10 minute read
Whaaaat?? I hear you exclaim. There couldn’t possibly be any reasons why narcissists love boundaries because they seemingly have no awareness of the concept, and violate yours as a matter of course. On the surface this is indeed how things appear. But what lies below that well-crafted narcissistic façade?
Well, a bunch of reasons why narcissists love boundaries.
This piece exposes the truth on the matter to help you fortify your resolve in establishing your boundaries and sticking to them, as a stepping stone to setting yourself free.
Gorgeous one, if you are reading this as a victim of narcissistic abuse and are at the outset of your recovery journey, most likely you no longer know what boundaries are. If you happen to also have been cursed with narcissistic abuse since childhood, you probably have never known what they are (for more on this read “What the hell are boundaries?” Overcoming legacy of abuse and narcissism and How to reclaim your boundaries after narcissistic abuse by using your values).
So, let’s check out this ‘boundaries’ deal.
They are your personal rules around what is and isn’t OK for you, what you need and don’t need, and what you want and don’t want.
Boundaries are your inner guide determining your limitations on how others behave towards you. Your inbuilt alarm system designed to protect you and let you know when ‘no go zones’ are being violated.
Whilst boundaries are mostly talked about being how you allow others to interact with you, good boundaries also apply in how you treat yourself.
They are what you say yes, and what you say no to in this life.
And this gorgeous one, is how the course of one’s life is shaped.
Whether defining boundaries regarding what you will permit from others, or from yourself, in all cases they are about refusing to allow in your life the things that take away from you experiencing it with freedom and joy.
Pretty important right?
Why most will say narcissists have no sense of boundaries
Let’s go back to why it is somewhat controversial to be stating that narcissists love boundaries.
Having suffered narcissistic abuse, you are familiar with their behaviour. You know that they are entitled, self-consumed, controlling, manipulative, needy, and firmly believe in their absolute superiority over all others.
You know it, because you have experienced it in all aspects of your life, and to the very depths of your being.
The effect of the abuse you have suffered, by virtue of these pathologically narcissistic behaviours and their accompanying belief system, has raped you of all your boundaries.
Your needs and limitations are at best belittled. More often than not, completely desecrated.
‘I don’t matter’, ‘I’m invisible’, ‘Do I even exist?’
These thoughts gorgeous one, are consequences of narcissistic abuse robbing you of your boundaries (which may I point out is a basic, inalienable, human right. NO ONE should steal these from you, see Personal Bill of Rights for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery to get clear on this).
On a systematic, frequent and ruthless basis, your boundaries have been annihilated.
Allegedly because the pathological narcissist is ignorant of the concept.
Observing them in action, and the seamless way they navigate life without boundaries, it’s easy to mistake them as just not getting it. Much like empathy.
Still…I argue that there are possibly no greater savants out there on boundaries than pathological narcissists (this also applies to those with Antisocial Personality Disorder).
Exposing the fallacy that ‘boundaries’ are an unknown quantity to the narcissist
Uncanny knowledge of your boundaries
Remember back to when you were love bombed and idealised? The narcissist could not have been more loving, right?
The level of thoughtfulness attending to your every need was beyond anything you’d ever experienced before. It was so dizzyingly perfect, you believed you had met your soulmate. How else could one explain encountering another being who so completely understood all you wanted and didn’t want?
Well, the narcissist’s capacity you see illustrated right here, is central to the claim that it is incorrect that narcissists know nothing of boundaries.
Au contraire, the ability to deliver on love bombing necessitates pandering to your every need, and hence instinctive and uncanny aptitude to know what your boundaries are. Without this knowledge, delivering your wildest dreams is simply not possible.
Equally, this same knowledge is applied in creating your darkest nightmare. Here we’re talking about the ugliness of devaluation and the antithesis of the treatment you received during idealisation flipping, and cruelty taking over.
And do you know what is at the root of the effectiveness of their malice? That same uncanny ability the narc possesses, yet in this instance they use it to breach your boundaries by targeting and activating your innermost vulnerabilities.
