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Narcissists are Chameleons that thrive on Secrecy

Narcissistic Iceberg
Narcissistic Iceberg
Greg Taffuto

Nothing the narcissist says is ever what he means. Language is simply used as a tool for deception, manipulation, and story telling. Everything they do is for show, or only meant in the moment. That's why everything around them seems so chaotic and confusing. There isn't any consistency or reliability. In order to be able to do what they want, whenever they want it and however they want it, with whomever they want it, ie ultimate freedom, they also have to compartmentalize their lives.

Oh sure, in the beginning they fake closeness and openness with you. They actually temporarily make you a priority. The narcissist may even use you as a confidant, but a narcissist is always juggling various sources of narcissistic supply (attention) simultaneously. There is an extremely scheming quality to the evaluation of all narcissistic supply.

As Sam Vaknin says:

The narcissist receives a host of narcissistic stimuli..... messages from people who are willing to provide the narcissist with Narcissistic Supply. But mere readiness is not sufficient.

The narcissist now faces the daunting task of evaluating the potential content, quality, and extent of Narcissistic Supply each and every one of the potential collaborators has to offer. He does so by rating each one of them. The stimulus with the highest rating is, naturally, selected. It represents "the best value for money", the most cost/reward efficient proposition.

The narcissist immediately over-values and idealises this source. It is the narcissistic equivalent of getting emotionally involved. The narcissist "bonds" with the new source. The narcissist feels attracted, interested, curious, magically rewarded, reawakened.

Just as quickly, the narcissist will lose interest and no longer invest energy, and you now become devalued to secondary supply. Everything else becomes more important than you. The narcissist becomes bored, devoid of energy, absolutely uninterested, and you are now low priority. They need to conserve their energies for cultivating newer, ever-changing supply sources. Sure, you may still experience mini-cycles of approach-avoidance, just enough to keep you hooked.

Suddenly, you are no longer in the loop as far as their life is concerned. It feels like they keep a huge part of their life secret from you. In fact they start to separate you from everything else they are doing in their life. The only time you still connect with them is in their spare time or when you are on vacation with them, when they have nothing else to do. You are literally the proverbial afterthought. When you are in one of the pro-longed avoidance phases, it is often laced with emotional abuse, especially when you try to include yourself in their life.

You begin to realize that their entire life is compartmentalized. Your adult children never met his adult children. The narcissist may also suddenly change to a different gym than the one you both went to. He is absolutely not interested in blending into your life, nor does he really want you to blend into his life. With the narcissist, the relationship is always one foot in and one foot out. That's why they really prefer long distance relationships, that require limited focus, and they can keep the "relationship" for entertainment only.

You start to see him as the chameleon he really is. He morphs into whatever he needs to be depending on the audience. He re-arranges his life all the time, and though a rigid personality, his personas are ever-changing, depending on which show he needs to perform in. Yet he does this so naturally that he is mistaken for being genuine. Though he keeps telling you that you've changed, it is he who has changed dramatically.

As Sam Vaknin observes:

Many narcissists don't feel responsible for their actions. They believe that they are victims of injustice, bias, prejudice, and discrimination. This is because they are shape-shifters and actors. The narcissist is not one person - but two. The True Self is as good as dead and buried. The False Self changes so often in reaction to life's circumstances that the narcissist has no sense of personal continuity.

Narcissists may move in with you, when you want the relationship to go to the next level. However, beware that the move-in is merely for show, as he may be spending just as much time away from you as before, and sneakily hopes his abusive behavior will get him kicked out in short notice, so he can blame "it not working out" on you.

Your supposed relationship seems as fickle as a teenage love affair. Their immaturity is most evident in the friends they choose. You will find that they prefer much younger friends. In fact, the preference is for friends who are of the same generation as their own children. Not only are these "friends" easier to manipulate, because they look up to him, but it gives him a sense of eternal youth, and limitless possibilities.

The narcissist so wants to be babied, that they may even "adopt" a young family, to feel like they are part of that family by proxy. That way the narcissist can have all the joy and entertainment of a family, and their undivided attention, without having any responsibilities. Likewise narcissists thrive on the attention showered on them by the married partner of their friend, without having to invest in any real relationship themselves.

Not only is their constant over-the-top attention to others very disconcerting, you will never get any undivided attention from your narcissistic love partner, since they need to keep themselves 100% available to their various sources of narcissistic supply. Plans they make with you will be cancelled, when something better comes up. Their un-predictability is very confusing, and you never know where you stand in the "relationship."

It's only afterwards that you realize the full extent of their different personas that are mutable to different environments. There is no real person behind the many fa├žades. You feel relieved that it wasn't you that caused the relationship to deteriorate, it was inevitable with a narcissist. It cannot be said often enough, that they are truly incapable of real love. They just toy around with the pretense of love, since they want all the benefits but none of the investment.

It's far more than just emotional unavailability, it's a cunning game they play to keep themselves surrounded by an adoring entourage, because they cannot be alone. Whenever they are temporarily low on narcissistic supply they are immersed in depression and become a hermit.

And when you look back on their work history you can see that even their work partnerships disintegrate easily and regularly.

So don't be fooled by the lines they feed you, like "I never thought I'd meet a woman that I'd like to spend the rest of my life with," or the moving target of 2-3 years they keep using to get their plans together, so they supposedly can finally be available to you. They really WILL end up a mere figment of your own imagination, rather than a real person you can plan a future with.

Ultimately the narcissist is only interested in money and power.