5. Intimidation. They might make thinly veiled threats, or they might come right out and threaten you. Intimidating behavior doesn’t have to always be physical. It can be in the form of threatening to tell the courts that you are an unfit parent, and that they are going to go for full custody, or that if you divorce them that they’ll go after your retirement. Of course, they might also stalk, or otherwise physically intimidate you as well–by hurting you, or by hurting objects around you (punching holes in walls, or breaking things), to scare you enough into letting them return to your life. Victims often stay because they are too scared to go, and they often feel like they are safer staying so they can at least know what the Narcissist is up to.
6. Hope. Narcissists do such a oscar-winning performance of getting their victims to believe that this time they really will change, that it’s understandable as to why the victim keeps believing them. I asked a Narcissist once why he thought women kept coming back to abusive men, and he just smiled and replied, “Because hope dies last.” Yikes.
And back to the “Just World” perspective–normal people tend to be sorry for their hurtful actions, and believe that their partner must be too. If the victim has experienced multiple issues of bad behavior with the Narcissist, they probably also tend to think that this time will be different, as the Narcissist’s behavior is so outlandish, that they think he must have hit rock bottom. The truth is that there is no rock bottom for a Narcissist. They make decisions based off of their whims and not much more. Their increasing bad behavior is what’s referred to as “managing down of expectations.” This is where the victim’s expectations of the Narcissist, and of their relationship, become less and less while the Narcissist gets away with more and more.
On a side note, you can tell you are in a toxic relationship if you are minimizing or justifying your partner’s behavior to yourself or others. Or, if you find yourself not telling your closest friend certain things that your partner is doing because you are concerned about what they would think, or because your partner’s behavior is so outrageous, then there is a problem.