Tag Archives: narcissism epidemic

Dating a Narcissist?

It’s Narcissist Friday!    

(This blog continually attracts new readers.  With somewhere around two hundred posts on narcissism and narcissistic relationships, it can be challenging for anyone to really use this material.  The search function works very well, if you know what to ask for.  Otherwise, we will all have to wait as the blog posts are sorted and categorized in preparation for a new (and exciting!) website.  So for the next few weeks, I want to dig back into the archives to pull out some of the posts that seemed most helpful over the last few years.  Please feel free to comment.)


I had wanted to write something to provide to parents, particularly parents of daughters, to help them discern if the person their child is dating could be a narcissist.  Obviously, that’s a tall order – since not all narcissists are the same.  Then I found this and I doubt that I could have written it better.  Take your daughter (or son) through this and see how the questions are answered.  Or just give it to her/him and see what happens.  The webpage, on which you will find more, is at the end:

Is there anything you can do to avoid abusers and narcissists to start with?
Are there any warning signs, any identifying marks, rules of thumbs to shield
you from the harrowing and traumatic experience of an abusive relationship?

Imagine a first or second date. You can already tell if he is a would-be
abuser. Here’s how:

Perhaps the first telltale sign is the abuser’s alloplastic defenses – his tendency to blame every mistake of his, every failure, or mishap on others, or on the world at large. Be tuned: does he assume personal
responsibility? Does he admit his faults and miscalculations? Or does he keep
blaming you, the cab driver, the waiter, the weather, the government, or fortune
for his predicament?

Is he hypersensitive, picks up fights, feels constantly slighted, injured,
and insulted? Does he rant incessantly? Does he treat animals and children
impatiently or cruelly and does he express negative and aggressive emotions
towards the weak, the poor, the needy, the sentimental, and the disabled? Does
he confess to having a history of battering or violent offenses or behavior? Is
his language vile and infused with expletives, threats, and hostility?

Next thing: is he too eager? Does he push you to marry him having dated you
only twice? Is he planning on having children on your first date? Does he
immediately cast you in the role of the love of his life? Is he pressing you for
exclusivity, instant intimacy, almost rapes you and acts jealous when you as
much as cast a glance at another male? Does he inform you that, once you get
hitched, you should abandon your studies or resign your job (forgo your personal

Does he respect your boundaries and privacy? Does he ignore your wishes (for
instance, by choosing from the menu or selecting a movie without as much as
consulting you)? Does he disrespect your boundaries and treats you as an object
or an instrument of gratification (materializes on your doorstep unexpectedly or
calls you often prior to your date)? Does he go through your personal belongings
while waiting for you to get ready?

Does he control the situation and you compulsively? Does he insist to ride in
his car, holds on to the car keys, the money, the theater tickets, and even your
bag? Does he disapprove if you are away for too long (for instance when you go
to the powder room)? Does he interrogate you when you return (“have you seen
anyone interesting”) – or make lewd “jokes” and remarks?
Does he hint that, in future, you would need his permission to do things – even as innocuous as meeting a friend or visiting with your family?

Does he act in a patronizing and condescending manner and criticizes you
often? Does he emphasize your minutest faults (devalues you) even as he
exaggerates your talents, traits, and skills (idealizes you)? Is he wildly
unrealistic in his expectations from you, from himself, from the budding
relationship, and from life in general?

Does he tell you constantly that you “make him feel” good? Don’t be
impressed. Next thing, he may tell you that you “make” him feel bad, or that you
make him feel violent, or that you “provoke” him. “Look what you made me do!” is an abuser’s ubiquitous catchphrase.

Thanks and acknowledgements to Sam Vaknin, author of “Malignant Self-Love“.  The webpage where the above is found is:



Filed under Narcissism

I see you!

 It’s Narcissist Friday!  

(I am aware that this blog continually attracts new readers.  With somewhere around two hundred posts on narcissism and narcissistic relationships, it can be challenging for anyone to really use this material.  The search function works very well, if you know what to ask for.  Otherwise, we will all have to wait as the blog posts are sorted and categorized in preparation for a new (and exciting!) website.  So for the next few weeks, I want to dig back into the archives to pull out some of the posts that seemed most helpful over the last few years.  Please feel free to comment.)



Okay, I may be the last person in the US to watch the Avatar movie.  I watched it last week.  No particular comments on the movie.  But there was one thing that stood out and I think I will remember for a long time.  When the people wanted to communicate real connection, they said, “I see you.”

