As humans, we want to believe what others say, especially those we love. It is hard to fathom that someone we care for would not be honest with us. Unfortunately, being in a relationship with a narcissist or abusive personality will often condition us to believe whatever the person says, without question. Why be suspicious of someone we trust?
By the time we have had enough, and are ready to leave the relationship, there will have been multiple times we have tried to get out unsuccessfully. So what makes us finally say, “I’m done,” and truly leave?
First, bear in mind that toxic personalities want to appear as though they are in charge. Even if they have initiated the breakup, note that as soon as you begin to show a sense of power over your own life, especially if it involves a decision to leave, they will do or say anything to make you stay.
Remember, the person that you are dealing with is a master manipulator. They are great at sensing what they need to say or do to always have the upper hand, or at least the semblance of control. They will give you just enough to make you think that things can get better, especially after some really bad behavior on their part. This is often referred to as “intermittent reinforcement,” and can even become addictive for victims of emotional and psychological abuse.
According to Kim Saeed, who has an excellent video on YouTube titled “7 Sneaky Things Narcissists Say To Get You Back,” a narcissist will use similar manipulative mind control techniques that cult leaders use, which can have powerful effects.
Perhaps the most common technique used is called “hoovering,” a way in which toxic people suck their victims back in through improved, temporary behavior. It never lasts, but is often enough just to prevent or delay a final break-up.
According to Saeed, the following are common lines used by abusers, which make us believe that they’re feeling true remorse, and are willing to change. Recognize any?
1. “I’ve decided to go to counseling.”
As a state-certified domestic violence advocate, one of the first things I learned was that counseling never works when dealing with a narcissist or abusive partner. It will cost you precious energy, money, and time. Narcissists are also excellent at manipulating therapists, and counseling can often make a bad situation even worse.
2. “I met them the last time we were broken up.”
As you are probably aware, infidelity goes hand in hand with abuse. Many narcissists and toxic partners are serial cheaters. When they portray their role in an affair, they will often attempt to make themselves appear very desirable in order to make you fear losing them.
3. “Can we just be friends?”
Translation: friends with benefits. One-sided. This not only will allow them to continue taking advantage of you, but provides a wonderful facade for a public image of someone who still gets along well with his exes. My own ex-husband insisted, before we separated, that we should continue “dating,” with no regard for my feelings whatsoever. He also claims that he has remained “friends” with all of his exes except me, which is completely false.
4. “I knew you weren’t right for me.”
Blame shifting and projection are common in a narcissist’s world. After their own bad behavior, they will attempt to distract by getting YOU to try to redeem yourself. Plus, getting you to try to win them back is a sheer pleasure for them.
5. “I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you.”
Remember, narcissists are not capable of empathy, and don’t feel any real remorse. Their actions speak volumes, and I bet that this is not the first time something like this has happened. When you forgave before, did the behavior actually change?
6. “But I love only you.”
Think. What does love mean to you? Does the behavior demonstrate love? Does this “love” make you feel good, or cause more harm?
My ex-husband used to tell me that he never took off his wedding ring, even when he was cheating on me, as if that equalled some kind of loyalty.
7. “We were meant to be together.”
Lines like this make us question our own sanity. They allow the other person to dictate how we feel, which is never healthy!
The only way to start recognizing this kind of manipulation is pay attention to our intuition. The sickening sensation in the pit of our stomach is our body trying to tell us something is wrong, and to question what we are hearing. Unfortunately, those of us involved in unhealthy relationships have often been conditioned not to listen to our intuition.
It takes an average of seven attempts to leave an abusive relationship, and for some, many more. We have to try not to beat ourselves up for not recognizing what was going on sooner. Recovery from a narcissistic relationship is often similar to deprogramming after escaping a cult. With education and support from people who understand our experience, we can more easily accept what has happened, and protect ourselves better in the future.
Editor’s note: If manipulation is an issue in your relationship, and you’d like to know more – especially what you can do about it – consider viewing our interactive workshop, Common Manipulation Tactics & How to Deal with Them, which is available in BTGO’s Sanity School now.