I have been listening to people talking about narc abuse again today. It strikes me that there is a theme of adults not willing to be adults running through it.
Many of the problems associated with a relationship with a narcissist are really about expectations. Many of the issues raised are about how things should be with a ‘normal’ relationship. There is no such thing as a normal relationship.
Let us go through a few of the problems you are likely to face as a partner of a narcissist.
The idealisation phase:
Love bombing: Personally, as someone who has had a narc around since birth, (sister) I am well used to being the focus of attention from an empty vessel. Even when they are flattering you, it is to establish the importance of their opinion, so it is wise to ignore everything. When I am on the receiving end of gushing, I tend to cut through it very quickly, so that it is impossible to achieve the ‘perfection’ that the narcissist craves with these interactions. Dominance is dominance, whether it is sweet or sour.
Alarm bells ought to ring the minute you hear how awful their exs were – non-narcs grow out of this by the time they are thirty or so, usually earlier. In rare cases the exs actually were awful, but with practice you will learn to tell the difference and find ways of exploring the issue by asking what the nice exs were like. When your narc tells you that they are kind and giving, they are referring to this early phase of the relationship, in which they actually are kind and giving. They aren’t lying to you, they are just trying to forget the bad bits where they did not get what they wanted, which was an unreasonable level of perfection.
The devaluation phase:
If you have established that love bombing has no effect, then devaluing is likely to fall on fallow ground as well. The only other way to get around this is to be better than expectations, and if you look on it this way then your relationship with your narcissist is likely to be more of a personal challenge than a burden.
If they are talking trash about you to other people, it is the typically immature ‘love me’ plea of a teenager, so you find something else to do. Obviously in some situations it is quite extreme – I will not allow my sister anywhere near me following a false police report, for example – but this is just an extreme example of the same behaviour that these people have adopted since puberty, so I am not sure why all these victims are unaware that they have been dealing with a child rather than a person.
Some people are just promiscuous, whether they are narcs or not. Jealousy, whilst perfectly natural, is a choice. You can decide that you are more important than a casual fling, and then make a further decision as to whether fidelity is a priority or not, in which case you are with the wrong person. You are then free to terminate the relationship and move on. It is either that or a lot of tiresome negotiation to see if your partner wants to try and be faithful or not. Speaking as someone who is faithful – other people just aren’t that important to me – I have tried official forgiveness and it is largely futile – so either you don’t mind them spreading it around or you leave. Official forgiveness tends to lead to violence because your narc will not understand that it is a sign of strength rather than weakness.
Assuming that by now you have figured out that you are dealing with a selfish, abnormally young and carefree person who is too busy to bother with what you want, you ought to know that this relationship is not permanent. It does not mean that the narc is evil, controlling or a bad person. It just means that you made a poor decision in the first place in tolerating what has been a rather extreme training for the rest of your life.
Finally, a lot of people displaying narcissistic behaviour do not actually have NPD. Being at the wrong end of a narc makes you extremely tough and extremely intolerant of mistakes. If you wish to investigate futher, I recommend reading some books on CPTSD. You will find the answers there. Even if you are a narc, you will benefit from doing this, so I recommend you take this step into filling up that void where the emotional sharing should be. Narcissists tend to be insecure, frightened and lonely as a rule. They focus on other people to avoid themselves. Instead of feeling victimised, try taking an adult role in your own choices.