author of this article is Kristen Milstead. And she says, I'm a writer, a researcher and an activist who is passionate about helping individuals with a history of trauma, find their voices and overcome limiting beliefs imposed on them by others, and about erasing and about raising awareness about invisible exploitation and abuse. She says she has a PhD in sociology and she's also a narcissistic abuse survivor. And I did an episode years ago on the virtual couch talking about, I think it was titled Eight Types of Narcissists and the Ones [00:05:00] to Stay Away From or something to that effect.

[00:05:02] And that was one of those that just got so much feedback and traction. That caused me to start looking at doing more and more episodes around narcissism. So thank you, Kristen, and I would love to have you on the show as well, but I want to talk about an article that she has on a website, on her website called Simply Why You Can't Leave the Narcissists in Your Life. And so I'm going to talk about that because she goes into a really well laid out, expanded, narcissistic cycle of abuse. So a little bit of an introduction first. And I have to tell you, you guys are so kind with the emails that you give me where I'm going with that. My train of thought is I'm about to say that I did get another. There's people that rate and review and say all the nice things, but then you do. With the Waking Up to Narcissism podcast, I get the one that will say, Get to the point. You droned on forever. And I know that's the emotionally immature person because just think of that. It does. It honestly is humorous for someone else to say, get [00:06:00] to your point, because I am I'm sharing the episode the way I'm sharing the episode. So that is my point. So it's funny to think of somebody else saying, Hey, get to the point that I think that you should get to.

[00:06:11] Even though I barely even heard you and someone probably told me I should listen to you because they must think I'm a narcissist. So get on with it, old man. You're not making sense to me. So that's so funny when you break that down, right? But I was going to say one of the emails or one of the reviews that somebody posted on Apple Podcasts or that sort of thing. And so it is they they used to probably hurt my feelings a little bit more a few years ago. I can't lie now. It's like, Oh, bless somebody's heart for thinking they needed to get that out there. But it was somebody that said all he does is read articles and comments on them. And yeah, I do in fact do that because the article is something that we can then base off of. And then I give my comments from my experience of 15 plus years as a marriage and family therapist. So if you've been listening to the Waking Up to Narcissism podcast [00:07:00] or the Virtual Couch podcast, then I think you'll see why I do find this humorous, because it's somebody that's impulsively or reactively saying that I really don't know much about you, I don't know who you are, but I don't like what you're saying. So I'm going to tell the whole world that I don't like you, in essence. So I really appreciate those who are taking the time to share reviews on whatever podcast platform that you listen to, because they really do help fit algorithms.

[00:07:24] Or if you have somebody listening to another podcast, it'll say, Hey, try this one as well. So if you happen to be the reviewing type and you have time, feel free to go review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or any of the podcast players that you do. And I do get those. And so I'm grateful for those and so appreciative. So thank you for those who take the time to do that. So let's get to this article from Kristen. So I'm going to read quite a bit of this and make some comments as well. So she says that when we are in relationships with narcissists, we're constantly trying to figure out how to change course anything other than go no contact. This is why I love this article so much, [00:08:00] because I find that this is where you have to meet somebody where they're at. Their journey is their journey. It takes as long as it takes. When you go from not being aware to now being aware now you're just on the path of enlightenment or on the path of recovery. And so you will often read that, Hey, you just need to go, no contact. But how do you just all of a sudden go no contact with somebody that you are in a marriage with or have a relationship with or shared children with or finances or that sort of thing or share a faith community.

[00:08:30] So I love how she's saying that when you first learn about narcissism, you want to do anything other than go no contact. So she said, for example, if we could just explain to them how their behavior is hurting us, then maybe they would stop. And you know that if you have been listening to the episodes or this is what you're going through in your life. My fifth rule of interacting with someone with narcissistic traits, tendencies, emotional maturity is there's nothing that you'll ever say or do that will cause them [00:09:00] to have the aha moment or the epiphany. They have to come up with that on their own. And so the more that you try to explain that your their behavior is hurting you, you're really just handed a more tools that when they become in that all or nothing black or white mode of thinking, they know how to even hurt you more to tackle the things or hit you with the things that mean so much to you. Kristen says, Yeah, things never align. We never reach the elusive dream of a loving relationship characterized by honesty and respect. Instead, we find ourselves becoming weaker and more exhausted, trying to do the things that are beyond the bounds of what we should be expected to give. She calls it a merry go round where we either ride until we're sick or what we finally stumble off when we realize it will never stop on its own.

[00:09:47] And what a great analogy, unfortunate, great analogy that when you finally have to get off of that merry go round and at that point it's probably going really fast that you are feeling sick, lose your sense of self, or [00:10:00] you just have to stumble off and it will hurt and most likely it is going to hurt, but also knowing that you're going to recover. So she said understanding why these are the only two options is the secret to saving ourselves for those who are in narcissistic relationships. So she says why going no contact is so hard. And I had not heard of this concept, which is another reason I appreciated this so much. She calls it the idealize devalue discard model for explaining narcissistic abuse provides a basic structure for understanding the foundation of a pathological love relationship with the narcissist. So again, the idealize devalue discard. So she says first during the idealization phase, we are put on a pedestal and we are viewed as the love of the narcissist life. We'll talk about this here in a minute. But that love bombing, that everything is perfect and great and it's never felt better, she said. Then we are denigrated as worthless and subjected to some of the cruelest treatment that we've ever endured, because you've got these pathologically kind people that really do get caught up or captivated in the love bombing. [00:11:00]

[00:11:00] And so to go from this is the greatest relationship I've ever experienced since. Everything I've wanted to now go from being denigrated as worthless and then subjected to cruel treatment is most likely something that you have not seen before. And then she says, Finally, we're thrown away, we're shunned and we're ignored as if we never existed. And then that cycle will repeat in the relationship, in essence, until you jump off of that merry go round. So she said, But why did these three stages occur? Why would anyone idealize then devalue the same person? What keeps the person who experiences this treatment from exiting the cycle immediately so that idealized devalue discard cycle is a trap that evokes responses from us that we otherwise would not have an ordinary circumstances. So Kristen goes on to say that a deeper understanding of the relationship dynamics should be based on the narcissist disordered view and how it draws the partner into their dysfunctional lens. She didn't have. And I'll link this article because she does a really nice job of creating this chart [00:12:00] that shows how the narcissist actions guide the relationship toward dysfunction and then why the partners reactions to the narcissists actions do not lead to an outcome that is outside of this painful cycle. So she said that while in the relationship, it can feel impossible to break away and to go no contact. And then by expanding the traditional cycle of narcissistic abuse, she said, we can learn more about why here is this expanded narcissistic cycle of abuse.

