“I’m In Love – With Myself!”
This past month one of my dearest friends fell into a familiar trap. She found herself head over heels in love with someone who was even more in love with himself. It took several weeks of bending her mind around the idea that what he loved was not her, but his version of her.
Actually, most of us do this to one degree or another. We find someone we think is “perfect” for us because of certain things that we think we see in them. This is not generally a bad thing. The problem is that sometimes our image of what we want is very far from the truth of the person we are projecting all this on. Most of us can sort that out as we go along and begin to see who the person really is and not just our projections. Narcissists can’t do that. They only see what fulfills their own wish of what the person they are with is like.
My friend’s guy was a very attractive, intelligent and savvy 40 something man whom had never been married, he said, because he kept meeting women who were “not available”. When he met my friend, he was very excited because she was very available, and quite lovely. My friend is open, intelligent, and sensitive, and quite sensual. He was easily able to draw her into his illusion of himself, because he seemed to be what she wanted. He had many years of practicing the illusion that he himself had fallen prey to believing. By profession he was a women’s “Coach” and offered workshops on achieving goals to women of the community. He talked the talk of being someone emotionally aware, and spiritually attuned.
Here was my friends’ biggest mistake; she opened her heart before she had enough information. She committed her love to him before she had spent enough time with him to gather the information as to whether he was really a good potential partner. But, in her defense, she was taken in by a master at the craft of seducing women. He knew that he needed her to commit her heart quickly in order for him to be free to behave in accordance with his true nature.
You see, once she had committed to him he knew it would be difficult for her to back out. Human beings have a hard time changing our idea of what we think of someone once we have committed publicly to our view. To have to say we were wrong about someone means admitting that we used poor judgment. None of us wants to admit to that!
So, even though my friend pretty quickly got a lot of information about him that indicated he was a poor partner choice, she could not easily say so without losing face.
Fortunately for my friend, she had good advisors close at hand who could see through what was happening and help her regain her boundaries long enough to tell him she was through with him. This wasn’t easy, because people who are in love with themselves have a hard time admitting defeat. His response was to insist that he would not give up on her and begged her to marry him. Fortunately my friend had become strong enough at that point to resist his overt efforts at getting her to conform to his wishes; never mind what hers were.
How do you know if you’re dating a narcissist?
I can tell you this, it’s difficult to determine if a person is a narcissist very quickly because they initially are very intent on your perceiving them with the same allure that they perceive themselves. They will not want to show their true colors until they have a commitment. They tend to stay in pursuit mode, which means they want you to see them as wonderful as they see themselves and will go to great lengths to prove it. That can be difficult for a romanticist to resist.
They will send you roses, buy you gifts, go out of their way to help you, do nice things for you and say nice things about you to you and to others. Of course, the guy that you want will do and say similar things, as well, so it can be hard to separate the froth from the cream.
Here are some hints that you may be dating a narcissist:
- They spend the better part of most conversations talking about themselves.
- They are more concerned with what you think of them than how you feel.
- They cannot explain past relationship difficulties without blaming the other person or circumstances, and can’t describe their part in the problems.
- They respond to your complaints by telling you that they love you, and how beautiful (attractive) you are.
- When they get upset with you they are upset because you didn’t consider their feelings, but dismiss your feelings entirely.
- They have a pattern of behaving in thoughtless ways in regard to your needs (forgetting what you asked them to do, not asking you if you want a drink when they get up for one, not offering to repay you if you have paid for something for them)
- Responding to your feelings by becoming loving, affectionate and sexual with you to calm you down and divert attention from your feelings.
- Their behavior indicates that their wishes should take precedence over anything anyone else wants, they don’t back down, but escalate their attempts to get you to do what they want, in spite of your feelings.
If you figure out that you are dating a narcissist the best thing you can do for yourself is to break up with them. Now, I know your heart will tell you all the great things about them that you adore. But being in a relationship with a narcissist is an extremely painful and lonely experience because, to a narcissist, you don’t really exist. If you love a narcissist the best gift you can give them, and yourself, is to break up with them and suggest that they get some help to understand why someone like you would break up with someone as wonderful as they.