Why am I with a Narcissist?
You may be wondering why anyone would be masochistic enough to ever get themselves into a relationship with someone who has so many characteristics of a Narcissist and who leaves you feeling so dreadful?
But the truth is that things start off very differently. The narcissist is an absolute perfect delight right from the first day you start dating: wining, dining and gifts, nothing is too much trouble for him/her; your every whim is his/her desire; he/she is truly the perfect and charming partner.
Finding yourself in a “whirlwind romance”, he/she will appear to be all you have ever wanted in a partner and in a relationship, so much so that it all seems almost “too good to be true”, which of course it is.
At this stage you are his/her “prey”, and he/she is an expert at contriving his/her behaviour to impress you, and being sensitive to what you are wanting, until he/she has snared you. He/she has you in his/her sights as his/her next source of Narcissistic supply, so all his/her energies, shows of love, affection and fake empathy are committed to lure you.
However this “impress your socks off” stage doesn’t last, and once he/she now feels secure in the relationship (this happens most commonly at the 3 major transitions: when you move in together, when you get married, or when you start having children) there is now no longer a need for making an effort.
Without realizing it, you are now owned by him/her; you have crossed over into his/her self-definition boundary. With this transition comes the expectation that you now are an extension of him/her.
This dumbfounding change can be made almost overnight, or at a more gradual pace, but change it does.
One man described that for him it felt like he and his wife were in a big bubble that he had created as his reality. His wife had freedom, and all was happy, as long as she stayed in the bubble. “There was room to move about so the illusion of freedom seemed real to her. But when she expressed an idea of her own, or any feelings, it was like she was stepping out of his bubble and stepping into her own. But he did not want her out there. He feared being alone with himself. He feared being with his feelings. So he tried to pull her back into his bubble, or worse, injure her so she could never leave, or worse yet, disorient her so she can never find her way out.” Whatever control measure or verbal abuse it took, getting her back inside the bubble where he could feel safe again was his primary objective.
The Narcissist usually feels a great and strong love for his/her partner, but this is in essence a control connection rather than real love. There is no regard for his/her individuality, no empathy or understanding, and usually an angry assault or the silent treatment, every time he/she shows any signs of separateness.
This leaves you feeling shunned, negated, unseen, unheard, trivialised, and, as a result, also very confused, sad, and often outraged that you have been so invaded or negated, every time you express your individuality.
All the while he/she denies any wrongdoing, not being willing to recognise the devastating effects on you.
How did you become a willing victim? Why you?
If you find yourself in a relationship with a Narcissist, at some stage you might wonder why you? What does this say about you, your tolerance for pain and your sanity?
It is true that there is a particular kind of person that finds themself with a Narcissist, at least often well beyond the first indication that there is an underlying nastiness in him.
The kind of person who seems to unwittingly attract a Narcissist is someone who has what I call a “Sacrificial Self”, (which has also been referred to as Co-dependent or compliant or a deflated false self). This means you may have a tendency to unnecessarily attribute blame to yourself in situations when you haven’t done anything wrong.
In Transactional Analysis terms, a Narcissist’s underlying Life position is I’m Ok, You’re Not OK, whereas a Sacrificial’s underlying Life Position is I’m Not OK, You’re OK.
How Can I tell if I am a Sacrificial Self?
Here again, it is important to understand that there are varying degrees of this kind of Self, as there are with a Narcissistic self.
A Sacrificial person is characterised by:
1. A deflated False self
2. Your feelings are often numbed, and you are not always aware of them in the moment
3. You experience a lack of awareness of your own needs.
4. You also are not good at knowing what your real wants are.
5. You often feel guilt and shame for not being able to meet people’s needs
6. Your loved ones withdrawing their love, or threatening to withdraw it, triggers a lot of anxiety in you
7. You are often not truly in touch with your own deeper truth
8. You can often prefer to live in a fantasy where you believe your partner truly loves you, even though much of the evidence can show you the contrary