This facility in deliberately taking aim at your boundaries for either seemingly positive or negative outcomes is essential to the pathological narcissist’s manipulations.
Think of the hoover. When the narc recognises that perhaps they pushed your boundaries too far in one go and are at risk of losing you as supply, they seek to suck you back in. They do this by re-employing the same love bombing strategy. They give you/tell you what you want and need until, you are hooked once more, and the flip back into devaluation takes place.
This whole ‘narcissists love boundaries’ concept is starting to resonate a little now isn’t it?
Awareness that by acceptable standards of behaviour boundaries should be respected
So, we’ve established that they know with exactitude what your boundaries are which is evidenced in how they exploit this knowledge in the different phases of narcissistic abuse to manipulate and control you.
I suspect though that there may be some of you, dear gorgeous ones, who may think: ‘Sure, but these are just symptoms of their disorder, they can’t help it, they don’t mean it’.
In other words, you are unconvinced about their intentionality in abusing your boundaries. Which assumes they have no awareness that it is wrong to do so.
Let me ask you. Reflect on when you are in the thick of the abuse and devaluation. When does it happen? It’s more overt and extreme when there is no one to witness their behaviour, right? It is far worse in private when no one can observe their abuse, isn’t it?
And when others are present to behold who and what they really are, the converse is more often than not, rolled out. The charm, the pandering to your needs, the donning of the mask.
Is this power to tailor their behaviour depending on the audience, not substantiation of:
- knowing what your boundaries are,
- awareness of acceptable standards of behaviour for emotionally healthy people which involves respecting boundaries, and
- intentionality in violating your boundaries at will?
They know with almost supernatural precision what they are doing with your boundaries.
At all times.
Boundary savants I tell you.
They also know, that abusing your boundaries is wrong. The reason they have no shame in doing it is because they believe they are entitled to do so.
Think on that a while gorgeous one. Do they deserve the excuses you make for them? More importantly, do you deserve the excuses you make for them? We will come back to this point shortly…
Why narcissists love boundaries
Now to the crux of it. Why narcissists love boundaries…
Your boundaries are the narcissist’s blueprint to controlling you
Using your boundaries through love bombing and hoovering, are how the pathological narcissist entraps you.
Your initial addiction to them is created by delivering on all your needs, wants and desires, and mindfully avoiding the opposite.
This is how they open the door and get you to step into their world of make-believe.
And when you do, when you agree that they really are as mind-blowing as they would have you believe…what happens gorgeous one? Yep, that’s right, your boundaries soften. They become flexible and up for negotiation.
Their grooming process is ALL about getting you to this point where you lower your boundaries.
What swiftly follows achieving this is the commencement of devaluation, i.e., eradicating your boundaries.
Not in one fell swoop, but incrementally.
It starts with testing your boundaries, and amps up with pushing them further and further. They do it gradually for two reasons:
1) to test your limits to see what they can get away with bit by bit knowing if they go in too fast, they are likely to lose you as supply (given they know that by acceptable standards of behaviour for emotionally healthy people, boundaries should be respected); and
2) so that you are less conscious of the abuse occurring, making it easier to gaslight you into believing you’re imagining things and keeping you right where they want you.
With every boundary they knock down, and you stay, you are slowly erased.
This process of invalidation of all that matters to you is how they establish their control and power over you (see Invalidation and narcissism: Why they slowly erase you for more on this).
Narcissists love boundaries because it is their blueprint, their road map, to tearing people asunder.
With every boundary they sniff out, and successfully nullify, this then leads to becoming boundary-less.
2. Being boundary-less is the ultimate supply
And what does it mean to be boundary-less?
It means you’ve reached that place when those self-invalidating thoughts rise-up inside you. The ‘I don’t matters’, the ‘I’m invisibles’, the ‘I don’t exists’.
This is when the pathological narcissist’s grooming, and the incremental boundary breaching hits the jackpot.
