The Dark Triad by Camilla Bravo, PhD, DCC, LPC-S
We've all come across one - that one person who seems to be more in love with themselves than anyone else. The one who has a complete lack of empathy - and yet has such a charismatic way about that you are easily pulled into their web - and by then, it's too lat. BAM! you get hit over the head with the reality that you have just been snared by someone who is the proud member of The Dark Triad. Yep - they are narcissistic and proud of it! Why would anyone even have the audacity not to like them? And trust me - once you are in that web, it is very difficult to escape. So rather than becoming ensnared to start with, just learn the warning signs and be prepared.
1. They love-bomb and flatter you - this is a technique in which a person is influenced by demonstrations of attention and affection. They usually are believers of whirlwind romances which includes three main phases: idealization, devaluation, discarding. These stages may not occur one after the other, as the abuser might decide to jump from one to another. They will worship you one moment and abandon you in the next, leaving you completely dazed. The vicious cycle continues till the victim or the abuser quits.
2. They love to play the victim card - they will portray themselves as individuals who are unable to do wrong and whatever happens in a bad way is someone else's fault. They will fill your mind with heart-breaking stories from the past, and you will believe them when they say that drama is something they hate. But soon enough, you will realize that drama is the center of their lives.
3. They will involve you in a non-existent love triangle. They simply cannot and do not handle rejection, and will pull you into a relationship by maintaining constant contact with an ex-spouse or lover.
4. They will twist reality and are pathological liars. Lying is the go-to behavior for those with are members of the Dark Triad. Taking ownership of their behavior will not occur, especially if it is abusive and manipulative. 'Gaslighting' and mind-games are their favorite - they will make every attempt for their partner to second-guess every step they take. Gaslighting starts with simple falsehoods (like convincing the wife that she left a small dent in the fender of the car when she really had not) and eventually leave the person so unsure of themselves they become totally reliant on the narcissist.
5. They will undermine your self-esteem while seeking constant validation. Basically they are parasites who will drain you of every ounce of your energy both mentally and physically.
The best way to deal with this personality type is to avoid them at all costs. However, since we all coexist on planet earth, it is impractical to live in an existence where we feel the need to avoid anyone who annoys us. Unless, of course, you live in the woods and avoid everyone anyway.
So, here are some tips borrowed from Psychology Today:
- Pay attention to your feelings. Members of the Dark Triad are supremely skilled at inducing self-doubt, shock, shame, anger, and feeling betrayed—as well as guilt for having these feelings about the offender. If your interactions with the someone in your life are characterized by the above, you may very well be dealing with someone who fits into one of the Dark Triad categories.
- Acknowledge and release any hope of changing, fixing, rehabbing or reforming this person. It won’t work, and will only convey another “weakness” to someone who is essentially exploitative, callous, and will delight in your continued suffering or humiliation. It is not in their nature to take ownership of this behavior.
- Examine whether you may be a “prime target.” These folks are uncannily able to discern when someone is likely to tolerate, ignore, deny, rationalize, or even take responsibility for their malicious behavior for whatever reason. If you tend to attract this personality type in your life either at work or in social relationships, ask yourself why you have tolerated this kind of treatment thus far. Write down the costs and benefits of remaining in relationships with people who treat you poorly. Seek support from those who have a track record of respecting your boundaries and treating you well.
- Decide what healthy limits will look like for you—or what kind of boundary you will need to establish in order to feel emotionally or otherwise safe with the ES, if this is someone you will continue to deal with in some way (e.g., if the person is a boss, sibling, parent or in-law). Setting healthy boundaries may include limiting the frequency and/or duration of encounters with this person, being selective about what you reveal to them or even cutting out all contact with them. Initially, they will resist your efforts to change your relationship, however you must be consistent and maintain the boundaries you have drawn.
- When in doubt, seek professional help. Even though this may be a difficult step, it is essential to get the help you need before things go too far.