STAGE 2: The Construction Project
Once you are “caught,” narcissistic lovers start to relax and enjoy your company. Now that they have time to take a good look at you, they slowly begin to notice little things about you that they think detract from your perfection. Your idiosyncrasies no longer seem so adorable; now they are flaws. At this point that you can start to recognize the signs that this person may be a narcissist.
Narcissistic lovers start suggesting ways that you should change “for your own good”: “If only you would do your hair differently/work out more/wear sexier (or less sexy) clothing, you would be even better. Don’t you want to be better?” “Don’t you want to please me?” Think of this stage as “The Construction Project,” because they keep suggesting ways to renovate you.
Predictor of Abuse
How they deal with their disappointment and react to your “no.” Many people discover that a new lover is not as perfect as they first believed and are disappointed; this is quite normal. What differentiates normal disappointment from narcissistic disappointment is how they react to you saying “no” to their suggestions.
- Normal Disappointment: They would love you to make slight changes to please them, but if you really don’t want to, they can accept that without devaluing you or losing interest in you. They may occasionally bring up the topic again, but they more or less gracefully make peace with the idea that you will not give them everything that they want. They also accept that you are a separate person and have a right to your own ideas.
- Narcissistic Disappointment: They cannot understand why you would want to stay the way you are. When you resist their suggestions, they feel insulted — as if youhave criticized them, not the other way around. They become angry, want to punishyou, and may begin to get nasty. They start picking fights with you about every little thing you do that they do not like. The ratio of compliments to devaluing comments shifts. You find yourself starting to wonder: “What happened to the person I fell in love with?”