Time and time again I am asked the same question from people who are torn between staying and leaving their narcissistic partner.
“Can I make a relationship with a narcissist work?”
In a way… yes you can make it “work.”
If by “work” you are referring to catering to every need of someone else, validating their ego, and putting aside all of your needs then yes you can most likely make it work.
That is until one day they wake up and decide to discard you for a new source of narcissistic supply.
The reality is that you will never be able to have a stable relationship with a narcissist because you are dealing with a person that is completely unstable and here are the reasons why.
They have an inflated sense of self
A common misconception is that a narcissist is extremely confident because of their huge ego.
The reality is that they are constructing a grandiose image for themselves that they are putting out into the world when deep down they feel the complete opposite.
“It is with this superficial and compensatory outer “mask” that the narcissist constructs his or her false identity, submerging an insecure, wounded self.”
The narcissist’s ego is extremely fragile which is why usually they have to put others down in order to make themselves feel better.
They will idealize and then devalue you
During the beginning, the Narcissist will be giving you praise and claiming that you are the most perfect specimen they have ever laid their eyes on.
Then out of the blue, you are the worst. The person who has claimed to love you no longer does and they can’t even remember why they ever would have.
“Narcissists also engage in something similar to splitting known as idealization and devaluation, where they are prone to putting their loved ones on a pedestal, only to swiftly knock them off.”
Narcissists are unable to understand all the parts of something both positive and negative. Either they love you or you are the worst person ever, there is no in-between.
They will project their insecurity unto you
One of the most common tools a narcissist will use to avoid taking responsibility for any of their actions is projection.
They aren’t to blame, you are the one to blame.
They didn’t do anything wrong, you did something wrong.
You’re so insecure, why on earth would they ever love you?
“When we project, we are defending ourselves against unconscious impulses or traits, either positive or negative, that we’ve denied in ourselves. Instead, we attribute them to others.”
A narcissist is able to completely ignore the negative traits of themselves including their insecurities because they are projecting them on you instead.
Their identity is derived from others
The reality is that someone with a narcissistic personality disorder doesn’t actually know who they are which means everything about them is coming from outside influences.
Their beliefs, likes, dislikes, all of it is coming from the people in their life.
This can also change extremely quickly.
For example, I have a narcissistic family member that will morph and take on traits of his friends when they are around and then will take on some of my traits when he is around me.
Because a narcissist doesn’t know who they are they have to take those parts from other people in order to put together somewhat of a full picture.
Do you stay or do you go?
If you decide to stay in the relationship after being informed of what to expect you have to remember that at any time the narcissist can decide that they don’t want to be with you anymore.
They could choose to stay with you for an extended period of time or you could be discarded when they wake up one morning and decide to walk out the door.
The narcissist will always be in control but this is the reality of any relationship with a pathological narcissist.
Even if a narcissist is truly willing to look within and do constant therapy and self-reflection things may still never “work” in the way that you want.
It’s up to you about what you want to allow in your life and what you will tolerate.