Intrusive and Dominant Behavior in Relationships Can Be a Sign of Narcissism, Research Suggests

Jennifer March, MS

Narcissists are trapped in their own world, they cannot see beyond their own delusion

The narcissist I had within my family always seemed to twist reality. It’s as though the memories we shared were far different from each other. No memory we both shared was viewed the same way.

Any interaction with the narcissist always left me confused, upset, and slighted. I never understood why they were always quick to cast blame or judgment on me. Or how the narcissist would lie to me, when I had screenshots, and evidence to disprove their claims

How does that make sense?

I would always wave this off as the narcissist being a liar. But how can someone lie so much and seem so adamant about their false reality? There has to be some line that shows the stark difference between lying and what is their truth.

And that’s when I realized that the narcissist is highly delusional. In their world, they truly believe the lies they are sharing. For a narcissist, their lies are not lies to them — their lies are their reality.

Narcissists are trapped in their own world, they cannot see beyond their own delusion.

Now please remember that not all narcissists are like this. And not all narcissists are evil. Narcissism is a real disorder that affects real people every day.

From healing wounds about a narcissist, I've found that I have to do what they fail to do: see outside myself.

So I began putting myself in the shoes of the narcissists that I had in my life — I began to see their reality.

This does not excuse, nor does this allow for further mistreatment — but rather, it gives us an idea of who they really are.

Understanding a narcissist’s viewpoint may help give you some answers, and help you find your peace with them.

Narcissism is a clinically diagnosed disorder

According to the DSM-5, narcissism is formally called: narcissistic personality disorder.

The key for a clinical diagnosis for narcissism — or any mental disorder — is consistent behavior patterns. Isolated incidents that happen infrequently (i.e., lying) are not enough to meet diagnostic criteria for narcissism.

For the complete diagnostic criteria for DSM-5 Revised criteria, please click here.

I will be explaining the criteria step by step to help you understand how narcissism is clinically defined.

Below are the summarized versions of the DSM-5 Revised criteria:

Impairments in either identity or self-direction

This means that there are issues with someone’s functioning that are impacting daily life. This can include arrogant behavior, exaggerated achievements, preoccupation with fantasies of success, wealth, power, etc., lacking empathy, and the need for excessive admiration.

An issue with identity or self-direction can really stem from feeling insecure. Narcissists require the attention of others and need to be seen as the best. This runs back to a narcissist not truly knowing who they are.

Narcissists need the praise of others, so they constantly have to work to be the best and stay the best all the time.

A narcissist's consistent behavior patterns, combine with their slew of negative symptoms can lead them to struggle within their life.

Impairments in interpersonal functioning such as empathy and intimacy

Interpersonal functioning, from a clinical standpoint, is based on how someone functions within their relationships. Relationships aren’t just romantic — they extend to any relationship. Relationships can include friends, neighbors, coworkers, and so on.

When reviewing interpersonal functioning, it is important to look at the stability of all relationships that a narcissist has over time. Are their relationships typically easygoing, or is there always an edge to their relationships?

For example, the narcissist in my life never had any real friends. Yes, we heard about the narcissist’s soccer friends, but we never saw any close friends. It seemed that any friends this narcissist had were kept at a distance.

When we review the inner workings of a narcissist’s friendships, we can begin to see the impact of their negative symptoms. Research has shown that a narcissist may be more likely to be vengeful, overly dominant in relationships, and even including intrusive behavior.

With vengeful, dominant, and intrusive behavior, there will be instability in all relationships. The negative symptoms associated with narcissism are often shown through their relationships.

Personality traits involving grandiosity and attention-seeking

Narcissists believe that they are the best thing that has ever walked the Earth. A narcissist’s self-worth is really tied to the praise they get from those around them.

With a lack of identity and a narcissist constantly having to work to be the best, they can burn some people along the way. But grandiose behavior doesn’t automatically come from someone thinking they are the best — it can stem from insecurity.

Remember, a narcissist is not void of feelings — everyone has feelings and can be close to a person. But narcissists can lose the people that they care about due to their behavior.

With grandiosity, there is an attention-seeking aspect that may be more noticeable. They want to be seen as the best to fulfill that insecurity they have about themselves.

Important diagnostic factors that need to be considered

The criteria discussed above must be stable and consistent throughout a person’s life, cannot be explained by another medical condition, or considered normal for their developmental stage or socio-cultural environment.

This is a quick story on what criteria a narcissist needs to meet. Just because someone was mean to you or rude to you does not qualify them as a narcissist.

Narcissism is a real disorder that has a daily impact on someone’s functioning.

A key point that isn’t discussed by the DSM-5 is the lack of awareness of one’s own functioning. Someone with narcissism doesn’t flat out know that their intentions are twisted. This is their reality, and that’s what they believe. No matter what someone says, this is what a narcissist will believe.

So this can fall under delusional behavior when you are faced with a narcissist.

How does this change things?

In terms of dealing with a narcissist, it isn’t going to change your situation much. But what it can do is help give you more understanding and give some explanation.

The next time you interact with a narcissist in your life, you can understand that their behavior is a pattern. A pattern is predictable, so you can more easily understand the narcissist.

Why fight someone who doesn’t see reality in the same way? If you do, you might want to bang your head against the wall — you'll get the same outcome.

I want to explain this to other people who may be struggling with a narcissist in their life. I know it’s hard. Wanting to get a narcissist to understand the pain they have caused — but they won’t see eye to eye with you.

A narcissist will never see what you see.

Much like someone with active visual hallucinations, you cannot tell them that something isn’t right in front of them — even though you can’t see it.

To a narcissist, their lies are true. Why spend any time telling the narcissist that their truth isn’t reality? It’s what’s real for them, and it’s what they believe.

Suppose you can’t make sense of a situation with a narcissist, where it seems that they are making stuff up or lying to you. Remember that you are not wrong; you are dealing with someone who is not fully in touch with reality.

No amount of proof, evidence, or logic will prevail over their lies.

When I realized this, my relationship with the narcissist changed. I didn’t need to disprove their lies — I didn’t need to do anything.

If a narcissist's lies are truly what they believe, then you cannot argue with that.

As hard as it is, you will need to accept that this is how it will be with a narcissist.

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Disclaimer: I am not a licensed mental health professional. The information contained in this article is for educational and entertainment purposes only. This information is not meant to diagnose anyone but rather to spread awareness and start a conversation. Thanks!

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As Originally Posted on Medium

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Psych nerd turned freelance writer | MS in Psychology | Mom of two cats and some house plants | #MentalHealthAdvocate #BeKind

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