What is it about narcissistic behavior that leaves one scratching their head and wondering what just happened?
A narcissist can derail someone in minutes, due to their own issues. To say this confuses you, shocks you, or throws you off your game is an understatement. But why does it happen? What is it about this personality that is so devastating to people in relationships?
The common understanding of narcissism is someone who is boastful and arrogant, or all about themselves. But it is a much deeper, more complicated psychological issue. A narcissist is usually unable to see the impact of their behavior because they are so out of touch with their feelings.
The cornerstone of the personality is lack of empathy—an inability to tune into the emotional world of others.
When bad things happen, others are blamed; narcissists are not accountable for their own behavior. When they have bad feelings, those feelings are projected onto others. Deep down, the narcissist may be self-loathing, with a very fragile ego. Their sense of self is missing or undeveloped. They have a need to be right and to win at all costs, and since their very survival depends on this, they don’t give up until they have torn others down to make themselves feel larger or superior. Attempts to reason with them are typically a lost cause. You will likely be blamed for making them feel bad, and they may be vengeful and never get over feeling injured.
One of the dangerous things that happens when you’re involved with a narcissist is that their ability to chip away at your self-esteem can lead you to self-doubt.
People coming out of relationships with narcissists typically have a feeling of never being good enough. They experience crippling self-doubt because they have been told for so long that they are somehow wrong. As an anonymous reader recently wrote to me:
“One of my favorite examples: My ex-husband didn’t pay the light bill. He came home furious that the children and I were using candles. I showed him the delinquent bill and he yelled, ‘I paid that bill, are you going to believe your eyes or me?’ as we stood there in the dark.”
You may wonder how this can happen—and that is part of the problem. It is important to digest and understand the workings of a narcissist or you will be left confused and scratching your head. One has to see the personality for what it is. But when you love someone, this can be hard to do. It may be your parent, your partner, a boss you admire, or even someone in your larger social circle whom you once admired.
Why do we get duped by narcissists? First, they typically present themselves in a grandiose, confident, and charming manner. When you first meet, you can be overtaken by their charm and achievements. It is the way of the narcissist to try to win you over. They may do this with gifts, charming words, adoration, and compliments you dearly want to believe. But if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.