In a relationship, a narcissist will use a variety of emotional manipulation tactics to hook, re-hook, and then string-along his partner. One of the most effective of these tactics is one that I call the soul mate effect. Along with its sister manipulation tactic future faking, the soul mate effect makes up the stickiest portion of the web that narcissists weave to capture their targets. Both tactics are so important, in fact, that failing at one or the other will cause the narcissist’s relationship agenda to fall completely flat and ultimately cease to exist. Utilized separately, both the soul mate effect and future faking are typically pulled from the narcissist’s bag of tricks only during those moments in the relationship where the narcissist has to work overtime to suck us down the rabbit hole – namely, the beginning Idolize Phase and every reappearance after a silent treatment.
Yup, I have to admit (and not proudly) that the soul mate effect was my downfall. Clearly exploiting the fact that we’d known each other for nearly ten years before spending another ten as boyfriend and girlfriend, my ex would incorporate this historical tidbit into the soul mate effect to pull me back after periodically letting me go. You see, narcissists and other emotional manipulators will typically create the soul mate effect during the Idolize Phase to hook us to The Lie and then again each and every time they press the relationship reset button and magically reappear after a silent treatment. For the latter, the hoover maneuver is used as a prelude to the reset and, as you know, it’s very successful.
In the beginning, just like all of you, I felt as if my ex and I were meant to be together. For the first few months, it was as if we shared the same fucking brain. We’d finish each others sentences, we liked the same music, we laughed at the same things, I loved his sense of humor and he flattered me every chance he got. It was amazing! And then, of course, he referred to us as soul mates and BANG, I was a done deal. Wow…could he be right? Are we soul mates? Of course we are!
You see, my ex knew me because we had been buddies years before and narcissists never forget a thing. Several years had passed since I’d seen him and from the first moment, it was as if I’d seen him yesterday. Within just two weeks, he had me convinced that being together was our destiny. In essence, he created that highly deceptive beginning phase phenomenon that I now describe as a narcissistic manipulation tactic called the soul mate effect.
The soul mate effect is particularly effective because it is so very personal. Not only do we fall for the lie, we actually deeply believe it – so much so that later down the road, perhaps during a silent treatment or to prevent him from leaving, we will actually try to convince him of its importance. Please don’t leave me! We’re soul mates! Consequently, because we frequently confirm that indeed it works, a narcissist – using just a slight spin – will re-create the effect upon every return as an easy relationship reset. In those cases, for example, my ex’s soul mate rhetoric might go something like, “You know, I just can’t stay away. I think I’m addicted to you. What can I say? We’re soulmates!” And if he really wanted to tug at my heartstrings, he’d refer to “our history together” which, for me, was another key phrase that instantly created the same damn effect.
The difference between the soul mate effect and future faking is that the soul mate effect occurs only at the beginning and at reset points to hook and then re-hook a target respectively. Future-faking, which involves the narcissist making promises and/or future plans that will never happen, is typically a strategy used to keep or maintain the hook. In essence, future-faking is an extension of the soul mate effect. Both strategies are obviously evil in that they are pre-meditated manipulations to fuck with a victim’s head for reasons that are completely deceptive and self-serving.
The trigger-pull, of course, is how the narcissist behaves soon after creating the soul mate effect or future faking and, mind you, it’s not a matter of if but when it will happen. Sadly, the narcissist will 1) create chaos and disappear the next day without an ounce of shame, or 2) forget the plans made altogether and then look at you incredulously when you remind him, or 3) accuse you of putting pressure on him even though it was he who made the plans, or 4) accuse you of ruining his life the morning after an entire night of him calling you his soul mate…and it goes on and on. It’s all a bunch of pathological word garbage of course but when it’s happening, it’s a heart breaker.
My ex enjoyed using both strategies simultaneously. For example, he had a habit of vanishing immediately after we’d spent a wonderful weekend together, leaving me confused and heartsick. Upon his return weeks and even months later, our conversation would go something like this:
W: I really missed you. I don’t know, Zari. I guess we really are soul mates. We’re just meant to be together.
Me: W, you’ve been gone two months and I don’t even know why you left. You don’t see anything wrong with that? I’ve been sick over it. How can you say that we’re soul mates when you keep disappearing? Where the fuck do you go?
W: Come on…we have a history together. I was thinking last night that I know we’re going to grow old together. I love you.
Me: You’ve been gone two months. What do you want me to do…just pick up like nothing happened? I don’t get this at all.
W: You know what? This…this is why I leave. All you do is bring up the past…over and over. I’m here, aren’t I?
Me: Yeah but yesterday you weren’t!
W: Alright, that’s it. What do you want…do you want me to leave?
Me: No…that’s –
W: Because I will. I have no problem with that at all.
Me: No problem with it? A minute ago you said we were soul mates…
W: I can’t talk to you. I shouldn’t have come here. I should have known it would be the same old shit…..
Me: Okay, okay…please don’t go.
W: Hey, you know what? How about we go to that concert this weekend? Let’s have some fun.
Me: I’d love to go but..but…you always make plans when you come back and then we never go. I don’t want to pretend to get excited over something that won’t happen.
W: You are nothing but a buzz kill.
Me: Alright…fine. Let’s go then.
Concert night comes and Wayne is nowhere to be found.
If you think about it, the narcissist has no choice but to create a soul mate effect because for who else but her soul mate would any woman endure this much bullshit? Learn to recognize the signs of the soul mate effect and future faking with a current partner and also with any new person you may meet.
Understand that when the feeling of love is real, no one will ever have to say a word, let alone try to convince the other that it exists, and promises are rarely made and then broken. We must re-train our brain to recognize what is and isn’t normal relationship behavior… and then never ever settle for anything less.