*Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love – NPD criteria DSM4
Have you ever had a conversation with someone, who you know is rather arrogant, and all of a sudden, they start boasting something about themselves (their abilities, work, appearance, achievements, sexual prowess) that is so outlandish and obviously untrue, that you have to stop yourself from laughing out loud?
In these types of conversations, it may take you a few seconds to realize, by their straight face, that they’re serious. But by that time, there’s an awkward silence, you’ve done an internal eye roll and that little voice inside your head is bouncing all over the place and it keeps asking, “Oh my God. Are they serious? This is a joke right?”
If you have, you know what it’s like to have a conversation with a Narcissist. The word conversation is probably somewhat generous, because the exchange is often a one-sided, self-promo on someone whose primary aim is to convince you of how incredible they are.
You can usually tell they’re in this delusional state by the smug look on their face. If challenged you can be sure that you will be faced with a verbal assault, either to your face or behind your back. This begs the question, do they really believe what they’re boasting about?
The fact that they’re so defensive leads one to believe that they know it’s a smoke screen and that they’re upset at being discovered and called out. However, if they repeat a lie often enough, it takes on the air of truth in their own mind. The lengths they can go to to perpetuate a lie are remarkable. This is indicative of someone who is preoccupied with image and perception, rather than reality.
If you pair that with their sense of entitlement, it’s almost as if they feel they have the right to make up whatever they want and have an expectation that you will believe it.
The perception of being a successful business person is just as important than actually being a successful business person – the perception of sexual prowess is more important than the reality. This isn’t to say that they don’t want or wish for actual success, it implies that in the absence of reality, perception will do.
Living in fantasy world might seem to be the proverbial empty calories, but it still accomplishes the necessary task of filling them up.
While there are Narcissists that do achieve success, the vast majority are often too crippled by insecurity and doubt to put in the time and effort success requires. Many will latch onto successful partners and siphon opportunities and connections through them.
They seem to be singularly focused on perpetuating this superior image to others. It allows them to obtain the supply they so desperately need. Obtaining this supply is always their number one priority. It is the monster inside of them that constantly needs to be fed. The false image they’ve created is a tool, like a fork, which allows them to facilitate their feed.
The Narcissist is never at a loss for company and they purposely surround themselves with flying monkeys – people who give their unfaltering devotion and who jump to do their bidding. These flying monkeys make it easy for them to live in fantasy land. They believe their lies even when presented with the truth. They back up their stories, provide alibis, eye-witness accounts and they help to grow the legend.
The key for all those recovering from Narcissistic abuse is to not accept people or words at face value. Demand proof. Hold people accountable and always make sure that words match actions.
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Almost a year ago, a good friend of mine asked if I could drop off some household bits and pieces to his sister-in-law who lived in another country. I was driving to the country where she lives as I had bought a car that I then sold on to be dismantled and sold for parts. I digress. Several months prior to the journey, I made friends with my friend’s sister-in-law on Facebook. She came across as an OK person as far I could gather, quite humorous, intelligent, articulate and in the looks department, she wasn’t unattractive but nothing special.
Upon meeting her meeting her, I was invited into her apartment with the bits and pieces I had brought over. We had a coffee and then as neither of us had eaten, I invited her out to dinner. She just wanted a hamburger which was fine by me. After the meal, we returned to her apartment. Chatting over more coffee, she paused and then asked me why I was looking at her? My reply was quite flippant as I said that I generally tend to look at people when talking to them and not at the wall or the ceiling! At that point, she made a half smile, a smirk and said ”I get the very distinct feeling that you want to take me to bed and fuck me!” This caught me on the back foot and I just laughed it off but inwardly, I couldn’t believe what she had just said. At that point, she grabbed her phone and went onto my Facebook page to scroll through which female friends of mine had liked my posts. She zeroed in on one particular friend and started calling her names and insulting her looks. She doesn’t even know this person. She said that if I wanted a romantic liaison with woman that she was the one and not my friend who had liked my FB posts. I should say that I’m a happily married man and that I’,m not in the market for a fling or an affair. At this point, I made my excuses and took leave. I had no idea what I was dealing with at that point but out of curiosity I stuck around and remained friends with this person up until I started to research NPD and Narcissism. Just over 4 months ago now, I went NO CONTACT immediately after telling her to fuck off. My patience had finally run out. Looking back, she was hard work on so many levels and although I’m still friends with sister and brother in law, there is NO way on earth that I could ever be friends with her again. I ripped off her mask and discovered what belies the surface – nothing but a seething and putrid toxic mass.
