I have always been a trusting person. As a little girl, my father would say, “Always look for the good in people. Most people are good.” As I grew up and entered the big, wide world as an adult, I approached life with the mantra all people are decent human beings. People want the best for me. After all, that’s how I looked at the world and operated daily. It was a shock to me to realize they aren’t. And the person who taught me that lesson was the narcissist.
The narcissist was the antithesis of that. He wanted me to be his supply. I needed to be his everything. I needed to worship him, love him, bank roll him, feed him and build his confidence and ego daily. Basically, I needed to be at his every beck and call. His needs were the most important. Mine were nothing. As someone who is a giver and not a taker (most empaths and highly sensitive people are), I couldn’t understand why my actions and service to him never met his standard. My confidence and ego diminished to nothing.
Welcome to the world of living with a narcissist.
Here’s why people like you and me aren’t prepared for narcissist. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. Then we learned these lessons the hard way.
You can endure a person with one of the traits below. But when you add these characteristics together, in one human being – it’s a recipe for destruction to anyone who encounters that human.
1) The Controller
The narcissist’s goal is to control you. The narcissist needs you to be there for any need that arises. The more the narcissist can control you, the more you are under his spell and will do anything to meet the needs of the narcissist.
The control also stems from the narcissist need to protect himself against a narcissistic injury. The narcissist feels out of control and is scared to death of being emotionally injured. The more people and groups he can control, the safer he feels.
The control was something that came as a shock to me. I was taught that a relationship is 50/50. You watch out and help each other, while still having some interests of your own. Those outside interests are contingent on not hurting the other person in the relationship. With a narcissist, I sadly learned, it’s 100/0. The narcissist needs are the only needs that matter, regardless of pain and suffering meeting those needs causes.
2) The Manipulator
Manipulation is a general term for many tools that someone uses to orchestrate a situation to that person’s benefit. The winner is the manipulator. Manipulation means control. The narcissist is the expert at manipulation.
There are dozens of tools the narcissist uses to manipulate you. Some of the most common are gaslighting, isolation and triangulation. With gaslighting, the narcissist even controls your reality this way, by making you doubt what is happening around you. With isolation, the narcissist criticized your friends and family to the point that you don’t want to be round them anymore. You are punished for seeing them, and the punishment seldom fits the crime. And triangulation. You are compared to exes or friends, and the narcissist makes it seem that if you act like the third person the narcissist is discussing, you’ll win the elusive love out there for you. So, you do. And guess what? The narcissist changes the rules, leaving you scrambling. You’re out of control while the narcissist has it all.
I remember feeling like a puppet on a string, but the narcissist kept cutting the wires that were holding me up. Just when I thought I had the movements figured out; the cord was cut. I would fail, again and again.
3) The Judge and Savior
The narcissist tries to position himself professionally or personally in a position where he can criticize, marginalize or demean those around him. He wants to be seen as the know it all who can delineate what’s right from wrong. He also wants to be seen as the savior, because of his imperial knowledge.
Another personality of the narcissist that I wasn’t ready for was the judge and savior. I grew up in church, and I learned that the only judge and savior was God or Jesus Christ. I was astounded when the narcissist told me that my lifestyle, friends and colleagues were inferior and “low class” (the judge). He went on to say that I wouldn’t have been anything had I not met him and learned how to act, dress, and behave (savior mentality).
As I was writing the article, I remembered how he told me I needed to dress one evening. He didn’t like my shoes, and he told me people would laugh and know I’m a little girl from Arkansas. Before I lost all my confidence and humor, this was the same night that he asked me to iron his jeans. Like a good little wife, I ironed them. But the funny part is that I added so much starch those jeans would’ve stood up in the corner of the room on their own. They were so stiff and scratchy that sandpaper would’ve been the better choice for his attire that night.
4) The Know-It-All/Entitled
One of the main characteristics of narcissists are their abilities to know everything about any subject. Golf? Don’t ask Tiger Woods. Ask the narcissist. Cooking? Don’t ask Martha Stewart, ask the narcissist. Politics? Don’t you know the narcissist was asked to run for office, nut turned it down because people just aren’t smart enough in that voting district?
There’s another stipulation, too. You, as the narcissist’s partner, know absolutely nothing. The narcissist often denigrates the other person in the relationship or makes fun of him or her in front of others. You know nothing. The narcissist knows everything.
I remember feeling like I had stepped into a nightmare. At the time, I was a college graduate who had a great job and was climbing the career ladder quickly. I was proud of myself but not for long. The narcissist criticized my job as a tv anchor/reporter and made fun of the notoriously low salaries were paid. It was a dressing-down that I thought a partner would neve give to someone he “loved.”
5) The Liar
Narcissists lie. They like to lie. It’s the main tool in their toolbox. Their charm makes them believable. Even when you know something is the truth, they throw in a gaslighting phrase such as “I didn’t say that,” and you are captured in their snare. The narcissist can look you in the eye, and with a straight face, lie about something very important to you. And you believe it.
This is the biggest disappointment of all when it comes to the narcissist. We’ve been taught “the truth will set you free,”. Unfortunately, with the narcissist, you can’t find the truth. Most things turn out to be lies. I was taught that you always tell the truth. Those that you love deserve that. I felt like I must mean nothing to the narcissist if he was lying to me all the time. Remember, you may feel like you mean nothing to him. But no one means anything to a narcissist. It’s all about them. Always and forever.
By understanding these five faces of the narcissist, you can call it as you see it: lies and projection. Use this knowledge as power. Use your new understanding to tell yourself “It’s not me.” When you put the burden of the narcissist back on the perpetrator, you can take care of you. You can make the best choices for you. And my hope for you is for a life of peace. That’s what you deserve.