Narcissists and borderlines use the carrot and the stick interchangeably.
You're not the best and you're not the worst!
If you’re the current or former partner of a narcissist, borderline, histrionic or Cluster B variety pack, I’ve got some good news - bad news for you. The good news is you’re not the worst person ever. And the bad news is you’re not the best person ever. Being in a relationship with a personality disordered person can cause self-esteem whiplash due to the alternating intense idealization and devaluation.
Nevertheless, it’s all emotionally manipulative bullshit.
There’s really no difference between the love bombing pedestal (idealization) and the it’s all your fault POS status (devaluation). While one feels better than the other, both are equally meaningless. They’re just different versions of the same manipulation. The carrot and the stick are one and the same for codependent people-pleasers.
Meaning, both conditions can’t simultaneously be true. You can’t be the most amazing, special-est man/woman ever and the most horrible person ever. Especially when a borderline, narcissist or histrionic partner vacillates between the two extremes multiple times within the same week, day or hour.
But which one is true? Again, neither.
So many clients are easily manipulated by the mercurial opinion of their BPD, NPD or HPD partner. It’s the reason they walk on eggshells. Cluster B personality disordered people don’t have a cohesive, stable sense of themselves (i.e., construct). Hence their rage and perceived victimhood at the smallest and/or imaginary slight or criticism. As such, their construct of other people – including you -- is similarly unstable.
“You bought me a new car!!! Yay!!! I love you!!! Thank you, daddy!!!! Best daddy ever!!!!!”
“You won’t let me have a third cookie!!!! Mean mommy!!! I hate you!!!!!”
Therefore, any approval from a BPD, HPD or NPD person is meaningless if it can change on a dime. This becomes a manipulation tactic once they figure out the power they can wield by alternating withholding love or blowing smoke up your butt (i.e., variable ratio reinforcement schedule).
It’s all the same to them.
In my experience, these individuals enjoy being cruel more and resent having to love bomb or Hoover. The overt cruelty is more enjoyable because of the contempt they feel for you for tolerating their abuse. I also suspect it makes them feel more powerful when their victim grovels for love. Contemptuous and powerful.
Furthermore, healthy adults don't change their opinion of you just because they occasionally feel irritated, hurt or disappointed by you. In fact, healthy adults can still love and respect their partner even when they’re super angry with them. And can do so without engaging in wanton cruelty or childish nonsense. Imagine that!
If you're still trying to make it work with a disordered partner because you don't think you can live without their approval, please understand that for which you’re tolerating abuse IS NOT REAL. It’s your codependency and need for external validation from someone who'll never be capable of giving it to you that's real. They'll continue to exploit your vulnerabilities and abuse you for as long as you're willing to suffer it and them.
Counseling, Consulting and Coaching with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
I help individuals with relationship and codependency issues via telephone, FaceTime, GoogleMeet or Skype. Since 2009, I’ve specialized in helping men and women break free of abusive relationships, cope with the stress of ongoing abuse and heal from trauma. I combine practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. If you’d like to schedule an initial consult, please email me directly at shrink4men@protonmail.
Thank you for the very helpful comments especially when I needed them. My other is all of the above. As am I codependent. Filed for divorce.