Is John a Narcissist or is John the victim of a Narcissist?

If Jane accuses John of being a narcissist, and Jane then tells Mark, Mindy, and Sue that John is a narcissist, and Sue (triggered by her own personal and painful experience of a romantic relationship with a narcissist from which she has yet to recover) then tells Tom that John is a narcissist, Mark (who is the child of a narcissist and has PTSD because of it) tells Robert that John is a narcissist, and Mindy (who doesn’t think she knows any narcissists but is frightened because she’s heard such frightening stories about them) tells Melissa that John is a narcissist – Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

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Melissa (who loves to gossip about others, yet hates it when others gossip about her) tells Letitia that John is a narcissist, Robert (who never liked John because Jane loves John and Robert loves Jane) tells Margaret that John is a narcissist, and Tom (who wasn’t listening when Sue was talking as he had his own problems on his mind which empathic Sue failed to empathically notice) tells no one (and is later accused by Sue of giving her the silent treatment, but she doesn’t accuse him directly, instead she tells Joan about it). – Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

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Letitia (who loves talk about herself, uses the gossip to start another conversation about herself) tells Mary that John is a narcissist (then she launches into a long tale about how she knew John was a narcissist because of this thing he once did to her), Margaret (who is in love with Robert, knows that Robert loves Jane, thus Margaret hates Jane) tells Lucy that John is a narcissist (and that Jane deserves that kind of karma), and Joan (who not only had to hear what a narcissist Tom is, also heard that John is a narcissist) decides to tell lots of people via her blog that her friend Samantha (a thinly disguised Sue) is a narcissist (as she is always accusing others of being narcissists, which Joan has read on blogs about NPD is often the sign of a narcissist). – Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

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In the meantime, Jane has decided that Mark, Mindy, and Sue are not the sort of friends she thought they were as they were not supportive enough towards her when she needed them to be.

When she called Mindy at work to discuss John being a narcissist some more, Mindy was brusque and told her that she didn’t have time to listen to her (what she actually said was – can I call you back later, I’m in a meeting – that meeting was for a possible promotion for which Mindy had worked very hard). – Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

When she tried to talk to Mark after turning up on his doorstep sobbing, he sat in silence (listening to her for hours) and she felt that he didn’t understand her pain as he had never had his heart broken by a narcissist (Mark rarely tells anyone that his parent is a narcissist, however he did once tell Jane. She reacted in the way that most people who haven’t had a narcissist as a parent do when a child says something unflattering about their parent. He never spoke about it with her again after that). Jane left Mark’s home wondering if perhaps he was a narcissist too, and this made her wonder if perhaps she was a magnet for narcissists. After Jane left, Mark found himself feeling the way that he always did after an interaction with his narcissist parent, as though he had somehow failed the other person, not been who they had wanted him to be for them, his efforts to be a good person had not been good enough, yet they were good enough to be branded as bad. Mark began to regret having told Robert that John is a narcissist, as he wasn’t certain who the narcissist was anymore. – Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

Whenever she spoke with Sue, Jane had the distinct impression that there was a competition going on between them as to whose narcissist was the worst (and could be upgraded to being called a sociopath). Whenever Jane discussed a narcissistic crime which John had committed, Sue would interrupt with a much worse crime which her narcissist-sociopath ex had committed against her. Jane could not win as Sue had been scouring the internet for information on NPD (especially the kind which supported her story) for years, she was a member of several forums and communities for victims of narcissists, she collected quotes about narcissists, she watched every video on the subject, and sounded very knowledgeable when she spoke about the disorder and its effects on those who have a relationship with someone with the disorder. Sue saw herself as an unofficial expert on the subject and often remarked that she actually knew more about it than official experts because she had lived it whereas they hadn’t. When Jane questioned Sue’s assertions, Sue was hostile – in a similar manner to the way that Sue described the hostility of a narcissist, particularly her ex towards her. How dare Jane, a newbie victim of a narcissist, doubt Sue, a seasoned victim of a narcissist (who is no longer a victim but an activist against the evil that is NPD), and through doubting her, criticise her, invalidate her, in a narcissistic manner. – Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

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Maybe John wasn’t the narcissist but Jane was – a narcissist playing the victim of a narcissist.

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Sue’s attitude and words really hurt Jane very deeply. She had always seen Sue as a compassionate, empathic, highly sensitive person – as Sue often pointed all of this out about herself and Jane had no reason to question Sue’s version of herself… until now, when Jane needed Sue to be all the things which she claimed that she was. She needed Sue to walk her talk, but Sue’s walk was her talk… or so it seemed to Jane.

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Even though Jane was deeply wounded by her last interaction with Sue, and suspected Sue of being a narcissist, one of those ones who isn’t as obvious to spot… what were they called again? She also felt grateful to Sue, as her eyes had been opened to a new possibility. Perhaps John was not a narcissist, maybe Jane was.

Jane didn’t really want to consider this option, however… Sue’s stories about her ex made Jane realise that John wasn’t as bad as she had thought he was. She had been very angry with him… she was finding it hard to remember why. They had had an argument, and things had escalated from there. All those little things which had annoyed Jane about John had come together and formed a giant annoyance.

