How Narcissism Has A Huge Effect On Your Romantic Relationships
Eleven years ago, I met this guy online and started one of my usual whirlwind relationships with him that very night. He picked me up in his car and we were instantly taken with one another.
He was everything that could capture my attention: chiseled good looks, piercing blue eyes, a strawberry blonde crew-cut and the fact that he was in the closet and desperate to keep me his secret -- which I was always drawn t,o as I was a never-ending glutton for punishment.
Most of all, I was sickeningly obsessed with his own self-obsession. Delightfully intrigued by his narcissism, I felt myself enraptured by his cocky persona that some people would just find obnoxious.
Immediately, we became inseparable. Like any person who suffered from narcissistic personality disorder and found a new victim, he was equally as obsessed with me and flooded me with superlatives, telling me I was "the best thing that ever happened to him," and "the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen," in his desperate attempt to keep my praise for him going. Then, somewhere along the way, the switch got flipped.
Being diagnosed with charismatic borderline personality disorder, I have always had a tendency to "push people away." Narcissists get particularly wrapped up with borderlines because, more than anything, they are looking for fans.
They don't even have a truly set sexual identity; they are just looking for someone to worship them as much as they worship themselves. This is becoming more and more common in our culture, and certainly within my generation (The Peter Pan generation.)
No one can give attention quite like a borderline, and in the beginning a narcissist will never quite feel so in love because they are seeing themselves shining back through the mirror of the borderline's eyes.
However, narcissists are founded upon defense mechanisms built up against mountains of insecurities and self-loathing, and a Borderline has a way of getting inside their heads. Once they do, they take the narcissist on a roller-coaster ride of self-doubt that tortures their psyche, as the narcissist keeps threatening the borderline with the borderlines greatest fear; abandonment.
For instance, in this particular situation (and many of my others), I was able to use this guy's feelings against homosexuality and a lifelong self-loathing against him after getting inside his head once he started trying to control me. Then the war began.
It's a power struggle both become obsessed with and a carousel that neither can seem to escape. I remember toward the end of our time together (which was literally only about 10 days) the guy said something to me, which has still stuck with me to this day;
In The beginning? I was BEDAZZLED by you. But over time, you realize that there's a lot more at stake and it just doesn't seem worth it.
That's why narcissists usually get with people who are perfect "on paper" for them. They don't care about passion in the long run- they care about image. A borderline will only threaten to interfere with that image, and they want something safe so that they can parade it in front of the world.
Throughout the course of the time I spent with this guy, it was 2003 and one of the movies we watched together was "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days."
I remember him saying, almost fearfully, "This is us." I didn't think of it much at the time as I laughed it off as him being playful and thinking of the film as nothing more than a silly romantic comedy, but in retrospect, it was perhaps more highbrow than your average rom-com, and he definitely had a point.
The film follows a writer (Kate Hudson) whom after her friend loses a guy by coming on to strong, she picks a man to deceive for her own article in some sort of vengeance, toying with him the entire movie.
It seems harmless, but in truth, this is very similar to a borderline's behavior. A person who plays endless games with another as revenge for feelings of abandonment, which we see throughout the movie that Andi (Kate Hudson's character) also fears.
Meanwhile, the guy she picked (Matthew McConaughey) is also duping her to an extent as she is unknowingly the victim of an office bet where he is boasting that he can make any woman fall in love with him, and if he wins? He gets a promotion. Is there anything more narcissistic?
The film reinforces these ideas with clues like her singing to him Carly Simon's classic, "You're So Vain," and telling him while on his bike in her adorable fashion that all it takes is "A little give and a little go," showing the nature of their push-pull relationship.
The entire pairing is summed up by an ongoing joke created between them when they play a game of "Bullsh*t" at his house, symbolizing what their relationship is really all about. It's a constant game, trying to see who is bluffing.
The guy I dated for those 10 days was right, we were them. Right down to my name, my being a writer and his cockiness and strawberry blond hair. But, that couple should have never gotten together at the end.
As expected, my guy is in a nice, safe relationship, and he is out of the closet. But he is still trolling Grindr every night, he is still plenty bedazzled by me and we could get back on that carousel at any time -- the same way both narcissists returned to their perspective borderlines in the movie. But, it's not worth it.
That's the thing about narcissists is that they will always come back. Their ego is too precious to them not to, and they are too wrapped up in the borderline to let him or her go -- especially a charismatic borderline.
A charismatic borderline is so hot and cold that it brings up all of the narcissist's insecurities and pushes all their buttons, and they just want to return to the time when the borderline was their greatest fan.
