Narcissism is a losing proposition. There is so much unhealthiness and turmoil accompanying this pattern that negativity is built into its very fiber. And yet, if you confront a narcissist about their inappropriate treatment, you will hit a wall of defense virtually every time.

Narcissists nurse a chronic habit of justification.  They cling to such a highly competitive mindset that they must interpret life (you) in ways that allow them feel superior.  They are so afraid of their humanity being exposed that they construct false impressions anywhere and everywhere they go.  This means that dishonesty is an ever-present ingredient in their primary relationships, and it also means they do not learn or mature.

In other words, it is only a matter of time for a relationship with a narcissist to self-destruct.

Have you ever tried to talk with a narcissist about the need for adjustments, or about the need to incorporate ideas beyond their narrow biases?  When you do, what happens?  Predictably, that person denies.  You are told that you are the problem.  Anger and arguing ensue.  Then they will hold grudges, become passive aggressive, and in general will be non-cooperative.

To narcissists, the rules of fair play, decency, and cooperation are for you, but not them.  They so strongly believe in their own uniqueness that they dismiss any presumption that they might be defective or incomplete.  Then taking it further, they become susceptible to predictable, disruptive behaviors.  For instance:

  • They feel no need to consult you regarding group decisions.  In doing so, they overlook how interconnected we are.  Instead, it’s all about Me.
  • They use the tactic of blame shifting a lot…and I mean a lot.  They simply do not admit flaws.
  • They try to fit people into a pre-ordained mold, meaning they overlook natural variants in personalities.  You are supposed to conform to them.
  • Somehow, they think they can change your mind by insulting and invalidating you.
  • Narcissists refuse to say: “I need help,” nor will they tell you: “You make sense.”
  • They illustrate a lack of future thinking, meaning they do not ponder where their dysfunctional behaviors are headed.
  • Feeling invincible, they assume consequences for their selfishness will not come, or if they do have to face consequences, they protest the unfairness of it.
  • They indulge addictive behaviors, whether the addiction is to substances, people, public acclaim, materialism, and more.
  • They assume power games are reasonable, and they are readily drawn toward the authority position.
  • They will spout strong opinions even when it’s apparent that those opinions are poorly conceived.  They are not known for clear analytical thinking.

Looking at these predictable features of the narcissistic pattern, it’s easy to predict that no relationship with the narcissist can last, at least in any rewarding fashion.

As you observe the narcissist’s disruptive behaviors, it is crucial to realize there is one thing they want more than anything else…Narcissists want you to be the one who falls apart emotionally and psychologically.  Believing that your demise validates them, they will make all sorts of efforts for you to appear foolish or worse.

That understood, your best reaction to a narcissist’s dysfunctional overtures is to sidestep the invitation to go into psychological battle.  Instead, you can cling to the thought: “I’m onto you and I’m not biting.”

Narcissists are empty inside, which is why they put so much energy into making their external world prop them up.  Their public image is little more than a cardboard cut-out.  They have exchanged the possibility of growth and self-improvement for petty griping and complaining.  And the net result is the lack of meaningful coping skills.

Honesty and authenticity are qualities that prove elusive when dealing with a narcissist, which explains why they cannot sustain connections over the course of time.  To a narcissist, you are a transaction, someone to be used, and little else.

My response to the narcissist who brings pervasive dysfunction to a relationship is: “Unravel at your own risk.  I’m committed to the skills that result in love, peace, and fairness.”

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

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