I realized in an inside-out way that I was thinking about writing about writing and it seemed so peculiar and strange. I often just “feel” like capturing a moment, the way that I’m feeling at the time and I started to form the thoughts and then it hit me, “I want to write a blog post about how it feels to be writing”. Strange.
When I say writing, I mean more than just blog posts. A couple of years ago, I wrote a book that chronicles those anecdotes that describe aspects of who you are; the defining interesting moments. Well, I think they’re interesting… I remember being so engaged. I would lose hours just writing (no editing, just writing) the words would flow and there was a satisfaction to how the stories poured out onto the page.
I am in that place again. I’ve decided to compile all of my knowledge about dealing with a narcissist into one place. It feels so good to sit down and write. I have to set reminders so that I’m not late for appointments. I ran back and forth last night giving out candy [it was Halloween] and writing bits of my new book.
It is so engaging. I guess you really know when you have found something you love when you lose track of time, feel satisfied after doing it and revel in the thought of doing it more.
Today is the quintessential first day of spring. Not the calendar month or the day with the highest temperature, the first day of the season. It is no longer winter. There may yet be snow but the snow that is here is melting. There is a slow rhythm of the drips as winter washes away.
The birds are back. The sky is filled with flight and sound. It is funny how much I’ve missed the beauty of the birds and their song. They sit on branches that show no sign of thickening, that precursor to the actual buds. The trees are bare. There are no spring flowers up yet and no hint of summer green.
I slept late and awoke to this fabulous day. I’ve often wondered if those Canadians that choose to move to warmer climes miss the change of seasons. It is always something new and more appreciated for its absence.
A reminder that time moves on and we are all part of a larger cycle of birth and death and renewal. Change is inevitable. Nothing is permanent. By being present we ensure that we are always appreciative of what we enjoy. To stop and give gratitude for all that we have and the exceptional lives we’re being allowed to lead. Showing this gratitude seems to open a door that lets more good come in. If you don’t think that your life is exceptional perhaps this deserves some attention. Stop to appreciate what you do like, it will bring more good in.
I have a fabulous east facing balcony on the second floor. From there I can see the sunrise in the morning and the constellation Bootes after dark, at least this time of year.
The universe conspired with humour while I enjoyed my balcony today. Three different men with three different dogs all had to clean up poop on the lawn in front of my house. The first guy had to come back, for the package, after he realized that I had watched his dog poop and him walk away.
The third guy had the further indignity of knowing that I was watching him. I came out onto my balcony mid poo and he had heard me. It is a fine example of how our lives happen in the moments in which they occur. We like to tell our stories about how great things will be in the future when we get that or move there or buy the next best thing but the true experience is always now. Simply by paying attention to the moment, my experience became about now. It may not be a grand trip to an exotic place, but it was funny watching these men deal with their dogs. Enjoying the first day of spring. Feeling gratitude for the humour, even if it was potty humour.
From the deck on the west part of my house, think sunsets and the Big Dipper at night, I can see a small pond that is frozen. There are geese walking across it as though to check it out as a future prospect. My pool is frozen as well and I crave its languid embrace. I still find it hard to believe that I have a pool and currently it is just as much a part of a dream as any other part of the future.
We don’t need to be reminded of how quickly our lives can be washed away, possibly before that next new thing even gets here. So perhaps we should appreciate today. Take the arrival of spring as a reminder that all things come to pass and feel gratitude for the things in our lives that bring us joy. How would you spend your day if you knew that everything was taken care of? Isn’t it, just for this moment?
We need to examine two things at the beginning of any relationship:
Are they capable of love?
What is reasonable to expect when someone says they love you?
Here are some of the clues to the answers:
1. How they act is more important than what they say.
It is easy for a narcissist to tell you what you want to hear, so let’s look at how those types of statements actually look and if they are doing what they say.
They say they support you.
Support is not a verbal thing. If they are your partner, support means that they do part of the work, talk to someone on your behalf, do things that make it easier for you to get whatever it is done. They do not just say they support you; they do something to show it. In addition to that, they will express kindness and encouragement. If someone is providing support, the work is easier with them around.
Ask yourself if your partner is helping you or if they are emphasizing that you should be ‘independent’ and not so needy. Does their “support” actually mean “allow”?
They say that they respect you.
