Many people don’t realize there are progressive steps in a relationship with a religious narcissist (or with any narcissist for that matter.) See if you can find these patterns in the narcissistic relationships you have known.
1. The Second Coming of the Pharisees
So nice and so holy acting, the narcissist seems thrilled to meet (er use) you, but unlike healthy relationships of give and take between equals, the narc is mainly excited because they see your potential and have plans to use you, but you probably won’t realize it yet, so you will continue trying to be nicer to keep the narc happy. All of this will be displayed by great religious talk and prayers and expectations–don’t forget the expectations.
2. The Need for Feed
There are things the narc needs you to do in order for them to stay happy, this is called narcissistic feed. In the Christian setting, the pressure is on to do and give and be all the narcissist expects you to be. This feeding stage could last for years or until you run out of health and money trying to meet their needs.
A child raised by a narcissist usually sees their parent as queen or king and has no clue other adults have equal relationships, so many ACONs* will struggle for decades trying to please their parents, but a short term relationship could blow up immediately when a mature person recognizes the designs the narc has for them.
3. Spiritual Mind Games
Follows the demise of the feeding stage. You might continue trying to meet the narcissist’s needs until one day you don’t have the time or money to continue and then all hell will break out because you will be messing up their plans. If they are a so-called Christian, they will bring out the big guns of hell fire and judgment and tell you how much you are failing as a Christian–because of course the narcissistic mind believes he is closer to God than you. The narcissist’s unchrist-like goal is to use his power over other people–Completely. Misses. Point. of. Jesus. Washing. Feet.
4. Self-Righteous Indignation
If you ignore the narc’s rude behavior and fail to meet his needs, he won’t just get mad, he will get even. Of course this goes against everything Jesus taught, but the narcissist has rationalized around his selfish behavior for so long it’s second nature for him. He does this through lying about you to all your friends and looking for ways to ruin your relationships.
This is not a pretty battlefield but chances are you won’t realize it until you see the casualties when people stop talking to you that you’ve never had a problem with before. This hurts, but your true friends know you and will refuse to take sides with the narc. And Jesus always stands on the side of truth.
5. Martyrdom and Flying Monkeys
The narc tells every one how ungrateful you are for their kindness to you. He suffers greatly and it’s your fault because you failed to be a good Christian. No martyr can take the stage without witnesses, so enter the flying monkeys who will listen to the narc and carry his warnings of fear and shame back to you. If you are aware of this, no one–not even the flying monkey church members can hurt or confuse you.
6. The Shunning
When narc has run out of ways to ruin you, he is finish with you and you are dead to him. He has no concern for how he’s ruined your relationships or life. He feels you have committed the unpardonable sin and now he plays god washing his hands of you. If this is a religious narc and a church member, it might be painful to go to church where God represents unity and be totally shut out, but the child of a religious narc will suffer much more. She might find anything to do with God or church nauseating. We all want our parents to love us and it’s hard to realize you never actually had a parent–you had a narc. What many do not realize is that God is a good parent and not at all like a narcissistic parent.
7. The Release
You deserve is a real relationship with an equal adult who respects your choices and cares even when you disagree or don’t meet their needs. Once you refused to be used, you went through emotional hell while the narc attacked your character and destroyed your casual relationships, but now there is an eerie silence much like the silence after a bomb has destroyed an entire block. That block is not your life. You are just living next door. There are messes to clean up, but even in the rubble flowers will soon sprout up.
Any time someone dumps manure on you, it will turn to fertilizer and your life will bloom brighter than ever. You are a survivor and soon to be thriver. Release all the negativity the narc has dumped on you and bloom. Release yourself to listen to music, dine with friends, praise God from your heart, take an art class and celebrate life in new ways.
*ACoNs -Adult Children of Narcissists