I’d like to start with saying it’s not your fault. But you can do something about it. Narcissists look for targets and find them often in the most empathic people. We are willing to give. That’s a good thing. The problem with Narcissists is they suck you dry and spit you out. Their emptiness is an eternal search for Narcissistic Supply.
Narcissistic supply is attention. Any sort of attention. The Narcissist starts the relationship with Love Bombing to hook you. Love bombing is showering you with sunshine and light. Intense adoration makes you feel like you’re the center of the universe. It’s disarming and brings down your natural defenses. We don’t expect abuse when someone is treating us this way. Once you’re convinced of the special bond between you, the sun shines elsewhere. It’s confusing and you miss it. You try to get back to how things were. If you don’t succeed, you might start to wander. The Narcissist sees this as a threat and is compelled to pull you back in. If their effects don’t succeed with the sweetness of “hoovering” (or they don’t feel like it), they’ll get any kind of attention they can manage to extract from you. Making you feel crazy by gaslighting, turning an argument back to your fault, and cutting you down then lifting you up are all tactics. The supply is your reaction. It’s validating to the Narcissist. It proves they matter. Reactions, especially strong ones, reinforce the Narcissist’s value, worth, and existence.
I’m simplifying this process on purpose to get across the point. Once you realize who you’re dealing with, the only way to manage it is to starve the Narcissist of attention. This is called the “Grey Rock” method. You cease utility to the Narcissist by cutting them off from your supply. If you must stay in contact with the person, keep your outward reactions as bland and curt as possible. Don’t give them anything to work with and they will move on. Though, as long as you’re still in contact, they’ll keep trying.
With a little help from our friends at How to Kill a Narcissist: Are you in an abusive relationship with a Narcissist?