Someone that respects you honours your privacy, priorities, opinions and accomplishments. They do not use jokes to undermine your self-confidence. They do not belittle you or insult your friends.
Is it possible for you to have a different opinion from your partner or do they have to have the last word? Can they see the grey areas that allow you to disagree without being shamed or treated like you are in the wrong? It is not respectful if you are forced to see the world the same way that they see the world.
Try setting boundaries around your private time, interests and friends and see how they react. Do they respect your right to choose how you spend your time and with whom? Do they respect your right to have your own opinions and be independent from them? Do they like you as you are, or are you expected to look and behave in certain ways?
They say that they are your best friend.
Best friends are people that bring out the best in you, make you feel good about yourself and enjoy doing some of the same things that you do. They listen to you when you speak. They share excitement about your accomplishments, celebrate when you are happy and console you when you are upset. After spending time with a friend, you should feel good. Friends will try new activities with you. Does your partner rejoice when you share good news?
Observe whether or not your partner is a sore loser and has an unhealthy need to win or be right at all costs. Invite your potential partner to try something that you enjoy and that they have never tried. What type of reaction do you get? Do they go through the motions or do they actually get involved in the new activity to see if they like it?
They say that they love you.
When someone loves you, they love you all of the time, not just when they feel like it or when they want something. Even if they are mad at you, they do not put you down, insult you, attack you or undermine your self-confidence. If they do lose their temper they are immediately remorseful and will offer an apology. If a balanced person is angry with you they may not speak for a couple of hours, but giving you the silent treatment for extended periods, or often, is an attempt to control you. A person that loves you will not be trying to control you.
In a normal relationship, the affection ebbs and flows without attachment to what can be gained from the exchange. Sex and time spent together is followed by warmth and contentment, not abandonment and being ignored. You deserve love, attention and affection that you can depend on. If you are ignored or treated like an inconvenience, at any time, this person does not love you. How do they respond when you are sad, happy, concerned, late? Are they capable of showing love when you need it? Are they capable of showing empathy and understanding?
2. Observe their other relationships.
How do they treat people that they don’t know?
At a minimum, a nice person is courteous and may also be helpful when dealing with people that they encounter during the day. Does your partner show concern for other people? Or do they make jokes at other peoples’ expense? Is their humour mean or based on how stupid, incapable or unattractive people are? Is it racist or sexist?
An honest person acts with integrity. Sometimes a narcissist will boast about being able to “pull one over” on someone. They will be just as dishonest with you.
What types of friends do they have?
It is important to meet your partner’s friends. Normal people have friends that share the same interests, get together to do things they enjoy and support each other in good times, working times and bad times. Does your partner act differently around their friends? Behaving in a different way around friends is a red flag because it means that they are dishonest. Especially around friends, an individual should be comfortable relaxing and being themselves. A person capable of loving someone will be capable of forming strong bonds with good friends.
What types of dynamics are at play in their family?
Visit. See how they treat each other. Are they supportive and kind or are there a lot of mean jokes and put-downs? Is the mood festive, or subdued? Are the family members sharing stories and anecdotes? How are these stories received? Is there a feeling of openness and sharing or are one or two people asking a lot of questions?
Despite how family gatherings are stylized on television, many, many families actually enjoy each other’s company. Is your partner kind to their family members or do they “hate” some of them? Are they “annoyed” by their families? A person capable of loving someone will show love and respect for their family.
How did their last relationship end?
An individual may have been hurt, disillusioned or abandoned by their last relationship, but it is important to ask detailed questions about what happened. A person capable of loving another will be able to explain in concrete terms what was wrong, how the relationship ended and why it didn’t work. Claiming that their Ex was just “crazy” or “insane” is likely a major red flag.
3. Are they capable of discussing emotions and feelings?
Balanced individuals express a range of emotions. They can be happy, sad, excited, angry and content. Is the full range of emotions expressed? Are you allowed to express the full range of emotions or are you told to “suck it up”? How does your partner respond when you need comforting, emotional support and attention? These should all be available when you need them. I do not mean that your partner should be available 100% of the time, but when you feel sad, for instance, they should recognize that you need comfort.
It is not unreasonable for you to want someone to spend time with you if you are in distress. There are limits to this; if you are distressed all of the time, but you should be able to rely on emotional support.
