Can You Identify when you are Being Mirrored by Someone?

This post was written by Rhonda Wasserman

Original content by Ashley Berges

Mirroring, often known as the chameleon effect, is about imitating, and copying another person’s behaviors, traits, and characteristics.

In relationships, it is both comfortable and desirable to have things in common with your friend or significant other. It can be helpful to have things in common, but what happens when the commonality is not real? What happens when you believe this person has the same thought process, characteristics, and behaviors, but in reality, they don’t share any of those things with you? They have taken on your complete identity.

Mirroring can be very challenging to identify. Many of us want to be in relationships where we have a lot of things in common with another person. It is great when someone likes the same music, dresses similar, likes the same things, and has similar behaviors. When someone is just like you it can feel amazing, but sometimes it’s not real.  

When we deal with someone who has a tendency of mirroring, they are borrowing someone else’s self-image. Often, we do not realize what is happening at the beginning of the relationship. The commonalities seem to happen rather quickly, causing us to overlook the substance aspect of the relationship. 

Mirroring can manifest in various ways. It does not have to be a romantic relationship; mirroring can happen with a friend. Indications that mirroring is occurring can be small things such as wearing the same clothing, using the same perfume, similar gestures, behaviors, and speech. They can also balloon into some very large things such as purchasing the same car or going on the same trips. Usually, these things come on slowly and we are not paying attention to them. It is almost as though we are hanging out with ourselves, and we don’t catch it.  

When you do catch someone mirroring you and you realize it’s not that you are both very similar it can be quite jarring. What has happened is that you started to believe the persona of the other person. The issue is that the person is not real. The persona has been created to get closer to you.  

Most often the people doing the mirroring are not aware that they are doing it. They do not have a sense of self-identity or know who they are. When you do not know who you are, you try to fit in with whomever you are around. There is no stable identity so they do whatever it is the people they are spending time with are doing.

People do not set out to become the other person with a plan to mirror everything. It appears it is done for self-preservation. The problem lies in the fact that this can only be kept up for so long. Additionally, resentment may set in from the person doing the mirroring. They can only be someone else for so long. They are not themselves, causing the relationship to change.  

If you feel like you are around someone that tends to be mirroring you, it is time you open your eyes to the situation. Step back from your fantasy world of wanting people to be just like you.  Look at the situation honestly. This will be very helpful to understand not only who is truly close to you, but also who has a solid identity. Ultimately, if someone does not have a solid identity, how can they be true to you, because they do not understand who they are? How can they like what you do, if they do not know what they like themselves?

We need to be aware of the red flags when it seems to be too perfect with someone else. It is important to see the relationship for what it is. We must be able to identify who in our lives has solid identities. Those are the people whose friendships will last the test of time.

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