Many people have this question as they learn more about narcissism and narcissistic abuse: “Why do narcissists use mirroring?”
Narcissists use mirroring to charm and win you over so they can gain your trust, create a bond with you, get you to feel dependent on them, and then ultimately, control and manipulate you.
In this article, I will guide you through this mirroring process to help you better understand the reason narcissists use mirroring.
1.) To Charm and Win Over Others
The first reason a narcissist uses mirroring is to charm and win over the person they are mirroring.
For example, I want you to imagine that you love to travel and discover new places. You meet the narcissist in your life during one of your amazing trips.
One thing leads to another, and you end up having a discussion with them about your passion for traveling and discovering new things.
Much to your surprise, the narcissist also shows a lot of interest and excitement in traveling and discovering new things.
They say things like:
“Wow, you love to travel too? That’s fantastic! I’ve always found that exploring new places and cultures adds so much richness to life. Just last year, I went backpacking across Europe. It was such an incredible experience. I’m so happy we met because I rarely meet someone with the same passion for adventure as I do!”
By mirroring your passion for traveling and discovering new things, the narcissist in your life makes it seem like you have much in common.
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Over time, their mirroring manipulates you into connecting with them because you feel like you’ve met someone who understands you.
This is an example of a narcissist using mirroring to charm and win you over.
2.) To Create a Bond with Others
The second reason a narcissist will use mirroring is to create a bond with the person they are mirroring.
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For example, let’s pick up where we left off in the example of mirroring I gave in the previous section.
Just as a quick reminder, you met the narcissist in your life during one of your amazing trips, and they mirrored your passion for traveling and discovering new things.
This manipulated you into connecting with them because their mirroring made you feel like you’ve met someone who understands you.
Alright, now I want you to imagine that you and the narcissist spend a lot of time together over the next couple of months.
Whenever you share stories about your travels, the narcissist excitedly responds with their own, always mirroring your sense of adventure and wonder.
They say things like, “It’s like you’re reading my mind! I feel the same way about traveling. It’s a life-changing experience that shapes us in so many ways.”
But it doesn’t stop there. The narcissist also kicks it up a notch by extending their mirroring to your values and beliefs.
For example, if you speak about your dedication to environmental conservation, the narcissist reflects this by saying things like, “It’s so important to protect our planet. I’m impressed by your commitment. It aligns perfectly with my values.”
The narcissist can bond with you through these mirroring interactions because they’ve created a sense of familiarity and closeness by reflecting your interests, beliefs, values, and worldviews.
3.) To Gain the Trust of Others
The third reason a narcissist will mirror others is to gain their trust.
Let’s look at the previous examples of a narcissist mirroring your passion for traveling and discovering new things to understand better how this might happen.
In the initial stages, the narcissist showed an interest in your passion for travel and discovering new things.
They mirrored your enthusiasm and, by doing this, created an immediate sense of connection.
This act of mirroring made them seem similar to you and, subsequently, made them seem trustworthy because we tend to trust people who share our interests and passions, as it gives us a sense of understanding and commonality.
Then, the narcissist built on top of this initial connection by consistently mirroring your interests, beliefs, values, and worldviews.
Throughout this process, the narcissist created an environment of comfort, understanding, and familiarity, which are crucial elements in fostering trust.
So, to wrap this section up, narcissists can typically gain your trust by consistently mirroring your interests, beliefs, values, and worldviews.
4.) To Create a Sense of Dependency
The fourth reason that narcissists use mirroring is to create a sense of dependency.
Let’s return to the example of the narcissist mirroring your passion for traveling and discovering new things to understand this better.
Alright, as your relationship with the narcissist progresses, their constant mirroring of your passions creates a unique bond.
Over time, you start to feel like the narcissist is the only person who truly understands your love for travel and discovery.
They cleverly feed this feeling by always being eager to plan new adventures and explore different cultures with you.
They say things like, “Traveling with you would be a dream come true,” just to fuel your desire for shared experiences with them.
Over time, you begin to feel like your love for travel is intertwined with your relationship with the narcissist.
Furthermore, you start seeking their validation for your travel plans.
You want them to be excited about your itinerary, your choice of accommodations, and even the restaurants you want to try.
Because the narcissist has mirrored your passion for travel and discovery so well that it feels like they’re an integral part of your passions now.
Over time, you become dependent on the narcissist for your travel experiences.
You can’t imagine planning a trip without them, and traveling alone or with someone else doesn’t hold the same appeal.
This is an example of how narcissist use mirroring to create a sense of dependency.
5.) To Control and Manipulate Others
The fifth reason that narcissists use mirroring is to control and manipulate others.
You see, as your dependency on the narcissist grows (because of the mirroring) it is common for them to subtly begin to use it as a tool for control and manipulation.
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For instance, going back to the example of a narcissist mirroring your passion for travel and discovery, they might start influencing your travel plans together.
What do I mean by this?
Well, while initially, they mirrored your preferences perfectly, they now begin to assert their own, subtly steering you towards their desired destinations or activities.
They do this by saying things like, “Let’s try something new,” to manipulate you into stepping outside your usual preferences.
And because you’ve come to trust and rely on them, you may find yourself going along with their suggestions, even if they’re not what you would typically choose.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there; this control also extends to other aspects of your shared interests.
For example, if you pick a travel destination they suggested in the past, they might suddenly criticize your choice, saying it’s too touristy or lacks authenticity.
Over time, you might find yourself questioning your judgment, relying more and more on their opinion to validate your choices.
Moreover, they may start using your shared interests as a means to control your time and attention.
For instance, they might get upset or distant if you plan a short solo trip.
They may make you feel guilty for not including them in your plans, manipulating you into prioritizing their presence in your hobbies and interests.
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In these subtle ways, the narcissist starts to control and manipulate you.
The same interests they mirrored at the beginning of your relationship are now being used as tools to maintain power and control over you.
Because of this, you may feel uneasy or unfulfilled in your interests if the narcissist isn’t involved, which indicates how they’ve manipulated your passion for their own gain.
Sadly, this is a common tactic narcissists use, turning the bond and trust they’ve built through mirroring into a means of manipulation and control.
What Should You Take Away from This Article?
Mirroring is a tactic that narcissists use to control and manipulate others.
By mirroring the interests, beliefs, values, and worldviews of a person, narcissists can gain their trust, build an unhealthy bond with them that makes them dependent on the narcissist, and ultimately exploit this bond to control and manipulate them.
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This information is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for clinical care. Please consult a healthcare provider for guidance specific to your case. This article discusses narcissism in general.