I Unknowingly Married A Narcissist — He Waited To Show Me The Cruel Charmer He Was

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bride and groom

When I was first married I realized something was terribly wrong.

But I didn't understand what. I was with a dream guy. He was handsome, incredibly funny, motivated, successful, and charming. Everyone loved him. I loved him. I thought I had made a smart choice. I was no longer pursuing the bad boy of yesterday. 

Those first few years of marriage were agonizing.

I missed the guy I dated. The one who never crowded my cheeks with tears. The one who seemed incredibly warm and caring. The one who appeared distinctly laid back and easygoing. I was confused by the alternate ego who took his place. 

This new man — my own husband — could be inexpressibly cold. I couldn't bring myself to tell my mom, my siblings, or my friends. They loved my husband; I didn't want to jeopardize that. Better only I temporarily despise him; that would ultimately subside. But if they knew the other side of him they would hate him forever.

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Youth is funny.

It makes you think you deserve to suffer in silence all to protect someone who doesn't deserve your loyalty. Because you don't understand enabling. You don't understand that making excuses for bad behavior isn't having someone's back.

It's tolerating the intolerable.

Youth makes you think that you're good-intentioned. That you're being kind. That you're not exposing someone's bad side. None of us are perfect. We all have a different dimension only those closest to us see from time to time.

Back then I didn't understand what empathy was. I certainly would never have understood the lack of it. I came from a family of overly caring and empathetic first responders. It was a big word for a twenty-something girl who was the joyful life of the party. I had no time for it.

Truthfully, even if someone had told me the definition I would have dismissed it.

I would have protested the way love makes one do. I would have had a million excuses. Don't talk about my man that way. You don't know who he really is. How dare you? Back off. I'm one lucky girl. You should be so lucky.

Ironically, I would have muttered that in between the tears.

The ones the man who once swore to protect my smile now induced.

If you reference the word empathy, you will discover it's the ability to feel another's pain. The lack of empathy is the distinguishing factor of Narcissistic personality disorder. My husband lacked empathy.

He refused to believe it.

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I tried to reach him. I realized I was an overly caring enabler. It didn't matter if I was caring or not. I had somehow not learned what a healthy relationship dynamic was. I was in this with him. That's how much I loved him.

I was willing to wade into the deep end with him.

Despite narcissism being a very serious disorder, I would never have left him. I would have continued to resist the truth: the apparent lack of empathy. I would have seen the best in him, as I had always done in between the tears.

Fortunately, he abandoned me.

If not, I would still live under the illusion that someone who lacks empathy could feel me. My love, my joy, my worries, my hopes, my fears, my dreams, my world.

Because I refused to fully accept the reality of someone who lacks critical empathy. That only one world exists for a narcissist: their own world.

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Sometimes every now and then I remember a dream guy. He was handsome, incredibly funny, motivated, successful, and charming. Everyone loved him. I loved him. I didn't know he lacked empathy and we would one day part ways.

I was young.

And youth is funny.

Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist.