Mirroring in and by itself is normal, even if it’s not intentional.
We might take on the habits, speech patterns, or interests of our new friends or the styles of our favorite actors and musicians.
Narcissistic mirroring is rooted in manipulation, building a facade of similarities with the narcissist’s victim. The narcissist needs to build trust and a connection with their victims and does so by being everything that person wants.
They innocuously get information and read your gestures and emotions to duplicate or “mirror” everything about you.
This creates a “soulmate” sense as rich as a Greek myth but as devastating as a Greek tragedy.
- Open arms and ears: Mirroring starts with the narcissist hanging on your every word and offering sympathy, support, and compassion – all emotions they can’t genuinely experience but can fake very well.
- Similar interests: Even if your favorite hobby is beetle fighting, he’s going to feign disbelief because he loves beetle fighting too!
- Fated moments: Don’t be surprised when a mirroring narcissist shows up to your Sunday morning paddleboard yoga or demands to see the organic beets at the farmer’s market in your small neighborhoods. He’s plotting all the time using the information you shared.
The thing about the word “mirroring” is that it seems harmless, but it’s really using the same tactics as an undercover agent would use to build rapport with an asset.
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Why Do Narcissists Mirror You
As with most things dealing with narcissists, this isn’t about you. It’s about them taking a two-pronged approach—building a bond you are craving and getting the “narcissistic supply” of your starry eyes and compliments.
We must remember that a narcissist cannot experience true emotions or have a real sense of self. They mirror people as easily as kids put on Halloween costumes. They want you to fall in love with the same false (and superior) image they see when they look in the mirror.
- You feel understood. Too many times, people go through life feeling like nobody “gets” them. We become afraid to speak our minds or show our true selves as we fear being isolated or ostracized. A narcissist preys on this by being obsessively interested in your thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
- They feel the same way. It’s uncanny how a mirroring narcissist can share ALL the same beliefs, values, and interests as you. It gives validation and strengthens a connection that will eventually be used against you.
- You don’t want to mess this up. Because of the intense connection and shared interests, losing the narcissist might feel like losing the other half of your soul or heart. This bond is what the narcissist banks on to keep you under control and serving them.
Examples of Narcissistic Mirroring
While some mirroring habits are obvious, others can be like trying to find a needle in a stack of needles.
Mirroring from the Start
Mirroring starts from the first second they meet you. If you’re shy about being approached, they’re going to act shy to approach you. When you clap each time you laugh, they will do it too. Even with things they can’t control, like what each of you is wearing, they’ll make a point to say, “I have a whole closet full of oversized hoodies just like that one!”
Mirroring Your Trauma
A narcissist needs you to share deep, personal information, so they can store it in your dossier. Much like addiction support groups work best for those who understand the struggle, mirroring your trauma will make you more likely to talk about it. Whether it’s an eating disorder, childhood abuse, or a tense relationship with your parents, they’ll mimic that.
Mirroring Your Beliefs & Values
A narcissist can earnestly look you in the eye and say they’ve wanted a family of four their whole lives too, and wouldn’t you know it, the names you’ve picked out are their dream children’s names as well. They’ll be Jewish even though they don’t know Shabbat from a shallot. They can even go as far as to make up a failed marriage just to get you to admit your role in the demise of yours.
So what if it’s a lie? They can gaslight you later to say they never said that.
A covert narcissist is harder to spot inherently due to their introverted and self-deprecating nature. A covert narcissist will mirror you by taking advantage of a weakness. When you’re worried if your butt looks big in those pants, he’ll feign concerns about his attire. He might only shop gluten-free now—just like you do—even though you swear you spotted some Twinkies in the cupboard.