It is when you have given your power to them holus-bolus*. It is when you have become boundary-less for them. It is when they know, they can get away with anything, and you will remain in the cage they’ve trapped you in.
It is their ultimate supply.
Their beliefs around their superiority, omnipotence, entitlement, control…all of it…is confirmed for them.
And this, right here, is the biggest reason why narcissists love boundaries.
Their choice of drug, ‘supply’, once they have you boundary-less, is available to them on tap, 24/7.
Conquering re-establishing your boundaries
The preceding words are really a preamble to addressing the inevitability of struggling to re-establish boundaries with the narc in your life.
There is not one of you gorgeous ones out there who has suffered narcissistic abuse, who has not fought this battle. Hence the vital importance of wrapping your head around why narcissists love boundaries and why you must defend yours with fury.
Hear me when I say I get how hard it is to implement your boundaries with the narcissist. After all you’ve been through, and how thoroughly the narc has eradicated them, hard as a descriptive term is laughable. Even obscene.
I get it.
But ‘hard’ is what you must do now.
Conquering this step is FUNDAMENTAL to your healing journey. To reach this place internally demands that you stop making those excuses for the narcissist and understand the role that boundaries play in their abuse (to help you leave behind making excuses for the narc read When hope is killing you: Narcissistic abuse).
For as long as you continue denying to yourself that they don’t know what they are doing, your boundaries remain flexible and negotiable when it comes to the narc.
This is their way back in. Every time.
This is how it rolls: they violate a boundary then manipulate you into thinking they didn’t really mean it, or you really should give them a second chance, or you deserved it, or you imagined it, or your too sensitive…or whatever their particular angle is at the time.
And you then think to yourself, well, maybe they have a point…and BAM. The cycle of abuse continues.
You need to know, that they KNOW what boundaries are and that they actively, mindfully defile yours in the full knowledge that doing so is morally and ethically wrong.
Gorgeous one, I cannot emphasise enough how much you must truly get this so that you begin firmly protecting your boundaries like your life depends on it. Because frankly, it does.
There must be no exceptions to your boundaries with the pathological narcissist. None.
Not even one itty, bitty, teeny one.
In every sense possible, your boundaries are what separate you from the life you want to relinquish, and the life that is waiting for you.
No Exceptions. Not one with the narcissist.
For more tools & knowledge building pieces on the issues in this article read:
- Proof the narcissist abuses you intentionally and will never change
- Emotionally unhook yourself & starve the narcissist of supply: Here’s how
- How to starve the narcissist of supply
- Stop feeling sorry for the narcissist now
- Narcissistic Invalidation: How to stop them erasing you
- How No Contact supports narcissistic abuse recovery
As always, please share your thoughts, experiences, and insights on the issues in this article in the comments below. The more we share, the more we teach & help one another in reclaiming our freedom.
*A note – Dear gorgeous one, please know that when I say you have handed over your power holus-bolus, understand that this is as a consequence of the abuse and their efforts. It is not a conscious act on your behalf…until you know what is going on. At that point there is something akin to conscious choice happening, albeit complicated by seemingly intractable challenges. But you can take your power back. You truly can. Start doing it now with your boundaries. x
Dear Nathalie, thank you…yet also so sorry it rings true for you. Hoping you’re loving your solid boundaries and freedom now. Light & love to you Nathalie. Maggie x
Abso-effing-lutely do they know boundaries, and obliterate them at will, like Neo in The Matrix, stopping bullets with his mind. Whatever the boundary, they are vaporized instantly. Unfortunately, I am still stuck with Mr. Wonderful, as he has plowed thru all my finances for the last near 25 years, and plowed thru me to the point I am officially disabled. I struggle every day to gain a bit more of my freedom, but it’s kind of hard to live in this world without enough money to support one’s self. Save my 2 elderly, failing parents, 2 somewhat long distance friends, and a very long distance stepsister, I literally have no one left in my life. My narc has even recruited all the neighbors to be his flying monkeys. The biggest and worst boundary that he has, and continues to violate, are the ones with our (my) animals. I’m sure you’ve heard this one, where we together express our love of stray and helpless animals (cats); some that even get dumped onto our property because there is very little value of life in the area that I live. Now these beloved pets are his most successful and efficient weapon against me. To punish me for some perceived sleight I have committed, he merely does nothing. All assistance with the massive and arduous job of caring for them everyday is simply left for me to do, hurting me physically and basically taking up every single minute of the day, leaving me no time for myself. If I make the major mistake of showering, caring for my injuries, and going grocery shopping, all in