No, you’re not going crazy! You’ve simply found yourself living with the partner from hell.
Narcissists can be male or female; and there is no simple means of identifying them. They are masters of disguise! Here are some “rules” to help you understand and deal with the person who has made your life a living nightmare:
Rule Number One: In order to function, a Narcissist must have a victim.
In clinical terms this is referred to (perhaps a little unkindly) as a supply.
A supply is essential to the very existence of the narcissist; and all their behaviour is bound up in first procuring, then retaining the supply’s devotion. All of the manipulative and undermining behaviour a narcissist subjects his or her victim to is there simply to guarantee the continued presence of their supply.
Think of it like an addiction. The narcissist is the addict, the supply is their fix; and as we know only too well, an addict will do anything to keep getting that fix. And like many addicts, a narcissist can keep this behaviour so deeply under cover that they are very often unable to admit it even to themselves; let alone to those whose lives they will unhesitatingly destroy in the pursuit of their addiction.
Rule Number Two: No-one is too smart to be completely Narcissist-immune.
After all, in the early days of a budding relationship, who wouldn’t want a partner who…
…is such a popular and attractive person they could have anybody, but they chose you?
…will shower you with attention and “love-bomb” you beyond your wildest dreams?
…seems to know and understand the “real you” so well and so quickly?
…is the sexiest and most intuitive lover you have ever had?
…will seemingly do anything for you?
Then, almost imperceptibly:
Rule Number Three: Why am I suddenly such an emotional wreck?
It slowly dawns on you that:
Everything that goes wrong is your fault.
You’re being gradually more and more seriously criticised about everything – both in private and increasingly in public.
Money is disappearing with unlikely but somehow plausible reasons.
Your partner is increasingly unreliable and prone to outbursts of rage and denial.
You’re being “gaslighted” into believing you are a seriously flawed and useless human being.
Your partner is rapidly alternating between extremes of degrading you one moment and then demanding your undying love and loyalty the next.
Any attempt at criticising them will be met with extreme hostility.
Your friends and your family have been marginalised and your contact with them (and any support network) has been subtly sabotaged.
You have been manipulated and undermined so successfully you genuinely begin to believe you’re worthless.
Very few others can “see it”, but those who do so and who try to warn you will be ostracised from your permitted circle of contacts.
You will increasingly be relentlessly and ruthlessly controlled.
The systematic and sustained abuse can sometimes escalate into violence. This will be deemed to have been your fault.
“Look what you’ve made me do!”
You’re certain they are being serially unfaithful but you can’t prove it; and any accusation you attempt to make will be met with ridicule and used as further “proof” that you are paranoid and delusional.
You’re beginning to lose interest in your appearance and in things that you used to enjoy. You may be feeling anxious or depressed – or both.
You just don’t feel “yourself” any more and might even begin to question your own sanity. After all, isn’t “abuse” something that only happens to “other people”?
Rule Number Four: What to do:
Talk to someone from your original support network whom you trust. If you suddenly realise that all your friends are your partner’s friends; and that you’ve lost touch with many of your own friends and family; find a trusted therapist and talk it through with them as soon as possible.
When your narcissist partner realises that they’ve been discovered and you’re pulling away; they will do anything to win you back. They will revert to something like their old selves and will turn on the charm offensive and proffer huge outpourings of tears and remorse.
BEWARE -THIS WILL LAST ONLY UNTIL THEIR NEW SUPPLY IS IN PLACE!
And believe me they’ve been working on this for much longer than you think. As soon as this new supply has been secured, their hostility will instantly switch to nuclear intensity and they will throw everything at you.
You must understand that the only point of your existence is to feed their grotesquely distorted view of their own self-importance. Once that has been threatened, you no long have any value.
As the relationship enters its final stages, they might operate a “scorched earth” policy of revenge and retribution. This worst of all narcissists would lay everything to waste rather than let you benefit in any way.
Rule Number Five: Saving yourself and your sanity:
Never be drawn into believing that now you know what’s going on you can beat your narcissist partner at their own game.
It’s their game and they’re very good at it. They’ve been playing it all their lives and you are this nice, regular person who needs to be protected by those best qualified to help and support you through the worst time in your life.
Be prepared for them to re-appear at any time as though nothing serious has happened and the charm offensive can begin again. They might even generously offer to “forgive you” for your behaviour!
Find a therapist who has a background of working with abuse-survivors and victims of narcissism; and appoint the best divorce lawyer you know – without delay!
Always remember that with good guidance and support, we human beings can overcome incredible adversity and truly traumatic experiences; and return to full wellness once more.
After all: “The strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire”
Re-igniting your own sense of self-worth and regaining control over your life is the most immensely gratifying work you can ever undertake; and is the sure-fire antidote to the toxicity of your narcissistic relationship nightmare.
I wish you every success in your own personal journey back to the strong, healthy YOU.
Paul is London’s leading therapist specialising in anxiety and related issues.
He can be reached on his direct line: 0800 246 1838
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or through his website: Hypnowellness.co.uk
To learn more, check out our post on how to divorce a narcissist.