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How can you have a relationship with a narcissist The question that many of my clients ask is, can they have a relationship with a narcissist or how can they have a relationship with a narcissist?
After being lured into a relationship with a narcissist, many realize that the actual person is not who they portrayed themselves to be, when they encounter narcissistic rage, devaluation, gaslighting, infidelity and being discarded.
Sometimes having children makes it difficult for many to leave. Many embark on marital counselling in order to see if they can have a relationship with someone with Narcissistic Personality.
So, why is it difficult to have a relationship a narcissist? Can a narcissist get close? Why do they lack empathy for their partner and only consider their own needs?
It is important to understand how the narcissist relates.
Dealing with relationship with a narcissistic person
- The narcissist was not valued for who they really were, and were shamed when expressing vulnerable feelings. So they struggle to show vulnerability or feelings because it causes them to feel weak or inadequate.
- They protect themselves from feeling this way by pushing their feelings down, by projection, discarding, gaslighting or devaluation.
- You cannot confront a narcissist when you’re in a relationship, otherwise they will turn it around. They cannot hear criticism, but deflect blame, so it will be your fault or everyone else’s.
- A narcissist feels special, so they expect admiration, acknowledgement and perfect mirroring and gets extremely disappointed when others do not acknowledge their importance.
- A narcissist can portray that they are the victim, so others are wrong. They can discard or devalue their partner when they do not treat them special or stop supplying their needs.
- They have unrealistic expections of what to expect from their partner.
The narcissist can cut off from feelings when they feel hurt, by appearing cold and aloof. Underneath the grandiose false self is a vulnerable and fragile person (impaired real self), who hides to cover the vulnerability. This makes it extremely difficult to form a close relationship with a narcissist.
They will stonewall and disregard your feelings, if you injure or wound the narcissist. So, it feels that narcissists are incapable of having a healthy relationship.
Why is it difficult to have a relationship with a narcissist?
Many want to know why is it difficult to have a relationship with a narcissist and how can they have a relationship with a person with narcissistic traits? So, why do so many struggles to connect with the narcissistic partner?
Once a narcissist has captivated their partner into a relationship, the real problems start to emerge when the partner starts to expose what is really behind the false façade, when the idealised fusion disappears.
Once the partner stops mirroring their grandiosity or how perfect they are, the narcissist feels deflated, since they rely upon the idealised supplies or approval of others in order to keep their fragile self-esteem intact, to boost their grandiosity.
The narcissist believes it is the partner causing them to feel inadequate or empty, instead of realising that these feelings are within themselves. So, they project their feelings on to their partner and find things wrong with them.
Gaslighting is one way to make the partner feel wrong about their perception of reality. The narcissist defends to protect their false grandiose self by projecting their inadequacies onto their partner, so the partner feels inadequate.
If a narcissist felt exposed when his partner caught him having an affair, he would blame his the relationship for how terrible he was feeling, rather than take ownership.
The partner is seen as a narcissistic extension, a reflection of their self-esteem, who must also be perfect. Many realise that the narcissist has high expectations of their partner, often correcting their behaviour.
Narcissists expect a lot in a relationship and often the partner feels that they do not measure up to the narcissist’s standards. The narcissist can put pressure on their spouse to be perfect or do things their way. The relationship with the narcissist becomes about meeting their expectations in order to satisfy them.
If the partner is not seen as perfect, it reflects how they feel about themselves. They do not see themselves as separate, but fused with others, who affect how they feel about themselves. Their child, partner and bosses must be perfect, or they feel empty on the inside.
They will expect their child or partner to mirror how perfect they are by admiring them, or do the things they want of them. So the child often feels pressure to live up to the parents idealised expectations to make the parent feel special, when the son is winning football. So others give up themselves to meet the expectations of the narcissist, or they are devalued or criticised.
Many individuals feel it is like walking on egg shells, fearful to say anything that ruptures them, because the narcissist is fragile underneath. Many feel they have to be perfectly attuned to their needs and feelings all the time; otherwise the narcissist will devalue or stonewall.
The only way to have a relationship with a narcissist is to meet their expectations, be on the same page as them, perfect oneself, and not disagree or have a separate opinion.
Those in a toxic relationship with a narcissist tend to accommodate their every need. Many end up losing themselves in the relationship with a narcissist, or giving a lot, in order to meet their needs, to fill the empty void of the narcissist.
