Dealing with a narcissist in a relationship of any kind is not like being in a normal relationship. A narcissistic relationship is ego based. A narcissist has a very fragile ego and sees life through a different lens. You will be put on a pedestal but will invariably fall off without even realizing you have given the narcissist a narcissistic injury.
A narcissist sees you as an extension of themselves , a shiny toy for an example that makes them feel good or look good. It doesn’t much matter to them how you feel unless it will affect them in someway. Everything is about a narcissist. It’s all about a narcissists day every day even when you may think they are making things about you, in the beginning.
From the start you are bright and carry traits the narcissist does not have. This is attractive to the narcissist. They see you all shiny and bright and they want to be shiny and bright too. They know that if they can work beside you, partner with you, team up with you they will bask in this and hopefully pick up some of those beautiful traits of yours. Normal people (People who have never experienced or recognized this type of behavior) do not understand this if you try to explain it to them. They may ask,”Why on earth would someone want to do such a thing for that reason and that reason only”. They don’t understand the narcissistic dynamic. A narcissist doesn’t have a sense of self and needs narcissistic supply from people to fill their ego at all times. They get bored easily and feel superior to most even if they are not saying it out loud. They need to feel special and therefore look for the faults in others . They see themselves as better than other people. They are taking traits from people because deep down they know they lack certain traits and learn to mirror those they admire.
A narcissist lacks empathy when it comes to others. They understand what it is but it doesn’t come naturally to them. They see it in people and are attracted to empathic individuals. They are hurt people deep down and can see pain in others when other people may not. They look for people who are natural givers and people who forgive easily. They can see strength and they admire this . The problem with this is eventually they will suddenly despise the very thing they admired about you and will begin to devalue you. They are do as I say not as I do people. They lack the insight to reflect upon their own behaviors but can point out the flaws of others. If they are self aware and want to change, they can improve their interpersonal relationships with cognitive therapy but there is no cure for NPD.
Everyone has narcissistic traits and on a spectrum. To diagnose narcissistic disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders at least five of the nine traits must be met. These patterns show up regularly in this persons life, in their interpersonal relationships, and in and out of their work environments. They have a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty and ideal love. They have a belief they are special and unique and can only be understood or associate with those they see as special or high status people. They have a need for excessive admiration.
Here are the @DSM-IV Criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder listed below:
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity(in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five or more of the following :
1)Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
2)Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
3)Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
4)Requires excessive admiration.
5)Has a Sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
6)Is interpersonally exploitative, i,e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own needs.
7)Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
8)Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
9)Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
A narcissists emotional regulation depends on their self esteem. They reference themselves to others for self definition and self esteem. Their sense of self is exaggerated and can be inflated or deflated going back and forth between extremes. They lack the ability to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. They are attuned to the reactions of other people but only if it is relevant to themselves. Their relationships are mostly superficial and used to regulate their self-esteem. They lack a genuine interest in other people unless it is for their own personal gain in someway.
They are grandiose and have feelings of entitlement whether it is overt or covert in nature.
Split thinking is something that takes place often in a narcissists mind. They can love you one second and hate you the next. You may never even realize this is taking place until the real devaluation of you starts to begin where they don’t care if you see it. It starts out very slow. It could be a slight comment that is demeaning to you and met with trying to shame you. Then just as suddenly as they shamed you they split back to seemingly caring about you again. You are left confused by this and may ruminate on it and question whether it was anything to worry on at all. This is an alarm for you, a red flag. You must not ignore this. All relationships have conflicts that may come up but it is how they are handled. How does your partner regulate their emotions in these moments? Are they able to do so without shaming and degrading you in any way? Can they tell you how they feel and trust to share their feelings without blaming you for how they feel?
Being vulnerable is not easy for many people especially a narcissist. They have a hard time regulating their emotions and you can ignite their fury causing a narcissistic injury. The difference in normal anger and narcissistic rage is how sarcastically aggressive and unreasonable it can be to a situation. It can appear out of nowhere. When this happens a narcissist has had a blow to their idealized self image of themselves in someway. When it happens they will feel instant shame and in order to not feel that they must deflect that shame away from them and blame you. They don’t care how this may hurt you, (lack of empathy)all they care about is how they are feeling and the need to heal their narcissistic injury. They need to regain power and control over a situation and their emotions they feel are out of control. This can’t happpen. You must be to blame and are painted black (split thinking) in the moment. Once they feel they have regained control through your emotions it regulates theirs (soothes) and they are able to paint you white (split thinking) again.
An empathic person can see two sides to things. They can see through the lens of the other person and also their own lens. They can empathize with how something may have affected someone else and will be the fixer. This is a trait of a codependent. They immediately want to fix a situation, most likely will apologize and try to relate to the other persons feelings while trying to ignore their own feelings. It’s about the narcissists emotions and in a sense, all focus must be there. It’s ok to be empathic to someone else’s emotions but still stay connected to your own. You should feel safe to speak up to someone from verbally hurting you in the process of their own hurt feelings. A narcissist almost never apologizes and the empathic partner does to try and repair things taking on all the blame. A narcissist will play the victim if you decide to walk away from them because of their fragile ego.
Creating boundaries in relationships create healthier and stronger bonds. Both parties in a healthy relationship create boundaries to protect not only themselves but the integrity of the partnership. Mindfulness is important because two people can be coming from two different perspectives.
If in a narcissistic relationship you both will see things differently and may feel you are defending yourself constantly. You can find yourself shutting down in the relationship afraid to upset them. You lose your voice and sense of your own self if you stay long enough. In a healthy relationship two people should feel safe together , should not want to hurt the other person purposefully under any circumstance. Even if they are hurting.
Toxic relationship patterns are unhealthy and it takes a lot of work to become more emotionally mature. It’s hard work and many people unfortunately never take the time to learn their own bad habits and use distractions to ignore looking at themselves only to find themselves repeating these patterns again.
If you are in a narcissistic relationship, a narcissist who needs to feel special will see in your eyes if something has changed. They know they are different deep down. If they are a narcissist and know you see their true self, your devaluation will begin. The smear campaign will start in small ways and build up as your devaluation does to then bring about your discard at some point. A narcissist must always be in control and if they sense you may see the real person they must leave you first. They believe you will eventually leave them because deep down they don’t love themselves and don’t believe you can love them either. They will test your loyalty and love. These are red flags.
It’s important to feel emotionally and physically safe in all your relationships. There is a difference in hurting someone on purpose whether with words or in other ways than not intentionally meaning to. There are ways to respectfully work on things in a relationship without destroying trust and growing emotionally together. If you are in a toxic relationship pattern you may be in a narcissistic relationship . You should feel open and safe to be you in your relationships with people. In narcissistic relationships people will use things against you to hurt and shame you. You may not see the difference but you will feel the difference.
You are not responsible for someone else’s actions and emotions. People will interpret your actions however they want to . Everyone’s emotions are valid but we choose our own emotions and they are our responsibility and how we act upon them. We can be kind, listen and try to understand someone’s perception knowing that people come from different backgrounds.
There is a difference in being in a healthy relationship and being in a toxic relationship. If you have never experienced a toxic one first hand it may be hard to understand. They don’t have to be romantic and can be any type of relationship. It is very frustrating but once you know the signs you can make a healthy choice for you. Hopefully this never happens to you or someone you care for but if you ever recognize any of the signs you can then help someone or even yourself .
Until next time….