The Covid Coupling
The Covid-19 pandemic continues with the USA, India and Brazil currently bearing the brunt of the pandemic, although with 27 million confirmed cases, a very, very small proportion of the world’s population has actually been infected. The number affected in other ways is far higher. Two examples of a far greater number of people who have been affected by pandemic besides being infected, are those impacted by the economic fallout (job loss, reduced income, diminished orders, insolvency) and entire populations who have been placed into lockdown.
I have written in detail about the impact on narcissists in The Narcissist and Covid-19. I have provided a humorous take on the attitude of narcissists in The Narcissist and Covid-19 : The Narc Interviews and provided you with intriguing insight as to how the lockdown would impact on one particular narcissist through The Narcissist in Covid-19 Lockdown.
The consequences of the lockdown has had another impact. It has provided a fantastic opportunity for our kind to utilise the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown as a cover story for the ensnarement of fresh victims. With the vast majority of narcissists being unaware of what they are, they will not actually be consciously aware that they are ensnaring a victim and using the lockdown as a method of doing so. No, the Lesser or Mid Range Narcissist will believe that their romantic involvement with another person (the victim) is anything but the work of narcissistic ensnarement, because the narcissism will not allow those types of narcissist to know what they are doing (to understand more about this see Understanding the Narcissistic Perspective ) . The ensnared victim will not realise that they are in the clutches of a narcissist owing to the pincer movement of
- A lack of knowledge about narcissism, therefore not knowing what to look for , and
- The obscuring effect of Emotional Thinking (see The Addiction : The Link to Emotional Thinking
If you do not know what you are looking for, how can you be expected to do anything about it? Furthermore, certain behaviours, comments and actions ought to act as Red Flags but victims fail to act on them, owing to the misleading and obscuring impact of their emotional thinking.
Sirin Kale, wrote an article in The Guardian newspaper (a UK publication) recently titled “I’ve Never Felt So Close To Anyone This Quickly : The Whirlwind Romances of Lockdown” Some of you should already have winced when you read that opening phrase having heard it yourself when you were ensnared by a narcissist. As for whirlwind romances, substitute it for The Narcissistic Entanglements of Lockdown because that is what is really happening, but once again, the absence of access to information and the presence of emotional thinking means that the victims have no idea what is really happening. As you read through the article, I anticipate that you will be nodding with a weary familiarity at what you are reading, feeling an impending sense of doom at the behaviour you are witnessing and recognising much of what you may have experienced in your own ensnarement.
Remember that the behaviours of the individuals in the article provide sufficient narcissistic indicators (either narcissist or victim) to demonstrate what is actually occurring, so that other behaviours can then be viewed through the lens of narcissism. If some of the events described below occurred within an established relationship which occurred without the narcissistic indicators (and is therefore not narcissistic) those behaviours would not have the same interpretation. An example being that with one couple mention is made of having a tiny bust up. A tiny bust up does not mean that one person is a narcissist, but where other indicators have established there is likely to be a narcissist involved, what is behind that “tiny bust up” (a response to the threat to the narcissists control) is different to where a tiny bust up occurs where there is no narcissist (the tiny bust up is a reduction of emotional empathy which will occur as a consequence of an external stressor (see Why Am I Behaving Like The Narcissist ). It is important to keep this important distinction in mind.
The original article is provided below and I have interspersed my observations (in bold) so you are provided with my analysis as to what is really happening. Lockdown has provided repeated golden opportunities for our kind to ensnare individuals and the victims fail to realise what has happened to them, instead attributing the speed, expedience and decisions being made as a consequence of the imposition of the lockdown and the presence of the pandemic. They are mistaken. The lockdown is the excuse the unaware narcissist has used for asserting direct control (see The Narcissist´s 3 Assertions of Control ) . The victim has been conned into thinking there is no problem at the relationship progressing in the way it has, because that is the effect the lockdown has had.
My observations will identify key components of the narcissists behaviour and the narcissistic dynamic. Veteran readers will be familiar with what those terms are, more recent and new readers, to understand what these terms mean, do avail yourself of the wealth of material I provide you with here on this site Knowing the Narcissist, here The Knowledge Vault and here The Books to know more.
