Background

Long Distance Relationships Of Narcissist, Borderline

Uploaded 11/12/2023, approx. 40 minute read

At the request of one of my TikTok followers, no less, I'm going to discuss today long distance relationships, LDRs.

How do narcissists and borderlines function in relationships which are not face-to-face, do not involve physical intimacy on a regular basis and do not allow for snapshotting on the narcissist side and external regulation on the borderline side.

And yes, I'm going to explain these concepts in the video, so don't get too alarmed.


My name is Sam Vaknin, I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, a former visiting professor of psychology in Southern Federal University and a long-term member of the faculty of CIAPS, Commonwealth Institute for Advanced Professional Studies. In multiple locations throughout this shrinking globe and a proper shrinking globe, long distance relationships, LDRs, henceforth, are conducted mostly online. They are epistolary. Look it up.

And they are very, very triggering for mentally ill people.

And yes, I'm not saying borderlines, I'm not saying narcissists, I'm saying mentally ill or mentally disordered or mentally dysfunctional people. Whatever you have as a mentally ill person is going to be triggered in an LDR, whether you have bipolar disorder, whether you have schizophrenic, whether you have narcissistic or borderline personality disorder, whether you're paranoid, whether you're schizotypal, whether you're depressed, have anxiety disorder, delusional disorder, every single mental health problem is exacerbated, amplified, magnified by long distance relationships.

And the reason, of course, is that long distance relationships are not natural. They're abnormal. They have all the hallmarks and trappings of an intimate relationship without the intimacy.

Now, long distance relationships are nothing new throughout human history. Tens or hundreds of millions of people emigrated in search of work, leaving their families behind.

To this very day, there are hundreds of millions of guest albiter, guest workers, immigrants, legal and illegal throughout the globe spread thinly in every industrialized and rich country. They send back money home. This is known as remittances and they meet their families face to face once or twice a year, at which point they usually make another child, another mouth to feed.

So long distance relationships are a staple and hallmark of the world of humanity from its very inception.

And yet modern long distance relationships come with a twist. They come with a twist because on the one hand, they provide for daily, hourly, minute by minute interaction. You see her, you can have cyber sex with her, you can argue with her, you can love her through the internet, you can hate her online, you can ghost her, you can stalk her and so on.

But the intensity and the diversity of possible interactions in modern long distance relationships is very, very different to the old ancient variety.

In the 19th century, in the 9th century, when a man left his home and his wife and his children looking for a job, looking for his fortune elsewhere, he would correspond with them. He would receive a letter once every two, three months and he would see them once a year.

And then after a few years or a few decades, he would bring them over to him to join him.

Today it's very typical to be in touch daily, multiple times a day. Distance in other words, has been eliminated.

So when we say long distance relationship, it's very misleading because the distance aspect has been reduced to the point of vanishing.

So this plays tricks with your mind.

On the one hand, your beloved is very far, physically. There's no way for you to meet her on the spur of the moment from one hour to the next. On the other hand, your brain is being deceived by her image on your screen, her voice in your ears, her words, textual or otherwise.

And your brain, an ancient primitive device, may I remind you, is unable to reconcile these two.

Your brain is getting mixed signals and mixed messages.

Your partner appears to be here, present, communicating.

And on the other hand, he is not here, not present.

So this creates a lot of confusion in the brain and the reactions to this mixed signaling, the reaction to this confusion underlie the essential pathology of long distance relationships.

This is doubly true when one of the partners to a long distance relationship suffers from mental illness or mental health disorders and dysfunctions.

And I will choose the example of a narcissistic borderline couple.

One of the partners is a narcissist, the other one is a borderline.

But this example of NPD BPD is applicable to all types of long distance relationships, which involve narcissists and borderlines, but every other variety of mental illness.


Now, to summarize what I'm about to say, a long distance relationship converts the narcissist into a borderline and converts the borderline into a narcissist.

The narcissist becomes heavily dysregulated, while the borderline becomes antisocial, self-centered, dysempathic and abusive.

This is a direct outcome of the abnormal nature of long distance relationships where the distance is eliminated by technology.

May I remind all of you that narcissists and borderlines have very poor communication skills. They instrumentalize communication, they instrumentalize words, they engage in alloplastic monologues, internal monologues that vilify, blame the others.

So both the narcissist and the borderline tend to assign responsibility and blame onto other people. They tend to blame them for enemies, wrong decision, bad choice, and of course, adverse outcome.

So these are instrumentalized alloplastic monologues.

For example, the narcissist monologues, internal monologues, this internal ticker is supposed to uphold and buttress the narcissist's grandiosity. This is a form of self-supply.

