Narcissists are easy to fall in love with. They are confident, charming, entertaining, agreeable or so they will have you believe. But narcissism seriously harms relationships and your ability to love if you let it. Read on to know how narcissism harms relationships, and what you can do about it.
[Note: In this article, I speak as a masculine man in relationships with feminine women. Please adjust the gender terms to suit your relationship experience.]
In previous articles, I described narcissism as an extreme form of selfishness. But narcissism goes beyond mere self-interest. It’s more akin to egotism — an excessive or exaggerated sense of self-importance. In the extreme, a narcissist exists alone at the center of his (or her) known universe. Other people appear as instruments that serve a purpose: to satisfy the narcissist’s needs, wants, and desires. If they don’t, they are considered useless (or worse) and can be easily discarded.
If that’s extreme, where are you on the scale of narcissism? Measure yourself here.
I have always considered myself an evolving “conscious male,” so my own narcissism was submerged, hidden in the subconscious shadows. I couldn’t see it — but the women in my life could.
Here’s how it looked in my earlier days.
As long as I was getting what I wanted from the woman in my life, I was happy. I felt good about my relationship. I was cooperative, kind, and loving. But if I didn’t get what I wanted, if she wasn’t showing up consistently as the perfect Love Goddess I expected, I began to shut down, withdrawing my energy and attention.
I frequently became resentful. I stopped caring about her as much as I had initially. I got snappy, overly irritable, and reactive. I would hit an internal limit, then started looking for an exit, or someone else who would be more pleasing, and less of a problem.
Looking back, I can see that this was a narcissistic demand that my woman satisfies all of my needs and appetites. If she couldn’t do so (and of course, no one could), my dissatisfaction grew. If she didn’t meet my expectations, there was clearly something wrong with her. I couldn’t see my own role in the dynamic.
This type of narcissism has destroyed many good relationships.
Eventually, my girlfriend would mention my withdrawal or my lack of care or attention. Or she pointed out my rude behavior. I didn’t want to hear it. I pointed back to her, informing her that the problem was how she was reacting. I said things like: “You’re too sensitive. You’re not taking responsibility for your stuff. The way you’re delivering the message isn’t clean. If you used different words or a different tone, I might be able to hear you.”
This blame-the-victim tactic drives women bat-shit crazy — and for good reason. When your behavior has a negative impact on her, and she responds or reacts to it, and you then make her the problem, you’re doubling down on narcissism. You avoid responsibility for hurting her and blame her for responding to the problem. It’s cruel.
Want to know more about how narcissism harms relationships? Then check this video out below:
This kind of narcissism tears relationships apart.
Men are generally bigger and stronger than women, and throughout history, men have been responsible for most of the damage done to women. It’s understandable that women have a natural fear of us — especially when we get big, huffy, demanding, or angry. When confronted by a large raging male, most animals avoid being hurt by employing one of the safe strategies: flee, freeze, or fold. When men act like macho jerks, most women shrink back to become invisible.
If you see your woman folding in on herself, collapsing, or withdrawing from conflict when you bark or yell, your narcissism is doing damage. If you see this in your children, you’re doing significant damage to them. (Get some help, now.)
I learned from my partner that when women blame, shame, or criticize men, it’s usually because the man won’t listen to them. They then have to escalate the delivery of their message. After a few frustrating attempts at telling you what you did to hurt them, their communication starts to sound and feel like emotional castration.
Beneath their rising anger, women are trying to inform and inspire us to become more kind, loving, and virtuous. It’s our own block-headedness that gets them so riled up. It’s as if someone is trying to hand you a gift, and you refuse to accept it, so they start pushing it in your face until you figure out that it’s good for you.