I would also invite you to use this detailed analysis, not only for your own understanding and protection but to educate others. Instances such as these, where real-life examples are analysed and applied to the narcissistic dynamic are a valuable method of letting the unaware know what they are dealing with, in a similar way to work such as A Very Royal Narcissist and American : You Are Being Conned. Please do share this work with others, direct them to the links and highlight on relevant platforms to capitalise on this material. My thanks in advance. Now, for the analysis.
Hurtling down the motorway on a Triumph T120 with a backpack full of knickers, Jen Lewandowski thought: this is terrific.Lewandowski, 41, had met Tom Gidley, 51, just four times before she moved into his Ramsgate home at the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown in March. (Swift cohabitation evidencing Sense of Entitlement, Isolation from Other Influences, The Assertion of Control and Ownership) There was no necessity to move in together, the relationship was at a very early stage, so if it foundered so early, so what? They could potentially pick it up again at a later juncture. The moving in together so quickly is a Red Flag and it is assumed that the pandemic and lockdown makes it a necessity or a significant factor to do it, but there was no compelling reason to do it and indeed a raft of reasons not to do it.)
They originally met through work. Lewandowski had contacted Gidley, who is an artist, to ask if she could sell some of his paintings at an exhibition she was staging. When she collected the paintings from his studio in January, there was an instant connection. (Magical Thinking (narcissist) and Emotional Thinking (victim) (See also 10 Seductive Sentences Used by The Narcissist)
“She had an energy and real light about her,” says Gidley. (Flattery, Idealisation, Magical Thinking). After the show opened in March, they went for a drink, and then a cup of tea at Lewandowski’s kitchen table. Finally, Lewandowski, who lives in London, visited him for the weekend. (Salami Slicing)
Then the lockdown measures were announced. “I said: ‘Look, why don’t you just come down here?’” says Gidley. (Swift suggestion evidencing Sense of Entitlement, Assertion of Control, Apparent Concern)“Everything’s getting a bit strange.” She agreed, and Gidley collected her on his motorcycle. (False Helpfulness, Assertion of Control) Since that high-speed jaunt, their relationship has barely slackened in pace. (Necessity of gaining control quickly over the victim, a hallmark of the seduction of a victim by the narcissist They have spent the entire lockdown together, said “I love you” to each other within days and are in general horribly in love. (Isolation from Other People, Swift Declaration of Love, Infatuation )
“Isn’t it wild?” giggles Lewandowski. “It is quite whirlwind, but it feels right, and we’re going with it.” (Red Flags repeatedly are flying, but Lewandowski cannot see it owing to the Emotional Thinking which is not only blinding her to those red flags but is making her feel excited in order to keep her invested in the relationship.)
Gidley and Lewandowski are just one example of the British couples turbocharging their relationships by moving in together during the coronavirus lockdown despite scarcely knowing each other. (Not all couples who take this step will have a narcissist in the relationship, but there will be a far higher incidence of narcissists in those instances where people have moved in together despite scarcely knowing one another.)
On 24 March, a day after the lockdown was introduced in England, the deputy chief medical officer, Jenny Harries, suggested that couples living apart may want to consider moving in together. “They should test the strength of their relationship,” said Harries at a government press conference, “and decide whether one wishes to be permanently resident in another household.” (A potentially dangerous suggestion, but I suspect Ms Harries was directing this at established couples, ones which had come into being at a more measured and considered pace, not ones which were embryonic. Of course, such a proclamation by the DCMO would be used by some of our kind as a validating reason to suggest moving in together “Let´s do it now otherwise we will not be able to see one another for who knows how long and what better way of seeing out the pandemic than with the person I love so much.” You can hear the words being spoken as soon as Jenny Harries made such a suggestion.
