With a narcissist, even the honeymoon isn’t real

Honeymoons don’t last. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either.

What hurts is when we want to keep going back to the honeymoon because the here and now isn’t so good. Or because it’s bad. This is often the case in an intimate relationship with a narcissist.

In the beginning, particularly when there is a strong physical attraction, we tend to see the terrific parts of the other person’s personality. I’ve read and heard that, in fact, this “seeing the best in the other” is actually us projecting our finer qualities (I call this reverse projection) onto the other person. You might have heard it called the honeymoon period.

At some point in the relationship, both parties will acknowledge their own assets and liabilities (we hope), and move forward as two individuals coming together in a union–but remaining the individuals that they are. The alternative is one feeding off the other, which is what happens when you are involved with a narcissist. This is where the term “narcissistic supply” comes from.

If you are involved with a narcissist, you’ll notice signs of trouble when you take back your own assets, which means you have stopped “seeing” and projecting them onto the other person (so, ceasing the reverse projection). Trouble is, narcissists like the reverse projection; it makes them look better. The narcissistic person has begun to wear the projected assets as his or her own mask, and will experience your assets as his or her own! Then, when you attempt to own them again, he or she might say that you are copying them, stealing from them, trying to be like them.

Once this happens, you can become the object of the narcissist’s rage (which can be very loud or icily quiet) and soon finds yourself apologizing, because this rage (again, loud or quiet) can be frightening and intolerable.*

*This excerpt originally appeared on Alisa Bowman’s Project: Happily Ever After. The site no longer exists, but you can purchase Alisa’s book on the topic here.