Do You Know a Narcissist? 4 Tips for Coping
They Love You…But They Love Themselves More
When someone you love makes the conscious decision to hurt you, you have some decisions yourself to make. You can allow the behavior and let it destroy you, you can let it fuel you and give you strength, or you can pack up and decide not to let the abuse take residence in your life anymore.
Pain, betrayal, and anger all hurt. When someone says “I love you” but their actions clearly show something different, it can be confusing. It’s hard to understand why someone could be neglectful and hurtful who is supposed to love you, especially if that person is family or a friend.
Love is such a strong word. The meaning behind it for me means unending, compassionate, loyal, dedicated, and so many more things. It comes with an expectation that you will always be there. Love does not have an asterisk with *terms and conditions in the fine print. It isn’t a what can you do for me type of scenario. Love can mean different things to different people.
We all have relationships in our life that we may struggle with. Have you ever known someone who has said things such as:
“If they don’t do this for me I am done with them.”
“If they don’t show up today they won’t be invited to the next gathering.”
“If they don’t do what I want, then I am done.”
“It’s my way or the highway!”
These can be signs of the most classic borderline personality disorder- the narcissistic personality. This is a very difficult person to be around. 1 in 25 people is classified as a narcissist. You can never please them. You either showed up too early, too late, you were overdressed, or underdressed for an occasion. You overspent and you were a show-off or you under-spent and you were cheap. If you didn’t bow down to them and give them all the attention then you were rude. Relational issues can cause a great deal of stress in our lives.
The Golden Rule
When you live by the golden rule to treat others how you want to be treated and it is not reciprocated, it can leave you dumbfounded. When you try to wrap your head around why people do the things they do against you, when you aren’t capable or interested in causing the same pain, it’s dejecting. I think out of all of these feelings dealing with a narc can bring, the hardest part to understand is that you may actually never understand the reason why.
Classic Narcissistic Traits
The Narcissistic Spouse – plays the blame game and is never wrong. They may lie, cheat or, manipulate. They have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration. They have a grandiose sense of self. They might expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it and exaggerate talents. The narc as a spouse may be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty, or the perfect mate. Relationally, they will hurt you and when you are at your weakest and you try to make amends, they will act confused and ask you what you are talking about. When explaining, you may get interrupted so as to confuse you and while trying to think, they laugh because you have been “tripped up.” They will try to invalidate you and your feelings. They may threaten you and your security with them. This is called gaslighting. It is mentally abusive. You need to try to recognize the signs and seek professional help for your relationship.
Narcissists as Parents – will pin their children against each other as a means of control and manipulation. They take others in “under their wing” as a means of rescue and to feel wanted. They desire to look like a hero and existentially leave their kin behind. They compare their children to themselves. They speak about their children as possessions or property. They threaten them to succeed in areas that they failed in as a child as a means to vicariously live through them. They enjoy publically parading what they consider their superior dispositions, be it material possessions, physical appearance, projects and accomplishments, background and membership, contacts in high places, and/or trophy spouse and offspring. They go out of their way to seek ego-boosting flattery.
There are a few types of children who belong to the narcissist parent:
The golden child(ren) who are codependent and need the narcissist parent and agree with their every word to stay on their good side. They need the narcissist so they don’t get cut off from all the “benefits” they reap from the narcissist.
The scapegoat child is the worker bee. The one who cleans, cooks, and takes care of everyone. The fabric that keeps it all together. The organizer. The one who gets the blame when things go awry. The scapegoat will speak their mind and get shunned by the narcissist and also by the golden children for lashing out and going against the grain. If they speak their mind they will be punished with “the silent treatment.” This could go on for days, weeks, months, or even years. The scapegoat will be seen as the drama queen or king simply for standing up for themselves and asking the narcissist to act like a decent human being.
The golden children will dismiss these feelings as a means to not cut off their milk supply and remain tit babies for life by the ever nurturing narcissistic parent. The narcissist will then not assume ownership for any of the wrongdoing or pain that has been caused to all in their path.
The attention-starved narcissist – will sit at parties and talk to anyone who will listen. They will talk about things going on in their life and poor pitiful me. You won’t hear them asking how anyone else is doing. They have to keep talking to get people engaged. They want to look like the victim because the portrait painted always has to have them as the artist, so as to show how awful others are. Some listeners will be so engaged they will take a front row to the drama with popcorn in hand. Others will find the current events entertaining and know the narcissist’s ways and find it amusing.
