I'm thrilled to be part of the Broad.Life team where I'll be sharing my expertise on the topics of health, fitness and wellness. Although I'm not a psychologist, narcissism and living with them is a topic I'm all too familiar with. My mom was a pretty textbook case. My maternal grandparents, who also brought me up, had many of the traits as well. Ergo, my understanding of healthy relationships was pretty eff'd up! I've read a lot of psychology articles on narcissism and had my fair dose of therapy. Here's what I've learned about narcissism in a post I wrote for the Broad.Life.
What is a narcissist?
Remember the story of Narcissus, the hunter who fell so in love with his refection in a pool he couldn’t tear himself away and eventually died (of starvation, I assume)? If you don’t remember that story from Greek mythology, just go to Facebook or Instagram and see who has the most daily selfies and updates. Or turn on most any reality show and you’ll get the concept of narcissism.
Why is it bad to be a narcissist?
Self-love, confidence and charm are all aspirational characteristics. But, an inflated sense of importance, an insatiable need for admiration and a lack of empathy are signs of possible trouble. Narcissism is a personality disorder that can have deleterious effects on your personal life, work and finances.
Like all personality disorders, there are levels of severity. While everyone can be self-centered, callous, dismissive and even a little arrogant at times, severe narcissists present these traits persistently. And they set the bar when it comes to double standards. They can point out your flaws like a black light at a crime scene, but heaven help you if you try to point out the slightest fault in them.
On the outside, true narcissists exude ultra-confidence, are charming as hell, are usually perfectionists and, like the namesake, quite nice to look at. But on the inside, they are wounded, self-loathing and unhappy people. So, if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, things may not pan out the way you hope.
Take this Yes or No quiz to find out if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist.
The object of my affection:
- Sulks like a petulant child when not the center of attention.
- Is impatient when listening to others and constantly brings the conversation back to himself.
- Dismisses, ignores or minimizes others’ problems, but expects full focus on hers.
- Knows how to turn on the charm to manipulate people into giving him what he wants.
- Can’t accept constructive criticism even when it’s delivered sensitively or may fly into a rage when someone points out faults (that she don’t believe she has).
- Thinks his needs, wants, beliefs or opinions are more important or more valid than other yours or other’s.
- Thinks you are selfish or demanding when you ask her for something such as a favor or help. Or, she gets irritated when someone makes a request.
- He acts clueless, bewildered or annoyed if you or anyone else points out that his actions caused someone else pain or had consequences.
- As the center of the universe, she believes her needs are the most important.
- He looks to make friends with people he thinks can do something for him. Or, he dates people for how that person (you) makes him look.
- She feels she deserves respect, admiration and praise without having to earn it.
- He looks for scapegoats, ways to blame others for his mistakes or, like the Fonz, can’t form the words, “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”
If you answered “yes” to five or more of these questions, then you are in a relationship with a narcissist.
Narcissists may not think anything is wrong with them since that would shatter their self-image of perfectionism and power. If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you won’t be able to change them. But they may only look for professional help when they become depressed, usually because of feeling criticized or rejected.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a diagnosable condition within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. It's hard to get a narcissist to see their faults. But, if you’re willing to stick it out, suggest that your partner see a therapist and consider joint sessions.