Are you wondering if yours is a narcissistic relationship, then there are some signs you cannot ignore: If you can go from being adored to devalued in the blink of an eye just because you had the audacity to question anything your partner, lover, friend or business associate said – look out! If this is the first time you question his/her omnipotence, the attack will be instant and fierce, leaving you with a feeling of having been in the way of a freight train. Of course you will be stunned at the heartless and cruel encounter with someone you admired and thought worthy of your trust, but this is your cue to make drastic adjustments to a relationship that now is changed forever. Who is a narcissist? It can be anyone – a friend, a business partner, a lover or a spouse – even family. Maybe you looked up to this individual and admired him, which makes your confusion at the sudden aggression all the more painful as you grapple with the incomprehensibility of the senseless attack on you. What just happened? you ask yourself. There is no way to soften the blow. Once you break ranks with those who sing his (or her) praises endlessly and instead, ask for accountability, the mask of contrived congeniality is swiftly ripped away and you look into the cold and calculating eyes of the real person. Those who have experienced the unabated wrath of an ‘injured’ narcissist, will be unanimous in their advice: Put as much distance between you and the perpetrator as you can. Your well-being depends on it.
If you are in doubt about the fluctuating/radical behavior of someone close to you, a short summary of the characteristics of narcissism, might clear up some aspects for those who wonder if they have a narcissist for a life partner, business partner, or a friend: The cold hard truth is that a narcissist loves no-one, not even himself. Rather, he falls in love with the ‘impression’ he thinks he makes upon others, and falsely feels love toward those who are most in awe of this ‘impression.’ Should this fake image be discovered by those who “admire” him, he becomes outraged and abandons these people in contemptuous disrespect – even publicly. The narcissist has no real friends and only fake self-esteem. Masters of deception, they devour people and shamelessly use them to achieve their goals, whilst vehemently denying any allusion to this effect. Yes! A narcissistic relationhsip is utterly toxic. When you discover their gig, you will be disillusioned and stunned, but be warned that reconciliation is not even a remote possibility. Once you have peered through the sham of their pretences and lies (yes! they are pathological liars who spin a story at the drop of hat) then you become the enemy. A narcissist requires continuous admiration and stroking and if you no longer can be a source of supply, you will not be tolerated in his inner circle. Ironically, a favourite assertion of narcissists is that they are ‘humble and ego-less’, but these are only terms they use to impress. In reality, their behavior, especially when they are crossed, gives their game away. No-one told them that what you truly are, you never have to claim – that people will always know without being told.
Still not convinced your friend, business partner or whoever, falls into this category of the human race? Examine, if you will, some of the following traits. Does he exaggerate accomplishments, talents and skills? Is he obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success or fame and dream of being in the limelight? Does he endeavour to make contact with people who are in the public eye and try to associate with their brilliance, posturing to be of the same ilk? Does he spend endless hours on the Internet and in terms of social media – does he work at building long lists of “friends” that he has no substantial contact with? Are his “friends” people who live in distant countries and locations whom he can hoodwink with his “wit and superior intelligence”, but who will never show up at his dinner table, or be there to help in an hour need? Does he associate with objects rather than people? Is he devoid of empathy and incapable of identifying with the feelings, needs and choices of others? Does he behave arrogantly and rage when contradicted or confronted by people who threaten his superior, invincible persona? If the answer is yes to most of these questions, you might want to take deep breath …you are undoubtedly caught in a narcissistic relationship.
Narcissistic rage is a scary phenomena, because it is different from “stress.” Narcissistic rage is the result of what is interpreted as a slight, criticism or disagreement – which in Psychiatry is known as “narcissistic injury.” This uncontrolled reaction is devastating and completely disproportionate to the offence – where the punishment simply does not fit the “crime.” Raging narcissists believe that their wrath has been intentionally provoked. But when their victims finally see through the ruse of the ridiculous attack, they clue in to the perpetrator as being incoherent, unjust and fickle and begin to make plans to release themselves from the narcissistic relationship. In the bizarre world of a narcissist, he not only uses and abuses people, but even language devolves into a medium without a message. Words are used out of context or verbose dramatic statements are employed to elevate him above the stupidity of those who just don’t get his brilliance – but it only causes confusion. It is often impossible to really understand a narcissist as the convoluted syntax disappears into an abyss of incomprehensible tortured language that sounds important, but is utterly meaningless.
Research has revealed that narcissists are the product of their upbringing – it inevitably leads to them having a narcissistic relationship with everyone who crosses their path. They often pretend to have had happy childhoods, but the majority have suffered abandonment on some level, forcing the young child to construct a fake persona who lives in a “perfect world” where he is loved and nurtured like all the other children in the neighbourhood. Pretending that all is well on the home front becomes a task to which they dedicate their entire lives, but because they lack the foundation and reference that authentic, warm human interaction provides, they begin to operate similarly to card board cutouts and learn to fake everything they missed as a child which is the start of a narcissistic relationship. This manner of image polishing becomes a way of life, but puts them on precarious ground where no form of criticism or questioning can be endured, lest the house of cards begins to tumble; a narcissistic relationship is also strangely fragile. Males are often obsessed with their absent, distant and cold mothers whom, dead or alive, they strangely begin to idolize in a bizarre effort to rewrite the tortured history of their past.
Now that you know who you are dealing with – what to do? If the bond is not of crucial value to you, then make tracks as fast as you can and walk away from this narcissistic relationship. If this is a spouse or family member, you must learn to call them on their game, and stand up to them. If they rage, rage back at them – there is no other way, because the main weapon of a narcissist is fear and intimidation. You will have to demonstrate that you are not afraid of them, or the emotional lynching will continue. If this is a business relationship, then reduce contact to the absolute minimum – but never sacrifice your own standards because you expect his rage when you rightfully demand accountability. Let their rage be their problem. Don’t stand for it and tell them so.
There is no known cure for narcissism – especially when it has become pathological. The reason for that is that introspection is the one thing they fear most and simply cannot do. It is just too scary to look inside and find a dark hollow void staring back you.