The Switch

switches-1One of the more difficult of my behaviours for you to cope with, let alone understand, is the switch. On the Sunday we have enjoyed a pleasant day together lounging on the beach with a picnic. The next day you try and call me and I do not answer. I do not reply to your texts. I am not subjecting you to a prolonged silent treatment on this occasion and eventually we managed to speak in the afternoon. The conversation is not going to win away awards. I ask no questions, I am monosyllabic in my responses and you feel like I have pulled down the shutters and put up the defences. You ask me what is wrong and I do not give you a credible response which satisfies this sudden change in behaviour.

You draw the contrasting behaviours to my attention and I know full well what I have done and what I am doing. I however feel no need to explain myself. I recognise that I was pleasant and caring yesterday but now I am like a block of ice. Do not make the mistake of thinking that I am unable to see this shift in my behaviour. I can. It is not that I cannot offer you an explanation for it. I don’t want to. This is because I am not accountable to you. If I want to behave this way then so be it. I have learned however that if I say this to you, it will make me appear bad, so instead I will ascribe it to being tired or I have other things on my mind. I am also doing this because I know that it will cause you to show you care (and thus give me more attention) by asking what is wrong and what has happened. If you push too far, I am likely to become angry and go on the attack (why do you always have to question me? Why must you assume there is always something wrong? I don’t have to be happy all the time you know?) Later on I will most likely send you a text stating I am sorry but I am under a lot of pressure at the moment or I had just received some bad news and did not feel upto talking (all lies of course) but you will then feel bad but also relieved at having received a (false) explanation and you will remain dangling, rather than doing the most appropriate thing which is to leave me to it.

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35 thoughts on “The Switch”

  1. A. Your blog is delicious.

    B. My ex was really honest and overt about the on/off switch. In fact, he even told me when we first started dating that he was going to stop giving me affection, stop answering my calls and disappear intentionally just to see what I’d do. He wanted to find out how badly I needed him. Would I force myself upon him (affection, sex)? Would I go to his house and break windows/kick in doors just to see him? Would I track him down wherever he was in the world because I had an insatiable need for him? He was obsessed with me findng him irrisistable. This was a requirement for us to move forward in the relationship. He literally told me he needed me to be psychotically obsessed with him. To the point that even if I was in the hospital, I would figure out a way to show him I loved/needed him. My intensity levels would be on high at all times. He had already told me that he sent several girls to the psychologist after dating them, broke up marriages by seducing the women just because he felt they weren’t right for each other and because he could, etc. He regularly boasted that manipulating people was very easy for him. I should have seen all of those things as red flags but I found them to be a challenge. I thought to myself – you’ve met your match! You may be able to manipulate weak-minded people but you won’t be able to mess with my head like that. I will win. I ended up leaving the relationship after outrageous expectations were set forth (I’d like your opinion on those as well…will comment in a more appropriate post). In a way, I won because I walked away and left him. However, he won because I absolutely gave him my heart, tried like hell to meet/exceed all his challenges and am an emotional wreck over it all. At any rate, do you find it odd that he was so overt about it? I have a theory that he somehow felt it obsolved him of accountability by openly admitting his games/tactics. He could always say, “I told you I was needy and difficult. I told you I’d push your limits to the wall and that I had unrealistic expectations. I clearly walked through every test I’d put you through so that you had the chance to be successful.” He often said this to me. He said he told me everything he’d do to me because he wanted me to be successful – he wanted me to be his soulmate (but I had to pass tests and prove it from his perspective). Unfortunately for him, my intuition kicked in and I’d go running away from him as fast as I could in the really bad/crazy moments. He always sucked me back in (until this last round) and then blamed me for “running away” which hurt him deeply and would set the expectations even higher in order to regain his trust. It exhausts me just writing about all that. Anyway, thoughts on the overt admission of his tactics?

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    1. Hello EWO and thank you for your post and the compliment. Your ex worked out how to manipulate you from the beginning. He knew you are strong-willed and therefore needed to lay down a challenge from you in order to extract the maximum admiration and attention from you. I don’t find it odd that he was so overt about it. There were two things in play with this behaviour. The first is as described ; he knew you had to be challenged to get your attention but your attention would be potent,maximum strength and oh so sweet because he knew just how much effort, sweat and tears you would put into it. Secondly, if you ever complained about being made to jump through the hoops he could just shrug and say “I did want you” and thus as you rightly identify be absolved of accountability. We hate accountability. We are entitled to do as we please. In all likelihood, this also was likely to provoke you and thus enable him to receive a second stream of attention from you.

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      1. Thank you for your very insightful response. You are quite correct on the provocation piece as well. He also enjoyed talking about how he welcomed death and wanted to know how I’d cope if he died. He liked getting me upset about this on a semi-regular basis.

        Your responses are incredibly helpful and reassuring!

