Surviving a Relationship with a Narcissist
If you're in a toxic relationship, you may wonder if your partner's arrogance and self-entitlement falls in the category of a personality disorder. While there are many people with a healthy sense of self-esteem who may seem to be narcissists, most aren't. Those who actually have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are in a league of their own when it comes to filling only their needs and ignoring the needs of others.
This can wreak havoc on the family dynamic, especially if there are children involved. The Mayo Clinic describes people who have NPD as having certain characteristics:
- Lack of empathy
- Extremely conceited
- Focused exclusively on self
You may notice during a conversation with such an individual the conversation is constantly steered back to themselves. That's because the narcissist sincerely believes they are superior to others.
How Narcissism Affects Relationships
Gaslighting is used by narcissists to dismiss a person's feelings and perceptions and make the individual feel as though they are crazy for feeling and thinking the way they do. It's a stealthy tactic used to manipulate someone into questioning their sanity. Unfortunately, it is a tactic that is used regularly between husbands and wives.
The partner of the narcissist always feels under pressure to live up to impossible standards, which can lead to confusion and depression. In their quest for perfection, the narcissist destroys the self-esteem of everyone around them. Many victims do not understand their partner has a serious mental disorder, so they succumb to the incessant demands, cutting criticism, and withholding of affection as if it's normal.
Lions, Tigers, and Flying Monkeys—Oh My!
What makes a relationship with a narcissist tremendously difficult is the fact they often have a group of admirers who surround them and reinforce their behavior. These people are sometimes referred to as flying monkeys, a reference that comes from the Wicked Witch of the West in the movie The Wizard of Oz.
Anybody that has been involved with a narcissist can attest to the fact they are charming and use their charming personality to convince others to follow them, even when their behavior is questionable. Pathological narcissism can even cross the line and cause the affected individual to commit crimes.
Law enforcement is no stranger to malignant narcissists, which include among their ranks terrorists, serial killers, rapists, and a range of other unsavory characters. Bullying has received a lot of attention in the media in the past decade, and sometimes bullies are textbook NPD cases. Unfortunately, a diagnosis is often made too late, after the narcissist has already caused someone serious mental harm or has even driven another person to commit suicide.
Divorcing a Narcissist
It is disheartening to learn most judges will not accept narcissism as a statement of fact unless it is supported by a diagnosis from a psychologist. If you present evidence of your partner's NPD, be ready to supply supporting documents and expert testimony from a mental health professional.
When attempting to mediate child custody or go through divorce proceedings with a narcissist, you are going to need a solid plan that can withstand any smearing to your reputation when the narcissist is on the defensive.
Compassionate representation from Larry Brock, attorney of law gives you the best chance of beating a narcissist in court. Fighting a mentally ill partner may be uncomfortable, but not doing so can leave you stuck in a toxic relationship and cause serious harm to everyone involved, including the children.