Late last year, I wrote a piece where I shared a perspective, based on growing researchthat narcissism isn't simply a stubborn trait, but a style of coping. The seeds of that idea turned into a bookscheduled for release in spring next year.
Since I promised a follow up, I'm taking a brief break from the larger project to deliver on my promise. Here's a glimpse at what's to come. If you think your partner's a narcissistyou might want to try these seven strategies. None of what I'm about to suggest is likely to help if the person you love is physically or emotionally abusive.
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But some do -- and if you're on the receiving end, your first step should be to explore what makes it hard for you to leave. If you're facing abuse, it doesn't matter whether it's driven by your partner's narcissism, chronic pain, or drug addiction -- the problem is the abuse, plain and simple.
And the abuser is percent responsible for his or her choice. Until that changes, you probably won't feel safe enough -- nor should you -- "Dealing with a narcissistic partner" take the kinds of risks I'm recommending here. Most people recognize denial when they see it. It's easily the most famous of all the defense mechanisms. The alcoholic who protests, "I just enjoy the taste of fine wine! The more denial a narcissist displays, the less hopeful you should feel about change.
How bad is denial?
In adolescentsit predicts some of the most ruthless, demanding forms of narcissism -- adults who happily admit "I find it easy to manipulate people. Make sure your partner can admit something's wrong, even if it's as simple as saying, "my life isn't where I hoped it would be.
Being Aware of Your Role...
The "vulnerable" ones, riddled with shame and fear; they freely admit they have problems instead of burying them beneath near-delusional denial.
In fact, they're also more likely to stick with treatment once they start. Across studiesnarcissists who score high on measures of entitlement and exploitation or, EE, as researchers call it have the highest levels of aggression, a strong impulse to cheat, and even, when angered, a penchant for stealing or sabotaging property at work.
In fact, EE singlehandedly accounts for most of the worst behaviors a narcissist can display. Manipulative narcissists are also
Dealing with a narcissistic partner likely to score higher on measures of Psychopathy and Machiavellianism. You may not really understand...
The former is a cold callous personality linked to criminal behaviors, while the latter, as you can guess from the name, describes a cutthroat, "do whatever it takes" personality. Along with narcissism, these two traits comprise personality's dark triad.
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Not all narcissists are cold and manipulative. But the ones who are pose the greatest threat because they're so practiced at play-acting and deceit you'll have a hard time separating fact from fiction. Check Their Willingness to Change: This one might seem obvious, but it's crucial enough that it bears mentioning.
The easiest way to test a partner's capacity to change is to seek help from a couples therapist -- or any therapist for that matter. Even people who aren't narcissists can be leery of therapy, so this one shouldn't be considered a litmus test. If your partner's willing to work with you, though, your odds at improving the relationship have probably jumped by an order of magnitude.
Our natural tendency, when faced with such shocking indifference to our fear of losing love or needing more closeness and comfort, is to protect ourselves. For many people, this means "Dealing with a narcissistic partner" battle armor and launching an attack. I don't know why I'm with you!
Dealing with a narcissistic partner understandable as the protective measures are, they cut us off from crucial information: Can our partners hear our sadness and fear and feel moved?
If there's any way at all to reach through the detachment, it's by sharing our feelings at a more vulnerable level. They don't just convey your pain with greater clarity; they remind your partner why the behavior hurts -- because it comes from the one person who matters most.
How effective is this kind of communication? Across decades of studies, 90 percent of couples who learned to share the sadness and fear beneath the anger, healed their broken bond and enjoyed happy, closer relationships.
Likewise, in multiple recent studiesnarcissists who focused on caring and closeness "communal behavior" actually scored lower over time on several measures of narcissism; those who saw their partners as communal compared to those who didn't even said they'd be less likely to cheat.
Say you come home from a hard day at work, and your boyfriend, grumbling about the weekend plans being up in the air, starts lecturing you about how indecisive you are.
When our self-esteem is already crumbling, they often shut us down completely; we crawl away, crestfallen, or slip into hours of silence.
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But we have to find a voice again if we want things to get better. Research suggests that silent withdrawal is just another way of coping with feeling sad or fearful about our connection with people we love; your best bet, as with anger, is to go beneath the impulse to shut down and share the upset.
Why is this so important? Though they appear to be universal ways of coping with fears about the people we love, anger and withdrawal also ramp up our partners' insecurities. Our loved ones fall back on their usual way of protecting themselves -- like criticism or indifference -- instead of hearing our pain.
If they're narcissists, that means they resort to their favorite MO -- narcissism. Be Honest with Yourself: If you've tried a more loving approach to sharing what hurts in your relationship, and the narcissist in your life still won't soften, you truly have done everything you can.
This might be the only hope for change. Those of you who wrote in to say you already tried this and it didn't work have made a valiant effort; you may have exhausted your supply of empathy from working so hard. If so, my heart goes out to you. But staying in an unhappy relationship comes at a steep price, including your self-esteem. Ask yourself, honestly -- are you staying because your partner's doing his best to change -- or because it feels too hard
Dealing with a narcissistic partner leave?
Even if the people we love want to change, none of us should be expected to endure the same hurts over and over. Narcissistic arrogance and hostility elicit our worst behaviors ; they get beneath our skin, working away like a thousand needles.
The natural response is to pull away or lash back; but if you do your best to share the pain openly, letting your loved ones see your softer feelings, you're giving them their best -- and only shot -- at hearing you. If they can't understand your pain then, perhaps they never will. As sad and difficult as it feels, you might need to take care of yourself by leaving.
Because regardless of which habit steals their attention away from genuine love and intimacy, if our "Dealing with a narcissistic partner" ones can't risk change, their problems are here to stay. If you like my posts, let me know! Let's connect on facebook and twitter. And be sure to sign up for my newsletter, for more tips and advice, as well as information on my forthcoming bookabout understanding and coping with narcissism in all its forms, in our friends, lovers, colleagues--and even ourselves.
News Politics Entertainment Communities. Opinion HuffPost Personal Videos. Feeling More Gassy Than Usual? The Ultimate Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe. Being in a relationship with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a difficult situation to be in. But by being aware of your role in the.
Dealing with a narcissistic partner Are you having a narcissistic...
How to Deal With a Narcissistic Husband. Narcissists are people who are self- centered, have an inflated sense of their own importance, a constant need for. If you've tried a more loving approach to sharing what hurts in your relationship, and the narcissist in your life still won't soften, you truly have.
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