I have been actively learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder for about ten years now, but I’ve been passively learning about it since the day I was born. When I was younger, I didn’t know about this disorder. I’d always thought a narcissist was just someone who was vain. You know, a little too self-involved; maybe an overinflated ego or something along those lines. And I knew of the myth of Narcissus, where he’s so in love with his reflection that he dies by the water pining after his own reflection.
Little did I know that there’s an actual mental condition that affects the way people think and feel and behave. What they’re capable of and what they’re not capable of… It not only affects them, but also all of the people in their lives. I have learned so much over the years that I could probably write a book. Maybe I will one day… but for now, I’ll try to sum up it up a bit.
What exactly is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?
NPD has a lot of different facets but in short, if someone has it, they believe that they are the only ones that matter. Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder doesn’t have the ability to be empathetic with others or to fully love someone. They don’t know how to share the spotlight or attention because they need to be the star. These aren’t things that they can be taught or untaught. They’re literally incapable of thinking about others as people, rather than tools to build themselves up.
While the cause behind Narcissistic personality disorder isn’t exactly known, the traits are unmistakable. They’re entitled, egotistical, arrogant, manipulative, and top of it all, incredibly charming. They are really good at not only taking advantage of the people around them, but convincing those same people to be grateful for it.
Another skill most people with NPD seem to have is how to hide their true nature.
Eventually, their real nature tends to come out, but most people who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder can usually come off as charming and impressive. They’re the type of people that others will brag about and tell their loved ones how ‘lucky’ they are. You see, while they can act like monsters to their families or significant others, they are usually very good at keeping up appearances with everyone else. It almost seems like they’re two different people depending on who is around.
Image is everything.
It’s vital that the narcissist be in complete control of the narrative. Facts are withheld or provided purely based on what is best suited for them. They will not hesitate to twist the story to make them seem like the hero or the victim (never the villain!). Sometimes, they are such excellent liars and storytellers that even they begin to believe their lies.
They surround themselves with people that they can control. People that will enable them or make excuses when they do messed up things. They use these people to further inflate their egos and to continue building themselves up. To create the perfect image of who they want to be seen as. These people do not actually matter to them- friends, significant others, children- they are all just means to an end.
If someone actually tries to hold them accountable, they play victim.
When you accuse someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder of a wrong doing, they will spin the situation to make you the bad guy. Not only will they try to convince you that you are in fact the one in the wrong, but they’ll try to convince everyone else as well. They might even provoke you until you react, just so they can hold that reaction against you. Most likely, you’ll be accused of the things that they actually did and they will pretend to be so hurt and betrayed by you. If they start to suspect that they can no longer control you, they try to control the way others see you. This way, they can still come out on top.
There are a lot of things you can do to put yourself on a narcissist’s shit list. Things like having boundaries, standing up for yourself or calling them out on something they’ve done wrong. If you start to outshine them or do better than them in anyway, they take it as a personal affront. Living a happy life that doesn’t revolve around them is unforgivable. And they will do their best to try to punish you for it.
Once that punishment is complete, they will either move on to another victim, change the narrative so that they don’t know what you’re talking about because ‘all they ever did was love and support you’ or they’ll start love bombing to get you back on their side.
Love bombing and other tricks in the narcissist’s toolbox:
Love bombing is something that almost everyone with Narcissistic personality disorder is an expert at. They basically find ways to make you feel like you are on top of the world. Like you are the most special person on the planet. They shower you with praise and affection and build you up with what you think is ‘love’ until you feel like you have a super strong connection. With that connection comes loyalty- yours, not theirs. You begin to depend on their encouragement and to need it. It becomes your mission to continue impressing them, worshipping them and doing things for them so that you can keep getting that ‘love’ and attention.
Once they’ve got you hooked, they start letting their real selves out a bit at a time. They are still attentive, but start seeing what they can get away with when no one else is around. Eventually it becomes you doing everything for them while your needs start to take a backseat. They start focusing on your flaws and challenging you to change to better fit their needs. As time goes on, their manipulation will only get more intense.
