It’s Narcissist Friday!
Recently I shared in a response to a comment that I had been listening to “Killing Lincoln” by Bill O’Reilly as I walk. At one point he tells how John Wilkes Booth, shortly before going to Ford’s Theater to kill Lincoln, first visited the home of Lucy Hale. Lucy was a young lady particularly close to Booth’s heart and he had, at one time, considered asking her to marry him. When he learned that she was leaving the country and he would not see her again, he acted sad and asked her for a photograph he could keep to remember her beauty. Wealthy people had such photos and she gave him a small one to take with him. Since I am listening, you will have to accept an approximate quote here, “Booth put her photo in his shirt pocket, next to the photos of four other young ladies. The life of a narcissist is necessarily complicated.”
So many have experienced something like this. They finally find the strength to break away from their narcissist only to find that he has another lover in a matter of days, or that he already had another waiting. Or the narcissist pledges his undying love one day and introduces his new girlfriend the next. Some narcissists are more careful, of course, but some are blatantly promiscuous.
Most narcissists seem to move quickly from one relationship to another. Let’s look at a few reasons.
- Narcissists cannot acknowledge failure, even in a relationship. If you find the strength to move away from him, he will not risk feeling like a loser. He will find another relationship if only to prove that he is capable of attracting and holding another person. You are the loser for leaving such a desirable person—that’s what he wants you to think.
- Narcissists have real difficulty being alone. How can they get their narcissistic supply, the admiration and respect and loyalty, on their own? So they are driven to relationships. The new victim may not be as socially presentable as the last, but she will do until something better comes along.
- When a narcissist feels weak, he will turn on his super-power. He must control how others think of him. His super-power enables him to manipulate the hearts of people in such a way that he can draw an unhappy wife from her husband or a lonely single mom to trusting him with everything. He will even use the fact that you left him to make himself into a victim others want to help. Whatever it takes, he will succeed in getting a new relationship.
- For some narcissists, the reputation offered by multiple conquests is a drug of choice. Booth must have gloated over the five young women who consented to share their photos with him. He probably fantasized life with each of them or all of them. He believed himself to be better than others and wanted the recognition he felt he deserved. We can imagine him showing the photos to other men to prove his virility and superiority.
Sometimes the narcissist will simply write off the one who left or the one he rejected. He just moves on to another and you are forgotten. Everything that was shared is shown to be phony. It was never about you.
And, sometimes, the narcissist tries very hard to get the one who left to come back to him. He cannot believe that you are happy without him. He cannot forgive you for making him feel and look weak. If he can get you to come back, to admit your error or sin, then he will be victorious.
I want to call this “commitment conquest.” The idea is that the narcissist feeds off the commitment of others. It might be that you are a lover, but you may be a friend or a family member. When you find that you are committed to someone who has no apparent commitment back to you or who uses your relationship in strange and self-serving ways, you might be connected with a narcissist.
You see, narcissists don’t see others as people, even those who are closest to them. They see everyone as a toy, tool, or obstacle. No wonder their victims feel rage.