A couple of weeks ago I had an encounter with one of the narcissists in my life.  I have to limit the details because I don’t even want to come close to identifying him.  I was visiting with two friends when the narcissist came up to me (most likely to see why I was there—this was his turf).  He put his hand on my shoulder and I turned and we exchanged greetings.  So far, so good.  It lasted about a minute.  After very brief conversation, he began to berate the two friends with whom I had been speaking.  He spoke so negatively about them that I was afraid of what they would think.  Apparently they were (or pretended to be) in conversation themselves and didn’t hear what he said.

Now, the narcissist couldn’t have missed the fact that someone was standing with me.  He should have known them by name and position.  The only thing I can figure out is that he simply didn’t see them as anything important to him at the moment.  After his statements, he looked up at the clock and said that it was slow.  Then he walked away without a further word to me.

So, what happened?  He didn’t see them; at least not in the sense the Avatar movie uses the phrase.  Because his mind was on what he was saying, because he was positioning and preening, because he didn’t know if I was still a threat to him, he didn’t pay any attention to the people standing nearest to him.  He sent the same message to me when he walked away without finishing the conversation.  Once his little purpose was over, he moved on to the next opportunity to make himself look important.

You say, Dave, didn’t you try to defend your friends?  Didn’t you try to fix the situation?  Nope.  As I often am around narcissists, I was dumbfounded.  What had happened was so far from anything I saw as normal that it took me a few moments to understand it.  By that time, the opportunity had passed.

This is what the narcissist is like.  Others are not important until they are important to him.  He simply doesn’t see them.



Filed under Narcissism, Relationship, Uncategorized

Narcissism, Egotism, and Egoism

It’s Narcissist Friday!

(I am aware that this blog continually attracts new readers.  With somewhere around two hundred posts on narcissism and narcissistic relationships, it can be challenging for anyone to really use this material.  The search function works very well, if you know what to ask for.  Otherwise, we will all have to wait as the blog posts are sorted and categorized in preparation for a new (and exciting!) website.  So for the next few weeks, I want to dig back into the archives to pull out some of the posts that seemed most helpful over the last few years.  Please feel free to comment.)

I am about to finish “The Mirror Effect” by Dr. Drew Pinsky.  This book and “The Narcissism Epidemic” by Twenge and Campbell present a culture that is increasingly focused on the antics and philosophies of self-centered people.  Both books have something important to say, if for no other reason than to present the reality of the lives of the people Hollywood seems to find entertaining.  But, in my opinion, both books somewhat misrepresent narcissism and get it mixed up with a couple of other concepts.

The first is egotism.  Egotism is defined as excessively talking about oneself.  It reminds me of the country song, “I Wanna Talk About Me” by Toby Keith.  Egotists are focused on themselves and can hardly take the time to listen or care about others.  Now, I think someone taught them that this was the way life was.  The children of Hollywood often learn that they are the center of attention wherever they go.  People watch to see what hair style they choose, what clothes they wear, or what music they enjoy.  They are surrounded by admirers and sycophants all their lives.  Add to that the drug culture and the suggestion that drug use causes a stoppage of emotional growth at whatever age it begins and you have Martin Sheen saying that his son, Charlie, is still emotionally a child.  Children are supposed to grow out of egotism and into community.  In our culture, many do not.

Not all egotists are in Hollywood, but most are simply what we used to call spoiled children.  They need to be taught that life isn’t centered on them, no one really cares about their bodily functions, and the world doesn’t owe them either financial or psychological care.  If it wasn’t politically incorrect, I would suggest that many of them simply need a good spanking and an introduction to the real world.

The second word is very similar—egoism.  Egoism (note the loss of the letter “t”) is a philosophy that believes all personal action is fundamentally from self-interest.  Egoists believe that self-interest is the only valid reason for anyone doing anything.  So, according to this philosophy, those who go to war voluntarily do so for selfish reasons.  They may want recognition and are willing to take the risk or they may see a significant positive even in some kind of martyrdom.  Those who give generously to causes would have expectations of some kind of payback.  Those who are kind actually serve themselves.

Egoists have determined their philosophy after a certain jaded look at the world around them.  They see kindness and sacrifice and notice that many of those who do these things have self-interests.  They conclude that self-interest is the primary cause of all such actions and they accept that conclusion as valid.  A change of thinking may be as simple as meeting someone who actually knows how to love.

But narcissism is something quite different.  The narcissist is afraid and is driven to control, to manipulate, to abuse others, by his fear.  Whereas the egotist barely has any idea that there could be something about him that you would dislike, the narcissist is convinced that you would reject him completely if he ever let you close enough to know the truth.  The narcissist needs more than constant attention, he needs constant approval, and he will do almost anything to get it.

