Recently, a viewer of mine asked a question that pertains to a group of people suffering from the devastating repercussions of narcissistic abuse who did not grow up in abusive households.
Many coaches, therapists and healers often point to early childhood training as being the root for putting up with narcissistic abuse in adulthood. It is often the case that the reason we fell for and stayed with the toxic person was because we’ve been trained early on to put up with and treat abuse as ‘normal.’
As children and unbeknownst to us, we’ve been neglected and exploited. We’ve been turned into the so called door-mats and people-pleasers who have learned to cater to those who treat them like objects and the source of their personal gratification.
But what if there was no early childhood training to accept abuse? What if the parents were calm and caring, and the siblings kind? (How awesome would that be?) Why then, why did we let the narcissist or psychopath get in and turn our life into rubble?
I’ve thought about this question for a while and came up with seven factors, other than originating directly from familial systems, that may make us vulnerable to the narcissist’s manipulative tactics.
1. Societal conditioning. We live in a world of insta-relationships, fast food, fast fashion and fast profits. So when we meet the one we think could be ‘the one,’ many of us move fast. We want to settle, get that house and have a family. Unfortunately, it is a vulnerability that the manipulator can swoop in and exploit. One of the main red flags of narcissistic abuse is rushed intimacy. The manipulator knows that they can sustain the illusion for only so long so they rush things to get us hooked. We only find out whom we let inside our inner sanctum when it is too late.
2. Slow cooker conditioning. Much like with the frog that doesn’t jump out of the hot water early enough because the heat is turned up gradually, we too get conditioned to accept abuse slowly. It may start with subtle jabs and digs and eventually escalate to all out rages and physical violence. The bottom line is: when it’s done slowly and not in your face, it is easier to miss.
3. No proper education on red flags. Recognizing a manipulator early on takes close study and a sharp mind. You need to be familiar the tactics of the love bombing stage and get away before the devaluation kicks in. So, rushing things, interviewing you for private details, mirroring what you like and say, etc. all those things should make you want to do a double-take or press the brakes. If they don’t, things will likely only pick up speed.
4. Undermining intuition. If your intuition is strong enough, you can bypass #3 above. Being in the vicinity of a manipulator usually echoes as discomfort in our guts. That’s why it is the first thing the narcissist will attack. They will make you second guess yourself and put your trust in them, so that you are cut off from your intuitive center. A disconnected, confused person is easier to manipulate.
5. No boundaries. Most of us never learned that they even exist. Knowing and respecting your preferences and those of others is the foundation of true intimacy. We are all individuals and we are all somewhat different. The narcissist seeks people with no boundaries because they are easier to control. Their tendency is to enmesh themselves with you as soon as possible to make it harder for you to leave. Having no boundaries speeds up this process.
6. Eroding boundaries. If you do have boundaries, the clever narc will look for an opening and push and push until you give in and accept their ways more than your own. They will grind you down with guilt, shame and saying hurtful things because to them you are not an individual but an extension of themselves — and they will always need you to do things for them, and on their terms. A relationship with a narcissist is a relationship of one.
7. Self-protection not adequately established. The role of the father is to instill in his child a sense of self-protection. Even if not abused, if a child is neglected or grows up without a father figure, they will need to learn how to do this elsewhere. Not being taught how to stand up to abuse, makes it easier for the narcissist to make you think it is okay to treat you like garbage. It is a dangerous slippery-slope as the abuse will only escalate over time.
To do deeper into the subject, check out the companion video below.
If you are suffering from the post-breakup shock of realizing that you’ve been subjected to narcissistic or psychopathic abuse, please look into my FREE three-step SOS program currently available on my website.