Borderlines and narcissists are incapable of engaging in constructive results-oriented dialogues. They essentially talk to themselves. And at cross purposes, the cross-communication results in numerous misunderstandings, misapprehensions, paranoiaand so on and so forth.

So even when the narcissist and the borderline occupy the same physical space, for example, they cohabit, even when they meet each other regularly face to face, even when they have sex once, or if they're lucky, more a day, even when they smell each other and hold each other and look into each other's eyes, even then their communication is impoverished, malnourished. It's communication pretending to be a dialogue when it's actually, as I said, a series of instrumentalized alloplastic monologues.

It leads nowhere this type of communication. It leads nowhere. It creates a lot of frustration, which translates very often into aggression.

And this is the case with regular intimate relationships.

Now imagine how amplified this problem is in long-distance relationships.

I would say that in all long-distance relationships, the problem is communication.

The establishment of appropriate communication protocols usually ameliorates and mitigates problems in long-distance relationships.

The narcissism borderlines are incapable of adhering to any communication protocol because they are overpowered internally. They're overwhelmed.

The borderline by their emotions and twin anxieties, abandonment anxiety and government anxiety. The narcissist is overwhelmed by his need to protect and to defend his inflated, fantastic self-image and self-perception and to perpetuate the shared fantasy.

In short, the borderline and the narcissist are so much into their own agendas that they fail to see each other.

And this becomes a hundred times magnified in a long-distance relationship.

Now remember that the narcissist has an external locus of control. The narcissist firmly believes that he is somehow determined from the outside that his fate and his destiny are the outcomes of malevolent, envious, skimming and cunning by everyone around him.

In this sense, narcissism and paranoia or paranoid ideation are almost indistinguishable, as I've been saying for well over 10 years.

So the narcissist has an external locus of control because he has alloplastic defenses.

The narcissist never assumes responsibility, takes on himself, accepts the consequences of his own actions, choices and decisions. The narcissist never feels guilty. He's never blameworthy, etc.

So since the narcissist cannot accept or embrace his role and contribution in the events that unfold in his life, he needs to blame others. He needs to assign responsibility to others.

And this is known as alloplastic defenses.

But of course, if you keep blaming others for everything bad that's happening to you, then actually what you're saying is my life is determined from the outside. Outsiders do this to me.

So this is an external locus of control.

Now those of you who are more astute, let alone intelligent, would immediately challenge me. And of course, I will block you. I'm kidding. You will immediately challenge me and say, "But Sam, how can the narcissist have an external locus of control if the narcissist is incapable of perceiving external objects?"

I keep saying that the narcissist converts external objects into internal objects and then continues to interact only with the internal objects.

So when the narcissist comes across a potential intimate partner, source of supply, friend, family, his own children, neighbors, colleagues, he converts them immediately to avatars. He snapshots them. He creates a snapshot. And he continues to interact with these avatars or snapshots or in clinical terms, introjects or internal objects.

So if this is true, how can the narcissist feel that anything is coming from the outside? How can he have an external locus of control?

That's precisely the dilemma of narcissism, of pathological narcissism.

The narcissist simultaneously has an external locus of control, which is exerted by internal objects.

In short, the narcissist feels that his life is out of control, not his to determine and decide. The narcissist feels that compelling forces kind of direct his life, shape it, become obstacles and hurdles, or on the other hand, drive him to behave in certain ways. So narcissist feels that he's the plaything of multiple energies and forces and people and so on.

But all this is coming from the inside.

When the narcissist, when I say that the narcissist has an external locus of control, I mean to say that the narcissist perceives his life, his destiny, his fate, his career, his marriage, his relationships. He perceives all these to be determined by forces over which he has no control. These forces are external in this sense. They are not part of the narcissist's self and they emanate from inside, from the internal objects.

So the narcissist regards his own external objects as external.

The narcissist does not perceive real external objects as external. The narcissist would never think of you as external to him, separate from him.

But the narcissist would perceive the internal object that represents you in his mind as distinct from him.

In short, there is a gap between the narcissist and his own internal objects.

And this is a phenomenon clinically known as estrangement, not alienation, but estrangement.

The narcissist is estranged from his own internal landscape, from the internal objects that populate his mind.

There's the narcissist and the internal objects and the internal objects do things to the narcissist, act upon the narcissist, determine the narcissist's life, direct the narcissist, motivate the narcissist, hinder the narcissist, constrict the narcissist.

So there's a kind of war, tug of war between the narcissist and his internal objects.

