Updated: Jun 10, 2020
The word “narcissist” seems to be an overused word these days. And because it’s so used, sometimes it loses its meaning. But narcissism is a very real problem in society as a whole. Narcissism is more than just only putting yourself first, it’s also severely discounting the needs of others.
This article touches on five signs that you may be in a relationship with a narcissist. This could be a friend, partner, business associate or loved one.
This is a key component to narcissistic abuse. Gas lighting is simply: a re-writing of history; an invalidation of someone’s thoughts, beliefs, feelings or ideas.
An example of this would be:
You: My teacher was in a mood today. She gave us all extra assignments for no reason. Now I’m really overwhelmed with all my school work.
Narcissist: Maybe you the one in the mood. I noticed you were in a bad mood this morning.
You: I was in a fine mood. This teacher was just being difficult.
Narcissist: Teachers don’t give assignments unless they are necessary. You’re being dramatic.
As you can see in this example, your feelings are discounted and invalidated. By the end you feel “dramatic” and crazy for having any feelings.
Narcissists put image before everything. This can be your feelings, ideas, preferences or emotions. Image over everything. They take, “Keeping up with the Jones’ to a new level.”
“Keep your voices down, the neighbors will hear.”
“Don’t wear that, it doesn’t flatter you.”
“Sit up. Elbows off the table. I don’t want people to think my kids are Neanderthals.”
These situations show that they are placing what other people believe over their loved ones’ feelings. If someone is discounting you, and you feel small as a result of interactions with them, they are probably placing image - what other people think - first.
When confronted, they may spin it and say that they are just “looking out for you.” Which is gas lighting. They care more about what other’s think and will do what it takes to ensure the appearance of being as put together and perfect.
Narcissism is a disease of wanting more, and nothing is ever enough. Whether it’s someone’s effort, money, job or relationships. It’s like an itch you can’t scratch.
They are seeking some kind of “happiness” through a bottomless well. It can be exhausting. It’s the idea of “I’ll be happy when” instead of being happy now, with what you have.
You know this is the case when they put their own needs above your needs. Their needs are paramount and take precedence. They don’t have understanding of what others feel; called empathy. Their bellies and bank accounts are full, why are you complaining?
This shows up in relationships where they push their loved one to be someone they are not, or attain some kind of goal that is unachievable.
For instance, I knew of a woman who felt she needed breast enhancements in order to please her husband. He was constantly comparing her breasts to others and she felt worthless as a result. She went to her husband to inquire about this (she didn’t work and needed to ask permission to gain access to the money.) He told her that she needed to lose weight first. She was 150 pounds and very healthy. It would never be enough.
Narcissists show “love” through shame. Shame says “I am bad” versus “I did something bad.” They use negative “you are statements” all the time. “You’re fat. You’re ugly. You’re a jerk.”
Instead of saying, “When you leave your towel on the ground, I feel frustrated.” Instead, they say, “You’re a lazy slob.”
When confronted about how this treatment is hurtful, they argue and say, “Then don’t act like that and you won’t be treated like that.” They bully and cause more harm.
When you're in a relationship with a narcissist, they are very possesive over you. They make you feel like they can't function without you. It comes off as "love," but it's really a form of control and manipulation.
Narcissist: Where are you?
You: I'm at the store.
Narcissist: I needed to go. Why did you go without me? You: I just ran after work to grab some things.
Narcissist: I need to go too and get some things. Plus we talked about that we like to do things together. Don't go without me again.
This may come off as "love," but looking a bit deeper, you'll sense the control and neediness. In addition, a narcissist usually puts their own needs above everyone else‘s and they tantrum (even adults) when they don’t get their way. In addition, wanting to go “together” is a power play. They want to manipulate the situation and ensure their needs are met, called narcissistic supply.
In a healthy dynamic it would look like this:
Non-Narcissist: Where are you?
You: I'm at the store.
Non-Narcissist: Nice. Which store?
Non-Narcissist: I needed a few things. Can you grab me a razor?
You: No problem. Send me a pic of the one you want so I get the right one. Non-Narcissist: You got it. I appreciate you doing that.
This may seem like a fairy tale, but it is possible to find an emotionally available partner who is considerate of your feelings and needs. It's not worth it to settle and play pretend. Don't allow yourself to be sucked back into a narcissistic abuse cycle.
If these examples are familiar in any way, seek help. If you are in a narcissistic relationship, seek help. You deserve to be treated with love and respect. No one deserves to be in a relationship that is toxic and riddled with narcissistic abuse. Be willing to look at the narcissism. Name it. Claim it. Heal from it.