I’ve known about extreme narcissists for a while now. I didn’t know I had one in my life.
Merriam-Webster defines narcissism as:
Mental disorder characterized by extreme self-absorption, an exaggerated sense of self-importance, and a need for attention and admiration from others. First identified by Havelock Ellis in 1898, the disorder is named for the mythological Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection. In addition to an inflated self-image and addiction to fantasy, narcissism is characterized by an unusual coolness and composure, which is shaken only when the narcissistic confidence is threatened, and by the tendency to take others for granted or to exploit them. According to Sigmund Freud, narcissism is a normal stage in children’s development, but it is considered a disorder when it occurs after puberty.
I think I’ve been too close to him to see it. I’ve been too deep in the problem to understand. But I can say with almost complete certainty, that D__ is a narcissist. I didn’t come to this realization on my own. As I recounted the events of the weekend and the past few days to my friend P___, he started connecting the dots for me. He pointed out that, based on what I was telling him, the arguments and fights that D__ and I had had only seemed to take place when I expressed that my needs and wants were not being met. He noted that I went to lengths to ensure his happiness and success of our relationship that most others would not (e.g., driving 2-8 hours each weekend to pick up and drop him off because he doesn’t have a car, paying for a weekend’s worth of food, beverage, and any entertainment), preparing the meals that he requested, etc). I didn’t mention any of the sex-related stuff I did to entertain D__’s desires and fantasies.
P___ told me that he thought there was a clinical term for someone like D__, someone that focused only on his one needs and desires. Once he “said” that (we were chatting via instant messenger), I immediately knew to what he was referring: narcissism. It’s an all-too-familiar term, as a friend of mine has recently suffered abuse and torment from her narcissistic and drug-addicted brother. I immediately performed a Google search on narcissism, even though I knew what it was. I opened blog post titled “How to Spot a Narcissist.” I skimmed through it as P___ and I continued to chat.
Yep, a lot of stuff seems to fit, now that I look at it from outside of the situation. “…people are things to be used.” I sure did feel used when I would go through all of the aforementioned effort and expense for us to be together and he would reject my desires (like going to the zoo, having a particular food for a meal, or him reading a book to help him figure out how to please me in bed). “Once you do not have anything more to offer and she has taken all they wanted from you, you are history.” It seems as if this is what has happened since I stood up for myself in the relationship over the weekend. “Once I opened up my weaknesses to them and then asked them to reciprocate, they looked for excuses to label me and reject me.” Now that I reflect back, I think some of this happened too. Once I shared my insecurities with him, I felt as if D___ judged me for them. He openly deemed me a “miserable person” anytime I had a bad day.
This revelation, of sorts, makes me question everything in my now-previous relationship. Did he really love me or was he just using me? Was he taking advantage of me or merely taking me for granted as men often do? I’m not crying anymore and I’m not desperate anymore, but I still have one hang-up. Today, when he finally decided to “communicate” with me, he told me to leave him alone. I basically begged him to tell me what he was feeling and why he went from “I want to spend the rest of my life with you” to “Go away.” I told him that if he doesn’t love me anymore, he should just tell me and that he’ll never hear from me again. But he didn’t tell me that. He told me that whether or not he loves me is “irrelevant.” So now that makes me wonder, are his emotions all mixed up because of the anger and pain of the weekend’s events…or is he refusing to answer my question in order to maintain control? P___ thinks it’s the former. P___ thinks that he is such a narcissist that he believes giving me what I want (an answer to whether or not he loves me) would be giving up control of the “end” of our relationship. He might be right. I don’t know. I might never know.
What I do know is this: as much as I love D__, he was not treating me the way I needed to be treated. Our relationship was much too one-sided. It wasn’t about money; it was about thoughtfulness and consideration. And I wasn’t on the receiving end of that much at all.