The narcissist’s ‘soul mate’ effect: How & why they do it

10 minute read

If you are suffering the nightmare of narcissistic abuse you know all about the power of the soul mate effect you’ve experienced with the narcissist. If it weren’t for this, setting yourself free wouldn’t be so very difficult. I mean, leaving your soul mate, is no easy feat, right? So, what’s behind this intense attachment? This piece explains how narcissistic mirroring creates the soul mate effect, for the purpose of grooming you as a source of supply.

By laying bare the trickery of narcissistic mirroring, you can recognise it for what it is: anything but love.

Release the notion that behind the mask of your abuser lies your true soul mate. Release yourself. Bogus ‘love’ is simply not good enough for you gorgeous one.

Defining the soul mate effect

The soul mate effect bamboozles you during love bombing. It is the fantasy woven by the narcissist to have you believe you are truly blessed in having found one another.

Through their intense focused attention, you experience unequalled intimacy & a soul deep understanding with this other human being.

You feel seen. Heard. Known. Cherished. And an unparalleled sense of belonging.

Narcissistic mirroring & the soul mate effect

Not only this. The narcissist uses their uncanny capacity to sniff out and target your needs & vulnerabilities. Even the unspoken ones.

They tell you what you want to hear and satiate previously unmet desires (to learn more about how they do this read Narcissists love boundaries: Exposing the fallacy).

You find yourself the mind blown, grateful receiver of all you’ve ever dreamt of which surely must mean you’ve found your soul mate.

It seems all so very precious and heady. An incomparable high you become addicted to, more powerful than any drug.

This, is the soul mate effect.

But gorgeous one, it is merely a temporary illusion. Once they have assessed your value as a source of supply, and hooked you in, you are introduced to the hell of devaluation.

Sure, the sweetness of the soul mate effect makes erratic & ever decreasing reappearances through devaluation but only for these reasons:

  1. As a tool to keep you trauma bonded & believing you cannot leave them.
  2. To have you continuously working to be ‘good enough’ to bring your soul mate back thereby replacing the abuser.
  3. For the supply you hand over by virtue of point 2.

 (For more on trauma bonding & the impact on you read Why is it so hard to leave an abusive relationship with a narcissist?, When hope is killing you: Narcissistic abuse Why narcissistic abuse and trauma bonding is so powerful for codependents).

And see gorgeous one…by eyeballing these points, you’ve got to know that in NO reality, can any person who treats you in this way, by any stretch of the imagination EVER be considered a soul mate.

Defining narcissistic mirroring

So how is narcissistic mirroring linked to the soul mate effect? First, let’s get familiar with terminology.

Mirroring & mimicry

Mirroring is something we all do instinctively & reflexively when we feel an affinity with another.

The psychological term refers to the recognition of aspects of ourselves in others, and through this identification we build greater understanding of ourselves. Mirroring is about seeing ourselves more clearly, as a result of the gift of seeing the truths, vulnerabilities & beauty in others.

It is also how we make connections with other human beings. Through the attunement felt with another, and particularly so in intimate relationships, a sense of blending of our own selves with the selves of others takes place (Pines, 2003; Schermer, 2010; Zachar, 2006).

Undoubtedly, even in healthy relationships, mirroring is an essential aspect of relating and bonding with another, and of falling in love.

And what of mimicry?

Well, this is the imitation of the behaviours, verbal and non-verbal cues of others. This too for most of us, is an unconscious response when connecting socially (Ashton-James & Levordashka, 2013).

Mirroring & mimicry are used by us all to a greater or lesser extent. They are intrinsic to the development of self-identity & social identity, and are largely positive behaviours.

Narcissistic mirroring

You may have noted the definition of mirroring as applied in psychology is slightly different to what is commonly found within the narcissistic abuse recovery community. ‘Narcissistic mirroring’ as coined here on Narc Wise, is the combo of mirroring & mimicry as deployed by the narc during love bombing and sporadically throughout devaluation.

Narcissistic mirroring

But rather than these being natural & positive processes arising from genuine connection & empathy for others, narcissistic mirroring is overall, a tool used to craft the soul mate effect to control you and secure supply.

The reasons why it is fair to treat narcissistic mirroring as distinct from mirroring & mimicry when evoked within emotionally healthy people is straight forward.

Simply put, because a) calculated intent is more often than not driving narcissistic mirroring, b) it is false, and c) it causes you harm (Hayase, 1988).

Not sure? Bit harsh maybe?

