The mind games were never ending. In the beginning they were not as noticeable and more for preparation. In the beginning, the mind game is in the “prepping”. As time goes on, they slowly start to reveal their REAL selves to you, but in a way that only YOU notice.
They have spent the first part of the relationship getting to know your weaknesses and your insecurities. Now is the time to use them against you. They will do and say things in public, that would not seem like a big deal to most, but will trigger something inside of you. If you don’t give them a reaction they want, they will keep it going.
Whatever they are saying or doing is linked to something you have told them about your past- and now they are using it against you. At first you may not notice. You may lovingly bring it up and they act like they are sorry and promise not to do it again… but (surprise!) they do. And they do it more frequent as time goes on. They don’t just do this alone when it is just the two of you, they do it in front of others. Sometimes I could catch my NarcEx smiling at me after he would do this, just waiting for my reaction.
Past stories I shared with my NarcEx during the Love-bombing stage:
- When I was diagnosed with Pulsatile tinnitus (I hear my heartbeat in my ear), I was 25 years old, it came on all of a sudden. A vein somehow moved close enough to my ear and they were concerned it might be from a tumor. I was in living Germany with my husband at the time. My family was across the ocean. My ex-husband was military and worked so much that I had to go to the MRI and CT appt by myself, in a German hospital. Luckily, it was not. But that was one of the times I really needed someone with me and my ex-husband didn’t come through. I KNOW I told my NarcEX about this story and when I found a lump in my breast and had to go in for mammogram, he tells me he has to work and then goes to the gym instead.
- A year or so before I met my NarcEx I lost my Grandpa I was in a relationship with my long-term, best friend, but alcoholic – so I broke it off. He had a side job scheduled for the day of my grandpa’s funeral and acted like it was going to be a big deal if he re-scheduled but said that he would if I really wanted him to. I didn’t want to be that person, besides it would be a lot of out of town family and I would pry be busy talking with them, so I told him not to go. A few months later his ex girlfriend’s grandpa died and he cancelled his side job to make his funeral, which him doing that didn’t bother me. It’s just that he couldn’t do it for me, so I knew where I stood with him (another huge reason to why I called it off). And again, I KNOW I told this story to my NarcEx. A few years after dating my NarcEx my other grandpa passes and my Narcex leaves the funeral early to go to a tattoo appointment and then comes back and causes a scene b/c I wasn’t paying him enough attention.
- I told him how the worst punishment to me is silent treatment and/or acting like I don’t exist. I told him the few times I made my dad really mad as a kid and how it tore me up when he gave me the silent treatment. I told him how an ex used to do that to me and would be around me but had a way of making me feel like I didn’t exist. In the beginning my NarcEx said he could never see himself ever doing that to me. That even if he was mad, that he loves me enough that he would pry just get over it as soon as he we started joking around. By the end of our relationship this is the “mind game” that destroyed me the most. He made me feel unimportant, unwanted, unseen….. It is what ate up my insides leaving just the shell.
The Narcissist’s way of ghosting you is not the same as the commonly used dating phrase. They literally just act like you are not there. It felt like I was living in a Sixth Sense Experience. This is a game they can play with just the two of you or up to as many people as they want.
If it is just the two of you:
You get little acknowledgement. You are not a priority so they will get to you when they get to you.
My NarcEx would do this by walking around the house without saying anything or talking to our animals and then give me short answers. This is not something that only happens when you are fighting, in fact, in my case it usually happened after we had an awesome night the night before. He could wake up and be up for an hour or so before even acknowledging me (I was usually up before him b/c I had to log on for work by a certain time).
If you are in a relationship with someone you love and you guys just had an awesome date the night before and they woke up like this, you would pry joke around a little bit about them “waking up on the wrong side of the bed”. You’d smile and play around with them to get their mood up. And when they don’t respond you would pry back off not knowing if you are making it worse. You might try to talk to them then, just to see what’s up. And they might respond with something like “I’m fine. Just waking up.”…. Cool no big deal.
This is how these ‘rollercoaster days of fun’ would usually start off for me and my NarcEx. I would usually just go back to work and give it time. If he didn’t leave to go “run errands” then I would pry find him in the garage. I would usually go out there to check on him, give him a kiss, smack his butt and tell him how hot he was and he’d barely turn his head to look in my direction as he asks “what are you doing?” in a very casual, not upset but not exactly happy, tone. Still being very “frank” with me and if I inquire, he would just tell me that it’s not me, he was just in a ‘mood’. So I would give him space and go back in and get back to work.
I later learned there was NOTHING I could or couldn’t do to get his mood up when he woke up like this. Believe me, I tried it all. I spent two years trying to figure out what made him be act like this towards me… and even though he never said it was ME – His actions constantly made it very obvious that he wasn’t like that with anyone else.
Ghosting with an audience:
The worse part about this “Game” – is that when he got like this, it usually meant we had something to do later that day or night. We could be going to a get together or we could be having people over, but he usually did this when he was about to be around other people. He would act like this toward me and then as soon as other people were around he was all smiles and jokes as he continued to “ghost” me. If he had to talk to me his facial expressions and whole demeanor would change… and then he would go right back to his happy self when talking with other people. Most people didn’t notice the change, but in all the times that it happened, enough people did notice and came up to ask me if everything was “okay between us”. Proving to me, that it wasn’t all in my head, like the Narc claimed. With only a few people noticing, the Narc gets to sit back and paint the their target as “crazy” for what ever reaction that they have to it.
My NarcEx did this tactic often, pry 50-60% of the gathers we had at our house and went to. If I brought it up when it wasn’t happening he had no clue what I was talking about. If I brought it up while he was doing it; I was overreacting, making something out of nothing, or seeing the negative in everything.
