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