It’s Narcissist Friday!
I just listened to an excellent message on how the Law is based on demand, while grace is based on supply. According to the Law, God demands our obedience and service. Under grace, God supplies everything that is expected of us.
It struck me that this idea of supply and demand is a core problem in narcissistic relationships. The narcissists demand, and we are supposed to supply. But that isn’t what they think is happening. They think they are the ones who are giving. That’s why they demand.
Think about it. How many times have you heard your narcissist say something like, “After all I have done”? (Never mind that he/she hasn’t done much of anything.) The narcissist sees most relationships as deals. He may only be blessing you with his presence, but you are supposed to keep your side of some kind of bargain.
Narcissists almost always believe they deserve our attention, praise, service, generosity. Somehow, they think they have provided something for us. If we fail to reciprocate, they become angry. Part of the nearly constant anger of the narcissist is this feeling that he/she deserves more and is being slighted.
This allows the narcissist to see what is yours as his. This allows her to take your position, your secrets, your kindness—to use for her own purposes. After all, look at what she has done for you. You owe the narcissist. This is the way the narcissist reasons.
Now, I know. You can’t see anything he/she has done for you. Or anything you think of has long ago been “paid back.” But remember that the narcissist doesn’t see us as individual people with value and needs. The narcissist only knows that he/she feels cheated—all the time. He might be angry with the boss, but you are supposed to supply his needs. She might be angry with her parents, but you are supposed to take care of her.
This is why you always lose. You give a gift and the narcissist thinks two things: “It’s about time!” and “What am I expected to do now?” A simple gracious “thank-you” seems to be foreign to a narcissist. Instead, the gift somehow fits into this business deal mentality. The narcissist always knows the cost of a gift. It will either be less than he/she deserves, or it will require something from him/her. The narcissist hates feeling like he is in debt, yet always believes others owe him. So, even when you give the supply he/she demands, you still lose.
There is no choice in a business deal. If you take something out of a business deal, you are required to put something in. Buying groceries means you spend money. Simple. Being with the narcissist means serving. Simple—to the narcissist. The formality and “law” of the deal help the narcissist feel better about himself. Anything he receives from others is only what is expected.
Frankly, I think this is a terrible way to live. Always angry. Always hurt. Always looking for more. Never satisfied. Never truly grateful. Yes, that’s what it’s like to be the narcissist.
Of course, we all want our contributions to be noticed and valued. It hurts when they are not considered worthy. But most of us don’t do things for the sake of return. We don’t think in terms of supply and demand. Life is not a business deal for us, nor are our relationships. We give because we love. The narcissist knows nothing of that.
Narcissist relationships are like one-sided agreements. Like the harsh and cruel god of the legalists, they demand and we must supply. Under grace, there is no demand, just need—and love supplies. Get your head around that!