You’ve just met someone and you are on top of the world. You’re being lavished with excessive amounts of attention and you’ve never been pursued quite like this before, so it must be love and you are hooked. But then something happens days or weeks into the chase. Your Prince Charming’s red hot pursuit has turned into an icy cold retreat and you are left wondering what the hell you did wrong.
After some time has passed your Prince resurfaces offering little or no explanation or apology. As you start to look back on your relationship, you realize that you were sped through the early stages of the dating process. The relationship is all on his terms, you’re not sure when you will hear from him again and you communicate and hook up only when he wants to. You’re starting to see all of his promises go unfulfilled and his words never match his actions. You are confused and can’t fathom why one day you were treated like a princess and the next day you’re gum on the bottom of his shoe, but you keep hoping the prince will show up again and give you the relationship that you want.
Unbeknownst to you, he has done this dance before. He’s hooked on the chase and future fakes to speed up the process. Once he knows he’s got you, he realizes that there’s going to be expectations, you’re going to want to get closer and intimacy will follow. Suddenly, he’s hit with a dose of anxiety, the walls start closing in and he starts fault finding. The things he once thought were cute about you in the hot phase, he now finds irritating and he starts blowing cold. He’s not honest about what’s going on in his head, which leaves you pretty confused and upset. He accepts no responsibility for his actions and believes that if you are stupid enough to put up with his behavior that there must be something wrong with you. .
While he is in his cold phase with you, he is likely in the hot phase with his new meat. There are generally a string of girls from previous encounters that he runs to for sex, attention, money or an ego stroke. His head is on a constant swivel always looking for the next more interesting challenge. The list of exes can be pretty extensive and he always has a supply waiting in storage when his need is great.
If this sounds familiar, you’ve just experienced an encounter with a Narcissist.
What you don’t understand is that for the narcissist, love and admiration are like a drug. He speeds you through the dating phase because he wants to elicit these emotions from you. That’s all he wants. You may be saying, “But, I was giving him love, why did he leave?” Like a drug addict the narcissist develops a tolerance and needs a more challenging fix. They become bored easily and they are always on the make for someone or something he perceives to be better and more worthy of him. In the beginning you felt like he put you on a pedestal, showering you with compliments and attention, but soon, as it always does the buzz wears off and he is on the lookout for his next hit.
If you’ve heard yourself saying, “He couldn’t have loved me, if he treated me that way,” you’re right. He doesn’t love. When he looks at you, he is not seeing you, he is seeing the reflection of himself in your eyes. You are part of his Narcissistic supply. There are always more than one and he is always looking to add to the supply. The supply is interchangeable. If you are thinking, “There must be something special about me that’s why he keeps coming back. He realizes that he can’t live without me, that he’s made a mistake,” – think again. He doesn’t see you – he sees supply of his fix and always remember, the supply is interchangeable. It could be weeks, months even years, but he will always come back. Once you have shown him that you have feelings for him, you have become part of the harem.
Intimacy and Emotions
The end result of dating and getting closer to someone is intimacy, but despite his words to the contrary, the narcissist does not want intimacy. He doesn’t know what it is. He fears it. All he wants is his fix. He has no desire to get closer, to do so would mean that he is in touch with his emotions. Relationships with Narcissists are generally short lived, shallow and superficial. They will expect grandiose gestures and sacrifices on your part, while putting in little to no effort themselves.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. To feel what someone else feels. This ability is not present in psychopaths and narcissists. Because they are not present in the narcissist , when he sees them in someone else, he sees them as being fake displays, with a calculating purpose.
For a Narcissist it’s all about him, there is no balance, compromise or reciprocity. If you have heard yourself saying, “He acts like he doesn’t care,” well that’s because he doesn’t, not in the true sense of the word. In his world renowned book, The Mask of Sanity, Dr. Harvey Cleckly, writes about psychopaths and describes their inability to feel emotions as being colour blind and that they have learned to mimic the emotions of others. Narcissists do feel emotions, mostly negative ones, and not the way normal people do. His emotions are a watered down version and bland in texture. They lack a moral compass and proceed with their desires without guilt or remorse to guide their actions.
When you get emotional or upset in his presence, for the horrendous way he has treated you, he feels extremely uncomfortable. Because he lacks empathy, he cannot relate. Intellectually, he knows what he has done to you is wrong, but he cannot emotionally understand what his behavior is making you feel.
He deplores weakness, especially in himself and because he is dependent on his supply, deep down he hates you and himself for this dependency. Male Narcissists are all misogynists, they hate women. Vaknin states that, “The narcissist is a projector – he believes that all women want, is to control, use and manipulate men and suck them dry – when the reality is, that is exactly what the Narcissist does.”
“But he’s such a good father, how can you say he doesn’t love,” – his children are an extension of him and are part of the supply. They love him and give him the adoration that he needs.
On top of being a Narcissist, there are often a slew of other neurosis that accompany it. They are generally considered to be compulsive liars, con men, predators, master manipulators, users, have sexual dysfunctions (they can be either asexual or a sex addict or both) and obsessive compulsive. Hypochondria and eating disorders can also be present. They struggle with depression, anxiety and may even have had thoughts of suicide. I have often used the term emotional vampires, because they swoop in suck out your emotions and then once they’ve had their fill, swoop back out and only return when their need returns.