Many spouses say that the narcissist has no empathy for them and does not consider their needs, so it is impossible to have a relationship with a NPD person.
Raising issues in a relationship with a narcissist goes nowhere. Any attempt to bring up their behaviour causes the narcissist to turn it around and blame them for the problem, so the partner backs down and gives up their own mind. It is often easier to go along with them and keep the peace, giving up ones sense of self.
It seems futile communicating with Narcissists.. They can avoid listening to their spouse when they feel injured or feel criticised, in order to protect their vulnerability and avoid getting hurt.
Having a relationship with a narcissist means you risk getting hurt. They pick themselves up by having affairs, addictions such as porn. They cut off from feelings or attack back instead of take ownership for their problems, so they cannot take responsibility for their issues. They cannot handle criticism or exposure of not being perfect, so they devalue those who expose them. When others confront their mistakes they often prove that others are wrong, in order to defeat others and win.
It is destructive having a relationship with a narcissist. The partner questions themselves or doubts themselves, often backing down or gives up on their own thoughts and opinions. Narcissists cover up the things they do wrong, to avoid judgement, shame or humiliation. Narcissists hide their hurt, and avoid intimacy when they feel exposed. The relationships feels cold and empty.
You will feel weighed down in a relationship with a narcissist. They depend on others for supplies. Otherwise, they feel the emptiness underlying their impaired real self. When wounded, they inflate their grandiosity or boost themselves up by proving how good they are or criticise the injuring partner, to avoid feeling inadequate. Addressing their behavior causes them to devalue.
How can you have a relationship with a narcissist?
Usually the partner tries to accommodate the needs of narcissists or placates their anger, but it only reinforces their behaviour and supports their pathological grandiosity.
The only way for the narcissist to change is accepting their real self that feels impaired for not being perfect, not propping them up by fusing with their grandiose expectations. Yet, they devalue those who expose their real self.
The Masterson therapeutic approach dismantles the grandiose defensive layer by accepting the real vulnerable self underneath, while modulating the pain of not feeling perfect, so they can feel less defensive and able to process information, rather than become defensive.
The only way to get close to a narcissist is join with them in fusion, by acknowledging the pain of not being perfect, while understanding their vulnerable feelings, so they can feel accepted for who they really are – an imperfect human being.
Having a relationship with narcissistic person does not mean you collude with their expectations or give into them. You need to set limits on their grandiosity, otherwise they will expect the world. But gently let them fall off the pedestal, so they can live in the real world, and re-align their expectations in accordance with reality. The world is not their Oyster and they should not get away with everything they want. Otherwise, they continue to live within the delusional grandiose fantasy world, of seeking endless supplies.
If the narcissist feels criticised they will attack back, rather the take on board feedback about themselves. So, you have to gently deflate their grandiosity, so they do not fall so hard and break.
There is an art form for talking with narcissists, to open them up and let down their emotional guard. Behind the false self-façade is usually a very vulnerable individual.
No one should put up with narcissistic abuse, or let them get away with their behaviour, otherwise it enables them to continue to get away with it and damage the partner.
Therapy is always recommended in dealing with a relationship with a narcissist, in order to handle a relationship with a narcissist.
If the defensive behavior is too destructive, then perhaps the partner needs counselling to address why they put up with this, so that they can take better care of themselves.
When they feel criticised, they feel inadequate and project these feelings onto others, rather to listen to others, causing the relationship to be futile.
Our counselling Melbourne services assists to modify the harsh self-representation, where the narcissist are critical of their real self and assist them to manage the pain of deflating grandiosity so that they could have a real relationship, rather than devalue, gaslight or discard people in order to feel better.
Therapy assists to modulate the harsh feelings, so that they do not need to project their feelings onto others. Therapy helps to re-align their expectations in accordance with reality, while considering how others feel.
Melbourne’s Couples therapy for narcissists is designed to assist the narcissist to deal with issues in the marriage without gaslighting, discarding or devaluing, so that they can take responsibility for their problems.
The entry point for reaching a narcissist is connecting with their real self, not complying with their false grandiose desires by giving them what they want. Once they feel understood, they are more open to listen to others, rather than being defensive. Yet, it depends on how severe the pathology is. You always need to protect yourself with dealing with a relationship with a narcissistic person.