Narcissism is a useful term, even if it can be misused. It’s good to have words that can help you know what you’re dealing with.
As most of you know, narcissism fits in a psychiatric category called Personality Disorders. These folks have a maladaptive style of functioning in the world that can be hurtful to them or to others. Here is an abbreviated view of narcissism (with some minor alterations to make this character type clearer).
9 Signs He May Be a Narcissist:
1. Exaggerated sense of one’s talents and importance
2. Fantasies of great romance, great insight or great achievement
3. Excessive need for admiration and attention
4. Powerful sense of entitlement – can rationalize selfish acts as perfectly normal
5. Tendency to use people as objects
6. Lacks true empathy; but often can feign empathy quite well
7. Easily hurt – and easily injures others (sometimes badly)
8. Obsessed with oneself
9. Lacks capacity to be self-critical
We all have elements of these traits. Some may argue that this list beautifully describes most healthy teenagers! Yet, what if an adult is truly trapped in this personality set? It can spell trouble for them and those who are their wives and children.
However flawed, the diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder has real value. You need to know what you are dealing with. And if you are the Narcissist, you will ultimately benefit from understanding why you go from failed relationship to failed relationship – and why you never have enough, despite your looks, money or success.
Every Narcissist is different. They each have a separate array of the 100 Billion neurons. They each have a different upbringing and they each have the above traits in varying degrees. The last criterion is one that I added, because, in my experience, it is most critical.
It is important to know that Most Personality Disorders lack the ability to look at themselves critically, as if from the outside. Criticism is too easily seen as an attack, and not a useful insight. Narcissists in this way are primitive psychologically. They just can’t be wrong.
A narcissist fails to see a wife as a person and just assumes that she should feel the way he does. Then, he gets angry with her for being upset, avoids any criticism and may go so far as to feel justified in poisoning the kids against their mom. “The kids are better off without her.” Once he cuts bait, how she ends up is not his concern – relationships are ultimately chess pieces to be moved around. The loyalty you sometimes see in a good divorce exists only in his words, not in his deeds.
A Warning For Those Divorcing a Narcissist:
One scary point: People with NPD can be vicious when frustrated. Divorce regresses them further and sometimes domestic violence is possible. Whether you buy into the NPD diagnosis or not, it is dangerous to be a position of vulnerability with someone who feels justified in hurting you because he or she has lost control. Many women (and some men) can’t get their heads around the fact that someone who once loved them can hurt them (or their kids). Get help if you think this is your problem.
Here are some lessons that may be helpful if you are married to or, are divorcing a narcissist:
1. Narcissists are people who are remarkably self-centered to the point of exploitation.
2. A Narcissist may be so entitled that he doesn’t even see himself as hurting others.
3. It is easy to be attracted to a Narcissist. They often possess admirable talents and looks. In my experience, many love romance – but not long-term love.
4. If you have a lover, spouse or ex with these traits, just know that you may not count to her as much as you think. Knowing this can help protect you.
5. Yes, he may have loved you. He may be incredibly handsome, a great lover and an interesting person but notice how much of what he has done is self-referential. He is far from selfless.
6. When it comes to love, most narcissists are more in love with love than in love with you.
7. Once the relationship is over, your history with him is not that important.
8. Many of these characters have a tough time getting older and good therapy can help them transition to being a better person. Generally, this happens when their beauty, wealth or accomplishments fail to work for them anymore.
9. The mid-life crisis of a narcissist can be one of the more satisfying psychotherapies. They need love like everyone else; and better late than never.
10. Narcissists as a group have a powerful sense of urgency. They want a lot out of this life. And some of them make a real contribution to the worlds of acting, academics, religion, politics, science, literature and yes, psychology. Their pain is often internal – as in a relentless lack of satisfaction – and external – as in the debris of many failed relationships.