[00:12:28] So stage one, we've got your classic narcissist love bombing. They love bombed the partner, she said. This is the first stage in the cycle in the relationship with the narcissist that previously was noted as part of that idealization stage. So as the narcissist idealizes the partner, both people experience an emotional high in the brain that is so powerful that it can simulate the same regions of the brain that that signify if someone's using a drug like cocaine. So it hits that certain those same certain neurotransmitters, those are those feel good chemicals are released. [00:13:00] This is why it can feel like a drug. And I know Ross Rosenberg talks about in his self love deficit disorder that it is the drug of choice, the narcissistic lover, and that's for the person who has the self love deficit. Kristen goes on to say that the narcissist puts the partner on a pedestal and begins to mirror both the physical actions and personal likes and dislikes of the partner. I've called it parroting, but it's also what she calls mirroring where the narcissist, because they truly lack a sense of self, are going to mirror what they see. And that's why it can feel such like such a connection because, oh my gosh, we are basically the same person. We like the same things, we like the same movies, we laugh at the same jokes.

[00:13:41] And if that does that sound familiar during that love bombing stage and I love it, it's because you are put on a pedestal. And then the narcissist mirroring both the physical actions and the personal likes and dislikes of the partner. So the narcissist by doing that creates this emotional, safe space of utter acceptance that induces positive feelings of love, trust and vulnerability. And [00:14:00] I think that this is part of why you see that the nurses feels like it is absolutely normal and it's perfectly okay to love bomb and the initial stages often before someone gets married and then when they put a ring on it, so to speak. Now all of a sudden those behaviors change. And I have several examples as a marriage therapist where I'm meeting with the couple and I can think of two right out of the gate, one where the guy in the relationship would put notes, leave notes everywhere for his wife, go meet her or put notes on her car. I think she worked at a mall or a big box retail store, and then when they got married, those were done. And so then I remember when we were talking about that in therapy years down the road, he just looked at me and said, Well, yeah, I did that. I mean, initially because I wanted to get her. I mean, I wanted her to know that I this that she I wanted to marry her.

[00:14:50] What more do you do? But then we got married and then he said, Nobody keeps that up. Or I remember another client. It was a similar situation. It was the emotionally immature, narcissistic wife in that scenario. And she [00:15:00] was saying the same thing. She said, Oh yeah, I would just smother him with words of affirmation, physical touch, those love languages that he so adored. Because I wanted him to like me. I wanted him to be excited about being married. But but we're married now, so what am I supposed to do? And so I feel like that just makes so much sense when you look at that as being this behavior is being mirrored and that is during that love bombing stage. So Kristen says that this safe space is a reflection of all that the partner wants to hear and see because it's based upon what the narcissist has learned of the partner's identity and background. There then becomes this vast familiarity and future orientation in the relationship, which is then accompanied by grandiose statements about destiny or this once in a lifetime connection. So for the narcissist, this period of idealization is what they crave most. And that is because by crafting an image of themselves that reflects what the partner needs to see to be comfortable in the relationship. The nurses receives a high quality of narcissistic supply in the form of adoration, attention and love. [00:16:00]

[00:16:00] So that moves us on to stage two. Kristen says the partner inevitably disappoints the narcissist, so that idealization phase can last a long time. It can be days, it can be weeks. I call that shelf life and I feel like early on in the relationship that shelf life is fairly long. It can even last up to a year or longer, but it can't be maintained because she says it's built on illusions about who the narcissist truly is. The narcissist manufactured a false persona that doesn't truly exist. So the more that you start to just go through life and they start to be presented with things that are in front of them, that they are also going to try to manipulate or deal with or gain power over in real time. Then now you are not going to continue to feel that sense of connection because it really wasn't who they were as a person. So she says, in addition, the relationship is not supported by the principles that must that must comprise a healthy relationship, such as mutual trust, honesty, commitment. I would add it to their accountability or the ability to communicate in an emotionally mature way. The fact that when [00:17:00] things come up in a relationship, it's okay for us to have differing opinions. So she said that there are a lot of things that can trigger the narcissist, that their partner is a disappointment, such as number one, the narcissist becomes bored with the relationship or partner has the problems of the real world start to penetrate the dreamlike quality of their idealization stage.

[00:17:19] What she's talking about here is when the real world pierces through the idealized one, the narcissist starts to feel life sliding into mediocrity. And so what can that look like? This was an example I gave last week, I believe, on the podcast, where I was processing some trauma, some betrayal trauma, some narcissistic discard with a woman in my office. And we were talking about a time that her daughter this was a decade or more ago that her daughter really needed to go to the hospital, that she was very sick. And the narcissist in her life just put up these reasons why that he said the kid our kids faking it. And the kid was ten maybe at the time and was really not doing well. And so [00:18:00] the narcissist kept coming up with all these reasons why we didn't need to go and why she was faking it. And why are you listening to a kid instead of me and the mom? The woman in my office was saying, Boy, she wished she could have just trusted her gut or her instinct and ended up calling a helpline, an air nurse, the advice nurse. And they brought the daughter in. And as we were processing the trauma in the office, my client had a kind of a realization in an AHA that he often did things just because he just didn't want to, because he was lazy, because he was tired.

[00:18:30] And so that's where I feel like when what maybe she's saying here is when the narcissist just has their own agenda and it could be as simple as one to watch TV or not do anything. So those problems that are being brought there interfere with his ability to then receive the supply that he needs from his partner so he can no longer keep this emptiness internalized sense of worthlessness at bay. So the Narcisse becomes irritated that they have to focus on somebody else or somebody else's problems. I think this one might resonate even more. [00:19:00] Kristen says that the narcissist starts to see flaws in their partner. She said these things. The narcissist views as flaws can range from saying no to the narcissist request or choosing a night out with friends or asking questions about suspicious behavior or merely holding a different opinion. So when a partner does not make the narcissist the center of attention, the narcissist feels offended. I can't remember exactly where I found this quote, but I feel like I'm quoting it often enough. And now the more I learn about confabulation, I feel like I'm almost fabricating this to become my quote someday. So I want to be very aware of that. But the quote is that when you disagree with the narcissist or basically say anything that they could take as offensive or as a contradiction, that they immediately go to this place of shame and by shame, meaning that their brain immediately goes to, you think I'm a horrible husband or father? And so then they're going to lash out and defend their fragile ego.

[00:19:56] And so I like how when Eleanor is saying that they may [00:20:00] this might just be the narcissist hearing their spouse just say no, or I've got a different opinion and this is where you start to see things unravel a little bit. That is the person that is waking up to the narcissism in their relationship as they start to realize that it is okay to have my own opinion and that it is okay for me to want to do things that I would like to do that in a healthy relationship. The answer is, Oh, okay, yeah, I didn't have anything going on tonight. But to the narcissist, if their partner wants to do something different, you can almost watch them quickly go through all of the reasons. Checklist Why? How do they manipulate this situation? How can they in real time make this about them? And it's as if everything has to have an angle or they're going to get something from every situation. So even. They had nothing planned that night and their spouse says, Hey, I think I want to run out with some friends. Then quickly they're going to say, Oh man, okay, no, that's fine. I had some plans.

