The Narcissist doesn’t know you

It’s Narcissist Friday!

When we were kids we tried to figure out ways to sleep in school while appearing to be awake and listening.  You know what I mean.  Elbow on desk, head propped on hand, eyes sort of open, mind somewhere else.  It was far more important to appear to be listening than it was to actually listen.  But, if you wanted to be successful in this, you had to be alert enough to catch clues.  If the teacher called on you, you had to be able to answer.

I know people who enter into a discussion and appear to be listening.  They can parrot back your words, but they haven’t been thinking about what you are saying.  Instead, they are thinking about their response or their next point.  These people listen for clues to your argument, things they can use to make their case.

If you want to know someone, you have to listen to them.  If you want to know about someone, you just have to listen for clues.

Narcissists present an interesting contrast of both listening and not listening.  They appear to be very attentive early in a relationship and learn great amounts of useful information about the person they are with.  Their victims assume that their heart issues are being heard.  The more the narcissist appears to listen, the better the victim feels about being heard.

But later in the relationship the victim wonders how the narcissist could not know certain things.  “He used the nickname I said hurt me so much!”  “He didn’t seem to know when my birthday was.”  “She never really knew why my work was so hard.”  Things come out that reveal the truth.  The narcissist never really listened.  He or she just gathered information, clues, to manipulate you.

This past week in the blog we have been talking about losing our selves.  Anyone who has been in a narcissistic relationship understands how the self can be lost.  When a person connects with a narcissist, the narcissist doesn’t see the self.  The narcissist only sees something to use.  He will listen for the sake of using, not for the sake of knowing.  Your self doesn’t matter.

I knew a lady who, when a girl, walked by a store front with her mother and admired a certain dress.  She told her mom how much she liked the dress and wished she could have it.  The mom heard her and tucked the information away.  A couple of weeks later, mom gave the dress as a gift to the lady’s sister.  I counseled the lady thirty years later.  She had never forgotten the pain of that betrayal.

This did not happen because mom wanted to be cruel.  She listened to all the positives of the dress, but not to the heart of her daughter.  It very likely never entered the mom’s mind that she would hurt her daughter by giving the dress to the sister.  The truth was that she only appeared to listen.

Sometimes the victim is so deeply connected to the narcissist that the narcissist’s perspective becomes her own.  She begins to lose her self because it never seems to matter anyway.  The only thing that matters is the narcissist.  Just like a legalistic system, the narcissist chafes against anything that challenges his way.  So the victim, to keep peace, learns to ignore the disagreements of her heart and loses her self in the process.

I believe that the self can be regained simply by exercise.  Setting boundaries, identifying your likes and dislikes, valuing your time and energy, and separating yourself from the person the narcissist wants you to be.  It might take little steps and it might be hard work at first, especially if you continue in relationship with the narcissist, but it will pay off.  Find people who like you just for you—who don’t try to fix you or make you what they want—and enjoy their company, no matter how different from you they are.  You will be surprised at what you find in your self.  There’s something special there!



Filed under Narcissism

6 responses to “The Narcissist doesn’t know you

  1. Angela

    That is exactly how it is, thanks again for being right on.
    Here is another example of not being listened to,- we were talking about what our parents died of, I told him my mother died of breast cancer, and that it was in my family. He laughed and said not to worry- he would “check” me daily. This was flirting to him.

    I had a friend years ago, a new immigrant- that told me she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I was shocked and asked about surgery. She was horrified, and said she would never get surgery because she didn’t want to be “just an empty hole for her husband”.
    BE an empty hole????!!!! When I told my husband about this, all he said was, “it’s not your business, leave their marriage alone.”

  2. Kelly

    Yes it is hard to understand as a non-narcissist how they can collect data not for relationship building but tearing down at worst. It was really hard to come to grips with the fact that I was data and not a human. They de-humanize people and that’s how they can hurt you with no conscience whatsoever. I honestly find their plight to be so tragic. What could be worse than to go around as a robot using people and never getting to the heart of anything.

  3. Annie

    So good to read these comments and know that I wasnt alone alone in this. The personal information I gave to him was twisted and turned back in so many way. In the end I began to doubt what I’d said in the first place. The only good thing about having counselling with him well after I left was that I was myself enough to see clearly how he was manipulating even the relationship counsellor with his twists and lies. It would have been funny had it not been part of the pain. God showed me the truth during this time, finally leading to a very aggressive outburst, more lies and I ended it forever.

  4. gracias69

    Yes, isn’t it great to know we are not alone. I too am totally dependent on God and he has showed me the truth; he loves me and would not want me to be involved with this man; however I am on this blog to see if this man is narcissistic.
    I met him one year ago at a Grief group. He immediately wanted to be a friend with the counselor, saying how wonderful she was; almost putting her on a pedestal and pursued her friendship. This was a small group in a small town and she became friends with him – not very professional. He wanted more help from her and he was a help to her as she is older than him. I am 79, a widow and I was lonely. I also became a friend with both of them – still friends with her. She still thinks he is nice and I guess he is to her! I would love, love to tell her how he was to me but she probably would not believe it. But I would never be vindictive because I know God. But sometimes I would surely like to be.

