Living With a Narcissist

I found a wealth of information here:  Out Of The Fog

The bit below has been copied and pasted from that blog and I encourage you to click the link and browse the blog.  There is so much good information there.  This bit describes what it feels like to live with someone who has NPD.  I found I could relate  very well!  I hope it helps you!

What it feels like to live with someone with NPD

Contributed by Aames

Living with or being involved with a narcissist can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.

It can feel like you have to perform “mental gymnastics” from dealing with the lying (even when confronted with undeniable proof ), the gaslighting, the triangulation, the projection, the constant contradictions, the manipulation, blame-shifting, the charm they lay on, the inflated sense of self – even subtle forms of torture, such as sleep deprivation, these people inflict on their victims – appears to be conscious and calculated to push the target of their “affections” past their limits, into surrender – and ultimately into total compliance – as a source of Narcissistic Supply. 

Children, spouses, friends, lovers – those closest to the Narcissist – are not considered individuals in their own right by the Narcissist – but rather extensions or, in the worst cases, the property of the Narcissist.

Even after finding out that you are dealing with a mental disorder, if you don’t protect or remove yourself from the situation, you may find yourself entering into a state of mind where you instinctively try to fix or fight the narcissist’s illogical attitudes and behaviors.

You may find yourself becoming hyper-vigilant, trying to second guess them, trip them up, lay down ultimatums, call them on their lies, or constantly trying to stay one-step ahead of their ever-changing rule-book. You may even find yourself trying to mirror their behaviors to some extent in order to manipulate them, as they have manipulated you. This can be both futile and attractive to the narcissist, as they often relish the challenge.

If you ever do manage to get “one-up” on a narcissist, it is likely to be a hollow “victory” at best. They may rage, play the victim, or disappear. None of these outcomes gives the victim any true satisfaction.

More than any other disorder on the PD spectrum, narcissists are like psychological vampires, attaching themselves to you in a way that drains you of your resources (emotional, mental and financial) and leaves you questioning your own worth and sanity.

Often, narcissists are able to imitate or approximate caring about others when it is convenient for them to do so. However, they typically do not perceive that anything outside of their own sphere of wants and needs matters. It simply doesn’t occur to them to consider the needs of anyone else, or the long-term consequences of their own behaviors.

Narcissists can be highly intelligent, witty, talented, likable, and fun to be around. They can also elicit sympathy like nobody’s business.

Narcissists are opportunistic. They can make a show of being “generous” but their generosity usually has strings attached.

They tend to isolate their victims, sucking up their time and energy, many times robbing their own families, spouses and partners of an external support system.

Narcissists are excellent liars and many prefer to lie even when telling the truth would be more beneficial to them; which suggests that lying is a hallmark of this pathology.

They are often highly competitive and argumentative. They lash out when presented with opinions that contradict their own or when confronted with their own lies or bad behaviors.

They can be calculating and extremely persuasive and susceptible to erratic thinking and impulsive decision making .

Narcissists can be self-destructive as often as they are destructive to others. They have a great deal of trouble accepting responsibility for their own actions, under any circumstance.

Narcissists are addictive personalities and narcissism is commonly co-morbid with addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex, food, spending and gambling. It has been suggested that Narcissists have a higher rate of ADHD than the general population.

Narcissists are rarely alone. They like to feed on the energy of others, and to have an audience to reflect back to them the person they want to see themselves as.

Narcissists are good at pretending, but typically do not feel compassion or empathy or consider the feelings or well-being of others. They tend to be singularly focused on getting their own needs met, at the expense of the needs of others.

While narcissists generally portray a lack of conscience, they typically have an intellectual awareness of what they are doing and how they hurt others. They simply do not care.

Being kind to a Narcissist in the face of their maltreatment is a common approach of family members and partners. However, this can result in further frustration as it is rarely reciprocated and tends to feed their sense of entitlement, opening the door for more abuse.