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      2. You are most welcome. Upsetting you is all geared to showing how powerful he is, how inferior you are and feeding on the attention you are giving him by getting upset at something he has said or done.
        Interestingly, most narcissists like to fantasise about how people will react to our deaths (what would you do, what would you wear to the funeral, what would you say in the eulogy) but we don’t ever want to die as that is a recognition of our fragility. That’s why many narcissists will threaten suicide but very few will ever do it.

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  2. This is one of my favorite blogs HG!

    A lot of parallels here regarding EyesWideOpen experiences with her ex narc.

    Within two weeks of my relationship with my ex, he would be very overt about how he loved:
    Messing with people.
    That he became extremely bored in relationships.
    How he would ‘run to the hills’ when he felt pressure.
    That he was always going to ‘test’ me.

    He would also say ‘if I were you I’d turn around right now and run as fast as you can and never look back’.

    I would laugh it off because SURLEY he didn’t mean it…how could he…after he just told me that I was the best thing that has ever happened to him!

    All of this took place almost immediately getting to know him, but ignored it all because it coincided with his love bombing tactics.

    The on off switch was the biggest hell he put me through. No matter how great of a time we had, the next day he would sabbatoge it by being indifferent to me and rarely apologize for his behavior. I learned that he had groomed me to expect it, I rarely said anything and walked on eggshells not to confront him about how shitty and detatched he was acting.

    Narcs hate to be accountable. After a year of the on and off switch I ended it. In our last conversation as I was ending things and sobbing…I asked him why he couldn’t apologize for treating me so bad.

    His reply?

    ‘I didn’t do anything wrong. I have told you from DAY ONE this is how I am.’

    A great read for me today HG. I’m almost two months out of ending my relationship with him, and have been also exposed to his silent treatment after the breakup (his final curtain call) and when I woke up this morning I felt extremely heavy and cried for him. I haven’t cried about him for a long time.

    I have been doing so great and couldn’t grasp today why I was missing him….when he never existed. There’s a lot of confusion and shame attached to that, because it was all a facade. I needed this particular blog more than any you have written thus far, because this was one of his tactics that he favored and used to control me.

    It was also the brutal reminder of why I walked away. Thank you again, it is exactly what I needed at this very moment.

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    1. You are welcome Artgirl and as you point out you missed the red flag of foreshadowing owing to the love bombing. Yours is a classic example of the switching behaviour and also our mindset in terms of how we are not at fault or accountable.

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  3. From “You’re the one, you’re my happiness, my love, my shining star, my doll, I want you and you only, we are rare birds, this is once in a lifetime love, can’t you see, I don’t want to live if I can’t have you…” to various weird statements and insults. Back and forth. Push and pull. What puzzled me the most was his statement 180 degrees opposite to all those wonderful words of love and affection – ” I can switch. I can do it. I have learned how to do it in order to protect myself.” So he switched eventually. “Nothing has happened between the two of us. You were just dreaming. I don’t love you, I don’t hate you. Flat line”.

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  4. HG, regarding my previous comment on the switch, can you please explain, from your perspective, what the person meant by saying “I’ve learned how to switch in order to protect myself”. From what? I’m really puzzled by that one.

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  5. Thank you, HG. I do wear guilt and I do feel I’ve betrayed him. Makes perfect sense – in terms of the game, of course.

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    1. The rescission of a contract is about putting both parties in the position they were prior to the contract being made, so far as it is possible. This is not possible with reference to the narcissistic dynamic. We are capable of regarding you as wonderful once again following devaluation, when there is a respite period or when we hoover to resurrect the Formal Relationship. However, it cannot be regarded from the victim’s point of view as returning to the state it was prior to the relationship commencing between narcissist and victim.

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      1. So, like when someone SUPER pisses you off, you can just forgive them at some point in the future and go right back into the relationship? Is there any behavior that has been so abhorrent that just makes you not want to be in a relationship other than No Contacts since you hoover and have lieutenants checking up and are still in your own way ever-present??

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      2. I never forgive them but the desire for fuel overrides the concerns about treachery until such time as it becomes necessary to use that treachery against that person Sarah. No behaviour can ever rule out a hoover.

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      3. Greatttt…so how would one go about getting discarded completely with no malicious hoovers or smears? Or do ALL relationships with a Narcissist at one point end on these ever so fun lines? Be the perfect little fuel mister just brimming with compliments of love and praise and welling up with tears over the slightest infraction?? Do you make these rules or are they common practice for your kind?

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      4. You would be smeared in any event. You could avoid the malign hoovers (indeed any hoovers) if you instigated no contact so such a degree that you could not be located or contacted. These ‘rules’ arise out of my own behaviour, the behaviour of other narcissists I know and have observed for some time and the ratification of the experiences of others to narcissistic behaviour.

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      5. What did I do to get smeared exactly out of curiosity? Joined a blog? Participated in some questions?