Harries’ comments sent couples across the country scrambling into crisis talks, as they tried to decide whether moving in together during a global pandemic was a good idea, a bit premature or potential disaster. During this time, many came to the conclusion that it was worth a shot – the partner could just move out again if everything went down the toilet. (Not where a narcissist is involved as that would threaten the narcissist´s sense of control through wounding and result in a sustained and potentially problematic response from the narcissist)
“I didn’t really have an exit strategy,” confesses Jack McGarey, a 31-year-old teacher. “I suppose, at the back of my head, I thought: ‘If it doesn’t work out, she can just go home.’” (Lack of Accountability, Objectification, Sense of Entitlement, Lack of Emotional Empathy)
McGarey is a bold man: he asked Francesca Elizabeth Williams, a 33-year-old marketer, to move in with him after just one date.( Speedy Assertion of Control , Sense of Entitlement, Boundary Violation) After matching on Bumble,(Hunting Ground – see Why You Should Not Use Online Dating the couple had gone for a physically distanced walk in Crowthorne, where they both live, on 21 March, just before the lockdown restrictions came in. After the walk, at a loss for what to suggest – most restaurants and bars had by then closed – Williams invited McGarey over for dinner. He arranged the furniture so it would be two metres apart. “We didn’t want to break the rules,” McGarey says. “We had good intentions.” (Facade Management) He groans. “Obviously, the night started with social distancing,” Williams says, “but as the night wore on and we had a few glasses of wine, we didn’t keep our distance.” (Sense of Entitlement, Boundary Violation)
Two days later, the lockdown began. “I said: ‘Grab your gym kit and your laptop, and come over.” (Assertion of Control, Sense of Entitlement) Williams never left. When we speak, the couple are still syrupy sweet on each other. (Infatuation and Emotional Thinking, Speedy Idealisation) Every day, they stick to a strict schedule of thrice-daily exercise (a morning 5k run, a yoga class and evening high-intensity interval training workout), meditate, listen to a podcast together, cook and have a “deep chat” about their families or childhoods. (Mirroring, Creation of Ever Presence) “We do an audit later in the day,” says McGarey, “to make sure that we’ve ticked everything off.”(Assertion of Control) It may sound hellish to some, but it’s working for them – although they haven’t said, “I love you,” yet, it’s clearly on the cards. “A few times, I almost said it,” admits Williams shyly, “but then I thought it was too soon.” (Red Flag)
Still, it is easy to rush headlong into a whirlwind romance when you are young. (Error of the Ignorant – it can happen at any age, narcissists do not only target the young) Time takes the edge off romantic ardour: we become cynical, crablike, cautious. “I’ve learned a lot over the years,” muses Jonathan Lovett, a 53-year-old design director from London. “You have to look for someone who is emotionally available. (Targeting) So many people think they want relationships, but they don’t really. (Projection – what is wanted is control, not a relationship) ” He met his boyfriend, Kit Yunes, 45, an Argentinian-born, London-based retail worker, on a dating app (Hunting Ground) in February. When the lockdown restrictions came in, Lovett and Yunes were in a music shop, waiting to buy a drum kit. “I turned to Kit,” Lovett says, “and said: ‘Where are we going to put these drums, then?’” The men got an Uber to Lovett’s house, drum kit in boot, and Yunes never left. (Sense of Entitlement, Swift Cohabitation, Assertion of Control)
Experience has made both men certain that their relationship is durable (Idealisation (narcissist) Emotional Thinking (victim), and not mere infatuation. “We’re not in a sort of puppy love,” (Deflection) Lovett insists. But the speed at which they have moved has raised eyebrows among some of their friends (Red Flag – both in terms of the speed of cohabitation AND noticed by third parties but of course both Red Flags unheeded by the victim), particularly when Yunes gave up his rented property and officially moved in. “Some people have said: ‘What if this doesn’t work? You don’t want to end up homeless in a pandemic,’” Yunes says. He is unconcerned. “I am happy to take this risk. Everything feels natural, not rushed. I’ve never felt so close to another partner in my life this quickly.” (Disconnect between what has happened and what is seen (It does not feel rushed, but it actually is) and the statement of I’ve never felt so close to another partner in my life this quickly is Emotional Thinking.)
Still, living with someone and picking up their socks when you have milk in your fridge that’s probably older than your relationship – there’s no way for that not to be weird. (Not weird a Red Flag but an unheeded one) “You catch yourself laughing at how surreal it is,” Lewandowski jokes. (Red Flag – unheeded)
“How did this happen?” Adjusting to the rhythms of another person’s life, their schedule, their caprices, takes time. “You definitely have to negotiate around each other,” Gidley says. “The proximity is wonderful, but it takes work to get the balance right.”
He has noticed they tend to have a tiny bust-up when they’re tired, (Response to Threat to Control, wrongly attributed to fatigue) on Friday evenings – which they always resolve immediately. (Resolved as control is regained) “It’s like a pressure valve,” Gidley says. “It feels healthy.” (Save it is not.)
