Narcissists can put you on a schedule.
An intermittent schedule. You never know when the reward or punishment will come
One that keeps you longing and jumping in excitement at little bread crumps they occasionally throw your way.
They push your limits, your boundaries over and over and over and just as you are about to give up on them and say enough is enough, they quickly switch gears give you exactly what you have been longing for; some love and kindness.
But as expected, this only lasts for a moment and before you know it, you are back where you started.
HOW DOES THE NARCISSIST USE INTERMITTENT REINFORCEMENT ON THEIR VICTIM?
Think about gambling.
It is not guaranteed that every time you gamble you will win.
Neither is it definite when you will win.
But somehow, a gambler keeps gambling.
Just when they least expect it, a win happens. And this win comes with a thrill enough to hook the gambler to the game even when the next 100 games are all a loss. It creates the needed illusion of “if I won once, I can win again.” So a gambler may lose everything including what they won the first time looking for that thrill they felt when they won. And that thrill, that euphoric sensation they experienced in their brain is what makes them addicted to the game.
Being in a relationship with or married to a narcissist works more like a gambling addiction.
Theirs is a more of give little, take more kind of cycle.
We all know how loving and ideal narcissists act in the initial stages of the relationship. The love bombing phase. They leave you convinced that they are your absolute soul mate. It is hard to believe that these individuals will very soon turn into your worst nightmare.
Once they have you secured in the relationship, probably married you, tied you down with a pregnancy, one or two kids, they slowly start peering their ugliness. But they are tactical about it.
They slowly test your boundaries.
What can you take?
How far can they go?
What is your reaction to their “intentional” apologies?
They are slowly taking data and registering at the back of their minds and this is what they will use to manipulate you and keep you hooked and longing for the slightest moment of affection they may randomly throw at you.
For example, they will go ahead and betray your trust, have an affair out there. Your response and reaction to the betrayal will determine the trend that will follow.
If you ignore, they know, well, this is a boundary I can easily cross and get away with. I don’t need to do anything about it. This is an easy one. Soon you start noticing the cheating trend getting worse. If they used to only stay out late for a few hours, it becomes a whole night away, a whole weekend, and some cases we hear people speak of weeks of not having put an eye on a supposed spouse. Some do even get to a point where they bring their cheating escapades right under your nose, in the same house even bed you share. These things are happening in our midst.
They are pushing your limits.
Just when you are about to quit and say I can’t anymore, the apology comes. Notice, this is the most disingenuous form of apology you will come across. Most insincere. In their apology, they will make it clear that their acts are not solely their responsibility and there is a bigger part that you played to make them act like that. They don’t take full responsibility for their actions.
But because this is what your brain has been longing for, you hang onto those little dirty crumps of an apology and convince yourself that they mean it and will not hurt you again.
You will also realize that these little acts of kindness, moments of apologies, moments of love happen so randomly that you really can’t tell when they will happen. The randomness of this is what we are calling intermittent. The little acts of kindness and love and the scheduled apologies…these are what brings the reinforcement. They reinforce you to the abuser and their deceitful ways. And this is due to the thrill they come with after a long period of waiting for them to just show that they care.
They put you in a state where you are basically addicted to them.
Just like that addicted gambler keeps on gambling amidst countless moments of loss.
All you are longing for is that uncertain moment of “high” that they randomly dispatch just when you are about to give up.
The longer you stay with them the more the emotional draining intensifies, the more the abuse intensifies. You will also notice that the frequency by which they abuse you has increased while the little moments of love and kindness diminish.
Discard may happen here.
I have come across individuals, who lament about how after 20 years or everything they did for someone; they ended up left for someone else. Discard is a popular occurrence with narcissists. In our society, they just go ahead to get themselves a second wife.
We need to know this, narcissists lack empathy and whatever emotional rollercoaster they are taking you through is merely a satisfactory moment for them. It actually gives them satisfaction to know they have that much power and control over you. I have seen people take pride in the fact that they are cheating knowing very well that act is painful to their spouse. I have seen people consider themselves man enough for controlling and limiting a wife even though they know the wife may be not be okay with that. It is unfortunate that while they engage in acts they know are painful to the spouse, they have things like traditions and culture to use as an excuse.
But at the end of the day, if whatever act you engage in is painful to the person you are supposed to love, whether it was practiced by your ancient grandfathers or not, that is an act a normal HUMAN BEING needs consider abusive and stop.
STAY SANE FOLKS
BY JACKIE WANGWE
PICTURE CREDITS: PSYCOPATHSANDLOVE.COM