They can be hell to live with, they can destroy your confidence and they can make you feel utterly worthless.
So how do you know if you’re in a relationship with one?
It’s easy to complain about a narcissistic partner without owning the part of the dysfunction that enables them. They must create and maintain a model of the world that pleases them.
The second phase is when they start to reveal their true colours and indulge in the behaviours detailed above.
And the third phase is when you split and discover you didn’t mean a thing to them at all.
Narcissists lack empathy: as long as their own needs are being met, they’re not bothered about anybody else. Narcissists have learnt to be charmers, and they’ll use that charm ruthlessly.
Narcissists don’t like it if the subject isn’t about them, and they will interrupt conversations to redirect them. You’ll notice a huge difference between how they are to people in public and what they say about them in private.
A benefit of not leaving is that I get to tell you some weird stories about what happened next. Often, the aspects of reality that are being asserted are subjective and arguable, but sometimes they are beliefs that do not match easily verifiable facts.
It’s harder to see the non-abuser, the “victim,” as dysfunctional.
This is very clearly visible in a relationship between a drug addict and their “enabler.” The codependent enabler tries to get the addict to stop taking their drug of choice, while the addict, the one with the power to stop, is happy to abdicate their responsibility and rely on the codependent enabler.
The result is disability: the resources and patience of the addict’s partner get increasingly depleted, while the addict slowly dies. Just as it takes two people to have a healthy relationship, it also takes two people to have a dysfunctional relationship. The ultimate knowledge of reality lies with the narcissist. Her: I can hear that you’re angry by the sound of your voice!
Narcissists live for other people’s attention, and that means they tend to be crowd-pleasers – in public, at least.