A reader asked, “My relationship with a Narcissist has scared me so much. How am I supposed to trust anyone after that?” She continued to list all of the atrocities committed by her Narcissist and what isn’t so surprising is that all the stories seem all too similar.
Considering that between 2 and 16% of North Americans are afflicted with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it is likely that the typical women will have at least one encounter with a Narcissist. Due to the deceptive nature of the impairment, a true accounting is near impossible to determine. Fortunately, in relationships, many exhibit similar behavior patterns, which makes them easier to identify.
When a Narcissist is getting to know a potential new target, he tends to overvalue his new source of supply. He lays on the charm and tries to sweep her off her feet. He is attentive, loving and everything she needs him to be. If while he’s in this hot phase, the target chooses not to engage and does not offer up the much needed supply, the Narcissist will become extremely emotional. Obtaining new sources of supply is difficult and a great source of anxiety for the Narcissist. Because they fear rejection vehemently and their entire sense of self-worth is dependent upon external sources, if abandoned at this early stage the Narcissist will become depressed, stuck and fixated on his lost target.
Most targets are not so lucky, often falling for the Narcissist’s fake charm and magnetism. In her book Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, relationship expert, Natalie Lue says that all Narcissists are Emotionally Unavailable, but not all Emotionally Unavailable men are Narcissists. She states, “that it is a fine line, but there is a line none-the-less.” In describing Emotionally Unavailable men, Lue lists the following behavior patterns:
He blows hot and cold – one minute he’s really into you, the next minute he’s gone. There are usually pockets of time that he disappears, then reappears offering little to no explanation
He future fakes –early on he talks about his plans for the future, which always includes you. He may even go so far as to talk about love and marriage. He uses this technique to let you think there is a future, so he can get what he wants in the present.
He manages down your expectations – he passive-aggressively appears to be on board, but as soon as you start to expect something from him, he will always disappoint. Soon he will manage down your expectations until you expect nothing from him and your relationship starts to resemble nothing more than a booty call.
His words never match his actions– he will make promise after promise, but will deliver nothing. He is one big walking excuse.
He takes no responsibility for his actions – when you call him on his behavior he will often resort to turning it around on you.
He liberally presses the reset button– when he breezes his way back into your life after blowing cold, he resets the relationship to the point where he feels the most comfortable. He disappears for just long enough so he can force out the memory of his past misdemeanors.
He relies on lazy communication – he prefers to communicate via text and email. This allows him to keep an emotional distance.
He’s resistant to involving himself in your life – he adamantly refuses to meet your family and friends and will impede the normal progression of a relationship.
The relationship is all on his terms – everything is on his terms, it’s all about him, his wants, his needs. He shows up when he wants to and he disappears when you start to expect anything from him. He lives on Me Island.
In my blog What Walks Among Us – Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I list the DSM-5’s criteria for diagnosing the disorder. While five criteria must be met for a diagnosis, Lue states that Emotionally Unavailable Men meet at least 3, those being; require excessive admiration, interpersonally exploitative, and they lack empathy. If you’ve noticed the above cited behaviours along with some of the following you are likely involved with a Narcissist:
He talks constantly about his abilities and skills – he wants attention and admiration for his talents, even if they are not particularly spectacular. He wants to be considered gifted in certain areas and may even lie and make up stories to try to impress his targets to illicit the esteem he is after.
He is obsessed with either his intellect or his body – the cerebral Narcissist will hone his knowledge and dialogue just enough to consider himself superior and to make sure you are aware that he is superior. He may try to dazzle you with stories of his brilliance, while exaggerating the stupidity of others.
A somatic Narcissist will likely spend hours at the gym every day, sculpting and perfecting his body. He’ll likely have a stock of photos that he eagerly shares with scores of women.
He talks about true love, romance and passion – in an attempt to lure you in and sweep you off your feet he will talk endlessly about how he is searching for true love. He believes that he is unique and looking for someone that shares his uniqueness.
He believes that he is licensed to do whatever he pleases, regardless of its impact on others –he may have a string of women that he goes to for sex, money or an ego stroke. He believes that he is so special that he is entitled to lie, manipulate and string women along for his own benefit.
He is extremely jealous and envious of others– he always wants to be the center of attention. When his significant others, children, family or friends do not put him first, he may sulk, punish, or internally or externally rage with envy.
He rages at the smallest slight, real or imagined – he is constantly on the lookout for criticism. Any threat to his superiority will be dealt with extreme hostility and anger. Others witnessing the scene will be shocked at how out of proportion his reactions are to the perceived insult.
If you find your nearest and dearest displaying any of the above behaviours, isn’t it time you started asking, what am I getting out of this relationship. Putting up with abusive behavior does not prove how much you love someone. What it proves is how little you love yourself. Resist your desire to be a doormat and put foot to pavement and bounce.