1. Did he begin to find fault with you a little at a time? Suddenly the things he liked so much about you in the beginning all became problems. If he originally liked your assertiveness now you are too opinionated or stubborn. Or he 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. Does he begin to become moody and unpredictable? Where before he was all sunshine and happiness, now he begins to have dark moods that seem to come out of nowhere and he blames you for his anger or unhappiness. Does he start major fights over things that to you seem minor and easily resolved? Does everything have to be his way, and if you disagree with him or have a different opinion is he 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 he gets angry with you does he lash out with angry emotional tirades about what you did to provoke him and how it’s your fault? blame shifting, projection, narcissistic injury Do you now begin to BELIEVE that his 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 his emotional outbursts? blame shifting, narcissistic injury
  4. Or he may punish you for his anger by withholding his love and affection and approval. Does he go for hours, days, or even weeks ignoring you or avoiding you? Does he hang up the phone, refuse to answer calls, texts or emails or simply go MIA where you don’t know where he is or how to contact him? Does his refusal to engage with you cause you to feel extreme anxiety, stress, fear and emotional instability? Do you find yourself obsessing about him or chasing him and begging him to speak to you? silent treatment, co-dependent addiction
  5. Do you begin to feel as if your very life depends on his approval and that your behavior is going to determine what mood he is in that day? Do you find yourself withdrawing from friends and family because you are worried or afraid that his behavior will clue them in to how he is treating you? Do you make excuses to yourself about how he is treating you? Do you lie to friends and family and pretend everything is fine? Do you tell yourself you are overreacting and that he really does love you and that it is your fault he is angry? When he forgives you and treats 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. Does he tell you or convince you that your friends or family who you turn to as a support system are a bad influence on you? Does he make you feel like he is being victimized by them or maybe that they are attacking him unfairly? Does he literally or figuratively put you in a position where you begin to feel you must choose between him and your friends or family? social isolation
  7. Do you start to change things about yourself to please him? Cut your hair or grow it longer? Change the way dress, change the way you think, all in an effort to please him?  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 his 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 him? 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 he wants you to do these things for him or with him? 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 he 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 man 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 ok 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 him or talk about your feelings he either refuses to talk, convinces you it’s all your fault, brings up a time that you did something to hurt him to change the focus,  and/or engages in a circular conversation where he takes 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 him? Do you fear the next emotional outburst, or silent treatment or even physical violence? Do you being to suspect he may be lying to you, cheating on you, or hiding things from you? Do you feel a need to check his phone or email? Does he go to great lengths to protect his phone or email and make you feel crazy for suspecting him? 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 him 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.