Isn’t he a great catch? He’s the life of the party. The two of you look great together. But he doesn’t seem that interested in you when you get to the party. When you are alone do you notice that he interrupts you because his thought or idea or story is better or more important than yours? Do your conversations always seem to drift back to him rather than staying focused on yours? Does he want to talk more than listen? If it feels like everything has to revolve around him and that you are somehow “less-than” then you may be dealing with a narcissist.
The self-absorption of a narcissistic person puts you in orbit around him. The general feeling is that the relationship is lopsided: That your needs are a clear second to his and that he is thinking about himself rather than you. Or, more directly, he only thinks about you if it can help him get him what he wants in some way.
The chances are that a narcissist has come from a history of deprivation or abuse in their past when it come to love from their family. They are often very skilled in feeding their own egos and needs –mostly because they are so empty inside.
But these men can be a lot of fun to be around. They are usually wittier, better looking, savvier, and more charming than their less pathological counterparts. The worst part is that they think they are wittier, better looking, savvier, and more charming than everybody else. To the outside world they are something to be sought after. In an intimate relationship they can be just plain annoying.
Studies show that narcissists display very high levels of self-esteem, grandiosity, self-importance, and self-focus. They want to be admired, but really aren’t that interested in being liked. If you are unlucky enough to be a narcissist’s girlfriend you should know that their major fault is that they lack genuine empathy. They are so busy attending to their needs, they won't be able to feel yours.
This leaves you in orbit around a brilliant star with an empty core.
So, what is the main objective of the narcissist? Psychologists have found that the primary goal of the narcissist is to maintain power in any interaction. How do they do this? They brag, talk loudly, refocus the topic of conversation back to what they know or want to talk about, use exaggerated movements and show their disinterest in others as they are talking by averting their eyes and glazing over.
Sexually the narcissist thrives on actual or implied promiscuity. Since the primary goal is to maintain power in an interaction they employ a tactic, which keeps their girlfriend in that ever-limiting orbit: unavailability. They operate from what has been called “ the principle of least interest.” He who cares least has the most power.
Want the good news or the bad?
First the good news: If your boyfriend is a narcissist he can change and evolve.
Now the bad.
You can’t be the one to change him.
Narcissism is a tough one even for the professionals to cope with and treat. But it is impossible for someone close to him, someone intimate, to change them.
Your job is taking exquisitely good care of yourself and setting boundaries every time they are crossed. Don’t bother telling him he’s a jerk, that he hurt your feelings, or that you don’t approve of his behavior. These things won’t penetrate. But telling him he looked ignorant or acted socially inappropriate will get his attention. In the mid 1980s psychologist Robert Emmons identified the narcissist’s paradox of needing admiration while at the same time devaluing others. In other words your narcissistic boyfriend may have chosen you because you have been feeding his ego. Stop doing it.
The risk? He will do what narcissists do and bolt to find someone who won’t dish up reality for him. He’ll find the next admirer and use her up.
The potential? He uses your boundary setting as a wake-up call and realizes he needs to become a partner in the relationship and works on himself to get there.
But the way I see it speaking up and setting boundaries and taking care of yourself is a win-win situation for you. If you call him on his attitude and he bolts; lucky you: You saved yourself a ton of heartache. But if he wakes up and sees the amazing person you are and wants to be a better man, then that changes the dynamics and will put you in orbit around each other, the way it should be.
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