[00:20:55] I thought we were going to do something tonight. And then when you're helping the spouse that's waking [00:21:00] up to the narcissism start to say, Oh, what did you have in mind? Tell me more. You hadn't mentioned anything. And this is where you'll start to see the narcissist say things like, No, it's okay. It's really not a big deal. And this is where I like introducing positive tension is what I like to call it, where if the person that was going to go out now knows, Oh, he's just looking for an angle or a way to have leverage or almost to put something in the bank for later where to say, Oh no, really, tell me, because you really hadn't mentioned anything and you look like you're just sitting there watching a football game that has just started. And I think that that's going to run about 3 hours. But you're saying that you wanted to go out and do something tonight. So tell me take me on your train of thought. Help me understand. And so when you hear the spouse, the narcissistic spouse at that point say no, for real, it's you wouldn't even understand or I don't even know why I have to explain myself or well, you didn't ask me earlier. And so they're still trying desperately to turn it around on the person that is now standing up for themselves. And by standing up for themselves, I make it sound so dramatic.

[00:21:55] But in a healthy relationship, somebody saying, looks like you're going to watch the football game tonight. I think I'll go out with my friends. [00:22:00] And in a healthy relationship, the person that's ready to watch the football game says, Sounds good, have fun. And that's it. And imagine imagine that world where people take ownership of their own stuff. So if the narcissist says, Oh, I was going to do something and and it's my bad, I didn't say anything. So of course, yeah, you go do whatever you want to do. And if she then in that scenario said, well, look like you were going to watch the football game. And then if he's saying, oh, absolutely. And I thought maybe we might run out and do something at halftime, or I was going to watch one half of the game. And I had told, I don't know, you told your sister that we were going to go over and play Parcheesi, look at that pull. And then he could even say Y'all to shoot her a quick text because I didn't even let you know. So what am I supposed to do? Of course you're going to go. You're. You want to go out? I didn't tell you any of these things. When you have a healthy relationship and there's actual accountability and honesty at that point, then I could see the wife saying, Oh, wow, no, I had no idea. Like, I don't have to go out with my friends.

[00:22:51] And then this is where I like to lightheartedly say the fight is, well, no, I'll do whatever you want to do. And the other person saying, No, I didn't. You go do what you want to do. [00:23:00] That's my bad. I hope you can see there's a completely different energy there, Kristen said. This third part is the narcissist begins to feel threatened by the partner's autonomy, which is what we're talking about now, she said. Narcissists like to know what their partners are doing at all times. I think this is going to resonate with a lot of people, she said. They can also be threatened by a partner's independence or by a partner. Knowing more about a subject or having more of something than the narcissist does. They don't like to be outshined, even if they also look good by association as it draws attention away from themselves. So for the nurses, too much independence may mean the partner will abandon or reject them. Now we're getting to that core part of fear where narcissism comes from this adaptation of childhood wounds or the child not being seen in childhood. And so they continually feel like, man, I have to be the center of attention. Or if we're starting to talk about a subject, if I can think of an example recently where the oh, okay. So a person was talking about just having a hobby, being an artist, and then the narcissist said, Oh, [00:24:00] I love, I know, I love painting.

[00:24:02] I haven't even painted in a while. But that's one of my favorite things I've ever done. And this was one where we get the role reversal. So he was saying she's never mentioned that in her whole life, that she's painted before, and I've painted plenty. But we were around friends and so it was as if she had to say, Oh yeah, now I do that too. I do. And he went back home that night and he said, Hey, we've been married five, six years, and I didn't know that you painted. And so he said that that was where he realized that he had made a mistake because then she gaslit him about you never asked. And I'm sure that I've said it before, you just don't pay attention. And then he tried to stay with it a little bit longer to get out of the gaslighting. And he tried to say, well, let me see some of your work, because this is the thing where, again, emotional immaturity, narcissism, she doesn't realize that how different or not normal that is for a couple to have dated for a year or a year and a half and now been married five, six, seven years. And for him to now for the first time ever find out that his wife [00:25:00] is claiming to be artistic and loves painting, but yet has no examples of it, has never talked about it.

[00:25:07] And he said that he literally he paints often there's paintings around his house. At that point, he wishes that he would have said, okay, let's just bust out the paint brushes and start a group project together. And I think that was where we left things. Kristen said, though, that while nurses see these issues as problematic to them, the problems exist because their partner will not do or stop doing something that they have a basic human right to do. They lack the self awareness and ability to recognize that the problems exist because of their perception of their partner's behavior. The narcissist then feels disrespected and unappreciated, which leads us to stage three. Narcissistic injury occurs so as the partner. Who continues to assert autonomy and independence. The narcissist resentment grows when the partner does not do something the Narcisse wants, no matter how outrageous a violation of human dignity it might be. It feels like a slap in the face to the Narcisse. [00:26:00] They'll say, Look at all this effort that I put to give her everything that she wanted. This is the thanks I get. She doesn't even know how lucky she is. How often do I hear that or that vibe? Or do you know all the things I do for you? And you really think that you would have the house that we have here, the cars that we have here? Do you think that you would have that jewelry? Do you think that you would have this luxurious lifestyle if it wasn't for me? So the partners love and attention is no longer good enough.

[00:26:25] The Narcisse demands that the real world stay suspended forever and the partner forever keep them at the center of their lives. So without the partner's undivided attention, the Narcisse is reminded of his or her own fears and insecurities. They feel wounded by what they perceive as the partner not playing along and seek to take back what the take back the things that they give when morphing into the perfect partner. This is where we start to get into that world of I'm never quite sure which version of my spouse I'm going to get. And that was one of the most fascinating conversations I remember hearing from my wife as I was starting to wake up to some of these narcissistic traits or tendencies that when [00:27:00] I would have the most amazing day at work and feel like I'm saving the world, and I would come home and just think, man, everything's great and amazing and the kids, let's play board games and let's go get yogurt. And the dogs are awesome and my wife's awesome and the world is great. And so everybody around me is going to join in his as this is an amazing world that we live in. But if I've had a bad day and I'm coming in maybe down or pouting because subconsciously I want everyone to rescue me and tell me I'm an amazing dad.

[00:27:27] And in that scenario, then I might have been quite a bit emotionally, more emotionally immature. And and then I want people to then pick me up. I want the external validation that I was even aware of. So then I'm coming in and at this point you can see how the family is going to start saying, okay, I hear the car pull up in the driveway, which version of data we get? And I'd sure like the one with yogurt because I really had a treat in a couple of days. This is where Kristen says that narcissists do feel entitled to do whatever they want to do, even if it hurts their partner feeling wronged to soothe their ego. The narcissist may engage in behavior [00:28:00] that violates the sanctity of the relationship to avoid feeling as if they are in a one down position. There was a question on the group call a couple of nights ago that was asking. The question was asking, are emotional affairs real? And I took I don't know if this is a controversial take, but I said there's I feel like there's two things that are behind that question. One, if the pathologically kind person is the one that is reaching out and perhaps having an emotional affair with someone else, then that's where I know it's going to sound like a double standard. And I don't really care.