Of course, there are overlaps in these definitions.  The egotist may well be betraying a core of narcissistic need.  The narcissist would be the epitome, the ideal, of some form of egoism.  But it is generally helpful to remember that there are distinctions between the concepts.



Filed under Narcissism, Relationship

More Books

It’s Narcissist Friday!

Since we have had several things on the general narcissism topic this past week, it seems like time for more books.

Where Egos Dare, Dean B. McFarlin and Paul D. Sweeney, Kogan Page, London, 2000.

Narcissistic leaders are found in almost every profession and organization.  They feed on the sense of accomplishment and glory that can come with leadership and they often claim credit for the work of others.  Identifying them and dealing with them is the subject of this book. 

Why Is It Always About You?, Sandy Hotchkiss, Free Press,  New York, 2003.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is the label given to a certain set of characteristics by psychologists.  Hotchkiss takes the major points of the NPD symptoms and explains them in an easy-to-read book that I found to be very helpful.  This would be a good book for beginning a serious study of the issue.  The author presents strategies for dealing with narcissists and explains how and why people got that way.

Trapped In The Mirror, Elan Golomb, Quill William Morrow, New York, 1992.

Children of narcissistic parents have peculiar struggles that a counselor may not recognize at the outset.  These people often believe they have no value or even any real existence.  They also often grow up to become narcissists themselves.  Golomb writes to explain the narcissistic parent and the lasting effect on adult children.  The book is a series of case study stories that give a look at particular problems. 

Help! I’m In Love With A Narcissist, Steven Carter and Julia Sookol,M. Evans & Co., New York, 2005.

Narcissism does its greatest damage to the people who are drawn into close relationship with the narcissist.  Why do some people find themselves in love with these hurtful people?  Why do these people hurt others?  Through many case stories, the authors attempt to answer these and other questions about narcissism in relationships.

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Children of Narcissists


It’s Narcissist Friday!

Imagine being raised by a narcissist… 

Unfortunately, many people don’t have to imagine at all.  They have lived that life.  And many don’t understand what happened to them.

I have neither the time nor the expertise to write the kind of help the children of narcissists need.  However, I can tell you what happened and that may be a place to begin healing.  After you read this, you may want to follow up with books like “Children of the Self-Absorbed” by Nina Brown, or “The Mirror Effect” by Drew Pinsky (the final chapters of this book are quite helpful).  Then you may want to find someone to talk with, someone who understands narcissism.

So, what happened?  Step back for a moment and think about your parent(s), particularly the one(s) that fit the narcissistic characteristics we have discussed here.  Let’s pick on Mom.  Mom cares very deeply, on a true heart level . . .  about her own image.  What, you thought I might say “about you?”  No, that wouldn’t describe a narcissist.  She cares about what others think of her.  She got married for that reason.  When she got pregnant, she pictured herself as the center of attention and just knew that her baby would cause people to say “ooh” and “aah.”  She would be the envy of the neighborhood and the extended family.

So, the baby probably was never really seen as a separate person.  You were just an extension of her.  Praise given to you was hers.  Attention given to you was hers as well.  Because the narcissist has an inability to empathize with others, you got attention from her only when she was affected by you.  In other words, only when you brought her something positive or something negative.  The rest of the time you just were not that important.  Not exactly real. 

Think about this.  When you did something good, she felt praised and important.  When you did something bad, you were a threat to her image.  The same mother could tell you how special you were and treat you like a prince or princess—and then cuss you out or degrade you for some minor infraction.  You might have worn the most expensive clothes, because you were so special.  But when you got those clothes dirty, you were an ungrateful little wretch.  But you were only three and you didn’t understand.  You didn’t know whether you were special or disgusting, worthy of praise or a disgrace to the family. 

Children of narcissists grow up without foundations.  They never quite know where they stand with people.  Sometimes that becomes their primary concern in life, what people think of them, and they carry the narcissism into the next generation.  Sometimes, so weakened in personal resolve and value, they become supply/food for other narcissists. 

What do you do now?  First, understand that it was never about you.  You were used and abused.  Read the books I mentioned and seek out some help.  It will help.

There is so much that could be said about this.  I apologize for keeping it short, but it could be very long.  In my experience, when the father is a narcissist, look for religious legalism.  His image is reflected by the behavior of his family.  Bottom line: it isn’t about the kids.  The kids are just normal kids who grew up with narcissistic parents. 

There is a love that is beyond the love of parents, more foundational, more important.  That love is there for you.  It has never changed.  You are acceptable to Jesus.  He does love you.



Filed under Legalism, Narcissism, Relationship