So remember this as we proceed to discuss long distance relationships.

Similarly, the borderline uses her intimate partner to regulate her internal environment. The intimate partner is used as a source of emotional regulation, stabilize him. His role is to stabilize her moods, regulate her emotions, as I said, keep her safe and stable and stable and contained and accepted and warm and fuzzy.

So both the narcissist and the borderline have a problem with the external world.

The narcissist perceives the external world as emanating from the inside, from his internal objects.

The borderline perceives the external world as her inside, which is the external world regulates her.

The external world stabilizes her.

The external world fulfills what we know, what we call ego functions for her, including reality testing.

Okay?

So both the borderline and the narcissist are dependent on some variant of an external world which is actually not external.

This sits well with my previous statement that narcissists and borderlines are incapable of dialogue with each other because they don't perceive each other as external.

They're capable only of internal monologues.

And these internal monologues are instrumentalized, weaponized, alloplastic.

They're internal monologues that are supposed to maintain an equilibrium. Homeostasis somehow preserve the integrity and functioning of the narcissist and the borderline.

Narcissists and borderline are talking to themselves in order to keep themselves going, to keep themselves functioning.

Okay.

Another thing you should remember.

And later we will implement all these when we analyze long distance relationships.

Another thing you should remember, the narcissist has no object constancy.

The narcissist is unable, because the narcissist is unable to perceive other people as external and separate, he cannot perceive them as constant, present, there.

He is therefore very insecure about the continued presence of other people in his life, especially since the narcissist himself is not a presence, he is an absence.

Similarly, the borderline has the mirror problem.

She has introject in constancy. She's able to perceive the narcissist as there, as present, but then when the communication is off, when they hang up, when they finish the chatting on WhatsApp, when the Zoom session is over or the cyber sex or whatever, the introject, the internal object that represents the narcissist in the borderline's mind dissipates, dissolves. And it's as if the narcissist is erased, deleted from the borderline's mind, out of sight, out of mind.

And then she needs to reassure herself of the narcissist existence.

So she becomes very clinging and needy.

While the narcissist doubts the commitment and the investment of the borderline, because he has no object constancy, he cannot trust the borderline to be there for the next Zoom session.

Because in his mind, once communication is off, over, the borderline doesn't exist anymore. He doesn't have object constancy.

In the borderline's mind, when the communication is off or over, the narcissist doesn't exist anymore.

But internally, she knows he's there, but she cannot conjure him in her mind.

No, don't confuse. Don't confuse two issues.

Borderlines can be very romantically jealous. They can obsess about the partner constantly. They can be immersed and engulfed by the partner's role in their lives.

But these things have nothing to do with the actual partner.

The borderline is infatuated with infatuation. She's in love with love. She is desperately seeking for external regulation, if necessary, within a fantasy.

But it's about the functions. It's about what it does for her. What it's about what it does to her, not about a specific partner.

That's why I keep saying that borderlines have no introject constancy.

So both of them are in trouble.

The minute they hang up, the narcissist becomes extremely romantically jealous because he has no object constancy. He is terrified of loss. He dreads the borderline's disappearance.

The borderline, on the other hand, has difficulty to recall the actual partner, the actual narcissist.

And this enhances her anxiety, even panic attacks, and she needs to be in touch immediately.

Again, it's as if the borderline needs to be in constant touch with the partner in order to feel that she has a partner.

Okay.

You remember the concept of snapshotting or interjection that I've explained. It leads to idealization in the love bombing phase.

But in long distance relationships, this is very difficult to do.

Snapshotting introjection and idealization, they require physical presence, exposure to bodily and other cues, behavioral cues.

In the absence of these, or when they are mediated electronically, the process of snapshotting and idealization is very disrupted. And when I say disrupted, I don't mean to say that the narcissist is then incapable of idealizing the partner.

But what I'm trying to say is that the idealized version of the partner in the narcissist's mind would be very divorced from the actual partner, the gap, the abyss between the idealized version, the idealized interject, the idealized internal object. And the partner is much larger in long distance relationships than in actual relationships, physical relationships.

Because when the narcissist is exposed to the borderline on a regular basis, behavioral cues, signals, messaging, and reality itself intervene in order to somehow keep the idealization within certain limits, confined somehow, corresponding or correlating somehow to reality.

But where in long distance relationship, the narcissist's imagination, the narcissist's creativity, if you wish, narcissist's psychoticism, the narcissist's idealization process goes awry out of control, insanely wild and crazy.

And this results in an idealized image of the partner, which is so far removed from the partner that the partner can never match it.

The gap between the idealized image and the partner becomes unbridgeable.

This frustrates the narcissist.

The narcissist tries to coerce, verbally coerce the intimate partner across the ocean to conform to the idealized image.

And because this is impossible, the narcissist gets frustrated and very violent, aggressive, verbally, at least.

One characteristic of long distance relationship between narcissists and Sakoba is the extreme, unbelievable, demented, lunatic, psychotic, if you wish, verbal aggression and violence between the parties and usually the narcissists. It far exceeds anything in actual relationships because of the narcissist's inability to engage in coercive snapshotting, inability to push the partner, to mold the partner, to sculpt the partner, to shape shift the partner, to brainwash the partner, to entrain the partner to become the idealized representation of the partner in the narcissist's mind.

Nasty skips saying, "Why don't you conform "to the way I see you?

"In the way I see you, you're so perfect.

"Why can't you be perfect?"

Well, the partner can never meet the expectations of the narcissist.

This is the idealized image is deranged. It's totally out of the stratosphere.

So the partner keeps failing. The narcissist sets her up for failure in long distance relationship and this creates a lot of aggression.

The shared fantasy in long distance relationships is intermittent. Obviously, when you are in actual physical continuous, contiguous contact with another person, there is mutual modification of expectations, behaviors. There's a lot of signaling, subliminal, verbal, body language, micro expressions, actual facial expressions. There's a lot of information exchange all the time. Even smell, smell molecules carry a huge amount of information on the neurological system, for example. So there's a lot going on in actual physical encounters that is excluded in long distance relationships.

So the feedback mechanisms are thwarted. They are prevented from acting properly.

And the shared fantasy, the narcissist's ability to construct a shared fantasy and then introduce his intimate partner into the shared fantasy. This ability is hampered and obstructed by the distance and the limitations of electronic communication.

So the shared fantasy starts and stops, goes and reverts here and there.

In full bloom today, totally devastated tomorrow. Start from scratch.

The shared fantasy is intermittent. And the intermittency of the shared fantasy, the fact that it is disjointed, patchy, creates paranoid ideation, eliminates what little trust the parties have had in each other.

Remember the problem of object constancy and introject constancy. It's a question of trust. The narcissist cannot perceive his intimate partner's presence as guaranteed because he has no object constancy.

So he doesn't trust her. He fully anticipates infidelity and worse betrayal.

The borderline cannot perceive the narcissist as permanently existing unless she is in constant touch with him, so she becomes clinging and needy and even coercive and extortionate.

So this kind of behaviors and this kind of mental, disrupted mental processes, they give rise to a collapse in mutual trust, the emergence of mistrust and then distrust, and the full catastrophize anticipation of evil malevolent malicious actions and intentions.

In short, gradually the partners begin to convert each other into enemies, persecretary objects, paranoid ideation, not trust.

The narcissist then transitions classically to devaluation.

Similar things happen in a shared fantasy when both parties are in physical contact, actual physical contact. They share the same living space. They're in a couple. Even then, even then, devaluation is inevitable because of the narcissist's need to reenact old conflicts with his mother and separate an individual.

But in long distance relationships, the transition from shared fantasy, the idealization phase, to devaluation is swift. And I call it non-productive devaluation.

It's a kind of devaluation that involves splitting, all good, all bad, all black, all white, your evil, your an angel,

splitting.

Approach avoidance, repetition, compulsion.

The parties in long distance relationships approach each other, then all the dynamics that I described start to act and they avoid each other. They withdraw and then they approach again and avoid again.

And this is approach avoidance, repetition, compulsion.

But in a typical classical shared fantasy, which involves cohabitation, physical contact, and actual couple dyadic relationships, in such a typical shared fantasy, the devaluation leads to separation. There's failed individuation later, but it leads to separation.

Initially, emotional separation and then physical separation. Discard.

In a long distance shared fantasy, there is a brief phase of idealization, failed coercive snapshotty, failed attempt to force the partner to conform to the idealized image, to become the idealized image. This failure creates frustration, frustration creates extreme verbal aggression. Extreme verbal aggression leads to devaluation and the devaluation, but the devaluation does not result in separation, in discard. The devaluation remains somehow stuck.

There is a lot of splitting. There's a lot of breaking up and joining together. Breaking up and joining together.

So a long distance relationship is stuck before the final phase of separation. It's a start and go thing.

It's like in the old vinyl records when the needle.

So when we observe long distance relationships from the outside, they appear to be in a constant state of disharmony within a shared fantasy. It's like a disharmonious shared fantasy.

