The word Narcissist is thrown around all too often, typically to describe someone that is self absorbed or arrogant. While that has become the colloquial definition, a true narcissist is much more complex.
The DSM-V describes Narcissist as: comprises of a persistent manner of grandiosity, a continuous desire for admiration, along with a lack of empathy. It starts by early adulthood and occurs in a range of situations, as signified by the existence of any 5 of the next 9 standards (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Their ultimate goal is to erode your self-esteem to make it easier to control you. If they can control you, they can ensure you will always be there to meet their need for admiration. And trust, it’s literally a bottomless pit.
Having a deep desire for admiration isn’t the worst of it. The more alarming part is what a narc will do to get it. A true Narc will work to dismantle your life, starting with your self esteem and ending with every major facet of your life. Yes, custody of your children, your credit, your job, your reputation… every major area. Narcissism is not just a person who is conceited. It is a deep rooted, ego-syntonic personality disorder that affects roughly 15% of Americans. This means they will use emotional abuse, physical abuse, lies, manipulation, pit people against you… whatever it takes to control you and get the admiration they are desperately looking for.
Finding yourself ensnared with one can be one the most miserable phases of your life
Here is part one of a two part series
What should you look out for?
They date up: They prey an empathetic, strong people. The goal is to publicly praise you and show you off, while privately eroding your self esteem, in an attempt to make you emotionally dependent on them. Ending up with a narc is not a poor reflection on you: it is actually a sign that you are strong, intelligent, and desirable. They also tend chose partners that will elevate their own status, whether socially, economically… all that really matters is optics and appearances. They chose partners they can brag on so you can be a double whammy: publicly they are praised for having such an outstanding mate, and privately, they have plenty of material to used to tear you down.
Your gut tells you early: People often say they had a funny feeling very early on and didn’t stop to listen to it. They describe an eerie, gut instinct that something was off or wrong about the situation, but they were too drawn in to stop things.
They are looking for Narcissistic Supply: Remember the tin man from the Wiz? Well, narcissist have two things in common with this guy: one, they need oil in order to function and two, no matter how much emotion they seem to show, they are actually hallow on the inside. Narcissist require “narcissistic supply” or the constant deposit of attention. Your gratification or your frustration, either one will work. This means they are happy when you are proclaiming how great and wonderful they are and they are equally happy in seeing your torment and frustration. Also, they do not have the capacity to love, in the way the a healthy person does. You are an object to be conquered and controlled, not a human being to be loved. It’s not a matter of “how” they love you or if they want to love you, they literally do not have the capacity TO love you.
They are surrounded by enablers and tongue biters. Enablers engage in behavior that supports the narcissist actions. Tongue biters may see something wrong, but won’t speak up. They often don’t want to put themselves in the line of fire or they are reaping some benefit through allowing the behavior to continue. Narcissist will only keep people around if they fall into one of the two categories. Otherwise, they will find a reason to discard them.
Think you met one? Try setting a boundary and see what happens. If you are respected and well received, then continue. If you are manipulated, or told why you should allow them to have their way, watch out. If you are made fun of, or made to feel uncomfortable because you set a boundary, keep it moving.