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what do narcissists feel?

(159 Posts)
afink Tue 28-Jul-15 07:25:27

I had a relationship with a classic narcissist over 10 years ago. I'd always known he was abusive, but it was only after reading threads on here and then researching online that I realised that he was a narcissist and that our relationship followed the classic idealise-devalue-discard cycle.

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone knew what narcissists actually feel at the beginning of the relationship when they are being so full on and perfect. Do they genuinely think they are in love? I can't imagine someone pretending to feel those things, although I can imagine someone conning themselves into thinking they're in love and therefore behaving in a way that they think a person who is in love behaves. Anyone?

Namechanger2015 Tue 28-Jul-15 07:56:53

I think they truly believe they love you and really do genuinely want to have you in their lives. Once they have you it's like they press a self-destruct button and almost can't help themselves but to belittle and criticise and devalue you.

I think it's hard wired into their personalities - my exH certainly fits this. He can't help but to put me down and to hate the qualities about me he percieves as strong or threatening to his self esteem.

At the beginning of the relationship you are both on an even keel and are both perfect according to the narc. Then over time his insecurities start to kick in and - deliberately or not - he has to overcome his fears by devaluing you.

Any other personify recognise this chararacter flaw in themselves and try to break the pattern but the narc can't self reflect and admit that he might possibly be doing something wrong.

I'd be interested to know what others think as it's something I think about a lot having left a narc husband.

Aussiebean Tue 28-Jul-15 07:57:57

No idea. But would be interested of someone did know.

My experience of a narc mother is incomprehensible. I can't understand what she is thinking or feeling. Or how she could treat her children the way she does.

I wonder if she ever felt the love I have for my ds, for me.

ssd Tue 28-Jul-15 08:02:22

what I dont understand is, why can't a narc self reflect? what stops them seeing themselves as others see them? and why cant they ever take criticism?

genuine questions!

Lottapianos Tue 28-Jul-15 08:03:22

Same here Aussie. I have two narc parents and while I understand the theory behind their behaviour, I honestly can't wrap my head around it in relation to me and my relationship with them. I'm not a parent but I see other parents who treasure their children, are their biggest supporters and get such joy from their relationship with them. My parents are only interested in other people if they make them look and feel good - classic narcissism! Its so sad and painful.

Rozalia Tue 28-Jul-15 08:05:34

They can't admit their imperfections. If they do their self image starts to crumble. It usually triggers narc rage which is truly terrifying. You just need to understand it's all your fault. The narc understands that all too well.

ssd Tue 28-Jul-15 08:17:17

is a narc aware of their effect on others?

Namechanger2015 Tue 28-Jul-15 08:35:56

I don't think they are aware of their effect on others at all, because they are too busy trying to look inwards and convince themselves of their superiority.

In a rare moment of clarity after I left H, I explained how his physical assault had felt, and he just couldn't understand me. He said I should have told him I was scared and angry, he was asking why I would be scared of him, when I had no reason to be, he wasn't like that, etc. Err...because you hit me? He just didn't get it.

When I had an op and he wouldn't take care of me afterwards he said I only told him I had an op. I hadn't explained how serious it was and that he should help me.

I think he was just missing some facet of his personality. His mum was not a very loving mum in childhood (from what others tell me), and so I think perhaps he closed off that secure and loving part of his brain somehow, and can't relate to loving behaviour from others.

afink Tue 28-Jul-15 08:42:34

Just had what could perhaps be a revelation: Perhaps what a narcissist feels as being 'love' is actually a feeling of euphoria at having the narcissistic needs met by a person. They translate it as love because they have no idea what love would actually feel like otherwise, but really, it's just a heightened sense of pleasure because someone is validating them and their narcissism tank is full.

What do you think?

afink Tue 28-Jul-15 08:44:16

Namechanger2015 Interesting you should say that - my narc refused to take care of me after I had an op too. It completely baffled me. He was even colder and more unpleasant than usual (we were in the devalue stage by that point) and I couldn't work out why someone would be so vile and unfeeling to somebody who'd just had surgery and was feeling awful.

FolkGirl Tue 28-Jul-15 08:48:00

what I dont understand is, why can't a narc self reflect? what stops them seeing themselves as others see them? and why cant they ever take criticism?