        I still adamantly maintain you need this on your TOC – JOIN BLOG AND PARTICIPATE AND BEWARE IF YOU DON’T FUNCTION LIKE AN APPLIANCE – YOU WILL BE SMEARED – YOU ARE NOT A PERSON – BUT AN OBJECT WHEN YOU ARE ON NARCSITE.WORDPRESS.COM. MANUAL NOT PROVIDED.

        I mean, I am just trying to help in the midst of the smear! Such love!!

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      6. When I write about you being smeared, I am referring to you being smeared as a consequence of you being in a relationship with a narcissist, not because you have contributed to this blog. You will not be smeared by me for commenting on, reading etc this blog, that does not and will not happen.

        You get smeared by the narcissist you engaged with for the reasons which are advanced in detail in the book Smeared.

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      7. Smeared is most likely to happen in the context of an intimate relationship as a primary source who is about to be or has just been discarded. Other sources will also be smeared, if the need arises, but it is less likely. Smeared has the answers.

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  6. Because I mean, surely, NOT ALL people deserve to remember and hoovered by someone of your greatness your for all of eternity or is that just not how it works?

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      1. But you just can’t just let it go…noooo…so we get stuck here…hey what if I can guess 3 out of your 5 rules that you don’t share, then poof RESCISSION!…it would at least keep me quiet and on SUPER GOOD AND AWESOME BEHAVIOR since the Narcissist(s) (oh yes, I have plural in my life because that’s just how I roll apparently) are working on a stepmom/MILF porn site, in my forums, and probably a few other things I haven’t figured out yet so why go anywhere till we get through that stage – so having something like figuring out rules would be so much fun in the interim so what do you say? Maybe you’ll think about it?

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      2. Nice shut and put down there. Well played.

        For a moment there, I really thought maybe there was sympathy, but it was more of a spiteful gleeful vengeful kinda of emotion there.

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    1. I am ever so glad it makes sense to you.

      It`s a pretty simple concept, so if it didn`t make sense, I`d be concerned.

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    1. Sorry it’s HG that affects pple here, not you BE. U’ve stated that u are a narc, but u just seem to be a wanna-be HG here, feeding off his blogs, trying to gain awareness about yourself from HG’s hard work. HG is helping us all, though it may be for his own gains. He is putting in the time and effort. You are just absorbing it.

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      1. It is true that it is HG’s hard work, dedication, passion, graciousness, openness and honesty in this space and in his works that is helping and healing people. I believe I have stated that numerous times, in fact, almost on the daily.

        I appreciate your observation that “HG is helping us all, though it may be for his own gains. He is putting in the time and effort” because that is absolutely true (and something I regularly acknowledge publicly) AND he does all of this while maintaining a demanding professional and personal life. I am truly amazed by his stamina and dedication and I am in awe – I have no idea how he does it but am ever grateful that he does.

        I constantly express gratitude and appreciation to HG for the excellent, brilliant, magnificent work he is doing here. I have stated numerous times what he does here is unlike anything else that exists out there. I acknowledge the growth of many of the readers here who have been helped and healed by HG’s work.

        I have had numerous people call me a wannabe – you are not the first. Of course it is an entirely inaccurate statement, but if it was true, could you fault me (or anyone else for that matter) for wanting to be like HG? He is the greatest of the great.

        It is true that I admire him greatly – not only for the work he is doing here, but for his talent as a writer as well – and am incredibly appreciative for everything he does. It is also true that I learn from him, just as everyone else here does.

        But, it is also true that the bulk of the awareness I gained about myself, I gained from good doctors who assessed, evaluated and diagnosed me when I was quite young. My diagnoses is not NPD, which is why I often say “I am not a Narcissist, I am something other” and people tend to get confused by that.

        Narcissism is a big chunk of my diagnoses, but there are many other chunks, all of which add up to who and what I am.

        Unfortunately, clinical perspective, discussion and understanding is often achieved through a set of biased opinions and schools of thought and is more centred on changing or modifying than acceptance. So go figure I find it refreshing and enlightening to engage with someone like HG.

        Everyone who comes here absorbs HG – his words, his wisdom, his invaluable insight and advice. He writes, people read. He speaks, people listen. Everything he says and does is MEANT to be absorbed and put into practice, whether it be by the empath seeking clarity and closure or by someone like me who are grateful to be able to interact with someone who understands.

        Some here choose to engage with me and ask me questions and, before I answer anything, I am always clear that this is not my forum and I will only answer and offer my perspective if HG gives his blessing. I am not here to steal HG’s thunder – firstly because I respect him too much to even try and secondly because I would never be able to steal it in the first place.

        I am a loyal supporter of HG and all of his work. I am a loyal reader and a loyal fan. I participate in the discussions here and usually, I am respectful and civil with people here.

        I absorb. I learn. I read. I engage. I discuss. I answer.

        Just. Like. Everyone. Else.

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