Is there any way to tell how a relationship formed under the weight of a global pandemic can go? “All things are possible,” says the Relate counsellor Gurpreet Singh. “I don’t think there is a single rule that applies.” Moving in prematurely will exacerbate underlying stressors. (Note the failure to identify that moving in so quickly is likely to be a indicator of a narcissist at work) “Couples who move in together too soon haven’t worked out a strategy for resolving arguments amicably,” he says. “If you end up in a lockdown situation too soon, you may drive each other up the wall a little bit, and that might put you off the relationship.” (This is accurate for a non-narcissistic relationship and whilst there will have been some relationships that have moved to cohabitation very quickly because of the pandemic, where no narcissist is involved, far more will involve narcissists as per this fundamental indicator of moving in and the others demonstrated above).
Taking a punt on love doesn’t always go to plan. (Rephrase – getting involved with a narcissist will not go to plan, but observe how what is really going on tends to be euphemised to something seemingly innocuous – a punt) Emily, a 26-year-old student from Birmingham, met Neil (not their real names) on Bumble ( Dating App – Hunting Ground) in late March: they went on a date just before the lockdown was announced. “I went over to his, and we had a nice time,” says Emily, “so I ended up staying over. He seemed quite keen for me to stay again the next night, so I did ( Sense of Entitlement, Monopolisation of Time )and then I ended up staying for the weekend.” When Neil asked her to stay with him during the coronavirus lockdown, (Swift Cohabitation, Sense of Entitlement, Boundary Violation) Emily agreed. “I thought it would be a way of helping each other through a mutually difficult time,”(Emotional Thinking) she says. “Maybe, in retrospect, I wasn’t using my best judgment.” (No, because it was compromised by Emotional Thinking).
The two cohabited together amicably, at first mostly because Emily swallowed her feelings.(Victim Compromise) When Neil was on video calls with his family and friends, he didn’t mention she was there. (Sense of Entitlement, Compartmentalisation, Lack of Emotional Empathy) “He was cagey,” Emily says. “I felt like he was trying to conceal me and our relationship, whatever it was.” (Compartmentalisation) The anxiety gnawed away at her. “I finally cracked,” she says. “I said that I was uncomfortable and anxious about where I stood. He said he wasn’t ready for a relationship yet.” (Provocation, Deflection, Lack of Emotional Empathy, Lack of Accountability) That must have been tough, I say, after living together for two months as a quasi-couple. “The fact that it was so intense (Love Bombing, Infatuation, Emotional Thinking) – I suppose I expected a little bit more,” Emily says flatly. “I wish he had been a bit more honest about his expectations because then I wouldn’t have opened up so much and allowed myself to fall for him.” (Exploitation, Misled Victim, Getting the Reason Wrong)
Emily isn’t bitter about her decision to move in with Neil, even though it ended badly. “I don’t regret it,” she says. “Last year, I was serially dating, (Feeding the Addiction) mostly through apps (Hunting Grounds) , and not getting much out of it. This seemed like a nice chance to give a relationship a go, without overthinking it all the time.” (Emotional Thinking)
The pandemic has given prospective partners the opportunity to connect outside a brutal and sometimes dehumanising dating scene. (Partially correct about the dating scene but exploited by Emotional Thinking (Victim) and exploited by Sense of Entitlement (Narcissist) into believing that what is happening is actually constructive and healthy, when it is not. The narcissist cannot see it owing to the narcissism, the victim cannot see it owing to the effect of Flawed Logic caused by Emotional Thinking “With online dating,” says Gidley, “it can feel horribly like a marketplace. It encourages you to think there’s always another option out there, so you never commit to anyone, even if you really like each other.” (The narcissist never commits anyway and the non-narcissists fall prey to this “Better Option” mentality as explained in Why You Should Not Use Online Dating )
In our hyperscheduled modern lives, having the time and space to get to know someone away from work, family and friends means that lovers can develop an intimacy that would take months, even years, to gestate under ordinary circumstances. (Not ordinary – healthy) “It’s given us a bubble of time to build our closeness,” says Lewandowski. (Emotional Thinking) “I think that intimacy would be hard to achieve when normal life is happening.” (Emotional Thinking) In lockdown, time speeds up, slips forward, accelerates. A meal at your kitchen table together is the equivalent of three real-world dinner dates. A Zoom quiz with friends feels like hitting the three-month mark. (Emotional Thinking)
“You feel like you have time to waste, almost,” says Lovett. “Nothing has to just be a conversation over dinner. You can have conversations for hours or even days. (Monopolisation of Time) That’s the beauty of it. It’s been so intense.” (Love Bombing, Infatuation, Assertion of Control) Lovett travels abroad frequently for work and doubts he would have had the time to grow so close to Yunes were it not for the lockdown. “I’d have had to make space for him in my daily routine, seeing my friends, going to work, the gym,” agrees Yunes. “It would have taken a lot longer.” (And with that longer period of time the speed of ensnarement might be resisted)
This is dating on steroids: (Error of the Ignorant – it is not) a time-lapse fast-forward stumble through all the major relationship milestones. “It feels like we’ve been together for six months,” says McGarey, “not six weeks.” (Seductive Sentence) They plan to move to Texas together later this year, ( Assertion of Control, Sense of Entitlement, Removal of Victim to Achieve Isolation from Support Networks) so that McGarey can take up a teaching job. “I want to be where Jack is,” Williams says (Early Compliance). They have met each other’s families – on Zoom, of course. (Swift Introductions).