Of course, ultimately, every relationship dissolves and dissipates.

Finally, there's a point where one of the parties walks away, but the way there, the way to the final breakup is much more torturous, much more cyclical than in a classical shared fantasy.

In a physical phase to face shared fantasy, it's a linear process, while long distance relationship shared fantasy is much more of a cyclical process. There's a lot of hoovering and a lot of self-hoovering and a lot of reconciliation and then fighting and then reconciliation and then fighting.

And of course, things are not helped by the fact that the parties cannot have reconciliation sex or reclaimed sex owing to the distance.

So sex, which is a pressure valve in typical relationship between narcissists and borderlines, doesn't exist here in a long distance relationship.

In a typical shared fantasy between the borderline and narcissists, they would have a fight, then they would have the greatest sex ever. They would cheat on each other and then they would reconcile via sex. Sex becomes a form of re-idealization. The glue that holds everything together, gradually, the totality of the shared fantasy between borderline and narcissist is reduced to the sex only. It subsists only on sex.

And when you ask members of a shared fantasy between borderlines and narcissists, while you're still together, they would say, well, the sex is great. I've never had sex like this.

So it all boils down to sex.

But in a long distance relationship, you cannot have sex.

Cybersex or dual sex is very poor substitute.

So if you have had a fight, if you cheated on each other, if you did something bad to each other, if you betrayed each other, your country, consign via sex. You can't reclaim each other via sex.

And this removes a major tool, perhaps the major tool of relationship management in a shared fantasy between narcissists and borderline.

And of course, this gives rise to a lot of insecurity, many insecurities about infidelity, other forms of betrayal.

So this constant romantic jealousy, the level of romantic jealousy in a long distance relationship shared fantasy is much higher than in a typical shared fantasy, let alone in a normal healthy relationship.

I would say that the main emotion in a long distance relationship is romantic jealousy, fear of loss, lack of object constancy, clinging, neediness, catastrophizing about ultimate infidelity, questioning where have you been? What have you been doing? Trying to spot patterns like unusual behaviors or even spying on each other. This is very common in long distance relationship.

And of course, the parallel ideation that I've mentioned earlier, the lack of trust, the inability to use major tools such as sex, this all leads to perceived abandonment and rejection. And these abandonment and rejection, especially the borderline, borderline perceives it this way, the narcissist is more focused on betrayal, betrayal, especially infidelity and so on.

The borderline is more focused on abandonment and rejection.

This is a major anxiety. There's no risk of engulfment in long distance relationship unless the narcissist is truly a control freak and so on.

But there is a risk of abandonment and rejection.

And so this anxiety is especially activated in long distance relationship.

And of course, if the partner becomes the constant source of anxiety, bad feelings, jealousy, envy, rage, if the partner becomes the major fount of negative affectivity, you begin to regard the partner as an enemy. This is a conversion of a partner into a persecutory object.

But in long distance relationship, there is a curious mechanism, double resonance, if you wish.

Take the borderline, for example. She's terrified of abandonment. So she becomes clinging and needy, insistent. She doesn't recognize boundaries. She's all over the partner. She consumes, she monopolizes the partner's time and resources, every deviation, every sign of independence and autonomy provoked about the borderline into hysteria that she's about to be abandoned and rejected and so on and so forth.

So borderline begins to perceive the narcissist as a persecretary object, her enemy, a malevolent force who inflicts upon her all this pain.

But at the same time, she becomes self-punitive. She begins to adopt the bad object.

She says, "I'm being rejected. I'm being abandoned. I'm being humiliated possibly because I deserve it. I deserve it because I acted badly. Oh, or I deserve it because I haven't been good enough."

So the borderline begins to merge with a bad object. She's transformed into a bad object in her own eyes by the narcissist's perceived rejection and abandonment.

Similarly, the narcissist converts the borderline into a persecretary object. She's over-winning. She's domineering. She's intrusive. She's controlling. She's malicious. So he converts her into an enemy, a persecretary object.

And of course, she's unfaithful. She's promiscuous. So she becomes a persecretary object.

But at the same time, the narcissist adopts a bad object.

The narcissist says, "She's like that because I'm a failure. She's like that because I didn't offer her enough," and so on.

So in long-distance relationship, there is a very curious double effect.

Converting the intimate partner into a persecretary object leads to the adoption of a bad object.

So in a typical shared fantasy, when the narcissist converts his intimate partner into a persecretary object, he actually adopts a good object.

He says, "She is all bad." He engages in splitting. He says, "She is all bad. She has changed. She has betrayed me. She is evil. She is useless. She is stupid. She is ugly. She is old. She is a bad person. She is old. She is fat. I'm out of here. I'm out of here because I'm none of these things. I'm a good object.