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– Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

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John was an introvert and Jane was an extrovert. He was often silent when she wanted to talk. He wanted to stay at home when she wanted to go out. He was a pessimist compared to her, she was an optimist or at least she worked at being a positive thinker (followed all the advice of the Positive Thinking movement) and found his realist approach to life to be a downer, toxic to her need to be constantly on an upper. Her idealism, which was prone to tip over the line into perfectionism, found his acceptance of imperfection and chaos to be irritating to her need for perfect order, to control what was uncontrollable.

If a glass which was part of a set broke, he just shrugged, cleaned up the mess, and moved on – he occasionally suggested that the glass had broken itself, and no one was to blame for what was meant to happen – whereas she would feel her entire world fall apart, shatter with the glass, and its pieces would dig into her as though she had stepped barefoot onto a shard – she then had to get rid of all the other glasses and buy a new full set or else she’d feel that somehow she was settling for less than she deserved.

Jane sometimes felt that way about John. That she deserved better than him. That she had settled for him because she didn’t want to be alone. She wanted to be loved and he had offered to love her. He wasn’t Mr. Right, he was Mr. He’ll do for now. And she had tried to turn him into Mr. Right for her. He had gone along with it… and perhaps he’d done that for her and resented her for not accepting him as he was, for wanting him to live up to the potential which she projected onto him, to be better than he was… but what if… he was better than she thought he was. What if he was actually better than her, rather than her being better than him.

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John was oil and Jane was water. Is one better than the other, is one right and the other one wrong? Depends on which one you are… maybe.

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Jane was uncomfortable with this train of thought, but maybe she needed to be, maybe her comfort zone was only comfortable for her and everyone else suffered for it, was uncomfortable because of it, but put up with it for her and her needs of them to be who she wanted them to be for her, so that she could see herself the way that she wanted to see herself.

Jane decided to go online to get a second opinion, because she could do it anonymously (was her need to be anonymous another sign of her narcissism – to be who she was not, present another false persona). She was frightened. If it turned out that she was a narcissist… narcissists were considered evil, horrible beings who made life hell for everyone else, and there was no cure for it. She decided to face the worst while hoping for the best.

The second opinions which she got left her more confused than clear on the matter. Many of those who answered her questions only left her with more questions. It seemed as though the parameters for what defined NPD kept changing. The DSM-V didn’t help because it was too vague, the kind of vagueness which left her wondering if perhaps everyone was a narcissist, some knew it and some didn’t, some accepted it and some denied it, everyone put a spin on it to suit them and their version of reality.  She was not the only one who questioned the DSM-V (if she had been, she could have dismissed it or seen it as yet more proof that she was a narcissist in denial), even those in the professions of the mind were doing so – Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Rethinking What We Know.

Then Jane came across this article –  19 Ways to Tell if You Expect too Much in Relationships  – and even though she scored highly which made her realise that she had been very narcissistic in her relationship with John, the situation wasn’t hopeless. The hope or hopelessness of it depended on her. She could learn from what had happened and choose to change herself in a natural way or choose to continue on her present path, staying exactly the same yet expecting things to change miraculously on their own. Still expecting other people to change themselves to satisfy her, how she perceived herself and others, reality and so on.

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Einstein - repetition:insanity

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The first thing which she could change was her tendency to try to change others to suit her expectations which inevitably led to her being disappointed in them, and also with herself for choosing such a disappointing person with whom to be in a relationship.

She may judge those she loved for being unworthy of her love (which she wanted to view as special), but she judged herself even more for falling in love with those she eventually deemed to be unworthy of her love – which then meant that she needed someone to blame (other than herself, which she did anyway). Maybe she needed to accept them as they were and take more time getting to know them, who they really were, rather than expend her energy on expecting them to take the time to get to know her, and to prove to her that they knew her by catering to her needs, and live up to her expectations, demands, of them for her.

Jane felt a a ray of sunshine break through the dark clouds which had been a part of the weather of her life for a while.

Did it matter if John was a narcissist or not? Did it matter if Jane was a narcissist or not? Surely what mattered is what you do with those sort of questions when they enter your conscious awareness.

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Jane couldn’t do anything about John, John was John, and he was responsible for himself. However Jane’s opinion of John was her responsibility, something which she had neglected to realise before, she had considered her opinion of him to be his responsibility… and his opinion of her? If she was honest with herself, she really didn’t know what the answer to that was. She did try to manipulate his opinion of her in the past, and his opinion of her did affect how she behaved with him, and with others. More often than not, if the opinion was a bad one in her opinion, she would go out of her way (and often not be herself but pretend to be someone else) just to prove him wrong.

Jane realised others might be doing this too. Was her opinion of others (or their perception of her opinion of them) causing them to act out of character to prove her opinion wrong when her opinion was viewed as negative by them? And if her opinion was viewed as positive, did it pressure them into living up to her ideals of them, which they might fail to do and therefore think badly of themselves.

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Jack and Jill

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Jane found herself feeling very confused by the dynamics involved in relationships… did she ever think it would be simple?

