Dealing with the narcissist in your life is difficult for many reasons – but the most difficult is not one that you would expect.
Most of us simply don’t know when we’re faced with a narcissist or when people we know intimately display signs of narcissism. We want to think that our close circle has our best intentions at heart, but unfortunately that’s a false assumption.
In order to deal with narcissists, it’s of utmost important to understand them so you can confiscate their ammunition and beat them.
What is a narcissist?
The most common definition of a narcissist is someone who is extremely self-absorbed and selfish.
However, that definition is the source of many misunderstandings that prevent us from seeing the emotional manipulator before us.
The more pertinent definition is the characterization of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) offered by the Mayo Clinic:
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
This description might hit a little closer to home.
The narcissist puts their need for validation and protection of their ego above all else – including their significant other. They’ll do anything to feel good about themselves.
In fact, for most narcissists, feeling good about themselves is the actual purpose of having a relationship. They use their partner to boost their own self-esteem and confidence through whatever means possible – with little regard for how their partner feels about it.
Frequently, this means controlling or using you in whatever way they can, and manipulating your emotions to make them feel superior and intelligent.
It’s important to remember all of their acts are a result of how negatively they feel about themselves, although they might not understand that on a conscious level.
They will take advantage of you, manipulate you, and show extreme arrogance in an attempt to prove to themselves and others that they are who they believe themselves to be.
They are like bullies who protect themselves through aggression, power, and control. If the narcissist had to choose between averting a small threat to them and inflicting massive pain to you, they would choose the latter without even thinking.
Narcissists view the world through a “me first, me second, you never” lens, and to view them otherwise will just create more heartache for you.
- You will never be seen as a priority or equal to them.
- You will never feel in control with them or like you matter.
- You will never feel like they understand you because they simply don’t care to.
You will never win because the narcissist has been defending himself (or herself) for years and is an expert at using defense mechanisms and rationalizations.
Their power comes from the fact that you are a normal person with normal feelings, while they are trying to compensate for one major shortcoming, imaginary or not. They do not understand how normal human relationships function, and they are not with you for normal reasons.