When you realize that despite all of the abuse, you truly love the narcissist in your life, it’s not uncommon to find it difficult to conceptualize a reality in which you are capable of letting go of the wish for things to be different by permanently leaving the narcissist instead of trying to save the relationship. It’s for this reason that understanding why you love the narcissist so much is vitally important.
As a general rule, you love the narcissist in your life because you have a corrupted definition of love which that originates from an abusive or unhealthy upbringing. Narcissist will use mirroring to mimic this upbringing while simultaneously creating a falsified identity that is designed to fill a void in your life.
This is a very complex topic so we strongly recommend that you consult with a qualified professional to help you understand why you love the narcissist in your life so much. This article is going to guide you through the correlation a corrupted definition of love and mirroring have. It also is going to provide readers with information about those who have had a healthy upbringing but have still found themselves loving a narcissist.
What people forget is that whilst the narcissists professed love for you was built off lies, manipulation and abuse, yours was not. Your feelings of love, care, kindness, compassion, and connection were REAL, and you enjoyed the beauty of them. The feelings were simply wasted on the narcissist the moment they started to abuse you. You don’t have to stop being you, just learn to channel these beautiful qualities on those that actually deserve them. Learn from boundaries you may have not adhered to in the past relationships, so you are very clear of your self worth. – Dr. Daksha Hirani, Clinical Psychologist Specializing in Trauma Informed Psychotherapy and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
How Do Narcissists Use Mirroring to Exploit Corrupted Definition of Love?
In a narcissistic relationship mirroring is when a narcissist will absorb an extraordinarily large amount of information about their victim’s identity and use it to create a falsified identity that is designed to fill a void in the victim’s life.
Mirroring is all about the narcissist transforming themselves into exactly who others need them to be in order to maximize the amount of validation, admiration, and reassurance they can accumulate.
This void in the victim’s life that the narcissist fills often has a strong correlation with the victim’s sense of self and definition of love/healthy relationships.
For example, imagine that you’ve grown up in a very abusive household with unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent primary caregivers. Meaning that invalidation, devaluation, dehumanization, neglect, and abuse on a daily basis is something that you’ve become accustomed to.
Without the guidance of a qualified professional you’re going to have an extremely corrupted definition of love and healthy relationships and a difficult time conceptualizing a sense of self because you’ve only been shown abuse.
What this means is that you’re likely to gravitate towards abusive relationships in adulthood simply because they are what you are familiar with. So, when you cross paths with a narcissist who is invalidating, devaluing, dehumanizing, chaotic, and abusive, it is going to fill a void in your life because their behavior fits your corrupted definition of a healthy relationship.
Here’s another example.
Imagine that you grew up watching a very dysfunctional relationship between your parents. The overwhelming amount of love bombing, devaluation, internalized anger and agression, and lying is going to corrupt your defintion of love and healthy relationships.
Say you were to cross paths with a narcissist in adulthood who love bombed you into oblivion in the beginning but suddenly changed and began to devalue you, fly into a narcissistic rage randomly, be unfaithful, but at the last second pull you back into the relationship with more love bombing.
It’s very likely that you wouldn’t pick up on the toxicity of the relationship because your parents taught you that love is dysfunctional, toxic, and abusive. In fact, the stability of a healthy relationship might even make you feel terribly uncomfortable.
One last example.
As promised, imagine that you grew up in a healthy household with loving parents who were available, responsive, and consistent. Throughout your adolescenthood and early adulthood you had a couple of healthy relationships that helped mold you into the confident, intelligent, well rounded, happy, and driven person you are today.
If you were to cross paths with a narcissist, what would they do since they can’t mirror your dysfunctional upbringing?
Unfortunately, narcissists are incredibly adaptive. Instead of mirroring your past they will mirror your future. They will absorb a ton of information about your core values, goals, insecurities, vulnerabilities, strengths, weaknesses to reflect or “mirror” it back to you with a falsified identity.
By creating this falsified identity they’re manipulating you into feeling as if you had a unique and special bond with someone who understands you incredibly well and someone who you can grow a healthy, happy, and secure life with.
The moment the narcissist senses that they’ve got you hooked, they’ll drop the act and begin their abusive pursuit of validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control.
How Do Narcissists Use Mirroring to Make You Love Them So Much?
One of the nine personality traits of someone with narcissistic personality disorder outlined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is “A belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions.”
Interestingly enough, mirroring temporarily projects a narcissist’s sense of specialness or uniqueness onto the victim.
A narcissist’s ability to present themselves as exactly who the victim needs in their life and then on top of that temporarily exceed all of their expectations, it makes the victim feel extremely special and unique.
It’s almost as if the narcissist is placing the victim up on an emotional pedestal where they can see a healthy, happy, and secure future together.
This is a very dangerous seat to sit on because as we mentioned in the previous section, the second that the narcissist senses that they’ve got the victim hooked, they’ll kick the pedestal out from under them and begin the devaluation and discard phase.
Suggested Reading: What Comes After Love Bombing With a Narcissist?
This forces the victim to make a very tough decision. Do they let go of the wish for things to be different, acknowledge that what they’re experiencing is abuse, and leave the narcissist for good or do they find some way to justify, rationalize, and normalize the abuse?
Sadly, with the combination of mirroring and other manipulative techniques that are designed to mimic a happy, healthy, and secure relationship, narcissists are able to manipulate the victim into justifying, rationalizing, and ultimately normalizing the abuse.
This is called cognitive dissonance, a theory that suggests that when we experience an inconsistency among beliefs, information, and behavior it causes a tremendous amount of psychological tension. To ease this tension we will change one or more of the elements to make everything consistent.
What is essentially happening is that the victim is suppressing all of the signs of abuse and focusing on all of the signs of love and a healthy relationship that they were manipulated into envisioning through mirroring instead.
Should this be considered love? We don’t think so. You see, all this is doing is creating an insanely powerful trauma bond. Yes, the victim may feel like they truly love the narcissist but that love is attached to a falsified identity, not the authentic version of the narcissist.
What Should You Take Away From This Article?
Narcissists are shockingly good at mimicking the dynamics of a healthy, happy, and secure relationship. It’s for this reason that you take the time needed to sift through all of the confusion that narcissistic abuse causes to grasp a comprehensive understand why you feel the way that you do.
Understanding love in a narcissistic relationship is a very complex task which is why we strongly recommend that you seek the guidance of a qualified professional to help you unpack all of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs.
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