You can’t really have a conversation with a narcissist, can you? You have a monologue situation; they talk and you listen. The thing that seems to be missing with them is the capacity to realize how much they’re obsessed with themselves and how much they discount everybody else in their world. They truly don’t believe they do it.
In fact they don’t seem to have a frame of reference for the concept of “other than me”. I wonder how that happens? They don’t know what normal interaction of give and take is, it’s completely alien to them. I know one narcissist who has bitched about their brother very consistently for about 30 years, but when I mentioned it once, they were outraged that I was unjustly accusing them. They couldn’t remember a single instance of being angry with their brother.
Is it a factor of low self esteem? Does childhood abuse cause this? Yes, but I don’t think it’s only that. I think it’s also got something to do with entitlement – what was required of them as children – or wasn’t – and what they were allowed to get away with. Perhaps they didn’t have to take others into account; were never held accountable for any of their behavior and were protected from the consequences of it, the impact it had on other people. Or perhaps they were isolated and never interacted with other children or adults.
Who can ever explain it? Maybe there’s just something missing.
They walk around in a kind of anesthetic bubble, and truth is an alien concept to them. They’re usually incredible liars and don’t seem to care that often their lies are utterly transparent. But nobody can ever accuse a narcissist of being stupid, because that’s the last thing they are. They’re very astute, and know how to manipulate people on sight – but they don’t do it consciously, I’m pretty sure of it. It’s just kind of an instinct with them.
Usually they’re very judgmental of others and have a standard for themselves and a totally different one for everybody else. Everyone else is always wrong, and they are always right. They’re easily offended, especially if they get a dose of their own medicine – which of course they don’t recognize as being their own. They’re also very easily hurt, which makes it so hard to deal with them, because the hurt is real. They’re also expert at exploiting their own vulnerability.
They’re often very creative and imaginative. They imagine things about others and themselves which aren’t real. Well we all do that, but most of us can see that we’re doing it – maybe after the fact, but at some point we wake up. Narcissists don’t seem able to ever wake up to the reality of their behavior and that the world they live in is fictional. Because it isn’t fictional to them.
One thing I’m sure of. You can’t get through to them. Communication is one-way. They take but they never give – yet they believe they’re the most giving of all. It’s hopeless to try and have a real conversation with a narcissist, let alone a relationship. Conversations and relationships need a degree of self-awareness in both parties.
What happens when you love a narcissist? Well, it’s harsh, but you have to look at what’s in it for you. Is it really love? Yes, it can be, if it’s a parent or a sibling. Whatever you do, you have to accept that they need power – yours – and they’ll take it with no compunction. They’ll stay strong and you’ll stay weak. If you don’t protect yourself you’ll get hurt, over and over. And protection pretty much means closing the door. Because narcissists don’t change. Why should they? It works for them to be the way they are.
Deep deep inside, though, I think they’re real lonely. That’s what makes it so hard to walk away from them. But you have to. Otherwise they have a life but you don’t.