When Does The Narcissist Reveal His True Nature?

The Narcissists Unmasking

(Read Time: 1-2 mins)

The narcissist reveals his/her true nature gradually to his victim, while using her as the supply he needs to continue to cultivate, maintain, even strengthen his image of being a thoughtful, considerate, all-around great person to others. This is one of the most invalidating, distressing, unjust, and profoundly frustrating aspects of being involved with a narcissist.

Narcissists are expert manipulators, and they are subtle in their approach. The initial love-bombing secures the victim. She believes she’s in paradise. Then, the “death by a thousand cuts” begins – the “I’m just trying to help” criticism, followed by affection and looks of approval when the partner accepts and appreciates the “helpful” criticism. This emotional manipulation and conditioning primes the partner for the devaluation and abuse to come.

It is the narcissist’s pattern of behavior over time that ultimately reveals his true nature. His criticism escalates to total devaluation, verbal/emotional/psychological/in some cases physical abuse, gaslighting, continual invalidation, coercive control, sneers, cold glares, and looks of contempt, with randomly occurring intermittent periods of love, approval and affection. This process dismantles the partner’s sense of self. She becomes her own harshest and most unforgiving critic, conditioned into this role by the narcissist’s emotional manipulation and abuse.

It is within this this toxic dynamic that the narcissist unfurls his true self: a controlling, punitive, manipulative, abusive tormentor, and one day – it could be months, it could be years – the partner looks in the mirror and sees nothing but the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of cuts, gashes, bleeding wounds, and scars. She sees a sad, insecure, beat-up, faded, black-and-white version of someone she used to know. She does not recognize the landscape she is trapped in. She does not recognize herself.

As difficult, shocking and painful this realization is, it is a moment of mind-saving, soul-saving, lifesaving clarity. When she looks in the mirror and sees the cut-up, beat-up, faded, black-and-white version of someone she used to know, is the moment she recognizes the narcissist, sees his true colors, and realizes she needs to break free.

Partners get entrapped by narcissists because it’s not easy to know from the “get-go” if you’ve gotten involved with one, because they are so manipulative and adept at love-bombing their victims. Sticking to the following three guidelines in a relationship will help you get out before the narcissist’s toxic reveal of his true nature progresses any further:

  1. Know your non-negotiables, i.e. what you will tolerate and what you won’t tolerate in a relationship. Do not make exceptions.
  2. Establish and maintain strong personal boundaries. Do not accept violations. Violating a personal boundary = bye bye
  3. Trust your gut
  4. When someone shows you who they are, believe them first time  – Maya Angelou

The Collapsed Narcissist

Never contend with with a man who has nothing to lose, for thereby, you enter into an unequal conflict.  – Baltasar Gracian

(Read time 1-2 mins)

A collapsed narcissist is a narcissist who has experienced a severe enough narcissistic injury to have every piece of the scaffolding that holds up his false self, splinter and break, leaving him in a figurative heap on the floor. It may be so severe that he experiences disassociation temporarily. He has nothing to lose, no one to distract him, no one onto whom he project his inner hate, envy, rage and trash, no one to prop him up.

He is alone, and forced to deal with all of the darkness, turmoil and hate that he is typically able to avoid by inflicting it on his partner. He has to deal with himself, since he has no one to foist this onerous, toxic burden upon.

A collapsed narcissist can be dangerous. Being the target of a collapsed narcissist’s emotional frenzy, rage and wrath is very disturbing, distressing, and traumatic.

When a narcissist feels he has lost everything – his partner/supply, his control, his false self, his carefully-crafted reputation, he spins totally out of control. When a narcissist feels he has nothing to lose, it is not unusual for him to fly into a raging frenzy, and even go berserk.

Until she blocks him, it is not unusual for the ex-partner to be on the receiving end of the following (including, but not limited to):

  • abusive/raging/sarcastic/self-pitying/I-love-you-so-much/please-give-me-another-chance/how dare-you-do-this-to-me texts and phone calls (even upwards of 30 texts a day, and 30 phone calls a day)
  • proxies that the narcissist manipulates into calling the partner to try to facilitate a reconciliation
  • threats of suicide, screaming accusations of abandonment, raging screaming fury
  • crying and sobbing fits begging for another chance and promising to change, desperate attempts at love-bombing vis-a-vis carrots on a stick such as money, trips, marriage, you are the only one I have ever loved, etc.
  • subtle and not so subtle threats of revenge
  • attacks on her reputation  
  • stalking

Leaving a narcissist can cause a significant narcissistic injury, which can cause the narcissist to collapse. Statistics show that women in abusive relationships are about 500 times more at risk for harm when they leave their abusive partner. Therefore, prior to leaving the narcissist, it is important for the partner to have an exit strategy in place that includes a safe place for her to go, a support system, and documentation of abuse, if at all possible.

The collapsed narcissist that the partner experiences following a narcissistic injury, is the true narcissist, the narcissist without his mask: the raging anger, vindictiveness, threatening behavior, emotional manipulation, coercive control and the dark, frenzied, punitive behaviors.

It bears repeating, a collapsed narcissist can be dangerous.

*Please note: All of my articles are written with the use of masculine pronouns to describe the narcissist. This is solely due to my own experience, and not meant to imply that men are not also victims of narcissistic abuse, as they are too.

Do Narcissists Feel Regret?

Do narcissists feel regret when they hurt their partners? Regret is a powerful, toxic and very dangerous weapon in the hands of a narcissist, that he/she draws out once the partner’s love and loyalty has been firmly secured. Regret, in the hands of a narcissist, is a sophisticated form of coercive control and total fakery used to manipulate the partner into compliance.