So, you think the narcissists is happier with the new woman? You couldn’t resist the urge to cyber-peek, or muster the strength to block him, and now your Facebook feed is bombarded with shiny, happy, couple photos of him, and his new target, looking oh-so-happily in love. Before you jump to conclusions, I want you to imagine a photograph of the typical, happy, vacationing couple, who have been together for only a short 4 months. Picture a cliché “ussie ” photo, a selfie photo, but for couples, on a tropical white sandy beach with the ocean in the background, that you have seen posted on Facebook a million times. Everyone who sees the picture, while scrolling through their news feed thinks, “Oh, what a happy, little, vacationing couple they are!” “Those two are so cute together!” “They make such a great couple!”
In fact, those comments are the very sentiments, which were echoed beneath the actual picture I am describing. None of the people who commented suspected that the smiley-faced woman was knee-deep in devaluation –not even the woman herself. At the time the photo was taken, there was still more positive than negative in the relationship, but it would not stay that way for long.
I am going to tell you something that you probably already know in your heart, but because the narcissist’s residual brainwashing still lingers in your mind like slime, and stays trapped there by the social media images, partly aimed at taunting you, you may feel a little comfort from this reminder.
I hear so many heartbreaking stories from survivors of narcissistic abuse describing how they were abruptly discarded, only to see their ex turn up on social media just days, or weeks later, with a new target, going to the restaurants they used to frequent, or on the vacations that they had planned together. One woman described feeling like she had been filleted like a fish while watching her ex get engaged, married, and buy a new house with his new target, all within a span of 6 months.
So many survivors are left wondering, “Maybe it was all my fault?” “Maybe I wasn’t good enough?” “It sure looks like he finally found someone, who is able to fulfill all his needs, and make him happy.” It’s easy to arrive at these faulty assumptions when the narcissist, and his new target, are posting tons of happy, lovey-dovey pictures of relationship bliss all over social media.
Disclaimer: People’s lives aren’t always what they post!
Don’t get caught in this cyber-crap-trap. A leopard never changes his spots. A person doesn’t jump from one relationship into another, without taking a minute’s worth of self-reflection, and become a completely different person overnight. It just doesn’t happen! Ever! Especially when that person is a narcissist!
The only thing that has changed about your ex is his target –a target who is completely unaware of his faults, mind games, and manipulations. She doesn’t realize what she is getting herself into… yet. She is probably working overtime, bending, and twisting like a gymnast, trying to get her once-perfect guy to be perfect again. She has no clue that his love is not, and never will be real. She is still under the illusion that he is the one, that they’re meant to be, and that she just needs to become a little more nurturing, or giving, or understanding, or insert blank ( ________), and Mr. Perfect will magically resurface again.
All you have to do is remember how you felt deep inside when you posted the same smiling, happy-looking, kissy-face couple pictures on social media. You weren’t 100% happy, as those pictures suggested you were, were you? Your intuition was telling you something was just not right, but since you couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was at the time, you tried your hardest to restore the relationship to the way it once was.
You, like the new target, were duped into believing the narcissist loved you, and the problems in the relationship were all your fault. He toyed with your mind and used you as his own personal playground.
Unfortunately, it’s not difficult to rehash the memories of the absurd, exhausting, circular conversations, the silent treatments, and the feelings that no matter what you did, it was just never good enough.
How about all the good days that he ruined, in minutes, without the least bit of provocation on your part? And what about that unyielding, nagging feeling of anxiety, that kept you on high alert about your every move and word, so as not to trip the wire, and trigger Mr. Hyde’s presence?
Remember how you buried your needs and desires, and betrayed yourself, because you were too busy being thrown off-balance amidst the criticisms and projections? Instead of caring about yourself, pleasing him became your sole focus.
How about all those ridiculous arguments that took place during the car ride on the way to dinner, family gatherings, concerts, or sporting events, etc.? But boy, was that a cute picture the two of you took, and posted on Facebook later that evening, looking so delightfully in love with your matching baseball caps, right?
All That Glitters is Not Gold
Don’t be fooled.
How do I know for sure?
I know, because the woman in the photograph of the couple I asked you to imagine, was me. I saved that particular picture, because one day as I was deleting old pictures, I came across that one, and my first thought was that it was a pretty fun vacation. Then, I instantly remembered the huge fight we had had on one of the nights we were there, and I still can’t, for the life of me, even tell you what prompted it –just a narcissist needing to create chaos and misery, and suck a bit more joy from my soul.
But what struck me most about the picture was something I had never noticed before, and that was my reason for saving it: the sparkle in my eyes had already started to fade, at only four months into the relationship. It’s so subtle, but actually not subtle at all, compared to the pictures of me now.
You know that sparkle I’m referring to. It’s the one that shines through when you’re filled with inner peace, and contentment. That’s what narcissists do. They dull your shine. They drain the happiness from your soul and take it for themselves. They aren’t called emotional vampires without good reason.
Don’t feel an ounce of jealousy for the new target!
Don’t wallow, not even for a minute, in self-doubt, believing that you somehow were not “good enough” to make the narcissist happy.
I recommend you not even stay updated about your ex. Facebook has a block button for a reason. Use it. Cut all contact if possible. Just knowing that the narcissist will eventually destroy the new target in the same way he tried to destroy you, is like helplessly watching a train wreck that you have no power to prevent.
The new target will, unfortunately, join the ranks of the living dead, drained and depleted, and will end up being just another notch on the narcissist’s belt of devastation. It’s inevitable.
Her sparkle will start to dull. It just happens so gradually; you don’t notice it until you put two pictures side by side. How long will she hang in there? Who knows?
What I do know for certain is this: don’t believe most of what you see on Facebook or any other form of social media for that matter. There are tons of happy Facebook couples, who are extremely miserable in real life. They’re just not posting those negative/unhappy/realistic pictures.
In my experience, the truly happiest couples, are not the ones constantly splattered all over Facebook and social media, because well… they are just too darn busy being… HAPPY!
I wrote this from the perspective of a female. There is no gender bias intended. Please substitute pronouns as appropriate.
Bree Bonchay, LCSW, is a psychotherapist with over 18 years of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships and shares her insights about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and psychopathy in her blog FreeFromToxic. Her articles have been featured in major online magazines, and she has appeared on radio as a guest expert. She is also a dedicated advocate, educator, and facilitates survivor support groups and workshops.
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Copyright © 2015 Bree Bonchay. All Rights Reserved.