Playing games with narcissists | Rebecca Jane

One of the most fascinating and requested subjects to discuss in mental health over the last year has been the rise of narcissism.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 12:30 pm
Rebecca Jane

Everyone appears mesmerized by the subject in some form or another.

At some point in our lives, most of us have been touched by a narcissist, and some of us have been destroyed too.

The questions are, what is a narcissist, how do we know when we’re playing with one, how the heck do we avoid them and how do you get rid of one!?

Let’s start by clearing the air. Narcissism is a personality disorder.

One that materialises by being incredibly self-centered, superior, arrogant, having an excessive need for attention and admiration, having a lack of empathy for others.

They can be cocky, manipulative, patronizing and highly demanding. Sounds wonderful, right!?

You’ll find that most entrepreneurs or people who are successful in business have a degree of narcissism.

A ruthless and mildly callous streak can be beneficial in certain circumstances.

You’ll struggle to find a narcissist that is walked over in a working environment, the trait gives them a passion and deep desire to climb to the top.

Whilst narcissism is a great topic to understand, letting a person with a deeply narcissistic personality into your life can also be soul destroying, turn your life upside down and have grave consequences.

Welcome to the four types of narcissist.

A grandiose narcissist is an exhibitionist who seeks limelight. They have exceptionally high self-esteem despite the pain they cause others. Nothing will knock themselves from their own pedestal.

Vulnerable narcissism is a little more difficult to spot. Self-absorbed, unempathetic, manipulative and aggressive people. They fear being criticised so much that they shy away from the attention seeking traits of a grandiose narcissist. This type of narcissist is usually unhappy with the life they lead and have deep insecurity, but they mask it like their life depends on it.

A communal narcissist is one of the most recent diagnoses. These types of narcissists want your warmth and agree with everything they say, they don’t love to be challenged. A grandiose narcissist wants you to see them as intelligent and powerful, but a communal narcissist wants you to see them as trustworthy, helpful and giving. Their seemingly selfless behaviour exists only to feed their own ego. Their power and energy source comes from the praise and admiration you give them from being nothing short of a marta.

A malignant narcissist is cruel, aggressive and callous. Paranoid, immoral and at times sadistic. Bordering on psychotic behaviour traits. They thrive on destruction and bringing everyone around them down.

A person with a narcissistic personality can fluctuate between all four ego states, and they will not operate within one state the entire time. Spotting the type of narcissist you’re playing with can often be difficult to identify.

Whilst it may often be difficult to sympathise with a narcissist, it’s important to remember that these traits have all come from somewhere. Deep and early childhood beliefs about themselves that plague them on a daily basis. Fear of abandonment as a child, people having control over them - especially the opposite sex. Possibly because of behaviour or incidents they have witnessed in childhood. Ultimately, occasionally, it is possible to see past their destructive behaviour and love the person for the insecurity and trauma they may have faced that has created such a deeply flawed character.

How do you survive a narcissist? That is the golden question.

Cutting off a narcissist cold turkey often has the opposite effect. Their deep self absorption will only make them want to ‘go bigger’ in their ploy to win you over. Extreme statements will start coming from their mouths. ‘I can’t live without you’, ‘you are the love of my life’, ‘I have been obsessed with you for years’, ‘If I had just met you before my partner, I would be able to live happily ever after’... flattery, charm and manipulation gets them everywhere.

The problem is, when you ignore the grand words, the gestures turn up.

Flowers come to the door, the workplace, the gifts, they leave their partner claiming you’re the love of their life and they can’t live without you… and when the gestures don’t work, they turn up in person too.

You will never win with a narcissist, it is plain and simple. So stop playing the game.

But are you a narcissist? I have often met people who are in deep relationships with a narcissist, and majority of the time, it is a version of mental abuse. Almost everyone I meet who is mentally abused asks, ‘but am I the narcissist?’.

The problem is when you are so intertwined with a narcissistic person, you have no idea how to play the game of life anymore. Conversations, communication, love and empathy are values that don’t remotely penetrate a narcissistic character. Therefore, the person who is being abused learns the only way to play the narcissist's game is to use the same tactics against them. The abused person doesn’t even realise they are doing it, it happens in the subconscious. They learn to speak the language of narcissism, by mirroring the narcissistic behaviour. Ultimately leaving the person mentally ruined, and questioning who they are, their own beliefs and living in a state of torture.

For anyone reading this now, in a narcissistic relationship and being mentally abused. You are not the problem, believe me. If you’re spotting the behaviour and questioning yourself, chances are… you’re not the one in the wrong. True narcissists don’t often see their own behaviour, and they struggle to take responsibility. When they do take responsibility, it is usually only to convince the other person they are inauthentically sorry, allowing the narcissistic game to play on.

Having a conversation with a narcissist is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how good your point is, the bird is still going to go potty on the board and strut around like it won anyway! You are wasting your time.

The only way to get rid of a narcissist once and for all is to slowly cut them off. Minimise contact, distance yourself, take longer to reply to messages, don’t call them back right away, don’t react to grand statements and gestures, don’t anger or upset them. Act uninterested and take your time. Ultimately the control will come back to you and eventually, you will be free.

But this isn’t about ‘blame’...

Living with narcissism is an illness, just like all personality disorders. It is highly difficult but the only way to cope and survive a narcissist is to be empathetic, show love but keep ourselves safe.

Ultimately, you can’t win in the game of narcissism. They won’t care about your hurt, the destruction they caused or even if you are alive. All you can do, like most things in life, is focus on yourself. Find your path to recover. Educate yourself, learn the personality you are dealing with, figure out if it’s worth it and love yourself.

A narcissist thrives on bringing you down, because they will then be the only person that can make you better. Ultimately when they cut you off, they will gloat. My advice to anyone who feels they are in a narcissistic relationship, realise what you are working with before they get the satisfaction of cutting you off and gaining an upper hand. It is a vicious and cruel cycle of events, leaving their victims often entirely gaslit, desperately unhappy and dependent.

As I say to everyone I meet. Only you can make yourself happy, and you have to do whatever that takes.

Further support - Are an organisation to support injunctions for victims of domestic violence. - Domestic abuse support for men, women and children. - support groups, workshops and counselling for those affected by narcissism. - Free mental health support for North West residents.