Does someone you know or love make everything all about them, all the time?
It’s incredibly stressful if you’ve hooked up with a narcissist or if there is one in your family. If you start to talk about something important to you, they will inevitably shift the conversation so the attention is on them, even if they have to completely change the subject to do so. They simply have to have the spotlight on them at all times. Often, a “conversation” consists of you listening to their rambling monologue, but if you try to interject a comment or question, they get agitated and upset with you for “interrupting.” You learn to keep your mouth shut and hope they will run out of steam quickly this time.
You know that things are out of balance, but might not be able to recognize the “why” behind it. You are dealing with a narcissist, someone who’s personality is very fragile and they need constant validation from others that they are superior to regular human beings.
Often, if you do try to call this person on their behavior, even if you do it politely such as saying, “Hey wait a minute, honey, let me finish telling you what happened to me…” this self-absorbed person will turn the tables on you angrily, and accuse you of having to always make things all about YOU!
It’s enough to drive you nuts. And if you stay with this person long-term or if it is one of your parents you grew up with, you will find your own wellness in jeopardy from the stress of dealing with their needs.
Even if you have enough other relationships in which you can get one-on-one conversation that is supportive and meaningful, this other relationship might be a big part of your life, and the non-reciprocal “seesaw out of balance” aspect of it sticks in your side like a big thorn. No matter how hard you try, you feel on edge around this person and you feel exhausted having to dance to their tune.
Here are a few clues that you are dealing with a narcissist:
- they are self-absorbed to an excessive degree
- they cannot tolerate any criticism — even a polite, gentle statement will provoke a rage attack from them because their fragile ego feels you have attacked and they want instant retaliation
- they have grandiose and lofty dreams, and talk about how rich and famous they will be, even when you don’t see them do any work that could possibly lead to that outcome
- they require an inordinate amount of compliments, praise, attention and acknowledgment — it is as if they don’t “exist” without the adoration of others and will be as charming as possible to gain the attention — but woe unto you if you try to stop giving it
- they are incapable of empathizing with you or others about difficulties you are having– the experience is outside their own ego and thus it really doesn’t matter to them
- they are highly skilled at getting their way and fooling others with all the right things (such as compliments, jokes, flattery, favors done) to keep that other person believing in their charm
And if you are trapped in their web, you will find yourself tired from trying to figure them out, resentful of how much others think they are “wonderful” when you’ve seen the rages at home over minor issues, and wondering if you are nuts for staying.
The bottom line: you cannot “fix” this person and they will take you down.
If you recognize your relationship in this post, please learn more about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and how you can cope with it.