Here are some other feelings that you may experience when dealing with a narcissist in the home or at work:

  • You may feel like this person readily puts you down just to elevate themselves.
  • You may find yourself avoiding them because trying to communicate with them leaves you feeling confused, put-down, reduced to a lesser status and emptied of all that you know you really are.
  • You may feel overwhelmed, “out-gunned”, tongue-tied or overpowered in the presence of this person.
  • You may feel blown away by their powerful personality, self-assuredness, self-belief and self-confidence.
  • Your own legitimate needs may be taking a back seat to their own frivolous, self-serving ambitions.
  • When receiving a compliment or apology, you may be left feeling patronized, demeaned, brought down to size and even humiliated.
  • You may attempt to compromise with them only to realize later that you are the only one who gave any substantial ground.
  • You may feel like your hard work and contributions are only being used, abused and and distorted to meet the selfish ambitions of another.

Living with a person who has NPD can have a devastating effect on the self-esteem, confidence and quality of life for family members, friends and partners.

People who live with an individual with NPD sometimes feel as though the Narcissist is refusing to ” grow up” or will revert back to childish ways whenever it suits them to do so. The Non-Narcissist often feels used, cheated and taken advantage of by the NPD in their life.

The blog from which I lifted this text has it right on the money.  Those of us who have lived with someone who has NPD tend to become extremely co-dependent, living our lives on the edges of eggshells, wondering what we can do to stop the next round of abuse.  We turn ourselves inside out trying to make life calm and peaceful and become frustrated when our efforts are for nothing.  

We will alter our own behavior; we will become someone we are not, in effort to stop the cycle of Narcissistic abuse.  By the time we’ve come to realize we must escape the torture, it’s usually too late.  We’ve allowed ourselves to become who we are not and the healing process is painful, to say the least.  All that said, once healed, we CAN come out on the other side as the whole human beings we started.  Once burned by a Narcissist doesn’t mean it will never happen to us again.  We need to find what it is in us that draws the Narcissist to us – what is our primary weakness?  Are we lonely?  Needy?  In financial distress?  Are we at an emotional low in our lives for whatever reason when the Narcissist starts “grooming” us to be his/her next victim?  I believe, for myself and for all others, that it is necessary to figure out what traits we exhibit that draw these individuals to us.  There is something they see that they believe they can exploit.  If we can figure this out, heal it, and become strong, whole and “npd smart” people, we won’t allow this to happen again.  We’ll spot the N from a mile away!  And I need to keep that in mind myself!  

8 thoughts on “Living With a Narcissist

  1. Perfect, isn’t it? I think she wrote that about Warren Beatty. It fits my latest N to the T. For a man who SAID he didn’t think he was handsome, he certainly spent enough time in the bathroom in front of the mirror making sure every hair was in place. And then he put a ball cap on. He once told me that I was the “only” person allowed to touch his ball cap (I’d always take it off him), or touch his hair. So every time he said it, I’d yank the cap off and mess his hair up.

    When I think back on it – he was so controlled about all his actions. I’d do laundry and fold up his shirts and underwear and put them in the drawers I’d allocated for him. He’d go in, unfold everything and re-fold it. The same way.

    I remember him recounting a story to me about 2 months ago when he went to Radio Shack and bought his new phone. He had the opportunity to mentor and HELP the young man who waited on him, since the young man really didn’t know what he was talking about. Instead, he got sarcastic, put the kid down, pointed up every flaw in his sales pitch and then, as he was paying, said: “let’s hope you don’t get very many smart people coming in here.”

    When told me about this – he was boasting. It made him feel GOOD. I was so ashamed for him. I was stuck in the passenger seat of his car and had to listen to him tell me how he (a 47 year old man) had managed to reduce a 19 year old kid almost to tears. He was laughing, thumping the steering wheel and nudging me as he told the story.

    I was sickened. The only thing I could think of to say after he was finished was: “well did you get the phone you wanted for a good price?” He went silent. I hadn’t applauded his behavior; I hadn’t supported it and I hadn’t praised him for tearing this kid down to “size.” He gave me the silent treatment all the way home and then refused to show me his phone.

    That was back in early June. I knew then that this was a relationship that was heading down the toilet soon – i had ideas about it earlier, but that little performance of his just made me want to get as far away from him as possible. I felt ashamed of MYSELF that I was associating with someone who would do this – that I actually LOVED someone who thought this was a fine and dandy thing to do to another human being. Someone who got off doing it.

    It sickens me to think about it now. When a grown man has to pick on a teenaged boy to get his jollies, there is something seriously wrong with the grown man.

    Ugh.

