Having a highly narcissistic loved one can be an incredibly maddening experience … literally. Whether they be your spouse, parent, close relative, or even a friend in a larger social circle, highly narcissistic people have the ability to virtually prey on the insecurities of those around them for their own benefit. They are cunning. They are crafty. They are charming. They are witty. They are deceptive. They are elusive. But above all else they are in every sense of the word seductive. While there are dozens of books out there on how to deal with various narcissistic personalities, there are three points to carefully consider when dealing with this challenging relationship that are very easy to miss and forget.
1. The most pathological part of this relationship isn’t how much it drives you crazy or how bad it makes you feel about yourself. It is actually how they can suck you in time and time again, making you feel special and loved by assuaging your insecurities. This is the art of seduction. This is the narcissist’s ammunition. This is the most pathological part because this is what more than likely has you going back to the narcissist to get your needs met in the first place rather than ignoring, avoiding, or moving on with your life. They will tell you exactly what you need and want to hear to keep you hooked. One example I give clients is the unfortunate instance of a domestically violent relationship between partners wherein the recipient of abuse struggles to leave the clearly unhealthy relationship. It is never under any circumstances the abuse that makes it so hard to leave, it is the manipulation that happens in the form of “I love you,” “you know I’d never hurt you,” “I didn’t mean it,” etc. To really overcome this seduction you have to look within yourself at the nerves the narcissist has the ability to touch on and address them for yourself. Otherwise, you will struggle to break this cycle and continue striving to get your needs met from this insidiously abusive person. Fair warning, though, that ignoring the nice things the narcissist does and says can very easily make you seem mean, ungrateful, disrespectful, and narcissistic yourself. Which takes us to the next point …
2. There’s a good chance that no one will ever see them as the narcissist you see them as. Realizing your loved one is a narcissist and that you are in fact not the “crazy” one can be a completely life changing epiphany. For months, years, or even decades they have made you feel like something is wrong with you. Coming to see them as the narcissist they are can feel like a second chance at life or a breath of fresh air because you realize that it isn’t you. Not even a little bit. It’s them. And because this is such a huge realization you want everyone else to see that, too, because that will make you feel seen. Much like the above mentioned point, though, it is your wanting others to see what you see that can have you hooked to the narcissist’s environment. Wanting to expose the truth about them to others is a nearly impossible goal because they are likely being seduced by the narcissist, as well. Just remember you can’t change other people. All you can do is change yourself and how you deal with this difficult personality.
3. Realizing and remembering that narcissists are not, in fact, bad people. They are wounded, insecure, and highly defended, masterfully acting out their issues on others in a way that has them appearing as the innocent superior. In the midst of triggers and psychological button pushing it can be very easy to get caught up in the narcissist’s game even for the most psychologically savvy. Dealing with this challenging person can be a life long challenge. When you find yourself getting shamed, blamed, sucked in, and hurt you have to stay ever mindful of the reality that, much like when dealing with a bully, they are trying to make you feel about yourself the way they feel about themselves. The narcissist would never ever admit that, though, because that line of thinking is so unconsciously suppressed to protect themselves from pain, guilt, or shame. Even though they aren’t consciously thinking it they are so clearly acting it out. In other words, despite how much you may be hurting on the inside because of the other person you have to stay mindful of the fact that it is not about you. It’s about them. So let it stay about them.