Before I met my husband, I dated a narcissist for four years. It almost wrecked me. Narcissists can be extremely charming in the beginning. They believe they are incredibly special, so if they think you are worthy of dating them, they treat you very special as well.
But soon their true colors emerge and in my case, the gaslighting (him re-shaping things that happened, and re-framing them in a way that made me feel like I was losing my mind), the criticism, and the absolute emotional manipulation left me with very little confidence.
This was not normal for me. I was a college volleyball player, got good grades and had a lot going for me. My parents and friends could see it and tried to warn me, but the truth is, a narcissist has a way of controlling you beyond your awareness. My boyfriend somehow created an irrational need in me to be loved by him. It was crazy.
I was lucky. I got out and married someone completely opposite.
But the reason I wanted to share this with you is because I’ve had many comments on my FB page and other places, that you are married to narcissists and want help. And if your spouse truly is a narcissist, you are right, you do need help.
However, narcissism is a bit of a buzz word being used these days to describe a lot of different behaviors.
If your spouse behaves selfishly or seems not to care about your feelings, is he a narcissist?
The diagnosis for narcissism under the DSM-5 guidelines must include at least five of the following:
- A grandiose logic of self-importance
- A fixation with fantasies of infinite success, control, brilliance, beauty, or idyllic love
- A credence that he or she is extraordinary and exceptional and can only be understood by, or should connect with, other extraordinary or important people or institutions
- A desire for unwarranted admiration
- A sense of entitlement
- Interpersonally oppressive behavior
- No form of empathy
- Resentment of others or a conviction that others are resentful of him or her
- A display of egotistical and conceited behaviors or attitudes
It’s important for you to understand the criteria, because what many of you believe to be narcissism, is actually just poor behavior exhibited by someone who is hurting or suffering from a low self esteem.
Hurt people, hurt people.
What we perceive to be arrogance or a lack of empathy, can also be attributed to an attempt to self preserve or protect.
Here are some important questions to help you figure out just what is true.
- Has your partner always acted this way? If not, when did this behavior begin?
- Am I giving him a label in an attempt to blame him for our lack of connection or to make me feel justified?
- Does he have good (healthy) relationships with other people?
- Is it possible that he is reacting to strain in our relationship that neither one of us knows how to resolve?
If he’s not a narcissist, that’s seriously great news (Trust me, you don’t want to be right about this one!). The two of you have likely just developed some unhealthy patterns in your relationship that need attending to, and we can fix that!
If you do believe your partner is a narcissist, you absolutely need help managing your mind, as the constant manipulation can really mess with your head.
Boundary work is incredibly important as well, since a true narcissist will never see that they have any need for professional help.
A narcissistic partner can diminish you in a way that little else can, so please reach out if you are struggling. I know first hand what you are going through and can help you find yourself again.
Coaching can be an incredible tool to help you gain some sanity in what can be an incredibly difficult situation.