This has turned into a long (and I admit cathartic) venting/brain dump. TL;DR version:
I lived with a narcissist, it was an exhausting and brutal experience that has taken time to recover from. While I’m pretty sure he would never be considered a Psychopath and wasn’t malicious for the sake of it, it was bad enough. There was certainly a vacuum at the centre of his being and he sucks the life out of those around him to fill it.
Anyway….if you’ve got time to kill here’s my story.
2 years since I cut my losses and I’m still finding new depths of fear and anger in my feelings toward the N. I’ve certainly moved on and don’t think of him often but I still sometimes find myself puzzling over what happened and trying to understand him – if only to learn how to avoid similar people in future! I sometimes wonder who he’s leeching off and abusing now. I do think he has some potential to mature and learn to respect others but it won’t happen unless he’s forced to and he’s got a very parasitic, responsibility-adverse nature. I saw glimmers of empathy, if not a conscience in him.
However, I’ve had to realise I was basically living with an animated husk of a being, not a real person with a fully integrated personality. It was easy to give him the benefit of the doubt for a long time, to think he could care about others and feel like a ‘normal’ person. Now I see that the only motivating instinct in him, the core of his being was a grandiose sense of self that had to be protected at all costs. He avoided insight and self-knowledge like it was poison – because to him it was. He had such an inflated and unwieldy sense of self worth that he couldn’t afford to have it questioned. He couldn’t let reality and facts pop that bubble.
Sometimes he’d reveal just how skewed his mindset was and it was eerie. He genuinely couldn’t see that whatever he happened to want in any given situation wasn’t always the best option. He didn’t believe other people could have minds, wants, rights if they conflicted with his desires. He was the center of the universe.
He never bought anyone else presents, spent money time or effort on anyone else and would react to any request that he consider anyone else as if it were the greatest most unreasonable imposition. Just bestowing upon you his friendship was the greatest gift ever and you should be grateful! Demanded lifts everywhere, took a day off work every time he was hungover, made up dramatic illnesses that only caused him problems when he conveniently wanted to get out of something. Yet he demanded everyone drop everything and attend to his whims. He never saw this discrepancy, plenty of times he actually told me earnestly that his needs and desires were more important than other peoples! I was expected to be there for him and his emotional needs but if I was ever less than fine and let my feelings show he couldn’t tolerate it. He’d tell me off for bringing him down. I was really upset one day and after a couple of years together he looked at me, confused and angry and asked why he felt sad because I was sad – he’d never experienced empathy before and didn’t understand it! I realised then if he was just experiencing empathy for the first time in his mid 20s I had no chance of ever relating to this alien.
He got thousands out of me in monetary support and gifts and I think genuinely never remembered that he’d had them, he could never accept he owed anyone a debt, people asking him to return goods or loans were just being unreasonable. He’d go through my stuff when I was out, read my diary and find any alcohol I’d hidden from him and drink it. Once I demanded he replace a bottle of wine I’d planned to open that night which he’d found and drunk before I got home. He said he’d get me one when he next went out. I replied with words to the effect: you don’t get to decide when I can or can’t have a drink and you can’t just take everything of mine with no care if you inconvenience me. He genuinely didn’t understand my point of view. He got what he wanted and I was just an annoying, buzzing fly irritating him.
Often when he was doing what he wanted he’d try to spin it as if he were doing it for me, it was always totally transparent and insulting.
To support his overblown ego he believed that everyone he met loved and adored him. When he was forced to accept someone didn’t like him that person became the object of such intense, obsessional hate. I got sick of hearing about this one girl, every day he had to rant about her, just because she didn’t like him and didn’t bother to hide it. I tried to suggest to him that you can’t impress everyone, be grateful for the people who are your friends and ignore the rest but he couldn’t accept it. Everyone had to love him.
Oh and he was obsessed with his looks and terrified of aging. He liked being the young attractive one and freely admitted he didn’t want to be a ‘grown up’.
He put no effort into anything but expected to be applauded. He never accurately evaluated his work, he believed it was perfect and surely anyone who disagreed was jealous or just plain evil. If he got a bad grade at college, the system was wrong. If he got a bad review at work, he quit that job. When I had to work with him he took all the credit and did nothing but preen. His lack of shame about his laziness was staggering.
His narcissitic rages were the most dramatic symptom. When he broke up with a girl (before we were together but when we already shared a house) he seemed ok for a day or so then he ended up lying on the floor rolling around and screaming “why isn’t she upset? Why is she still fine? That heartless [censored] etc”. He couldn’t take the fact she was ok (happy to be rid of him) and not devastated by losing him. She and I both tried to talk him down but had to give up and let him calm down in his own time. The next day he was back to normal and acted like nothing had happened.
If he ever perceived a slight or was frustrated in his desires this really noticeable darkness would cloud over his eyes and he’d become totally irrational. I could actually watch him losing logic and reason putting all his effort into defending his ego, usually by lashing out at those around him. Once the storm had passed however, he’d carry on as if nothing had happened. Or he’d condescendingly forgive me for setting him off.
I have to say he was often violent and belittling to me, broke two locks off our doors (left me to fix them) trying to get to me. Called me an idiot daily (hence the username) and never had anything good to say about my achievements unless we were in public and he wanted to show me off. Then I was a status symbol.
He had little interest in sex until his friends were around, then he’d be all over me and very possessive. Liked me to wear revealing clothes when we went out but I was clearly just an accessory. He was the same with children and animals – liked the idea of having them, as possessions or reflections of himself but had no empathy for them and found them immensely irritating when they actually made demands on him.
All his threats involved withdrawing his attentions – as if he were such a prize! He’d threaten to break up with me over anything, give me the silent treatment. I was largely indifferent by that point and just hoping to one day get the chance to move out and trying to keep up an appearance of caring just to avoid more drama and violence.
His histrionics and constant demands for love and attention while giving me no support in return left me exhausted, after the first year I was pretty much brainwashed and sucked dry. Of money, confidence, motivation. I’m still trying to get my life back on track but it makes it easier to see that I only got so low because of the situation I was in with him – it’s a temporary setback and I can slowly rebuild my career, finances, sense of self.
And after all that, I have to admit we had some good times. It’s just the more I look back the more I realise when I thought we were experiencing stuff together, he saw me as just an inanimate accessory, a prop while he was taking centre stage and performing for everyone’s applause. I was just a source of ego-fuel and money for him. As far as I know he still has the same group of friends (all smart, likable guys I respect) who seem able to tolerate him. I think I could have still been having a laugh with him as a casual friend or colleague it was only when I became his main source of ego-support and shared a house with him that I saw the real N.
Oh, I must also add that he was a horribly racist, sexist bigot. At first I thought he was being ‘ironically racist’ and it was a fratboyish thing he’d grow out of (I know, I know), but no. He just hates women and other races. That’s something I can’t forgive or understand.
Thanks to anyone who read this far – I know I got off lightly compared to many and I’m not particularly bitter or hurt despite how I may sound! I’m actually increasingly positive and determined never to fall for someone like the N again.