Tuesday, 3 March 2015

narcissism the modern epidemic

interesting article

Intimacy And The Narcissistic Spouse

You wonder how the hell you got into this mess.  Why didn't you see this coming?  What are you doing so wrong?  No matter how hard you try, it is never good enough.  Your life feels out of control.  Overwhelming.  Confusing.  Good at times and at others just dreadful.  You feel rejected, belittled, trapped, isolated.

You are married to a narcissist.  Life is all about his agenda, not yours.  He is Mr Wonderful in public, smiling, outgoing and congenial to every Tom, **** and Harry that comes his way.  But with you at home the behaviour is very different.

His grandiose sense of entitlement causes big blowouts in your life.  There are debts.  Whatever you provide, it is not enough.  He cannot understand why there has to be restraint.  He is for ever pushing you to make the impossible happen, because the impossible is what he deserves.
You cannot argue with him.  Whatever the issue is, you will be seen as spoiling his day.  Everything going wrong is your fault.  You are familiar with verbal abuse and the low self esteem that goes with it.

There are three distinctive phases to the relationship.

1.  Pursuit:  At this stage he is doing everything in his power to wow you into his world.  He wants to impress you and impress you he does.  Nothing is too much trouble.  He can be spectacular in his attentions to you.  No wonder you got taken in!  Who wouldn't?  But it is not because of what he sees in you, what he loves about you, the work you do or the values you have.  No; it is about him - how good you make him look, how you add to his prestige, how you make things happen for him, how he imagines he looks when he is with you.  The impress the socks off you stage ends abruptly once he feels he owns you.

2.  Transition:  This happens once you move in with him, or marry him, or have children.  All of a sudden, he perceives that he no longer needs to make an effort.  You have now crossed over into his world, his bubble.  You are now just an extension of himself.  And that all works just fine until you express any individuality, an original idea, or feelings of your own, not his.  This is enormously threatening to him.  One commentator described it as feeling like you have stepped out of his bubble and into your own.  For him, it feels like abandonment and he must do everything in his power to get you back into his bubble.  The belittling, verbal abuse, angry assaults or silent treatment that follow leave you feeling shunned, negated, unseen, unheard, trivialised, confused, sad, lonely, trapped and desperate.

3.  Victimisation:  Your behaviour has changed.  You avoid sharing personal feelings and thoughts because you know your partner cannot handle it.  Intimacy is not happening in your relationship. There is no sex.  You are walking on eggshells.  As long as you manage to express approval and adulation, all is sweet.  But when you fail to do this, you are devalued and regarded with extreme suspicion.  You have become aware that your perception of reality is very different from his.  No matter how or to what length you spell out the reality of the situation, he ignores it if it does not accord with his sense of superiority.  He denies his problems.  He might deny his illnesses. He denies the mess he is creating in your life.  Subconsciously he is aware of what he is doing, but he projects it onto you.   So, his inability to create intimacy becomes a suspicion that you are flirting or having affairs with other people.  He is extremely jealous.  He is pitching his survival against yours. You have at this stage become a codependent, a willing carrier of all the blame he needs to cast upon you.
Being married to a narcissist is a rough ride.  The biggest problem is probably that you remember how wonderful it was in pursuit and keep wishing it could go back to that stage.  But it never will, not with you, anyway.  But, you can survive it and make it work for you.

Is it worth it?  We are talking about being married to people with a serious personality defect.  It is a life of self denial to a large degree. Is it worth it?

The answer to that question will vary from person to person.  The way I see it is, every person is fearfully and wonderfully made.  Every person is a masterpiece, a mystery, a beauty to explore.  Every person, in my opinion, is loveable and capable of loving. But it is a grace to love and live with a narcissist.

One of the key survival skills is recognising the problem for what it is and not expecting the impossible from your partner.  You do need to express approval and adulation of him in every way you possibly can.  But you also need to express your belief in your own value and teach him to respect it.
Intimacy can be terrifying to him so you must undertake the responsibility of initiating it.  You have to know that he is not wanting to reject you; he is incapable of initiating something so
utterly threatening to himself.  But he can be taught to please you.

It is not that he wants to hurt you or wants to belittle you.  He really does love you in his own way.  But you have to teach him to love you more. You have to stand up for yourself, insist that your interests and privacy are respected.

You have to set boundaries, firmly and calmly, to his grandiosity.
You have to love and value yourself enough to have meaningful friendships in which you can express and share your personal thoughts and feelings, hopes and longings.  Because you will never be able to do that with him.  
But, living in his bubble, you can still have freedom and find joy.  You can enter his world and embrace it for your own reasons and your own enjoyment. And doing this, you will have shared experiences that create conversation and memories.

And you have to know where you can turn to for support during the really tough times, the times when he is nasty to you, belittling of you, rejecting you, refusing you, or irrationally berating you for his own shortcomings.  


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