    This man and I had about 9 months of friendship and I thought he was a great guy. I have two wonderful boys who are always telling me to be so careful and so supportive to me. He wanted me to wait until he had solved problems and got over the death of his wife. I could not do that – I did not know him well enough. However, we did finally get together first in a friendship and then it became romantic (not sexual; but talked about it some day) He was same age as I. I am young-acting and look fairly good for my age and am definitely interested in romance. Anyway, this is what happened with this guy I thought was great, with nice friends, and I had known him a long time. A take-care type of guy who told me I was the only woman he was interested in!!

    At Christmas he brought me two lovely gifts and we went out, had fun. He could be very funny and liked to make me laugh. BUT, Immediately after a day or two he called: “I’m sorry, but I have problems to take care of (wouldn’t tell me what they were) and still feeling bad about my wife – we have to break up!. He spoke of his wife highly and I was very impressed. I had been depressed and lonely, but doing well, but when that happened it threw me into anxiety again and back on a medication. But I did recover fairly quickly, off of med and went on with my life which is full. I still lap swim, practice yoga, and am a Hospice volunteer. I have many people I know who like me and friends at church are very supportive. But no close attachments – just lonely. I told nobody about him but my sister and one other friend. I wanted to be sure it was really a relationship before I told anyone.

    Than after several months he called again. I liked him so well and was lonely;I was happy and agreed to see him again. I did not really know what was going on. I made a mistake. While we were at the restaurant, he said he had re-thought things and thought he was ready to see me- after we had decided to only be friends. That was a shock. He just reacted to seeing me again. We did go to movie that night and he said aloud: “The emptiness h been filled.” Then the same thing happened again. He called and said that several things came down on him and we had to completely break up and he hung up. I was so puzzled I called him but he never answered phone, and worse of all never explained anything. I was so very angry and let him know it by leaving messages. But not doing that anymore. Once I saw him at Senior Center and he was very cold and angry. I realized then he was a man who could not stand closeness or intimacy. But after doing some reading about hot and cold men I wondered if he is also narcissistic because of several things he said. ” Once he said: I I can turn feelings on and off, learned to do that a long time ago.” He said he was very private and wanted to keep our relationship quiet! Oh yes! Also told me that he tends to withdraw from people. So, now I know he is probably a damaged individual. Do you feel he is narc? He told me things, but got very upset when I told him I thought he may be depressed. This toxic man really got me in a whirlwind. I am finally better and I know I made big mistakes – pursuing him for too long. My son said that he thinks he just wanted someone to fill up his emptiness – that he cared nothing about me. Did he think about me at all??? I am soo afraid of another relationship but would like one and still sad about what happened with someone I liked so well. I am moving soon to Independent Living Center. The main thing I learned about myself is that I need to know somebody a lot better before I get too involved. I was married for 55 years to a man who loved me so much and I loved him. I am a newcomer to this world of dating. Can you give me any info about whether he is a narcissist?. What I do not understand is that he was so open to me about some things. Do you think he knows what his problems are? Really would like an answer to that surprising thing.
    How do people get along in this world without God? Peace and grace to you as Paul would say.

  5. Annette

    Thank you for your exercises to regain the self. Thank you for not saying that we have to hate and mortify our selves. For victims of narcissists this is not helpful because all they have ever known is that they were not allowed to exist as a person.

    “This did not happen because mom wanted to be cruel. … It very likely never entered the mom’s mind that she would hurt her daughter by giving the dress to the sister.” If this mother was a malignant narcissist, she may well have set out to deliberately hurt her daughter. While narcissists are obsessed with their image, malignant narcissists additionally go out of their way to hurt others just for fun.

    A few years ago an aunt of mine had to move to a retirement home because of Alzheimer’s, but she couldn’t take all her stuff with her. My mother asked me whether I would like to take the piano, and I said yes. She then proceeded to offer it to everybody else in the family. After they declined, she tried to sell it to a piano dealer, all the while making sure to rub in my face whatever she was doing. Eventually I found out that she had told the other relatives that I didn’t want the piano. I did get the piano in the end though thanks to the intervention of some other relatives.

    This incident served as a reminder of how sadistic malignant narcissists are. Their children learn to hide their needs and wants because showing them would be tantamount to inviting abuse. Finding out what someone wants, particularly the narcissist’s child/children, and then making it a point to withhold precisely that (or giving it to someone else) is a pattern I’ve read about in numerous texts on narcissism after living through it during my entire childhood.

    “Sometimes the victim is so deeply connected to the narcissist that the narcissist’s perspective becomes her own.” I have noticed that a relative of mine often voices the opinions of her narcissistic husband even when I know they’re really inconsistent with her own. It seems she has been married to him for so long that she lost herself. The tendency of the contemporary church to encourage/coerce wives to replace God with their husbands may well have contributed to that.

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