Photo credit: Homespun Engineer.
I kid you not, almost weekly I’m introduced to a woman (and sometimes a man) who has just survived a relationship riddled with narcissistic abuse.
It brings up different memories and reminds me of the subtleties that can be dismissed when you're living in it, like isolation techniques I wrote about in this recent blog post. It’s those subtleties that all add up to one big fat directive: Run.
Let’s talk about blocking/diversion and repetition. It sounds like child's play and it certainly feels that way as the receiver.
For example, with blocking/diversion, it’s as if the partner dolling out abuse is incapable of going to a place of introspection.
Travel back in time with me. About one year ago, I learned about one of the dating site relationships he engaged in (from the woman who bravely reached out to me with screenshots of said communication) while he still making me believe he was only focusing on his kids and was forever loving me. After seeing with my own eyes the reality of the situation, I pressed him about it. I didn’t press him about the relationship, per se, but more about his tactics in the dialogue I read between he and the woman from the dating site. It was clear he was using what I now refer to as “The Script,” i.e., he immediately started wooing her with promises of tantric massage as a way to help her take care of herself and “give back to her.” Within a 24-hour time span of meeting her on social media, he was utilizing his “I’m a good guy who cares about you; therefore, I will take care of you and perform tantric massage and then make love for hours ” technique. Ya know, same old pick up lines most guys use. Ha! As you can tell (read: sarcasm), it's very simlar to "Hi, it's nice to meet you. Maybe you'd like to get coffee sometime?"
Here’s where the diversion comes in. When I confronted him about all of the women who were writing to me saying he was using the same lines and tactics (like what I laid about above), I said, “Look, your daughter is young now but a few years down the road she is going to be dating. Would you want your daughter to meet YOU—with your predatory tactics and grandiose promises of sexual healing massage on the very first day of communication? Only to get what you want and then move on to the next woman?”
You know what I got? Dead silence. No answer. I can only figure he read it and then completely blocked it from his mind, and then blocked me from getting an answer. He skipped past it and moved on to throwing more mud at me—a diversion tactic.
The second tactic I want to share today—repetition—used to drive me up a wall. In the middle of an argument, instead of dialoguing back and forth like people do who are emotionally mature, he would repeat the same phrase over and over again. For example, in a text argument where he didn’t agree with a choice I made, I would get “Ask Scott and Cindy, they know best” over and over again no matter what I said. No matter what I asked. He would repeat the same phrase more than a dozen times, in most cases. It now reminds me of the childhood comeback, “I know you are but what am i?” It felt like I was trying to reason with a toddler.
If this happens or has happened in your life, it’s a tell-tale sign you’re involved with someone who lacks emotional maturity. Outwardly, they can project the image of being wise and mature, but the minute this type of behavior starts, know you’re in a losing battle. You can’t reason with someone who isn't a rational thinker.
Blocking/diversion and repetition are road signs telling you to get off the road, now. Exit immediately. I wish someone had explained this to me when I was knee-deep in it—I just kept trying to understand it from his perspective. No matter what the argument is or the context around it, if the person you’re with just stonewalls you with the same phrase over and over again or completely ignores something you say, you’re not with a person who will grow with you. He or she will likely remain stuck emotionally at an age far younger than you can imagine or want. Save yourself from a lifetime of child's play.