It is said that a narcissist is both appealing and appalling. Here is a person who can be accomplished and charming on the one hand, and arrogant and condescending on the other.
In her 2013 track Applause, singer Lady Gaga, dressed in the infamous “meat dress” sings “I live for the applause, applause, applause I live for the applause-plause, live for the applause-plause Live for the way that you cheer and scream for me The applause, applause, applause…” The song might be flashy and over-the-top, hard to miss, but in real life we deal with narcissism in a more subtle way.
Who is a narcissist?
Narcissistic personality disorder – one of several types of personality disorders – is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others, say reports.
One thing that is commonly seen with narcissistic people is their lack of empathy and their sense of entitlement, says Radhika Bapat, Clinical Psychotherapist.
Bapat shares a few red flags to tell you if your partner is a narcissist:
Does your partner always act as if everything is about her/him/them?
Does your partner act entitled and make the rules, but minimize and break them as well?
Is your partner someone who puts you down often?
Is your partner demanding of whatever she/he/they want?
Is your partner distrustful of your motives?
Do you have to listen to your partner all the time, else get into a fight (My way or the highway)?
Does your partner believe they are better than you and get bored with you easily?
Is your partner unable and uninterested in your experiences and your pain/illness, and lacking in empathy?
Is your partner always preoccupied with only what they consider important (minimizing what you consider as important)?
Do you feel the need to constantly give praise and recognition to your partner in order to get their attention?
If the answers to the questions are in the affirmative, you could be in an interpersonally exploitative relationship. Such a relationship is full of paradoxes. On the one hand your partner could be incredibly romantic and entertaining when they desire you and on the other hand they could be completely self-centred, unfeeling and draconian when they don’t want you. Such relationships often confuse you, making you feel “stuck” and eventually emotionally drained, opines Bapat.
In order to gain better control of your life, psychologists advise that you first and foremost, get help. A mental health practitioner will help you rule out any clinical depression or anxiety that you may be suffering from as a result of chronic stress. Next, they will help you choose short and long-term goals, keeping in mind your own safety and well-being. These goals would include important decisions such as leaving a relationship or choosing to remain. If you choose to stay and your (narcissistic) partner chooses to be a part of the healing process (rare but it happens), therapists will focus on giving insights to both of you into understanding self-defeating, emotional and cognitive patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving established from childhood and repeated throughout life. This is known as “Schema based” work.
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In a way, narcissistic people crave attention in order to feel good about themselves, and they show a form of withdrawal (like drug withdrawal) in the absence of such positive admiration. This withdrawal could be in the form of a tantrum, where they need to state — how well they know you (better than you know yourself), how well-respected they are (and more powerful than you), how they can ruin you (and keep their own reputations in-tact), Bapat adds.
Similarly, the victims of such a relationship (if this is you) could suffer from low self-esteem and become overly dependent without realizing the damage done, especially to their (your) own life chances. It becomes important to know and accept their (your) role as a victim and gradually learn to develop their (your) own self-confidence and self-worth by learning to practice self-compassion. Above all, it is important to not settle for a relationship where one is disrespected and in which there is no mutual growth. Such a relationship is bound to be toxic. (IANS)