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The Mirror Talks – Reflections on Narcissism #3 July 19, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
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In this series, I’m using a “search term” I’ve come across as a jumping off point for a discussion. (Please read my Close Encounter with a Narcissist series first, or it’s like walking in after the movie’s started. Shhhh!) Here goes.

“What Is Ideal Love to a Narcissist?”

The DSM IV lists nine behaviors that characterize Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).  At least five must be evident to make a diagnosis of NPD. Let’s look at the second behavior.

2.  Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

Just what is “ideal love?” to a Narcissist? I’m afraid, I have to use the F word to explain. No, not THAT word. To a Narcissist, the F word is fantasy.

Actually, I often think that Narcissists are obsessed not with “ideal love,” but with the “idea of love.”   Despite the common misconception that Narcissists are “in love” with themselves, they actually despise themselves and are incapable of feeling real love.

I’ve said before that what a Narcissist loves most is the chase. The Narcissist confuses the excitement of honing in on new Narcissistic Supply (NS) with the emotion we humans call “love.”  I’m afraid this Idealization Phase is as good as it gets.

So what happens when a Narcissist actually “catches” the object of his desire? When the ideal becomes real, you better be careful not to blink, or you might suffer emotional whiplash. Let me explain.

Outside the town where I grew up, there was a dog racing track. At the sound of the bell, a line of mechanical rabbits took off and the greyhounds chased them. If a dog ever caught the “rabbit,” its racing days were over. That’s because once the dog knew the rabbits were fake, it would no longer run after them.

What does this have to do with NPD?

Just like the dogs, when a Narcissist finally catches who he’s been pursuing, he quickly loses all interest. But here’s where it gets interesting. It’s not because what he’s been chasing is fake, but because it’s REAL.

Let’s face it, real relationships involve who’s cooking dinner (and doing the dishes), which bills should be paid (or go unpaid), root canals, and trips to the urologist. This is not the unique life the Narcissist envisioned. So what if he’s two hours late and didn’t call. Geez, you’re so demanding!  Reality can’t compete with a fantasy, so the Narcissist immediately begins chipping away at that pedestal he put you on. The D&D is underway.

Unlike those greyhounds, the Narcissist never learns. He truly believes he can run that race again and next time (or the next, or the next) things will turn out just the way he imagined. Yes, it’s sad, because we already know how the story will end – badly. But for those with NPD, it’s in their nature and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to change that.

The rest of us know that “ideal love” exists only in fairy tales. We’re happy to settle for real love.

Read The Mirror Talks – Reflections on Narcissism #4.

Photo Credit: Jan Marshall

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Comments»

1. Bev from england - July 24, 2009

Jan i couldnt agree more with this piece….i totally agree that they seem to like the idea of love more than the real thing. The real thing means accepting faults n failures n let downs and they dont want that, they want u to be perfect.

I think they very much love the initial excitement of a new friend or partner but all too soon it becomes ordinary and theyre not able to move on with it and see the positives in real love but they want that rush again…cos they think its love. Its maybe one of the few times they actually really feel anything?

its one consolation that i have, that hell never find real love, no one will ever be the one, his penguin, cos the person doesnt exist. Im sure there are several, who like me, would love him no matter what, even inspite of his appalling treatment, but he wont ever love us no matter what … and i dont think he wants someone who accepts him as he is cos he cant accept himself …

HUGS

Bev – You’re right. It’s one of the few times they feel something, but it’s not love (only they don’t know that). Someone (actually, sometTHING) to fill that gnawing inner void. Jan

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2. Michelle - July 29, 2009

Jan, you just described my marriage… no joke!

Michelle – I had no idea, but I’m glad that what I wrote resonated with you. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is when people tell me it’s like I was a fly on the wall when it came to describing what they went through. Now that I have some distance from NPD, I have such clarity. It’s really black and white. Jan

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3. The Mirror Talks – Reflections on Narcissism #2 « planetjan - August 9, 2009

[...] Read The Mirror Talks – Reflections on Narcissism #1. The Mirror Talks – Reflections on Narcissism #3 [...]

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4. kathy - May 8, 2010

I’ve noticed that He is hot and cold all the time. It always goes in cycles. Then, when I’ve been with him he leaves signs around the house that he is pursuing an old flame again. It always makes me feel a little badly…like a second choice and I actually thinks he purposefully leaves these “signs” out….so I’ve decided not to contact him at all unless he contacts me. Its as if….since Ive shown care and interest in him he has to pursue someone who is still not accepting him. On with the next…

Kathy – Most likely he does leave these signs out on purpose. Really, what does he have to lose…oh yeah, that’s right…you! This is one of the things that is so crazy-making about Ns. They’ll chase after someone who won’t give them the time of day, when you’re there for them.
Once I was talking with my “friend” Joe about a woman I’d worked with nine years earlier. It turned out he’d gone to college with her and had asked her out, but she wasn’t interested. I said I’d broken off our friendship when she told me her landlord put miniature robots under her apartment to spy on her. Even after I’d told Joe that I thought she was mentally ill, he was obsessed with calling her so he could reconnect. I was just glad that she had an impossible name to spell, as there he was calling information trying to track her down. She’s already rejected him once, but again, it was all about the chase. They never learn. Jan

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5. Melinda - July 1, 2010

Jan, after 10 yrs with an N I’d say you got it exactly right which i find amazing given the short ‘encounter’ you had. I mean truly amazing considering most of us that have been thru it for years didn’t get it THAT clearly. I was done with mine in January, ok , I was done with him in January but he kept coming back through February:)
I have read six of your articles and the one thing i didn’t see you talk about was the lying. Mine was not necessarily great at it and quite often could spin some absolutely outlandish tales if you knew. But oh so quick. He could look you straight in the eyes and lie to your face. He fooled, and continues to fool, a great many people, smart, savvy people old enough to know better.