I shall use my mother as an example...

Basically, she was incapable. Like she was stuck at the childish ego centric stage of development. She couldn't comprehend people outside of her having an alternative viewpoint. Even as an adult, she considered me naughty, difficult and challenging, just for having a different political allegiance to her.

She only understands the world in relation to herself. She appears to lack a theory of mind, such is her inability to see outside of herself.

Some examples of her beliefs.

I don't look like her. Objectively, I know I'm not ugly, but I believe I am. She was beautiful, attractive, very pretty (according to her). I did not look like her; ergo I wasn't. She felt cheated and embarrassed that she hadn't had the beautiful child, created in her own image, that she deserved. And boy, did we know about it! sad I'm essentially incapable of having relationships now because I project her view of me onto whoever I'm with and assume that's what they think.

She told me I was selfish on my graduation day because I didn't want to share the day to celebrate the nvq level 2 she'd achieved the previous year (and we'd already celebrated). I'd worked hard as a single parent to get a first. Whenever anyone on the day congratulated me, she interrupted and said, "we're also celebrating my nvq". When I told her to stop, she cried and said, "it's not all about you, you know". She wasn't invited to my wedding...

She felt like a perpetual victim who wasn't recognised for the life she endured. She only did things for others if she was recognised amd received adulation of others.

She told me once she wished I'd been born disabled because at least I'd have been "deserving" of her love. She didn't receive enough recognition for parenting a 'normal' child. That wasn't enough. What she wanted was the extra recognition that parenting a child with SN brings (in her perception) all the "poor you" and the "you're so amazing" comments.

She told EVERYONE when she had cancer (even shop assistants who just said, "good morning, how are you today?" Who expect to hear "fine, thanks. You?" And not a blow by blow account of her cancer diagnosis, treatment, prognosis... why? Because she wanted the sympathy. She was hurt/upset when I explained that strangers didn't want to hear it (their discomfort was obvious) and thought I was denying her valuable support that she deserved and that they wanted to give.

She wanted to tell my 6 yo son about her cancer. I didn't want to and she said I was being cruel by denying him the opportunity to give her extra loves and cuddles to make her feel better...

I don't know if that explains it at all. But yes, it was all about what made her look/feel good and she couldn't see beyond that. If it made her look/feel good, it must be right. If not, it must wrong.

We're nc now.

morley19 Tue 28-Jul-15 08:51:42

I don't think we will ever be able to understand it to be honest, as our brains are incapable of comprehending what these people are capable of. They're wired differently and we will never be able to understand it (thank god). I think of it in the same was as I will never be able to get me head around how anyone could murder/rape someone. In my mind they must be' mentally ill'

I had a relationship with a character I will never understand:

I don't think he was a 100% narc (I think there are varying degrees) he never openly belittled me etc but I think his was more subtle. He was cleverly controlling and then at the end he was absolutely callous. I could not comprehend it.

Just thank god we will never understand them, I think that is a blessing!

folkGirl Tue 28-Jul-15 08:52:07

God, yes, the narc rage!

Talk about Hell hath no fury...

morley19 Tue 28-Jul-15 08:58:52

Do you think they rewrite history too, to make them appear perfect, get rid of any unattractive 'baggage' from their past?

Just curious.

My ex had a big thing about baggage. He hated the fact that I had tried for a child with one other person. He wanted me to 'be like him and not have met that special person yet' (I was 42 when I met him FFS!).

Then he finished it the way he did, he is now married with a child and in court correspondence with me (when I was trying to get money back) he implied that I had been nothing more than a lodger and that our IVF was not a joint venture (he was just a sperm donor trying to help me!). I have a feeling this is what he has told his new woman to paint a prettier picture of his past?

Lottapianos Tue 28-Jul-15 09:15:40

afink, I think that's a very interesting theory and it make a lot of sense to me. Absolutely everything is about them - they're incapable of sharing and incapable of empathy. They don't seem to have the ability to hold another person in mind, in the way that you do in a healthy relationship. It just doesn't seem to be something they are capable of.

