Narcissism is a word that is thrown around a lot, especially in attempts to describe certain world leaders currently in office. Despite how common of a term it is, it’s difficult to know, with certainty, that someone we are in a relationship with is a narcissist.
To a certain extent, we are all narcissistic in nature. We care about our image more than anyone else. We spend more time thinking about ourselves than anyone else. We automatically look for ourselves in a picture. We’re concerned with #1. But that’s not really a definition of narcissism.
Narcissists are charming, perhaps even seductive (not just sexually seductive). They bend the rules to their liking, and break the ones they think are stupid. They find others to do their dirty work, or to clean up the messes they have made. You know you’re in relationship with a narcissist when a vacuum is felt when they leave the room, or when there is a feeling of chaos that only abates when the “leader” is in the room speaking about said chaos. Relationally, they are like a black hole. They absorb all the energy and light around them, and it’s difficult for someone to escape.
Narcissists charm others by making them feel amazingly special, included, an insider, and a part of the group. But as soon as you’re a threat to leave, abandon them, or disrupt their control, they will turn on you. As special as you felt when you were on the inside, you will feel equally as hated and condemned when you are on the outside.
It’s difficult to leave narcissistic cultures, and people. It often takes a lot of guidance, help, and support to do so without getting harmed in the process. Unfortunately, many are married to, work for, follow, or have a parent that is a narcissist.
Don’t go it alone. Get help to find a safe way through the minefield.