Perhaps what she needed to do was to take a time out from all relationships except one. Take the time to get to know herself and to have a better relationship with herself, to get to know herself better. Her relationship with herself was the seed from which all her relationship with other grew. She needed to learn to accept herself as she was, to learn to love herself as is (including that she sometimes hated herself as is)… rather than as she wanted to be, as she wanted to see herself… for the purpose of how she would be seen by others, and therefore loved or hated by others. She had spent more time focused upon trying to control how others felt and thought about her, on controlling herself to control them, than she had on… finding out what would happen if she let things flow naturally. She really didn’t know what would happen if is stopped trying to be in control and let spontaneity take over.

Maybe now was the time to do that.

Jane felt rather good about this decision… albeit a bit nervous. She was leaping into the unknown. Why was she an unknown to herself?

She didn’t wait for an answer, instead she just smiled, a smile for her eyes only, and took a leap of faith in herself.

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So.

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– Is John a narcissist? Or is John the victim of a narcissist?

– Is Jane a narcissist? Or is Jane the victim of a narcissist?

Either or. Either black or white. Neither nor. Neither black nor white. Both. Ambiguous. Shades of both, which cancel each other out, criticise or complement (and compliment) each other.

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You decide. The choice is yours.

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the pointing fingerWhat you do with those three fingers pointing back at you, depends on you.

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*all characters aren’t purely fictitious, they’re based on myself, on self-reflection, and observing the phases I have been through while exploring NPD from a personal, interpersonal, and impersonal perspective. I am a child of narcissists (according to me), I walk a fine line between being a narcissist and not being a narcissist, which way is which can be hard to tell sometimes, as narcissism is a natural human trait and phase of human development – sometimes it is healthy to be narcissistic and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes we are a narcissist to someone else because we are thinking of ourselves when they want us to think of them, and other possible optional reasons.

**pause before you judge yourself and others, and see what can be learned from what is here, now, as is.

***inspired by World Economics… Explained with 2 Cows

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49 thoughts on “Is John a Narcissist or is John the victim of a Narcissist?

  1. ouch!! prickly like a cactus to read and touch… but sooooo timely~~~~ funny, i’ve been catching myself “pointing”…and pointing…and pointing..when i talk….and i point so much… but i am italian i say…..but my other hand is aware of all the pointing, and it helps me to close the pointing hand ….. not so funny~~but ooo so much more aware~~~ hating who they are…hating what i’ve become… hating less who they are….. and becoming what i don’t hate….every day a little more~~~~ and a little more~~ and ~a~little~more~~~~~~~~~~~~~ dig your insight girl ~~~~~~~~

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    1. It is prickly… I’ve felt those pricks and been the prick 😉 and felt the pricks of being a prick! Insight is what I’m after, even if it hurts (me or others… somethings can’t be helped, or are helped through feeling it).

      TY ❤

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  2. This touched on thoughts that go on inside me all the time, questioning when I thought someone seemed to me narcissistic (lacking in empathy) in my eyes were they really? Or was it just that I got hurt by the fact they did not get something that I was sensitive about and didn’t that then make me narcissistic, too.. I actually started a blog the other day I didn’t publish that stated. I am narcissistic too. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Perhaps self involvement is not recognising that the way people respond isn’t always for the reasons we think. We don’t live inside their heads. I was upset a few weeks ago when I heard second hand from a relative that my sister had accused me of jealousy. When I confronted her she said “I’ve always just assumed that you feel that way”. “Why didn’t you ask me?” I said, I would have tried to be as honest as I could be and I have never felt jealous of her but as the younger sibling there were things I would have liked from her I did not get due to the age difference. Just the way it was. I’ve heard somewhere that an expectation is a premeditated resentment. What can we realistically expect? Can we expect anything at all? Or should we just be grateful for what comes to us, since hurt lodged deep within due to a disappointed expectation can tap in to so much earlier stuff and injury, which may need to be felt, so to be understood and released. Anyway as usual in your amazing blogs there is so much to explore in this one. ❤

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    1. Also I just had thought maybe its like the yin yang symbol we all have some narcissism that then attracts and dovetails with another and since we only develop an ego through relationship then that ego goes on to reflect upon others as it was reflected (or not) until pain makes some kind of change or launches on a journey where perspective changes.

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      1. I do think that meeting narcissism in another, especially if we did not embrace our own narcissism – the healthy aspects of it – while going through that developmental phase, can be the spur which helps us to develop what for whatever reason did not develop when it should have done so. We’re a late-blooming rose which was in stasis until creative friction forced us to grow and open up.

        I’ve learned a lot about being narcissistic from the narcissists whom I have encountered – not just the bad of it, but also the good of it. Ego serves a purpose, along with all the other aspects of being human. We need to understand it, and ourselves, and sometimes we do that through others. Sometimes our most profound lessons are learned the hard and painful way.

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        1. Ursula that comment of yours sparked a question in me. “Ego serves a purpose”. Without it we would not have a functioning centre of consciousness and a sense of separate self, worth and value. When does the ego become something else, that cuts us off from seeing that in others and in the circumstances of our lives? What I guess I am trying to get at is that in spiritual circles there is so much talk about “negative ego” and transcending the ego. I know its all about balance but there is a lot of talk about getting beyond the ego. but it seems in order to get a bit beyond it, we need to have one in the first place. Like you said, its an intricate dance, this being human, growing and unfolding.

