When I met my long-term Narcissist I was in my mid to late 20’s and after receiving my University degree I landed a job with the Government. My Narcissist, a high-school drop-out, was working in retail and didn’t have any aspirations for better.
I wanted better for him. I wanted better for us, so I went on a crusade to get him a better job. I wrote resumes and cover letters. I searched and searched until I found jobs he could apply for. Many of them required College degrees and I remember thinking, “I wish I could give him mine. He needs it more than I do.” And believe me if it was possible, I would have given it to him.
I showed him how get into a University course for mature students, that would help him get in without having to finish high-school. When he got the first assignment, I remember reading the first book and doing the assignment for him because I knew he wouldn’t do it. I insisted he do the next one and low and behold he didn’t, so he dropped out. I eventually got him into my department in the government. I spoke to the recruiting team. I helped him with the questions they would ask and the test he would have to take. He was fully prepared and with my help, he got the job.
He then moved laterally into another department. There he met the well-respected head of the HR department. She was making six figures and was married with children. She fell pretty quick for his good looks and superficial charm and she was that sympathetic shoulder for him to cry on, as he regaled stories of all the ways I was to blame for what was wrong in his life. She helped him advance into positions he had no business getting. Now he is the CFO for a company in the private sector – all without the proper education, experience or credentials.
I had a client from Europe who had a Ph.D. in Anthropology. She was doing field work in Africa and met a young man. She helped him obtain entrance to her University back home and a student visa to her country. She supported him through school and even influenced her colleagues to allow him entrance into the graduate program. She did his research for him, helped him write papers and study for exams. She followed the same procedures all the way through grad school, all the way to his Ph.D. thesis.
Once he got his credentials, the relationship fizzled and he left her for another woman.
I hear stories like this all the time and the question that inevitably follows – How could he/she do that to me after everything I’ve done for them?
Not only do they feel devastated from the breakup, but they feel like a fool – duped and betrayed, as if there was a breaking of an unspoken agreement – I do this for you and then you do this for me. And when that doesn’t pan out (it never does) – there’s a huge sense of injustice and unfairness that’s hard to swallow.
Care taking is a term used in Codependency circles. It’s the name given to a behavior of a Codependent who tries to control their relationship by over-doing and over-giving. It’s meant to say to their emotionally abusive partners – see look how much I do for you – look how much you need me – no one else will do this much for you, so you have to stay with me. Somewhere in the back of their minds, they believe that their partner will understand and acknowledge that there is a debt owed and that that will somehow compel them to stay and be grateful. They forget all the examples of selfishness their partner has displayed throughout the relationship. They forget that their partner lacks empathy and they forget that their partner feels entitled to everything they’ve been given. To a Narcissist a quid pro quo only works one way – if they do something for you – you owe them and they expect you to fulfill your end of the bargain, but if you do something for them with the same expectation – well it sucks to be you.
The narcissist’s recipe usually looks something like this:
You do for me = your usefulness is over and I’m on my way out the door, on the look-out for my next opportunity. To forget that they are opportunists is to forget their true nature.
Don’t expect a Narcissist to think about you. Don’t expect them to feel indebted and don’t expect them to appreciate your efforts. Entitlement, selfishness, manipulation is their hallmark. They may say the words, but as always, with a manipulator, actions always speak louder.
When you do for others what they will not do for themselves or for you, it’s a recipe for disaster. Before you jump head first into making someone else’s life better, you need to stop and ask yourself:
- Is this helping good for the person you’re helping – are you enabling, are you overdoing, are you removing consequences that they should be experiencing? Are you trying to change someone into someone you want them to be?
- What are your motives? Are you Care taking? Are you trying to control them and your relationship through what you do for them?
- Is there reciprocity in your relationship? Do they do for you in an equal or better way?
- Is this good for you? Would your energy be better spent focusing on your own goals? Are you focusing on them because you don’t want to look at yourself?
- Are you doing this for someone who can do for themselves? Think about how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll quickly realize that people will not change because you want them to or because you’ve done all the work for them. They only change because they want to. Let people be who they are and if it isn’t what you want then you walk away. If this continues to be a habit in your relationship you can expect more of the same – of you doing everything and your partner doing little to nothing.
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