[00:28:32] Distinguish if this is the male or the female. If you are the pathologically kind and you're in this relationship with the narcissist, but if you are the one that is now found a connection that may be outside of your relationship, I can make the argument that that's your body keeping the score, meaning that that is your brain, your body saying, Oh my gosh, what a breath of fresh air to connect with somebody who actually hears me, who understands me, who wants to know my opinion. And it's not coming from a place of leverage or a one up position. And then I said, this [00:29:00] will sound unfair when I was talking about this on the group. But if they are asking the question from a place of their spouse is having the emotional affair and I'm talking about the spouse being the more narcissistic or emotionally immature person, then that's often they just want that dopamine dump or they want the supply that comes from the chase. And so in that point, they're not getting the attention that they want at home. So that sounds familiar to the pathologically kind person, but so they need to get their narcissistic supply elsewhere so they can go love bomb someone else so that someone else will tell them, you are the most amazing person in the world. So I hope that you can see the irony and both of those things sound similar, but they are absolutely coming from a different place.

[00:29:42] One is from a trauma related standpoint where the pathologically kind person finds themselves connecting with someone, maybe even outside of their marriage, which is something that they no one goes into a marriage saying, Boy, I can't wait till I can have an emotional or physical affair. But they may find themselves connecting with someone because they desperately seek connection. [00:30:00] And then the narcissist in the relationship or the emotionally immature may find themselves looking outside of the relationship because they want that dopamine dump of of novelty. And so they may be just looking for that supply. So it's so fascinating when you start looking at the narcissist feeling entitled to do whatever they want, even if it hurts their partner. So stage four, Kristen says the narcissist devalues the partner. They suffer from something called object constancy. We've talked about that on several episodes that if you're not with them, then you're against them. That if you've caused you, it is you that causes that narcissistic injury. Then they see your actions as intentional attempts to disrespect them. So once you are placed in the, quote, bad category, then you're viewed as the enemy and partners who cannot be controlled or do not. Form two expectations, then they start to incite narcissistic rage. And so the narcissist will lash out at the partner in revenge. And Christine gives some examples of this. She says the verbal abuse may be subtle at first, and this is where we usually hear phrases such as and nothing ever do is is good enough for you.

[00:30:59] Or [00:31:00] if you love me, you would do fill in the blank. You'd have more sex with me. Or you would you would give me my space or you would do more with me, or you would laugh at all my jokes, or you would be more curious, or you would telling the other person what your experience is supposed to be, rather than just showing up a certain way to affect the relationship in a more positive way. Or they would say, all you want to do is argue, or I don't have to tell you anything or you always have to bring up whatever and ruin everything, or you better call me back in 5 minutes or it's over. So the partner becomes shocked and baffled by the sudden change in the narcissist. Where is the person they fell in love with or why is the nurse is so angry? She said eventually the abuse of words take a darker turn in. The narcissist might start to be cruel. They may denigrate and humiliate the partner more directly for these disappointments. Devaluing their partner feels justified because they lack the control they feel entitled to have and because they also have lower empathy. There may be almost no limit to what the narcissists are willing to do to hurt their partners. And they will employ what she calls [00:32:00] the nuclear option to destroy and discredit their partner.

[00:32:02] And what I feel like the big take away from object constancy, the more you learn about that, where if you have opened up to them, when the waters have been calm and you've shared with them your true hopes and desires and dreams, then those become weaponized when the object constancy principle kicks in. When you go from being all good in the moment to all bad, now they're going to take anything to use against you and just touch on some of your biggest fears. The kids don't like you. They tell me this all the time, which is absolutely untrue. They're triangulating. Or they just say, Yeah, you know, I think you're I think you're crazy. I think you need to go get on medication. And I think and just listen to the continued pattern of I'm telling you what you don't know. I'm telling you what you think. I'm telling you how you feel. And there's no questions there. There's no curiosity. There's no, hey, tell me more about how you are feeling. Help me understand, man. You look sad or you look down. Tell me what that's like. Tell me about your day. Take me and your train of thought. And [00:33:00] there's not that. Or this is the part where sometimes the narcissist will learn the script, but it's that, Hey, tell me what you're going through. So then I can tell you how dumb that is and how smarter I am than you were then.

[00:33:10] That weapon, the tool, is weaponized. Kristen goes on talking about stage five. She says the partner confronts the narcissist over being devalued. The partner's shock and sadness may feel crushing, yet it will unleash a barrage of questions and self doubt. The partner will be blindsided by the cruel about face. It will seem illogical and the partner will not be able to figure out what caused such an extreme reaction. And the extreme devaluation by the narcissist is at complete odds with the soulmate persona that was portrayed by them at the beginning of the relationship. And even more confusing, Kristen talks about, she says once the narcissist cools off now, they might pretend as if the incident or devaluation never happened or was no big deal. This is what I talk about. They say, Hey, you want to go ride bikes again? This is where almost the little kid just gets in a kick fight with their friend on the parking or the playground. And then 10 minutes later, they're cool, they're getting ice cream and they're riding bikes together, she says. Once the narcissist has gone off and diffuse the injury [00:34:00] to their ego by exacting revenge in some way, the damage is under control and in some way might be, Hey, I just eviscerated you with my words, and I just got very angry and I put you back in your place. So now let's get back to watching TV, because she says that the balance feels restored and normality has returned for the narcissist to the partner, however, nothing feels normal, a hurt and confused they confront the narcissist to get an explanation will make this behavior make some sense.

[00:34:26] And boy, this one is tricky because this scenario, the partner who's now starting to find themselves, find their voice, stand up for themselves and set boundaries, this is where they're going to continue to just be pushed and be tested. Remember, setting a boundary not just with the narcissist and a boundary with anyone in essence becomes a challenge. It seems like for most where they're going to push and push and push against that boundary, which then, she says, leads to stage six. The narcissist defense mechanisms kick in says during this stage, the narcissist will engage in a variety of verbal tactics to deflect project, gaslight, blame, shift and [00:35:00] even stonewall again, saying things like, You're too sensitive. That's not what I said. You heard me wrong. Well, what about the time that you did this or. You know what? I've been stressed. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm not perfect. It won't happen again. He has such a vibe of gaslighting in the stage six when the narcissist defense mechanisms kick in or they say, Can we just leave this in the past, I told you I wouldn't do it again. If you can't stop talking about it, then I'm leaving.

[00:35:22] And I don't know if it was on my Virtual Couch podcast. I did one with a couple named Alana and Luke, and Alana's a therapist. Luke is a relationship coach and they have been through a significant betrayal trauma where Luke had there was infidelity and pornography addiction. And they talk about that on the episode. And now Alana as a therapist, works with betrayal trauma. A great deal. And I think in that episode we were talking about how you get the couple, the person that comes in. And when I was early in my practice, the guy would say things like, look, I said I would never do it again. And I don't want her looking at my phone. I don't [00:36:00] want her follow me around and I have to report to her all the things that I would do. And I remember I literally remember the first client a year, maybe in my practice, working at a nonprofit for my church. And I remember sitting there thinking, Well, the guy's got a point. I mean, he seems like he understands what's going on. And now I realize that, oh, that is the wrong thing to say. That is the gaslighting, that is the narcissist defense mechanism kicking in, she said. This is all part of the word salad that narcissists use in circular conversations that minimize the partner's pain, avoid taking responsibility and keep their abuse and the real nature of their relationship hidden. So what narcissists cannot accept is that they are wrong, or even to hear that they have harmed their partner because that's to feel criticized by them.

