When you were a baby, you copied everything your mother did. You breathed in when she inhaled, exhaled when she did, smiled when she smiled and cried when you saw she was sad.
This was how you learned how to communicate and engage with other people, and it’s what you continue to do to create a bond and sense of intimacy with others.
Mirroring is a psychological phenomenon where one person imitates the behavior, gestures, expressions, and even beliefs of another. It’s done to establish a connection, create intimacy, and establish rapport – but that’s not why narcissists mirror you.
Narcissists copy your behavior to gain your trust, create a false sense of intimacy, gather information they can use against you, and formulate their own sense of identity.
Let’s explore the subject further, looking into the psychology and intent behind narcissistic mirroring and precisely what they stand to gain from such mimicry.
10 Reasons Why Narcissists Copy You
#1 To Love Bomb You
When you first meet a narcissist, you might not even notice them copying you. You certainly won’t be wondering, “Why are narcissists copycats?” Instead, you’ll be too caught up in how engaging and attentive they appear.
It seems as though they instinctively know what makes you happy and go out of their way to fulfill your every desire. They seem to share your values, liking the things you like, and despising the things you disapprove of. It seems like a match made in heaven – which is precisely the narcissist’s intent.
By mirroring your likes and dislikes, the narcissist can reinvent themselves as the perfect partner. They live behind a false self anyway, so creating another layer of the façade based on your preferences isn’t particularly challenging.
Mimicry is also a crucial part of social intelligence, which most narcissists are masters of. Unfortunately, it’s also a trait that narcissists like to exploit. They use their social intelligence to convince you of their genuine affection when all they’re really interested in getting their fix of narcissistic supply.
#2 To Establish Trust
It may sound strange, but we trust people who copy us. Research shows that we’re more likely to trust someone who mimics our gestures or expressions and will “actively seek out points of similarity” in people who copy us.
Narcissists are all too well aware of this and use mimicry to establish false trust.
Narcissists subtly copy your behaviors, mannerisms, and even your speech patterns, create an illusion of intimacy and rapport that makes you believe you’re genuinely compatible.
Once a narcissist has gained your trust, they can manipulate you more effectively. They’ll use your perceived similarities as leverage to influence your decisions and emotions.
Imagine you’re a keen football fan, and you meet someone who seems equally passionate about the sport. They show great interest in your team, watching matches with you and discussing every player in detail. This shared interest makes you feel like you’ve found someone who truly gets you.
As the relationship progresses, the narcissist might use this to manipulate you. They might threaten to stop watching the matches with you unless you agree to do something for them or bully you into spending extra money on premium seats for them and their friends.
By capitalizing on your natural inclination to trust those who seem similar, they gain a foothold in your life, allowing them to orchestrate their manipulative schemes more easily.
#3 To Gather Information
Have you ever wondered, “Why do narcissists copy what you say?” One reason is to gather information. The more relaxed and comfortable you feel, the more you’re likely to open up about yourself, giving the narcissist all kinds of ammunition they can use against you later on.
Mimicry makes us feel comfortable and safe in someone’s presence. If someone laughs, and we laugh too, we share a moment of intimacy, which makes us more confident about the relationship and more willing to expose our vulnerable sides.
Narcissists exploit this tendency, mirroring your speech and responses, to create an illusion of shared experiences and mutual understanding. If you confide in them, they’ll use your words against you later, twisting your vulnerabilities into tools for manipulation.
For instance, imagine you’re sharing a personal story about a difficult experience. The narcissist listens attentively, mirroring your emotions and concerns.
Later, during an argument, they might weaponize that information, using your words to undermine your emotional stability and make you doubt your own perspective.
This tactic is particularly potent because it catches you off guard—after all, they seemed so empathetic when you shared the story.
Narcissistic mirroring is not about genuine connection or understanding; it’s about gathering ammunition for future manipulation.
By exploiting your trust and vulnerability, they manipulate you into feeling more attached and dependent on them while using the information they’ve gathered to control and deceive you.
#4 To Gain Your Admiration
Why do narcissists copy what you do? Often, it’s simply a way to get your attention and admiration.
By mirroring someone’s actions, interests, or qualities, they create a sense of familiarity and shared values, encouraging increased admiration. Once that’s established, the narcissist can exploit it to bolster their self-esteem and fulfill their need for validation.
Imagine you have a colleague who is known for their work ethic and dedication to the job. They are so highly respected that the narcissist decides to copy them to gain similar admiration.
The narcissist starts to adopt the same work habits and even volunteers for additional tasks, mirroring the diligent behavior of the respected colleague.
They also emphasize their achievements and dedication to projects during team meetings, seeking validation for their efforts.
They intend to elicit admiration from their colleagues and superiors, capitalizing on the positive attention that the admired colleague receives.
By aligning their behavior with highly valued qualities in the workplace, they create the illusion of shared values and dedication, leading to positive feedback and admiration from others.
#5 To Form a Sense of Identity
“Why do narcissists copy everything?” According to one Quora user, it’s because “they lack their own independent identity, thoughts, and emotions.”
Just as looking in a mirror confirms our physical existence, mirroring helps the narcissist develop a sense of self.
Although they appear to have strong personalities, narcissists lack a sense of core self. This leaves the narcissist entirely reliant on the behavior of others to validate their fragile ego. By copying you, they can create a sense of identity for themselves.
For example, let’s say a narcissist meets an exceptionally talented violinist and quickly becomes enamored with their talent. They adopt the same musical interests, imitating the person’s preferences and even learning the same instrument.
Initially, the narcissist’s mirroring behavior might seem innocent, but it soon becomes more pronounced. They may start to dress similarly to the person, talk about the same musical topics, and even mimic their mannerisms.
The narcissist attempts to integrate those qualities into their own identity by imitating the other person’s musical interests and talents.
This mirroring enables the narcissist to fill the void of their own lacking core self and gain a temporary sense of validation and purpose.
Mirroring can be a compensatory strategy for narcissists, enabling them to “borrow” qualities from others to create a semblance of identity. It’s a way for them to temporarily feel connected to someone else’s strengths while trying to build a sense of self that they inherently lack.
How to Tell if a Narcissist is Copying/Mirroring You?
If you’ve ever wondered, “Why do narcissists copy everything?” then you’ve probably also puzzled over how to tell when a narcissist is mirroring you.
In some situations, it might be blatantly obvious. Every time you shift position, the narcissist does the same, adopting exactly the same posture as you have.
However, narcissistic mirroring isn’t always this straightforward and can manifest in more subtle ways that require careful observation.
Here are a few telltale signs that a narcissist is mirroring you:
- They suddenly develop an interest in the same hobbies you enjoy
- They start using phrases or specific words you commonly use
- They mimic your emotions, getting excited when you’re excited and becoming depressed when you’re sad
- They change their style of clothes so it aligns with yours
- They share your values and opinions, even on subjects you previously disagreed about
- They start mimicking your mannerisms or facial expressions
- They ask detailed questions about your past and personal history
How to Get a Narcissist to Stop Copying You?
Getting a narcissist to stop mirroring you can be challenging, as this behavior is deeply ingrained in their manipulation tactics. However, here are some strategies you can consider:
Set Clear Boundaries: Establish and communicate your personal boundaries clearly.
Diversify Your Interests: If the narcissist is mirroring your hobbies or interests, consider exploring new activities or topics that are different from what you’ve shared with them.
Limit Personal Information: Avoid oversharing personal information with the narcissist. This can reduce the ammunition they have to mimic or manipulate you.
Observe Their Reactions: If you notice that the narcissist is mirroring you less when you discuss specific topics or show certain behaviors, consider emphasizing those aspects to discourage the mirroring.
Focus on Yourself: Invest time and energy in your personal growth and well-being. When you prioritize your own development, you may become less preoccupied with the narcissist’s behavior.
Create Healthy Distance: If the mirroring becomes too manipulative or damaging, consider limiting contact with the narcissist. This can create a healthier environment for you to thrive.
Seek Professional Help: If your relationship with the narcissist is causing significant distress, consider seeking therapy or counseling.
What Happens When You Mirror the Narcissist Back?
When you mirror a narcissist back, you essentially use their own tactics against them. This can be a conscious strategy to expose their manipulative behavior, create discomfort, or simply a way to regain a sense of control. However, the effectiveness of mirroring a narcissist back can vary.
While mirroring the narcissist back might expose their manipulative tactics, it could also put them on the defensive, causing them to deflect or shift blame.
If they know you’re mirroring them, it could disrupt their sense of control, resulting in a narcissistic rage. Similarly, they could see the mimicry as a challenge to their dominance, which will have similar consequences.
On the flip side, if the narcissist notices your mirroring behavior, they might perceive it as validation of their own manipulation tactics, reinforcing their beliefs about control and power.
Mirroring a narcissist can be a risky strategy, as it can lead to further conflict and manipulation.
Why Do Narcissists Mirror You?
Narcissists use mirroring as a manipulative technique to gain your trust and admiration, create a false sense of intimacy, and acquire information they can later use against you.
They also mirror to make themselves feel better, using your mannerisms and gestures to create a false sense of identity.
How Do You Stop a Narcissist from Mirroring You?
You can try several techniques to stop a narcissist from mirroring, the first of which is the golden rule for handling a narcissist – set boundaries.
You can also try steering clear of topics or situations that trigger the narcissist’s mirroring behavior, taking up new hobbies if they’ve confiscated all the old ones, and creating space for yourself and your own needs.
Why Do Narcissists Steal Your Personality?
Narcissists steal your personality because they have none of their own. They live their lives hiding behind a facade – a false self created to protect their fragile egos and rid them of their permanent sense of rejection.
They emulate your personality traits and characteristics to fill the void within themselves.
This stolen personality provides a mask to hide their emptiness and manipulate those around them into giving them the admiration and validation they so desperately crave.
Why Do Narcissists Repeat What You Say?
Narcissists repeat what you say to gain your trust. By echoing your sentiments, they convince you that they share your values and opinions, making you believe it’s safe to let your guard down.
They may also echo your statements to control the narrative, subtly twisting your words to put themselves in a position of power. They could, for example, use repetition to gaslight you, casting doubt on your memory or perception of certain events.
In essence, when narcissists repeat what you say, it’s often a calculated move to achieve their own goals, whether it’s gaining your trust, manipulating conversations, asserting dominance, or furthering their own agenda.