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When thinking about narcissism, I’m often reminded of a joke. When someone goes on and on about themselves, and then interrupts with, “But enough about me, how do you feel about me?”
We live in an increasingly narcissistic world, and this has been proved time and again by hard statistics and science. The “look at me” mentality that is often promoted by social networks like Facebook have 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, more narcissism means more narcissistic relationships.
Narcissistic relationships are formed when one or both partners struggle with a narcissistic personality. Those with a 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.
Below are some common traits that a narcissistic relationship partner is likely to have
Note: The degree to which these traits manifest themselves will vary largely depending on the individual
If you find yourself in a narcissistic relationship, you need to first recognize and reflect on the unconscious motives that might have led you to choose such a partner. Are you more comfortable with your partner being in control, so you can then be more passive? Do you get a sense of worth from being attached to someone who is in the spotlight? Does the negative image of you that they reinforce with their criticism and superior attitude resonate with critical thoughts about yourself? Many people who fall in love with narcissists have issues around codependency. They will put up with a certain amount of abuse, because they don’t feel confident enough to set boundaries or be on their own.
Understanding your role in the narcissistic relationship is important. You can then start to challenge yourself to change your half of the dynamic. This will, in turn, challenge your partner to change their style of relationship. You can recognize the fragility of your partner’s self-esteem and have compassion for the fact that his or her inflated sense of self, superiority and grandiosity is a cover up for self-hate and feelings of inadequacy. You can also develop your own self-confidence and self-worth by learning to practice self-compassion.
Don’t be a victim! In all encounters, act equal, and treat your partner as an equal.