FolkGirl, wow. I can relate to quite a lot of that, especially when you say that you objectively know something to be true, but you have a hell of a hard time actually believing it, deep down in your gut. Its just so bloody exhausting having someone like this in your life. I've just spent the weekend with my narc parents and other family members and I'm left feeling sad, empty, hurt and with a vague but nagging sense of guilt. I've been questioning and examining my behaviour all weekend to make sure that I've behaved in a way that I feel is ok. I'm 35 years old FGS! I'm very low contact with them most of the time. I've been in therapy for 6 years and that will be ongoing for some time. The damage that parents like this can do is truly scary. I'm glad you're NC with your mum and I hope that you're healing from her awful behaviour x

cozietoesie Tue 28-Jul-15 09:24:35

I think morley is right - some people's brains are just wired diferently so who knows what goes on in them eg in the wee small hours when they're by themselves.

Just try to stay out of their range if you can.

Lottapianos Tue 28-Jul-15 09:31:28

People who talk about narcs brains being 'wired differently' - do you think that people are born narcissistic? Genuine question. In the reading I've done around causes of narcissism, it seemed to be suggested that narcissism is created, either by having too much attention (being treated like the centre of the universe by their parents) or not enough (which is where the dreadful insecurity and terror of being wrong comes from). That makes sense to me from my experience with my own parents - my father would fall into the 'too much' category and my mother into the 'not enough' category. Interested to hear others' thoughts.

FolkGirl Tue 28-Jul-15 09:33:02

Lotta thanks. I'm 40. I can't afford the level of therapy I'd need!

I'm single now and that's how I work best. I find it very difficult to be close to other people and tend to keep everyone at arm's length.

Preciousbane Tue 28-Jul-15 09:36:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

morley19 Tue 28-Jul-15 09:37:21

good question Lottapianos and I have wondered a lot about this in the past (well when I was trying o recover from my experience 2 1/2 years ago.

I genuinely don't know! From what I have ready I do agree with you, that the 'disorder' is maybe created in childhood, so maybe my comment about being 'wired' differently is a bit flippant.

Same applies to murderers/rapists - are they born that way?

Interetsing question but I'm afraid I'm not much help in answering it? Maybe there's a combination? Maybe some people are born like that and others go that way during childhood (for various reasons)?

Preciousbane Tue 28-Jul-15 09:45:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

purpleshimmer Tue 28-Jul-15 09:53:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

gatewalker Tue 28-Jul-15 10:34:20

I think many people on this board, and in life, give so-called "narcissists" too much credit for having control over their behaviours - that somehow this is all done deliberately and with a fair amount of insight.

Well, no, it isn't. What we label as "narcissistic" (anything we label, for that matter) is a set of behaviours that have developed in response to a particular environment. And usually that environment for a narcissist was unbearable at times to the point where they have done a full retreat - either into themselves, and/or fully into their persecutor/s. The end result being an inability to separate self from other.

It is so easy to assume that if they simply admitted their behaviours that they would be able to sort themselves out. In reality, narcissism is very, very difficult to treat because the person who comes into therapy (and it is rare to have a narcissist stay in therapy) is so caught in their paradigm that it is well-nigh impossible to step out of it to gain any kind of self-reflection. Because "self-reflection" is the key here: everything and everyone is an extension of them. They cannot appreciate the 'otherness' of the other.

For every narcissist that I have met there is a person who was deeply damaged as a child in some way or another. Deeply. This is not excusing them, but to stay and try to reason is to stay facing a scorpion and reasoning them out of stinging you. That is simply who they are. Unless they choose to shift and change form. Which can be the (failed) work of a lifetime.

morley19 Tue 28-Jul-15 10:39:35

That's interesting gatewalker and sounds like you had some experience.

On a rare heart to heart my ex told me how his best friend that he spent all his time with died suddenly when they were 12/13. They had both been swimming in some waters, his best friend caught some awful disease (I don't know what) and ended up dying from it.

When my ex saw his friend's parents a couple of months after they totally ignored him, refused to acknowledge him.

My ex said that he shut himself off for years after his friends death.

I have often wondered if this contributed to how he could be as an adult??

Lottapianos Tue 28-Jul-15 10:45:23

purpleshimmer, yes he sounds like a narc to me. And his behaviour towards you and others sounds horrible. Do you think it would be helpful to think of him in this way?

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