Subtlety is open to interpretation. Narcissistic abusers violate your personal boundaries in all sorts of ways with no regard for your individuality, your wants, your needs, your opinions, or your goals.
This begins slowly in measured increments, with the narcissistic abuser looking at your reactions, responses, and how you hold your lines. He/she is testing the waters.
People need to understand that you can’t spot an abuser just by looking at him. They don’t wear a sign. They can be well-dressed, successful, educated, and appear “normal”. The only way to prevent yourself from entering a toxic, controlling, or abusive relationship is to know yourself and know your boundary lines.
Where are your personal lines; physically, financially, emotionally, verbally, psychologically, time wise? Not your friend’s, your family’s, or your neighbor’s. Is your compass aligned with your integrity, your character, and your deeply held beliefs? Do you feel “guilty” and try to fix and please others at a personal cost to yourself viewing these acts of self-care as “selfish”?
What are some initial signs of boundary violations at the beginning of a relationship with a toxic, manipulative partner that are more subtle?
- dropping by your house or apartment unannounced with a tag of “I would be so upset with you if I found another man/woman here”
- subtle jealousy that reeks of control disguised as flattery
- dismissive comments about your hair, clothes, weight, or choice of friends that degrade or compare “ You know honey you are so beautiful – it is just that your hair – oh -nothing -well- it would look so much sexier if it were …my ex had her hair like that and it just was such a turn on …” substitute as needed
- comments that encroach on your personal time and/or hobbies that you hold dear – “you just don’t have time for me “ “I mustn’t be a priority” etc.
- overspending; lots of credit card debt; asking to borrow money; lavishing you with gifts
- Blame shifting labeled as “joking”
- Lack of accountability, never taking responsibility or admitting fault in a variety of situations
- degrading comments about others that violate your beliefs and values; you find yourself diminishing your own voice
Their intentional actions speak volumes. Watch and listen closely to how they regard others. Is there divisiveness that leads to chaos, blame, distrust and jealousy extraordinaire? Watch all of it with clear vision and awareness without layering on excuses for outrageous behavior.
You need to intimately know who you are, what you believe, and what is directly aligned with your integrity. This requires consciousness and self-awareness.
If you are unclear on who you are at the core, you are a target and susceptible to the relentless manipulation of a toxic other.
You may begin to comply and submit and resist your own self-protection to stand for yourself. You will begin to find yourself being punished when you do not relent and yield to the demands of the narcissistic abuser.
Always, everyone else will be at fault with no personal accountability. You will slowly start to lose the essence of who you are