Narcissism is a useful term, even if it can be misused. It’s good to have words that can help you know what you’re dealing with. And, if you have these traits, knowing the full picture of narcissism may help you wake up to why you’re so chronically demanding – or empty. And, if your lover, friend, parent or spouse is narcissistic, you’ll have a better picture of what’s going on.
Caution: Not every hurtful person is a Narcissist. Sometimes he is just an Asshole. There is a difference.
Bottom Line: People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are problematic people. They miss out on much of the subtle beauty of life.
Just, if you are close to one – protect yourself.
More About Narcissism:
- Divorcing a Narcissist? It’s Best To Keep Your Expectations Low
- Expert Advice For Those Divorcing a Narcissist
- 8 Things You Need To Know When Divorcing a Narcissist
- 6 Warning Signs You Are Dating a Narcissist
Nancy Kay says
My ex has many of these personality traits and it led to a very lengthy and expensive legal parenting battle. Whether the hot button was something related to the kids or to money, I knew I’d be in for an expensive power struggle with him.
Often we would end up at court over things that clearly should be shared- such as our joint tax return refund we received while separated. He claimed it was all his and so we each paid our attorney at their high hourly rate to show up at court and get the refund divided in half.
Vicky Cianci says
When I first saw the top 3 traits that is my soon to be ex-husband but I realized from therapy that I wanted to be loved and seeked attention. I realized that i was taking care of him living to the life he wanted to live.
Lisabeth Papatzimas says
I wish I would have noticed that my ex-husband had NPD (he has been diagnosis by a Doctor) before I married him! However, at that time I was so blinded by everything about him. Cirqua 16 years later and my blinders have been ripped off…. well came flying off when I found him having an affair. Now that I can see the tottal package, I find myself splapping my own face as to “how did I not know!”. Being away from him now I see how the world had revolved around him and we were merly pawns on his Chess board. I know I have to deal with him for a while because of our so, however now with my “eyes wide open”–and finding humor every time my ex-husband flaunts his peacock tail…. just makes me realize how silly of a little girl I was then and how much of a woman I am now.
Tina Taylor says
Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a neurological condition http://snip.ly/AJrq
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Beth Cone Kramer says
Another trait of narcissism is the notion that everyone should line up behind the narcissist in all opinions and a self-grandization that he or she does not need to share information, especially about finances, because he or she knows best. Narcissists are skilled at twisting words to make you feel like you’re crazy and can manipulate less aware therapists, attorneys, and even judges. Coventional relationship advice flies in the face of a narcissist. The use of I statements ie “I feel sad/angry/frustrated when you…” just puts the narcissist on the defensive because you”re shaming him or her. the narcissist will hold that as arsenal for the next blow up.
Cathy Meyer says
Beth, you made me recall an email exchange between my ex and our youngest when he was 11-years-old. His Dad emailed full of news about the new wife, new house, new activities. His son emailed him back and said, “Dad, it hurts my feelings when you talk about your new life and don’t ask how I’m doing. The narcs response…”What new life, I’m living the same life I’ve always lived, I’m not responsible for your feelings, Taylor.” That is the crap a narcissist does that makes a person want to go postal.
Cathy I know what it mean. My ex narc husband has three children by his first two ex wives. He never respected or acknowledged how his actions and words deeply affected them, but he was always entitled to feel wronged by anything they said or did. They are the epitome of double standards. I see how his children have been negatively impacted by him, they missed the caring and respect that children need in their lives… The two oldest have substance abuse issues as well as other problems, and the youngest has anxiety self esteem issues, as well as narcissistic manipulative tendencies like her Dad. It is so sad to see , even from a distance.
I hope your son learns to know that it is not him, but that his father is the one with the problem. He will learn from you what unconditional love is. I wish you and your son well.
Cathy Meyer says
Thank you, Sandy. Both my sons are doing well. Their father got pissed at them years ago and cut them off. As hurtful as it was for them, it was probably the best thing he could have done for them. They’ve learned their worth from their mom, grandparents and Aunt and Uncle who’ve shown them unconditional love and acceptance. Their father has a step-daughter (a narcissist herself) who thinks he walks on water. That is who he chooses to “father” these days. Everyone here is fine with that!
