Is your loved one a narcissist? Then handle with care
Are you feeling starved of the love you deserve, just for being you? Do you feel the love in your life has to be ‘bought’? Then maybe your loved one is a narcissist. When the love of a narcissist shines on us it is glorious but when it disappears, we are desperate to win love back, whatever the cost.
Should our loved one decide to switch the warmth back on, it feels fabulous, but in truth, we are back on the string. Eager to please while our beloved enjoys the dance of love to their private satisfaction.
The highs and lows are twitched by a merciless hand. As the heart-breaking song ‘Puppet on a String’ goes, ‘One day I am down on the ground, next I am up in the air. Are you leading me on? Tomorrow will you be gone?’
It's a losing game
Loving a narcissist is a losing game. Our friends will tell us to get away while we still can, but it’s not easy to cut ties with a narcissist. A narcissist needs boundless love, admiration and devotion to function. Masters at manipulation, they are pretty crafty about ensuring the path ahead is clear.
Love is a game that they go all out to win, calculating their 'love' in measured amounts. If they sense we are wising up, they sweep us off our feet, love-bombing us with fat dollops of charm and affection.
Narcissists, naturally, are not only found in the partners we may inadvertently have chosen. We may have to contend with narcissistic co-workers or relatives. Those situations are also complex. We may recoil from hurting an elderly parent, however provocative they are, and prefer to keep office relationships smooth - even if we have to do so through gritted teeth.
How is narcissism defined?
Narcissism is classified as a personality disorder which affects about one in 20 of the Uk population, according to recent NHS statistics. The clinical terminology has become popular in everyday conversation, so 'narcissism' is sometimes misapplied to someone who is simply immature or a little too fond of their own way. Normal people like this are capable of personal growth once they realise change is necessary - if they want happy relationships. Genuinely narcissistic personalities can’t see that others have equal rights to express their own needs, so it is impossible for them to put our interests before their own.
Narcissistic traits in disguise
People with narcissistic traits believe they are VIPs. They overestimate their value, look down on lesser mortals, are self-centred, jealous, competitive and when under threat, become ruthless bullies. To add to the poisonous cocktail, they are masters of disguise. After all, they have to be, as most of us would soon duck out if we saw them as they really are.
Endowed with a sharp emotional intelligence, narcissists are quick at identifying our weak spots and will charm, flatter and persuade us into pleasing them. Often endearing and fun to be with, we get thoroughly sucked in and controlled.
Types of narcissism
Some experts insist a 'primary narcissist' is unable to perceive any personal limitations and never experiences crises of confidence. Their aggression can impress others as real strength of character. Perhaps Trump should put his hand up to that one?
'Secondary narcissists' also love power and attention but deep down lack true self-esteem. Bouts of emotional pain in a narcissist however, don't usually produce lasting insight into themselves. Though there is some evidence that specialised therapeutic treatment can help modify narcissistic behaviour, generally a narcissist can’t learn. Being honest with themselves would be too unravelling.
Why do some people develop narcissism?
Research suggests it is caused by a blend of nature and nurture. An insecure childhood where there was cold and inconsistent parenting, emotional neglect, lack of affirmation, weak boundaries or abuse can develop narcissistic traits in a child, which might go down the generations.
The role of empathy
Clinical evidence indicates that narcissists have a brain difference in comparison with other people: they are not moved when exposed to a stimulus which would normally evoke an empathetic response. Even a young child can feel for the distress of another, and, if they think they have caused the hurt, show regret. This absence of natural empathy is the most fearsome aspect of the narcissist, and can make us feel very unloved, lonely and misunderstood if we are in a relationship with them.
Why have you attracted a narcissist to you?
If you believe your partner is a narcissist, it is useful to reflect on why you have been drawn into that relationship but don't suffer in silence. A heart-to-heart with a trusted friend may be terrifically enlightening. It may be that the narcissist selected you because they saw a kind, modest, unselfish person to use to their advantage. Narcissists keep well clear of other narcissists. You may have become aware of their motives only after many months or possibly years. But it is not too late. Now is the time to snip the strings.
If you are miserably entangled and can't seem to break free, consider what factors pull you back in and allow you to be manipulated. Is it a lack of a sense of your true worth? If you don't feel good enough for unconditional love, is it connected to your previous experiences or upbringing?
Perhaps you were unlucky enough to have a narcissistic parent where tyrannical behaviour held sway to everyone’s cost. If this was your family situation, emotional deprivation inevitably results. The child's need for love and approval from the parent and fear of rejection holds us back from a healthy criticism of them. Our self-preservation instincts may be weaker than average. As adults, we get hooked by a charming narcissist who tortures us with guilt if we dare to claim our own needs.
As well as getting the advice of true friends, you can research the topic in the printed media and online to learn more. Relationship charities can also offer support and enable you to make the right decisions about the relationship.
If you work with a narcissist or have one in your family network, don't try to beat them at their own game. Instead, stand up for yourself by being honest, frank and straightforward about your need. Setting strong boundaries will also engender respect and keep you safe from their endless game-playing.
How can hypnotherapy help?
If none of this seems to hit the spot, consider consulting a professional hypnotherapist as they will be familiar with the machinations of a narcissist. They can facilitate the exploration of the unconscious roots of the problem, and help you find the inner resources to find a way through the woods, and repair your damaged self-esteem. You can get the true love you are worthy of. Don’t settle for less. As always, in engaging a professional, make sure this person is the right one for you.
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