Webster’s Dictionary defines a narcissist as:
“an individual showing symptoms of or affected by narcissism: such as…
"an extremely self-centered person who has an exaggerated sense of self-importance, and a person who is affected by narcissistic personality disorder.”
Similarly, a narcissistic personality disorder is defined as:
"a personality disorder characterized especially by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, persistent need for admiration, lack of empathy for others, excessive pride in achievements, and snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes.”
You meet who you think is that “special someone”, and they are perfect from the start; caring, giving, and they shower you with love, compliments, and affection. You think this is happening so fast, but hey, this can’t be a bad thing, you are with someone who is emotionally available. You feel connected to this person and believe that they are the one. They make you feel special, and they begin to ingratiate themselves with your family and friend circle, who all tell you what an amazing catch you have.
As time goes by, you start to notice slight changes in your partner’s personality. The criticisms start, maybe you didn’t clean the house well enough, you forgot to make dinner again (even though that was not something you normally did) or your outfit does not flatter you. Everything that goes wrong becomes “your fault” and your partner becomes increasingly angry and difficult. The affection and caring qualities you fell in love with seem to have disappeared. Your partner is the only one that seems to be in the right, and they have no accountability for anything that they seem to be complaining about, and no fault in the changing tides of the relationship.
Everything starts going south…
You may be in a relationship with a narcissist, now what?...
At first you may think this is temporary, and that your partner may just be having a bad day or maybe they are going through something. You try to help, you offer to talk, to listen, and be there for them, because you remember the amazing person you fell in love with, and you want that person back. Unfortunately, that person does not exist. The true identity of your partner has now surfaced. You originally met the alter ego of your partner, the one who knew what they had to do to get you involved and “locked down”, they love bombed you until you were in too deep with them to easily get out. They knew what they needed to do to get you and keep you, and they know that they must put on an act to do it, because if they show their true self from the start, this relationship would never even have gotten off the ground.
You continue to try to repair the relationship, but in true textbook narcissist form, you are the problem, not them. You are the reason they feel the way they do; you need to change. They are important, they have a very demanding life and career, and you don’t appreciate all they do for you.
Finally, after much time, emotion, and frustration, you realize that this relationship isn’t working anymore, things will not change, and you want out. You try carefully to remove yourself from the relationship, but a true narcissist will not make this easy. Whether it is divorce, separation, or just a breakup, your partner will not let you get away with this easily. They will manipulate you into thinking that clearly this break is your fault, they have done nothing wrong and how dare you leave the best thing that ever happened to you? They supported you, they are the best parent to the children, and you cannot survive without them. How could you leave them? Unfortunately, the non-narcissist partner may start believing this, and will want to give up because they become so broken down, they feel as they have no other options.
There are options, lots of options. Sometimes it takes a team of people to help leave a narcissist; therapists, family, friends, and yes, sometimes even attorneys. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and if you can find that support system, you will reach it. This doesn’t mean that you need a support system to reach that light, either. You can be your best support system. Don’t give up on yourself. Find your motivation, find your team, make the calls, and do what you need to do to protect yourself.
For more information call Reed, Centracchio & Associates, LLC. Our attorneys can help you navigate your break from someone who may be a narcissist, as the law applies just as equally to them… even though they don’t think so…