Many romantic relationships begin when two individuals attracted to each other bond over common ground. They may connect with one another if they have similar personality traits, or share the same values, interests or life experiences. At the beginning, both individuals may intentionally or subconsciously choose to only reveal their best qualities. They will paint a perfect picture of themselves to show how “right” they are for each other, and perhaps to also prove that they are worthy of a long-term commitment.
As the relationship progresses, both individuals will start to feel comfortable enough to be themselves, imperfections and all. They may initially be oblivious to each others character flaws while they’re caught up in the romance, but eventually they will notice and choose to stay or walk away.
If the couple continues their relationship, they will attempt to work through their differences. This stage of the relationship can be rather challenging, and will determine how committed both individuals are to one another. For those who survive this stage of the relationship and find a balance, marriage is usually considered if they are able to accept one another for who they truly are. Then (in an ideal world) they will live happily ever after.
Almost every relationship starts and progresses this way. Yet when it comes to dating an individual who has a personality disorder, such as NPD, a lot of people wrongly presume the relationship will follow a different path. Apparently, a narcissist will “lure” potential partners into a relationship with their charm and sexiness, then reveal their abusive and manipulative character when their partner has fallen for them. When the narcissist loses interest, which they supposedly indefinitely will, they will end the relationship with no care in the world.
While I don’t fully understand narcissistic personality disorder, I don’t agree with the general opinions which have been wrongly accepted to be fact. A narcissist does not trick people into a relationship with them with an appealing demeanour, they are just presenting their pleasant personality traits. Then when they form an attachment to their partner, they actually get uncomfortable with the sense of stability and will expose their negative characteristics. Many narcissists are manipulative and abusive, but that’s only their behaviour, not their whole character. If we took the time to understand their thoughts and feelings, we’d realise there is more to the behaviour we perceive.
My Significant Other is a narcissist. At the beginning of our relationship he was the “perfect” man; charming, compassionate, romantic and loving. But as we grew closer I became acquainted with his other side. I soon learned that he is never wrong, will never apologise for his mistakes (because he “never” makes any), and is deeply satisfied when he gives me emotional distress. Why is he like this? He absolutely must be sure of himself in all situations and circumstances. He can never be seen to be wrong, and will never admit he has made a mistake. His inflated sense of self is a mask he chooses to wear to conceal his fragile self-esteem. So while he will appear to be arrogant and uncaring, he does have feelings of remorse and really does care. These feelings are suppressed to preserve his false self-confidence as he cannot face being the emotionally wounded child he was while growing up.
As for the emotional distress he causes, most of the time it is a result of him deliberately antagonizing me. I’ve noticed that he will only do this when I’m not paying attention to him, or if I’m busy doing something that does not involve his welfare. His behaviour is not okay, I’m well aware of that. But it is fueled by his need for attention, love and validation. I put up with his behaviour by choice, because I know he is as emotionally damaged as me. I have BPD, and he puts up with my negative borderline characteristics. So why should I give up on him?
Our personality disorders are quite similar in some ways. Both narcissists and borderlines have a distorted sense of self, issues with rage, a deep fear of abandonment, and black and white thinking. Through these similarities, I am able to understand my S.O.’s behaviour to some degree. As for the rest of his NPD characteristics, I turn to Narc-ish for answers. The blog site is run by a friend of mine who is recovering from narcissistic personality disorder. As I read her blog posts, my understanding of NPD expands, and I’m more determined than ever to give my S.O. the love he deserves.
Overall, our relationship isn’t really as chaotic as it sounds. I’d say around 80% of the time we are like any other couple. When my S.O. is not displaying any of his narcissistic characteristics he is wonderful to be around. He is the charming, compassionate, romantic and loving man I fell in love with; and this is the man who makes me laugh and smile, the man who makes me feel whole. We’re still working through some of our differences, but we plan on getting married when the time is right.
I guess the point I’ve attempted to make in this blog post, is that narcissists are deeply misunderstood and stigmatised. They appear to be self-centered, egotistic, uncaring and often hostile; but all of these attributes are nothing more than a mask. The individual behind the mask is vulnerable, and has a very fragile ego. So how about we stop demonizing narcissists and start to understand them.