Today I want to share with you a brief story that illustrates exactly why your relationship with a Narcissist was always doomed – and why it took you longer to realise it than you would have liked.
My client D. is a bright, witty, cosmopolitan woman. Born and brought up under an oppressive regime in a country not exactly known for its sensitive treatment of women and minorities, she moved first to another country that felt like home. She then moved again, for work, to a third country which… does not.
The fledgling relationship
As she sees it, this third country is okay. However, as anyone who has moved countries knows, there are places where you just fit and others where you just don’t.
She met a native of this third country who was engaging, intelligent, funny and attractive. Their fledgling relationship appeared to have promise until they both watched a sporting event – not together, actually. This was not a 0-60 in 2.5 seconds kind of relationship.
Both watched the event at their own home.
He supported his home country. She supported a different country.
They exchanged a few texts about the event.
His response – actually no response – to her light-hearted text about “her” side struck her as odd. But they had a date arranged the next day and she duly showed up.
On that date she made an innocent joke of the kind he had appeared to enjoy in the past.
He exploded in true Narcissist style and threw in a few choice judgements about what was going on in her head and her being crazy.
Now, a normal response to this would be:
“What on earth just happened?”
But you don’t want to go looking for normal responses to abnormal situations. When you do so, you only normalise abuse.
Instead, you want to look for the abnormal cause of the abnormal situation.
In this case, I have given it to you already.
It was her support for the “wrong” side in the sporting event.
Crazy as it might sound, that “caused” the explosion. But let’s deconstruct a bit.
We all know the argument that Narcissists are so insecure that they feel easily threatened and then attack. I am afraid that for me that is a bit of a whitewash. The reality is more like, Narcissists do NOT take kindly to any challenge to their view of the world – simply you are challenging their control of whatever narrative they choose to come out with.
My client had dared to suggest to him that other sides in sporting events also have their merits!! That was her offence – or at least the alleged trigger for his response.
The dive into Advanced Craziness
This is already a deep dive into the realms of Advanced Craziness.
He knew from her, right from the start, that she did not think his country the greatest place on earth. She doesn’t hate it but she doesn’t love it. She reckoned she had a right to be honest.
Knowing that, he had various choices:
- a) He could have pointed out to her that he finds it offensive when she does not praise his country to the sky and suggested that they steer clear of that topic. He never did.
- b) He could have acknowledged to himself that this represented an issue for him, decided that she was not a good match for him and ended – or not even started – the relationship. But he did not.
- c) He could have ended the relationship after the offending text since it upset him enough to send him into Silent Treatment mode. But he didn’t.
Instead he went on a date where he was aggressive and offensive. And still happy for the “relationship” to limp on.
Because the situation worked for him.
The feel-bad relationship
He wasn’t actually looking for a feel-good relationship.
He was looking for a feel-bad relationship.
His “side” and his country were merely triggers.
When he had been laying on the superficial charm, he had registered a great first target for his narcissistic rage in her less than ecstatic feelings about his country.
It was only a matter of time before that rage would come bubbling up to the surface, complete with the stereotypical accusations of craziness.
One witty text about her “side” was all it took.
He was off on a roll – because he wanted to be off on a roll.
Do you see how the potential for that roll had been factored into the relationship, by him, right from the start?
Now, for his part, the relationship could have continued for months and years and, even if she never said another word about not loving his country, he could dig up that bone of contention and beat her about the head with it forever after.
Of course, he would build on that and add other accusations into the mix.
The Narcissist’s Un-happy Place
But that was a kind of emotional anchor for him, his Un-happy Place (to misquote some common psychobabble) from which he could always generate rage and condemnation at will.
What kind of a chance did she ever have when all of that was taking place inside him and she had no idea?
Her impression, based on his carefully curated social intercourse, was that he was better than that.
She is a smart, engaging woman who grew up in an abusive home, has done a LOT of work on herself. She likes to see the best in people. She likes to think in terms of healthy relationships, not pathological relationships.
His “best” show was a good show.
But that was all it was.
So many women, like my lovely client, look at their failed relationships and say, “Maybe I could have tried harder. Maybe I could have made it work.”
I hope this story illustrates that she – and you – could never have done enough to make the relationship work.
Narcissists want a relationship that doesn’t work
Narcissists really don’t want a relationship that works.
So they make sure that they have a relationship that can NEVER work.
A relationship with a Narcissist is never going to work for you, or you children. By rights that leaves you with just two questions:
1) How long am I going to stay trying to save a doomed relationship?
2) Do I really need to blame myself for Narcissist’s skewed approach to love and relationships?
I certainly hope you won’t. But if you would like to to really understand how a narcissist thinks in his own words, check out my Deep Dive Into The Mind of A Narcissist.
Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.
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