Challenges in narcissistic relationships | Sunday Observer

Challenges in narcissistic relationships

8 May, 2022

Dr. Lisa Firestone, director of research and education at The Glendon Association, California, United States, remarked, “Narcissistic relationships are formed when one or both partners struggle with a narcissistic personality”.

The Mayo Clinic (a non-profit American academic medical centre) defines narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) as "a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem vulnerable to the slightest criticism."

It is found out that people around the world are living in a narcissistic world where there is a rapid increase in the number of people who fall into this particular category of narcissists. Hard statistics and science bear testimony to these findings.

Dr. Firestone noted, "The ‘look at me’ mentality that is often promoted by social networks like Facebook has people positively enamoured with the image they present to the world. In addition, we may now be seeing the negative effects of the self-esteem movement on a large scale. So how does this rise in narcissism impact our personal relationships?For one thing, more narcissism means more narcissistic relationships".

According to Prof. Brad Bushman of the Ohio State University, narcissistic relationships are not healthy. Studies revealed that in a narcissistic relationship, it is more likely that your partner would engage in manipulative or game playing behaviour while their commitment for a long term relationship is rather less. Maintaining a healthy relationship with a narcissist is absolutely a difficult task.

As commented by Dr. Firestone, if your partner is often all about themselves and also always requires attention and affirmation, he or she can be a narcissist. Also, if there is someone who is easily over reactive to criticism, they may also belong to the category of narcissists.

Another sign that you may notice in narcissists is that they can be of the view that they are always right and that they know more where they think that they are the best. Another feature of narcissists is that they may care for you as long as you fulfil their needs or serve a purpose for them.

“A narcissistic relationship can lead to a lot of emotional distress." Dr. Firestone said.

It is estimated that approximately 1% of the population suffers from NPD. But a considerable number of people who suffer from NDP do not seek treatment and therefore they never get diagnosed. Studies have found that men are more likely to be narcissistic.

It is found out that around 75% of the individuals who are diagnosed with NPD are men. Although almost everyone has got a sense of a little bit of egoism or narcissistic characteristics, most people do not meet the criteria for having a personality disorder.

But in contrast, despite the fact that a considerable number of people do not end up with the clinical diagnosis of NPD, the adverse effects that they may carry on their lives and that of the lives of the people around them can be tremendous. It is also noted that getting attached to individuals who demonstrate these negative traits may frequently cause similar distress as a form of a narcissistic relationship that should get diagnosed.

Lack of empathy, strong need for admiration, higher level of aggression, focusing on getting one's own needs and frequently ignoring that of the same of the others, manipulative or controlling behaviour, sense of entitlement or superiority and difficulty in taking feedback about their behaviour are some of the characteristics that may be noticed in a narcissistic.

Narcissistic relationships can be really challenging. Narcissistic individuals find it difficult to love someone as they do not truly love themselves. Their main concern and focus are on themselves whereas they are unable to treat their partner.

Narcissistic may see their partner in terms of as to how they fulfil their needs and, in that light, they may value their loved ones in terms of their ability to meet with these particular requirements.It is often noticed that narcissistic partners are generally lack in their ability of showing empathy on the feelings of their partners. Evidence shows that lack of empathy leads to enormous hardship.

Despite that still there are many people who may initiate a narcissistic relationship. Narcissistic partners may be rather captivating, notably at the initial stage of the relationship. They tend to have a so-called "tremendous" personality. They may think that they are the life of the party. They can even make you feel that you are also such a great individual where they choose you. However, with time, you find that they are trying to be too controlling and manipulative.

You may often notice that they get hurt and at times try being jealous. As and when narcissistic injuries occur, you may see that they often try to lash out: they can even be cutting. It is also clear that their reactions are rather dramatic and attention seeking. Dr. W. Keith Campbell pointed out, "The effects of narcissism are most substantial in relation to interpersonal functioning. In general, trait narcissism is associated with behaving in such a way that one is perceived as more likeable in initial encounters with strangers - but this likeability diminishes with time and increased exposure to the narcissistic individual."

This is why a lot of people who have been involved in a narcissistic relationship comment that they have experienced a rather exciting and passionate honeymoon during the initial stage of their relationship and afterwards the said phenomenon starts to diminish as the likeability recedes whereas the self-centred egoistic behaviour starts increasing.

A researcher noted, "Narcissists are prone to falling madly in love with someone instantly and are very quick to commit. However, this initial love and commitment is not easily sustained". Loneliness is predominant in a narcissistic relationship. You may also feel that your needs and wants are not significant. Narcissistic partners always act as if they are right, and their partners are not so: wrong and incompetent.This may give a lot of hard feelings to the affected party: they may even lose temper or try to defend themselves.

Meanwhile, researchers have said that fostering self-compassion rather than self-esteem can help to cure narcissism. Psychologist Dr. Kristin Neff is a prominent figure who has done extensive research on the aspects of self-esteem versus self-compassion. The studies done by him have found out that due to self-esteem, an individual can develop a higher level of narcissism.As self-compassion can facilitate a shared humanity with all the other human beings, it can combat narcissism.