Valentine’s Day is a sensitive and dreaded day for many people, regardless of relationship status. Single people may dislike it. People in relationships can feel a lot of pressure to “do it right.” And it can definitely bring on negative emotions for those who are going through any type of breakup. Yet Valentine’s Day with a narcissist can be an absolute nightmare.
Narcissists are notorious for ruining big days such as birthdays, anniversaries and other holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
But everything about Valentine’s Day is tailor-made for them to wield it as a weapon to inflict maximum pain.
Valentine’s Day can be triggering for those coming out of abusive relationships with narcissists because it is a day specifically dedicated to the very emotions the narcissist distorted to gain our trust and then violate us using those emotions. Because the day is dedicated to love and relationships, everything about it is can be used fraudulently in their illusion in a multitude of ways with little effort, depending on where we are with them in the narcissist cycle of abuse.
In the narcissist abuse cycle of idealize-devaluation-discard-and hoover, there’s always something cooking up on Valentine’s Day.
Narcissists and Valentine’s Day: Love as a Weapon
1. Devaluation and Discard
Starting huge arguments just before or on Valentine’s Day was not uncommon. I have mostly negative associations with the day in our relationship because of these arguments, as they were some of the worst. They occurred over alleged misunderstandings and things for which I was blamed and often had no control. I felt very confused about how they became so destructive. He was vicious during these arguments and all plans were completely ruined.
For our first Valentine’s Day together, he told me he threw gifts he had bought me including an “expensive bracelet” out the car window in anger while driving. This happened the night before Valentine’s Day when an incident started at a bar because another man talked to me.
I will never know whether the gifts ever existed or whether he wanted me to feel that if I had only “behaved” and not reacted to how unfair he had been, I would have gotten the spoils of his love.
2. Deflection and Guilt
Speaking of reactions, he liked to say I didn’t appreciate anything he did for me–as if being grateful for times he was good to me canceled out abuse and gave me no right to speak up.
Valentine’s Day gave him a specific day he could point to so it eliminated any vagueness on his part and gave him more ammunition. When he did love-bomb me and made Valentine’s Day special in any way, he threw it back in my face or brought it up in front of other people. He would mention it and then say I was selfish, never happy, or liked to cause problems, if I, for example, brought up a new lie he told me when he claimed to be earning back my trust.
If he was giving me a silent treatment or I didn’t want to spend the day with him, he made comments letting me know he had others to spend it with.
He would post comments on Facebook knowing I would see them to indicate a disengagement between the two of us and that he was “single now” and ready to include someone else in the plans he had supposedly had ready for me. He would hide or even delete our pictures.
4. Hoovering And Future-Faking
Ah, his favorite. Here’s are the kinds of things I heard:
“I was thinking about last Valentine’s Day when we…”
“Are you free on Valentine’s Day? I’d like to take you to brunch and see you one last time.”
“I got you [something he knew I liked that was hard for me to get myself] and I’d like to give it to you on Valentine’s Day.” (My, how presumptuous of him, right?)
He E-mailed me the day before the last Valentine’s Day we were still in contact (although we hadn’t been talking at the time) to send me a picture of himself on his wedding day wearing a bracelet I had given him, telling me that he will always love me and that a trip we had once taken on Valentine’s Day was the best time in his life.
The hoover game is strong around Valentine’s Day, so please be prepared. Once they get their foot in the door, then can come the lavish promises for the future. More trips they’d “have liked” to take you on or things they wanted to do with you if you were still together. They still love you so much. Won’t you see them one last time?
Stay strong. Valentine’s Day is the one day you can potentially predict contact. It doesn’t mean that they will definitely reach out, however, try to keep in mind how predictable they actually are and how similar their hoovers can be. There are reasons there are common hoovering techniques to be aware of.
5. Control and Harassment
If Valentine’s Day passed during a silent treatment, I was subject to endless questions and jabs about what I had been doing with other men during that time.
Guess what? These can be hoovers too.
Nothing I said was ever believed and having a specific date for which people tend to go on dates, express their feelings for one another and give romantic gifts fed his imagination and allowed him to persist in harassing me with his extreme jealousy.
Valentine’s Day with a Narcissist Can Be an Isolating Experience
Because of how Valentine’s Day was treated in our relationships with them, we probably don’t have a lot of positive associations with it. Again, it may not be positive for many people, but for us especially, it may be traumatic.
We may end up in emotional turmoil. Anxiety may especially run our lives if we wonder what’s going to happen: Will they start an argument? Will the day go smoothly? Will they hoover?
It may be especially difficult to receive support during this time period from others, as Valentine’s Day is perceived as a light-hearted holiday, even frivolous by some. It’s common knowledge that people sometimes suffer depression during the Christmas holidays, but Valentine’s Day?
People who experience negative emotions around it may be perceived as just being bitter or jealous. Everyone is supposed to pretend to be happy on Valentine’s Day. If they are in relationships, they are supposed to pretend to be in a happy couple. If they are not in relationships, they are supposed to stifle their grievances and let the “happy couples” celebrate.
Any complaints are perceived as envy– either of those in relationships by singles or those in “better” relationships by the attached.
So if you don’t feel as if you can reach out to anyone or others don’t understand, I hope you will at least recognize that you aren’t alone. You aren’t alone either in experiencing the trauma of how the narcissist has used it as a form of emotional abuse or of feeling that others don’t understand.
If you can, try to take care of yourself in the way that your partner never really has. Maybe not on Valentine’s Day, or maybe it provides the perfect opportunity, but the ultimate transcendence of the narcissist’s control is to reflect on love beyond what we experienced in the relationship when we are ready as part of our path to recovering.