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          1. I’ve been there and done that, explored those ‘spiritual’ ways which demand that we transcend ego. Transcending ego is an ego driven ambition. There was a funny cartoon I came across a while back (can’t find it when I want to share it, of course!) which showed a Buddhist monk congratulating himself on being spiritually enlightened.

            I’ve tried transcending ego and I ended up deciding that such a thing was humanely impossible for this particular human. It’s an impossi-puzzle kind of like Zen stories. How can you transcend something which you need to transcend it?

            Ego has a purpose or it would not exist. Spirituality, in theory, should embrace a holistic approach – accepting the whole and not just parts of the whole while getting rid of others parts – seeing the purpose of the ‘bad’ and ‘negative’, the yin contrasting the yang which are a whole, rather than judging it as ‘bad and ‘negative’ and favouring what is judged as ‘good’ and ‘positive’ – which is unbalanced and extremist… and the pendulum will keep swinging even when it looks perfectly still – because ego doesn’t like them.

            I did a quick search and found someone who explained it quite well – http://www.zenwarriortraining.com/blog/2014/1/2/dont-drop-your-ego

            BTW, you answered your question in this post – http://emergingfromthedarknight.wordpress.com/2014/11/18/not-magnifying-a-hurt/ – trust yourself!

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            1. Thanks for the validation. One of my favourite writers John Welwood explains what you are talking of as a spiritual by pass. A way of using this spiritual transcendence idea/ideal as a way to think one is above and beyond by (exactly as you explain) cutting out and looking down on the so called “negative/unspiritual’ feelings and judging them, and a lot of ego is involved in that.. I try to put “negative” in inverted commas when I put it in any writing as it irks as a value judgement of what may be very necessary to feel in order to be whole. There is a great chapter in a book on emotions and the immune system by Dr Gabor Mate which has an excellent chapter called “the power of negative thinking”. That deserves a blog. Who hasn’t been blamed for being “too negative” when they are busting the lid on some deeper truth or aiming at someone’s sacred cow. . The very rage or anger we need to feel has seeds of love inside it. Let ourselves be human. You said it! As an Aquarian, its something I struggle with. I guess this transcending ego idea can just be another way of beating everyone up. Thanks for the ping back BTW.

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              1. Being an Aquarius (especially one with a stellium in the sign) means you’re always weighing (exploring, investigating, reviewing, etc) the collective view versus the personal view – but the collective view influences the personal view and vice versa – and this influence is a puzzle which Aquarius is always working on. Aquarians are humanitarians… who sometimes struggle with being that way because… humans!?!

                The solution lies with the exploring of all the possible solutions and what connects them. Those connections are eternal questions which inspire exploration on many levels.

                Negative sometimes = yuk! But it can also = the flip side of positive. Take positive to an extreme and it will become its opposite. Because positive needs negative to exist. Without negative there is no such thing as positive. And so it goes for many things and concepts. You need ego to transcend it – if you lose the ego what is there to transcend? And so it goes.

                Being blamed for being something like ‘too negative’ says more about the person doing the blaming than it does about the person being blamed because it is a perspective based on bias – the bias of the blamer. If someone says you’re too angry – you’re too angry in what context? That context is a frame placed around you by the person who is saying ‘you’re too angry’, a frame constructed out of their view of anger, what it means to them, what they think anger is, and how what they think it is affects them and what they think they are – if they see themselves as being a ‘peaceful’ person – pretty much anything which ruffles their peaceful feathers – causes their still water, their surface calm, to ripple, will be judged by them based on how they experience it.

                It’s a mind fuck, but also how we learn from our relationships with others. So, sometimes it is an useful mind-fuckery. 😉

                Transcending ego is an ego-driven ambition… however that is not necessarily ether bad or good, negative or positive – the journey is the goal, and what we learn when we pursue something like that!

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    2. Thank you 🙂

      I recently read a beautifully poignant post of which your story with your sister reminds me – http://safirefalcon.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/fires-within-and-without/

      Working things out is multi-layered, sometimes each layer is painful, but within the pain there is healing. So each layer also holds a form of pleasure. We need to remember that everyone else experiences similar things to what we experience. We are not alone, even when we are alone. We’re all in this together trying to figure it out. Stumbling along the path of life, of relationships, of being human. Expecting other people to know when we don’t… to know better than us, to know us better than we know them or ourselves, to not make the mistakes that we make, to not be human as we are human… can lead to us finding out that they are just as we are, learning as they go along, feeling the pain and sometimes pleasure of it. By cutting them slack, we cut urselves slack… and maybe in the place where slack is cut we find a moment when expectation does not lead to disappointment and all the things which lead from there. We just connect human to human and know that.

