A Narcissistic relationship thrives in an environment of doubt, secrecy and fear. They engage in a plethora of behaviors designed to create just that. Lying, gas lighting, projection, deflection, insulting, belittling, humiliating, crocodile tears, love-bombing…are just some of the many ways Narcissists go about concealing their agenda and their true intentions.

Control is their end game, because at the very heart of a Narcissist, is a fear of abandonment. Rather than enticing their partner, to choose to stay, by behaving in a loving, kind and respectful manner, they opt to do so through trickery and manipulation. Underneath their bravado, they suffer from an extremely low self-esteem, because of this, they inwardly believe that if they let people in, if others knew who they really were – they’d leave. And so, the fragile ego of a Narcissist must prevent this at all costs, so they choose to deceive their targets into falling for them.

They are masters at reading people and knowing just what buttons to push to gain their advantage. Those targets that are hungry to be loved, make the best prey, mainly because they are used to poor treatment and adapt to unhealthy environments, rather than leave.

Narcissists create the illusion of a deep connection by selective sharing, listening intently, giving thoughtful and insightful advice, being sweet and putting on the face that they really care.

They future fake and insinuate the perfect future together. They share just a little of their vulnerable side, that revs up a Codependent’s need to rescue and care-take. It makes them irresistible and in the beginning, a Codependent believes that they have just found the partner of their dreams. “Finally,” they say, “Finally I’ve found someone who will love me as I’ve always wanted to be loved.”

And then the mask slips.

Without notice, the doors and windows have blown out of their perfectly constructed house of dreams. If you’re emotionally healthy and no answers are forthcoming, you end the relationship. If you’re a Codependent you internalize the rejection, you make it your fault and try to figure out what you’ve done wrong. You jump through hoops trying to get the partner, that once lavished you with attention, to even answer your texts.

You become obsessed with trying to figure out what you’ve done wrong, all in the hopes that you can fix it and get back to the relationship you had in the beginning, but nothing you’re doing seems to be working. Your guts are twisted in knots, and you’re looking for anything to alleviate the stress. All of a sudden, you find yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do. You can’t turn it off and your life has become chaotic and unbearable.

Signs and Behaviors You’re Caught In a Narcissistic Trap

A big part of the Narcissistic playbook is sending mixed messages, either because their emotions sway minute to minute, or because they’re trying to keep you off balance. Either way it makes life intolerable for their victims. If you’re exhibiting the following behaviors you just might be in clutches of a Narcissistic relationship and you need to make and execute an exit strategy.

You’re acting like a jealous maniac: A Narcissist lives to be fought and fawned over and they create triangulation where ever they can. If you find yourself feeling anger towards the competition and very territorial around your partner, chances are your Narcissist is setting the scene to suit their agenda. If you’ve ever said, “I’m normally not a jealous person…” but now find yourself constantly on edge and acting and doing things you normally wouldn’t, it’s very likely you’re caught in the Narcissist’s web.

*Healthy relationships perpetuate jealousy. They’re based on trust. They’re dependable and responsible. If you have to second guess where your partner’s interest lies – you’re not in a relationship and you need to end it.

You can’t stop thinking about your partner and the relationship: If your thoughts and behavior are bordering on obsessive and are interfering with normal functioning, you’re quite possibly involved with a Narcissist. Checking your phone, email and social media accounts every 2 minutes, declining invites from others, dropping everything at the drop of a hat, or keeping yourself in a perpetual state of readiness just in case they call, is indicative of extremely unhealthy relationship behavior.

*Feeling insecure and anxious are not synonymous with a happy, healthy relationship. If you’re having trouble functioning in your life, on account of your relationship, that tells you that you need to make a change. No one can live in a constant state of anxiety without it affecting their health, both physical and mental. Practice self-care and remove yourself from anything that doesn’t serve you.

You’re acting crazy and your emotions are out of control: Crazy making is part of the itinerary for a narcissist. They love to keep you guessing, but unfortunately for you, this uncertainty is making you unstable and irrational. You’re obsessed and you can’t believe the things you’ve done to please your Narcissist or get them to pay attention to you. You have no idea what’s coming next and you feel completely out of control.

*Healthy relationships do not have a power differential and they do not have these intense peaks and valleys. They are more flat line and don’t leave you twisting in knots.

You’re stalking, doing surveillance, tracking their social media, looking through their phone: Without trust there is no relationship. If yours has progressed to the point where you are playing detective, you’ve got to start asking yourself what the hell are you still doing there. If you’re doing these things, it’s because either you’re crazy, or they’ve done it before and you’re just waiting for the next shoe to drop and you’re gathering evidence so you can present your case of relationship crimes. If you’re at this place, it’s already too late and you need to call it a day.

You’ve stopped talking to your friends and family about the relationship: If you have to give up communicating to your support group because of your relationship, that tells you that you are on the wrong track. If you feel like you can’t talk about what’s going on because you know they will disapprove and tell you something you don’t want to hear, that behavior tells you that you are involved in something you know you shouldn’t be.

*While secrecy may seem titillating, when it comes to your relationships, if you can’t be open and honest with those closest to you, you’re on dangerous ground. Your family and friends are the ones that love you the most. If you’re hiding things from them – you’re not doing right by you and you need to come clean and start following the advice of those who want what’s best for you.

If you’re engaging is several of the above behaviors your relationship is toxic and needs to end. If the one you love perpetuates anxiety and hurt and seems to thrive off of your pain, you have to ask yourself, exactly what kind of person you’re involved with. People whose empathy chip is firmly in place don’t go around creating angst and harm for the ones they love. They care about them and try to keep from hurting them. There’s no way around this truth. There’s no justification that makes any of it ok. If it’s happening, you’ve got to do right by you and get out.

If you’re unable to end your relationship and it’s affecting your ability to function in your life, you should consider seeing a therapist.

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Written by Savannah Grey
Savannah Grey is a Freelance Writer, a Hypnotherapist, Consultant, Sports Fanatic, and Philosopher and has a degree in Psychology. She is the founder of www.esteemology.com, a website dedicated to educating and healing survivors of abusive relationships.