It’s Narcissist Friday!
Narcissists are cheaters. They cheat at big things and little things. Any advantage that will make them look smarter or superior in any way, they will take.
Actually, I am surprised this is not one of the nine clinical characteristics of the narcissist. Maybe it’s because others cheat as well, but I suspect all narcissists cheat. It may also be that cheating is not longer seen as a negative in an increasingly narcissistic culture.
You see, the narcissist is superior in his/her own mind. The rules don’t apply to them. They can choose what rules to follow and what rules to ignore. Things like speed limits, truth in advertising, accurate tax returns, and fair play are for other people. People who are not superior.
Almost everyone who has ever played a game with a narcissist has seen this. Unless the narcissist is actually superior in something, he will cheat. Your ball was out, he says. She will peek at your cards. The piece was to be moved seven places, but somehow the narcissist moved eight. He did “one more” push-up than you. Little dumb things. Some have said their narcissist even cheated while playing games with the kids.
So cheating in marriage, cheating on a resume, cheating a customer or client, or cheating in politics—all are just fun for the narcissist. Breaking the rules brings a rush to the narcissist. The fear of getting caught is nothing compared to the feeling of being superior.
You were taught that cheating proves nothing. The narcissist learned that cheating proves he is better. You were taught that cheaters always lose in the long run. The narcissist learned that tomorrow’s potential loss pales in the light of today’s win. You were taught that cheating was bad. The narcissist learned that silly moral standards keep you from being a winner.
The old word for someone who sees themselves as above the rules was “scofflaw.” A scofflaw laughed at the limits people placed on themselves. Arguments of fairness and safety meant nothing to the scofflaw. The word came out of Prohibition times. It actually came from a contest to pick a name for people who continued to drink when alcohol was illegal.
What happens when the narcissist is told not to do something? He almost has to find a way to do it. It might be drinking or stealing or parking in a certain place. The narcissist will stretch the rule to its absolute limit, and then just a little more. Just because the authorities don’t realize that the rules are for others, doesn’t mean the narcissist has to keep them. He will find a way.
Now, you might know a narcissist who knows every rule and insists that everyone must keep them all. He will make a big show of keeping them, but he will cheat. In some place, some hidden area, he will break the rules—just to prove to himself that he is superior. If we have learned anything over the past few years, we have learned that the strongest Bible-thumping preacher has secret sins. He cheats.
And everyone in the narcissist’s life knows this to be true. “Grandpa cheats!” the kids say. You stopped playing games with that friend a long time ago. The other workers hide their lunches or their client lists because they know what happens. The people at the gym don’t argue anymore when the narcissist claims more chin-ups or says the ball was out. People only play with the narcissist because they have to, or because they don’t know any better.
And if the narcissist is caught? “It was just a joke!” “I was just seeing if you could catch me.” “I would have won anyway.” “No, that’s not true!” “You are just whining because you lost.” “You were the one cheating.” You have probably heard all of those.
You see, even in little things, the narcissist must make himself feel superior.