The victim narcissist – will drain others financially and never repay them. Once they have exhausted everyone they see as an opportunity, they will dispose of them. Once those people are of no use to them, they will tell stories about them or disregard them. They will now be a write-off. They will never show up in times of real trouble and leave you feeling helpless. They use sarcasm as a means of emotion. You can open up in your most vulnerable of times and pour your heart out only to be rejected or hear “things will work out for you, they always do.” Almost making you feel stupid for showing that side of yourself.
The narcissist has limited relationships and alienates themselves from family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. There is a clear pattern with relationships crumbling all around them but it will never be “their fault.” They find something wrong with everyone except themselves. These relational situations can make any family member or friendship drained and strained.
How to Deal with a Narc
If you find yourself in any sort of relationship with a narc, consider taking some steps to preserve your own sanity and dignity.
Step 1. STEP BACK. Everyone could use a break from time to time. Sometimes just a short break away is necessary. Many times when we are frustrated or hurt it can come out as anger. Sometimes, the more time that passes, things can get worse. Other times a nice break can help.
Once you have a clear head, try to speak how you feel and clearly communicate the expectation that you are trying to achieve. If it can be met, great! Work on it together. If it cannot, maybe a longer break is needed or therapy.
Step 2. STEP OFF. Do not do all the work yourself. If you are constantly the one to reach out, to plan the dinners, and make the effort with no reciprocation, you may be in a one-sided relationship. Gone are the days. I used to think:
“If I just do more, show up more, loan more, gift more, then they will love me more and show up more and take up more time with me and my family.” I learned the hard way that this is not healthy.
If someone cares about you and how you feel, they will work to repair your relationship. If you tell them directly “Hey, this really hurt me when…” and they still don’t care to show up in your life or they only show up when it’s convenient for them- you might want to reevaluate the amount of time you spend with them. If someone only comes around when they want or are getting something from you, then they don’t care about you. They are only reaping the benefits of your generosity. Politely step off the carnival ride they have you on and reassess your relationship.
Step 3. STEP AWAY. The narcissistic personality type does not care to help you cope with the hurt you’re feeling that they caused. In other words, they likely don’t care about you as much as you do for them and it’s time to really assess your relationship with the person. Take a look at why you are even trying to be in their life in the first place. Do not try to occupy space in someone’s life who would charge you rent just to stand in theirs! Stepping away either for good or for an extended period of time is necessary.
Step 4. STEP IN– Look inside your own heart. Take the time you need to work on yourself. Healing is necessary when you have been in a toxic relationship. Take the time you need to heal from how the person hurt you and clearly convey to them what was done that hurt you. That person’s response will be a key indicator of where your journey goes from here as to their openness to how you feel. They may validate your feelings and want to work on the relationship and the hurt that was caused. They may continue to belittle you and name call. If this is the case, it’s time to evaluate where to go from here.
How to Heal
If you find yourself as the scapegoat, the one who is the brunt of the neglect and hurt, do yourself a favor. Decide what you want to do. You can continue to allow this behavior and ignore the abusive, abrasive conversations, actions, and hurtful comments. You can let it fuel you and become a stronger person and let it help you succeed better than the narcissist ever thought you could or would. You can pack up shop and not let this destroy you. The answer to these questions is never easy. If you are the scapegoat this will be harder on you to make the decision on what is the best option for you as people are not disposable to you. You have to take time for yourself. Something you are not used to doing if you are like me! You must first take care of yourself before you can worry about everyone else.
For now, take care of you. Take time and try to find a resolution. Prayer and a great support system work well for me. Sometimes just taking that needed break makes all the difference. A good talk session can open lines of communication and heal the hurt.
Surrounding yourself with people whom you love and who truly love you back is key. If you are going through this, just know that you are not alone. There isn’t a family or friendship that is perfect. Things take work, patience, prayer and a whole lot of understanding! Know that you are loved and the best gift that you can give to someone else is to re-write the script. Change your story so that a legacy of love is left for future generations.
As always, thanks for reading and cheers to healthier living!
-Teri Socia, Health & Wellness Blogger, Michigan Mama News