Are you surrounded by a narcissist? Learn how to tame him.
Is your lover a narcissist? Are you a narcissist? What is a narcissist?
The word narcissist is getting tossed around today like a hot potato. Everyone seems either to be a narcissist or to know someone who is. Nobody can figure out how to deal with this creature when it rears its ugly head!
Let’s define the narcissist
A narcissist is like a dragon that can’t be sleighed! I’m even having a tough time spelling it properly! I want to say narcist—the word is already annoying me—let alone the person!
A true narcissist can best be described as having an "I come before you" or "Me first" attitude. "My feelings come before anyone else’s"; "My decisions are always right"; "I will manipulate you to get what I want"; and "I have little empathy for your feelings because you are an 'inferior being' in my world." Phrases like "It’s my way or the highway" may also come to mind.
Narcissists have a grandiose sense of self-entitlement and self-importance. They crave attention and admiration. A narcissist will take over a conversation, corner you in the lobby and tell you all about how they saved someone’s day, all to stroke his own ego.
Narcissists can be fun, exciting and even charming, right up until you stop stroking their ego or, God forbid, disagree with them! Call them on their patterns of behavior and watch out—they will turn on you like a rabid honey badger.
Narcissists may lack empathy. They are not capable of unconditional love. Because of this, they don’t think about the tsunami effect of their actions—nor do they care. They carry very little regret. They are very good at hiding their negative behaviors from others—until it is too late.
My friend John didn’t realize he was marrying an extreme narcissist until thirty days into their marriage. Three years later, after A LOT of heartache—they are now divorced. She just shut down on him. When he tried to call her on her patterns, or to encourage her to seek counseling, she rebelled and even stopped seeing their pastor. How dare anyone challenge her!
The interesting thing is that some narcissists are really good at many things in life. I hate to give them this credit, but many can be very intuitive and perfectionists who are capable of accomplishing great things. This can make them quite attractive to others. They don’t display narcissistic behavior 24/7. In fact, many will show it only when their environment demands it. If a narcissist is controlling the date night or the work meeting unchallenged, things can be hunky dory!
Narcissists are more often male, and they usually develop the behavior in their early years. It is thought that 6.2% of the population has some type of narcissistic disorder. It is not usually diagnosed until adulthood due to the nature a child’s mind, which is constantly changing.
There are varying degrees of narcissism. Research defines two types: The "grandiose" and the "vulnerable" type.
The vulnerable narcissist is good at covering up and countering his poor self-worth. The grandiose narcissist truly believes in his greatness because he actually is pretty good at some things. The latter is the hardest to deal with.
How did he/she come to be?
Most of what we know about narcissism is just theory. A narcissistic person can come directly from being raised by a narcissistic parent. Too much pampering or too much criticism can trigger this behavior. Genetics are also thought to play a role. Somewhere the brain, something is short circuited. Another cause could be a crippling event during childhood that was emotionally or spiritually crushing.
Am I involved with a narcissist?
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Does he go cold if I disagree?
2. Does the conversation always need to be about him?
3. Does every decision he makes seem to revolve around him or someone he is protecting (his kids)?
4. Does the only way to "get through" to him need to be accompanied with a compliment?
5. Do you find your needs or thoughts are less relevant or not even considered?
If you can answer yes to a three or more of these questions, you may be getting emotionally violated by a narcissist.
Here are a few more signs of narcissistic behavior:
• Tendency to exaggerate talents or achievements
• Strong sense of entitlement
• Demand special treatment—imagine the guy in the restaurant who explodes at the waitress when she forgets his water!
• Easily offended but doesn’t necessarily show it
• Feel like everyone else is jealous of them, and they get jealous easy
• Open acts of arrogance
How do we deal with a narcissist?
Ah, the 100,000 dollar question!
Run! Don’t walk! Run away from this type of person. The narcissist deserves to be placed front and center in my "wet kitten" category. The five questions above need to be used to vet a guy before you start shopping for the new silverware set. The intimacy that you seek cannot and will not be provided to you in your relationship!
