You probably realize by now that those who suffer from pathological levels or narcissism, if not the mental disorder of Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD itself, are self-involved. Indeed, the narcissistic take and take without giving anything back. Thus, if you are living with a narcissist and feel emotionally drained and physically, you have no energy either, you are experiencing a rather normal reaction to what you’re facing. Indeed, you constantly feel depleted because your narcissistic partner is constantly making withdrawals from what might be thought of your relationship’s emotional bank account—and while you make all the deposits, of course.
Certainly, to have a healthy relationship with anyone, and not just merely your partner, there must be give and take. Sure, sometimes circumstances demand that one person takes more while the other gives more. If one person is going through difficult times and needs extra support, it is certainly acceptable to maintain an imbalance where you give and the other takes. But this can’t go on incessantly if the relationship is to remain healthy and beneficial to both of you.
Most people, just as with their regular bank account, are always making both deposits and withdrawals into their relationship’s emotional bank account. As a result, things go along smoothly for them. But again, something might happen where one person starts making withdrawal after withdrawal. This is when problems start arising for most couples—where the partner giving and making those deposits may not only feel emotionally exhausted, but feel resentful because he or she feels constantly used.
In your marriage, you may well feel both emotionally spent and resentful because everything is always about your partner. His narcissism makes it so that he doesn’t just require additional love and support some of the time, but he demands it all of the time instead. After al, this is one of the characteristics of unhealthy narcissism.
Yes indeed, because of your partner’s pathological narcissism, you are expected to do for him and honor him and sing his praises while basically, you receive nothing in return. Oh sure, he likely provides you with a roof over your head—perhaps even quite a nice one at that. There might be other impressive material things he provides, too. After all, if he suffers from unhealthy levels of narcissism, he might want you encased in designer labels as well as to have diamonds flashing on your fingers and ears because these speak to others of his financial success. They may or may not be what you want to wear, however.
When you are the partner of a narcissist, you are there to project the image he wants for you—that he wants his partner to project. Of course, your house and lifestyle probably fall into this category, too. They are all about making statements to others he wishes to impress, not about providing you with the type of environment you might find comfortable or restful--an environment that feeds your soul.
Again, while the material things your narcissistic spouse provides might look good to the outside world, they likely will miss the nark with you. Nonetheless, he doesn’t care because indeed, it isn’t about you. How could you ever make such a mistake in thinking that it was? No indeed, it is all about him and his needs. And so, your narcissistic partner won’t care that you never receive the love and the emotional support you need to thrive. He doesn’t care that he has drained the emotional bank account dry—that you finally collapse, emotionally and physically depleted. You are both expendable and replaceable, my dear, because indeed, the narcissist you are merely an object to be used—not a human being with needs and feelings.
Is it Time to face up to the Realities of Life with a Narcissist?
If you’re making all the deposits and furthermore, it has been this way for some time, then perhaps it is time to awaken to the fact that this is probably how it is going to be forever. If you have been in denial about your partner’s level of narcissism—that it is indeed pathological and not in the normal range that most people display— see your depleted energy level as shouting that there is something wrong with this picture. But then, it is not normal to have to make all the deposits into the relationship’s emotional bank account. It is not normal to lack the wherewithal to make any withdrawals.
Well, these things are not normal unless you are in a relationship with a narcissist. Then, of course, it is actually the norm. But do you want this to be the norm for your relationship from here until death causes you the two of you to part? Or, would you like to terminate this arrangement?
You may think that if you talk to your partner and tell him how this makes you feel, he will change. Go ahead and try that. Pay close attention to the results you get, though. If he commits to trying to give you the support you need, and then he actually does take steps to do this, perhaps your partner was truly unaware of how his behavior was affecting you. Equipped with this new awareness, if he indeed makes behavioral changes, he probably never had a high level of unhealthy narcissism to begin with. Then again, if he could care less—or even makes fun of you or calls you names for having the nerve to suggest such a thing—you are likely dealing with someone with an unhealthy level of narcissism. And, quite frankly, the narcissist is not inclined to ever change.
It is a pretty good life when you get to be king, after all. However, you have to decide if you’ll always be happy to be his subject—mo matter how rough the going gets. After all, it undoubtedly will—and he might dump you for another despite your sacrifice and loyalty. Narcissists do things like that since they lack empathy and consciences.
Perhaps you are willing to stand by your narcissist. In that case, you should begin to seek out family and friends who can provide the type of sustenance you are never going to get from your partner—because a narcissist is quite incapable of providing it. Instead, learn how to envision yourself in a bubble so that the verbal abuse and emotional abuse bounce off of you. Also, learn how to turn inward and take sanctuary there while his narcissism, addictions, and abuse surround you.
Just don’t expect it to ever get easy. And, of course, know that you will be forever expected to continue to make those emotional deposits—and don’t ever expect to make a withdrawal!
Besides writing on narcissism, addictions, and abuse, Diane England also writes on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. If you know of someone whose partner is displaying PTSD, addictions, and abuse--since we often see this trio exist together, too--do that person a favor and buy him or her The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Relationship today. It has been designated one of the "Best Books of 2009" by theLibrary Journal.
Universities, nonprofit organizations, churches, psychotherapists, physicians, support groups, and others seeking to purchase quantities of this book at a discount should contact Customer Service at F&W Media by calling 800-289-0963.