names have been omitted or changed in this post
As I drove down a main thoroughfare the wind ruffled my hair from the open sunroof. It was April... spring was here and the Texas temps had risen to the seventies and even eighties except for the occasional thunderstorm with hail that kept us on our toes. Adele was crooning "Hello" on the radio and the rebirth of green waved from the trees as I drove. Approaching a red light I slowed to a stop and glanced over to my right. A man was sitting in the vehicle beside me... he saw the blog address on my vehicle, gave me a look of recognition and then a somber look of sympathy. I didn't know who he was. The light turned green and with farewell glances we both pressed onward down the street to our separate destinations. I wondered who he was. If he was kind. If whoever he went home to each night loved him and he loved her. I always wondered what people's lives were like behind the poker expressions and closed doors. As I drove my thoughts went to a recent conversation with my daughter about her dad and step-mom.
"Mama, you and Georgina are so different." She told me, referring to her dad's new wife as of about a year.
"Really?" I murmured not really caring but being polite.
"Yes, you are." She affirmed as we'd walked the aisles at the local Tom Thumb grocery store.
I had tossed some fresh pico de gallo into the cart for taco night and spoke "So? How are we different? The way we dress?" I guessed.
"Yes! She dresses very lady like. Like she wears all this dressy stuff if she's not in workout clothes. When she dresses up she carries those tiny purses on the chains you don't like. How'd you know that anyway?" She asked me.
"Because your dad likes that look." I replied cooly. "Well, he does now anyway. I like more edgy stuff like skinny jeans, a leather jacket. Or western boots."
She nodded "Yeah! You're right. You're both really different. She works out all the time. You don't work out as much. She doesn't eat any junk food. I mean... like NONE!" She exclaimed with big eyes. "She won't even eat pizza! Can you believe that? She just eats salad like every meal. And you eat hamburgers, pizza, all that stuff. She drinks wine like everyday and you drink like a few times a year. She likes all the songs on the radio you don't like or that are inappropriate... She tans and you don't. But you look way younger than her. Because she fake bakes and you use sunscreen." She continued as I listened quietly letting her talk. "Oh! Guess what? Daddy just bought her a brand new Mercedes convertible." She told me.
"Let me guess.... it's white." I told her wryly.
She looked at me with surprise, "How did you know that?!" She exclaimed.
"Because your dad likes white vehicles. I like black. When we were married I kept thinking he was going to buy a black Chevy Silverado. Then he bought the Jaguar." I replied.
"Yeah... why did he buy the Jaguar?" She asked me.
"We had been to a Stars game in Dallas and he saw one in the parking lot when we left. He loved it. Sometimes people have different ideas about what they like. Sometimes those ideas start out the same and one person changes. Or both. When we dated he had a truck. I still love trucks. I don't think there's a prettier vehicle than a clean black truck. But we didn't agree on what to get." I told her. "Ultimately he made that decision."
"He eats sushi now." She told me "I think it looks gross. But they love it."
"Everybody likes different things. The trick is finding someone who likes similar... to a point." I told her. He liked what I did once upon a time... chicken fried steak, trucks, country music and being down to earth. Not so much anymore.
A narc initially loves everything about you... but at some point, maybe sooner, maybe later they will begin finding flaws in what you wear, how you speak, what you do, how you think, etc. Before long every aspect of your physical and mental state will be altered.... or at least attempted to be. It's a slow and systematic process of dismantling you piece by piece until you no longer even know who you are. Perhaps initially when you met you were applauded for having an independence about you, a strong willed attitude, a strength like none other... "like an ox" he says. But along with those traits, witty comebacks or down to earth clothes and nature combined with an appreciation for nicer things in life but knowing what's truly important you are soon met with disdain. That truck you like won't be purchased. There will be a Jaguar or BMW sitting in your drive. That SUV you chose will be in white he states, not black. That night you go out he will expect you in a dress not leather pants and a pullover with boots. That chicken fried steak you enjoy has been replaced with a salad or piece of grilled chicken. The words spoken of how beautiful you are now replaced by glares and caustic remarks of how you look terrible. That food-to-go he ran to get for dinner will be at a price and it's high... it will involve another chip off your self worth and esteem. That play at the performance hall downtown or the country music concert at Billy Bob's you wanted to go see is met with snores on his pillow at nine o'clock at night. That inner strength you possess will eventually be regarded as a liability... to him... he will find you to be the bull that cannot be tamed.... and you feeling trapped in a china shop it's no use; no matter which way you turn something breaks and it's always all your fault.
It really doesn't matter how much you seem to initially match up on likes and dislikes... because with a narc it never matters. That is how they hook you initially....the key to unlocking your love is being a match. it's called mirroring. They mirror what you like and don't to capture you. Eventually like sleeping beauty you awaken to reality... it was all a façade. They weren't real.
You know what you like and what you don't. Maybe you like preppy clothes, white wine and vacation on an island every year. Maybe you like trucks and motorcycles and dream of owning a few acres one day. Maybe you like Thai food, modern furniture and recycle. Maybe you don't like pink, take boxing lessons and only wear black. Whatever you like or dislike you know as you've been exposed to more people and experiences in life you've evolved and discovered more about yourself. But narcs don't really have their own engrained personalities and style. They adapt to... or more namely mirror what you like... and whoever they're dating at the time. They mirror what they believe they need to be to gain the person they want to be with.
The best thing to do whenever dating someone new is to ask them what they like. Don't let on too much. Ask them questions and see if what they like is in sync with you. Because giving away too much leads you to getting snookered. They are listening very closely to find out exactly what the correct answers are... they want to pass the test.
Maybe you want to move to the beach the minute your kids turn eighteen; when you're no longer stuck in a certain zip code due to shared child custody. You voice this dream to whomever you're dating and suddenly they want to move to the beach too one day. Some people will tell you anything they have to in order to get what they want... you. If they deem you the one they want ie; soul mate, some will stop at nothing... including lying through their teeth to hook you. Later, when it comes time to move beachside suddenly they have amnesia and say: "I never agreed to that. I don't know what you're talking about." You will be standing there with your mouth hanging open much too late realizing you got duped. It happens.
We have to remember that the narc's master way of operating is deception. We need to stop viewing narcissists as purely those who take one too many selfies and are vain. That is such a small part of the picture of a narc. If that's the only issue or one of a few vain or diva might be a more appropriate description. True personality disorder goes much more in depth than the surface and to an extreme. Instead, they are master manipulators and one way they do that is through various tactics; one being mirroring. There is the person who changes who they are to date others due to low self esteem and then there are the dangerous ones... the narcs who purposefully copy what others like and dislike so that they may glean their trust and love. Once they have you convinced you've found "the one" they will waste no time in getting a ring on your finger, a whirlwind wedding behind you and before you can even blink you will awaken to not a bed of roses but instead thorns... where once upon a time everything was a world of beauty now is uncertain and even treacherous. As you begin to realize you were merely looking into a mirror they held upon their face the looking glass won't be a reflection of love but instead deception and misery.
Trust me... they are taking notes. They are noticing how you take your coffee and how you like your tea. They are watching what music you choose and what colors you wear. They are listening to which movies you love and books you read. They are observing every little thing. Guard how much you share. Ask questions and ask again. Look closely and see if all those wonderful traits and interests you have shared with them and magically mutually share could be too good to be true. More than likely they are.