Is your partner open about their feelings? Have they managed to work through old painful memories or do they still find them overwhelming? Can they express the full range of emotions or do they mainly express the familiar narcissistic ones, which are: “poor me”; “I hate something” and “Wow! I’m great”.
So, the final thing that you must face head-on is, “Are YOU capable of loving someone?” Do you feel empathy when someone else is being emotional or does it make you uncomfortable? Any relationship that you are in should be an equal partnership and if you are not capable of forming these bonds, you may not be capable of having a relationship with someone that can.
I needed both of the quilts that my daughters made for me in order to sit out back on the deck this morning. It is too cold otherwise. Spring brings that calm after the storm and promises that summer will soon burst from the buds.
I love the changing of the seasons more than the seasons themselves. There are great things about all seasons but it is the renewal, the chance to see things in a new light that I find most thrilling.
As Byron Katie reminds us, the simple act of questioning what we believe frees us from suffering. Seeing things in a new light can bring us peace.
Kathryn Shultz, in her TEDtalk, explains that we all think we’re right. When people disagree with us we first think they don’t know the truth and if they have the same facts, we assume they have a hidden agenda, they are evil.
This sets us up for conflict. We all base our beliefs on our knowledge and experience. Since there is no way that two people will ever live identical lives we will disagree.
Consider the possibility that you may believe something that isn’t true. Wouldn’t it be easier to recognize that it may not be true? This allows us to question things we tell ourselves that cause us stress. It also allows us to be gracious when we disagree with someone else which is better than seeing them as evil.
Questioning your beliefs has the potential to improve how you feel both within yourself and within your relationships. This brings peace and makes listening to the birds singing that much nicer even if it is still a two quilt morning.
The essential book for examining your thoughts.
A step by step guide on how to discover who you were meant to be. The study guide for this book is also available click on the icon below.
In Part 1 we looked at the types of people that a narcissist is attracted to, now we need to consider why you chose a narcissist. It may mean that you have never received unconditional love. You may simply not know what this feels like. There can be many reasons for this. Your parents or guardians may have been narcissists themselves and were incapable of showing love. Your parents may not have been available to you because they were ill, too busy working or they had problems with addiction. True parental love differs significantly from conditional affection or kindness that is used to reward you for desired behaviour.
This means that you may have no basis for comparison. If you have never received unconditional love it is difficult to know how it feels or what to expect. In addition to that, the emphasis while I was growing up was always on “true love” as the gold standard for romantic relationships. This effervescent, transcendent thing was beyond definition except for the statement: “You’ll know it when it happens”.
More alarming than that was when I discovered that the true difference between lust and love, based on the above definition, was outcome. This is not a very good way to judge a relationship at the beginning. I am embarrassed to say that I may have tried to prove that I was in “love” not “lust” simply by staying in some of my relationships.
This “true love” view of the ultimate relationship is dangerous because it means that you are raised to believe that “love will conquer all” and that simply is not true, especially when the love is one-sided. Being raised with this notion of what love is plays right into the narcissist’s hand.
The narcissist pretends to be deeply and truly in love with you. They need to see you all of the time. They may shower you with gifts. They want to spend every minute with you. They call, text, leave notes and basically reassure you constantly. They may also have this idealized “soul mate” vision that they convince you is attainable.
As I pointed out, while describing the signs that you are dating a narcissist, those behaviours are not actually love at all. This obsessive behaviour is smothering. Perhaps, not initially, but soon you realize that you cannot go out without disapproval. The narcissist needs to know where you are all of the time and there is no room for your wishes or desires.
So, lets look at what is important for the long term. The overall goal is being with this person enhances your life. They bring enough good that you are better off with them than you are without them. Sounds wonderful, but there are a lot of pitfalls in this, let me explain.
We all have needs. Needs to care for others, to be around others, to receive affection and companionship. If you have been lonely, like to have someone to take care of, or want to be taken care of, it may seem that the narcissist is “improving” your life simply by being around. The difference in a bad relationship is that spending time with them is often not that pleasant.
Everyone has good and bad moods and cannot be expected to always be pleasant. The distinction with a narcissist is that they have extremes and they are unpredictable. This creates two problems. The first is that there is an uncertainty when you are with them about what type of mood they are in and what type of mood they’ll be in soon. This puts a lot of pressure on you to ‘behave’ in a way that you know will lessen the possibility of them becoming unpleasant.
