Narcissist's Insignificant Other: Typical Spouse or Intimate Partner

Uploaded 12/11/2010, approx. 7 minute read

I am Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

We can divide the spouses, mates, and intimate partners of narcissists into two categories.

Those who persist insist, try to maintain the relationship, preserve it, enhance it, and create intimacy, and those who, upon discovering the true face of the narcissist, withdraw, detach, and if they are married to the narcissist, divorce him.

On the face of it, there is no typical partner or mate who binds with the narcissist. They come in all shapes and sizes.

The initial phases of attraction, infatuation, and falling in love are pretty normal.

The narcissist puts his best face on, and the other party is blinded by budding love.

The natural selection process occurs only much later, as the relationship develops and is put to the test, and as the narcissist tires of maintaining the facade, let the mask sleep, discovers, and covers his true face.

Living with a narcissist can be exhilarating, but it is always onerous and often harrowing.

Surviving a relationship with a narcissist, maintaining a relationship, preserving it, insisting on remaining with a narcissist, indicates therefore the parameters of the personality of the victim, of the partner, of the spouse.

The partner, the spouse, and the mate of a narcissist who insists on remaining in the relationship and preserving it is molded by it into the typical narcissistic mate, spouse, or partner.

First and foremost, the narcissist partner or spouse must have a deficient or a distorted grasp of herself and of reality, otherwise she or he is bound to abandon the narcissist's ship early on.

The cognitive distortion is likely to consist of believing and demeaning yourself while aggrandizing and adoring the narcissist.

The partner is thus placing herself in the position of the eternal victim, undeserving, punishable, or scapegoat.

Sometimes it is very important to the partner to appear moral, sacrificial, and victimized. At other times she is not even aware of this predicament.

The narcissist is perceived by her to be a person in position to demand these sacrifices from her because he is superior in many ways, intellectually, emotionally, morally, professionally, or financially.

The status of professional victim sits well with the partner's tendency to punish herself. She feels comfortable in abusive situations.

She has, in other words, a masochistic streak.

The tormented life with the narcissist is just what she is after, and to her mind, just what she deserves.

In this respect, the partner is the mirror image of the narcissist.

By maintaining a symbolic relationship with him, by being totally dependent upon her source of masochistic supply, which the narcissist most reliably constitutes and most amply provides, the partner or spouse enhances certain traits and encourages certain behaviors which are at the very core of abusive narcissism.

The narcissist is never whole, without an adoring, submissive, available, self-denigrating, self-deprecating partner.

His very sense of superiority, omnipotence, omniscience, indeed, his false self depend on it.

His sadistic superego switches its attentions from himself, from the narcissist, in whom it provokes suicidal ideation, to the partner, thus finally obtaining an alternative source of sadistic satisfaction.

So we have a sadist and a masochist in a dyad.

It is through self-denial that the partner survives.

She denies her wishes, hopes, dreams, aspirations, sexual, psychological and material needs, choices, preferences, values, and much else besides.

She perceives her needs as threatening because they might engender the wrath of the narcissist's godlike supreme figure.

The narcissist is rendered in such a spouse's eyes even more superior, through and because of this self-denial.

Self-denial undertaken to facilitate and ease the life of a great man is more palatable and, by the way, more socially acceptable.

The greater the man, in other words, the narcissist, the easier it is for the partner to ignore her own self, to dwindle, to degenerate, to turn into an appendix of the narcissist, an extension of him, and finally to become nothing but an extension, to merge with the narcissist to the point of oblivion and of merely dim memories of herself.

The two, the narcissist and his spouse, collaborate in this dance macabre. The narcissist is formed by his partner inasmuch as he forms her.

Submission breeds superiority, masochism breeds sadism, relationships are characterized by emergentism, roles are allocated almost from the very start, and any deviation from the prescribed goals meets with an aggressive, even violent, reaction.

The predominant state of the partner's mind is utter confusion. Even the most basic relationships with husband, children or parents remain bafflingly obscured by the giant shadow cast by the intensive interaction with the narcissist.

A suspension of judgment is part and parcel of a suspension of individuality, which is both a prerequisite to and a result of living with the narcissist.

The partner no longer knows what is true and right, what is wrong and forbidden, who should she associate with and who should she avoid.

The narcissist recreates for the partner and in the partner the sort of emotional ambience that led to his own formation in the first place.

Capriciousness, fickleness, arbitraryness, emotional and physical or sexual abandonment, and finally abuse and violence. The world becomes hostile and ominous, and the partner has only one thing left to cling to, and that is a stable rock of the narcissist.

In cling she does. If there is anything which can safely be said about those who emotionally team up with narcissists is that they are overtly and overly dependent.

They are known in psychological jargon as co-dependence. The partner doesn't know what to do and this is only too natural in the mania that is a relationship with the narcissist.

But the typical partner also does not know what she wants and to a large extent who she is and what she wants to become.

These unanswered questions hamper the partner's ability to gorge reality.

Her primordial sin is that she fell in love with an image, not with a real person.

It is the voiding of the image that is mourned when the relationship ends.

The break-up of a relationship with a narcissist is therefore very emotionally charged for such victims.

It is the culmination of a long chain of humiliations, subjugation, self-delusion and self-deceit. It is the rebellion of the functioning and healthy parts of the partner's personality against the tyranny of the narcissist and his collaboration with the pathological paths, psychological paths in the victim.

The partner is likely to have totally misread, totally misinterpreted the whole interaction.

I hesitate to call it a relationship so I stick to the word interaction.

