Before the narcissist utilizes the full extent of their toxicity, they will groom you. This is the subtle way someone with narcissistic personality disorder sets their hooks.
To understand grooming, you’d need to know how the narcissist operates. Someone with NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) is a complex individual. Although they seem to have a grandiose view of themselves, this is only a façade to cover their low self-esteem.
From an early age, this toxic personality has created themselves to be whatever they want. They give no credit to parents or a higher power. Among other characteristics, the narcissist has little empathy, is deceptive, and is built with an insatiable appetite.
What is grooming?
The word grooming basically means preparing someone for what’s to come – it’s about getting them ready, setting them up to enter the next stage of the show.
Because, let’s face it, those with NPD are hollow inside, and to feel whole inside, they must put on a performance for others.
They must groom people to fool them, to make them go into the next level seeing the narcissist as the magnificent star of the show, the best of everything – dare I say, the dream come true… too good to be true.
Imagine having the feeling of being taken care of, while sitting in a chair in front of a mirror. Behind you, there’s this person, someone who seems pleasant, and they’re gently brushing your hair. On their face are the smile and bright eyes. Only you don’t notice that when you look at them in the mirror, they cannot seem to make eye contact.
You almost notice, but it won’t sink in until it’s too late. You’re being groomed. Would you like to become familiar with a few ways narcissists use grooming to manipulate you? Let’s look.
1. Cold empathy
You cannot say the narcissist has no empathy at all. This wouldn’t be true. Those who have NPD have what’s called, “cognitive empathy”, or cold empathy, and they use this to read you.
In the grooming stages, the narcissist needs to learn as much as possible about their target to fool them. The idea is to learn how to make you comfortable, so you don’t expect anything nefarious.
2. Love bombing
This is where the “too good to be true” part comes into play. Have you ever entered a relationship where the other person seemed to worship the ground you walk on? Yeah, that’s not normal, in case you haven’t gotten to the bad part yet.
This is a red flag alert! A narcissist will shower you with love, gifts, compliments, and things of that nature until you become dependent on them. Then they will pull these things away, show a bit of their true nature.
But to keep you, they will use intermittent reinforcement, which is small bites of the love bombing from the beginning, to keep you with them. You were groomed by love bombing, and the reinforcement is like maintaining this image.
This grooming tactic is linked to love bombing, but it’s a tad bit different. Mirroring is where the narcissist pretends to have numerous things in common with the target. They build a connection by means of pretending to have the same interests, pet peeves, and hobbies.
The toxic personality will mimic the behavior of their supposed victim to build a bond with them. This is set up to further enable the toxic personality to manipulate you later.
4. Digging for information
Sometime during the early stages of a relationship, the narcissist will start asking loads of questions. This may make you feel like they find you intriguing. And who doesn’t like a little attention sometimes? But it’s more than that.
You see, this toxic personality acts like they want to know more about you, and they want to help you when you share your problems. But this insidious form of grooming is done only to gather information about you so that the narcissist can use it against you later when things turn ugly.
Heads up! Get ahead of their game, and practice keeping some things to yourself.
5. Pathological lying
To groom you for what’s coming next, the narcissist will lie straight from the beginning. If you talk about their former relationships, they will claim to never be at fault for the breakup. They may have other relationships going on at the same time, but according to them, you’re the only one.
There will be lies about numerous things, and you’ll grow to trust them. From the beginning, lies will be used to groom you because later when you start to realize they’re lying it won’t make sense, and you’ll question even the most obvious lies, always trying to make excuses for their behavior.
At this point, they’ve got you right where they want you.
6. Creating your dependence
A narcissist will attempt to monopolize your time, by helping you become dependent on them. When you get ready to do something, they will ask you to be with them instead. They may ask for hours of your time, every week, or even every day until you start to depend on them for everything.
Over time, you will lose contact with people and stop doing many things you used to enjoy. It’s a slow and calculating process that you don’t notice until you are deeply committed.
How you can avoid these things
There is one powerful way to avoid these grooming tactics or at least, to keep them from taking hold of your life. The best way to do this is to retain a healthy sense of self.
While getting to know yourself and learning to love and appreciate who you are may take some time, it’s worth the work. It just might save your life and your future.
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