the same day, something of course has to give. A sink of dishes doesn’t get washed quickly enough, the litter boxes and feed ups and cleanups etc, become neglected. Not to even mention the maintenance of the animals themselves. The ones inside must have claws trimmed and fleas treated, etc. So when the punishment is dealt out, we all suffer. And yes, I have tried countless times and ways to get outside assistance, for the cats and myself, to no avail. And yes, I know I cannot save them all, but the idea of running to a women’s shelter with just the clothes ion my back, and leaving the animals to their fates with him is something I do not feel I could live with in my own heart. I really just wish there was some actual chemical, or kryptonite that would neutralize these a-holes, as they literally, physically, viscerally destroy human beings. Thanks for “listening”, I’m an atheist, but keep me in your “prayers” anyway, lol.
Dear anonymous. I hear you say you have tried to seek help to no avail. I’m not sure where you’ve reached out to, so please forgive if I am rehashing unhelpful information. I feel compelled to share this with you as it sounds like you are being harmed on all levels & therefore at risk. I don’t know where you are located. These sites provide contact information for domestic violence support: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_domestic_violence_hotlines & http://www.vachss.com/help_text/domestic_violence_intl.html#org. I am assuming that for the animals you may have reached out to animal shelters. It may be worth asking for support/referrals from the domestic violence support service you contact, as you are right, threats to animal safety are often an issue in domestic violence. I urge you to reach out Anonymous. Do not give up. Some of your words sound a little like you have…but then other words tell me you are a person of spirit. How do I know this? You have humour in a very dark situation. This is no common gift. It is also obvious you have a huge heart. A person of great spirit is a fighter. So keep fighting. For you. You’ve got this. Light, love & even prayers to you dear Anonymous. Maggie x
Dear Maggie, I wanted to reply & assure you that as bad as it sounds, I am not in any direct physical danger from my Narc. As you know, most Narcs are far too self-preserving to strike a victim. Also, thank you so much for the reply, words of encouragement, & list of resources. I have learned through my journey that even if I’ve heard something before, or looked at a resource & discarded the idea, that many times a second look or further inquiry can lead to so much more help, that may have otherwise been lost. If it sounds like I have tried all the avenues you offered, it’s because I have. I find myself in my own unique situation (of course, everyone’s is). It’s even been suggested to me that I could be a good fit to help others, either by guiding classes or group sessions, or working with clinicians on some level, in the outreach umbrella. I attribute that in great part to my abuser, as I have been taught by a master manipulator how to recognize them, their behavior, and how to survive it all. I live in the deep South, and help here is so scattershot that it’s a wonder many survive at all. I’ve even been re-victimized, to a degreee, by the rolling list of my helpers, in their treatment, attitude, language, etc etc. This list includes physicians, clinicians, attorneys, legal aid-or I should say the lack thereof, the State and Federal Govt agencies involved, and more. I even sent an email to one of my State Reps, as I read in a newspaper article he was arguing that there was plenty of funding & help available for the abused in our area. Around that same time, there was a rash of crimes near me, a couple of domestic related murders, female victims of violence, who had previously been “in the system”, had restraining orders, etc. One killing (a gunshot to the face, no less) happened directly across the street from the jail, courthouse, and po-lice station of my little hamlet. Another was a guy across and a few houses down from me, was a male suicide. The guy was a menace, a known drug addict, had numerous sheriff calls on him for violent behaviors, several of which were my calls. Nothing was done. Nothing was done. Nothing was done. This is what I want to get across to everyone who may encounter this message: whether someone hits you, or violates a boundary of yours, they are abusing you, & you need to seek help somewhere now. Yes, you will find bunches of closed doors, disconnected phones, uncooperative “advocates”, & unsavory choices. But the more times you tell your story, you get stronger. By the simple act of saying aloud, or writing on a form, “I Need Help”, the quivering, weepy, helpless person you think you are begins to fade & change into someone who can step outside the painting that the manipulator in your life has created. You can see that they are cowardly, they are users, they are the ones that are afraid of being judged. You are the prime choice fuel that has kept them going, you have provided them the shelter from the world they need to continue painting. As for me, I have concluded that there is no Calvary coming over the hill, to gently wrap up all my belongings and beloved companion animals, and relocate all of us to a fabulous place of our own. For my release from bondage, for my story to go the way I want it to, I have to rescue myself, one molecule at a time. Thank you for being one of my outlets to vent & share.
