People naturally gravitate towards those who share their interests, core values and personality traits. The familiar is comfortable, which is what attracts people to others similar to them.
Narcissists know this, and will use this knowledge to their advantage.
In order to attract a victim, narcissists at the beginning of a relationship will mimic their victim. They read their victims so they can learn what their values, interests and personality traits are. Once they understand these things, they pretend to share those values, interests and personality traits. In other words, they mirror them back to the victim. This gets the attention of the victim and quickly makes them feel comfortable with the narcissist.
Mirroring also can be used at other stages of a relationship.
Once the narcissist has become abusive, there is going to be some time when even the narcissist realizes he or she went too far. A normal person upon realizing they should not have said or done something will apologize. Not a narcissist though. They refuse to accept responsibility for their bad actions. Instead, one tactic they may use to get their victim to forgive them is mirroring. Suddenly they act like they share similarities to their victim. They may say things like, “I don’t like that either,” “We think so much alike!” or, “I understand.. I’m the same way!” When a narcissist says these things, it is mirroring.
Many years ago, my father went over and above with his attempts to manipulate me. He knew I was angry, and one way he tried to regain my favor was mirroring. At first, I did not even notice it. Then during a conversation I said something about having a schedule and I really dislike changes to it. He immediately said, “Oh I understand! I’m exactly the same way!” I knew nothing could be further from the truth! He had no trouble rearranging anything in his daily life. Suddenly it clicked in my mind that he was mirroring me and why.
Eventually, most victims of narcissistic abuse decide to sever ties with the narcissist. This is a big narcissistic injury to anyone but in particular a narcissist. If a relationship ends, the narcissist wants to be the one to end it. Many times in this sort of situation, a narcissist will lure a victim back into the relationship (this is called hoovering) only to dump the victim in the near future. One trick they use sometimes to lure a victim back is mirroring.
Once the relationship has ended, chances are good the victim is going to have doubts. This is understandable, because narcissists create something known as trauma bonds with their victims. When the victim has had some time away from the narcissist, most narcissists will approach the victim in an attempt to lure him or her back. The narcissist will mirror whatever is the most effective. Maybe the victim likes wine tastings and the narcissist went in the early stages of the relationship. The narcissist might remind the victim of the good times they shared at those events while simultaneously and subtly mimicking the victim’s body language or even the way he or she speaks. Mirroring can be very subtle like this which is why it can be so hard to spot.
If you are in any relationship with a narcissist, watch out for mirroring behaviors so they do not lure you into a deeper relationship with that person or lull you into a false sense of security. Mirroring is not something narcissists will stop doing but it if you can be aware of this type of manipulation, it will help you not to fall for it when they use it.