The second thing is that the swings are extreme. Some of the people that I have coached on this adore the passion that a narcissist brings to the table, but this enjoyment is usually short lived. What is happening is not the normal ups and downs of day-to-day life. It is the mood swings of someone that is not stable. A narcissist will use extreme anger or self-pity to control a situation. “Poor me” no one loves me. Or the opposite, “Fine, I won’t speak to you for days and days on end”. Both of these responses are exaggerated.
In normal relationships, a partner may lose their temper, be snippy or mean and then immediately become remorseful because they realize that they have hurt you. The narcissist will not recognize that they have hurt you because they have an inability to empathize. You find yourself demanding an apology and whether or not you get it is not the point. You have discovered that this person did not “care” that they hurt you.
We need to examine two things at the beginning of any relationship:
Are they capable of love?
What is reasonable to expect when someone says they love you?
So, after a terribly tumultuous time you have discovered that your partner is a narcissist. Yes, it is good to know that you are not going crazy. It is comforting to realize that you were not the source of all of the problems; you were simply the victim of a pathology masked as a lover. But, as the first wave of relief hits you, you begin to wonder, why did I pick a narcissist? This is a good question to ask, because it speaks to a deeper, often painful truth. A truth that you must understand before you pick another one.
Consider the following statements:
You had been lonely for a long time.
You are a gentle and open-minded person that is not quick to judge or jump to conclusions.
You are unable to distinguish the difference between someone who truly loves you and someone that pretends to love you.
You are highly independent and have learned to take care of yourself and those around you.
You knew that you could help this person achieve their full potential.
You thought that this person would make your life easier (more money, more support, more companionship).
Do any of these statements resonate with you? At first glance, the list above does not seem that remarkable. A lot of people are lonely. Being open-minded and self-sufficient are both good things. Knowing that you can help someone attain a better life, or hoping that someone can help you, both seem like reasonable things.
The alarming one is that you may be unable to distinguish between someone who truly loves you and someone who pretends to love you. When you combine that with one of the other things on the list, you can be exactly what the narcissist desires. There are three categories of narcissistic needs: the necessities of life, nourishment and a receptacle for their anger.
If you are willing to help this person achieve their full potential, or you are highly independent and can take care of yourself and those around you, the necessities of life may be what you can provide for the narcissist.
An individual that is looking for someone to take care of them, or is tired of being lonely is a sure bet for a narcissist. It is much more difficult for a person like this to leave an abusive relationship. Lonely or dependent individuals can swing between being a source of nourishment and a receptacle for the narcissist.
A gentle, open-minded person is easy to deceive. They are the type of individual that will give the narcissist “the benefit of the doubt” when the narcissist starts to show their true colours and this can lengthen the relationship considerably.
So these are some of the reasons that you may have been a target for the narcissist, but they do not speak to the larger problem, your ability to pick a partner might not be well developed. For many of us, we did not learn the basics of partner selection because we were brought up under less than ideal conditions. This is not to say that our families were not doing the best that they could, it just means that they were not equipped to help us to make good choices in the partner department. More on that in Part 2.
Narcissists need a receptacle for their anger. They need to direct their hate and animosity at someone. It is not enough for a narcissist to dislike you, they want to make you suffer. The only way to avoid being on this constant emotional roller coaster is to break off all contact. For those of you tired of the drama inherent in dealing with a narcissist, the best advice is NO CONTACT.
This is a major step for many individuals. If it was a romantic relationship, the first step is to stop having sex. Gradually, no face to face communication, then no telephone calls and the contact becomes less and less personal. Get an answering machine, block them on Facebook, direct their emails to a specific folder to be opened on your terms and stop responding to texts, or block the texts altogether.
This advice falls short when a relationship must be maintained for a co-parenting agreement. It is impossible to avoid all communication if you have children with your narcissist ex. Now there is hope! There is a website designed perfectly for this situation.
This portal provides the tools necessary for the exchange of information, scheduling and the communication that is required when there are two people, that no longer like each other, trying to co-ordinate parenting responsibilities.