9. You have experienced poor self esteem over your life
10. You are not always able to see where your boundaries should and shouldn’t be
11. You are not often able to assertively stand up to those you love
12. You can at times feel a vague sense of depression and emptiness
13. You can lack a sense of a healthy entitlement in your relationships
14. You can often feel frustrated and dissatisfied with your life
15. There are times when you feel your life has no meaning
16. You have an underlying belief that I must sacrifice myself to survive in a relationship
17. In a relationship, you may be responsive and reactive to your partner, rather than proactive
19. You often have the underlying sense that if something is going right for you at the moment, it probably won’t last.
20. You tend to take more than your fair share of responsibility in a relationship, to make it better and improve it.
Interestingly and importantly, a Sacrificial’s profile is less defended that the Narcissist, and less destructive to others, and therefore closer to achieving a healthy relationship, if you can gain true insight into what is happening and what is going wrong in your relationships and be able to develop a stronger identity and boundaries.
If this is you, during your childhood, as you were developing your real self and identity as an individual, your mother or father may have been challenged by your emerging separate self. It often happens that she or her was a Narcissist. So whenever you expressed your real feelings, needs or wants, you were abandoned,
criticised or blamed. Often, your relationship with your parent was set up so that you took responsibility for meeting your parents’ needs, rather than she/he meeting your needs.
So you learned that in order to survive and experience any form of love and attention, you had to abandon yourself and “toe the line”.
As a result your individual identity may have been severely compromised.
You may not have had the opportunity to:
– Develop your own deep truth and reality
– Form healthy boundaries to keep out unwanted and unhealthy influences
– Feel your real feelings
– Be aware of your needs and wants
– Have permission to explore your desires and creativity
This often leads to an underlying depression, frustration and dissatisfaction which feeds the belief “In order to have love, I have to avoid self activation” and “I am not entitled to genuine love and also my own full self expression”.
When not in a relationship, you may feel empty, as you have not been given the experience of growing your real identity, (which is a composite of your truth, feelings, needs, wants, desires, passions and boundaries)
So, when in a relationship, you may cling and try very hard, minimise your feelings, needs and wants, as well as hold yourself back from being assertive in what you want, and even believe what your partner is saying over what you may think is the your truth, and trust him over yourself.
In addition to these personal characteristics, there are other reasons why you can get caught up and remain in a Narcissist’s web;
Why have I allowed this kind of controlling behaviour into my life?
Here are some of the reasons why you may have allowed this type of controlling behaviour in to your relationship.
1. You assume that there is good will, that your partner really does want to understand you, and when he/she she doesn’t, it is because you haven’t been able to explain it fully enough. (In fact a Narcissist is trying to control, not understand you at all, despite their protestations to the contrary)
2. The Narcissist usually expresses great love for you, and also shows love in other ways with gifts and kind things, so it seems inconceivable that he/she would also be trying to devalue your thoughts and feelings.
3. These controlling events usually happen in private, and as well, there is usually a complete denial of any wrong doing by the Narcissist, so your suspicions are never validated by anyone else, so you can feel your going crazy, or perhaps over reacting.
4. The Narcissist can very often turn it around and project it onto you, so you are then blamed for something he/she is actually doing. You can start questioning your sanity.
5.Frequent assaults over time can tend to normalise these acts in your mind, and you can begin to question yourself.
6. The Narcissist has usually been so lovable up until the transition, that it is very difficult to rationalise such a change in him/her.
7. You can believe your partner is rational, and has often made a wrong assumption about you, and when you explain it to him/her, then he/she will understand. (However you find that no matter how much you attempt
to explain your view, they never understand. This is because they are not there to understand, they are there to distort your view.)
8.You have not been aware of such a thing as Narcissism, verbal abuse and controlling measures, and though even though you have felt hurt and frustrated and confused, you haven’t understood what has been going on.
9. You can think your feelings are wrong.
10. Your partner can be good at times and not at others, adding to the confusion.
11. The abuse can be subtle, with the control increasing gradually over time, so you gradually adapt to it.
12. You can sometime be so stunned or thrown off balance to be able to think clearly about what has just happened.
You may be interested in our other videos on Narcissism:
What can I do if I’m living with a Narcissist?
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