Sunday, May 8, 2011

Deconstructing a Narcissist's Relationships

Upsi's poem made of an estranged mother's comment gave me the creeps and made me think.

One wonders why someone would want to simply resume a relationship where there is obviously no understanding and no wish for understanding by the very person who wants the relationship! Why does the mother obviously want a FAKE relationship?

Because this mother obviously IS a narcissist, and thus different from normal people. And the difference is that they don't know there's a difference. We do.

A narcissist, I'm now entirely convinced, can only see her relationships via a binary system of two variables: On/Off and Win/Lose. There's nothing else. 

On/Off: A relationship either exists or it doesn't. There's no real difference between a "close friend" and a "casual acquaintance", because they're incapable of real intimacy, but will tell an absolute stranger private details if these are likely to impress him. Some narcissists collect people and want as many "relationships" as possible, or don't want the embarrassment of being in "off" mode with their children, so they will insist on keeping them "on" at all costs. They won't let go.

Win/Lose: This is fundamental for a narcissist, both outside of relationships and within them. Every relationship is hierarchical, and the narcissist will want to outdo every friend, acquaintance, and family member. Children are easiest to subdue and the natural losers, even to otherwise unsuccessful narcissists. Every conversation will center around the narcissist proving they're the best, or at least better than someone else, or at least better than you, and they will use criticism, pity, and blame to put you in your place.

If you show signs of impending independence, strength, resilience, and demand to be treated with decency and respect, some narcissists who value winning much more than being in the relationship will just freeze you out. Others, equally interested in both, will try to have their cake and eat it - gaslight or accuse you of being too sensitive or ask you to let go of your grudge, and then continue mistreating you once they feel secure again. Those desperate to keep the relationship "on" will even agree to "lose" a round if it will get you back - by issuing a non-apology. And they will demand their due, the return of the relationship back to "on", because they sacrificed winning one round. The quality of the relationship doesn't concern them, never has, never will, because they can't see colors, or even shades of gray. Just black and white.


  1. yeah. at any sign of impending independence or asking to be treated with respect, my mom goes bonkers and starts screaming at and harassing me, pulling up completely irrelevant topics and trying to make mincemeat out of me. she's getting crazier. like, nothing she says makes any sense. the other day she was trying to 'get me' for 'not smiling' when i walked into the house when our real estate agent was there. today she was trying to 'get me' for the 'way i was sitting' on the couch when people came to look at our house. she said that i had apparently 'made up my mind to block the sale of the house.' because of how i was sitting in the family room!
    i told her to knock on my door and wait for a response before opening, cause she'd keep barging in whenever she was 'in a rush', and she went crazy about that, screaming that i need to be understanding of her cause we live together.
    seriously, she is making no sense at all. like before she made a little sense, or at least i thought she did. now she just sounds completely off her rocker. the things she says make no logical sense.

  2. Lisa, try your hardest to get out of that house!

  3. P.S. I edited the post. At first I imagined a narcissist seeing his relationships "on a two-dimensional coordinate system" with two "coordinates", but, upon further reflection, a coordinate system would imply differentiating degrees of closeness, which they don't. No, it's a binary system made of 0s and 1s. On or off, win or lose. Nothing in between.


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