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  3. Thought provoking post, its a great compliment to my post from the other day about women calling any man who doesn’t fall in love with her, a narcissist. Maybe they just didn’t like you that much? it seems to be a fad now, everyone wants proof their ex is an narc. Yet a person doesn’t want to discredit someone who has been abused by one. I think that all people have N traits, at times they are more narcissistic than others. I found I was more narcissistic after leaving my ex because I was so damaged and in so much pain I became very self absorbed. But I think if a person realizes that and can see they are being narcissistic then they do not have a problem with it and can control it. A true narcissist never questions whether they are being unfair or not. I do think we are changing as a society and becoming more narcissistic as a whole. That shows in our lack of compassion and apathy concerning with the impoverished and the many atrocities that occur daily in the world.
    Then, the narcissist always blames the victim of the abuse he inflicted on the victim which causes by standers to wonder, who is the true victim? and often times the victim is falsely accused of being the N and being crazy.
    Such is the crazy world the narcissist builds around himself, life becomes a tragic comedy where no one is laughing unless they can see the pure insanity of it all or go insane.

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    1. “It is a wretched thing that the young men of today are so contriving and so proud of their material possessions. Men with contriving hearts are lacking in duty. Lacking in duty, they will have no self-respect.” ― Yamamoto Tsunetomo

      That quote was written in the 17th century. It could be applied to this century too, to narcissism in both men and women. I don’t think we’re becoming more narcissistic as a society, I think we’re as narcissistic as we have always been, we’re just doing it wearing boxers and thongs rather than bloomers and britches. We are perhaps more conscious of narcissism as a behaviour which can cause problems, and being more conscious of something tends to make us more aware of it – what we focus our mind upon is what we see when we look at the world around us. If you focus on narcissists, that’s what you will see. If you focus on compassion, that’s what you will see.

      I don’t think people are apathetic, they’re overwhelmed by the sensory overload with which most of us are bombarded every moment of every day. When we are overwhelmed we often retreat into ourselves to protect ourselves and give ourselves time to figure and filter things out, this gives the appearance of apathy, but it is not apathy. Have you seen the documentary – We Are Legion (2012) – it charts the rise of the group known as Anonymous, it shows how much people care and are endeavouring to find ways to do something, to make changes for varying reasons. We’re living in very interesting times, where each individual is realising that no matter who you are or where you are you count and matter, but you have to figure out how and what to do with it in a way which is authentic to you and what you care about.

      “It is said that what is called “the spirit of an age” is something to which one cannot return. That this spirit gradually dissipates is due to the world’s coming to an end. For this reason, although one would like to change today’s world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of every generation.” ― Yamamoto Tsunetomo

      If narcissism is the spirit of this age, what is the best that we can make out of this generation of ours. We know what is bad about it, and if we focus solely on that then that may be all we see, but if we shift our focus a bit, we may find that there is a good side to it.

      Think of all the positive changes which have occurred in your life since your personal experience of a narcissist – you know the bad inside and out – but what about the good, how well do you know that? Your blog is definitely one of which I can think. 🙂

      It is frustrating sometimes that ‘narcissist’ has become a trendy accusation, a multiple purpose label people stick on others when a relationship goes wrong, doesn’t go the way they wanted it to and they don’t know how to ‘fix’ it and make the other person be who they want them to be (even though if the other person tried to change them for the same reasons, they’d hate it). However it is part of the nature and flow of awareness to spread this way, and this is just one of many steps in the process of the collective consciousness’ evolution.

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  4. I started to read this before i got out of bed. I got half way in and thought – oh my. I think i need to coffee for Ursala this morning. My eyes were crossing as i wove to and fro with all of the characters involved. They were all so real to me probably b/c i’ve read so many posts on various forums, all representing different experience.

    When i read something like this i always wonder, how does her mind work like this? Does it take her days? Hours? to describe things so vividly.

    i don’t think it matters so much what we ‘name them’ *** upgraded to sociopath (brilliant) **** I think the bigger issues is how they effect us and what we do with that info

    Also, thank you for referencing the ‘world economics – two cows. I’ve never seen that before. Almost every example was spot on in my opinion, stereotypically speaking that is. Bravo. Looks like commodities will not be going up anytime soon. Thanks for the whole enchilada today. You are very generous with your time to share this with us.

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      This post came out of a comment-chat which I was having on my blog a few days ago. The first paragraph is an excerpt from my comment. I made the comment shortly after I’d finished reading the world economics article and so the logic problem style of thinking was fresh in my mind.

      I kept thinking about that paragraph, what I’d written and what I hadn’t written, things I wanted to add, so I kept adding to it in my mind, going off on tangents from it which seemed to connect to other things that I read, heard and saw.

      The other night I watched an episode of Elementary where modern day Sherlock mentioned that his grief at the death of a close friend made him very narcissistic. That show often plays in its storylines with the distinction between what someone is actually doing and what other people think that person is doing based on how it affects them.

      Then there was an astrology article which touched upon the Salieri/Mozart relationship depicted in the film Amadeus – http://ohioastrology.com/2014/11/01/the-mozart-salieri-complex/ – I have always been fascinated by the way their relationship was depicted as it captured certain dynamics in my family. That article also mentioned the human tendency to compare ourselves with others and some of the consequences of doing so.

      Finally I read the article about expecting too much from relationships (link in this post) which sort of acted as a green light to put all the bits and pieces, the ones I’ve mentioned and others, about which I had been thinking together.

