So you have had the epiphany. Your mate matches the criteria for Narcissist/ Sociopath /Borderline Personality Disorder. And you are shaking your head in wonderment and asking yourself, “How did this happen?” If you’re like me, you’re asking, “How did this happen, again?”
The Narcissist seemed so kind, so perfect and loving in the beginning. You had such high hope that you had actually met “the one.” How did you become the proverbial frog in a pot of boiling water?
To answer that question, I am first going to describe to you what a Narcissist really is. The Narcissist is a screaming toddler in an adult body, struggling to function in an adult world. And like any other toddler, s/he needs a caretaker. Enter the Codependent (you).
Toddlers are cute and we give them a lot of leeway because we realize they are immature and have a lot to learn about life. So when they scream and throw fits we punish them accordingly. Toddlers also haven’t learned to empathize with others, as empathy is learned later in life as a person learns to put themselves in the shoes of others. For instance, a toddler doesn’t care that her screaming fit is a nuisance to the people around her. She sees it as a means to getting her way.
People with personality disorders never emotionally matured beyond this stage, so they are still throwing fits – or rather the grown up version of fits – RAGE – as a means to getting their way. Something happened to them to stunt their emotional development – abuse, neglect or over-indulgence . The problem is, they are no longer cute little toddlers and as grown-ups, kicking their feet, screaming and crying has morphed into assault and battery, or at a minimum, emotional abuse.
And now, not only is this overgrown toddler abusive in every way, they are also cunning and devious in the pursuit of self-interest. Emotional development and intellectual development are not synonymous.
Which brings us back to the original question:
How Did I End Up in a Relationship with a Narcissist?:
In the beginning of the relationship, there were no expectations or history. You were equal at this point and both of you were getting your needs met. At some point, you, the Codependent, stepped in and parented the Narcissist. This is where you crossed a boundary. Instead of allowing the Narcissist to be a grown up and suffer the consequence for his/her actions, you fixed their problem for them. And this began the slippery slope for you. The Narcissist does not want to solve his/her own problems. Because the Narcissist is emotionally a toddler, this is what the Narcissist believes “love” is.
And if you are honest with yourself, this is probably what you think love is, too.
Eventually, though, the imbalance becomes overwhelming for the Codependent. Not only does the Narcissist never reciprocate, but the Narcissist resents being parented. Despite not being able to function emotionally as a grown up, the Narcissist is embarrassed that you can see his/her shortcomings, and this triggers deeply rooted feelings of shame and a threat to the False Self that the Narcissist has constructed. In response, the Narcissist abuses the Codependent.
You ended up in a relationship with a disordered person because you believed you could create a grown up by treating the baby like, a baby.
Pam McCoy is a writer, author and co-host of Crazybusters.