The big emphasis in my book is on the behavior of Self-Absorbed People and the effect that has on you.
Consequently, in the book, I conceptualize the behavior, games, and strategies used by Self-Absorbed People to expropriate and absorb our lives, as a con. That is what they most resemble: a con man running a con on us.
This actually makes it all make sense. This is a con. We are the mark. They are running a con on us to get what they want, which is everything. If we know it’s a con we can do a better job of not getting conned.
Using the metaphors of cons and games (as in Game People Play) I think the following steps are useful in understanding the con. These are the broad strokes. In actual practice any one Self-Absorbed Person could move more quickly or more slowly, or use variations on these techniques. Along the way they can use a full palate of manipulations and even force to get their own way with you.
The Scanning Stage. One thing con men have in common with all Self-Absorbed People is that they are constantly scanning the environment for their next mark. They don’t choose partners, or marks, based upon their desirability, which is a healthy way of picking partners, but based upon their vulnerability. Once they have the potential partners in mind, they pick the most desireable of the vulnerable marks. But the first cut is always based upon vulnerability.
They find out two things: what you want more than anything in the world and what you fear more than anything in the world.
The seduction or grooming stage begins with them telling you what you want to hear, and explicitly or implicitly offering to rescue you from or protect you from what you fear the most. Another approach is to get you to feel sorry for them and convince you that you are the only person who can help them.
If that engages you the next step is to pursue the relationship as quickly as possible without you noticing what they are doing or their shortcomings or pathologies.
If you let them get that far then they pursue the relationship to the next level and the test is whether or not you overlook their transgression and Self-Absorption.
If you overlook their transgressions the next level is to get you to rationalize their transgressions.
If you pass that test the next level is to get you to take responsibility for their transgressions or Self-Absorption.
One you pass that final test, your life is not your own. They will use guilt, shame, anger, threats, seduction. obligation, and a thousand other techniquest to keep you under control while they expropriate one part of your life after another.
If you stay, it gets worse. If you try to leave, it gets even worse. If you do nothing, it gets worse.