Let’s check it out and expand on these claims…

How narcissistic mirroring is used to groom you

There are several reasons why narcissistic mirroring is a hallmark of love bombing. These include the pathological emptiness & consequently underdeveloped identity, limited affective range, and envy of the Narcissistic Personality Disordered (NDP) individual.

A separate article is coming up on these meaty topics…today we are focusing on why & how they do it as it relates to having you believe you’ve found your soul mate.

The answer is: Grooming*.

Think of idealisation as a phase where your utility is assessed. And the exam you unknowingly sit for is your ongoing value as a source of supply post idealisation when devaluation takes over (Hayase, 1988).

It consists of exposing you to manipulations designed to incrementally & imperceptibly lower your boundaries.

By removing boundaries, this facilitates the introduction of more overt abuse during devaluation. For this process to work, the narc knows that simultaneously your trust must be secured via the soul mate effect to disarm you (Hayase, 2016).

So how do they get this Machiavellian mix happening you ask?

Narcissistic Mirroring. By using that chameleon like charm you know so well & morphing into the very epitome of all you’ve ever wanted as described under the soul mate effect.

The narcissist employs every reinforcement possible that you are in fact ‘soul mates’ to secure swifter intimacy and trust with you. This speed is necessary knowing that their capacity to sustain the veneer of being your soul mate is only ever fleeting.

As this unfolds, you drop your guard believing in the sanctity of your soul mate relationship and share all your deepest fears & vulnerabilities.

Disastrously though, under false pretence.

Because while you are basking in the counterfeit sense of safety that allows you to share these intimacies, the narcissist is busily eradicating impediments like your boundaries, support networks & other factors that sustain your independence.

Moreover, as you trustingly & bravely share the gift of your truest precious self, the narcissist is busily gathering all they need to know to build your roadmap to destruction throughout devaluation. By laying your soul bare, they are studying what they will need to know to push the right buttons to keep you under control.

When all this is achieved, you ‘pass’ the test.

Lucky you.

You get an ‘A’ grade as their new main source of supply & receptacle of abuse.

…and you never suspect a thing, why would you when you are ‘soul mates’ after all?

Spotting narcissistic mirroring in action

Let’s shift now to equip you to recognise narcissistic mirroring for what it is.

It’s time to let go of the fallacy…this person is NOT your soul mate!

This person when you met, will have made all sorts of assertions.

Miraculously, they will have cited the very same interests, hobbies, values, hopes & dreams. Preferences in food, music, movies, books etc. will have echoed your own.

Not only this, but unbelievably (owing to none of it being based in fact!) they ALSO will have experienced the same events as those in your history.

You would have been hit with declarations to bring on that swift intimacy & really solidify the idea you are ‘soul mates’:

  • ‘I’ve never met anyone like you before’
  • ‘I’ve never felt this way before’
  • ‘We are cut from the same wood’
  • ‘We are the same you & I’
  • ‘We are made for each other’
  • ‘We were meant to be together’
  • An obvious one…’You are my soul mate’

The narcissist's soul mate effect

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in love, and just maybe the possibly exists of ‘soul mates’ being an actual thing.

But if any of this resonates & you are still in the idealisation phase, proceed with caution.

Ask yourself – what defines this person? How would I describe their identity? In what ways do we differ?

If you can’t answer these questions, this is a red flag.

Speediness is also.

The behaviours we touched on in ‘Defining the soul mate effect’ are obviously also hugely relevant warning signs.

The generosity. The attentiveness. The adulation. All the behaviours designed to meet your every desire…these are BIGGIES.

Gorgeous one, be honest with yourself…as lovely as it all is, has ‘this is a bit over the top isn’t it’…or ‘is this person for real’, ever crossed your mind?

RED FLAGS.

And then there is mimicry.

If you could pop the magical sensations of ‘soul mates’ on hold for a tic, you’d notice…this is kinda creepy.

Your comments, facial expressions & body language, emotions, humour, vocal & verbal style…what makes you, you…is well, copied.

In subtle dosages of course.

So that you don’t quite pick up on it at a conscious level. Just enough to make you feel you are with your familiar & that you are safe.

To have you think ‘you are like me, so you won’t hurt me’.

Letting go of the soul mate effect

But they ARE hurting you, aren’t they gorgeous one?

You simply would not be trawling articles on narcissistic abuse if this weren’t the case.

You must relinquish the fantasy.

Think back on that time when you met your soul mate that you’ve anointed with the rosiest damned glow that ever there was. Does any of the above ring true?

More importantly than reflecting on what was undoubtedly a time when you felt you were experiencing the greatest love affair…since then have you been trapped in that nightmare cycle of idealisation, devalue & discard suffering the trauma of relentless abuse?