Vaknin says that, “sex with a Narcissist is like he is masturbating with your body.” The act itself is fairly emotionless and leaves you feeling empty. If he does consider your needs at all, it is not because he cares about your pleasure and how you are feeling, it is because he wants to generate the perception that he is an excellent lover, strong and virile. For the Narcissist it is all about how he is perceived by others.
Signs, Symptoms and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Criteria
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with the disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism. – Mayo Clinic
If you have noticed several of the following symptoms in your Prince Charming you are probably involved with a Narcissist:
Lacks empathy and disregards the feelings of others
Requires constant attention and positive reinforcement from others
Reacts to criticism with anger, shame, or humiliation
Takes advantage of others to reach their own goals
Exaggerates their own importance, achievements, and talents
Has unrealistic fantasies of success, beauty, power, intelligence, or romance
Becomes jealous easily
Is obsessed with himself
Pursues mainly selfish goals
Has trouble keeping healthy relationships
Becomes easily hurt and rejected
Sets goals that are unrealistic
Wants “the best” of everything
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is currently making changes to its diagnostic criteria for personality disorders. These changes will include scales of tendencies. This is the first change to Personality Disorders in over 10 years and the completed version of the DSM 5 will be out in the summer of 2013. The new criteria in the DSM 5 differs slightly from that in the DSM IV and is included below:
The DSM IV requires 5 or more of the following symptoms for a diagnosis:
1. Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements);
2. Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequaled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion;
3. Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions);
4. Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – (Narcissistic Supply);
5.Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favourable priority treatment;
6. Is “interpersonally exploitative”, i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends;
7. Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others;
8. Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly;
9. Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, “above the law”, and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy.
The Life of the Narcissist
Don’t envy the Narcissist. Life for him is often bleak, wrought with crippling feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, loneliness, shame and guilt. He is generally moody and would describe his persistent state as being in emotional turmoil. Because his sense of self-esteem and self-worth are entirely dependent upon the admiration and esteem of others, he is constantly driven to seek out new sources of supply. This quest is never-ending and all consuming. It is his drug and he is an addict. When his supply is low he will resort to former sources of supply to tide him over until the next target arises. When supply is non-existent his behavior is much like that of a drug addict going through withdrawal. He feels panic, despair, anxiety and fear. He withdraws and slips into depression.
The psyche of the Narcissist is split in two. There is the true self and the false self. In the true self his feelings of inferiority, worthlessness and dysfunctionality are repressed and the emergence of the false self is constructed. It is in this false self that the superiority, grandiosity, sense of entitlement, and self-absorption is created. It’s a defense mechanism learned in childhood as a result of abuse or trauma, which manifests in early adulthood.
He is detached from his emotions and has no real sense of himself. His false constructed self is the image that he wants the world to see. It is his armor. Anything that threatens this false-self arouses feelings of anger, rage, fear and anxiety. Everything about the Narcissist is superficial. He’s a mirage of his own making. He has no sense of himself, because he does not exist. He is a construct, an image and he is without substance.
Once you have stopped being a source of supply for your Narcissist he will discard you cruelly, callously and without a thought. Before you are discarded though, there is usually another to take your place. Your experience with a Narcissist has likely left you confused and devastated and while you are pining away for his return, know that he is not pining for you. Because he lacks empathy he cannot comprehend what you are feeling and he is entirely self-absorbed. The grandiosity of the false self actually has the Narcissist believing that,’ if I’m such a bad guy how come all these girls want me?’ What he is incapable of seeing is that anyone can gain someone else’s trust and esteem through, lies and manipulation. Real love and intimacy are created slowly over time and nurtured by consistent action, empathy, reciprocity, love, and respect. For the narcissist his relationships are one-sided. He only sees and values his wants and needs, his partners only purpose is to provide him with supply, which makes it pathological.
Treatment is solely dependent upon the severity of the condition, whether these are tendencies or a full-fledged personality disorder and only a qualified practitioner can make a proper diagnosis. Personality disorders are generally pervasive and not treatable. Because he is disconnected from his feelings and his true self, he does not have the ability for introspection and emotional depth. To continually seek these things from him is a futile endeavor – they just aren’t there. If he seems unreachable, it’s because he is. He is unreachable to you and most importantly to himself. Seeking real love from a Narcissist is like asking the blind to describe colors. It is a foreign concept. Since he cannot access these emotions fully himself, he believes that others have the same perception as he does. He cannot fathom what is outside of his own awareness. He will never know true intimacy, he is ill equipped so don’t envy the next girl. It’s only a matter of time before she too, is discarded.
When a man truly loves a woman he isn’t capable of treating her the way your Narcissist has treated you. Before you waste any more time and energy, know that he is sick and will likely never change. He will be back though, it could be days, weeks or years and he will show up as if nothing ever happened. Before you get overjoyed, remember he is back solely for selfish reasons. He is back because he has run out of Narcissistic supply and he is going through a withdrawal. He will leave again, it’s just a matter of time. So before he does make sure you close the door firmly. He will wiggle the handle, kick the door, maybe even look for a window. The only way to get rid of a Narcissist for good is to keep the door completely and permanently shut. And be content in knowing that while you can go on and love again the Narcissist will never know love and will continue to live in a fake reality where there is no escape.
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