Its features are amazing. It is possible to record everything that is said on this website. It is also possible to give lawyers and other caregivers full access. This means that any verbal assaults will be recorded. It also means that you can stream line your encounters to one place. No more middle of the night calls, texts while at work or unwanted comments on social media. It becomes possible to block them completely. Add in an individual that physically moves the children between homes and you are scott-free!
The website I’m referring to (there may be others) is “Our Family Wizard“. Sign up with your ex and start garnering the benefits of a true no contact situation.
At the beginning of a new relationship it is difficult to know what is normal and what is pathologic. Here are some red flags that should make you question whether or not you are with a
1. They are VERY interested in you.
When you first meet your initial conversations have less of a ‘get to know you’ feel and are more like an interrogation. They may join in the conversation, but they tend to want to know as much about you as possible. This is the initial situation, soon they become very full of themselves and only want to talk about how great they are.
Why this pulls you in:
They show so much interest in you when you first meet them. This can be irresistible to someone that has been ignored, unheard or otherwise lonely. This burst of attention can make you feel like this person cares about you. If you desperately want some attention, you are at risk.
2. They reveal something very personal early.
Most people share private details with someone as they get to know them. This is different, because these are shared long before the relationship warrants this type of exchange.
Why this pulls you in:
Revealing something personal is associated with attaining a certain level of intimacy. This is often reciprocated. In normal social interactions, people want the same level of vulnerability. We all want close, personal, relationships. Sharing personal things before you have known someone very long (regardless of how close you feel!!) is risky because they can and will use this personal information against you.
3. They elicit sympathy.
They give you a reason to feel sorry for them: broken home, lost job, just got out of a bad relationship, hard times.
Why this pulls you in:
This plays on our natural instincts to help one another. If someone shows vulnerability we feel like we want to help. One of the most common examples is that their last lover was very mean to them and treated them badly. They now are hurt, vulnerable and scared to get involved with another person. We can all relate to having an Ex that hurt us. This helps build the relationship by creating a common experience, a common understanding. If you did have a bad relationship before, they find this alluring. They want drama in their lives and if you get pulled into Ex bashing, they have found a true partner.
4. All of their spare time must be with you.
Narcissists cannot be alone. Do not mistake this for them really, really wanting to spend time with you. They are trying to avoid being alone.
Why this pulls you in:
If you have been lonely, or alone too much, this can make you feel special and loved.
5. Quickly, they start making long-term plans.
They can see your future for decades. They get really close really fast, well before it would normally happen.
Why this pulls you in:
They want you to see this imaginary future and start planning long term. Later, this will be used against you if you try to break away from the relationship because this imaginary life is something that you have agreed to and probably want. This is the opposite of someone that “won’t commit” and can be misunderstood as desirable.
6. They lie.
They exaggerate or give only partial information about things. Like, their last job may have been lost because they didn’t show up for work. They say that their boss was a jerk.
Why this pulls you in:
They are pulling on your heartstrings often by telling lies that inflate them, make them look like the victim or make them seem interesting.
7. They blame others for all of their problems.
They do not take responsibility for the loss of their last relationship, job, friends, or anything else.
Why this pulls you in:
It can give you a misrepresentation of who they are and not let you see how much trouble they cause. It also elicits sympathy because they have had such a hard time.
8. They have a need to know where you are and whom you are with at all times.
They blame this on their last relationship and make you feel like it is up to you to make them feel safe and loved, because they were hurt so bad before.
Why this pulls you in:
It can make you feel special and loved to have someone contacting you to say hello. These calls (texts, emails or whatever) are often masked as, “I miss you and wanted to say hello.” These are actually check-up calls so that they can keep track of you.
9. They display anger disproportionate to the situation.
Anyone that has road rage, gets snippy with a clerk, waiter or someone that they barely have contact with is showing inappropriate anger. These can be subtle at the time, but are MAJOR. Normal people do not have this amount of pent up rage.
Why this pull you in:
If you tend to lack assertiveness, it can be nice to be with someone that stands up for you.
10. History of reckless behaviour.
They tell stories about great and daring things that they have done.
Why this pulls you in:
These stories are often interesting and make the person seem daring and exciting. It feels like being with them will make your life more expansive and enjoyable.
Narcissists lie. I know, I shouldn’t just blurt it out like that, but it is true. One of the things that they use this skill for is to inflate themselves, what they’ve done and what they are likely to do in the future. This imaginary world they create can be confusing because it is easy to think that they believe it…and they may.