Rejecting the intimate partner in a classic face-to-face, body-to-body, send-to-send fantasy, shared fantasy, actually results in splitting where the narcissist becomes all good and the partner becomes all bad.

But in long-distance relationships, exactly the opposite, not exactly the opposite, but the different thing happens.

When the narcissist converts the intimate partner into all bad, the narcissist also becomes all bad.

Similarly, when the borderline converts the intimate partner into all bad, she also becomes all bad.

It's a bizarre kind of splitting where both parties perceive themselves and the other as all bad.


Now you could ask, why? What's the difference between a long-distance shared fantasy and an actual physical shared fantasy? Why would the narcissist, for example, feel inadequate, even guilty, ashamed, a failure in a long-distance shared fantasy? And he would never feel this way in a typical face-to-face, body-to-body, send-to-send shared fantasy on the ground.

What's the difference between these two?

The difference between these two is that in a long-distance relationship, the narcissist is interacting exclusively with internal objects even when he's, even when he's zooming with his loved one across the ocean. The absence of a physical body renders the whole interaction symbolic. The whole thing becomes abstract.

So the narcissist has to fulfill both roles.

In a typical shared fantasy, a physical shared fantasy, the narcissist, when he splits, he can say, okay, you are all bad, I'm all good. He has a physical body, and I'm handing the badness to you. I am focusing, I'm continuing to interact with the internal object that represents you in my mind, and that object is all good because I'm all good.

But what do you do in a long-distance relationship when all you have is a flickering image on the screen, a voice in your ear that is digitized and compressed, and some text? What do you do then?

You have to play both sides of the coin. You have to play both roles.

Long-distance relationships are in many ways auto-erotic and in many ways self-referential. The partner is there, you know the partner is there rationally, you know there's a physical body somewhere, but you're not interacting with that physical body, you're interacting with the representation of that physical body on the screen, the Zoom image, the voice, the WhatsApp voice, similar to pornography.

So at that point, in order to complete the shared fantasy, to go through the motions of the shared fantasy, the narcissist is compelled, forced to play both roles, otherwise there will never be completion.

That's why shared fantasies, long-distance shared fantasies, they're very slow to evolve and they require many repetitions and many cycles because ultimately the narcissist fails to assign roles to that abstract image on the screen, and he says, "Okay, they're done with it. I'm gonna play the entire monodrama inside my head. I'm gonna be both myself, I'm gonna be also the intimate partner.

So then the narcissist becomes himself.

When he is himself, he assigns the bad object to his abstract symbolic intimate partner, but at the same time, when he's pleased, he also needs to take on herself her role, so he internalizes a bad object.

It's very difficult to understand, but think of it this way.

In a long-distance relationship, the narcissist plays both roles simultaneously, himself and his intimate partner.

So there is an internal object in his mind that represents the intimate partner, but there is no corresponding external object at all.

In a typical physical shared fantasy, the narcissist has an internal object of the intimate partner, and there is a physical external object of the intimate partner that has generated the internal object.

In a long-distance shared fantasy, there is an internal object that represents the intimate partner, but it was generated by another internal object, by the image on the screen.

So it's like an internal object that generates an internal object, second generation internal object.

So when the narcissist needs to dissolve the shared fantasy or to drive it to its inevitable conclusion, which is separation, when it needs to convert the intimate partner into a persecretary object, he is forced to do all this inside his mind.

He is forced to deal with both external objects, the internal object that is on the screen or on WhatsApp or this internal object, and the internal object, that this symbolic internal object has generated in his own mind.

And so he assigns to both of them badness, a bad object.

The narcissist says, "There is an internal object in my mind that represents an image on the screen. There is an internal object in my mind that represents a voice on WhatsApp. There is an internal object in my mind that represents symbolic text on WhatsApp.

So I need to convert the internal object into a persecretary object, all bad, but I can't do this unless I also convert the Zoom image and the WhatsApp text, the WhatsApp voice into all bad.

Both the original symbol, the original electronic communication and the internal object that it has generated, both of them need to become bad.

But that means adopting a bad object because it's all in the narcissist's mind.

There's really nothing out there.

In the case of long distance relationship, until the parties meet, there's really nobody out there. There's no external object.

And that's the difference.


Now, of course, romantic jealousy, which is fear of loss, possessiveness, they emanate precisely because of this, because at no point during the long distance relationship, until the parties have met, at no point is there an external object.

So the fear of loss is enormous.

