Narcissists don’t just have a one-size fits all strategy for grooming their targets. As a matter of fact, their approach is much more tailored to each different target they have. It’s much more personalized.
When I read the book Psychopath Free, I was floored by how much I related to it. I underlined whole paragraphs at times. That’s how much I realized how unstable the NX really was. I felt so validated.
The section of the book that talked about personalized grooming really struck a chord in me. Before, I didn’t realize just what the NX was doing and how deep he was grooming me to become dependent upon him.
So how do Narcissists tailor their strategy to every different target? Isn’t that much more work for them? Not necessarily.
In the beginning, Narcissists mirror us. They want to know all about us. They let us do all the talking. This in turn gets us to think they are incredible listeners. They are – to a point. They only soak up the information that they need, then they’ll tune you out.
The Narcissists will put us up on a pedestal and tell us what they think we want to hear – that we are the best thing that’s ever happened to them, that they have so much in common with us, that they have never felt that way about anyone before. The NX told me all of that. He said how he couldn’t believe how much he felt for me, that I was all that he ever dreamed of having. That he could see us together forever.
Narcissists will also ask you questions like, “What do you hope to do with your life?” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s to gauge your responses so that the N can say, “Wow! Me too!” or “It’s like you and I are on the same wavelength. Those are my goals too!” I look back on the relationship with the NX and I realize that he said similar things to me. That’s the goal of the N – to get you to reveal your hopes, your dreams, your life’s goals. Then they’d tell you that they have those same goals.
Toxic individuals like Narcissists also build people up in order to tear them down. In the beginning, the NX would tell me how beautiful I was – that I had the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen, that my smile would light up a room or that my skin was so smooth and perfect.
The NX’s purpose for bolstering me up was twofold – to build me up to a point so that he could tear me down, and also so that he could receive the same kind of compliments. Narcissists fish for the same comments to be returned to them – to bolster their own over-inflated ego, that is. In fact, the NX once revealed to me that he was once very heavy when he was a child. Yet, I never saw any photographs of him as a child to prove that he ever weighed what he said he weighed. He claimed he felt so insecure about that, that he destroyed any photos of him that showed how heavy he used to be. (I discovered that whole photograph claim was a lie.) I fell for that story – I immediately told him how he need not be insecure because he was handsome and good-looking.
Narcissists will continue this lovebombing until they know they have you hooked. They play the “I never felt this way before” game. In the beginning, the NX would gush about how lucky he felt that he was with me. That only I could provide him with unending happiness and love.
Psychopath Free also talks about indirect persuasion. It’s basically the N’s way of indirectly telling you how to behave without actually saying so. Looking back, I can recall instances where the NX said an ex or some friend acted in a certain way, but that I never did. It’s exactly how the book described:
“This is not a compliment – it’s a warning that if you repeat any of the ex’s alleged behavior, you’ll be discarded as well. The ex likely didn’t even do any of these things. It’s just a way for the psychopath to indirectly tell you how they expect you to behave.”
Narcissists are never upfront. They will never tell you what they want, what they need, or what they expect. Instead, they will tell us in a roundabout way. They hint to us that if we behave how they want us to, that there’ll be no consequences. However, if we don’t conform to their expectations, there will be hell to pay. The indirect way they get us to conform is quite strategic indeed. They “tell” us to do something without actually telling us to do it. They indirectly influence our behavior much in the same way that Ivan Pavlov conditioned his dogs to salivate when hearing a bell.
Testing the waters
Narcissists will test the extent of their grooming much in the same way that the velociraptors systematically tested the electric fences. The Narcissists will push a boundary here. Push a boundary there. They want to see if you’ll react. How you’ll react. And based on that, they would adjust their level of grooming. The more you let slide, the more the Narcissists will know that their grooming has succeeded. No specific incident pops out in my head in regards to what the NX pulled with me. I just look back and see a pattern of behavior – he’d nitpick and push any button he could. He wanted to see me react. He wanted to see me stop reacting because that would tell him that I was completely “broken in” and wouldn’t fight back any longer.
Make no mistake. Narcissists go deep into their grooming tactics. They will observe each target and tailor their tactics to each specific target. What are your experiences with personalized grooming? Comment below. And as always, I appreciate you for sharing your stories with me.
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Greetings, my warrior survivor friends! Welcome to my blog. I'm Julianna, the owner and creator of this site. Check out the My Story section to read about why I started this blog. Thanks for stopping in. And feel free to comment on any post, share your own thoughts and stories. I would love to hear from you!
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The content of this site is told from the blog author/owner's personal experience of dealing with a male Narcissist. Narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths are both male and female, and come from all walks of life. Furthermore, the content contained herein is not intended to be a replacement for medical or legal counsel. This blog's sole purpose is to provide support to those who have endured Narcissistic and Emotional Abuse.