Thank you for this article! It perfectly explains the situation with my good friend Michaels ex wife who is a narcissist. during her wedding, A male friend of hers named Anthony drank too much and almost got into a fight outside of there reception. The bride left her guests and her husband and ran out to help her friend Anthony and that made Michael pretty upset and a bit offended. After the wedding, there was a lot of tension when Anthonys name was brought up. The narc brides parents dished out 30,000 for their wedding and only wanted to hear all the good things about the wedding, no complaints. Michael brought up the fight too many times so the narcissist bride came up with a plan to get him to stop. She was never mad at her friend, she was worried and she was minimizing it when speaking with her friend but when she was with Michael and Anthony wasn’t around, she would pretend to be angry about it and pretending to refuse to speak to him. This made Michael feel better because it calmed his uneasiness about her running to him during their reception and made him feel like he wasn’t alone in his anger. One day Michael received a text from the narc wife of two pictures. One was a typed letter addressed to her parents and signed Anthony in pen. The other photo was a bouquet of flowers. She writes “Look at what mom got from Anthony today.” The letter was typed and it was full of flattering compliments about the narcissist and how wonderful she is as a friend to him during a difficult time ( she told Michael Anthony was secretly gay and wanted to come out but was too afraid at the time) and how she must have gotten it from her parents. It ends by saying. “I hope one day we can put this matter behind us and focus on the future.” The narcissist wife said This was a very nice letter and gesture and its obvious that he is sorry if he went to all this trouble to send flowers and a letter. She said she just wasn’t ready to talk to him yet and was still made about his actions. My gullible friend didn’t doubt it one bit. He told his narc wife, “I guess that’s all we needed to hear from him, I just wanted to know he felt regret.” The narc wife agreed. This letter was a prime example of what the article described as, “self-promo on her husband while also making him jealous but whose primary aim is to convince him how incredible she is” He never suspected a thing. He divorced her exactly one year after the wedding due to feeling like something was off with her, her withholding sex and using it as a bribe for him not to hold it against her if she goes out again with friends and for him not to tell her parents in exchange for sex upon her return home and overall just being taken for granted. That is when I saw the letter and read it. I asked him if he ever suspected the letter was fake or that her gay friend never wrote it or knew about it or that her flying monkey parents never saw it or the flowers? He looked confused. I immediately knew it was fake and dared him to ask her parents . So he did and I was right. She is so lame and pathetic and humiliated now. Her gay best friend was never gay either. She is married to him now and they have a baby but that is unraveling fast now that everyone knows how she lied and tricked everyone. Narcs are toxic.
Unfortunately this is the kind of narcissist which is easy to recognize and avoid. The really dangerous one is the covert type which appears to be a shy, introverted guy with no social skills. If you get to know him, soon enough he will show all the traits of a narcissist, the love bombing, the word salad, the strange behaviour, the ghosting, the lack of intimacy, the lack of empathy, the arrogance, everything. But it takes a long time until you realise whom you are dealing with, definately after love bombing phase.
A narc I’m unfortunately related to once said this to me:
(Heavy sigh) It’s so hard to be me. All men want me and all women want to be me. Hell, half the women want me too.
I laughed so hard I snorted until I realized she was glaring at me. I said, “Oh my God, you’re serious!”
She narrowed her eyes and gritted her teeth. I swear I heard a little growl.
When I read the comments from another reader about “Bill”, I had to laugh… but then I felt that weird twinge when he said he almost believed Bill’s outlandish claims because Bill himself seemed to believe the nonsense he was spewing….
I almost wish the narc I knew had been like Bill. The one I knew was almost sinister – he could present this honest, dependable, true-blue guy to all of his lady friends — while I knew that at best, he was probably sleeping with all of them while continually grooming new supply. With so many flying monkeys/harem, etc… it was just unbelievable in a way. To this day, I still don’t understand why none of these women caught on to what he was doing and/or why they allowed it to continue. If he was even up to half the stuff I think he was — no one would have ever believed me. It still causes me to feel sick to my stomach. I feel very blessed to have gotten away.
Savannah: I’ve read all your great narc articles. As with many, and this latest one, I am often reminded of a particular narc story of a highly grandiose narc named Bill. I have so many memories of his ridiculous statements & claims, but one story below stands out in regards to this new article of yours…
I have recreational acreage in the Arizona desert. Bill lives not far from my property, and had recently started renting his older home. His latest tenant is a younger woman age 34. Bill was age 62, in poor health with heart problems. Bill stops for a quick visit at my house near town, and he’s telling me about this new attractive younger woman that just rented his place. Bill says she is making him dinner outside on the grill as a thank you for her new rental place. (I know absolutely that an attractive younger woman would not be in the least bit attracted to this in poor health older man Bill) I’ve seen Bill flirt with attractive young women, he has fantasies & illusions way beyond reality, but in his mind it’s reality no matter how absurd. So one day at my house, Bill tells me that this new younger woman renter named Jodi is having dinner for him at 5:00PM outside at her house. I’m going out to my acreage later, and ask Bill if it’s OK if I stop by later to say hi? I tell Bill it will be well after 5:00 so I won’t disturb their dinner time. He actually says to me… “Well OK, but if you see heads