Updated: Oct 12, 2020
Have you ever come across someone who looks absolutely charming and confident but as you get to know them closely, you realize that deep within they are jealous, insecure, manipulative, and always conniving? If that’s been the case, then chances are you’ve encountered a narcissist.
According to Dr. Ramani, a practicing clinical psychologist, “Narcissist is simply a clinical term for a jerk”, the reason being, they have a grandiose self-image, sense of entitlement, they are arrogant and lack empathy and they use these traits easily to get anything they want in life, without having any special talent (well, this is one talent that beats every other and everyone else’s talent). Narcissists are self-obsessed, often extremely selfish, craving for attention and admiration, and take excessive interest in their physical appearance. Narcissists are also gaslighters and master manipulators.
If you are in a close relationship with a narcissist, whether you are dating one or are married to or have a narcissistic friend or a parent or a sibling, you won’t be able to relate any less with the rest of the article.
While in their company you will always feel small and worthless because of their grandiosity and artificial self-confidence and their subtle ways of belittling you. Moreover, they easily hurt people with their sharp talks (again, this is done in a subtle manner, more often than not) to make themselves feel better than others, without any guilt.
They have the ability to burden you under the favors they have never done for you and will themselves, keep negating whatever you have done for them. You just never feel good enough for them, even though it's you who has always been the giver in the relationship to the extent of going out of your way almost every time. On the contrary, they accuse you of things they have done to you and in a manner that you just cannot defend yourself. They play in a way that even if you want to leave them you are just too scared to do so. This is because narcissists can leave people easily but hate to be left and if left, they can go to any extent to destroy the other person. And, somewhere at the back of your mind, you know about their destructive nature and this is what keeps you trapped in the relationship. It is best to walk out of such a relationship at the very first appearance of any signs of narcissism, the earlier you leave less destructive it is. This is also important because narcissists somehow maintain a particularly good public image, but they are mostly aggressive and abusive in their personal relationships, especially with their partners. They may abuse their partners, emotionally, mentally, verbally, financially, and even physically. Researchers suggest that since narcissists get whatever they want by the way they are, there are extremely thin chances of them ever changing. So please do not wait for a positive change or a miracle to happen, it is very, very rare.
There are times where you get to see their warm, compassionate, and caring side too. All of a sudden, they become very considerate, giving, and understanding, something you have always longed for, and you start doubting your own doubts about them and you may get carried away by the show. But this affection is often temporary and short-lived and is used as a tool to keep you trapped in the relationship. This usually surfaces when they feel threatened to be left.
Narcissists are jealous but are experts in masking their emotion with a nonchalant façade, but deep within they are constantly scheming and thinking of ways to pull the other person down. They believe in destroying people to maintain their superiority rather than working their way up the ladder. For this, they manipulate people and play them against each other. They easily use people as objects to satisfy their own ego. And they are so adept at this game that they themselves manage to stay out of the entire mess that they have only created, while the played get either into trouble or blamed or live their lives with guilt.
Why people fall into their trap? It’s because of their false charm and fakism. This is also the reason why they perform well in job interviews but very soon they start showing their darker side and progress in their careers by manipulating rather than performing well.
According to a study, narcissists maintain a high level of grooming, they tend to wear brighter, fashionable, and expensive clothing, subtle pieces are just not for them. They wear makeup and use a lot of accessories and have an organized and neat appearance requiring a lot of preparation. They are always Instagram ready. They try not to repeat outfits, drive expensive cars, change their purses and shoes more frequently and eat out at fancy restaurants to give themselves the feel of a celebrity and also because they try a little too hard to maintain their grandiose image. They indulge in extravagance to make themselves not just look rich but feel rich even if it costs them their savings.
They have a very pretentious social life and use social media as a way to imitate some and intimidate others with their superficiality. Moreover, they like to make friends with, and hang out with people who look cool, to add to their coolness quotient. While they themselves are hypersensitive to criticism and have a fragile ego, they enjoy making fun of others and pointing towards their flaws (which may or may not exist) to draw the attention away from their flaws or to make their own drawbacks look normal. Mocking others make them feel better and elevated.
The mere presence of one or two attributes discussed here does not make a person a narcissist but narcissists are a complete package, that is difficult to deal with. Though the exact cause of narcissism is not known, some researchers think that it could be due to overprotective or neglectful parenting style, genetics, or simply the environment in which the person has been brought up. There is a lot more that can be discussed on the subject but more on this will be taken up in another article later.
Dr. Charu Rawat