The other thing is, a lot of people confuse a charismatic borderline for a narcissist. Some might think that Hudson's character was also narcissistic in the film, but no. They adapt the behaviors of narcissists because they admire them.
It's their defense mechanism, but, unlike a narcissist, they are very proud of this skill they've adapted and go about touting it openly, whereas a true narcissist will try and hide it.
This will only make the narcissist more captivated by the borderline, because they always seem to win. The borderline is a kamikaze; they have less at stake and don't care about image. All narcissists want to do is win, as winning is everything to them, but they can't put their reputation on the line the way a borderline can.
This hasn't just happened to me with that one guy, or people I've dated. This has happened to me with countless friends. Most charismatic borderlines attract narcissists (or people with antisocial personality disorder, bipolar disorder, aspergers or other borderlines) because they are so impressed with how they cut off their emotions or play games.
Most of the people whom I bring into my life are far more obsessed with manipulating people's emotions than actually displaying any. One of my friends put it perfectly when he said:
I don't really care about hooking up with girls, or falling in love. I'm far more interested in seeing who I can get to fall in love with me.
Doesn't that sound exactly like the kind of guy who would make a bet to see which girl he can make fall in love with him in order to get a promotion? It's not that the borderline truly came on too strong, it's that the narcissist never had any real intentions on caring for anybody other than themselves to begin with.
So, when they feel their space threatened by someone who doesn't fit in with their life or ultimate goals, they just cut them loose in the harshest way possible, and the borderline is a caring person and feels abandoned, and that's where the problem begins.
One time I was sitting with a former friend in my backyard. He was heterosexual, for what it's worth, and I believe it to some extent- especially since I don't really believe on fixed sexuality. He's now with the perfect "on paper" girl at this point that fits into his life. But, he was desperate to hear that I was obsessed with him.
When I refused him of the answer he wanted to hear, he admitted in a moment of blatant honesty that he was obsessed with me. Not because he actually cared about me, but because I was so hard to get as one of his "followers."
Again, within our generation and culture as Instagram and Facebook take over and everybody feels the need to feel like a somebody, narcissism is intensely on the rise.
People worship these characters and glamorize them in films like "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days," or in many of the other movies and television shows that teach people how "cool" it is to be narcissistic.
It's actually a contagious personality disorder, and it's going around like the plague. True humility doesn't seem to be a virtue that people admire anymore as people find it to be almost a "boring" characteristic.
In both my book series, "The Peter Pandrew Trilogy," which are my memoirs, and my online blog series "The Lunatics," about a town of people that are infused with superpowers based on their mental disorders, narcissism runs high throughout all the characters. I find it hard to write honestly about life, especially my life, without incorporating so many of them.
And the worst part is that narcissism isn't really what people think it is. People think it starts and ends at vanity, but it runs far deeper than that. True narcissism, as shown in the film, is based on grandiose sense of self and emotional manipulation.
Another film that perfectly illustrates the war between a narcissist and a charismatic borderline is Cruel Intentions, where Sebastian would be the borderline and Kathryn is the narcissist.
So dangerously entwined in her game, Sebastian doesn't know whether to love her or hate her as she endlessly manipulates him for her own amusement whilst hiding behind her perfect facade.
It's the same as one of perhaps, the most famous borderline/narcissist pairings: "Fatal Attraction." Glenn Close's character has been branded by the public as the poster-woman for "insane and love-starved" when, in truth, she is wronged by the narcissistic Michael Douglas character and abandoned in the dust.
But, Glenn Close has even apologized for the film since then and worked tightly with an organization called Bring Change 2 Mind (Bringchange2mind.org) to fight mental illness stigmas.
Close was adamantly against the ending of "Fatal Attraction" where her character became vicious and violent, after having done major research for the disorder, and she knew that a true borderline would never do that.
The original ending had her character, Alex, killing herself, which was far more true to the disease, and it's something the actress deeply regrets.
But, unfortunately, the world is constantly trying to paint the person who is open about their mental woes as the bad guy, and in the case of the borderline and the narcissist, that is usually the borderline. In "How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days" when Hudson's character starts up her antics, he tells her that she's acting completely insane, and her response is simply:
"Oh, so I am insane?"
The point is, it's very easy for a borderline to lose people from their life and they don't need 10 ways or a guideline to do it, because the people they attract are usually all the wrong people to begin with. These people never had any intentions of actually caring.
The second their own reputations are at all at stake or their image gets affected in any way, they are out the door.
So, what if the people you are attracting are all narcissists? The point of the film shouldn't have been for the borderline to write a sob story to try and beg for him back. You shouldn't care so much about losing them.
Trust me, let them go. And once you do? That's the minute they'll start coming back around, begging for you. Believe me, if anyone knows, I would.
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