  2. When I think about it, he never said much of anything nice about anyone. The only person at work that he seemed to “like” was his boss. He couldn’t say enough good things about him – of COURSE. But everyone else? They were idiots, they were stupid, they couldn’t count, they couldn’t stack pallets right, he was always having to do their jobs over. He actually boasted about having a pencil cup on his desk, where he kept one pen and one pencil. They were always in the same spot. He couldn’t stand to have them moved – it pissed him off. And everyone would walk in his office when he wasn’t there, move the entire cup and put the pen and pencil each someplace where he’d have to go searching to find them. He could dish it out to people – he always bragged about the (mostly cruel) practical jokes he played on folks, but anyone who dared to move his pencil cup or the pen and pencil in it was a target for his famous freeze-out – EXCEPT his boss. Naturally.

    A friggin pen and pencil. Come ON.

    He’d complain about arriving home from my house in the evenings to find dishes in the sink when “the dishwasher is 6 inches away.” My house must have driven him crazy – because there were always dishes in the sink. He’d complain about having to “do everything” around the house because the others were all such slobs. I think by that point, his kids didn’t care. His kids don’t like him much – it’s kind of obvious. He doesn’t talk about them much, either, except to objectify them as a college-tuition bill to pay or, in the case of his daughter, who has spent the summer working at a camp for disabled children, as being weird for wanting to do that, but then he’d boast that she was given the keys to the camp van to drive to the airport and pick these kids up, “so I must have raised her right if they trust her to do that.” This is a girl who has graduated college with a degree that has something to do with the healthcare of disabled persons, who took a leave of absence from her full-time job at a local lab to help these kids and all he could do was complain that she was only being paid $3000 for the summer. “Shit money” he called it.

    One of the biggest issues I had with him was that it appeared that his family took him for granted. A case in point was Father’s Day. According to him, his kids had texted him at the beginning of the week to tell him they wanted to take him to lunch for Father’s Day, which was the following Sunday. About mid-week, I asked him if he knew where they were taking him. He said: “no – I’ve texted them, but it seems they’re incapable of making a decision.” I asked him again on Saturday. He said the same thing. Sunday morning, I asked if he’d heard anything. Nope.

    I believe he was lying all along. I believe they told him when and where and he deliberately withheld the information from me so that I would think he was being abused in some fashion by his family. I think he wanted me to believe he was a long-suffering victim of his family’s lack of consideration and dammit – I DID believe it because it had happened so many other times!

    He told me he “got roped into” helping with his family’s Christmas party. He did all the cooking. The entire time, he was sending me text after text complaining that his wife, who had come to the house, along with her mother, was ignoring him, not helping, and that the kids were just eating up everything and not offering to help him set up or clean up.

    My take on it now? They had a Christmas party every year for family and friends. He always did the cooking – he’s a good cook. I believe he knew he was expected to do it, and WANTED to do it because of all the praise he’d receive on the dishes he made, but didn’t want me to know that, so made himself look like a helpless victim who couldn’t turn down the pleas of his (supposedly estranged) wife and his children.

    Must remember: All Narcissists are liars, cheats and bullies. They are all incapable of empathy, sympathy and any emotion I might see from one is simply culled from a compartmentalized “library” he carries in his head about what emotions look like. That’s why his emotions, when he would show any, seemed “off” to me. They seemed somehow rehearsed. That’s because they WERE rehearsed. And they seemed to not match up with the situation – and that’s because his culling process didn’t and doesn’t include the ability to match emotions with situations. They’re just images in his brain that he spits out when he thinks the time is right.

    One last thing – and this made me go “HUH?”

    About three months ago, we were sitting on the sofa and I was attempting to have a conversation with him. I turned off the tv, and asked for his full attention. There was so much bothering me about this relationship and it needed to be aired. I started crying. Immediately, he started crying. I kept talking but by then, part of my brain was pushing me to find out why HE was crying. So I asked:

    “Why are you crying?”

    His answer:

    “Because you are.”

    That’s it in a nutshell. Not because he felt anything but because he figured it was an appropriate time to turn on the waterworks, since mine had been turned on.

    There ya have it. Writing this helps me see much more clearly. It helps me understand and keep in my mind those things I need to always remember so I can stay emotionally safe.

  3. Pingback: How can he be a narcissist? | Letters For Robin

  4. Pingback: Weeding out the negative and Growing Pains | Madeline Scribes

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