bobbing in my hot tub, don’t come over” It was such a crazy statement, and I instantly figure he has to be joking. So I smile & chuckle a little. His response? A straight face saying it again… “If you see heads bobbing in my hot tub, don’t come over” Then Bill walks to get in his truck, but now I have the creeps thinking he might actually believe this nonsense, this insanity. I of course feel unsettled now, have the creeps, that Bill, a neighbor, somewhat a friend, might actually believe this fantasy? He’s in his truck now, I have to know he’s joking but fear he’s not joking. He starts his truck, I walk to the open window saying… “Bill you have to be joking, tell me you are not being serious” This time he lowers his head, looking over the top of his glasses, looking dead serious saying yet again more sternly, now for the 3rd time… “If you see heads bobbing in my hot tub, don’t come over” Then he drives away… For some time I had suspected Bill was a grandiose narc, and instances like this, and many more in the coming years cemented my diagnosis ( I eventually had to completely disconnect from him) So he had driven away with the fantasy he might have sex later with this younger woman in his hot tub, and worse, he doesn’t have a hot tub! I found out later that what he called his hot tub is actually an old cast iron bath tub in his back yard, sitting on blocks where he would light a fire underneath to warm it up. And one person can barley fit in it with water to stomach level at best, and certainly not a 2nd person. But I don’t know this yet, and I’m confused at his claim that he has a hot tub. I’ve been to his house several times and never noticed a hot tub. (At this time, I didn’t know the extent of his fantasies, illusions, and insanity) So their dinner is at 5PM and I’m heading to my property at 6:30PM this way I won’t interrupt their dinner. On the road past his place, I actually find myself looking for ‘bobbing heads’ even though I know it’s near impossible, I don’t see anything. At my property I get on my off road vehicle, a Yamaha Rhino, it seats 2 people. It’s almost 7PM when I drive up to this young women’s rental to say hi to my neighbors. She is alone outside with a small table of food, and a grill going. I introduce myself, then tell her I didn’t want to interrupt their dinner, looks like I missed Bill. She says… “He never showed up, I’m kind of concerned about him” Pretty much instantly, I figure in Bill’s poor health, low energy, he needs naps during the day. He likely took a nap, and he is still asleep, probably why he missed diner. Side note; Jodi is fairly attractive, she gives me subtle hints that she finds me fairly attractive also, but I don’t pay much attention to that. She’s concerned about Bill not showing up, so I offer for both of us to get on my machine, drive down to his house and check on him. I am almost certain he’s overslept. I don’t make fun of people or bash them, especially in poor health, but I can’t help but to think I was warned by Bill not to come over if I see ‘heads bobbing’ in his hot tub. (Claims of sexual prowess?) We get to his house, his truck is there, the house is dark. He must be sleeping, 2 hours after his dinner invite, Mr. ‘heads might be bobbing’ As ridiculous as his claims & fantasies are, I have to feel sorry for him. I don’t have a horn on this machine, so I pull closer to his bedroom window, don’t really like doing this, but I rev up the motor a couple times hoping to wake him. After a couple minutes I see his bedroom light come on, then the hallway light, then the back porch light. He comes out looking as one does after waking from sleeping, then tries to act like he wasn’t sleeping, says he lost track of time. I’m embarrassed for him. He says he’ll be up there in a few minutes. Jodi and I drive back to her place, Bills shows up and she makes dinner, Bill half asleep the whole time. And early that afternoon, Bill kept insisting, 3 separate times, that with this 34 year old younger woman making him a neighborly thank you dinner, if I go there later, he says… “If you see heads bobbing in my hot tub, don’t come over” Bill’s fantasies & illusions were so disconnected from reality, and I have many Bill stories like this, but I just felt compelled to tell this one story. Another quick example of grandiose claims of accomplishment by Bill… He had this old school bus, and he often told me and others… “I AM in the process of converting it to run on used cooking oil” Of course he never did, but a couple years later, he joined a dating website, and magic had happened, his dating profile now read…. “Ladies, I HAVE converted an old school bus to run on used cooking oil” Bill was the king of grandiose narcissism, I could write a whole book just on Bill…
We are having to deal with a ‘narcy’. What a trip! These type people are …..well I can’t think of a good enough adjective to describe them. Pure evil comes to mind.
Anyway, thank you Savannah for your writing!
I save all the Esteemology posts for rereading, if needed. My spouse and our children talk about them together. Knowledge is power, right?
Its such a good reminder that this is a game, a game that normal people can’t win. I ran into my ex-N this week. Now that I have gotten happy again and am starting to succeed and lose weight, he has made overtures (brought me a Christmas present…suspicious). I spent half an hour with him and heard all about HIM, HIM, HIM. The Hymn of Him. Granted, he does interesting things (he comes from wealth) and it was nice to hear how well his business is doing, but it was just a monologue. He invited me for a drink and I almost went but did a quick consultation with my heart and soul: why undo all that hard won work of getting free? Yet all night I thought about him. And what I realized is that a part of me still believes in and wants the fairy tale, the false him that he sold me ten years ago. It was an inner battle but I didn’t choose the small little voice that whined and whined and wanted to go enjoy his company. But I realized a very hard thing: I have to suck it up and live in reality. He is not my prince charming. He will never get me or even try to understand me. There is no love. Its just the Joe Show. And I realized that its a lot scarier and I’ve not really done it before, but this is going to be the year I do my own show. I chose me, even though me doesn’t have a wealthy family or a bunch of Flying Monkeys. My show is sweet simple and HAPPY.