And because in the absence of external object, maybe there will be no external object.

It's a form of catastrophite.

There's a lot of frustration, a lot of aggression, a lot of acting out typically in a psychopathic self-state.

Now, the long distance relationship does not lead to the classic devaluation and discard phases. It leads to a sadistic and vengeful wish to destroy the frustrating object.

And in this sense, it resembles a lot, what is known as the external solution in mortification.

The narcissist behaves in a long distance shared fantasy as if the long distance shared fantasy where some kind of slow motion mortification.

And probably this is because electronic communication is perceived automatically as some kind of audience.

So any humiliation and any shame and any negative effects within the long distance relationship would be somehow perceived as being observed, as if there is an unspoken audience there, as if the whole thing was a theater play.

The mind, the brain cannot tell the difference.

When you interact with an image on the screen, there's a problem for the brain. The brain cannot say, wait a minute, this is an image, but there is a real person and the real person is generating the image.

Although rationally we may say this, we may even believe this, emotionally we don't perceive it that way.

So the long distance relationship resembles mortification because from the first moment, the narcissist perceives the intimate partner, not as any kind of reality, not as a real object, external object in any sense.

Narcissists are incapable of perceiving external objects anyhow, but this becomes doubly difficult, a hundred times more difficult when the external object is indeed not an external object, but a zoom image.

So then the narcissist goes through multiplication of infinite regression, where one object which is not external, the image on the screen that the narcissist sees during a zoom session is internalized, it's internal object, it's not external.

So one internal object generate the next internal object, which is the representation of the first internal object inside the narcissist mind.

It's like infinite regression.

There's a feeling of audience, unconscious perception of audience and the whole long distance relationship deteriorate or degenerates into mortification, a breakup, devaluation, betrayal, infidelity, all these would not be perceived by the narcissist as some kind of one-on-one interaction, interpersonal, no.

It would be perceived as public humiliation.

The narcissist would react with what is known as the external solution.

The narcissist would demonize and vilify the intimate partner, not only devalue her, but begin to consider her as the devil, evil beyond words, a malevolent, conspiring, malicious entity, not even human in any sense.

And then it would proceed into the most extreme imaginable diatribes and vitriol and hatred and verbal abuse, which is theatrical, dramatic on the one hand, and comic or pathetic on the other.

The narcissist in a long distance relationship, when the shared fantasy reaches its final tact, final stage, the narcissist disintegrates, actually, experiences mortification.

And then he reacts either by adopting a bad object, as I mentioned before, this is the internal solution, or by going after the source of his enormous pain, decompensation, collapse, and that is what used to be his idealized intimate partner.

Long distance relationships with narcissists never end well because they don't allow the narcissist to realize or actualize a shared fantasy in a regular orderly manner.

And because the narcissist converts internal objects that he sees on the screen or reads on WhatsApp or listens to, he converts these external objects, which emanate from the outside, but they become external internal objects.

He converts these internal objects into secondary, second generation internal objects, and he's not equipped to deal with this.

When he splits, he is actually splitting himself, and he ends up being all bad in his own eyes, which is an intolerable feeling.

This is the source of mortification, of course, getting an access, getting in touch with his own bad object, with his shame.

Long distance relationships drive the narcissist through mortification and drive the borderline to decompensation and acting out.

Borderline's worst nightmares are actually materialized in a long distance relationship.

So inevitably it leads to abandonment and rejection, and the narcissist's worst nightmare, getting in touch with his own shame and falling apart, are also part and parcel of a long distance relationship.

So I would strongly recommend both narcissists and borderlines to avoid long distance relationships, and I would extend this recommendation to all mentally ill people.

Long distance relationships require maturity, a sense of self-regulated, a stable sense of self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-awareness, self-consciousness, self-acceptance, stability, and mentally ill people have none of the above.

To engage in a long distance relationship, you need to be with your two feet on the ground, and you need to have a hard, strong core, which is not amenable to the buffeting winds of other people's mental health problems.

Long distance relationships are not for everyone and not for the faint of heart, and would definitely constitute a very dangerous and nefarious challenge to people like narcissists and borderlines.

Don't try it at home.

Look for someone who is real, and with whom you can go through the various stages of the shared fantasy to its bitter end, but never as bitter as in a long distance relationship.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

How Borderlines, Narcissists Destroy Their Intimacy

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the dynamics of intimacy in relationships involving narcissists and borderlines. He explains how both parties fear intimacy for different reasons and engage in behaviors that undermine it. The discussion delves into the ways in which borderlines cope with abandonment and rejection, including avoidance and self-trashing. Additionally, Vaknin explores how both narcissists and borderlines push each other to abuse them, providing an excuse to break up and start over.