[00:36:42] So they and that's where you start to see the little bits of, hey, this is just a little kid that never learned how to adequately cope and didn't see any healthy relationships modeled in their childhood because they don't want to hurt you. But instead of saying I'm sorry, they say, No, you didn't. You don't understand. You're the one that took [00:37:00] that wrong because they can't possibly be the one that inflicted the pain or damage, just like they can't possibly be the person that's going to take ownership or accountability. And why I feel like it can be so simple for someone to say, My bad, I'm sorry, man. I didn't even realize versus the little you were too sensitive or you didn't understand or well, what about the time that you said something or you don't understand how stressed I've been? Or Can't we just put this behind us so you can start to see that the concept there is a sparks feelings of weakness and shame for them to hear that they've done something that is far less than perfect. So it must be your fault. So let's move on to stage seven and the expanded narcissistic cycle of abuse. And this is where and I'm going to give you a little bit of a spoiler when we get to the end here of talking about stage seven, Kristen talks about stages two through seven form this mini cycle within the larger cycle.

[00:37:51] And the more times this mini cycle repeats, the less partners in these relationships trust themselves as they become further entrenched in the narcissist version of their relationship, [00:38:00] which I feel is part of trying to figure out what this trauma bond is all about and why it can be so hard to get out of this cycle. So number seven, she says the partner tries to hold the relationship together while maintaining his or her self respect and autonomy. So this is around the concepts of waking up to narcissism or waking up to emotional immaturity in a relationship where when you start to recognize that there's something happening here, there's a name to it. I'm hearing other people's stories, there's podcasts, there are books there articles, and I start to finally feel heard or understood. I'm not crazy. Now the person wants to maintain his or her self respect and realizes that autonomy is okay, that we don't have to be codependent, we don't have to be enmeshed, and that we can't. We just mature together and have a shared experience and live happily ever after and realize that we just didn't know what we didn't know. So the turn that the relationship has taken starts to defy logic to the narcissist, to that partner, the sweet and thoughtful person they fell in love with now attacks them for reasons [00:39:00] that the partner doesn't understand.

[00:39:01] And when asked about it, the narcissist denies the attacks were attacks, or they make claims that allude to the idea that the attacks were deserved. So then the partners may draw one of two possible conclusions. Number one, the person we are with is disordered because it doesn't make sense that somebody can seem to switch love on and off like a light switch. So you can see where you are starting to wake up to your own experience that it's okay to be autonomous, it's okay to have your own opinion. So why can they go from everything is great to everything is horrible, black or white thinking all or nothing thinking, lack of object, constancy or the other possible conclusion. There's just a misunderstanding and the excuses that the narcissist provides, they have to be genuine. And now that I've woken up to this, I can figure it out. And if we can just do the right things, then all of the bad times will stop and things can be like they were back in the beginning when I was being love bombed and everything seemed to be okay. And this is where I talk about and I know I say them [00:40:00] over and over again, but the five rules of trying to be in a relationship or figure out a relationship with the nervous system of raising your emotional baseline self care. And Nate Christianson, my intern associate and I have been planning an upcoming episode that we're going to do on waking up to narcissism about really what that means.

[00:40:18] What does self care actually mean? Because it's something that's thrown around a lot. But we're going to get into the neurology of self care and give really real specific examples coming up pretty soon. But so self care, it's not selfish. Raise your emotional baseline, get that PhD in gaslighting. Understand that it's okay for you to have your own opinions. And when somebody tries to turn it around and make you feel crazy, that's not okay. And then get out of unproductive conversations, set healthy boundaries. But here's the big one. Realize there's nothing that you will say or do. It will cause them to have the aha moment or the epiphany. The reason I bring that up right now is go back to what Kristen said here. There's a misunderstanding and the excuses that the nurse provides must be genuine. So if we can just do the things right, all [00:41:00] of the bad times will stop and things will be as they were in the beginning. So this is where you still start to feel, even as you're waking up to this emotional immaturity or narcissism in the relationship where you still feel like, no, now I understand. I can make sense of this and I can just explain it to them that there's inconsistencies in their behavior, or they didn't really say that before, but that only feeds the supply.

[00:41:20] Unfortunately, you're the only one at times doing the work in the relationship, and that's what can be so frustrating because the more you do the work, the more of the pushback you're going to get, the more frustrated or angry or emotionally immature the narcissistic person in the relationship is going to become. And I know it's easy for me to say, and that means you're doing it right, but that doesn't mean that it's going to feel good or that it is going to ease off any time soon. And I know that can be really difficult. So she said that these the two competing ideas cause a psychological conflict known as cognitive dissonance, that it's not possible to hold two contradictory thoughts in one's head at the same time. Cognitive dissonance occurs [00:42:00] in a lot of different areas in psychology, or just out in the wild when you've always heard something or know something about someone or even yourself. But now you're put in a situation and you're seeing a completely different example or a completely different side of yourself or others. That's where it's just our brain says, Wait a minute, this is what I believe, or This is what I know, and this is actually what I'm seeing, and these don't fit together. So cognitive dissonance comes in a lot of different flavors, a lot of different shapes and sizes. So she said that then resolving the contradiction in favor of our initial impression of the narcissist at this point is the most reasonable psychological response.

[00:42:34] So even when someone is waking up to the narcissism in their relationship, they still feel like the most reasonable really the most reasonable thing that I can do here is just try to say, okay, the they must know what they're talking about because that's what people do. They they finally have an aha moment and then they come to their realization and now, now we're getting somewhere. But in reality that might just be what that [00:43:00] narcissist needs in that moment to get their supply, to get that dopamine bump of, okay, they're right and you're wrong, or they said the right thing and now you validate them and say, Man, thank you so much. This makes so much more sense. I think we're good now. So she said then. In other words, the narcissist presented themselves as kind, thoughtful, generous in the beginning of the relationship. So it doesn't make sense to believe that they actually don't care about their partner or intend to hurt them maybe emotionally or sometimes even physically or financially or the kids or that sort of thing. So when narcissists provide explanations for their behaviors, even though the explanation may seem outrageous, Kristen goes on to say The fact that they had a reason aligns with this first impression of them as loving and kind. And I dug up a little side note, and I don't know if we'll go too far into this right now, but there's I do a lot with people that are struggling with their faith, faith journey, faith crisis.

[00:43:52] And it's fascinating because as people start to even try to make sense of things that don't maybe make sense in their faith community, there are typically a group [00:44:00] of people that are called apologists or the I don't think it's the science or that's the psychology of apologetics where people will just the fact that they have an argument is enough for people that are in that faith community or that faith tradition. So if you are struggling with, let's just say some I don't know, let's just call it archeological things from some scripture that you have always read or believed. And now all of a sudden you're saying, wait a minute, this doesn't necessarily line up, but then you go to that your faith community and then your faith community is they have research or articles that in essence say, well, I mean, there's a chance or there's a possibility that this could have happened or this could be the case in the world of apologetics. If you are not struggling with that concept as part of your faith journey, then the fact that your faith community has an argument and says, no, here's a big paper that says there's a possibility is enough for you. But if you're somebody that that is one of your core values, that whether it's you need to make sense [00:45:00] of things or you have this value of certainty or, I don't know, a logical thinking or working things through a certain way in your brain, then the apologetic argument is not going to scratch that itch for you.

