Comedian Chris Rock brilliantly shares, “When you meet somebody for the first time, you're not meeting them, you're meeting their representative.” While we all intuitively know that it takes time to authentically know each other, we also have had those magical moments where we meet someone and feel an immediate and undeniable connection. It’s so easy to buy into fantasy and have false reality testing when feeling seduced by a charming narcissist. The Mayo Clinic describes narcissistic personality disorder as a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. Best selling author and well-respected psychiatrist Judith Orloff shares, “Narcissists can be charming, intelligent, caring–that is, until their guru-status is threatened. When you stop stroking their ego or beg to disagree, they can turn on you and become punishing.” Does this sound familiar? Have you or are you currently involved in a relationship with a narcissist?
It makes a lot of sense that so many of us will become involved with a narcissist at some point of our lives. After all, those high in narcissism may also be fun, charismatic, and have a lot of natural talent. However, loving someone narcissistic can be incredibly painful as they lack empathy and have a very limited capacity for unconditional love. Psychologists have distinguished two types of narcissists. A ‘vulnerable narcissist’ presents an outward shell of self-centeredness and self-absorption and masks a very weak inner core. In contrast, ‘grandiose narcissist’ truly believe in their own greatness—and they may even be almost as good as they think they are.
Regardless of if you are dealing with a vulnerable or grandiose narcissistic person, both styles utilize manipulation in their relationships with others, have entitled attitudes believing they deserve special treatment, have a preoccupation with getting own needs met over other people’s and consistently blame others for any unfavorable circumstances. It’s estimated that up to 6% of the US population has narcissistic personality disorder.
You might be asking yourself how does someone develop a narcissistic personality disorder? The roots of the disorder can be linked to early childhood trauma and the many ways a child was not appropriately taken care of by their caregiver(s). In many cases a child will develop narcissism when they had a parent they couldn’t rely on to appropriately recognize, name, and regulate the child’s emotions, particularly in cases of heightened arousal. Another cause of this disorder is when one is raised in a family where status and success are of utmost importance and only qualities that lead to sustaining a grandiose self-image are valued while other behaviors are disregarded or punished.
To those loving someone with narcissism my heart goes out to you. While narcissism is caused by trauma and unmet caregiving needs, it is very challenging to love someone who struggles to love you back in a healthy way. I believe healing is always possible. Likewise, I have seen those with narcissistic traits gain awareness and greater relationship skills but, only when working through their trauma with the help of a trained mental health professional. If you are struggling in loving someone with narcissistic personality disorder the tips below are for you. Sending healing thoughts. As we care for others let’s not forget to also care for ourselves.
Tips For Loving Someone with Narcisstic Personality Disorder:
1. It’s Not Your Fault: Those who are narcissistic have a very tough time taking responsibility for the pain their actions have caused others. You might be tempted to keep the peace by accepting blame. However, be aware of gaslighting and stay grounded in the facts. Even if your loved one can’t see their responsibility, know you are not at fault for their behavior.
2. Encourage Professional Help: Because some narcissists truly have low self-esteem and profound feelings of inadequacy, it’s important to recognize when they can benefit from professional intervention. Regardless of your mental health training, it isn’t a healthy boundary to play the therapist role for a loved one. Encouraging your loved one to seek professional help is the most responsible and promising way to make a meaningful difference for them.
3. Expect Them to Push Back:
If you set healthy boundaries, anticipate a retaliation. Setting limits may cause someone narcissistic to come back with some demands of their own. They may also try to manipulate you into feeling guilty or believing that you’re the one being unreasonable and controlling. They might make a play for sympathy. Take a deep breathe and commend yourself for having strength to stand your ground. Maintain consistency in setting limits.
4. Know When to Leave:
Sometimes we need to ask ourselves the tough questions. When you are being mistreated in a relationship ask yourself why you are being drawn to this partner? Those of us who have a history of abuse can end up in repetition compulsion when we repeat cycles of trauma again and again in our lives. Set boundaries for yourself, get counseling to understand your patterns and most importantly, know your limits and when to leave.
Can you relate to this post? If yes, please send me an email and let's set up a complimentary phone call. Sending you peaceful thoughts and wishes for brighter days.