This is a very difficult concept because, as in nearly everything with the narcissist…it may seem to make no sense and it may be illogical. It would be EASY if all the abusers sought something tangible….like MONEY. In that case they would merely be “gold-diggers” and we can easily understand that. It may be despicable but it is within our capability to understand.
What the abusers seek can be totally intangible and it can be something very CHILDLIKE…something that a normal person could SCARCELY see the allure of. To further confound us, at times it seems that the Narcissist actually DISCARDS a target that is much more beneficial to them than the new target…in nearly every way.
If we examine it closely, we will see that the narcissist abuser is likely looking for something VERY specific and does not have the ability to see the forest because they are busy looking for a specific insect, on a specific BRANCH, of a specific tree...
Of course, the abuser is certainly willing to TAKE whatever the new victim has to GIVE…so if they start out LOOKING for ONE thing and they reap the benefits of another…it is a BONUS for them! The main “pay-off” that they initially seek is only the STARTING POINT on which they build their repertoire of abuse and manipulation.
This THING that they are looking for is, often, some unmet need or OBSESSION from childhood. Many experts agree that there is, often, some major trauma (or something they considered to be a major trauma) in their childhood. There may be other abuses, neglect or traumas in their childhood but there is likely to be ONE that stands out. The other damages become clustered around the fulfillment of this MAIN NEED…the one thing they keep searching for.
It can be hard for “normal” people to understand…especially because the abuser will OFTEN DENY the effect this incident had on them…if they tell you about it AT ALL. If you observe them, however, you can sometimes SEE the abuser reverting into childhood when discussing this trauma. Their posture, facial expresses…even the tone of voice and the words they use, as well as the level of emotion and anger, may become much more childlike when they are “retelling or reliving” this event in their mind.
Experts also agree that if this trauma or event occurred in adolescent years, the level of emotional development of the abuser often gets “stuck” at that level and they cease to mature past that time. Their emotions, and actions, effectively remain at that level throughout their lives. They remain that adolescent...angry and defiant...with the added lack of any EMPATHY to place limits on their behavior.
Case Study- Nick
- Unconditional and Absolute Love. Not the kind of unconditional love you and I discuss….but a delusional kind of love where no mistakes or abuses are even SEEN. He does not seek someone who will love him DESPITE his imperfections…he seeks someone who will believe that he HAS NO IMPERFECTIONS.
- Absolute ADORATION and worship
- A relationship that remains in the “madly in love” stage forever….not a relationship that grows and deepens with the years but a relationship that will maintain the “giddy in love” feelings forever. The feelings that are NORMAL in a 16 year old boy in the face of his first love, but that are IMPOSSIBLE to sustain in an adult, long-term relationship.
- A relationship in which he will never be questioned or given any feedback that is NOT GLOWING.
- POWER- The power to keep anyone from ever telling him what to do or take anything away from him (think- the dogs). The power to absolutely control his partner, his family and his children and to prevent any of THEM from seeing that frustrated, frightened 15/16 year old boy who lost everything and had no power to stop it.
- FREEDOM to do as he pleases…to PLAY as he pleases…without a MOTHER to answer to.
- The adulation and attention of EVERYONE. Family, friends and even TOTAL STRANGERS. He DEEPLY desires others to see him as strong, competent and powerful. He wants to be seen as THE BEST at whatever he chooses to do, the EXPERT, the “whisperer”.
- Has some (although not necessarily excessive) financial resources (or a good job)…enough to allow him to work, or not work, according to his desires…moment to moment.
- Is adoring and worshipping and who will NEVER point out his mistakes or abuses
- Will see him as PERECT and above question or reproach
- Who is MADLY, obsessively, crazy, in love with him and who will remain so FOREVER.
- Someone who will ALWAYS put him first…before herself, before her family, before her friends and even BEFORE HER CHILDREN.
- Who will take the back seat in the relationship and allow him to make all decisions. Allow him to be in total CONTROL of the relationship including sex and finances.
- Who will NEVER reject sex or refuse to participate in sex for ANY REASON, at ANY TIME.
- Who will NEVER utilize logic to take things from him (again, think dogs)…who will place, as first priority, what is important to him even if it is financially infeasible.
- Who will allow him full use and access to all financial resources and who will NEVER attempt to reign in or track his spending in any way.
- Who will never insist on him breaking away from his mother. Who will allow his mother to abuse her at will and NEVER RESPOND NEGATIVELY in any way. Who does not see their relationship in its, truly, dysfunctional reality.
- Who will immediately and unquestionably TRUST HIM even if he breaks trust, lies or cheats over and over again.
- Is respected and looked up to in his current social circle. Who will make him look good and lend an air of respectability to him inside his chosen circle. (i.e. his CURRENT chosen circle which may change frequently)
- Who will see him as her SUPERIOR in some, if not all, ways.