[00:45:14] And that's why you may still have a real struggle when you're trying to go through your faith journey, faith transition. The reason I mentioned that is because that same concept is happening in your own brain. If you want to think the best of someone and then they have a reason of why they will. No, you don't understand. It's just that this is what I was thinking, or this is what was happening. Then it's natural for us to go, Oh, okay, they've got a reason. And I like this person, or I think I like this person, or I'm married to this person, so we need to figure this out. So I'm going to just say, okay, that must be the reason why. It's not. I can't trust my spidey sense here. I have to just say, okay, their version of what they're saying must make sense. So again, what she says is it makes sense psychologically for partners to believe that there has been a mistake and then to reject the idea that the narcissist is [00:46:00] actually cruel or callous. So she said, this is the stage where partners are unknowingly drawn into the narcissist distorted reality that by accepting the narcissist view on the incidents, partners begin to lose touch with their own intuition and judgment, aka the spidey sense I just mentioned.

[00:46:15] And as I foreshadowed here, this is where she says those stages two through seven form a mini cycle that seems to just repeat over and over until someone starts to finally break free from that pattern or that cycle, because they are either losing their sense of self or autonomy and they're starting to do their own research or work and they're starting to and I don't want to sound all dramatic, but stand up for themselves. But to someone outside of a narcissistic relationship, it's not this. That's why I say it's not a dramatic stand up for themselves. It's a I just start to express an opinion and it's okay for me to have an opinion and it's okay for me to have my own thoughts and emotions and feelings, my own hopes and dreams and desires, and that shouldn't threaten the other person in the relationship. So she says, though, that here's where [00:47:00] we move on to stage eight. The narcissist gives a silent treatment or discards the partner. Here comes the narcissistic discard. So she said, after many iterations of this mini cycle, those stages two through seven, the partner usually becomes very traumatized by the emotional and psychological abuse perpetrated by the narcissist and being drawn in to the narcissist. Reality provides an extremely volatile and unhealthy world for the partner, and their fight or flight instincts may now be triggered.

[00:47:24] And this is where I feel like when you start to look at the vessel, barnacles work on trauma and the body keeps the score. This is where even when there are people that I'm working with that say, no, I cannot leave this relationship. But then in the relationship, their blood pressure rises. They start to feel a tremendous amount of anxiety around their narcissistic partner. Or they the fact that they hear them pull into the driveway triggers an automatic response from them. And here's where I just want to say, if you're the more emotionally immature or you're being accused of being narcissistic or emotionally immature and you've made it this far, which I'm so [00:48:00] grateful that you're hanging in here, if your spouse is saying, I can't, I shut down when I'm around you instead of telling them that, well, they just need to knock it off or they just need to work through it. This is where empathy can really start to occur in a relationship where a man that would be so hard if this person that I am in a relationship with doesn't feel safe around me. And if they feel reactive around me and if they every time that I mentioned something, then they seem to take it a certain way. They react. They respond, they allowed they get angry, because I guarantee you that's not who that person is.

[00:48:35] As a general rule of thumb, that that's been a conditioned response over the years. And so someone has to break the cycle. And breaking that cycle is not something that is best put upon the person that is becoming reactive. Because when your body, your goes into this fight or flight mode, you can't just tell it to knock it off as a matter of act. The more you say knock it off, your body goes into that reactance mode, that instant negative reaction of [00:49:00] being told what to do. It's why I thought suppression does not work. Do not think of the, I don't know, orange polar bear wearing a green hat, wearing a yellow tie, doing a tap dance with a cane. I mean, you're literally doing that along with me while I'm telling you that, because your brain is saying, I'll do whatever I want, I have to do this as a survival instinct. If you are the person in the relationship that's saying you just need to calm down, then your partner's brain is saying, I cannot calm down. I refuse to calm down. This is a self-preservation instinct within me to not calm down. So it is this is your chance to take a look inward and say, okay, that would be so hard if my partner doesn't feel safe or feels like they can't even open up around me. Or if every time they share their opinion that that if I don't agree with it, then I try to talk them out of it.

[00:49:51] If I try to play devil's advocate, if I try to do any of those things, that is not a way to build a healthy relationship. Do you want love or do you want control? [00:50:00] You can't have both in an adult relationship. I digress there, didn't I? Back to the article. So she was talking about the fight or flight instincts, which is what triggered me, I guess appropriately enough. So some of the ways she says that may manifest itself include withdrawing emotionally out of a fear of having to walk on eggshells, overwhelming anxiety over the constant feeling that something is off and attempting to alleviate it by asking the narcissist what's happening, feeling so hurt and brokenhearted over what has happened that depression starts to sit in or reacting or trying to stand up for oneself when provoked by further devaluation, where fights then will often occur. So, she says, after the mini cycle repeats over time, the narcissist also changes. They become completely disillusioned with the partner as the partner continues to, quote, disappoint the narcissist with normal human behavior. So then she says, the narcissist becomes somewhat disgusted with the partner's behavior because to the narcissist, the partner is now either combative, abusive, jealous, crazy, never satisfied, or is [00:51:00] self absorbed and attentive. Simply put, this is another one of the signs that you are starting to find yourself.

[00:51:07] When the narcissist starts to say, Man, you don't let things go, are you seem pretty argumentative? Or, Jeez, who is this person now? And unfortunately that's pushing the button of the pathologically kind person because the pathologically kind person is kind. So when the narcissist starts pushing these buttons saying, wow, okay, I guess I guess you're having a moment here or why are you so angry? Or You're not, you can't let things go that unfortunately those are signs that you are starting to stick up for yourself, that you're starting to stand up for yourself and say, Hey, it's okay for me to have a different opinion. So then she says then that recognizing that the partner is no longer providing unquestioning worship and devotion, the narcissist starts to reject the partner and here comes the beginning of the discard. To avoid the feelings of worthlessness that come from their partner's trauma, the narcissist will give a silent treatment or even discard the partner and disappear at the stage for days or [00:52:00] even weeks at a time or even longer. And I get so many questions around this about what is one to do. And from an emotional, mature standpoint, if you are the person that is starting to find your voice, find yourself, find your autonomy. And I'm talking about it in such a positive way because that's okay to have those your own thoughts, opinions, feelings, hobbies, beliefs, all of those things. Then you stay the course when that silent treatment occurs or the person withdraws, that is emotional immaturity.