Let’s set aside the concepts of NPD, ASPD, narcissistic mirroring and grooming for a tic.

Let’s assume that your initial time together was genuinely out of this world & true. And yet now you are fighting to survive each day because of abuse.

No soul mate, no love of your life, not even someone who is unattached to you, yet a mildly decent & compassionate human being would EVER subject you to what you have endured.

If you can detach from the soul mate effect for a moment.

You know this. Deep down in your bones, you know this.

You must let go of any notion gorgeous one that your abuser is your soul mate.

Set yourself free gorgeous one.

*Note – This type of predatory behaviour is more often found in Narcissistic Personality Disorder at the malignant end of the spectrum, and Antisocial Personality Disorder.

For more tools & knowledge building pieces on the issues in this article read:

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.

With gratitude,

Maggie

bir4d

References

Ashton-James, C.E., & Levordashka, A. (2013). When the wolf wears sheep’s clothing: Individual differences in the desire to be liked influence nonconscious behavioural mimicry. Social Psychological and Personality Sciences, 4(6), 643-648.

Hayase, N. (2016). Lifting the Veil of Psychopathic Intrusion. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/22501731/Lifting_the_Veil_of_Psychopathic_Intrusion1

Schermer, V.L. (2010). Reflections on ‘Reflections on Mirroring’. Group Analysis, 43(3), 214-227.

Pines, M. (2003). Social brain and social group: How mirroring connects people. Group Analysis, 36(4), 507-513.

Zachar, P. (2006). Pathological narcissism and its relationship to empathy and transcendence. The Pluralist, 1(3), 89-105.

5 thoughts

  1. Thank-you for your articles and insight. I was wondering if you’d consider doing an article on how narcissists alienate and estrange their partners from family and friends. I notice most articles are on spouses battling narcissistic abuse but there are parents watching an adult child from the side lines going through it. We live it in a silent way because the adult child is in full immersion. As bystanders we are helpless and in pain, the family is being splintered by these insidious evil beings. We know what this person is, we know to set boundaries but those boundaries are used against us as a tool to further alienate the adult child. It is one messed up existence!!

    1. Dear Petunia, lovely to hear from you again. I hope my last response was of some help? My intention with the articles I author are to address the issue of narcissistic abuse in relationships, any type of relationship, although the impact of those in family systems and in intimate partnerships are a little more complex than others so my focus is (for now) centred on these. I thought I should clarify that this is the perspective I write from (unless otherwise specified in articles). I have written in parts about alienation & ostracism as a form of control and abuse in articles, but you are right nothing yet that focuses solely on these topics. I’ll give it some thought. I feel for you Petunia, I know how deeply painful this is & how equally frustrating it is to witness. Are you reaching out for help? It might be a good idea to download & seek tailored advice for your situation. If ever you have concerns for safety, don’t hesitate to call emergency services. Light & love to you Petunia. Maggie x

  2. Hi Maggie… your articles are… eye opening.. I did not know what I was in until I stumbled upon your website.. Well, I want to believe that life put your site on my path; have a lucky star or possibly an angel over looking me after all.
    Would you possibly be able to tell us more about APD? My ex partner clearly is a narc yet also has distinctive traits of APD; criminal behavior and extreme verbal & physical violence towards me & others.
    Best, Lucy

    1. Dear Lucy, I have no doubt you are indeed blessed & there is something far greater than we can ever comprehend looking out for you. I am so very sorry for what you have experienced, equally so very glad that they are now out of your life. Time for healing, freedom & joy to infuse your life gorgeous one! B.R.I.N.G. I.T.
      I do intend on writing more about APD, although possibly a little controversially in that there is in my view (and in the view of many) little that clearly demarcates APD as distinct from the malignant end of NPD. You’re right that in terms of diagnostic criteria patterns of criminal behaviour are listed for APD, whereas they are not for NPD, although it IS acknowledged within malignant narcissism. What I’m getting at is that what I write is applicable for APD. I do consider that all those APD are narcissistic, whereas not all with NPD are ‘sociopathic’ or ‘psychopathic’ (I use the quote marks as even these terms are loosely defined) – so having said that (again in my view) there are some differences, although I lean towards APD & NPD being part of the same continuum rather than being two separate disorders. Anyways, so grateful for your feedback & request. It is something I will tackle. I’d love to hear any ideas or thoughts you have on this or any topic dear Lucy. Now. Back to you. Take care of your precious self & be gentle on your journey. Never forget how blessed you are gorgeous one. Light & love to you. Maggie x

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