It started with a plate of oysters and a shitstorm.
Me and my ex, Jamel, was at a seafood spot in Long Island on The Nautical Mile called Jeremy’s (short for Jeremy’s Ale House).
We’d just had a fight.
I don’t even remember what I was mad about but I remember the reason being valid enough for even him to acknowledge my anger, which is unusual for a malignant narcissist.
But it was how he acknowledged the situation and my anger towards it that caught my attention.
As I was sitting in his house, withdrawn and unrelenting, Jamel asked me one question…
A Common (Yet Unusual) Love Bombing Technique
an attempt to influence a person by demonstrations of attention and affection. It can be used in different ways and for either positive or negative purposes.
Love bombing is an emotional manipulation technique.
In many cases, when the narcissist truly fucks up, and there’s no way to deflect or gaslight from the blame, the only thing left for them to do is love bomb you. This love bombing can come in many forms.
- gifts (especially jewelry)
- stuffed animals
- “heartfelt” letters/cards
- quality time
Somehow, food has remained a blind spot that we’ve continuously overlooked, which is why it’s one of the main ways love bombing is implemented.
Feeding the victim is often the go-to that is the most utilized because it is the least obvious.
Many of the methods on the list above are gestures commonly used around the holiday times; whenever they’re utilized outside of that easily allude to there being “trouble in paradise”.
(In some cases, these gestures are so overt that it might actually hurt their pride to have to do these things for you.)
Food, however, is discreet because it’s an everyday necessity.
We all need to eat.
Couples are always going on food-friendly dates
This makes it easier for narcissists to disguise their hidden intentions because it comes across as an act of service when in reality it is not only a love bombing tactic but a devaluation technique.
Spending money on the victim, allows the narcissist to regain the upper hand. Yes, they messed up but by spending money on the victim they are buying off their own guilt.
It will be easier to paint you as —
- a “gold digger”
if you’re still upset once the money has been spent and your stomach has been filled. This enables the narcissist to gaslight you for not being able to “let it go” while devaluing your integrity for accepting their “kind gesture”.
The money they just spent on you was a power move.
Especially because it was spent on food.
Because it contributes to your survival.
Food is something we need to stay alive.
By buying you food they are quite literally assisting in the sustenance of your existence. Understand that this is about the technicality, not the sentiment because the sentiment has nothing to do with you.
This is about the narcissist diffusing your anger to avoid the discomfort it’s causing them… without having to do anything that actually addresses the reason you’re so angry.
Again, this is not about you.
This is about regaining their power over you and the relationship because the ball is currently in your court.
You’re the one who’s angry therefore, you have the upper hand and this has to be fixed. The natural order of the narcissist being in control must be restored. This discreet love bombing tactic is designed to restore that balance.
Money Is How Narcissists Hold Leverage
As I mentioned above, narcissists use romantic gestures to acknowledge their faults without actually having to take any accountability for them.
It’s the equivalent of someone wanting to make amends but not wanting to talk about the issue because they’d rather you both just “leave it in the past”.
It’s no surprise that instead of saying, “I’m sorry”, the narcissist would rather ask you:
- Are you hungry?
- Do you wanna get (insert your favorite food or dessert)?
- Do you want to go to (insert your favorite restaurant, bar, bakery, etc.)?
Any variation of this question is both, an admission of guilt and a deflection of the blame. Remember, narcissists are selfish and transactional.
Doing “nice things” for you is more about them than it is about you actually being treated well. It’s about the appearance of being charitable, wealthy, and generous (and even charming).
To cater to you in this way, specifically once you’re upset with them, automatically denotes they know they’ve messed up. Especially because narcissists usually get angry with their supply for being angry with them.
That is what makes their love-bombing, in this case, a financial admission that they’ve fucked up.
Taking you out is actually an indicator that the situation at hand is calling for a more severe approach, on their part. Meaning, you require a greater manipulation tactic, for them to regain the upper hand.
And who doesn’t love a good meal?
Food Is Another Source of Dopamine
Let’s not forget that food is a comfort.
(There’s a reason the term ‘comfort food’ is a thing.)
It’s a comfort that so many people turn to in stressful times and during stressful situations (the pandemic, for example). Food, especially food that we prefer, provides us with dopamine.
Therefore, the food being supplied by the narcissist at this time is another way to provide victims with another source of dopamine. I detail how narcissists weaponize our dopamine receptors, in the following article:
Dopamine: The Narcissist’s Greatest Weapon Against You
The real reason most victims of narcissistic abuse become addicts — and how it’s done.
Food is another avenue for manipulating our dopamine receptors.
Good food puts us in a good mood.
This is why our moods usually lighten as we’re eating food we love and enjoy. It is also why in some cases, it’s easier to make up with our narcissists once our plates are either in front of us or finished.
(bonus points if alcohol is provided.)
All while granting the narcissist the leeway of never having to offer us the words we needed to hear or the changed behaviors that would eliminate the issues we’re having altogether.
Why Does This Strategy Work So Well?
Because it’s hard to notice.
I didn’t notice it, at first.
Jamel and I used to go out to eat all the time. It was one of the staples of our relationship, along with going to the movies. We both loved seafood, sushi, and films.
