Narcissists Can Be Irresistibly Charming

by Fayr Barkley, MEd, DCH, PhD, DAC

CHARM is a prevalent disarming manipulation that lures you into a narcissist’s convoluted web of abuse. Charm is the classic face of the “mirage man or mirage woman.”

Charm eventually turns into the FIVE D’S OF NARCISSISM: DIMINISHING your feelings, DENYING reality, DISTORTION of facts, DELUSIONS of grandeur and their own self-importance, leading to DISMISSAL of their victim-supply. It is your lesson and self-responsibility not to fall for this deception from anyone. It is not your responsibility to stay with them while allowing them to DISMISS you and your needs.

Charm is one of the first red flags we experience when confronted with a narcissist and/or sociopath.

NARCISSISM is a pathology of character that you cannot fix because the narcissist does not have the capability to see himself through the eyes of another, and his/her agenda is getting met. The world should change to suit the narcissist and his/her ever-growing list of entitlements.

They frequently love-bomb their targets, sweeping the victim off his/her feet, causing that person’s brain to produce chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin and other exhilarating feel-goods that convince the person this is the man/woman of their dreams.

Once the victim is hooked, the narcissist starts to deploy a technique known as intermittent reinforcement; a very strong psychological method that confuses the victim. It’s very similar to how casinos get players addicted to gambling.  Think of the slot machine and you’re the player starting out with a dollar’s worth of nickels. You put five nickels in and pull the handle or push the button and there’s no payout, no reward. But you continue to put nickels in anyway. When you reach your tenth nickel, the slot machine dumps out two dollars’ worth of nickels.

You’ve won!

Spurred by a rush of adrenaline, and now in the black from doubling your investment, you grab more nickels and continue to play–hoping to win a big jackpot.

You’re hooked–and the casino has used your own brain chemistry to addict you.

Eventually, however, the small win is short-lived. You keep chasing the dragon only to lose all your money. Your brain chemistry goes back to its previous state, and if you’ve lost a lot, (your rent money?) you may feel a sense of loss, depression, anxiety, guilt, shame. You may even feel you deserved the outcome of losing–for being so “stupid” as to fall for playing a game where the odds are stacked against you.

This is one scenario where we fall for the charm and love-bombing of the narcissist. Our fairy-tale turned nightmare can be very difficult to walk away from. We cling to hope and the addictive brain chemistry we had in the beginning when we were treated as a queen. We want that back–desperately.

Why do people stay with a narcissist?

At play here can be other contributing factors, such as our own history of trauma, our patterns of trauma bonding to other people. Childhood adaptations due to the neglect or abuse we received from caretakers, or dysfunctional attachment styles, co-dependency, lack of boundaries, undeveloped sense of self, situational desperation, lack of insight into ourselves or others, naivete, growing up with a narcissistic  caregiver or in an addictive household, projection of love fantasies, and more can cause us to ignore red flags (such as love bombing) and mistake our brain chemistry spikes for true love, causing a “love addiction” to a narcissist that is really a trauma bond.

So, when the narcissist starts to show his/her true nature we are confused.  We accept the criticism and cruelty, neglect, and abuse because we keep thinking we can reprise the glorious moments when the narcissist had us on a pedestal during the love bombing phase. And sometimes this “honeymoon” phase repeats–although only briefly (and usually as a way to manipulate the victim) before the narcissist’s true self reappears.

And just like playing the slot machine in a casino, this wash/rinse/repeat cycle continues over and over until the victim (supply) leaves the relationship for good or the narcissist finds new supply (victim).

Can you change a narcissist?

Crying, arguing, begging, threatening, sulking will NOT get you to change this person.

Vowing to change yourself into what you think is on the narcissist’s list to become perfect enough is not the answer. That list will only get longer and longer. It’s a no-win situation.

Couples’ therapy? Watch how expertly the narcissist turns everything around on you and projects his narcissistic traits onto you in front of the therapist. Narcissists tend to value LOGIC, INTELLECT over EMOTIONS and will argue you out of your feelings and try to make you feel wrong or guilty for having them.

The question before you today is: How do you expect someone to honor and respect YOU when YOU allow yourself to stay in a harmful situation that prevents you from honoring and respecting yourself? Do not volunteer to stay in this relationship any longer.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a very serious character pathology. We call it “the sickest of the sick”, and it’s also present in sociopaths, (Antisocial Personality Disorder) and psychopaths.

The only way out is to save yourself by leaving. Go no contact.  Block them. File a restraining order.

And when the narcissist tries to “hoover” your back, (suck you back into the soul destructive vortex), ignore any positive brain chemistry flutters you may have (hoping they have changed for the better, remembering the happy times of love bombing phases) and work a program of your own self-discovery so you won’t fall for this predatory behavior again.