If your partner seems to have no care for your feelings and thinks they are the one that is always right, they could be a narcissist.
I found it hard to believe that someone that in some ways seemed normal, and who I loved, could behave in such a strange and horrible way. If your partner is like this you might find that however hard you try to work at the relationship and encourage them to do the same, you just don’t get anywhere. It is very difficult for narcissists to change because they just don’t think they need to.
I am defining the characteristics of a narcissist from my interpretation of those written by Leon F Seltzer (Ph.D) in Psychology Today. Of course an official diagnosis would be made by a suitably qualified person based on clinical interview.
When I met Ben I was fascinated by his ambition and ideals. He told me how he had travelled the world and how he missed his first love girlfriend with whom he had shared wonderful experiences and had loved passionately. He was looking for such intense love again. It hooked me in. Could I be his new love? Would we travel the world together? Narcissists are often preoccupied with fantasies of success, power and ideal love.
Ben believed he would soon be rich and he had never ending ideas for business schemes which he believed would make him loads of money. He was envious of others who he saw as wealthy. However, he didn’t ever seem to have the self discipline to carry out these ideas, or the ideas were unrealistic. He lived in a fantasy world of success, power (he would employ people to do all the things he didn’t like doing) and adoration. Narcissists often see others as there to serve their needs.
Ben would force his ideas onto people in conversation and he would have to be right, never listening to others’ points of view and speaking louder and louder over them. Narcissists are often arrogant, rude and abusive. They often dominate conversations. However, Ben’s ideas were not always successful, and he became more and more forceful about them.
This is when our relationship began to deteriorate badly. He began ordering me to do things for him for his business ideas. Run errands, go to the bank, order things (I had to pay as he had no money). As he could not afford to run his car I had to take him to see his ‘potential business partners’ where we would sit until the early hours. He had no empathy to see that these people were getting fed up and wanted to go to bed, or that I wanted to go home, and any complaint from me, he would get angry and abusive when we finally got home. I had to get up and go to work in the morning and earn money for us to live on (he had no job). He had no empathy that I was getting worn out, he didn’t care about my feelings. Narcissists typically lack empathy and have a sense of entitlement.
As his business ideas didn’t work out he became more and more abusive. He felt entitled to take my money, order me to do chores and other errands. He constantly bragged to others about how good his ideas were and exaggerated his achievements. He was defensive and rude to anyone who doubted him. He reacted to contrary points of view with anger.
Whilst I was struggling financially to keep us all, he would spend what little money he had on luxuries for himself and his mum. One day he hired a top of the range Mercedes car to take her out to lunch. This was all about trying to prove how successful he was. Narcissists frequently require admiration and constantly need to prove themselves.
Any criticism of his lack of contribution to the family bills was met with abuse. On very rare occasions when he acknowledged some unreasonable behaviour, he blamed his parents. They hadn’t shown him enough love, they favoured his sister, they split up and so on. Narcissists often blame others for any negative traits.
His behaviour became more and more unreasonable in his sense of entitlement. I was not allowed to go out without his permission, I was treated like a slave.
He began speaking in a self righteous and intellectual way using terminology more in-keeping with a psychiatric journal. Suddenly he was using therapist speak to describe my ‘mental problems’ that had broken up the family. Suddenly I was being portrayed as the abusive one. Even if I said nothing I was ‘passive aggressive’. If I shunned his sexual advances or suggestions, I was a hostile feminist. If I wasn’t all over him when he came to see the children, I was setting them up for relationship problems when they were older. And if I disagreed with his comments he would say I didn’t have the intelligence to understand what he was saying. He took on one of the key narcissistic attributes believing he was special and can only be understood by and associate with other high status people. He became obsessed with online discussion forums where he could communicate with ‘intellectual’ people.
The final straw with him was the lies. He convinced his family that I was the one who had been abusive to him. He told everyone that I had taken all his money. I just could not believe that someone who I had once loved and spent 15 years with could lie so outrageously. Lying is one of the most important traits of the narcissist. Also despite his outrageous behaviour, he could not understand why I did not want him back.
This is why I wasted 15 years with him. I realise now that in all that time I was never close to him because he was never an honest person and he never understood the hurt he had caused to me or our family and I don’t think he ever will.
‘….they may believe that they are liked and respected despite a history of callous and exploitative personal interactions’
From – DSM-IV 4th Edition 1994
Not all Narcissists are abusive and not all abusive people are narcissists. Generally narcissists are people who did not get enough care and suitable bonding when young, so they didn’t feel loved or accepted. They have then convinced themselves of their own worth and become preoccupied with the importance of their own feelings. Therefore counselling is often ineffective due to them becoming more obsessed with their own feelings and their natural leaning to lying about the real situation.