[00:52:29] And again, if you're the person listening to this and you do that and you withdraw and you pout and you whine and you do the silent treatment, then are you doing that or are you taking on that victim mindset? And again, I'm talking to the emotionally immature person because you want that person to see how bad they've been or what they've done wrong so that then they will come and apologize. And then you get to say, okay, thank you. Have you have you learned your lesson? Now can we just get back to the way things were where there's no contention and where I'm right and you're wrong, or if you express an opinion, I'm going to talk you out of it, which is not [00:53:00] it's not a healthy relationship. Stage nine she said the partner suffers crippling pain, doubt and confusion. So the entire relationship to this point has been held in place by the dominance and control of the narcissist through hundreds or, she says, thousands of instances of emotional and psychological and oftentimes physical or sexual abuse. The emotional and the psychological abuse tactics are important because they were the invisible bullets that eroded the partner's sense of self, she said. The partner has at least partially adopted the narcissist point of view, which may include I'm too sensitive, I cause this to happen. I'm exaggerating or just plain wrong about what's happening here, or the narcissist love me and doesn't want to hurt me.

[00:53:42] But if I just try a little harder, they'll stop. So if you have thought those things and the sensitivity piece we can talk about, hopefully if you've heard of highly sensitive person or sensory processing sensitivity, you can take a look at that. I think I've covered that on some of the earlier episodes and I know that I have [00:54:00] several art. Virtual Couch episodes on that. But the part where people start to say, No, this is my fault, or I cause this or No, I do, I do yell at him. I do respond. Again, your if you didn't just grow up walking around yelling at people, then most likely that is what your body has has become accustomed to as one of the only ways where you do feel like you can be heard or seen. And that's where I feel like the kind person starts to say, no, I do contribute to this dynamic and I have a couple of clients right now where I want to say, But, but, but, but that is because you are acting in response. But then I it's so funny. One of them will say, okay, just you got to give me, though, that I wish I was not handling it this way. So. All right, I will give you that. But that is not who you are as a person. That's who you have become in the relationship.

[00:54:45] And that is not who you want to be as a person. So she says, in contrast, the harmful reality that has been downplayed, ignored and hidden throughout the narcissist, emotional and psychological abuse are the narcissist. Views of the partner fluctuate between extremes, which is not normal, and the [00:55:00] fluctuation itself does not represent love but control. She said the narcissist equivocate their abuse with the partner's autonomy and their reasonable human behavior. Christine We're speaking the same language, she says the partner endures and reacts to the narcissist from a position of extreme volatility and abuse, and the narcissist tries to suppress and deny the partner's lived. Experience of the relationship is painful and confusing. So, she says during silent treatments, the partner suffers tremendously because their reality has been warped through the manipulation of events. The narcissist putting on a show of being a loving person with surface level actions and promises, but without the commitment and support underlying such a relationship. And this is where I do often talk about when somebody starts to wake up to the emotional immaturity in their relationship. And this is why I preach my four pillars of a connected conversation so often that it's not assuming that we're going to now be able to have these adult mature conversations, but having a framework to operate from can often be very positive because you want to [00:56:00] be able to sometimes introduce positive tension. Positive tension is circling back around and saying, Hey, wait a minute, you had mentioned this earlier and now you said this, and those seem to be to contradict.

[00:56:10] Can you tell me more about that? Help me understand, because from an emotional, mature standpoint, I want the other person I want the emotionally immature or the narcissistic person to then say, wow, you know what? You're right. But I know as I'm saying this, I am violating all of my own rules of by even using this four pillar framework that I am assuming that this person, the emotionally immature, narcissistic person, is going to have this aha moment. And I'm not saying that, but what I'm saying is if you have a framework to operate from, it is going to help you have more sanity because you will be able to get out of those nonsensical, cyclical, gaslighting conversations much faster because you recognize where now the conversations go off the rails. Somebody's violating my one of my four pillars. So she said that further. Again, the narcissist is not going to take responsibility for their harmful behaviors that undermine [00:57:00] this soul mate facade that he or she is conveyed. The partner will likely feel panic that the narcissist is gone after having taken on the view of the narcissist, which is instilled doubt in his or her own intuition and judgment, he or she will likely miss the narcissist and wish for another chance to quote, get things right so that everything will only go back to the way it once was or the way it was back during stage one that we talked about.

[00:57:22] And she said the partner may be hurt by what the narcissist has done and may believe that there is still some way to reconcile to reconcile the narcissist hurtful actions with the dream that the narcissist fed him or her, if only he or she would stop talking about them as if talking about them as the problem and not the fact that the narcissist acted harmfully. And you can see then of how this trauma bond continues to occur and how when someone is waking up to these behaviors in their relationship of how it can put this tension into the relationship, and the kind person is the one that is used to so often just acquiescing or trying to figure it out. Or I can make sense of this. And the more that they are starting to stand up for [00:58:00] their right to be a human being, that it is going to disrupt the relationship. And then she said, Stage ten and we've got just a couple more here. I know this episode is going a little bit long, but stage ten, the narcissist Hoovers, she said the partner is extremely vulnerable to being drawn back into the relationship. Even if the partner doesn't reach out to the narcissist, the narcissist will likely reach out to the partner using hoovering attempts.

[00:58:21] The Narcissist Hoovers, once he or she feels the partner is conciliatory enough to accept that it is the narcissist who is the true victim. When this thought has settled in, the narcissist will not have to work very hard to gain back control over the partner. The partner will forgive the narcissist and stop asking questions or they'll look the other way. And this is part of what draws the person back into that trauma bond. This hoovering is where the person is just starting to poke around a little bit, bring up some things that don't have anything necessarily to do with the disagreements, the arguments or what caused the separation or the discard. And the kind person wants that relationship so desperately that they start [00:59:00] to say, okay. She must understand now. She must see what she did. So I know it's uncomfortable to talk about. So I think she gets it. And this is where I talk again about couples coming in and they say, no, it's been it's been a good week. It's been it's been a good couple of weeks. And where I do, I say, has it been a couple of good weeks or are you just no longer fighting or have you made have you had an attempt or have you been able to work my four pillars into a conversation? And have you gotten some depth or understanding or accountability or ownership for what happened in both sides of the equation? Or did he or she just pop back around and say, hey, I'm sorry, can we just can we just put that behind us? And we both had a role in this.

[00:59:41] We both we both you know, you and I both did this. And then can we just get back to the way things were? Because that kind person wants that so desperately. She said that the partner will forgive the narcissist, stop asking questions or look the other way. The partner will apologize for being too needy or jealous or for lashing out in response to being repeatedly devalued [01:00:00] or baited. And the narcissist context of abuse of control is conveniently ignored. We're not dealing with the issues. That's the bottom line. The narcissist may apologize as well promise, change and attempt to hoover if necessary, but the acknowledgment of the wrongs will lack insight. This is why I love this article. This is where I talk about introducing positive tension. A lot of times when the narcissist says, Hey, I am. I'm sorry. Yeah, I overreacted. And sometimes it can be just as easy as saying, Man, I appreciate that, but take me on your train of thought. You know, tell me what you're sorry about. And that is sometimes where you will see how surface level that apology is, that the apology is okay. I said, I'm sorry. Do you really want to get into it again versus the and this is where I'm almost asking for this miracle, the person to say no.

[01:00:46] I finally did some introspection. I went and met with my therapist. I joined a support group and I really understand now I am emotionally immature and a narcissistic, and so I am being controlling. I don't give you room to breathe. I don't. And even if the person came back [01:01:00] and said that quickly after a couple of days, then I would worry that they've read a script, to be quite honest. So that's where I feel like being able to introduce that positive tension is a goal at some point because that explanation or that excuse is going to be shallow and unsatisfying. And so Kristen said the narcissist will not be able to offer explanation for what they've done. That will make sense. So on the surface, things may be good again for the moment, but underneath the foundation is still rotten. All the partner wants is for the confusion and the pain to stop. And so it does before a price. So stage 11 of this conflict, Kristen says the relationship is restored, but the partner is conditioned to expect now abusive treatment. So the narcissist promised not to behave in such a cruel manner. But nothing changes. Nothing has to change as the narcissist controls the narrative at this point. And what's so crazy about this is this just fed the narrative, fed their supply. It just roots in again, another way for them to take control of a situation [01:02:00] if it goes this way again.

[01:02:01] The purpose of silent treatment, she said, and discards, is to teach the partner a lesson that if you don't do as I want you to do, I'll shut you out of my life. Furthermore, she said, the narcissist will often try to crush the partner in the most devastating way possible as they do it. The narcissist views the partner's ordinary human behavior as problematic simply because that behavior inconveniences the narcissist or elicits negative feelings. And she says this so well. She says Love is a zero sum game to a narcissist. It's not a partnership. And so the cycle continues and stage two starts again. And the longer a partner stays, the more emotional trauma is inflicted, the trauma bond is created, the abuse of self reinforcing the cycle. And as the narcissist continues to scoop out the partner's autonomy and identity and replace it with distortions that shape the partner in ways that the narcissist desires, that partner's identity becomes eroded, she says. It becomes even more difficult to find the thread inside of them that wants to get away because they no longer trust [01:03:00] themselves. Learned helplessness sets in, and as the partner forms a trauma bond with the narcissist or develops a form of Stockholm syndrome. And so stage 12. Then she says, then that the partner goes, No contact with the narcissist. Here's the part where the cycle just really starts to change.

[01:03:19] At some point, either the narcissist will discard the partner for good, or the partner must find the strength to go no contact with the narcissist in order for the relationship to ever truly come to an end. And she says no contact is something that must be initiated psychologically by the partner, regardless of the status of physical contact between the two. It can happen in the same room. It can happen as parents, it can happen as co parents, she says. It can occur when the partner has a breakthrough that penetrates the narcissist distortions to recognize that there is no happy ending, especially at the way that things are going as you start to identify the cycle over and over again, she said. It does not have to be a breakthrough that completely flips the partner's perspective overnight or for [01:04:00] good. That's probably not even realistic under extreme cognitive manipulation. Thank you, Kristen, for pointing that out because this is a process I know of. No one that immediately goes no contact and holds that boundary. And people that are not in narcissistic relationships or emotionally immature or abusive relationships, they do not know what they don't know. So this is the part where when you open up to a Switzerland friend, somebody that says, right, but you know, I'm sure that there's two sides of this coin or but what have you been doing in this situation? Or. I've had people that are open up to their ecclesiastical leaders, their priests, their bishop, and that person doesn't have experience in this world.

[01:04:36] And then they've done more damage than good where they've said, you know what, I feel impressed that I feel like you need to go back in there and you need to do everything you can. You need to work. You need to be open. You need to hear him, you need to forgive him, or you need to let her know that this is how you're really feeling and that is only going to feed that supply. So again, Chris saying it doesn't have to be a breakthrough that completely flips the partner's perspective. It becomes something that happens internally, not to be overly dramatic, but Viktor [01:05:00] Frankl, his book Man Search for Meaning, where he talks about living in a concentration camp. And he's the one that talks about that in between stimulus and response. That's the opportunity where you have the choice you have to exercise or work on that choice. But when you have been triggered and I talk about this in my path back, my recovery program, where there's a trigger and then there's a thought and then there's an action, that magic comes between thought and action. Sometimes we can address the trigger. The trigger might just be that she is in the room or he is in the room. And so sometimes we can move out, we can separate and we can remove that physical trigger. But other times that's something that we can't do right now.

[01:05:38] So we have to accept that that's the trigger. We're aware that that's the trigger. And then the thought comes in and the thought is, Oh my gosh, what is he or she going to say? Or Why do I feel so bad? And so that trigger happens. And then the action, the distance between thought and action is then where I can take a pause, where I can be mindful, where I can get grounded and centered, where I can now make this commitment that I'm [01:06:00] not going to feed into the insanity. I'm going to hold my ground. I'm going to recognize the gaslighting. I'm going to I'm going to leave the conversation if it starts to go south, if he or she starts to use bad language at me, if they start to raise their voice, that's where I'm gonna start to set the boundary. And so that's where that magic can really occur. So she said you had a glimmer or several glimmers over time, and another reality in which the partner feels a certainty deep inside that the narcissist will never change can be all it takes. This glimmer comes from the inalienable self that the narcissist, as hard as they can try, can never fully extinguish. She says it is you and the final stage of this expanded cycle, she said. You take the leap of faith to save yourself and make the intentional choice to cut the narcissist out of your life forever.

[01:06:46] And again, I know that that can be extremely difficult. And I run. I feel like as a almost as a politician, I know I take ownership and run off of this platform where it is so difficult. And that's why I love this article so [01:07:00] much. But it's so difficult that just being aware of this cycle is part of the healing process. And I know that there are so many people in this situation that want to believe that they have the special case, that it truly is a situation where they just didn't know what they didn't know and nor did their partner. And so I hear you. I want you to know I understand as much as I don't want to see you emotionally abused, physically abused, spiritually, sexually, religiously abused. I don't want to see any of that happen. But I also know that what a process this is. I've worked with enough people, men and women over the years, a long period of time that it can take a long period of time to wake up to that narcissism or that emotional immaturity in your relationship or in yourself. And that as you're doing that, all of this data comes into play. All of this becomes part of what it feels like to be you. And that landscape is painted one experience at a time, one podcast at a time, one article at a time.

[01:07:52] And as that landscape, that interior landscape of your mind or what it feels like to be you as it is slowly but surely changed [01:08:00] by these lived experiences that you're having, you are going to start to feel a little bit more empowered, a little bit more of a change, a little bit more of what it feels like to be okay with being yourself and expressing yourself. But that doesn't mean it's going to just make things change overnight. And I hear you and I can understand that. So if you need it, seek help from a therapist. Make sure that they understand what we're talking about for them. Some episodes have them reach out to me. I'm getting more therapists that are reaching out. If you're a woman, reach out and you can join my private women's Facebook group. If you're a guy and you believe that you are the pathologically kind and an emotionally abusive or narcissistic relationship with your wife, I'm getting a few more of those together as well. And if you are a guy that's saying could be me, I think I think I think I'm emotionally mature. I think I have these narcissistic traits and tendencies. Let me no reach out because we're starting to put some nice groups and communities together of all of the above, because let's just get everybody in a better place. All right. Have an amazing week and I will see you next time I'm waking up the narcissism.

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