One of the ways that a narcissistic mate manipulates the significant other is with the “Tug-o-War of Love”. The narcissist makes it quite clear that if you misbehave, they will excise you. This can be done by using the silent treatment, by going out with friends and not taking you along, by disappearing for a week and not returning your calls or texts, and by many other tortures up to and including dumping you. When you are dating a narcissist, you learn to behave.
David used to control me with fake anger. One time in particular, David got angry with me, scolded me, and wagged his finger. I felt small, reprimanded. I also worried that I hurt his feelings and that he would withdraw his love from me. I asked him in a pitiful voice if he was truly upset with me, and for some reason, he broke character. “No”, he laughed, “That’s the same way I used to reprimand my son when he was naughty. I pretended that I was angry so he would understand that it was serious and he was not to behave that way; but my anger wasn’t real.”
(I don’t have any children, so I cannot comment on the ethics of this parenting trick, but I suspect that fake anger is better than real anger.) Anyhow, I completely fell for his ploy. I believed he was really angry with me (and would withdraw his love).
David learned from watching normal people that we care whether or not our loved ones are angry with us. He observed that it would upset us and put us at a disadvantage; so he learned to incorporate fake anger in his repertoire of manipulating behaviors. People would obey him and/or fulfill his agendas if they believed that they had angered him and he needed to be appeased.
The thing that makes this work is the narcissist can’t do it too often. If he had outbursts every day, the target would just stop caring; but if he rarely acted angry, then it becomes important in the relationship – and I fell for it all the time. I wanted to live in a drama-free zone and I would bend over backwards to keep my homelife free of angry outbursts.
It seems that I got somewhat lucky in my pairing with my narcissist in that, often it was the narcissist who clued me in to what he was doing. He was so over-confident that he would occasionally confess his evil schemes to me. It is unlikely that I would have been able to figure out on my own that his anger was pretend; but he just told me that it was! I guess he was so arrogant that he assumed I would worship him anyway? I have no idea why he broke character on that particular day and told me what he was really doing; but I was listening… and I heard him. Fake Anger. “Do what I say or I will cut you out of my life.”
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