      The content of that article connected with another article written in a similar manner which expressed something slightly different but the same – http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201409/the-people-pleaser/are-you-emotional-caretaker – a couple of the questions in this article bothered me, like this one – Do you have more empathy for your partner than she has for you? – it’s a trick question. A couple of the other questions were cleverly insightful, like this one – Do you love your partner for who they are right now, or who you wish them to be?

      Agatha Christie, in her autobiography, mentioned that she used to have a folder in which she kept scraps – articles cut out of newspapers, obits, human interest stories, anything which caught her attention – she would wait until they somehow came together to form a story, then she would wait a bit more until the story wanted and was ready to be written. I’ve always remembered that, and have used the tactic for the thinking process.

      I’m nearly always writing posts in my head, because the way I write posts is the same way that I talk with myself, talking with myself is a part of how I think. My mind arranges things in a grid (like my blog theme) and the conversations I have with myself connect the dots on the grid. It’s all a conversation which is trying to figure something out and having the conversation helps to figure things out. In my posts I simply share the conversations which I am having with myself (minus the extensive amount of swearing that I do) 🙂

      Oh… and I had this song stuck in my head while I was writing this post – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghj5V5cUo1s – Billy Preston/Will it go round in circles.

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  5. Interesting…so who is the narcissist & who is the victim? The dynamic is so confusing & that I can see how this happens…who is who. I read somewhere that only “6% of the population” has NPD. Now is that accurate- not sure but I think it does tells us that having the actual disorder is not common. You are considered an outlier if you have it. The only way to know if someone has it is subjective in many ways but when you are close & in a relationship with someone like this-there is no doubt that something is very different & wrong-no mistaken. But if they don’t decide to focus on you or allow you to get close- it will be hidden from most. It’s frightening because of this very nature of the disorder. It’s also what makes being a victim so challenging-what you see, it not what you get. You’ve mentioned in posts before how it’s a hide & seek deal…but if you do find them-you’ll know…your soul will do a nose dive.

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    1. Excellent point. Subjectivity is the lens through which we see the world, and through which the world sees us. Many of the conclusions we reach, even if they are impartial, objective, without a preferential bias, still pass through the lens of subjectivity. It’s how we experience reality, without it we become pixels in a pixelated world. Subjectivity gives us substance. We need to be able to make judgments to have a sense of solidity, to make decisions, to create order. To give shape to ourselves, others and the world.

      When you meet someone who has NPD, you will always know that there is something different about them, as you pointed out. However at first it doesn’t seem wrong or mistaken, that difference may appear attractive, special, an interesting subject to study – and that interesting subject is you seen through their lens. Their focus on you is like a spotlight which offers you a new way to view yourself which is exciting. It’s only later that you pay the price for what seemed to be generously given for free. That’s when that something different becomes wrong, where once it seemed right. Once they’ve decided that you owe them and they own you because of the IOU, then you experience ‘culture shock’ (cognitive dissonance), your subjective reality meets their alternative subjective reality which is a mirror of yours where everything in your world is reversed in theirs.

      Many people can appear to us to be narcissistic (as we can appear to be narcissistic to them), and all of us can behave narcissistically – this does not a narcissist make. If investigated further their narcissistic behaviour will make logical sense in our subjective reality – ie. the person who we thought was giving us the ‘silent treatment’, and because we thought it was the silent treatment we labeled them a narc, was not giving us the ‘silent treatment’ they were not talking with us for a reason which when explained is something with which we can relate perhaps because we have done something similar, except when we did it (and still do it) we did not call it the ‘silent treatment’ and did not label ourselves a narc. However someone with NPD behaves narcissistically in an entirely different manner, and even if they explained their reasons for giving us the ‘silent treatment’ it will not be logical, will not make sense to our subjective reality, there will be multiple contradictory and conflicting versions of the same story, and it will leave us feeling disturbed and confused as though looking into a mirror and everything is back to front.

      The hide and seek thing came out of a conversation which I had with someone who may be a narcissist. Narcissists can be very honest about their narcissism, but because of our subjective viewpoint we don’t realise what they are saying and neither do they (unless they’re a cerebral narcissist, in which case they might be aware). This person explained in detail how they liked to play ‘hide and seek’ with people. It was a major component of their persona, their mysterious, unusual, unique and special self. They would come on hot and strong, intensely smothering a new person with their attention, then they’d go cold (usually claiming that the other person was smothering them). The coldness signaled their ‘hiding’ phase. In this hiding phase they expected people to seek them out, pursue them when they went into hiding, but they did not want to be found (out). If someone did find them (out) then the hiding became permanent – discard due to toxicity of that person to them. If someone did not pursue them, this would frustrate them and they would come out of hiding to pursue the person, trying to get that person to pursue them, or if not pursue them at least obsess over them while they were hiding, make them the center of focus, and break out the champagne when they decided to come out of hiding.

      The hide and seek theme is a component of NPD, it is part of the wound – they are seeking a self who is hiding and hidden from them.

