There are those who have a strong ego, and there are those who are flat out vain. But then there are those who see nothing else but themselves. That’s where they’re treading on the possibility of being a narcissist. It is estimated that about 6 percent of people in the U.S. have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but still there are others who are on the spectrum and have many of the tendencies.
Some signs of narcissism:
- Loves being the center of attention
- Takes advantage of others
- Competitive nature
- Has an addiction
- Holds grudges
- Thinks only of themselves and their needs
- Can be charming when needed
- Nothing is their fault, etc.
The thing to really consider when thinking about narcissism is those who are in a relationship with them—child, sibling, spouse, significant other, etc. How do they deal with these difficult personality traits? What is daily life like? Ask anyone who is in a relationship with a narcissist, and they may describe it this way: a rollercoaster. They’re up, they’re down—sometimes it’s gradual and other times it’s overnight. It can be a bit of a trap because things will be good for a while, then bad, all the while you wondering what happened.
There are 4 stages of this rollercoaster of a narcissist relationship:
- The good
Narcissists don’t really “get” normal social conventions, but they do know how to work them to their advantage. When they need to smooth talk or be charming, then they will. They’ve observed enough behavior in others that they can replicate it. They will look for a target (person) to give them the ego boost they need. They figure they can reel you in for a while to get what they want, so they’ll pull out all the stops knowing that it won’t last forever. In this phase, don’t be surprised to see gifts and attention, probably in an over-the-top way, like they are putting you on a very tall pedestal. If it feels too good to be true or like empty lavishing of attention, then it probably is.
- The bad
Gradually or even all at once, the attention and good parts of the relationship will go sour. It’ll almost like you are with a different person in their place. You’ll be left wondering what you did wrong, when in fact you didn’t do anything wrong at all. A narcissist doesn’t have the same capacity to feel or love, and so in this bad stage there is an emptiness, when all the fake attention they gave you doesn’t make them feel fulfilled. You may look at them and just see a sort of outer shell, not knowing what it inside. The narcissist will actually also feel a strong void themselves, and they will blame it all on you, even though it has everything to do with them. This stage will feel like you are living with a roommate who just completely avoids you, doesn’t even attempt to connect in any way—as if they don’t even know what that is.
- The ugly
A narcissist’s up and down moods are typically next, and definitely one of the worst parts of this roller coaster relationship. They will have no compassion for you, while acting out in anger and mind games. A classic narcissist tactic is emotional abuse—it’s how they exert their control and also how they gain back some attention from you. To a narcissist, any attention will “feed” their ego. Only, they don’t actually get fed in a normal sense; their void just gets fed temporarily, enough for them to keep going with this relationship. It’s almost like they are a cup with many holes at the bottom. They seek temporary attention in an effort to fill their cup, but it just runs out the bottom. There are ways to plug up the holes, but they are unwilling to admit that there is an issue, because they are better than everyone.
- The gone
Eventually, the narcissist will get bored or frustrated with the relationship—deep down it’s all about them, and you are just frustrating them or not giving them what they “need.” Actually no one really can give all of what they need. So this is the discard phase, where they just leave. Typically they physically separate themselves, and/or emotionally. Their ultimate goals is to move onto someone new because it gives them new excitement, new attention, and someone who doesn’t know their true colors.