The narcissist chooses someone who neglects their own feelings but then considers them too much.
For anything more than a fleeting relationship with the narcissist, or any other abusive person, you have to put your own feelings aside. This is because attention to their feelings and needs takes up all the available time and energy. We have to sacrifice everything that makes us the person we are, to attend to them. We try to comfort them emotionally, support them in their hobbies, work, study or whatever else they do, we go out when they want to go out, stay in when that’s their preference, see their friends – not ours, clear up after them and so on.
In this post I am thinking of the narcissist in an intimate relationship but many people use these same strategies. I refer to ‘he’ because I relate to my own narcissistic ex partner, but a narcissist can also be a woman.
When we feel we have done such a good job at putting them first, at caring for them, they tell us that it isn’t good enough. The mood suddenly turns ugly and we feel foolish that a minute ago we were happy, as their anger transcends everything. Something is wrong, and therefore they tell us, we are actually a horrible person. When we get upset, they tell us that we just want our own way! They tell us that other people have noticed these things about us too. We are not like their ex or their mother who always understood and got it right.
Now our feelings really matter! We hurt more because we are tired and worn down from attending to them. We hurt so much, and though we might have brief thoughts of walking away, we stay and try harder. After all we don’t want to be a horrible person. The feeling of failure burns inside. We must try to be as good or better than those other people in his life.
Sometimes he rewards us by being really gentle, fun, buys us gifts or takes us for a meal. He tells us how much he loves us. We convince ourselves that everything will be alright. It is…… for a while.
I remember when I met my narcissist ex; he was the most charming and attentive person. He seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say and the things I liked to do. But after we had been together a while, a certain occasion has always stuck in my head. We lived near each other and he didn’t have a car at the time. One night the phone rang and it was him; he said he couldn’t sleep. He was hungry and didn’t have much food in the house. I can’t remember if I offered or if he asked me but I ended up going out in the night to get him a take-away. There was me just wanting to be nice. He was so appreciative, he went on and on about how kind I was. Little did I then know that in a few months time he would definitely ask, and if I didn’t go I would face his rage. I think that one act of kindness set the path for years of hell.
In the early days of our encounters with the narcissist, he likely either consciously or unconsciously asks us to do small things for him, and from our reaction he knows if he can hook us in. We do what he asks because we are kind and empathic people. We believe that by being kind to him he will appreciate it and thus it will strengthen our relationship, because we appreciate it when people are kind to us.
However, we misjudged the situation because the narcissist’s mind doesn’t work like that. He is bereft of empathy. He doesn’t appreciate what we did. But each time he will hook us back in by convincing us that he really does love us and it will all work out.
Hard as it is, you have to start considering your own feelings in day to day life. Go back to college, go out with your friends, revive your hobbies. And when he insults you, you have to not care. And as those of us who have survived narcissistic abuse know, you may have to seriously consider cutting him out of your life….completely.