The definition of "imitation" is the action of using someone or something as a model, or a thing intended to simulate or copy something else. Imitation is when you take or follow someone as a model. Imitation isn't just something that narcissists do and it isn't always a bad thing. When a person has great strengths, skills or accomplishments, people will try to emulate them. They will try to reproduce the function or action of that person to match or surpass their strengths, skills or accomplishments. To emulate is to imitate and model yourself after someone. Having someone to model can be helpful in many areas of life. The difference between a person who is modelling someone's success and a narcissist who is imitating you, is that the narcissist is trying to manipulate and deceive you. They are trying to control and influence you in an exploitative manner. It is done unfairly and often at your expense, for their advantage or benefit. They are trying to get you to believe something that is not true, for their own personal gain. They are giving you a mistaken impression. They might indicate the truth or existence of something by suggestion or false display, but they will never follow it up with action. That is the difference between a person who is modelling someone's success to improve their lives and a narcissist who is imitating you to exploit and take advantage of you. The narcissist will imitate your ideals and your likes and interests. Whatever you like, whatever you are interested in... suddenly they are interested in that. Or at least that's what they want you to believe, but really they are just playing a role. As well as your physical likes and interests, this also applies to your beliefs, values and principles. They will tell you at the beginning of the relationship that they are honest, loyal and trustworthy, or they will imply or display it to you in some way. You soon discover that they are the exact opposite of that. They were imitating your ideals, your likes and interests.
It's like they're holding a mirror in front of you. They are reflecting back to you what you are showing to them, so that you will then reflect back your attention, validation and admiration of them. They will then use this in an attempt to regulate their self worth and self esteem. But it doesn't sustain them for long, because it's not real self worth or self esteem. Self worth or self esteem is not supposed to depend on what people think about you or how they react to you. It is not meant to come from external influences. Self worth or self esteem is supposed to come from within, which is why it has "self" at the beginning. It only lasts until they get a negative thought in their minds and then they need to reflect back more of what you are showing to them, so you will reflect back your attention, validation and admiration of them. They can then use this again to regulate their self worth and self esteem. It's a never ending cycle which repeats itself again and again, as they try to hold on whatever self worth or self esteem they have left. They will tell you what you want to hear or they will show you what you want to see. They might adjust their character or personality, the way they dress, or display a preference or interest that is specific to you. They will make you believe that this preference or interest is also a quality, talent or trait of theirs. They will make you believe that this is something that they are interested in, this is what they're about. They will make you believe that they are interested in sharing this quality, talent or trait with you, without an agenda, or without desiring to take something from you. The truth is they are not about that at all, they just know that is your preference or interest and so they will use it to obtain narcissistic supply.
This sequence of events is exactly the same as what a predatory child molester would use to lure a child. The child molester might purchase candy, knowing that this is a preference or interest of the child. They will make the child believe that they like candy too and it is nothing out of the ordinary for them to possess this. They will make the child believe that they just want to give them the candy, as though there is no hidden agenda or ulterior motive. Like with the narcissist, the predatory child molester is obviously not interested in the act of giving or sharing candy with the child. They are just looking to exploit or take advantage of them. Replace the candy with whatever quality, trait or talent they are using to lure you in and it is the same sequence of events. The narcissist will not only imitate you, but they will even imitate anyone who relates to you or interests you. They want to be seen and they want to be heard. You are being seen and heard, so they mimic you and everything that you are interested in. They might change their whole appearance. They might change their clothes, hair, make up, character and personality. They might take on the role of a celebrity you like or if you see someone on TV you are attracted to. They think that they can change or copy their clothes, hair or make up and then suddenly they are that person. They see that you are interested in someone or something which is ideal to your personal preferences or interests. And because of their low self worth and low self esteem, they will imitate the appearance, character or personality of this person, or they will imitate your likes and interests. They don't believe that they are good enough as they are. They don't believe that they possess anything of value or significance. So it's nothing for them to reject themselves and take on whatever you like or whatever you are interested in. They will then try to compete with you or outdo you in whatever you are doing. Or they will claim to know more about whatever you like or are interested in. But what they are doing is just an imitation, they are not the real, authentic thing. They are just a second-rate version of what you are or what you really want. And deep down, beneath the arrogance and entitlement, they know this, but they will never admit it. Instead, their desire or consideration for your appearance, character, personality, likes or interests will soon become contempt, where they think that it's worthless or beneath their consideration. This is a response to their pathological envy and jealousy.
So now they want to destroy it. They want to destroy you and devalue and degrade everything about you. They will publicly humiliate and exploit you. They will devalue your likes or interests. They can't get the same fulfilment as you can, they can't experience the same happiness or contentment, so now they want to take it away from you. If you are a good source of supply, they will keep you around and mix up the imitation, competition and treating you with contempt. If they have another source of supply lined up, it will go from imitation to competition to treating you with contempt. They will make you believe that you are completely worthless or beneath their consideration, making it more believable for them and then they will leave. All of this to protect their fragile egos, to regulate their sense of self esteem or self importance. It's very sad. Especially when you consider that you would have accepted them as they are, the real them. There was no need for them to imitate or compete with you. But because of their fragile egos, they have this need to fight against you, rather than work with you. In the end they destroy the very thing they always wanted... love, acceptance, a person who would want them just as they are. And instead they take their fragile egos and find someone else who they can use to regulate them... Until the same thing happens again. It's the same thing every time and because of this, they can never find love or acceptance. They always stay the same, nothing ever changes.