There seems to be a EX Narcissist epidemic. The most common statements I hear over social media and blogging are “My Ex is a Narcissist.” OR “I was married to a Narcissist.”
Funny, you just don’t hear I was married to a complete A**hole anymore. Why? Because the A**hole has been replaced by the Narcissist it seems.
Narcissism is a personality disorder (NPD) which technically, can only be diagnosed by a psychiatrist. But with the power of the internet we can all identify signs and symptoms of Narcissism at our fingertips. We already know what an a**hole is, right? So, let’s find out what a Narc is…we’re curious. We begin reading and watching youtube videos on the subject and voila, we’re convinced our Ex really is a Narcissist and maybe he IS.
In fact, your ex may very well be a Narc but be careful in self diagnosing and labeling your ex, especially on social media and if you’re a blogger. I’m not saying this to minimize your experience with your ex in any way. Rather, I write this in hopes to better understand the differences and the similarities between Narcs and a**holes or even alcoholics and abusers.
“Narcissism, in lay terms, basically means that a person is totally absorbed in self. The extreme narcissist is the center of his own universe. To an extreme narcissist, people are things to be used. It usually starts with a significant emotional wound or a series of them culminating in a major trauma of separation/attachment.
“No matter how socially skilled an extreme narcissist is, he/she has a major attachment dysfunction. The extreme narcissist is frozen in childhood. He/she became emotionally stuck at the time of his/her major trauma of separation/attachment.”- How to Spot a Narcissist by Samuel Lopez de Victoria, Ph.D.
No matter how much you do for them, they will not appreciate or notice. They only notice when you stop ‘doing’ for them. The people closest to the Narcissist are simply a reflection of himself. His image is EVERYTHING.
Personality Traits of the Narcissist
- Turns every conversation to him or herself
- Expects you to meet his or her emotional needs
- Ignores the impact of his negative comments on you.
- Constantly criticizes or berates you and knows what is best for you.
- Focuses on blaming rather than taking responsibility for his own behavior.
- Expects you to jump at his every need.
- Is overly involved with his own hobbies, interests or addictions and ignores your needs.
- Has a high need for attention.
- Brags, sulks, complains, inappropriately teases and is flamboyant, loud and boisterous.
- Is closed minded about own mistakes. Can’t handle criticism and gets angry to shut it off
- Becomes angry when his needs are not met and throws tantrums or intimidates.
- Has an attitude of “anything you can do, I can do better.”
- Engages in one-upmanship to seem important.
- Acts in a seductive manner or is overly charming.-taken from
-a selfish individual who often puts their own needs above everyone else, and is not afraid to offend people
-usually described as rough on the outside but mushy or soft inside
-The a**hole has the capability to care and show his feelings on occasion
-the a**hole is capable of true intimacy once they let their guard down.
Something to consider here is we are all capable and probably have been an a**hole at one time or another. The time you finally spoke your mind and told your best friend what you really thought OR the time you made a joke that was just a little too cutting…yes, these are a**holey things to do and often we regret them almost immediately. However, it is unlikely that we all have been narcissists at one time or another. Narcissism being a disorder and condition that cannot be overcome easily.
Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between your run of the mill A**hole and your nightmare Narcissist (Narcs):
1. Narcs love to Gaslight. A**holes light their own fires…
Gaslighting is when the Narc falsely convinces the victim that they are defective . For example, the Narc might say “It’s too bad you don’t get along well with people because if you did we would have more friends.” This is a mental type of abuse that if continued over a long period of time takes away the victim’s self confidence and sense of reality.
2. Narcs never apologize. A**holes love to Apologize…
Apologies come fast and furious with a**holes. They usually have the common sense to know when they have made mistakes or hurt someone and they will follow up with an apology. The problem? They usually repeat the mistakes and continue in their a**hole ways. There’s a saying if you’re in a room with more than 10 people and there isn’t an a**hole in sight? You’re the a**hole. Well, I don’t necessarily believe that but it is a funny statement on the fact that there is usually one a**hole in a crowd.
