The strangest thing narcissists sometimes do is mirroring. It’s strange to the victim or survivor because they usually feel as if the narcissist despises their qualities. The last logical thing they would think a narcissist would do is mimic, copy, adopt their particular interests, and/or mannerisms. The reality is they do so and whether it’s unconscious or deliberate is questionable in my personal opinion. I feel based on experience; it is a combination.
Most people have certain songs, artists, hobbies and interests they relate to. It is a source of inspiration, strength, and influence upon our lives. In cases where a narcissist deliberately takes on your characteristics falsely as their own; it is about reversing the roles before a naive audience usually and ruining the things that once brought you joy. Prepare to have your ideas, interests, mannerisms, writing style, word choices, taste in music, taste in specific subjects, and/or even your own creations copied in an obvious manner. It might start subletly, where they gaslight you into believing they had the idea, taste in xyz, etc. They might even go so far as to put down certain things you like then a couple weeks later be suddenly intrigued. As the victim catches on, they realize this is not making any sense. Instead of giving their partner validation for certain qualities, the narcissist adopts them, stripping the victim of a sense of identity. The victim might think they are the possible narcissist even for trying to create the necessary distance needed for health individualism in a relationship. The codependency created within a trauma bond period also makes this difficult. This creates even more confusion within the self; the perfect game for the narcissist to evolve the “good” qualities mimicked from previous partners they tried to destroy.
In instances where it’s not deliberate, I believe it’s almost unconscious for them to adopt what others see as admired. This is most likely to fill the void they have from not facing their unconscious selves and requiring constant validation from an outside source. Evolving from an adolescent stage would require confronting why the narcissist thinks they way they do and how this causes them to treat others as mere objects without any empathy. They most likely won’t face this until something catastrophic happens and even then so might chose to live in a kind of delusion. If they see others admiring certain qualities about you, they will desire that attention and attempt to gain it in the same manner. In a way it is shedding light on how they strategize through social situations rather than approach them with authenticity. Sadly, this is why we see many narcissists changing supplies like they are changing shoes in their lives or repeating cycles with different faces.
Based upon my own personal experiences, I believe the best way to counteract this is to not over share anything around suspected narcissists in general. Sometimes they are unavoidable in our lives, persistent, and lack boundaries but we must defend our boundaries initially. Especially to those who are keeping themselves too much of a mystery in a sense. In dating scenes, they tend to rush commitments with love bombing so this stage becomes more obvious once you’ve experienced it. Unfortunately there’s no way to prevent this from happening realistically. It could start as you genuinely just sharing things about yourself as a natural stage of getting to know someone, then completely blindsided by their mask slipping suddenly. Sometimes this happens due to their impatience with your healthy boundaries which is key. When you approach things with a bit of caution and have researched narcissists throughly enough to leave, it speeds up the cycle and leaves the victim with less damage. I have observed a crucial red flag, if a person only speaks of themselves or only listens/observes you; this could be something to pay attention to. If conversations seem a bit forced, one-sided, or invasive it could be a sign. Seeing even the smallest red flags in a predictable sequence could prevent the mirroring stage from even beginning. I hope this can help prevent others from going through the stages of narcissistic abuse. Thank you for reading.