It’s Narcissist Friday!
“But we used to share so much. We had intimate conversations and he told me all kinds of things about himself. I thought he was sharing his heart. What happened?”
I receive statements like this from time to time. Some even argue with me that their narcissist was empathic and giving of himself. They thought they knew him—until he turned on them. Then they met a person they hadn’t known before.
Some, of course, found out that it was all a lie. The real story was quite different. I have known wives who found out about his previous relationships because never-before-mentioned kids show up on the doorstep. The “dead” parents turn out to be very much alive. The ex-wife is actually a very nice person (and another victim). All of these things happen. Narcissists can be very good liars.
But more often the truth lies in the details of the conversations from the early days. Narcissists are predators of the heart. They know what to use as bait and they lure your heart to the surface. They listen carefully and know quickly what you want to hear. Then they say just the right things to spark excitement in your heart.
Along the way they tell you little. When the narcissist shares who he is, he is sharing who he wants to be or who he wants you to think he is. So there is nothing of his heart in what he shares. You think you are getting to know him, but you are only getting to know his image, what he wishes he was. He is very good at making this sound real. He has been able to get jobs and multiple relationships and many friends by sharing this story. He shares enough so that it is believable, but not enough so that he can be challenged.
But you. You needed someone to talk with and laugh with. You needed for someone to listen to your heart and hear your dreams and fears and frustrations. Those early conversations felt so good! You poured your heart into his hands and loved doing it. Something in you hesitated, but you pushed right past the caution because it felt so right.
A relationship with a narcissist is not a relationship of the heart. It is a one-sided affair where a hunter lures his prey out into the open with treats and pleasant sounds. The poor buck hears sounds of love and promise only to find that it was a trick. When the prey realizes what has happened, he learns that there never was a relationship or even a real offer. The hunter was only thinking about his next meal.
I know that sounds harsh. Some will readily agree with me. Others still feel love and compassion. I understand and not all of it is a lie. The narcissist did need you and you may even have learned a little about his pain and weakness. But whatever truth you learned was a cause of fear for him. Some of you were pushed away just because you knew too much. Others were just used and dumped. But some were not pushed away at all. He still needs you. He stills tries to draw you back where you can serve whatever needs he has.
Sadly, this can be translated into almost any kind of narcissistic relationship. The friend, the pastor, the wife, the sister, the parent—whoever your narcissist is, the heart connection may not be what you think or what you need. There may be no heart on the other side at all.
It isn’t that a narcissist has no heart. Like the Tin Man, the narcissist has repressed his heart so far that he is no longer able to find it himself. He only has access to the pretense and he thinks that’s his heart.