Mirror, mirror on the wall…the narcissist wants to be fairest of them all.
I often consider the narcissist personality as being similar to the Jekyll and Hyde character, two opposing sides of a scale that never finds an equilibrium. When involved with a narcissist, there never seems to be any balance.
Relationships or dealings with people who have Narcissistic Personality Disorder can have an enormous impact on our well-being due to the toxic amount of energy that these interactions can produce.
The narcissist is skilled at trickery and a master of deception and they will always manage to find the right angle to twist the finger to point the blame away from themselves, so that those around them are held accountable for any wrong doings.
The narcissist personality type is often seen as being associated with vanity and self-absorption, however the full extent of the characteristics that associate with this type of person are far more extreme.
Like with most things, there is a spectrum. Some will have mild symptoms of narcissism, others will align and identify strongly.
I believe that the majority of us carry some traits of the narcissistic personality type. Mainly because we aren’t always able or willing to see the full truth of who we are within. We push ourselves, build ourselves up and often the opinions we have of ourselves are a little unrealistic and don’t fully align with our authentic selves.
Although a narcissist is thought of as being “in love with them selves,” it is more often the case that they are only in love with the idyllic image of themselves they perceive and wish was the truth.
Deep down within a narcissist can live self-destructive and crippling self-doubt coupled with extremely low self-esteem.
A narcissist is often the child of narcissistic parents, who may have built up their esteem by telling the child how special, amazing and gifted they are and how they would go on to do great things—but then offered no solid foundations or stability from where the child could function.
A narcissist’s parents will often have been so wrapped up in themselves they will only have paid attention to the child when it suited their needs. So, the child swings from very little love and attention to the opposite, receiving love and attention in abundance, usually to the parent’s benefit and the child’s detriment.
The narcissist personality type takes on a grandiose opinion of their self, often seeing themselves as superior and far better than others. They often have very big personalities due to their superior belief about themselves and can be very magnetic and charming at times. This is so they are capable of captivating others so that they are capable of manipulating others for their own needs.
The beginning of a relationship with a narcissist can feel like an addictive and intoxicating fairy tale with the narcissist playing the role of the charming prince or princess and their partner being completely swept off their feet. Narcissists will fall into (what appears to be) love and want to commit very quickly, however, as time passes and their partner starts to see the truth of what’s within, problems can quickly arise as the relationship begins to break down.
If the partner of a narcissist tries to address the issues, the narcissists will go into meltdown and complete denial, often attacking their partner with accusations in a poor attempt at defending themselves, or go for the vulnerable sensitive approach. A narcissist will always be correct, so getting into any kind of debate, argument or dialogue where faults are concerned will most often prove futile.
When it comes to right or wrong, a narcissist has an impulsive desire to ensure they are right regardless of the cost. If being right costs them friends, family or relationships, they will most often suffer the consequences of the loss rather than admit to being wrong. However, they will put up a defensive and destructive battle of wills beforehand.
A narcissist will basically role-play and respond in whatever manipulative manner that garners the best response. If they are up against a strong, determined and independent person they will move into the role of a sensitive, loving, caring and vulnerable character. If they interact with a codependent personality type, they will likely move into the role of aggressor.
There can be confusion when identifying a narcissist, as it is very healthy to have self-love, self-worth, to have our own desires, wants and needs and also to value our selves highly.
However, when these things derive from an internally wounded place, one of self-loathing, low self-esteem and deep-rooted insecurities that have not been addressed and when someone needs other people’s admiration and validation to make themselves feel good, this is when the narcissist personality arises.
Everyone likes to feel as though they are important and worthy, but the narcissist has an unrealistic perception of themselves, and they require other people to constantly boost and validate their opinions so that their feelings of worthiness remain at an elevated height.
If they do not meet with regular approval or if they are criticised, they will be sure to speak loudly and make their perceived self-worth known.
A narcissist will drain the other person of their energy. Like a vampire they will suck the life from their partner so that they are weak and far easier to manipulate. All the energy that is taken will boost the narcissist’s ego and their own energy levels. This suits the narcissist as it keeps them firmly where they need to sit, high above looking down.
They will often verbally attack another person using insults and put-downs to make them feel confused and disoriented so that others surrender easily and this keeps the illusion strong in the narcissist’s mind that they are the more powerful and significantly better person.
A narcissist will try to keep their opponent deep within the chaos so that they remain submerged and willing to tend to their needy attention seeking and demanding requests.
Knowledge is power; the more we know about a condition the more likelihood we have of understanding it and dealing with it. That is when we are in a position to take all the steps necessary to protect and prepare ourselves so that the narcissist can no longer keep us tangled and cocooned in their sticky and endlessly spun web of lies.
If closure is something that is sought after it can often be difficult to achieve when dealing with a narcissist as they will beg, plead, persuade, charm and use every trick in the book to place the other person back into the safety of their web.
A relationship with a narcissist can be emotionally distressing, feeling like a roller coaster going from one extreme to the next. When a narcissist is receiving all the attention then things will be great for them and they will be at their happiest, but as soon as this diminishes they will quickly manipulate the situation and may play the role of charmer, or even an aggressor.
If there are any concerns for emotional or physical safety, it is always best to seek help, either together or separately.
A relationship or interaction with a narcissist is an illusion, as nothing with a narcissist is actually as it seems. Their inner truth remains deeply hidden and they will only reveal what they carefully choose to show. The key is to understand why the connection has taken place, recognise why the attraction was so strong and learn as much about a narcissistic personality as possible so that informative decisions can be made about the current relationship and also to be wary of falling into another one again.
Disclaimer: For anyone who feels that they need further information or help for themselves, or for someone they know, there is more information to be found below. This is just a basic outline of the personality type and there is help available for more detailed explanations or support.
For those who have been affected by a relationship with a narcissist, try not to feel responsible for their behaviour or feel foolish for not seeing signs sooner. A narcissist has often developed magnetising qualities and a seductive charm as they need these things in order to ensure the mask they wear is never questioned or removed.
A game of manipulation has been played and the only way to end the game is to regain self-confidence and take back control.
Some key traits to recognising a narcissist are:
Creates drama/over dramatic
Likes to be in the spotlight
Exaggerates their achievements
Requires constant admiration
Takes advantage of others
Cannot deal with criticism
Gets hurt easily
Appear strong on the surface
Desire for power
Difficulty understanding other people’s emotions
Centre of attention
Author: Alex Myles
Editor: Travis May
Photos: Matteo Bagnoli/Flickr