Right this very second there are thousands of people in ‘SL Relationships’ across our virtual world which all have different dynamics, boundaries and levels of intimacy. This post is not about the rights and wrongs of an SL relationship but to help the few people out there that probably already have concerns about the ‘state’ of their relationship and their own mental health within that relationship and to hopefully reassure them that it’s not just them. There is a line between someone, male or female, that is a little demanding, or a little needy, or a little anything…and someone who is a narcissist.
I’d also like to make very clear from the start that is not about D/s (Dominant/submissive) relationships. In my opinion, and in my experience, D/s relationships are about support, protection and communication and those are things that a narcissist is definitely not interested in although they will tell you they are. In D/s relationships power is given and limits are agreed. In a narcisstic relationship power is taken by manipulation and emotional blackmail. They are very different things in my view. Unfortunately many narcissists will gravitate toward D/s as a ‘cover’ for their behaviour in the hope that a submissive won’t see through their act.
I need to make clear also that everything I write here is based on experience and research I’ve carried out. I am no expert other than having fallen for all of the above and experiencing most of what follows in this post.
The Attention Changes
When you first met them the attention was non-stop but not overly creepy. They flattered you, praised you, told you that you were amazing and quickly told you that they couldn’t imagine their life without you in it. Gradually that praise turns to ‘suggestions’ on how you could do better, look better, act better and eventually becomes full on criticism. You walk on egg-shells as you constantly crave the ‘nice’ attention of the early days but live in fear that whatever you do, say, wear etc will be greeted with this new, sometimes painfully hurtful, criticism. You’ve changed, and you know it….you’ve gone from confident and outgoing to feeling low and lacking self-esteem.
Everybody Loves Raymond
You feel like you can’t express how the relationship is making you feel because everyone adores this person. They put on a great act and have cultivated friendships with people that they can control in a similar way. Any friendships of yours where they feel they aren’t in control, or your friends see through their act, they have encouraged you to distance yourself from. They have caused friction with you and your friends to isolate you. You feel trapped but you’re in love and if you work hard enough you’ll get the person back you originally fell in love with right? Wrong….the person you fell in love with never existed. Admitting the person you love is lying to you over and over again is the hardest thing to do now that you rely so much on them. You can’t believe, even with the evidence, that they lie to you because you also believe that they love you.
Reading by Gaslight
Gaslighting is a term a friend introduced me too on about the third or fourth major crack in my relationship. I had never heard of it before and I’ve since been told that my ex even admitted to a friend that he did do many of the things described in an article about gaslighting. Gaslighting is a form of abuse, named after a play/film where the abuser deliberately takes actions to confuse, intimidate and cause distress. Gaslighting is not accidental…it’s deliberate and calculated. If you find evidence of it and confront your narcissist they will argue, twist your words and attack you as a form of defense. They will say or do anything they have to in order to avoid admitting their wrongdoing even when you have the strongest evidence and facts on your side. They are so good at lying that you start to believe that it’s not even humanly possible for someone to lie this much and therefore some, or most, of it must be true?
Anyone for Doubles?
Standards that is. The expectations for how you communicate with other people, male or female, long time friends or not is extremely high. If you are in touch or communication with any of your ex’s and refuse to stop being friends they will discourage by punishment any discussion about them or with them. By punishment I mean either the starting of an argument, some personal dig about you or the silent treatment. You will know you have made them angry. Friendly banter or chats in local with friends may also be a trigger for some kind of slapdown. They on the other hand will be cultivating friendships with as many friends of the attracting sex as they want. They may even tell you that they think their friends have a ‘thing for them’ to encourage a dislike. They are probably also telling them that you are jealous of them and don’t like them. Their popularity and image appears to be much more important to them than your feelings…because to them it is. This is how they maintain their power and control over your emotions. They are also probably complaining about you and your “insecurities” to these other people at every given opportunity ensuring that others see you as weak and needy. They will openly flirt with others while you aren’t even allowed to talk to anyone else for fear of reprisal and when you suggest that to them you will be admonished, chastised and told you’re imagining it.
A narcissist will deliberately provoke emotions in you by using the above tactics and then when you demonstrate the feelings and reactions that they have provoked they become accusatory. “This never used to bother you” “I don’t know why you’re making such a fuss”, “you need to take a step back and think about what you’re saying”. Everything will be your fault, though it’s unlikely they will come out and just that out loud…it’s the way you feel because that’s the way they have made you feel. By now, they know exactly which of your insecurities to press the button on with a well placed word or phrase that will cause you to take on the responsibility for their behaviour as well as your own. You end up apologising to them.
Unfortunately SL is the perfect stalking ground for people with narcissistic tendencies as they are already provided with the mask to hide the true self behind in the form of an avatar and they are masters of disguise. Your real friends, the ones that have tried to warn you and have seen through the facade and spent time worrying about you and how deep you have been pulled into the narcissists web will still be there for you if and when you are ready to remove yourself from the situation. I’d like to tell you it’s easy but it’s not and I’d be lying if I did.
For me, I convinced myself this person was just doing all these things because they loved me so much even though in the back of my head I knew that was ridiculous. Even after we broke up twice and he was in someone else’s pixel bed within 24 hours each time, I still wanted to believe he loved me. Narcissists learn your greatest fears…like rejection…and use those against you skilfully.
These aren’t people that use a little manipulation to get their own way this is systematic, deliberate and extreme and I know it’s happened to others in SL. If you’ve read this and find that most of it describes your SL relationship then I can’t urge you enough to trust your gut instincts. You can come out of it a stronger person. The person that I was with, well, let’s just say there were red flags very early on that I dismissed because the good times were amazing and I wanted more of them. I won’t make that mistake again.
Body – Maitreya Lara
Eyes – IKON – Sovereign Eyes
Hair – Truth Hair – Neema
Top – Maitreya – Lisbon
Pants – Bueno – Skinny Jeans
Bag – Le Primitif – Mause Bag
Drink – Reign – Summer Lovin Tumbler
Location – Saint Pete City