1. Did they begin to find fault with you a little at a time? Suddenly the things they liked so much about you in the beginning all became problems. If they originally liked your assertiveness now you are too opinionated or stubborn. Or they really liked how responsible you are but now you are unreasonable or boring. Little by little the parts of you that make you YOU are under attack and you find yourself second guessing yourself, wondering if you ARE being unreasonable or if you are wrong, and you start to internalize the constant criticism and believe that it is YOU that needs to change. gaslighting, narcissistic projection, blame shifting
  2. Do they begin to become moody and unpredictable? Where before they was all sunshine and happiness, now they begin to have dark moods that seem to come out of nowhere and they blame you for their anger or unhappiness. Do they start major fights over things that to you seem minor and easily resolved? Does everything have to be their way, and if you disagree with them or have a different opinion are they incapable of having a rational discussion or respecting how you feel? Do you find yourself always walking on eggshells and giving in to keep the peace or because you want to avoid arguments? gaslighting, narcissistic injury
  3. When they get angry with you do they lash out with angry emotional tirades about what you did to provoke them and how it’s your fault? blame shifting, projection, narcissistic injury Do you now begin to BELIEVE that their anger and unhappiness IS your fault, and that if you either stop doing the thing or start doing the thing that somehow you will be able to control their emotional outbursts? blame shifting, narcissistic injury
  4. Or they may punish you for their anger by withholding their love and affection and approval. Do they go for hours, days, or even weeks ignoring you or avoiding you? Do they hang up the phone, refuse to answer calls, texts or emails or simply go MIA where you don’t know where they are or how to contact them? Does their refusal to engage with you cause you to feel extreme anxiety, stress, fear and emotional instability? Do you find yourself obsessing about them or chasing them and begging them to speak to you? silent treatment, co-dependent addiction
  5. Do you begin to feel as if your very life depends on their approval and that your behavior is going to determine what mood they are in that day? Do you find yourself withdrawing from friends and family because you are worried or afraid that their behavior will clue them in to how they are treating you? Do you make excuses to yourself about how they are treating you? Do you lie to friends and family and pretend everything is fine? Do you tell yourself you are overreacting and that they really do love you and that it is your fault they are angry? When they forgive you and treat you nicely again for a while do you convince yourself that everything will go back to the way it used to be? social isolation, trauma bonds, cycle of abuse
  6. Do they tell you or convince you that your friends or family who you turn to as a support system are a bad influence on you? Do they make you feel like they are being victimized by your friends or family or maybe that they are attacking them unfairly? Do they literally or figuratively put you in a position where you begin to feel you must choose between them and your friends or family? social isolation
  7. Do you start to change things about yourself to please them? Cut your hair or grow it longer? Change the way you dress, change the way you think, all in an effort to please them?  Do you give up on or give in on things that you want, desire or need to keep the peace? Do you begin to feel as if you need their validation to survive emotionally? Do you begin to feel as if you are losing yourself and that you can’t remember who you are anymore? Do other people (friends and family) tell you that you have changed since you got involved with them? co-dependent addiction
  8. Do you begin to behave in ways that feel foreign to you or even go against your own moral or ethical code because they want you to do these things for them or with them? Maybe use drugs, engage in sexual acts that make you uncomfortable, lie, cheat or steal, hurt or neglect your children, begin to lose ground in your job or career,  continue to debase and devalue yourself and you begin to feel more and more depressed, anxious and fearful but you do these things because you are terrified that they will punish you, act out in rage, or emotionally or physically abandon you? Do you begin to feel erased? trauma bonds, gaslighting, severe persistent emotional abuse, co-dependent addiction
  9. Are there times that you see a glimmer of the person you loved, or perhaps even days, weeks or months where things seem normal again, or happy, and you start to lull yourself into feeling that it might be okay and then the bottom falls out again? Do you start to recognize a cycle or a pattern in your relationship? Every time you try to confront them or talk about your feelings they either refuse to talk, convince you it’s all your fault, bring up a time that you did something to hurt them to change the focus,  and/or engage in a circular conversation where they take no responsibility and nothing is ever resolved. cycle of abuse, intermittent reinforcement, trauma bonds, blame shifting, denial, projection, narcissistic word salad, cognitive dissonance
  10. Are you always afraid deep down? Even when times are “good” do you have a persistent fear that you can’t trust it or trust them? Do you fear the next emotional outburst, or silent treatment or even physical violence? Do you begin to suspect they may be lying to you, cheating on you, or hiding things from you? Do you feel a need to check their phone or email? Do they go to great lengths to protect their phone or email and make you feel crazy for suspecting them? gaslighting, emotional abuse, co-dependent addiction


***It is at this point in the relationship that you are trauma bonded. There is a part of you that knows something is dangerously and critically wrong, that you are being treated unfairly. You may not recognize yet that what is happening is narcissistic abuse but your soul is screaming out and you are ignoring it because the trauma bonds are keeping you there. This is sometimes referred to as Stockholm Syndrome. You are still invested in them and saving the relationship but you also know that you have given up significant parts of yourself to stay. The toxicity is poisoning you but your addiction to the narcissist is stronger than your self preservation.