So well written, as always! I’d like to add that my two narcissistic parents are also extremely protective of *their own* boundaries, no matter how ridiculous they may be. For example, “How DARE that worthless waitress forget to bring my coffee before serving those other people?! I’ll get her fired!” I was raised to believe that my parents’ boundaries were set in stone by God himself, and anybody else attempting to set any kind of boundary was Satan incarnate, myself included.
Dear J, You are SO on the money. Nailed it. Entitlement, superiority, grandiosity. Reprehensible. I pray you are now well protected with boundaries keeping you safe J. Light & love to you gorgeous one. I’m so sorry for the childhood you must have endured. Maggie x
J, exactly the experience with my parents! And the men I allowed into my life who were also narcissists, until I finally had done enough self-work to get better and heal. I think of one person–he felt absolutely entitled to boundaries, including the ones used to limit contact for control purposes (not ready to talk by phone yet; only text; etc.). Same tactics used on me as a kid (any protest against the gaslighting and emotional abuse was “talking back,” inviting more shutting out and punishment until I groveled and showed absolute fealty and felt worthless). The work continues, and forgiveness comes slowly (I remain angry and sometimes bitter, but I know that’s not the path to happiness for myself). At the same time, there is such progress, and now such hope in my present and future! My confidence has grown so much–No Contact works (had to apply it to the parents, the root source, but it’s made all of the difference).
Dear S – thank you for sharing your experience. How uplifting! How inspiring you are. It takes such strength & courage to choose No Contact, particularly with parents. And to hear how this has positively impacted you despite the very real pain & challenges from doing so is wonderful. I’m sorry you were placed in the position where you needed to make this decision. But kudos gorgeous one for making it, and reclaiming the life that should have been yours from the start. Big light & love to you S. Maggie x
I am happy to say I am a survivor! He caused me to lose my business of 20 years, my home of 22 years and his parent’s home (our rental) of 10 years when he was arrested. He also had us in bankruptcy and had spent all the money in the retirement account. He also tried to pin part of the crime on me. I couldn’t believe he was guilty at first so I cooperated with all the authorities, even after they read me my rights (I was so afraid I was going to be locked up too!!!). After 3 or so hours I realized he was guilty and really kick my cooperation in overdrive. After he was locked up I continued to help law enforcement to get as much evidence and charges gathered up. I managed to get a full power of attorney and cut off all ties with his family, moved out of state and have a whole new life. I have made new friends and now have people in my life who care about me. Sometimes old memories surface, I hear a song or see a book, but I am going forward. You can gain your strength back with time. You are worthy of love, love yourself and relearn to trust, slowly.
Dear Sabrina, thank you for sharing your wonderfully uplifting & inspiring words of encouragement! Kudos to you gorgeous one, for doing what you needed to do to save yourself. The toll you have borne has been high (unfairly & ridiculously so), yet the reward of truly living free I bet is truly priceless. You keep rocking it dear heart. Light & love to you Sabrina. Maggie x
Thank you for this.