If you live with this for a long time you might find that you have become accustomed to
looking down on others as inferior.
No one is as gifted, talented and deserving as you and your family. You may also have an inflated sense of your entitlement. Some people refer to this as one of the narcissistic fleas. You get this behaviour from being with a narcissist and you have to remove it when you leave.
You may believe that you are the most successful, beautiful or intelligent.
Some of this may or may not be true, but you have been subjected to this fantasy creation for so long that it is even more difficult than average to be objective.
It is easy to get pulled into the illusion that is created with the web of lies. It can be very comforting to think that you
know more than anyone else
and that you are the only one that is “right”. This extreme form of having an opinion and arguing it at all costs is simply a reflection of insecurity, not better information, greater intelligence or an ability to understand.
Everyone forms their own opinions based on the information they have at hand and their own experience. Standing firm that any opinion is the “right” one and all other opinions are “wrong” feels strong but actually lacks wisdom. It is very seductive to be with someone who is very confident about how right they are until you realize how foolish they actually look to others around them. It is not possible to know anything for sure. All you know is what your opinion is.
You may also have an inflated sense of entitlement and feel as though only the very best is good enough for you.
You may be insulted if you are not treated preferentially.
This, of course, stems from the fact that you were living in the narcissist’s fantasy for a while and came to believe that some of the lies or exaggerations were true.
The opposite response to this situation is that you might
worry that people won’t believe you or take you seriously.
You secretly fear that you are not as successful, intelligent, accomplished, insert descriptor, as the narcissist you’ve been living with and therefore people will not think you are valuable.
5. An Inability to Trust
The lies have another impact on your perception of the world around you. You may have developed an inability to trust. If you happened to be the receptacle of the narcissist; a term I use as the person that gets blamed for things, baited and undercut, or the “scapegoat” in a family of narcissists, you may also fear people are out to get you. Someone HAS been out to get you, but behaving like this is still happening can have a negative on your relationships.
If you interpret every mistake as a slight and proof that
people are out to get you,
you are still in pain from being undermined in your relationship. Most people are not out to get you. Mistakes happen. They are normal and human. This behaviour is not ridiculous when you have been living with someone that is out to get you and to make you feel inadequate, small and ‘less than’. But it does look bad when you interpret accidents as attacks.
The extensive lying leaves you less likely to be able to trust.
The inability to trust may superficially sound like a good thing. You may tell yourself destructive things like, “if I hadn’t been so gullible, I would not have believed everything”. Deciding not to trust can feel like the perfect way to protect yourself, but ironically, it makes you more likely to end up with another narcissist in your life.
In order to form a genuine relationship with a new friend or lover, you need to be able to trust them. At the beginning of a relationship there is always an exchange of information, favours and gestures. If you immediately distrust people, this exchange does not occur, unless the person is persistent and floods you with attention, support and compliments — which is what narcissists do.
By not trusting you are effectively eliminating the potential friends and lovers that you actually want in your life and giving the narcissists the advantage.
I have another post dedicated to how to discourage a narcissist from dating you. If you are worried about choosing another one, it might be worth a read.
6. Depression, Anxiety, Nervousness
Finally, you probably experienced emotional hardship at the hands of your narcissist. This could leave you
depressed, “emotionally raw”, anxious, nervous, sad, angry…..
There are as many possible emotional responses as there are people. Be honest with how you are feeling. Honour your experience. Try to observe how it is affecting your behaviour.
You may have turned to addiction.
This could be legal or illegal drugs, eating, working, shopping, sex, gambling etc. These are all a way of not confronting how you feel. They keep you numb or preoccupied so that you don’t feel all of the emotions that are waiting to come out.
Know there is a hole in your heart and a tear in your self-confidence that need mending. The work required takes a lot of time and support and it is a painful process, but it is worth it. Becoming aware of how this experience may have changed how you act is a good step forward and away from that part of your life. Good luck.
Eckhart Tolle explains what “living in the moment” actually means in this book. He helps us take a broader look at our lives and our place in the world.
