If you have not seen the movie, "Sleeping With the Enemy," then you should. While this is a heterosexual couple, the "shoe" can fit any partnership. The woman in the film (Julia Roberts) is married to a narcissist, and the track of their marriage fits the narcissistic relationship pattern exactly.
A relationship is new. Both of you are on your "best behavior." It's normal. Over time, you begin to see each other's faults. Maybe your partner has moved in and is a bit sloppy; perhaps that partner is not thrilled that your dog is so clingy. But, if a healthy relationship is being built, you can talk about these things and reach a resolution, or at least compromise.
People dealing with faults and disagreements in a calm mature way show that they respect each other and honor each other's feelings. They develop a close relationship built on mutual care and concern.
If this sounds like your partnership, then it is likely to stick. If this doesn't sound like your partnership, and, in fact, you seem to be doing all of the giving, all of the changing, and assuming the blame when things go awry, then it is possible you have hooked up with a narcissist.
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental illness diagnosis that is detailed in every diagnostic and statistical manual of psychiatry. The narcissist exhibits mental and behavioral traits that are completely self-centered, meaning that they are out only for their own gain, do not care who is hurt in the pursuit of that gain, and lack the normal care and concern for others that are typical of the general population. In short, it's all about them and their own needs, which are as follows:
They need to be admired by others and demand special treatment and unfailing loyalty
They must manipulate others to get what they want, no matter how much damage that may bring
They must blame any problem or failure on someone else, often parents, family, friends, or a partner.
They must be superior to all others, no matter how hurtful that may be to those others.
Narcissism is not one of those personality disorders that normally result in a psych ward stay, but this does not mean that those with it are not dangerous to others. It's just a different kind of dangerous
In looking at these narcissistic traits, you may already be identifying people like this, either in your personal life or among celebrities/famous figures. And in relationships, anyone who has a narcissistic partner is in for a terrible ride.
The short answer to this is "nothing good." And there is a narcissistic relationship cycle that exhibits the same relationship patterns with anyone they choose as their next victim. These narcissistic love patterns are clearly observable and do not vary, except in manifested specific behaviors. Here is the cycle of narcissistic relationships:
Narcissists come on strong with the love in the beginning - the goal is conquest. Here's how love bombing goes: They will profess to be immediately love-struck by the victim, spend time getting to know what that victim wants in a relationship, and become that person. The victim is impressed by these first few weeks of attention and romantic gestures and comes to believe that this is the love of their life. In normal relationships, this is known as the courtship stage and usually lasts longer. Most narcissists must move quickly because their initial goal is conquest, not love or a relationship. Narcissists love only themselves.
Once you are hooked, the narcissistic love patterns begin. And this involves lots of emotional manipulation. Narcissists typically begin the manipulation with small criticisms that will attack your self-esteem. If something goes wrong, it's your fault. This is often called the devaluation stage. You are so into the relationship, though, that you don't even realize you are being manipulated. Other typical tactics include the following:
Many narcissists will drive a wedge between you and your family and friends. They want you isolated so that they can be in complete control
They will "give and take away" regularly. If you are living together, they will be gone for long hours, maybe to bars where they can be grandiose and even flirt with others. When they return, they are full of promises and statements of undying love for you. Those promises are never kept.
They will elicit your sympathy. Their bad behavior is the result of their childhood, horrible parents, etc. They will convince you that only you can help them overcome these. And you can help them by forgiving them and doing more and more for them.
Another manipulation tactic will often involve money. The narcissist, in an effort to play the grandiose hero to all, will spend money wildly, resulting in financial troubles. They will convince you to loan them money to cover overdrafts or bills - money which may or may not be repaid. Again, there's always an excuse, and if you really care you will help them out.
In the end, you will "lose" yourself in a relationship with a narcissist. You cannot change the relationship patterns of someone with a narcissistic personality disorder, and the relationship is pretty much doomed.
As Dr. George Simon, in his book, In Sheep's Clothing had to say, "Manipulator portrays him- or herself as a victim of circumstance or of someone else's behavior in order to gain pity, sympathy or evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering and the manipulator often finds it easy to play on sympathy and get cooperation."
Read this quote again. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, prepare to be "played."
Fact: Research has shown that the prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder occurs more in men than in women and in African American men and women more than in other ethnic groups.
This is a huge factor in narcissistic personality disorder, and it deserves its own section of this article. Briefly defined, empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes, to see their point of view, and to respond to that with a sense of caring and understanding. In a healthier relationship, this means that both partners recognize the needs of the other and adapt their behaviors to meet those needs.
Narcissists lack empathy because it's only about them. They trample on the feelings of another person without any sense of guilt at all. Life in a relationship with a narcissist means giving up your needs and desires to please them. A healthy relationship is not made of this. The narcissist doesn't care about their partner's emotions. Their whole life is getting whatever they want at the moment, at any cost. And if you don't help them in every possible way, narcissists end the relationship and move on to another victim.
It's not easy. If victims have been ins such relationships for a while, they are filled with anxiety and self-doubt. They may feel that they are a bad person if they confront the narcissist with their behaviors; they constantly wonder if there is any more they can do to make that earlier honeymoon phase of the relationship come back.
The first step is to do some research. This is one of those mental disorders that does not fix itself, and most therapists believe it can't be fixed. Why? Because narcissists have such fragile egos that they must have constant admiration and worship, and they must manipulate others to get that. They cannot have relationships that are built on mutual love and respect, because they only love themselves.
Re-connect with family and friends, over and above their objections. Narcissists want to keep their partners isolated, because in the isolation they can have full control. And they certainly do not want a partner to be around others who build their self-esteem and make them see their worth as independent individuals.
Get a hobby or some kind of outside interest. Narcissists recognize that the more contact partners have with others, the more apt they are to develop independence and to see what normal relationships look like. Volunteer somewhere if you do not work; take a class - anything to get you out and around others. Remember this: the attempt to isolate and control by narcissists is a form of abuse.
Stop giving one more chances. Part of the abuse common to narcissism is to make promises, break those promises, and then ask for forgiveness with love bombing all over again. Unfortunately the partner victim is taken in by this. Do not expect the narcissist to change. They have made a life of success in similar situations, and they know exactly how to play you.
If you are living together, and you are serious about getting out of this relationship, make your plans to leave, but keep them quiet until those plans are finalized. The narcissist will do everything to convince you to stay and put on their best behavior until you are firmly in their grasp again. If the narcissist have moved into your place, then you will have to remove them. Depending on their level of compliance, you may have to involve the authorities. And, by all means, change the locks immediately.
Once you leave, get a new phone number.
And, no however much you may be drawn to contact your narcissist, don't. Surround yourself with people who will continue to support you. Get out and date and make new social contacts. You're not going to miss them forever. Keep reminding yourself of the abuse you underwent and how crazy your world was. If you even consider re-connecting, remember this: narcissists follow the same pattern of behavior and abuse, and, without some serious therapy (which is"iffy"), they will be that way the rest of their lives.
Narcissism is a mental disorder - never forget that. And because it involves complete self-centeredness, anyone in a narcissistic relationship can expect stress, anxiety, self-doubt, isolation, and emotional abuse (sometimes physical too). The idea that if you just do more, work a little harder, etc. things will get better is a fairy tale. They won't. And so, it comes down to the choices you must make as the victim partner. Just remember that you deserve a whole, emotionally healthy life . A relationship with a narcissist will not give you that.
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