This tactic may seem like the least of the narcissist’s evils. If you happen to be under the impression that being insincere is among the more “docile” of the narcissist’s tactics, then think again… it’s actually a powerful mind control technique.
We’ve all been insincere at some point
I get that insincerity- especially in today’s world of e-relationships & virtual intimacy- really doesn’t sound like a legit tactic for mind control, or abuse. After all, how many of us have never- not once?- offered up some less-than-genuine praise or, given a less-than-sincere compliment?
Maybe you did it to avoid offending a co-worker. Or, in an attempt to avoid another fight with your husband. Maybe you told your mother-in-law her fruit cake reallywas delicious! You weren’t trying to abuse, or control anyone, right? Of course, not.
So, what’s the big deal?
The big deal is that we are talking about narcissists here. By necessity, they are master deceivers. You wouldn’t have fallen in love with the ‘Hyde’ aspect, of your ‘Jekyll & Hyde Man’, now would you? Obviously, not. So, here’s the thing (and it’s a pretty damn big thing);
The narcissist doesn’t make use of insincerity for such mundane purposes as avoiding a fight, or not wanting to offend someone (he wouldn’t care about doing either one of those things, really). The real motivation behind a narcissist’s insincerity is far more sinister.
Insincerity is a narcissist’s ONLY method of communicating positively with others.
The narcissist sees people as objects of gratification. He sees only one reason to compliment, or praise, you- and that is for the express purposes of manipulation & control. His words are contrived to create a sense of strong familiarity. They are carefully chosen, in order to feel intensely flattering to you. In this way, the narcissist captivates you almost instantly.
Charismatic charm, mixed with lavish praise, creates a powerful spell, called ‘Liking’, which the narcissist exploits, to control his victim’s mind.
Narcissists strive to create a fabulous first impression with you. They know that, once that amazing first impression is made, you will rationalize all manner of evidence that might contradict that first impression. All people do this unconsciously, without thinking, or even being aware of it.
Insincerity masks the barely-contained contempt, and hostility, the narcissist actually feels toward you.
That mask is what makes a narcissist’s insincerity such a powerful mind control technique. The narcissist understands that, if he can get you to like him, he will be able to get away with all sorts of abuse, later on. How is that possible? Simple. The contrast between what you believe about the narcissist (you like him), and what you actually experience around him (unlikable behavior), creates an extremely powerful feeling of discomfort in your mind called, cognitive dissonance.Experiencing cognitive dissonance is very uncomfortable- and it’s not an entirely conscious feeling. This means that, even when the narcissist does something that is outright cruel, you are very likely to rationalize, justify, or make excuses for him. It’s how you alleviate the discomfort of cognitive dissonance.
Your perception of a person can be unbelievably powerful- especially, once you’ve decided you like them.
Infinitely more so, once you’ve decided that you love them. Narcissists exploit this knowledge to the fullest possible extent. Their insincerity effectively sets the trap, for your unconscious denial of abuse, once it starts.
Truly, it pays to be wary of flattery & a person who seems too-familiar, too-soon. Not that everyone you instantly connect with is going to end up trying to control you. Not by a long-shot. Still, there are ways to ensure you don’t get tangled up with someone you’d rather not tangle with.
Look out for Signs of insincerity:
- Flattery– Everyone likes flattery. And it’s harmless… as long as you’re aware that is just flattery.
- Too-familiar praise/compliments– For example; “You have such a beautiful soul.” Or, “You’re so much more loving than my ex-wife.” Now, you may very well be those things but, those aren’t things that someone could know just by meeting you once. How loving you are, or what your soul is like, takes time to fully emerge. For all this person knows, you sacrifices kittens to your garden gnomes, every other Thursday.
- Asking intimate questions too soon– And, I’d consider any point during a first meeting, to be ‘too soon’. Narcissists love to pry for weaknesses and vulnerabilities… to use against you later. And, they have to get the info quick, before you catch on to them. So be wary of anyone who starts asking about your whole life story, right out of the gate. Something’s bound to be fishy there.
- Disparaging others– If you notice that the person you’re with tends to make not-so-nice comments, about a lot of people (whether present, or from their past), take it for the hint it is. They’re telling you exactly how they’ll talk about you, once your back is turned. I’m sure, at one point, “Bunny the Bipolar” had a “beautiful soul”, too.
- Pressuring you for more– Whether it’s “just one more drink”, or “ten more minutes”, once you’ve said “enough”, that means enough. I’m not talking about a friendly, “You sure?”- and then, drop it- comment. It’s anything, and everything, after that. It’s a sure sign you’re in the company of someone who does NOT respect your boundaries.
‘Conscious First Impressions’ counteract insincerity
What I mean by a ‘Conscious First Impression’ is that, when you first meet someone new, consciously acknowledge your first impressions of them. Intentionally make a statement, to yourself. “My first impression of Mary Sunshine was [whatever it was]. BUT, I intentionally withhold any lasting judgments as to whether I like her, or not, until such time that I can get to know her better.”
The whole thing may sound a bit over-the-top, but I have learned (the extremely hard and painful way) an important lesson in life, thanks to my narcissist husband.
It’s incredibly hard to acknowledge that someone you love is not who you believed them to be. And, when that person turns out to be cruel, and abusive, it takes some time for your mind to wrap itself around that fact. It’s damn near-impossible, for empathic people (the majority of Narc-targets) to grasp the concept of ‘cruelty’, in the first place.
We just don’t understand the whole ‘hurting others’ thing. Now, go even farther, and ask us to accept that the cruelty resides in our own home? That it sleeps beside us at night, in our own bed? Or, worst yet, that it resides in the person we LOVE? No, no, no…
That’s too much to take. It’s enough to drive a person mad. (And, sometimes, it does- literally). Coming to terms with the ways in which our minds have been oh-so-thoroughly-fucked, can take quite a while. Often years. But, in the meantime, we find ways to maintain our increasingly tenuous grip on our sanity.
So, we justify. We rationalize. We excuse & we defend… but, we survive.
~ The Narcissist’s Wife
Sharing your experience, helps other women trust theirs… instead of the trusting the narcissist.
Hi. I’m Story Lynne, (a.k.a. The Narcissist’s Wife). Nice to meet you. I’m the mother of 4 amazing kids, the (soon-to-be-ex) wife of a narcissist, and the author of this blog. I’m also a teacher, a healer, an intuitive empath, and Angel Card Reader.
I love fairies, angels, the color pink, anything sparkly, and Legos. (the Elves are my absolute favorites). I also love fixing cars, building shit, and shooting my bow (as in, bow and arrow).