Narcissists on the other hand, never admit wrong doing. It is absolutely beyond their comprehension that they may have hurt someone or done wrong. They blame the victim every time. They make an excuse every time.
3. Narcs know what they want and how to get it. Rules don’t apply to Narcs. A**holes understand the difference between right and wrong.
4. Narcs never go too far to get what they want. A**holes know when to quit. They are capable of knowing when they’ve gone too far.
5. Narcs are among the most charming people you will ever meet. A**holes are not charming.
6. Narcs are superficial. A**holes have deep thoughts and analytic capability.
7. Narcs play the role of ‘victim’. A**holes rarely act like victims.
8. Narcs are habitual liars, twisting facts to suit their reputation. A**holes don’t habitually lie to get their way.
9. Narcs are socially insatiable. They can never get enough attention. A**holes often enjoy time alone and don’t feel insecure about their solitude.
Gee, the A**hole is beginning to sound like Prince Charming…but I’m not suggesting that A**holes NEVER lie, act like a victim or USE people only that if and when they do it’s with a conscience and with some remorse.
Alcoholics vs. Narcissism
I think it’s easy to confuse an alcoholic or a physical abuser as a Narcissist. Yet those problems do not automatically define the person as a Narcissist. Alcoholics have some similar characteristics and personality traits. They put their drug of choice before everyone and everything. It is the ultimate in selfishness. They can lie and charm to get their drug or next drink. A physical abuser is often a victim of physical abuse himself and is using his learned technique to take control of a situation or person. That does not make him a true Narcissist. Physical abusers typically show and experience remorse. Narcissists are NOT able to feel remorse.
If you were married to a Narcissist who physically abused you, and was an alcoholic? You suffered the ultimate terror. It couldn’t possibly get any worse short of losing your life to that person–you could write a book, no doubt.
In case you’re still not sure…
More traits of the Narcissist
- Neglects the family to impress others. Does it all: Is a super person to gain admiration.
- Threatens to abandon you if you don’t go along with what he wants.
- Does not obey the law—sees himself above the law.
- Does not expect to be penalized for failure to follow directions or conform to guidelines.
- Ignores your feelings and calls you overly sensitive or touchy if you express feelings.
- Tells you how you should feel or not feel.
- Cannot listen to you and cannot allow your opinions.
- Is more interested in his own concerns and interests than yours.
- Is unable to see things from any point of view other than his own.
- Wants to control what you do and say—tries to micromanage you.
- Attempts to make you feel stupid, helpless and inept when you do things on your own.
- Has poor insight and can not see the impact his selfish behavior has on you.
- Has shallow emotions and interests.
- Exploits others with lies and manipulations.
- Uses emotional blackmail to get what he wants.
- May engage in physical or sexual abuse of children
- -all signs taken from Nina Brown’s Children of the Self Absorbed: A grownup’s Guide to Getting over Narcissistic Parents.
When you read the personality traits of a narcissist you realize what a serious disorder this truly is. That is why it’s important not to mislabel, or self diagnose. Remember there are varying degrees of Narcissism. Some are more extreme and dangerous. Any form of narcissistic abuse is very damaging.
If you were married to a Narcissist or have a relationship with a Narc in any capacity, you are a victim. It is important to understand the best methods to protect yourself. Some people have ongoing relationships with Narcs while many discontinue any connection with them. Finding what works best for you and your situation is key as well as educating yourself on the disorder.
But before we announce to the world “I was married to a Narcissist.” Make sure you know the difference between a full fledged Narcissist and a run of the mill A**hole. Also? Be careful not to confuse alcoholism or an abuser with a Narcissist. I hope this helps you decipher and give some more thought to who your ex really is and what makes him so freakin’ hard to deal with! BTW, yes women can be Narcissist as well, obviously.
Stay tuned for Part II of this post “Managing the Narcissist”
Is your EX a Narcissist? Please share your thoughts on the topic in the comments…