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      1. Thanks Ursula…that was awesome! And so very true. I was thinking after reading your response and realizing that really only a small group have NPD- could you subjectively identify a person with the disorder by simply asking them questions? I think you can do this, but only if, you have been in a relationship with one before. So what would I ask? What would tell me if they were or were not? Why do I even give shit?- cause it’s fun to use all the bullshit tactics that were used on me for something, ha. So hypothetically, I think one of the keys to finding out is confrontation- call them out aggressively about something important or about something they are having a pity party about or bragging about. Put them on the spot in an uncomfortable kind of way-no sugar coating- straight up. Be stone faced with no emotion or inflection in your voice-they will hate this inability to read you. Then listen very carefully…I think you will hear it. I think you will typically get 2 types of responses- they will vaguely respond with the wrong affect (they may be giddy, when they should be scared) & then go on tangent about something else (they’ve perfected the art of distraction) OR they will lash out & blame you in some way-direct or indirectly-they will turn the tables on you in hopes to see an emotional response which they can exploit. But, do normal people react this way too. To some extent but the emotional response will either be surprisingly deadened or too heightened for what is being discussed. The question you asked will also never be truly answered-especially if it hits a cord. Kind of interesting to think about it-narc detectors- a future business idea;) just kidding-that would totally suck ass!

        I actually did something similar to this the other day with a patient of mine. His vibe was off immediately upon me introducing myself, he began to delay getting to what needed to be done (control issue), he then asked me why I seemed uncomfortable ( I actually wasn’t) I was amused-I told him I wasn’t but more annoyed by him not complying with what I was asking him to do. He got offensive but I didn’t feel dealing with it and I had to do my job-so I smoothed things over. Later he began rambling about how he likes random facts (I think narcs do, more than the average person, as a way to impress people with BS talk)- anyways…then told me he taught himself Spanish in 1 year & that he was reading the book Davinci Code in Spanish-he is 72 years old, so I knew this was total BS- I asked him how he learned it and he said night classes. I asked him where & he said all the places had closed shop. I said, oh that’s interesting. He shut up. Not saying he’s a narc or not but it was super annoying but kind of funny too. As in the past, I would have blown it off more and agreed but no more. You mess with me and I will join you in the game of make believe- especially if I can make a quick exit & not see the person again.

        Anyways, I think the gift in being with a person with NPD is getting keen observation & listening skills- you & many others who were raised by narcs, learned this early on as a child. I always was intuitive but I have radar for slight nuances that I would just shrug off before. I still shrug them off, since most people are not disordered but it does make you take a second look at who you are with & the little things in interactions.

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        1. 🙂

          You’re walking a line between this and that. Those lines are always an adventure in life. In self discovery through discovering others, and ourselves through others.

          According to the same sort of people who coalesce ‘population’ into a small study group which supposedly represents the population, and come up with vague averages such as ‘6%’ (similar to 2.5 children… what is a .5 child?) to prove whatever they needed it to prove for whatever purpose (personal and/or otherwise, perhaps for the sake of a grant endowed by a corporation with a vested interest in the study) which they had for such statistics… the question which will reveal a narcissist to you is – Are you a narcissist?

          If you do a search for this study, you will get many results for it as it is recent and popular due to trending topics. Here’s one – http://www.livescience.com/47197-narcissists-admit-to-it.html

          Looking for narcissism in people will result in finding exactly what you’re looking for – and you’ll find it in yourself too if you’re willing to look there too. Looking for NPD… it’s usually easier to let it find you. And as long as you’re being authentic, it’ll find you and then be repulsed by you. Hopefully the repulsion will propel it (and the person with NPD) away from you.

          The man to whom you referred. From what you shared of the interaction, this stood out – “he then asked me why I seemed uncomfortable” – in the context which you gave this is a version of projection or transference. He was uncomfortable. He could not admit to it for personal reasons (perhaps due to sex, age, social parameters, and setting), so he admitted to it indirectly by projecting and transferring his feelings of discomfort onto to you. He wasn’t asking you if you were uncomfortable, he was telling you that he was uncomfortable – which is why he did not immediately do what you wanted him to do, and why he appeared to be difficult to you. His issues of ‘control’ were actually issues of feeling out of control. You had the power and he felt uncomfortable with that because it was crossing boundaries for him – you were invading his personal space (perhaps he felt that you were doing so with no consideration for him, for where he was coming from) and he reacted to that defensively. His defensive reaction caused you to react to it… defensively… and things spiraled from there. He felt vulnerable in the scenario, and wanted to regain a bit of invulnerability. Doing this caused you to refer to a reference point of yours of those who try to appear invulnerable (your narc and how you experienced her) – and so you tagged him as a possible narcissist. Partly because of your own experience of feeling vulnerable and of boundaries being crossed.

          You’re in a healing profession – which means those who come to you need healing. We only think we need healing when we are in pain, and we only ask for help from others to heal us when we have exhausted our own ability to heal ourselves and found those to be lacking and ineffective. Being in pain causes us to become more narcissistic. Feeling that kind of vulnerability threatens our ego – which is where natural narcissism resides. A narcissistic reaction is normal.

          This man may have NPD or he may have simply reacted to the dynamic, scenario, and all the tangents connected to it. He may have left the interaction with you thinking that you were the one who had NPD (if he was aware of such a thing) because of the way you reacted to him. Your response to him could be considered narcissistic. You were put on the spot. And perhaps for him there was something a bit ‘off’ about you – but you thought what was ‘off’ was him.

