The power a narcissist has over his victim is all encompassing in the adulation stage and the “hooks” created can make even the most intelligent, rational person doubt their own sanity. It is the kind of brainwashing power that when transported onto a larger stage powers dictatorships, sects and ideologies like the Nazi party and Communism. For the victim, it is the start of a process that will leave them emotionally destroyed when the narcissist targets the next victim and invariably discards them.
There is an old saying which is especially relevant here and one that codependents might do well to remember. That is “You learn more about a person at the end of the relationship than at the beginning” . With a narcissist, this is especially true. The adulation stage (the beginning), is an illusion, a mask, that convinces the victim that they with someone who is capable of empathy, compassion, understanding and love. The world is totally in order and all of their needs are being catered for. Maybe for the first time in their life, they feel totally appreciated. There is more fun, sex, and connection than they have ever known before. The problem is, as they will soon find out, it is not real and reality will bite them.
Narcissists are very choosy. They choose their victims carefully and their choice is usually based on such things as status, wealth, influence or ability. The victims are usually attractive and popular. The more of this the victim has, the greater the value of the supply for the narcissist. Narcissists are great observers at this stage. They place their victims on a pedestal and make sure that they get everything they need in the way of care, loving and attention. They idolise, worship them and make the victim feel that they have been waiting all their life for this person to appear. The victim might actually believe that the narcissist is in love with them, but this is infatuation. The relationship moves quickly based on the promises that the narcissist makes. The victim, being so wrapped up in all the attention coming their way, happily moves along with it, not believing their luck that this person is in their life. They have fallen for the illusion created by the narcissist and it leaves them totally unprepared for what is to follow.
Many of the codependents I work with who are recovering from the effects of narcissist abuse will dwell on this phase and romanticise it as if that was the true person they were involved with. They will hold out the hope that these early times are again just around the corner and find it hard to believe that they have been duped. Breaking this fantasy and illusion is essential if recovery is to be successful. This is often complicated by the narcissist’s sense of entitlement that he can walk back into the situation and gain further supply. Victims are only a means of narcissistic supply, a resource to be discarded when spent. Once this happens, the victim is quickly thrown away, abruptly, without warning and with surgical precision. This is a traumatic phase for the victim who has likely had their self-esteem shot to pieces, been made to carry all responsibility for the narcissist and usually has to watch the scenario playing itself over again with the new victim. It is important for victims to realise that they were initially targeted by a con-artist and could not have done anything differently. The narcissist that breezed in and out of your life will do this with everyone they meet.
One of the first steps in recovery is to help the codependent realise the above. That they were targeted and there was not much they could have done about it. Later, the lessons learned will give them a new perspective on relationships and how fast they should move them to a different level.