What is the truth behind the ‘false self’ façade of the narcissist? Are they really arrogant or are they fragile and vulnerable behind the mask?
Why do so many find it impossible to have a relationship with them?
What needs to happen for the person with narcissistic personality disorder in order for them to change, or can they?
Many individuals, who have felt unloved as children, can easily feel captivated by the luring charm of a narcissist. When you have suffered loneliness and feelings of unworthiness, you can feel swept off your feet when you’re enticed by a narcissist.
Yet, this feeling of being wanted can be nothing more than a hopeful fantasy, rather than a reality.
In actual fact, the narcissist seeks out their partner, knowing how to draw them in, by finding ways to give them exactly what they’re looking for, in order to achieve what they want from the relationship, a supply.
The narcissist presents a ‘false self,’ that portrays whatever the other desires, in order to win them over, so they can feel special or admired.
They are addicted to the thrill of the chase, the excitement of obtaining a new supply, in order to escape from the emptiness and overcompensate for a fragile self.
Why is it difficult to have a relationship with a narcissist?
Once a narcissist has enticed the partner into a relationship, the real problems start to emerge.
Many discover that the narcissist expects a lot in a relationship and nothing they do measures up to the narcissist’s standards. The narcissist starts to correct other’s behavior and pressure them to be perfect or do things their way.
The relationship becomes about meeting their needs in order to satisfy them. Many start sacrificing aspects of their own life or give a lot, in order to meet their expectations, in order to fill their emptiness.
Many spouses will feel that the narcissist has no empathy and never considers their needs. Any attempt to express themselves causes the narcissist to turn the conversation around, so that the other is to blame.
Narcissists can stonewall, withdraw or discard partners when they feel wounded or criticized, in order to avoid their feelings of vulnerability and protect themselves from getting hurt.
They self soothe by having marital affairs, addictions, or other outlets. They cut off from painful feelings, devalue or attack to defend themselves, rather than hear what others say, so they cannot own their issues.
They cannot handle criticism or not being perfect, so they will cut others down for exposing their weakness. When others confront their mistakes head on, they will only defend themselves further and try to prove that others are wrong, with their convincing demeanor.
The partner of a narcissist starts questioning themselves or doubting themselves, backing down and giving up.
Narcissists cover up the things they do wrong, so they do not feel judged. Spouses end up walking on eggshells around their fragility, afraid that they will attack, once you expose them. They cannot open up about their hurt, but show an aloof exterior that shuts others out.
They rely on others for supplies, in order to maintain their grandiose false self, like a car relies on fuel in order to function.
Otherwise, they are left with the emptiness underlying their impaired real self, since they fall apart when they lose supplies or feel exposed for their real self.
In order to maintain their grandiosity or hold themselves up, they devalue the injuring partner, in order to protect themselves from facing deep down inadequate feelings. Raising their behavior with them only causes them to defend further.
A narcissist feels grandiose and special, so they expect admiration, acknowledgement. They can feel empty when others do not measure up or meet their unrealistic needs.
Instead of dealing with the underlying feelings within themselves, they project them onto others, so others feel inferior and doubt themselves.
A narcissist will attempt to convince the therapist that their partner is the problem, they’re crazy.
They can easily discard their lover and find supplies elsewhere. So where does this behavior come from?
The grandiose narcissist was given supplies for being perfect for the parent, but devalued or criticized for not meeting their expectations. So they’ve adapted their behavior by trying to be perfect for the parent, in order to get supplies, by living according to a false grandiose self.
They were admired and idealized for meeting the parent’s expectations, developing a ‘false self’ and hiding their ‘real self’. They were not accepted for their ‘real self’ and were shamed or humiliated for showing hurt feelings.
Can a narcissist change?
The narcissist has learned to cut off from feelings. Underneath the grandiose false self structure is a vulnerable and fragile individual (impaired real self), who hides in order to protect the real vulnerability underneath.
The only way to connect with them is to connect through their real self, which they hide, because underneath are unwanted feelings that have never been regulated or contained, so they feel immense pain coming to terms with their real self.
The only way for the narcissist to change is accepting their real self, not living according to the grandiose delusions. Yet they will not let others see them easily, by devaluing others who do.
The Masterson therapeutic approach treats narcissistic personality disorder by dismantling the grandiose defensive armor in order provide acceptance for the real vulnerable self underneath, while modulating the pain.
Therapy rebuilds their real self, so they can foster healthier relationships with themselves and others.
Can you have a relationship with a narcissist?
There a few options as to whether one can have a relationship with a narcissist: end the relationship, because you cannot deal with their issues or join with their vulnerable feelings, so they feel accepted for who they really are, in order to reduce the defensive behavior.
Yet, no one should put up with destructive behavior, otherwise they will continue to get away with it and destroy their partner.
Therapy is always recommended, in order to deal with a narcissist.
If the defensive behavior is too destructive, then perhaps the partner needs therapy to address why they put up with this, so that they can take better care of themselves, so that they can move on with their life and find healthy relationships.