Do you find yourself in relationship wondering why you feel unimportant, an accessory, and alone? Does your partner exhibit many of these characteristics listed below? While everyone has a bit of narcissism traits they exhibit, some (about 1% of the population, and mainly male) have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They are difficult people to be in relationship with, leaving their partners feeling unimportant, negative about themselves, incompetent and alone, and sometimes crazy!
What is narcissistic personality disorder? The Mayo Clinic defines it as “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”
Partners of narcissists often describe a whirlwind romance of being swept off their feet initially only to find that this likability of their partner diminishes over time as the narcissistic partner begins to exhibit the traits below. Narcissists tend to love bomb (excessive charm and attention) their partners in the beginning and as the relationship unfolds, withdraw from the relationship as the narcissists self-centered behavior increases. Many narcissists will label others as selfish and narcissistic, demanding respect for what they need and giving no respect for what their partner might need. You cannot convince a narcissist to see their behavior as hurtful. Don't even try.
Narcissism is not selfishness. We all have selfish and/or narcissistic tendencies, but the difference lies in the lack of empathy narcissists display towards their partners and the inability to take responsibility for things that go wrong. While there is a scale for narcissism (see The Human Magnet Syndrome by Ross Rosenberg). The most extreme will appear warm and inviting but their motivation is to draw you into relationship with them, and when the first sign of conflict arises or you express disappointment or challenge them, their deep sense of shame ignites narcissistic rage* or gaslighting** (definitions below).
1. They are charming. This is what is so confusing for someone who intersects with a narcissist. They are charming. Many will move quickly in a new relationship often telling you that “you are the one” or that they have “saved you from the dating world” and that you are all the things you want to hear. Many people in the beginning of the relationship, put their best foot forward. The difference is the motivation behind the charm. For most of us, we want to make a good impression but for narcissists it is about
being “fed.” Narcissists need constant feeding of their ego because their ego has been damaged in childhood by a narcissistic parent who rejected them over and over when they weren’t feeding that parent’s need for affirmation and admiration. Their need for their fragile egos to be fed is constant and unrelenting. So a child who doesn’t make the parent look good, for instance, is then rejected or neglected emotionally.
You are not alone.
2. They lack empathy. Narcissists are good at sympathizing for about a half second, but quickly move on to what they want to talk about or need. They only sympathize (not empathize-which is to step into someone else’s shoes and feel what they might feel) in order to keep you intrigued with them and to look good. The validation a narcissist needs is challenged when they experience their partner’s disappointment or hurt feelings. To them, the hurt shouldn’t exist because they don’t feel it. They can’t, Their own childhood experiences with a narcissistic parent have damaged their ability to empathize. Narcissists have become very adept at keeping people in connection with them—they learn what looks good and what doesn’t, and they always want to look good. Which is why #3 is also a trait.