Borderline Woman: Partner Devaluation, Self-harm, Alcoholism

In summary, Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the psychology of borderline women, focusing on splitting, self-destructive behaviors, and substance abuse. Splitting is an infantile defense mechanism that leads to idealization and devaluation of others. Self-destructive behaviors can include risky sexual encounters, reckless behavior, and defiance. Substance abuse, particularly alcohol, can serve as a coping mechanism for negative emotions, restore self-confidence, lower inhibitions, and allow for the accomplishment of goals that would not be considered when sober.


Pandemics: COVID19 and Daddy Issues in Borderline-Narcissist Couples

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and borderline narcissistic couples. He addresses misconceptions and misunderstandings about COVID-19, such as confusing case fatality rate with mortality. He then delves into the dynamics of borderline narcissistic couples, where one partner is a narcissist and the other is a borderline. These relationships are characterized by power struggles, punishment, and emotional turmoil, with both partners fulfilling critical functions for each other, but ultimately being better off without each other.


How Narcissist/Psychopath Sees YOU, his Victim, and Why Borderlines Adore Them

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the inner experiences of narcissists, psychopaths, and borderlines. He explains how narcissists idealize their partners to reinforce their own grandiosity, while psychopaths manipulate and discard their partners for entertainment or personal gain. Borderlines exhibit a complex mix of traits from other personality disorders and may transition between narcissistic and psychopathic behaviors in response to frustration. Vaknin also clarifies that cheating is just one example of a behavior that can mortify a narcissist.


How To Talk to Narcissist, Borderline, OCD (with Joan J. Lachkar)

The text is a conversation between Sam Vaknin and Joanne Yuta Lachkar. They discuss the dynamics of narcissistic and borderline relationships, the impact of early childhood experiences, and the role of countertransference in therapy. They also touch on the topic of affairs and their effects on individuals.


How Covert Narcissist Deceives Covert Borderline And He Loves It ( 2nd In Odd Couples Series)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the dynamics of a relationship between a covert borderline and a covert narcissist. He explains the characteristics and behaviors of each type and how they interact in a relationship. The covert borderline is a hybrid of borderline and narcissistic traits, while the covert narcissist has a false sense of grandiosity and struggles with shame and inadequacy. The relationship between the two involves manipulation, envy, and a struggle for control, leading to a tumultuous and often destructive dynamic. The covert borderline seeks ideal love and is willing to deceive himself, while the covert narcissist provides a fantasy of perfection that the covert borderline becomes addicted to.


Borderline’s Partner: Enters Healthy, Exits Mentally Ill

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the impact of individuals with borderline personality disorder on their partners, suggesting that they can induce narcissistic behaviors in them. He also addresses misconceptions about Freud's theories and delves into the psychological dynamics at play in relationships with individuals with borderline personality disorder. The borderline's need for object constancy and the partner's response to it are explored, leading to the development of narcissistic and borderline behaviors in the partner. The complex and challenging dynamics of these relationships are thoroughly analyzed.


Odd Couples: Codependent-Codependent, Narcissist-Narcissist (1st in Series)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses various types of hellish relationships, including those involving covert and overt narcissists, codependents, and different types of narcissists. He explains the dynamics and challenges of these relationships, emphasizing that narcissists of the same type cannot maintain stable relationships, while those of opposing types can. Additionally, he delves into the characteristics and behaviors of somatic and cerebral narcissists, as well as inverted narcissists, and their potential couplings.


Borderline, Narcissist: Why They Can't Let Go of Each Other

The professor discusses the comments on his video and then delves into the differences between the shared fantasies of borderlines and narcissists. He explains that both types of individuals have similarities and traits, but their shared fantasies have different functions and dynamics. The narcissist's shared fantasy is about engulfing, while the borderline's shared fantasy is about being engulfed. He also explains the reasons behind the hoovering behavior of both types.


Borderline vs. Narcissist Idealization Fantasies

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the differences between the borderline's shared fantasy and the narcissist's shared fantasy. He explains that both borderline and narcissist have similarities, but their internal psychodynamics are very different. The borderline has empathy and overwhelming emotions, while the narcissist lacks emotional empathy and experiences only negative emotions. The shared fantasies of the borderline and the narcissist are also different, with the borderline having a variety of shared fantasies and the narcissist having a simpler, maternal-based shared fantasy. Both types of individuals end up in a victim role, leading to a cycle of idealization and demonization in their relationships.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy