It can be easy to get duped by a narcissist, especially if you are a people pleaser or co-dependent. Narcissists can be charismatic, charming chameleons. They adeptly learn what you want and appeal to that side of you. It’s easy to miss the red flags because there’s chemistry between you and your potential partner. My coach/counselor tells me often, “Laura, come down from your love cloud and see what’s right in front of you.”

She’s right. We need to open our eyes to protect ourselves (and our hearts). Below are some strategies that narcissists use because toxic people make dating a game of control and conquests.

1.Future faking

We’ve all heard people say, “He told me what our life would be like together” or “He painted a dream life of our future.” Now this action has a name assigned to it: future faking.

Future faking is tactic narcissists use to hook you. They elaborate on details of your future together. What makes it “fake” is that it’s not likely ever to happen. That’s because narcissists see a person they want to pursue, work hard to make that person fall in love, then decide if they’re going to love that person back.

It’s also improbable that this rosy outlook won’t happen because the narcissist is often making things up on the fly, from an emotional state of excitement or neediness. For example, the narcissist hasn’t thought about who will pay for the giant beach house? Who will pay for the dinner out at the expensive new restaurant?

It can be one of the cruelest ways a narcissist lures a new partner. The new companion has built a vision of a long-term relationship on a fragile, nearly impossible dream.

2.Love bombing

Love bombing is a term we hear more often than future faking. Love bombing is when a narcissist showers a potential victim with attention and affection to progress the relationship at lightning speed. Narcissists feel like they have a small window of time to hook the victim before the unsuspecting learns what the narcissist is all about.

Love bombing can look like an “I love you” in the first few dates, romantic trips before it’s time to go away together, flowers, expensive gifts, and dates, and more.

3.One big gesture

Sometimes a narcissist will use one big gesture to win over the new person. It could be an expensive trip overseas, a trip to meet the family after the second date, or an expensive gift.

One psychologist talked about a Cartier watch she received on the second date worth tens of thousands of dollars.

4.Push and pull (intermittent reinforcement)

This is one of the most painful strategies a narcissist uses to solidify the new partner’s devotion to them. Push and pull or intermittent reinforcement is the tactic when the narcissist will say or do things to push the new partner away, such as taking hours or even days to respond to a phone call or text. Then, a narcissist might call the partner and act as if nothing is wrong.

The partner feels, rightly so, that the narcissist isn’t invested in the relationship anymore. The victim then begins to work harder to prove their worth to this individual. It is a terrible place to be for a new partner. But it’s precisely where the narcissist wants them. Questioning. Losing sleep. Stressed out.

5.Blame and shame

Narcissists seldom have empathy. If they do, it’s a pretend game for appearance’s sake or to get something they want. Without genuine empathy, they are quick to blame or shame others for their behavior.

For example, maybe they were out too late at a bar when they promised to be home for dinner. Their partner may be unhappy to have worked at cooking a nice meal for them to miss it. When they ask the narcissist why, the narcissist blames them for being needy and always wanting them around for meals. The victim is left feeling bad for asking for the bare minimum of respect: a phone call or an initial no.

6.Being a victim

Narcissists are skilled at stepping into the role of Vicki the Victim. This is a phrase a teacher once used in her third-grade class, and it can certainly apply to narcissists. When a narcissist has done something wrong, they often become the victim in the scenario, so they don’t have to take responsibility. In reality, they are the perpetrator, but you end up apologizing for something you didn’t do.

Also, all eyes often turn to the narcissist, and that person can receive sympathy and understanding for something they instigated in the first place. It’s wrong, and it’s confusing.

7.Silence (can be ghosting)

One of the most agonizing strategies a narcissist can use in dating is silence. When a healthy relationship is in play, people use respect but stay in touch with others, especially when plans are being made.

A narcissist, however, uses silence as a weapon. Silence tells the victim, “You aren’t important enough to be spoken to” or “Your needs don’t matter.” As a result, the victim waits and wonders what they can do to salvage the relationship. In many cases, the victim ends up apologizing for something, and they don’t even know what they are apologizing for.

Psychologists say the silent resentment is damaging, and after its long-term use, it can be considered abuse.