From the outside looking in it is all too easy to judge someone for falling for a sociopath or narcissist.
We sit and watch the horrific story unfold in awe and astonishment as we shake our heads. We ask ourselves, how on earth did someone not see the person they were dating while they were in a relationship with them?
In reality, there is so much complexity as to why this happens.
After all, I never thought that I would be “that girl” until I fell down the rabbit hole and found myself in absolute hell not knowing how to get out.
Unless you have experienced it for yourself I can completely imagine why it’s hard to understand exactly how it happens.
Before judging someone or yourself for not realizing who was behind the mask…keep these things in mind.
It can take years before the fantasy begins to erode.
Narcissists and sociopaths are extremely charming and have been known to even fool psychologists who are professionally trained to spot the signs of their disorders.
My experience with the love-bombing phase part of the relationship only lasted a few months but for some people, it can go on for years and years.
If you are in a bubble and someone is giving you all the attention and love that you could ever ask for then you aren’t going to notice something is off…. unless that behavior changes.
Whether it is after months or years the sociopath or narcissist will begin to withhold affection and punish their source of supply. This is around the time that the victim will begin to realize that something is off… and start to wonder why they didn’t see it before.
The reality of the situation is that unless you know what to look for and you are extremely self-aware then you are most likely going to be fooled because they are masters of their craft.
They know how to quickly learn your weaknesses.
At the beginning of the relationship, the narcissist/sociopath will lay on the charm and attention. They will work tirelessly to break down all of your emotional walls and boundaries.
They will reveal their own supposed “insecurities” in order to create a safe space for you to reveal yours… which will be used against you later.
By doing this they can identify how you are going to be a good source of supply for them.
If you are codependent then your self-worth is going to be wrapped around your partner. Someone who needs supply will recognize that within you and make you their next victim
Someone with past trauma may be more prone to falling into an abusive situation and they are going to take note of any past stories about relationships that you tell them so that they can use it against you later.
Who doesn’t have the desire to be loved? Even if you are aware that things are moving fast it may be easy to overlook it because you feel like you’ve met the soulmate that you have always wanted.
You possess amazing qualities that they desire.
When you are happy, kind, outgoing, giving… you are going to attract all different kinds of people and not necessarily all good ones.
For example, if you are empathetic you are more likely to let just anyone walk into your life and you can connect with them very easily.
If you are successful then you are going to be appealing to someone who doesn’t want to work hard or make money because they know that you are going to be generous and help them out.
If you are beautiful then you are someone that can be bragged about until suddenly you are being told the complete opposite.
The qualities that were so appealing to narcissists/sociopaths at one point will eventually be used against you.
Remember that they may have picked you because many of them take sick pleasure in picking out someone strong and independent and breaking them down.
They strike when you are at your most vulnerable.
Imagine that you are going through a bad breakup. You are feeling self-conscious and vulnerable and also wondering why you are completely alone.
Someone shows up and knows that you are lonely and they jump in to save the day.
They are there whenever you need them at the drop of a hat. Flowers are showing up at your door, and sweet tokens of their affection are being given to you just because “they care so much about you.”
Who wouldn’t be susceptible to this kind of behavior?
They will figure out exactly what you are looking for and they will morph into that person.
Very quickly they will become your new person, new soulmate, and for a moment you won’t feel alone anymore.
Remember that no one is immune.
Judging victims and telling them that “they should have known better” is more damaging than you could ever understand.
If you haven’t experienced a relationship with a narcissist/sociopath then you need to remember that no one is ever completely safe from being the target of a master manipulator and that you are very fortunate.
On the other hand, if you are a victim/survivor then you need to remember that what happened was not your fault.
It is a horrible experience and one that can be life-altering in many ways. I know that it was for me. But you have to learn from it and bring awareness so that others can heal and not end up in a similar situation.
Identify the red flags, practice self-awareness, and don’t settle for anything less than what you deserve so that you can ensure no one preys on you ever again.