I am a male in a narsissistic relationship! Some of the things listed above relate to me, i believe that these traits are a reflection on my other half, these traits are NOT me, I hate this and I’m not a violent person, this is the first relationship ive had like this, I’ve had 5 serious relationships, Im 33, and this relatiionship is abusive, emotionally degrading and finacially draining. I dont know how to gain my life back again?
Protect yourself? Seriously? Surely you mean RUN LIKE HELL! This person will destroy your life.
Thank you, Mark! I am a Narcissist, and this is the first article I have read which has as much compassion for us as for our victims. Thanks to your article, I believe I can learn to do better, and maybe be cured. I am so grateful to come across someone who talks about our condition with understanding, instead of simply casting us as monsters.
Thank you! I am married to an extremely handsome Narcissist and everything you said is him! To top it off, he remembers things and details from 20 years ago. He once told the therapist if he could only fix me, all would be well. 23yrs of marriage and it has not changed, excepts, I really don’t give a crap any more. I can see through his stuff. Stranger, his 3 siblings are exactly the same as he is. Recently my mother gave me some money for a new car. Of course, the roof exploded off the house, then…. he decided he would pick out the car because it is what HE wants. Not surprising. Thanks for the article.
Loved this article! Ex was like this to a T! Everything from needing constant admiration, to ego stroking, to womanizing, to lying, to abusing other peoples money constantly, using widow women for their money, chasing after younger women for sex, exploiting, conning, manipulating, degrading, demeaning, harassing, and yet in the same token would blame everyone else, would blame the Gov’t, blame society, blame his upbrining, blame his bosses, his coworkers, his ex wife, other women, his clients, it was never his fault, except every damn place he roamed there was always A.) drama B.) chaos C.) hurt feelings or a major major major issue. He wanted everyone else to be mature, pay his way, tolerate his mind games, tolerate being used, abused, exploited, but he could be immature, goof off, expect everything to be paid for…for his own gain, demanded respect, the list goes on and on with guys with this type of personality, they are totally messed up in the head, heart, mind, & body some of them are evil. There is no other justification for all the abuse. They are sick. Amazing the amount of destruction, damage, chaos, and utter dispair some human beings can cause. Glad to be done with it finally. Sad, but as he ages he will just keep getting worse and worse. I feel sorry for anyone that has to deal with this crap.
previous post should have said loss of hope or despair…couldn’t spell check it right! Thanks!
Very good points. A couple of things I would add after 30 years experience of marriage to a narcissist: they are not just in love with love, they are in love with themselves and are always hyper aware of the image they portray with their partner. If they start to believe their partner is no longer the attractive person he/she once was, they will start to look elsewhere to find someone to bolster their false image of themselves.
And they don’t just forget the history they had with their partner, they can also drop their children. I put together an album of photos for my ex – mostly of our children growing up – and gave it to him after he moved out. He looked at me as though it was the last thing he wanted and grunted his thanks. He would have been happy to leave with not a single photo of his sons over the years. Soon after that he moved away and missed the last of their teenage years because he wanted to live in another country. And also (more importantly) it enabled him to not pay child support for two years because I didn’t have any contact details for him.
The Truth says
Many women unfortunately that are Narcissists need to just get a life already since they really Don’t have one. Manny more women that are like this than men nowadays which is real very sad.
Love this article. I left my husband for a narcissist 20 yrs ago and thought I was the crazy one in the relationship. He has made me feel worthless and I have lost all my confidence through his verbal abuse and controlling ways. Just wish I realised this earlier on. Unfortunately I can’t leave, as I have no job and I’m completely dependant on him. My family have all emigrated and I have no friends anymore. I’m now 62 and have no escape!