Since a narcissist never wants to be inconvenienced by you or your needs, any time you ask for help you will be turned down, unless they are about to ask you for a favour or are trying to get back on your good side. So, instead of saying, “no”, they attack and make it because “you are too needy”, “you can’t do anything yourself”, “you are too demanding”, “you aren’t smart enough to figure it out on your own” or whatever attack they prefer. In other words, they use your personal vulnerabilities as a way of manipulating you into not asking for help.
Love and attention are given in exchange for other things in a relationship with a narcissist. “If you don’t make dinner, I won’t even speak to you or acknowledge your presence”. This may not be said out loud, but when you’ve experienced the silent treatment for extended periods of time, you learn to behave a certain way. Consciously or unconsciously you find yourself doing everything that you can to make them happy. You become very aware of how you act and how you look.
It is common for a narcissist to accuse you of being selfish when in fact they are usually the more selfish one. This may create an imbalance with
you becoming increasingly selfless. Everyone else is more important than you are.
This is a more socially acceptable way to behave than the bursts of anger discussed above, but in extremes it is abnormal. Also,
it puts you at risk of choosing another narcissist.
If you are selfless already, you are perfect.
In addition to manipulating you into not asking for help, a narcissist may say that they will do something and then not do it. The result of this is that you become increasingly reluctant to ask for help, even when you need it. Why risk the attack when you know they are unlikely to help you? How can you rely on anyone? You may become aggressive towards those individuals that ask for help.
You may see people that ask for help as weak.
The opposite reaction is to
learn how to manipulate people into helping you.
Or you may find another person in your life to do what you need done and
use them the way a narcissist would.
You might become bossy and appear arrogant as a way to control others.
All of these responses would make you look like a narcissist as well, but they are simply maladaptive survival techniques. Some people refer to this as one of the narcissistic fleas. You get this behaviour from being with a narcissist and you have to remove it when you leave.
You see people who do favours for others as weak.
The best way out of this is to keep a journal and write down each time you help someone or someone helps you. How do you manage to get things done? Make a note of what other people do for you and see if there are one or two that you “control” more than others. Force yourself to ask people for help. This is honest. Everyone needs help. Choose people who are the most likely to help you. Examine whether or not the relationships you have are reciprocal or if they are imbalanced. Observe this dynamic between you, your friends and family. What is your role?
Observe how you feel when you hear about someone else getting a favour. Do you think less of someone who asks for help? Why? It is normal for people to help each other. We live in societies because we need each other. We all need help and we all deserve it.
3. Lack Self-Confidence
Part of the abuse you received while you were with a narcissist is that you were made to feel “less than.” A preferred way to manipulate people is to make them feel like no one else would put up with them. No one would tolerate your (insert your own button here). The result of this is a profound loss of self-confidence.
When something did go wrong or an error was made, it was usually your fault, or blamed on a “scapegoat” in your household. Any conversation during which there was disagreement was used to assign blame and ensure that the narcissist was not at fault. Arguments, or heated discussions were not about resolving issues they were about pointing fingers and “winning”.
Your response to this can take many forms.
You may be aggressive and arrogant as a way to cover your insecurity.
On the other hand, you may simply defer to everyone else’s opinion,
seldom speaking up for yourself.
Either way, a calm confidence in your own opinion is not what you are expressing. If you were not on the defensive (which is caused by the narcissist) you could simply state what you think.
Any feedback would be seen for what it was; just a part of a conversation about a topic with different points of view and opinions. It is difficult to realize people are not going to attack and blame you just because they disagree with you.
Observing yourself adamantly defend yourself, especially when you know you might be wrong,
is a warning sign that this is part of your unconscious behaviour.
You may have also adapted to your situation by
acting more important than others
competing and trying to prove your worthiness.
“I am better than you are” or smarter, braver or whatever. You may find yourself exaggerating how wonderful you are. The opposite extreme is to compete for sympathy, “You may not feel well, but I feel awful.” “You had a bad day, you should hear about mine!”
When you feel like you can’t do anything right, it makes you more aware when other people make mistakes. A narcissist will use every error as more support for the hypothesis that you are not good enough. This makes you eager to point out other’s mistakes. This can be seen as
intolerance for other’s mistakes.
You make sure that everyone is aware when someone makes mistakes, which makes you look petty and vindictive, when in fact you are just insecure and trying to prove that you are no worse than anyone else.
Part 3 Do You Live in a Fantasy or find it Difficult to Trust?