He continues to pillage the world as all these people keep his secrets (out of loyalty) but at least not here anymore. However, not before wreaking much damage.

Thanks for the articles. Could never have said it better.

Melinda – I think you may have just provided the topic for my next The Mirror Talks post! Yes, Ns lie as easily as they breathe. I didn’t include examples in my posts, because some of the examples would have made it easier to identify the N. There were blatant lies, lies by omission – but, mostly lies to himself. Thanks for giving me something to think about. Jan

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6. Mcdermott - February 26, 2012

I am a man trying to end things with a female narcissist. It’s tough because I am realizing how codependent I am.

I love your insight. We have been together on and off for 3 years and she strays. It’s always the same pattern. She meets someone. Usually successful alpha male type and she chases after their approval. she obsesses about them for a while and once they show her approval it’s over.

Of course she has no compunction about lying to me and certainly no empathy for what this process does to me. I’ve only just realized that it has nothing to do with me. That she is genuinely incapable of anything more.

I think that may be enough to get me over the hump and free.

McDermott,
As I’ve written before, what narcissists love most is the chase. It actually has very little to do with the other person, it’s all about the N’s need to feel validated. Mission accomplished – time to move on. Unfortunately, it has very little to do with you either. You’re her backup supply. Even though you know how it will end each time, I can’t imagine that it makes you feel special. Even when a N has someone who always welcomes them back (or at least is resigned to their philandering), it’s just a matter of time until they fixate on someone else. No matter how loving/patient/exciting/all of the above you are, N’s are easily bored and in constant need of novelty aka “drama.” I’d recommend visiting Shrink4Men on my blogroll, but it sounds to me like you already know the drill. BTW, your poem and the imagery the words evoked was incredibly powerful. Always, Jan

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7. Kate - April 7, 2012

I just recently was dumped by my fiance. Unexpectedly after three loving years of a relationship. I got irritable and pissy with him for being late, sent a WTF text message and that was it. He decided we were no longer compatible and ended our engagement. He was completely resolved in his decision the next morning. We live in his condo while my condo is being rented through the end of September. We never fought so I have been struggling to find a reason why one fight would bring this up, all of his doubts and fears that he suppressed. My counselor met him twice afterwards and mentioned to me he is a narcissist.

The guy has a myriad of issues, all that I accepted and loved unconditionally. He was so into me though and was always talking about our future and family within the first couple months. I quickly got swept away and thought I found the one based on how well we got along. Then he dumped me out of the clear blue because he thought we could be happy together, but he still wanted to search for his ideal partner. So, I moved on as best I could…after the first break up he came back to me realizing he loved me. I again thought he was the one so I took him back. We were inseparable and had a relationship I thought were only made in the movies. However, throughout the three years, he would occasionally mention he still wasn’t sure about us…when he proposed finally after 2.5 years, I asked if he had no more doubts or fears about the relationship. He said he had resolved them all so I accepted his lovely proposal. However, the red flags were there when he did not want to even talk about the wedding for at least a year. We just firmed up a date and location the weekend before he dumped me. According to him, it just got “too real.”

His first wife developed a pyschosamentic illness and was then finally able to walk again once she left him. I am starting to see the light so much clearer now that our relationship is over.

He recently told me that our relationship is so close, near perfect, but just not quite right and he doesn’t want to stop searching for his ideal partner. He doesn’t know what he wants, but he doesn’t want “this.” From all of the self discovery I am doing, along with my counselor’s impression of him, I really believe I have been involved with a narcissist for the last three years.

Kate,
I realize you’ve been mentally messed about, but consider yourself lucky. I can’t say with certainty that your ex-fiance is officially a narcissist, but he does sound like an official a$$hole. It’s good that you’ve seen a therapist who is familiar with narcissism. You mention overlooking a myriad of issues, so I’m not going to offer any explicit comments/condemnations regarding your ex. But I can tell you that having been married for 30+ years, there’s no such thing as the “ideal partner.” Marriage/successful relationships require hard work. If I’d been searching for a perfect partner, I’d still be single or divorced. Is there ever a perfect time to do anything, no less a “perfect” person? I know you already know the answer.

Your story brings to mind another comment I received (that I will now have to find). Someone who found the love of her life, but then they had an abrupt falling out. Then together again. A week before the wedding he left and never looked back. There are people who’ve wasted 20 years living with a narcissist – hoping that the person will become the person they originally thought they were – the one who was charming and seemingly caring. Be glad that you escaped such a fate. Wishing you the best.
Always, Jan

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