Just because abusers change partners they DO NOT, by default, change themselves, or their behavior.
My Ex is now dating someone whom he was sniffing around way back when we were still together. He is undoubtedly romancing / hoovering her. However, with any narcissist, that stage of the relationship (“NRE” in polyamory terms) is short-lived. Below is a detailed explanation from The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists about how narcissists such as my Ex “charm” their targets into emotional attachment in the beginning, only to execute a slasher routine to that attachment once the target is emotionally ‘hooked’ into the relationship. What happens is that he becomes – gradually or suddenly – very dissatisfied and very critical and verbally abusive with his new partner whom he so idealized previously:
The Admiration/Idealization Dynamic
Generally the NPD person will not be threatened enough in the beginning of a relationship to immediately craft warfare. Far more common is the approach of “absorbing you or your abilities”, and this would potentially occur through a combination of strategies. A more covert NPD person will shower you with his charm and charismatic display of humor, drama, or wit. With such a captivating performance, you may feel disoriented, off-balance, and unsure of what’s going on. You may also feel completely enamored with his personality and apparent confidence. In these situations you invariably feel a sense of intoxication that you are being courted in this way.
The power of the NPD person to bring you into unconscious agreement with his belief that he is someone truely extraordinary is possibly the most remarkable feature of the narcissist. Before you know what’s happening, you may be following his lead, enjoying the charisma, or perhaps intimidated by his persuasiveness, power, and authority. You may not realize that you are losing track of your agenda and, at the same time, deferring to his.
The narcissist’s belief that you, too, are special because he has selected you to associate with him is the other compelling force at work. In fact, who isn’t vulnerable to the warming glow of admiration, especially from someone with such apparent personal power? If we add that you also admire him for his accomplishments, or that he is able to facilitate your goals, the charm of the NPD person may indeed be irresistable!
In the circumstance of mutual admiration or an exciting shared goal, you can maintain an observing eye on the potential for the narcissistic dynamic. You will learn to maintain conscious awareness of the intoxication of mutual positive regard due to the fact that it becomes both an idealization and distraction dynamic causing you to forgo your desires and lose your ability for self-care. Perhaps nothing inspires us to forget our agenda more easily than the temptation of infatuation, which tends to induce a sense of feeling larger than life. Basking in the glow of mutual admiration with the narcissist, we may easily gain an inflated sense of ourselves.
Behind the scenes of this heady experience is the insidious conditional expectation of the narcissist. As he lavishes you with his attention, opportunities for special status, or financial enhancement, he also induces you in to a sense of obligation and disproportionate loyalty. His expectations for the return on his investment will eventually be clear. Setting limits on his unrealistic expectations will be greatly influenced by your ability to keep track of your boundaries in the relationship.
At the beginning of a romantic relationship, the NPD individual is often the pursuer with an ardent intent to capture you — the idealized perfect partner. Whether the pursuit is subtle or direct, the NPD individual will not rest until he secures his goals for the relationship. You may literally be swept off your feet by his adoration and intensity. This initial phase of the relationship, which is characterized by the NPD person’s idealization of you, will be followed by a subtle or not so subtle “turning of the tables” once the relationships is secured. The NPD person’s increasing dissatisfaction with you just as you are risking significant emotional investment can be painful and baffling. You may find yourself asking. “What happened to the love we shared?” Your concern and uneasiness around questions like these are important signals that alert you to the potential of a serious narcissistic dynamic in the person you love.
In my experience, this DEVALUATION phase began at about 4-6 months. Small digs, criticisms, and reminders of his superiority began and escalated over the course of four years until it became constant and included verbal beratement and constant put-downs, name-calling, being made the butt of scornful, derogatory and hurtful “jokes” and repeated public humiliation. These became DAILY occurrences such that I could not have ANY interaction with him without these things occurring at least once. Then he had the AUDACITY to complain that I was angry, depressed, and had low self-esteem. It either NEVER occurred to him that his treatment of me during those four years might have caused that – OR – he simply refused to acknowledge or take responsibility for what he’d done to me and to our relationship.
I have no reason to believe that he will treat his new love any differently once the devaluation phase kicks in as this man is very much a narcissist and that is their pattern – partner after partner.
Further, they take no blame or responsibility for the hurt they cause their partners with this dynamic. They never admit wrongdoing, take responsibility for their actions, or apologize. Most often, when confronted with something hurtful they did or said, they become VERY defensive and retaliate by escalating their scorn and abuse heaping even more atop still-fresh emotional wounds. Denial, blame, projection and minimization, along with scorn and retaliation is all you’ll get from them. Empathy and understanding will be non-existent. If you are emotionally bleeding, they will insist that is YOUR fault, nevermind they are standing right in front of you with the bloody verbal machetti they just slashed you with.
In no way do I harbor any negative feelings for his new partner. To the contrary, I feel badly for what I know he will subject her to once he goes into devaluation mode and that continues to escalate against her over time. He did it to me. He did it to all the others.
They do NOT change. Only their PARTNERS do.