Loving a narcissist

Isabella Fels
Summary 
I was in a relationship with a narcissist. A narcissist is a person who is often selfish and obsessed with how they and others look. My man made me feel insecure. He would tell me I wasn't good at anything. He also said he would leave me if I put on weight. My man would often sulk and I had to try and make him feel better. He wanted constant admiration. When he didn't get it he would become depressed. I think our relationship may have worked if we had tried relationship therapy.
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Isabella Fels on 30/10/2012
A painting of the Greek character Narcissus staring at his reflection in the water.
Narcissus 1

Like Narcissus drowning in his image.

Narcissism is a personality disorder where a person is excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity. The person is intensely self-conscious and image conscious.

They also tend to lack empathy for others and as a result can irrationally excuse and justify their own bad and selfish behaviour. Narcissism is found in more men than women.

Not worth the trouble

I was in a relationship with a narcissist. Loving a narcissist ended up being much more trouble than it was worth. The relationship was just hard work. I found myself constantly picking up after my fellow. Being a narcissist he demanded and expected me to do this. No matter how hard I tried he would often bellow that I was no good at anything, either at home or at work.

Not alone

Unfortunately I am not alone in having loved a narcissist. Many women suffer under the power of male narcissists. They are almost like giants towering over us. For many years I cowered. I even lowered my standards to accommodate him. I put up with absolutely everything and this caused me a lot of harm.

Looks and image

Being a narcissist my fellow was totally image conscious. He was heavily into sport and keeping fit. There was pressure on me to always look my best. He'd often tell me that if I gained weight I would no longer be his girlfriend.

I remember once being dragged around all the suburban shopping centres so he could find the perfect pair of bike shorts. He couldn't tear himself away from the store mirrors and I remember thinking he was like the Greek legend Narcissus drowning in his own image.

Depression

Narcissists feel they have to always be the best and want constant admiration. When my man felt he wasn't 'number one' he would sulk and get upset. He also hated being unappreciated particularly in his job.

I had to constantly try to lift his mood. I would bear all his grudges, bad moods and even silent treatment when I couldn't give him the perfect love he wanted.

Often his highly unrealistic expectations of me, himself and others led him to depression. Doctors can prescribe anti-depressants for people with the disorder. It is hoped taking medication can help reduce anger and impulsivity in narcissists.

Therapy

Looking back over the relationship I feel maybe it also could have been saved if we'd had relationship therapy. But I was not brave enough at the time to suggest it. I felt powerless, exhausted and depleted.

Although some specialists believe there is no cure for narcissism, therapy can at least make narcissists more aware of and avoidant of their own bad behavioural patterns in relationships. Hopefully through therapy, they will learn better interpersonal skills and conflict resolution.

Readers comments (1)

I felt attuned to this, Isabella, and thought you had a rare insight into yourself as well as your partner. I was reminded of my former husband who, after 26 years of marriage and four children said "I can't stand looking at you now you've grown fatter." He was not a narcissist, just wanted younger women. And so life goes on. This story reveals your courage.

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