This lack of proper interface with reality might be erroneously labeled pathological but it is actually a form of self-denial.

Why is it that the partner seeks to prolong her pain? What is the source and purpose of this narcissistic streak?

Upon the break-up of the relationship, the partner, but not the narcissist who usually refuses to provide closure, engages in torturous and drawn-out post-mortem soul-searching.

We will, I discuss this issue of Danse Macabre, the pathology at the core and underlying the relationship in a video titled Danse Macabre of the narcissist and his partner. Stay tuned and be sure to watch it.

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Victim of Narcissist: Move On!

The narcissist lives in a world of ideal beauty, achievements, wealth, and success, denying his reality. The partner is perceived as a source of narcissistic supply, and the narcissist pathologizes and devalues them to rid themselves of guilt and shame. Moving on from a narcissistic relationship involves acknowledging and accepting painful reality, educating oneself, and gaining emotional sustenance, knowledge, support, and confidence. Forgiving is important, but it should not be a universal behavior, and no one should stay with a narcissist.

When Narcissists Become Codependents

Living with a narcissist can be harrowing, and the partner of the narcissist is often molded into the typical narcissist mate, partner, or spouse. The partner must have a deficient or distorted grasp of herself and of reality, and the cognitive distortion of the partner of the narcissist is likely to consist of belittling and demeaning herself while aggrandizing and adoring the narcissist. The narcissist is perceived by the partner to be a person in the position to demand these sacrifices from her. The breakup of the relationship with the narcissist is emotionally charged and is the culmination of a long chain of humiliations and subjugation.

Loving My Narcissist HURTS so much!

Loving a narcissist is a painful experience due to their lack of empathy, idealization followed by devaluation, and inability to truly connect with their partner. The narcissist's inaccessibility and indifference can be devastating, as they often discard their partners without any emotional reaction. This experience can leave the partner feeling shattered, questioning their own judgment and ability to trust themselves and others. Ultimately, the pain of loving a narcissist comes from grieving the loss of who they used to be and the potential of what could have been in the relationship.

Mourning the Narcissist

Victims of narcissistic abuse often struggle to let go of the idealized figure they fell in love with at the beginning of the relationship. When the relationship ends, they experience a cycle of bereavement and grief, including denial, rage, sadness, and acceptance. Denial can take many forms, including pretending the narcissist is still part of their lives or developing persecutory delusions. Rage can be directed at the narcissist, other facilitators of the loss, oneself, or be pervasive. Sadness is a paralyzing sensation that slows one down and enshrouds everything in the grave veil of randomness and chance. Gradual acceptance leads to renewed energy and the narcissist being transformed into a narrative, another life experience, or even a tedious cliché.

Shame, Guilt, Codependents, Narcissists, and Normal Folks

Shame motivates normal people and those suffering from cluster B personality disorders, but it motivates them differently. Shame constitutes a threat to normal people's true self, and it constitutes a threat to the false self of narcissism. There are two varieties of shame when we talk about narcissists in effect. There is narcissistic shame, which is the narcissist's experience of the grandiosity gap and its affective correlate. The greater the conflict between grandiosity and reality, the bigger the gap and the greater the narcissist's feelings of shame and guilt.

You! Be GRATEFUL, HONORED That Narcissist Lets You Serve, Witness Him (Sacrificial Entitlement)

The text discusses the concept of sacrificial entitlement in narcissists. It explains how narcissists believe they are sacrificing their divine qualities to be with their partners and expect gratitude and obedience in return. The text also delves into the narcissist's perspective on the breakup, viewing it as ingratitude from the partner. It highlights the narcissist's belief that they have given their partner everything and the partner's rejection is seen as a form of devaluation.

Narcissistic Abuse: From Victim to Survivor in 6 Steps

To move on from being a victim of narcissistic abuse, one must abandon the narcissist and move on. Moving on is a process that involves acknowledging and accepting painful reality, learning from the experience, and deciding to act. It is important to grieve and mourn the loss of trust and love, but perpetual grieving is counterproductive. Forgiveness is important, but it should not be a universal behavior. Human relationships are dynamic and require constant assessment. It is not advisable to remain friends with narcissists, as they are only nice and friendly when they want something. Inverted narcissists who remain in relationships with narcissists are victims who deny their own torment and fail to make the transition to survivors.

When YOU Discard the Narcissist FIRST

The text discusses the consequences of discarding a narcissist before they have a chance to devalue and discard you. It explains the potential outcomes of this action, such as narcissistic injury or mortification, and the subsequent behaviors of the narcissist, including seeking revenge or finding a replacement. The text also delves into the narcissist's internal processes and their need to complete the stages of grief and mourning for the disrupted shared fantasy.

Money: Narcissist's License to Abuse

Money is a love substitute for the narcissist, allowing them to be their corrupt selves and buy absolution, forgiveness, and acceptance. It is a license to sin and a permit to be unmitigated self. Money liberates the mind of the narcissist, allowing them to concentrate on attaining the desired position on top. The narcissist is addicted to money because it is the freedom not to behave in a way that is unbearable to them in the long run.

Narcissist: Confabulations, Lies

Confabulation is a common human trait, but the distinction between reality and fantasy is never lost. However, the narcissist's very self is a piece of fiction, concocted to fend off hurt and pain and to nurture the narcissist's grandiosity. The narcissist fails in his reality test and is unable to distinguish the actual from the imagined, the real from the fantasized. The narcissist's countenance, no disagreement, no alternative points of view, no criticism. To him, his confabulation is reality.

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