The irony is that this guy is great in many ways. I bet that he shows you things that you haven’t seen in others. He has the capacity to be very normal, most of the time, so you think that the bad behavior is just a phase. He can be fixed, just like any other man, or so you think. The reality? You might as well be dating a raging alcoholic whom you just pulled out from inside a cardboard box!
This man can be that bad!
Of course, for many of you it’s not that easy to run, and you need to hold your ground and try to deal with a narcissist. You could be dealing with your boss, an in-law, or your very own parent. I get that. But you need to remember this is a tough nut to crack. Your options may be limited, so "running" or least minimizing your time around this type of individual needs to be considered.
Protect yourself. Don’t always share your most personal feelings with this person. He might try to use them against you.
Bring self-worth. If you have low self-confidence or low self-esteem you will get steam-rolled by the narcissist. In fact, he will make it worse. If you read my best sellers, you know that your own self-worth comes long before you ever get into a relationship with any man!
Keep your expectations reasonable. This man may very well exhibit some great traits. Teach yourself what they are, and see how deep they go and then stop. As much as you think he can continue or change, he can’t, so don’t get caught up in his web. Keep your expectations low and you will save yourself some misery.
Frame things in a way that helps them. I actually have fun with these types because I know exactly who they are. They are like fragile little kids that cry over spilled milk. When you want something from them just show them the milk!
Want the lawn cut?
“Hey honey, how about showing me those big strong arms and mow the lawn like only you can do?”
Want to meet another couple for dinner?
“Jack and Sarah want to meet up for dinner tonight, they know you like Japanese so we’re thinking Gourmet Garden, does that work?”
Simple right? It can be if you just keep stroking the ego. The funny thing with a narcissist is that, for all of their "power" that they think they wield, there is a particular kryptonite that works against their powers—there always is with any extreme personality.
Their kryptonite is stroking their ego by building in a compliment in everything you do or ask for.
It can be aggravating if you choose to fight it. If I’m counseling someone who chooses to stay with a narcissist, I tell them they need to do this in order to get the desired results. Narcissists will never react to you yelling at them or begging for them to change. This will only backfire. They are a warehouse of contempt that will just build and build against you if choose to swim up river. Compliment them and swim with the current, rather than against it.
But Greg, isn’t this adding to his narcissistic behavior? Well, I guess it is, but what are your alternatives? Exactly. I like to think that you are neutralizing his behavior to get your needs met. If this is a vulnerable type narcissist, it might even help build his self-worth, so he might very well show fewer signs in the future. A grandiose narcissist? Yes, you are only neutralizing him. But sometimes that’s all you need—if, for example, he is your boss at work or your Uncle Jack you see just three times a year.
There is another interesting tidbit in here though. The more "grandiose" he is, the more you can use his disorder against him to get what you want. Huh? King Henry the Eighth was probably one of the worst grandiose narcissists ever, but his jester probably had nothing to worry about. As long as he kept the king happy, and laughing, he got all his needs met. Your job is to keep your narcissistic king happy by showering him with compliments and letting him take control of situations. He is so full of himself he will never know what you are doing because he truly believes his worth.
Am I saying this is a proper way to live? That depends on the person. I know women that are not only living with a grandiose narcissist—they are thriving and they are happy!
Narcissists can reel you in and trick you into thinking that all is good. Don’t let this happen. This is a pattern of self-destructive behavior that rivals anger, porn, drugs or alcohol without showing you the obvious signs. In fact, this guy might very well do things better than the next guy in many categories. What he won’t be able to give you is what we all seek the most—unconditional love!
I prefer you avoid this type of man all together, but if you can’t, or choose to stay, then follow my advice here and neutralize his powers against you. I myself, am keeping an eye on this type of person so I can continue to equip you in dealing with the narcissist.
Hi I'm Gregg! For more on understanding the different types of men and how to understand them go to my dating advice for women website called "Who Holds The Cards Now", where we are killing it!