They begin manipulating you into believing you deserve to be treated badly.
Many times, a narcissist will start cutting you off from your other loved ones. It usually starts off slowly and they may even convince you that it was your idea. This way, not only do you lose your support system and become more vulnerable, but it’s easier for them to become the center of your universe. If they are the only ones in your life, it’s easier for you to focus all of your attention on them. They won’t need to share the spotlight with anyone, and there won’t be anyone to tell you that you deserve better.
They will use you to feel better about themselves, putting you down to build themselves up and working hard to convince everyone that they are the better person. The only times they will focus on you or treat you well will be when it will benefit them in some way.
If you start to question things or ask for better treatment, they use their manipulation tactics to make you feel guilty for it. You’ll start to question your worth as your confidence gets lower and lower. They will convince you that not only are you so lucky to have them, but that no one else would ever want you. It comes down to being with them or being alone, and they make sure that the idea of being alone is terrifying.
Playing the victim is their favorite role.
Second only to playing the hero, a narcissist loves to play the victim. Almost all of them come with a string of ex friends or ex partners who might have something bad to say about them. They make sure to handle the story however, by planting their own versions of the truth that make these exes seem crazy or cruel. They control the narrative to make sure that there is no way that they could look like the bad guy. In feeling bad for them, you give them even more control over you without realizing it. You allow them to manipulate the way you see and feel about not only them, but everyone around them.
A narcissist is always right.
Arguing with a narcissist is a waste of time, as is trying to explain your own feelings. They will spin the story so convincingly, gas lighting you until you may even find yourself apologizing for their actions. If you try to call them out on their behavior, they will take it as an attack and come at you harder. They will never apologize or take responsibility. They will instead focus on their own feelings, and how you are hurting them with your actions.
Ways a Narcissist might gaslight you:
- You’re imaging things.
- That never happened.
- I would never do something like that.
- I’m hurt that you would accuse me of that.
- If you really loved me, you wouldn’t say things like that.
- You’re so dramatic.
- Stop being so sensitive.
- Why are you so paranoid?
- You’re remembering that wrong.
- Jealousy doesn’t look good on you.
- Don’t take it that way.
- You’re making such a big deal out of nothing.
- It’s not my job to make you feel secure.
- You’re exaggerating.
- It was a joke.
But the thing is, with a narcissist, it’s never just a joke.
Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder will strategically break you down to the point that you feel like you’re going crazy and begin questioning your reality. You doubt yourself and start overthinking everything, and you start to tie your worth to what you can do for someone else. If they’ve accomplished their goal, you start blaming yourself for everything while making excuses for every single one of their wrong doings. You may even find yourself thanking them for this abuse.
There are very few ways out of a relationship with a narcissist.
On one hand, they may just walk out of your life as quickly as they entered it because they no longer see any value to you. They may have come across a new victim that will build their image even higher or be able to provide them with more valuable experiences or possessions. As you were merely a tool for them, they have no problem dropping you without explanation and moving on without you.
Option two is that you’ve become too hard to manipulate or you’ve embarrassed them by calling them out on something they did. In this scenario, they may decide that you’re more trouble than you’re worth and decide to destroy you as they move on to their next victim.
And then there is option three, where you realize what’s happening and you get out. You don’t try to reason with or change the narcissist. You just exit the situation because you know that you deserve better. This does not go over well with the narc, and they will try to hurt you or villainize you. But because your eyes have been opened and you realize that there will be no closure or apology, you walk away.
None of these options are easy, but I can tell you that every single one of them beats the option of staying in the relationship with a narcissist.
If you believe that you are connected to a narcissist…
I beg you to look more into Narcissistic Personality Disorder, to build a support system, to get help if necessary and to find a way to cut ties. The treatment that I mentioned above is abuse and no one deserves to be treated that way. Any type of relationship with a narcissist can result in trauma and you may need to begin your own healing journey. It’s important that you remember that you matter, and you are worthy of love and respect, even if this person in your life tries to convince you otherwise.
I’ll be back next week with more, but you can also see more that I’ve written on Narcissistic Personality Disorder here:
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