When you love a narcissist, detaching yourself emotionally from them is really confusing. They are manipulative, abusive, and often very sadistic, but your commitment to the success of the relationship was genuine and a significant part of your life. The love that you have for a narcissist is a very difficult emotion to let go of, but understanding the reason why can make things a little bit easier. 

It is hard to stop loving a narcissist because the abuse that you’ve experienced has manipulated you into connecting your thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, wishes, goals, and aspirations to the narcissist. So, when you try to stop loving them it creates an overwhelming sense of emptiness and hopelessness.

In this article you’re going to learn about the manipulative techniques that narcissists use to make it feel nearly impossible to stop loving them. 

What Are the Manipulative Techniques That Narcissists Use to Make It Hard to Stop Loving Them?

The two forms of manipulation that we are going to bring to your attention in this article today are mirroring and future faking. However, we want to remind you that the love that you still have for the narcissist in your life is a very strong indication that you are still trauma bonded to them. 

A trauma bond is an emotional attachment between a victim of abuse and their abuser that is formed through an abusive cycle of mirroring, manipulation, devaluation, invalidation, dehumanization, and intermittent reinforcement.

When you are in a trauma bonded relationship you are constantly being forced to justify, rationalize, and normalize the abuse that you are experiencing. The damage that it has on your sense of self, perception of love and healthy relationship, and ability to conceptualize your own perception of reality is devastating.

Trauma bonding plays a massive role in the continuation of narcissistic relationships. We strongly encourage you to take the time to read through our Trauma Bonding Content Hub to learn everything that you need to know about them! 

Mirroring

In a narcissistic relationship, mirroring is when a narcissist will dedicate an extraordinary amount of time to learning about who you are as a person. What they are doing is gathering information about your identity so that they can create a falsified identity that is designed to fill a void in your life. Mirroring gives narcissists all of the information that they need to convince you that they are the “perfect” person for you.

In a romantic relationship, mirroring allows the narcissist to mimic your perception of the ideal love. In a family setting, mirroring makes the narcissist look like an emotionally available, responsive, and consistent family member that is safe to be around. 

At work, mirroring gives the narcissist the information that they need to manipulate you into believing that they want to help you better your career. In a friendship, mirroring makes the narcissist look like the best friend that you’ve always wanted.Mirroring is all about the narcissist being exactly who you need them to be.

The reason that mirroring makes it hard for you to stop loving the narcissist is because it manipulates you into envisioning a happier, healthier, and more secure life that is supported by the narcissist. It makes you think that the narcissist is someone who can help you be the best version of yourself.

A victim of narcissistic abuse in love with the narcissist in her life

The longer this feeling goes on for, the more comfortable you are going to be with them. Everything about them seems so “perfect” that you naturally begin to connect your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs to them. You begin to construct your future around them because you believe that they want nothing but the best for you.

Future Faking

In a narcissistic relationship, a future fake is when a narcissist makes a false promise for the future to manipulate you into doing something that they want in the present. (e.g. “Listen, if you do this for me, I promise that we will go on vacation next month. I’ve been super stressed but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love you.”)

The example above is a verbal form of future faking but there is also a nonverbal form that you should be aware of. A nonverbal future fake is actually the falsified identity that narcissists use mirroring to create. This is because when a narcissist uses mirroring, they are manipulating you into envisioning a happy, healthy, and secure future that is never going to happen.

In a very subtle way, they are making a false promise in the future to gain power and control over your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs in the present. This is dangerous because what future faking does is it takes the thought that you have about a happy, healthy, and secure future with the narcissist and turns it into something much more tangible. 

The reason that they are able to do this is because when they are mirroring you, they are learning everything about you, not just what your perception of the “perfect” person for you is. They will ask a ton of questions to get to know you better and this gives them access to your wishes, goals, and aspirations. 

Meaning that they are often so successful at future faking because they know exactly what you wish to happen in the future, the goals that you have in life, and who you aspire to be. This allows them to create the perfect future fake that manipulates you into connecting your wishes, goals, and aspirations with them as well. This makes it extremely difficult and painful to stop loving the narcissist in your life.

4 Healthy Boundaries That Future Faking Prevents You From Setting

Having Realistic Expectations for the Relationship – The “love” that narcissists are capable of giving you is called infatuated love. It is purely motivated by passion and it is intoxicating, irrational, associated with bad decision making, and usually short lived.

The love that you are searching for is called consummate love. It makes you feel like you have fallen in love with your best friend. Both you and your partner are committed to staying together, you share an intense passion for one another, the spark hasn’t died, and there is a lot of mutuality, trust, healthy intimacy, respect, open communication, and honesty.

Narcissists are very good at manipulating you into equating infatuated love with consummate love. One of the ways that they do this is by creating very convincing future fakes that prevent you from calibrating  realistic expectations for the future of the relationship. 

5 realistic expectations for a relationship
5 unrealistic expectations for a relationship

Focusing on Their Behavior, Not Their Words – The narcissistic behavior patterns that narcissists use are designed to hide the warning signs of forthcoming abuse just long enough to get power and control over your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs.

However, they aren’t perfect at doing this. There will be times when you notice that there is something wrong with their behavior. To keep you from realizing that they are an abuser, they will use future faking as a distraction. What they are essentially doing is using  your wishes, goals, and aspirations to blind you from the fact that they are not who they are pretending to be.

Over time, their charm, charisma, and captivating nature will manipulate you into focusing on their words (e.g. the things that they say to future fake you) instead of their troubling behavior. This allows them to grasp full control of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, wishes, goals, and aspirations. 

Maintaining Solid and Logical Reasons for Being in the Relationship – In the beginning stages of a narcissistic relationship, the mirroring that narcissists use to create a falsified identity that fills a void in your life manipulates you into believing that you have very logical and solid reasons for being in the relationship. 

Once the narcissist senses that they have been able to manipulate you into neglecting your own thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs, they will drop the act and begin their abusive pursuit of validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control because they know that they’ve got you hooked.

Once this happens, the reasons that you have for being with them will begin to fade away. To prevent you from leaving the relationship, narcissists will use future faking to trigger your sense of hope that they are the “perfect” person for you. 

Being Honest and Direct – It is harsh, but the truth is that the narcissist in your life doesn’t view you as a human with thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs. They see you as an object that they can use to get validation, admiration, and reassurance. 

The persistent and persuasive nature of a narcissist’s future fake often manipulates you into feeling obligated to chase the future that they are selling you.

This will lead to you neglecting your own thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs to make the narcissist in your life happy. The happiness you get from making another person happy can disguise the fact that your own needs aren’t being met by either of you!

It is important to stay aware of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs in a relationship and to be honest and direct in communicating them because it protects you from being bullied into chasing a future that doesn’t exist.

Suggested Reading: How to Respond to Future Faking

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

When your thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, wishes, goals, and aspirations are connected to someone else, it isn’t easy to let go of them. Just because a narcissist is incapable of truly loving you, doesn’t mean that you are incapable of loving someone else.

You can read our article How Do I Stop Loving a Narcissist to learn about the different things that you can do to make this process easier, but make sure that you always treat yourself with empathy and compassion while you do so!

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All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References

Expectations in a Relationship: Reasonable vs Unrealistic

Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of lovePsychological Review, 93(2), 119–135