It’s Narcissist Friday!
Most people don’t realize they are in a narcissistic relationship until they understand that the relationship is one-sided. When you begin to see that you are the one who gives compliments, thanks, service, encouragement, or time, you wonder what is going on. A one-sided relationship is not a relationship.
Narcissists are users. They connect with you for what they can get. They maintain a connection for what they can get. They end that connection when they find someone else will give them more or better. That’s not a relationship.
Relationships are shared. Giving and getting. Reciprocation. Shared responsibilities and interests and participation.
King David was a man who knew how to love. Sadly, he was also a man who seemed to attract users. People attached themselves to him for what they could get. When it appeared they could do better elsewhere, with other loyalties, they turned away from him. He wrote, in Psalm 41,
Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. Psalm 41:9
He noticed the fact that he had supported his friend. He had loved him when he was in trouble. But the relationship only went one way.
Proverbs 17 says that a friend “loves at all times.” That’s both sides of the friendship. On the other hand, Proverbs 19:4 notes that “Wealth makes many friends but the poor is separated from his friend.” In other words, some people come around in friendship for what they can get. When they can’t get anything, they disappear. That’s not friendship.
I have been deeply grieved to read some of the things narcissists have said to spouses, children, and friends. “You’re too fat. I have found someone else.” “You have always been a disappointment to me. You should have been more like your sister.” “I never really loved you.” “I don’t need you anymore.” Yes, these are actual things narcissists have said. So cruel.
And victims wonder what happened. Where did this cruelty come from? But the narcissist simply doesn’t care. The pain they cause means nothing to them. They say these things to break the connection.
Friendships are important. Family is important. Community is important. We need these relationships, but narcissistic connections are not relationships. They are connections.
I know that’s sad. To say that a marriage is a connection. To say that a family is just a set of connections. So wrong. So sad. But that’s the truth for many people. A connection with a narcissist is not a relationship.
What does that mean for us? It means that we ought to have different expectations and responses. The normal things you and I expect in a relationship we should not expect in a narcissistic connection. Do not expect loyalty. Do not expect reciprocation. Do not expect what you call love. At the same time, there are things you should expect. Expect that the narcissist does not see you as a person. Expect to be used, exploited, for his purposes. Expect to have your needs and desires ignored unless they somehow align with his. Expect, as I said earlier, that the connection is one-sided.
The point of all this is that you should not feel guilt or shame when the connection breaks. It was not a mutual relationship. The break was not your fault. The fact that the connection was not satisfying for either of you was not your fault. If you had performed your side perfectly, it would have made no difference. It was not that kind of situation. You can work on a relationship, bolster or repair from your side with expectation that the other person will want the same. You can invest in a relationship. But a simple connection for the benefit of one side is not something you can fix.
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4 responses to “Defining Relationship”
So right on. I remember my ex telling our sons that they would never amount to anything, that they were too stupid, and of course, the things he said to me.
We never meant anything to him and we all carry the damage those words did to each of us. My boys to this day at the ages 28 & 25 still have a hard time not berating themselves or feeling they will even be good at anything.
I thank God I got away from him after 20 years, but carry the guilt and regret for not leaving sooner to rescue my sons from him. 😦
Thanks Pastor Dave! once again you have enlightened me on this subject! understanding that it’s a connection not a relationship!!! The other thing that I’m learning is that a marriage is a covenant not a contract… very helpful to understand the differences… thanks again!!!
Well stated Pastor Dave.
My husband of 37 years, who told me every day he loved me,told me two days afterour anniversary that he’d never loved me,was having anaffair, and wanted out. He moved out, had relationships with other women,and told me, “Because you had a love affair with Jesus, I’m justified in having affairs with other women.” YIKES! I know he’s seriously brain-disordered and no one but Jesdus can heal a brain that twisted and under-developed, and I’ve prayed for our Savior todo exactly that for the past 11 years. I know the one behind all of this,and I know I’m not battling flesh and blood, but the enemy of that man’s soul, so Lord Jesus, Yahweh Rapha, Elohai, get YOUR VICTORY over the demons who’ve devoured that man every way YOU can, for YOUR Glory, praise, and victory in him by the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ Name,Soli Deo Gloria, amehn!