What Can You Do If You Love a Narcissist?
Note: This is the second of a three part series.
People who fall in love with a narcissist sometimes look to take care of others more than they look to take care of themselves. Anyone who has ever had a relationship with a narcissist knows how easy it is to become the person giving and giving and giving without end. We pay attention to what our narcissist partner needs because we love him or her, but often when we do this we become accomplices to increased levels of selfishness. Narcissists seem to take advantage to the people who “feed” and nurture them regularly. Many people believe that if they continue on a path of endless giving, eventually their partner will come to their senses and respond in kind. But this approach doesn’t work with narcissists. So says Steven Carter and Julia Sokol in their book Help! I’m In Love With A Narcissist (M. Evans & Co.)
If you are in love with a narcissist, Carter and Sokol have the following recommendations:
- Ask yourself: Why are you so quick to take care of the other person’s needs? Why are you so quick to assume all of the responsibility in the relationship? Do you remember when you started behaving this way? Your intense desire to please people and make them happy may be one of your nicest and most admirable traits, but toxic narcissists seem to have an uncanny ability to sense people who have this trait and to take advantage of them.
- Examine your fears about what you think might happen if you stopped trying to make your partner happy. What do you think will happen if you stop trying to please your partner? Why are you so quick to find excuses and reasons for a narcissistic partner’s behavior? Do you ever give your partner a chance to do as much as you do to make the relationship work? If you stop working so hard at your relationship, are you afraid it will disappear? The problem with being in a relationship with a narcissist is that they have a tough time with empathy, they aren’t inclined to be sympathetic to your needs, wants and fears and they don’t bother to give back to you something equivalent to what you give. Pretty empty feeling, isn’t it?
- Examine how much time and energy you spend doing things that make your life happier and more satisfying. Do you spend as much time worrying about your needs as you do about your partner’s? Have you ever taken money that you needed for yourself to buy your partner a lavish and unnecessary gift? Do you regularly deprive yourself to “spoil” your partner? How often do you put your needs last? How often to you inconvenience yourself in order keep your partner from suffering any inconvenience? The most healing thing you can do for yourself (and often your relationship as well) is to put at least as much energy and time into thinking about your own well-being as you do about your partner’s.
- How about your friends and family? Are you surrounded by people who you are trying to please or placate? When you meet somebody who doesn’t demand as much as you and is capable of having a more equal relationship, do you feel lost and without a clearly defined role? Do you have friends and family who regularly take advantage of you or who demand most of the attention?
Everyone knows that relationships are about two people. If you believe that you can build a good relationship organized around one person (your partner) with the other (you) doing most of the work, the problem largely becomes your refusal to see the relationship for what it is and acknowledge the limits of your partner’s love. You can also be more in touch with your own tendencies to allow someone to take over your life.
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
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