It was our thing.
So when the tactics started I couldn’t actually tell.
Not to mention, there was an economic element to this as well; one that showed just how intentional and calculated Jamel really was.
Jamel lived in Freeport, Long Island.
I live in a rough neighborhood in Southside Jamaica, Queens.
He had access to restaurants and food spots that I didn’t.
He introduced me to a whole new world of food that was only accessible through him, and he knew this. Jeremy’s had become my favorite spot since we began dating.
In taking me to Jeremy’s, he would learn quickly that seafood was not only my favorite type of food to eat, but it was also my weakness.
Any time he offered the experience of going back was a golden opportunity to eat food that I actually loved, as opposed to settling for the cheap poison they sell around my neighborhood.
And, as I said, The Nautical Mile was a dream.
Being by the water, in a place that’s water-themed surrounded by kind ad happy people was so relaxing and peaceful — especially when the relationship wasn’t.
I would have lived there if I could.
Any chance to go there, I would have taken.
It was the closest I’d ever been to paradise.
Of course, I wanted to go to The Nautical Mile.
(and obviously, I wanted to eat.)
How was I supposed to know this was a strategy?
This Is How The Narcissist Regains the Upper Hand
Jamel knew that this was more than an offer, for me.
It was an opportunity I’d likely never get back again.
This made it easy to paint him as charitable while painting me as an opportunist (or, infamously, as a “gold digger”).
Many narcissists who use their money as leverage notoriously call their victims “gold diggers” while pointing out how much money they spent on them during the relationship.
This is ironic, as narcissists tend to pursue (and prefer) targets who lack in some fundamental aspect that enables them to feel superior.
For Jamel and I, this lack was economical and financial.
He lived in a safer, cleaner, and all-around better neighborhood than I did. He made (and therefore, had) more money than I did, as well. He also had a car and knew how to drive, I didn’t.
This meant he could go to The Nautical Mile (let alone, Jeremy’s) anytime he wanted. I couldn’t. Considering these factors, I often couldn’t afford to say no (literally). So, I said yes when he asked.
(This is when I really started to understand how money is power.)
And this method kept working on me because I initially thought these gestures were genuine acts of kindness and remorse on his part. But it wasn’t until that day at Jeremy’s that I realized something strange.
Whenever I was angry with Jamel, he would suddenly offer to take me out to eat. The difference between these circumstances over our normal routine was how quickly it would be suggested.
If I was genuinely angry the suggestion would be made almost immediately. It didn’t come off as a genuine idea.
It felt like a calculated last resort.
That afternoon, as we ate, my suspicions would be confirmed when he smiled and remarked about how much happier I seemed now that I was eating my oysters.
I playfully responded with how he always seemed to know when to feed me to keep me from being angry with him.
I then said —
If I didn’t know any better I’d say this was your strategy; your get-out-of-jail free card.
The smile he gave me said it all.
He didn’t even deny it.
(Though he didn’t confirm it.)
This is when I realized he specifically asked me if I wanted to go get seafood at Jeremy’s because he knew the answer was always going to be yes.
Each time he offered to feed me when I was angry with him for something abusive he’d done was a way for him to deflect from actually having to deal with the consequences of his own actions.
Once I realized this, I tried something new.
The next time we had a fight and he offered to take me to Jeremy’s…
I said no.
This Is What Happens When You Start Saying “No”
The moment you start saying no to their manipulative love-bombing tactics, the narcissist will begin to resent you.
You will notice their determination to “make things right” dwindle simply because they can’t buy you off or take the easy way out of any conflict with you. Essentially, the mask falls right off.
(The more materialistic a narcissist is the easier this is going to be.)
Once I told Jamel “no” the next time he asked me if I wanted to get some food after an argument, his whole demeanor changed.
The mask dropped and he got angry with me for being angry with him as he, himself, withdrew and became cold towards me. He barely spoke and occupied himself with other activities (playing video games).
In fact, the next time we had a dispute he said he would be back and left. Well, he went and got food for himself, and upon his return, told me—
I figured you would say “no” so I didn’t get you anything.
He did this to hurt me, obviously, as he came in with a massive seafood place from our other favorite spot,
At this point, he was frustrated that I had caught on and was refusing to be bought or bribed. All I wanted now was for him to do the two things narcissists hate doing:
- change his toxic behavior(s)
Meaning, now I was basically asking him to unmask himself.
Remember, the money (and what it provided for me) was supposed to detract from Jamel having to take any “real” responsibility.
By “real”, I mean:
- giving verbal apologies
- feeling genuine remorse and regret
- changing their behaviors
- seeking therapy
The money is supposed to be enough — for me.
And it’s supposed to be enough for you.
Money is always going to be weaponized in your relationship with a narcissist; either through restriction or as overcompensation for their bad behavior. Food is just one avenue of that manipulation and overcompensation.
The important thing for you to remember is that regardless of the tactic, you can rest assured that for every dollar the narcissist spends on you…
You will pay.
About Me — Linda Sharp
The writer who has to write in order to stay alive — I am not kidding.
© Linda Sharp 2023. All Rights Reserved.
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