It’s Narcissist Friday!
Aretha Franklin sang it:
I ain’t gonna do you wrong, while you’re gone
Ain’t gonna do you wrong (ooh) ’cause I don’t want to (ooh)
All I’m askin’ (ooh)
Is for a little respect when you come home (just a little bit)
Baby (just a little bit), when you get home (just a little bit)
Yeah (just a little bit)
Just a little respect. But narcissists don’t respect people. They manipulate people, curry favor with people, use people, and may even hate people, but they don’t respect anyone.
To respect someone, you have to see that person separate from yourself and with value separate from you. In other words, their value cannot be simply in what they do for you or can do for you.
To respect is to look at a person in a way that acknowledges a value in that person apart from you.
In the past, I have written that narcissists see others as tools, toys, or obstacles. While the carpenter might appreciate the quality of his tools, he would hardly say that he respects them. They exist for his use. If they fail him, he simply discards them and find others. The child treats her toys in the same way. Their value comes from the purpose they serve in her life.
It could be said that a person might respect an opponent who presents an obstacle, I suppose, but only until that obstacle is overcome. The narcissist sees obstacles as enemies to be destroyed. Once the enemy is overcome, there is nothing more to respect. The only purpose for an obstacle is to make the narcissist look good in overcoming it.
The point here is that when the narcissist categorizes people in his or her life, respect has nothing to do with it. It might appear that the narcissist respects certain people if they are in authority or if they offer something he needs. There might be an action or attitude that seems like respect, but it will be part of the manipulation.
How will you know this? By listening to the things said about that person. The narcissist will almost always have something about the person to criticize. “He is a great salesman, but did you see that tie?” “She has a beautiful house, but so would I if you made more money.” In front of the person, the narcissist is gracious and submissive. These negative words come later.
Of course, most people will not even get that much respect from the narcissist. Most of us, regular people, only get noticed when we are in the way or are useful. And then it isn’t respect that we get. We get criticism, or demands, or lectures, or manipulations, or whatever it takes to get us to do what they want.
Why doesn’t the narcissist respect people? Because he/she doesn’t see others as separate. Depersonalizing others is a key part of the narcissist’s life. There is no empathy, no regard for people as individuals. Others only have value in connection with a purpose in the narcissist’s life. If that value is finished, or if the person fails, the narcissist is able to discard the relationship and move on.
And remember: being the reason for the narcissist’s failure or weakness serves a purpose. That means the narcissist might not discard someone who fails if that person can be used as an excuse. “I thought Bill would be able to make this work, but now he has let me down again.”
For the narcissist, control is everything. In the mind of the narcissist, two types of people are under his/her influence: deceived people or intimidated people. They are either less intelligent or weaker than the narcissist. In order to be useful, people have to be under control. Anyone under control deserves no respect from the narcissist. Anyone not under control is either useless or an obstacle.
Once again, the truth hurts. Who wants to be with someone who doesn’t have respect for others? Who wants their value only in their ability to be “useful”? Where is love and respect? Not with the narcissist.
Sometimes I don’t like writing these things. I know they hurt. At the same time, they answer questions. If this is what you are seeing in your relationship, you may be dealing with a narcissist. If that’s the case, then at least you are beginning to understand the battle you are in.