Lewandowski compares the heady excitement of her lockdown romance to the shotgun weddings of the second world war. “There’s something old-fashioned about it,” she says. (Emotional Thinking, Romanticism of Unhealthy Dynamic) “We haven’t met any of each other’s friends or families. It reminds me of those old movies where the soldier coming back from the war hops off a train with his new bride.” (Exclusion of Third Parties, Isolation From External Influences, Emotional Thinking)
But a better comparison may be prison. (Indeed it is a prison, but not in the way the writer believes) “Those who have relationships in prison have better mental health than those who don’t have a partner or have a partner outside prison,” (Which type of person is more likely to be imprisoned? Why would that person have their ´mental health´improved by a proximate person? The answer is a narcissist who has a primary source fuelling him or her and thus has a sense of control and “feels better”) says Dr Rodrigo González of the University of Salamanca. He has conducted research into relationships in Spanish prisons. “It’s partly about companionship,” González says. “But it’s mostly about sex. Having sex relates to better mental health and higher satisfaction levels in the public as well as prison inmates.” (What is sex to the narcissist? A weapon of mass seduction )He’s probably on to something: the always practical Dutch authorities even recommended that single people find a designated “sex buddy” during lockdown.
Is the intimacy these couples feel real? (It is not imagined, but it is not genuine. The narcissist is incapable of intimacy and the victim is conned into believing they are experiencing intimacy when that cannot actually occur) (Or are they punch-drunk on the surreal enforced intimacy of a global pandemic? “It’s as real as it can be,” says Singh. (Wrong.) “If they’ve coped well together during these times, it would give me the sense there is strength in the relationship.” (More likely, one party is Infatuated and has control and the other party is complying through being blinded by Emotional Thinking, therefore the relationship remains in thegolden period But Singh points out that none of the couples will have met each other’s family or friends in real life or had to balance commuting, living apart or work commitments. “Good, healthy relationships are formed over time, when people have lived in each other’s lives during periods of vulnerability,” Singh says. “You can’t build that in a few days.” (Correct however those valid points are all being overlooked by the couples in this article).
“Reality is the true test of any relationship,” Lovett admits. “We’ve been in this bubble, but I know it’s coming very quickly – the real world.” But he’s confident they will go the distance. “People may be cynical,” (Not cynical, seeing it for what it is) Lovett says. “But sometimes you’ve just got to take that leap of faith.” (No, that is Infatuation – there is no obligation to take a leap of faith with a healthy relationship.)
Lewandowski and Gidley certainly are. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in the Kent Downs a few weeks ago, Gidley asked Lewandowski to marry him. (Sense of Entitlement, Early Marriage Proposal, Infatuation, Assertion of Control ) “I said yes,” Lewandowski says, (Magical Thinking) “and we had a lovely kiss. Just as we did, the wind picked up! It went: whoosh. It was very romantic.” Lewandowski lets out a peal of laughter. “It’s a good job we’re in lockdown because if people could see us, they would puke,” she cries. “Let’s just see if it lasts!” (“It” is not what you think. “It” never began, now what you think it is.)
Needless to say, narcissism is never mentioned throughout this article, not by the author, the experts or the victims themselves, yet it is writ large throughout it.