Your three things today are:
REMIND PRETTY UNIQUE
People hear the word, “Narcissist, ” come out of my mouth and then they see that I write in first person, and they mistakenly believe that I am what I am claiming others are. This is compounded by the number of people that I claim are prone to perpetuating narcissistic abuse, because they are many. If it’s everyone else, its probably me, right?
But its not me. Here, I’ll be more honest than you: I sometimes toot my own horn. Not narcissism, by the way, which is too often used interchangeably with vanity, and is not even a synonym. But in my case, it is not even vanity. I’m just cheering myself on because I’m used to an empty stadium.
And I’ve not been great to the men I date. I’ll even admit that I have noticed some genuine narcissistic tendencies on my part within the context of romantic relationships. I noticed them years ago, and have done my best to eradicate them. In fact, my decision to remain single was influenced in part by the realization that I cannot trust anyone fully, and so will always cause some harm with my various distancing techniques and refusal to consider their best interests as equal to my own.
But I’ve always been good to everyone else, except those to whom I am simply returning a harm. I am genuine, my generosity is real, my acceptance is absolute, my forgiveness knows no end. I don’t think I am better than anyone, but I don’t think anyone is better than me, either. We’re all approximately the same, and I treat everyone exactly as if they were me.
I’ve said before that the number of narcissists in my life is not the consequence of projection, but of being narcissistic bait. No-one understands exactly what this means, so I spend some time now and then reaching deep for an explanation. Because I do love narcissists, and I love them long before I know they’re all fucked up. If I’m falling in love, chances are my Prince is covertly self absorbed and struggles with empathy. Why?
Number one on the list is my need for validation. Most people get it from their parents when they’re young and grow up with a strong sense of self esteem. The everyday approval of family and friends is sufficient after that. People who grow up without it… well. (And yes, in the name of full disclosure, an excessive need for praise IS a narcissistic quality. I am still not a narcissist.)
The narcissist begins the relationship with something called “love bombing.” They tell you you’re pretty, they say you’re unique, they make you feel like the most important person in the world. (Yes, people have said this of me. No, it does not mean I’m a narcissist.) For someone with a deep need to be affirmed, this is addicting. And we’ll give the affirmation right back, which, as I mentioned above, the narcissist also craves. We’re hooked on eachother from the start.
Then the abuse begins. Of course, if you’re not versed in the details, you might not call it abuse. At first, its just a withdrawal of affection. The formerly adoring partner is suddenly cold, and no amount of warmth, nor sadness, nor anything at all, can melt his heart. There’s no validation anymore, instead there is indifference or derision. No matter how confident you are, never being reminded of your partner’s love or your own value takes a toll, and when your source of approval is actively cutting you down, the emotional cost is high.
You jump through hoops to get some of that affection back, or to avoid the ridicule, and this is where you become a “supply.” Your desire for their praise provides the validation they need, and you now willingly supply them with a greater and greater amount of energy, time, and effort. Gradually, they do less and less and you do more and more, until you’ve become their servant. You’re exhausted, and still not ever good enough to avoid the tongue lashing at the end of the day.
If you’re the way I used to be, you start a lot of unproductive fights, trying to negotiate fair treatment for yourself. If you refuse the narcissist’s definition of you, you join a lot of other unproductive fights. Cue gaslighting and projection and all the other crazy making techniques they characteristically employ. (I do none of this. I own my shit, I don’t dig up the past, and I don’t make false equivocations. I am conflict avoidant, but when I must face it, I am fair. And when I have done something wrong, I am repentant. Not a narcissist.)
But I don’t leave. Why, when I have recognized the patterns in a new lover, do I stay? I think the answer is multifaceted. First, when it’s good, it is so good that you forget how bad it gets when it gets bad. Second, I’m used to it. Third, I have a hard time setting boundaries for myself and fourth, my tendency to treat others as myself means I mistakenly believe apologies and promises of change. When I have done something really wrong, I feel the remorse down to the center of my being. I weep and for a while live in fear of repeating the mistake, which engrains better habits into my character. I really change, and when someone tells me they’re sorry, I expect them to really change too. Whoops.
I am narcissistic bait. To break free from the cycle, I must know what this means, and no one is very sure. So far, I’ve found a few specific vulnerabilities, like my need for validation, and a few exploitable assets, like my genuine disposition and insistence on fairness for all, to be key factors in my repeated victimization.
The qualities which make me bait are partially mirrored in the narcissist, which is why we’re such fast friends and why people mistake me for being the bad guy. But most if my other traits make me a suitable supply and disqualify me as a candidate for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
The number of people that I claim are narcissistic is not even very high, though some say I say it of everyone. Experts estimate that one in seven people meet the criteria for a diagnosis of NPD, and that it’s rarity is the consequence of narcissism. Narcissists do not know they are narcissistic. They do not think there is anything wrong with them at all.
Officially, I make the claim of two people: My mother and my ex husband, though I might be caught up with a third. He seems to genuinely want to change… Remind me why this won’t work?