By Henry Bantjez
Andrew had taken Jason’s car to work, since his failed to start. Andrew did not feel it was necessary to ask. Jason, oblivious of the situation, had to explain to his boss why he arrived late.
Upon Andrew’s return that evening, Jason confronted him. “Why did you take my car without asking? I am in trouble at work”. Andrew flung the keys at Jason, hitting him in the chest. “Why are you making such a big deal out of this? You know how important I am at work. Don’t be so a clingy. You have taken my car in the past. When you do something it’s okay. Why do you always have to make me feel this bad? It’s always about you Jason. Always”.
Jason gathered the keys from the floor. “I don’t always want to make you feel bad,” he lowers his head. “Well you do. Now let’s change the subject”, Andrew said, pouring a whiskey only for himself.
Contrary to popular belief, narcissism does not refer to self-love or overconfidence. Narcissistic personality disorder, also known as narcissism, is a personality disorder that can lead to toxic and emotionally abusive manifestations leaving you, the partner, confused, scared and often unable to cope with the reality of this bizarre behaviour.
Narcissists do not apologize. It is never “their fault”. They cleverly manipulate and manoeuvre their way through situations that they do not wish to confront. For them, it is easier to project their feelings onto you. In other words, when they are in the wrong, they manipulate the situation is such a way that you feel you are the one in the wrong. You feel like you are the crazy one.
This is what they make you believe. They make you doubt yourself. They make you lose confidence. A malicious spider casting a web full of confusion. You feel like you can’t win. You are always wrong. No matter what you are unhappy about. It is always your fault. No matter what you suspect them of, you are the paranoid one. Never the narcissist.
Grandiosity, seeking excessive admiration, dismissive behaviour and their lack of empathy are their coping mechanisms. Internally though, they battle with inadequacy and low self-esteem issues, ultimately interfering with both personal and professional relationships.
When you suspect you may be dating one, look out for this: The narcissist is extremely charming. Too much too soon. Declaring love. Claiming you. Lies about the past. Embellishments about life and achievements.
In this relationship you will be exposed to bad tempers, aggression, mood swings – extreme happiness, extreme rage, and extreme love. Demanding your undivided attention. They will display over interest into your personal affairs, and suspicious about activity on your laptop and phone (some narcissists tend to hack into your phone and even track your every move with sophisticated apps). Their lack of accountability is strengthened by blaming you for almost everything. Life revolves around the narcissist. Not around you and often leads to isolation from family and close friends.
They will make you feel superior in the beginning, on a pedestal and suddenly bring you down by ridiculing you, sarcastic remarks and saying you are too sensitive, needy, or their favourite – “I was just joking.” They will cross your boundaries. You will feel uncomfortable or that something is wrong but you cannot put your finger on it, making you doubt your own reality.
Narcissists are expert Machiavellians and excellent at reading you. To control you. To make you feel devalued. Food for superiority. Narcissistic supply. So if you want to reclaim yourself, how do you deal with this? You as a “reasonable” person may just want what is fair. Remember, you are not playing on a level playing field. You just want what is rational, right? Think again. Narcissists do not want to come to reasonable conclusions. They want to make you miserable. They will make you squirm in any negotiation, often stating their point then causing a fight, disarming you so you are unable to respond. The only way you can stand up for yourself is to ethically manipulate the manipulator.
Know the red flags. Understand their behaviour. Anticipate their reactions. You will then no longer be surprised by their reactions, in fact you will be one step ahead. So when your narcissist goes off at you, calling you names, trying to make you feel bad about yourself, you then respond with a “Well, I expected you to say that”. Tactical responses will put you ahead of your spider’s web.
For example. A long WhatsApp sent you, filled with anger, vitriol and poison, you respond tactically. Look through it as if you are reading a newspaper. Pick one or two things that you want to respond to that are factual.
How Jason should have responded when Andrew diverted the debate of taking his car, Jason should have said the following. “I understand that I have taken your car in the past, however, we can talk about it at another time, what I want to talk about now is why you took my car early in the morning without checking in with me. If you feel like I am trying to make you feel bad about this, we can talk about that later as well. Now we are going to talk about what you did.” The only way to make them back off is to let them know that there is no more supply to be had from you.
A question that narcissists cannot answer, is the truth (or anything that indicates that you know what’s going on). They are pathological liars. When they are confronted with the truth, and there is no way to get out of it, they will literally run away. They distort reality. They live in their own worlds.
Narcissists protect anything involving shame or vulnerability with their lives. They have an enormous sense of shame, a super fragile sense of self that they want to shield and make you believe that they are something else. A dichotomy between a scared fragile hidden persona and powerful and confident on the outside. Cultivate your awareness around these red flags. Fight back or get out.
Henry Bantjez is a behavioural therapist, life coach, and as an influencer he has been pivotal in providing pandemic related wellness strategies and information to individuals and corporates and regularly publishes on the topic.