You go through that once and you think – He’s mad about something and just doesn’t want to talk about it yet. You see that happen 10-12 times and he still wont admit it is you, you sit down and have a convo about maybe it is me, but he is suppressing it. I ensured that I wouldn’t be offended or upset on what ever it is, lets just figure this out so we can fix it… but all I would get is a “Nothing. It’s not you.”…. Two and a half years of that with it progressively getting more common as time went on (on top of other mind games, depending on the time) it wore down my soul. Toward the end I could see it starting and if he was already acting like that at home, I let him go where ever we were going without me. I hated it missing out on some things, but it was for my sanity.
We would spend hours taking people wakeboarding. He was a great teacher and I watched him teach so much that I got pretty good at helping. While pulling someone (new to the sport or not) he was attentive and would watch them and cheer them on. If someone nailed a move or tried something new he would honk his horn. He’d get up to help you back onto the boat and would fist bump you and say “nice run”. When I first started wakeboarding he was so proud and told everyone how I got up my first time and stayed up for quite awhile… That next summer and the summer after that it was very different. I put that board on my feet and I was a ghost to my NarcEx. He was still the same way with everyone else. As soon as I got behind the boat, he was fixed on everyone else inside the boat. I could do something new and he wouldn’t notice, so I got to the point where I just liked to ride calmly behind the boat and enjoy the ride. If I felt I had a good run I got no acknowledgement from him. I pry got maybe, MAYBE, ten fist bumps from him during our whole relationship. I watched him countless times show concern when someone had a bad spill but if I had one and he wouldn’t even ask if I was okay, wouldn’t get up to help me onto the boat, he would pull the boat over to me and sit there talking to who ever was on the boat with him. Just because I noticed these things, doesn’t mean I bitched about them all the time. I noticed the wakeboard ghosting and tried to talk to him about it a couple times but he always said I was making something out of nothing and I didn’t push it further… but that didn’t mean I stopped noticing it.
In the beginning I was so proud to be around his arm and I felt so lucky to be the one by his side. In the end I could barely stomach being his partner to anything because I knew it meant I was only there to be his #1 fan.
There were times he would do this and we didn’t have anything planned that day/night and then all of a sudden I would hear laughter coming from the garage and he would walk in with friends that he called to come over. SURPRISE!!
I rarely cared when he had people over (there were only a few times, and I know he did it to get a reaction out of me). But when you don’t tell me and they show up and I am walking around the house with a white tank top and no bra, I’d rather not dart into the bedroom trying to cover myself. At least come in and say they are here and coming in to allow me to get decent.
In two separate instances, two of his friends saw me in my pajamas with undone hair and no makeup. In one (pretty early on in the relationship), his friend asked him “if he knew that this is what I REALLY looked like” and continued to joke about it with my NarcEx, pry our whole relationship. Another time, his friend saw me and told my NarcEx how lucky he was to get to have someone who looked so good naturally. I don’t even think my NarcEx even acknowledged him and another toxic friend that was there made a joke about me and he laughed and they moved on. You think that this isn’t so bad, and it isn’t something that would normally get to me. But when it is ALL. THE. TIME… it wears on you. My family shows love by insults but there has to be balance. You ALSO have to build the person up. It got to the point where I couldn’t open my mouth without one or all of them making fun of me about something. And it didn’t matter how much I tried to encourage them. How much I did to show I cared for them. I could genuinely compliment some of them and they would act like my friend and then turn around and give me a backhanded compliment. You couldn’t have a serious conversation with them in a group b/c it’s like they didn’t know WHO to be around each other. If you wanted to get to know them you had to have conversations with them alone.
There are two types of friends my NarcEx kept. Looking back, I can sort them into two groups; ‘Enablers’ and ‘Clueless’. Some Enablers weren’t just aware of the behavior but didn’t seem to agree with it, but didn’t know how to handle it. But there were some who actually seemed to influence the bad behavior.
The clueless think things like “he just needs to grow up” and pry had talks with him about life and tried to get him to see what he had.
Let me assure you that no amount of talks will get a Narcissist to see what they have/had. Narcs are weird, they like to “get” someone who could be seen as some sort of “trophy”. They like to say – “yea, this is mine, I got his.”… but they don’t like someone who gets more attention than them.
After the Love-bombing stage – Narcissists do not want to hear about all the good qualities their partner has, from other people. They want a prize but they want YOU (the spectator) to think that the partner is lucky to have the Narc!
The more my NarcEx heard people say things like- how lucky he was to have me and how he needs to hurry up and marry me- the more he loathed me. The more someone didn’t like me, the more he hung around them (there were a couple that he loved to bring around and they would literally gang up on me to try to get me to lose my ish).
Another form of punishment my NarcEx loved was “pay back”
My NarcEx has a persona where he is super laid back. He acted like nothing I did bothered him and I was free to do what I wanted but if I did something that my NarcEx didn’t like he would say it was fine….. And then a day or two later would do something as “pay back”.
It could be something like, me going to my sister’s without him or going to a girl friend’s apartment just to sit in, drink wine and catch up. He would act like he was okay with it and turn around and do something like plans something super fun just to leave me out of it. Or go out and get plastered and come home late and a mess. Or ruin something I was looking forward to.
If I wasn’t doing something for him, I might as well have not even been there.
Every situation was a mind game. When I finally got out of it, more things came to light. It’s like a puzzle, the more I learned about Narcissism the more the pieces just start coming together and I saw how much I was just a pawn in someone’s sad life.
After that, you can’t trust what you THOUGHT was real, because most likely it wasn’t. Anytime he did something you could considered even remotely sweet it was just to; get something from me, be able to tell others he did it, or to reel me back in.