The narcissist will, over time, manage down our expectations of the relationship so that we expect less and less and he gets away with more and more. This is one of the most powerful weapons in the narcissistic arsenal and it provides the narcissist (male or female) the most rewards. In fact, the narcissist personality really shines when implementing this particular strategy because it shows just how much patience he really has when it comes to controlling you. The managing down of a partner’s expectations allows the narcissist to stick close to the relationship agenda that guides him and it allows him the freedom to roam about on this planet fairly unfettered while we sit on the sidelines scratching our heads and grinding our teeth.
Managing down our expectations is a method where a narcissist shows he has all the patience in the world. The process begins with the very first fight or the very first silent treatment (whichever comes first) and lasts until the final devalue & discard. The entire process can take many weeks, months, or even years and you won’t even know it’s happening. It’s the narcissist’s way of teaching you how to behave and how to react to any given behavior that he bestows upon you.
The N manipulates your expectations by “training” you to react a certain way to certain situations. For example, the disappearing act. If your N is anything like my ex-N, he’ll just disappears for days/weeks at a time, not answering his phone (or changing his number), refusing to answer the door (or not being home for days), and basically acting as if you don’t exist. It causes horrible anguish and suffering – so much so, in fact, that you will do anything to make it end including forgiving his disappearance instantly upon his return. You will be so relieved to have the separation anxiety disappear that you may not even ask about or demand a single explanation. In other words, he gets away with it which is a narcissist’s goal in just about anything that he (or she) does. Now, to manage down your expectations a bit further, the next time he disappears, he will stay away just slightly longer than the time before, thus extending the time he gets to cheat on you (because that is what he’s doing, by the way) with each silent treatment. Ultimately, he will have managed down your expectations of the relationship to the point that he can stay away for months on end, returning with little or no fanfare.
The narcissist uses this narcissistic ploy to his benefit for many situations including having to take you on dates (he basically never takes you anywhere because you don’t expect him to) or being with you on the holidays (you just expect that he won’t) or paying his own way. Our expectations of what is “normal” in a relationship get completely messed up and we begin to allow everything and anything to take place right under our noses. It becomes easier to look the other way…to “forgive” the indiscretions and mind-boggling behavior…rather than to call a narc out on his behaviors and risk another departure. In other words, we give everything and expect nothing in return and nothing is exactly what we get!
Everything the narcissist does or says during the course of your relationship is a means to an end and don’t you ever forget that. Nothing is ever random. A narcissist is out to get whatever he wants whenever he wants with whomever he wants at anyone’s expense and the easiest way to do it is to manage down your expectations of the relationship so that you’re willing to accept mere crumbs of attention. In doing this, he can disappear and reappear on the fly without much fear of consequence. He will count of your suffering to keep you in his queue and your acceptance of crumbs to keep him from putting to much thought into any given lie.
Think about this when you beat yourself up over why you put up with any of this shit. Your concept of a normal relationship became or has become twisted and now, whether or in the relationship or finally out of it, you have to re-train your brain back to normal. What we allow will continue and only we can make the changes that will ultimately lead to our recovery from this type of relationship manipulation.
Get started today…I am here to support you:)
This is an updated post