          Each interaction between two humans is influenced by millions of details. Before you can asses who the other person is, and whether they have something like NPD or are being narcissistic you have to process all those millions of details in a logical manner.

          “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle

          That can be too much to do… it is easier to simply assume that people are complex, as are you. Be authentic and keep an eye on how authentic your authenticity is. I tend to suspect that I may be dealing with someone with NPD or who is very narcissistic when I notice that I’m being inauthentic. It’s not about them, it’s about me when I am with them.

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          1. That article was interesting. In my profession, men tend to react more like the above scenario, than women. You learn how to surrender control over appropriately to give them a sense of control…I am used to doing this. It’s the lying- that’s where the line gets blurred- it’s subjective too but I am more cautious when I hear lying and manipulation being used on me. I tend to question more as I did with him. In the past I would have just ignored it. It is just interesting to see it in action after removing myself and being clear minded- you see things, but now you have some insight on it that you didn’t have before. And I feel the same way with your comment about “being inauthentic” when I am around someone who is very narcissistic or NPD. I felt that way with that particular patient- I was more firm, on guard and not my typical self-that’s why it made an impression on me too…I was acting out of character in a way too.
            You would be a good healthcare provider- you describing about projection and transference about the interaction was right on- it’s hard being vulnerable for many of us-this is a human thing. Thanks:)

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            1. Also, made me laugh about your comment on 6% of the population (and 2.5 kids-the .5-so ridiculous but seemingly creditable, ha)…how would they know…I can guarantee that those with NPD are not putting that on their employment surveys under the subjective portion about gender, age, race, and the new category- are you disordered..it’s kind of funny really when you actually think about it. I needed a laugh:) good times

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            2. Haha 😀 I would be a terrible healthcare provider! You haven’t been ill around me 😉

              People have mentioned that my presence has a calming influence (as long as I don’t open my mouth and let my unfiltered thoughts out through that orifice). Angry people are the ones who’ve pointed that out the most, because they like the fact that I don’t get frazzled by their anger and don’t try to placate them (which tends to piss them off more than they already are). The people who tend to find that I have the opposite effect are those seeking sympathy – I am atrocious as meeting that need. Other than that… Just like everyone else who has access to information about things such as transference and projection, I get the gist of it but I wouldn’t get a diploma for my gist-getting of it.

              What I see with you is the coming together of a powerful understanding intelligence. Keep doing what you are doing, don’t forget to use it first and foremost on yourself, because that is where everything else begins and ends.

              Don’t be afraid of attracting and having to deal with narcissists (those with NPD and those who are just very narcissistic). Your experience with you ex-friend show you your vulnerability, but also your strength, as our vulnerability is one and the same as our strength – can’t have one without the other (something which those with NPD can’t uncerstand with their black or white thinking). Trust yourself… and keep building on that!

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              1. Ha ha ha…that made me laugh & smile. I am one of those types that always appears to be smiling-even when I’m not. I have many strangers go out of their way to tell me this. And my ex narc friend and her Mom also commented on this. I think it annoys people really…especially the ones who are pissed inside. But once I open my mouth- the game changes-I’m not all bubbles & giggles- I’m pretty frank, swear too much, can get on a roll about something & not let it go, passionate to the point of obsessive (not narc-like usually, ha) & very loyal- my top trait that was my biggest downfall. Like you said, “my strength, as our vulnerability.”

                You would be a good virtual provider, as you are on your blog. “Gist-getting” is more worthy of a diploma in many ways and the people that are good at gist-getting it, ultimately really get it. The “it” is the ability to see the fabric of life that holds us all together- disordered or not- it’s the life force that we all have. May the force be with you- sorry, that just popped in my head, ha! Thanks for your comments- hope you are well:)

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                1. The smiling thing is always a mixed blessing. If you don’t smile people will tell you to smile, if you do smile people will wonder why you’re smiling when they aren’t, things like that. I think the funniest paradox of smiling is that in nature when an animal smiles it is baring its teeth as a sign of warning. I think of that whenever I smile, or at least when I’m smiling in anger 😉

                  It’s interesting to note that in certain societies the ‘perfect smile’ is an obsession which requires expensive and extensive procedures that often apply veneers over the actual teeth – remind you of anything?

                  Jean Cocteau remarked that if someone criticises you for something, embrace it, cultivate it, it is you. He also said that the mirror should think longer before it reflects – which is particularly apt advice when we’re ‘playing’ the part of the mirror for someone else.

                  Haha! Love it! And thank you! I’m a Stars Wars (before they made it more complicated) fan.

                  My blog is a virtual provider, that’s a good point. It provides me with a place where I challenge myself to just be myself as is, and that includes not having any goal for what I’m doing – the goal is the journey with no goal. I’m a bit of a butterfly where information is concerned, I like to know a bit about everything, but I really don’t know anything about anything – that’s me. I share my gist of something and hopefully others will share their gist too, like you do, and those shared gists and perspectives become a part of our adventure here together being humans on Earth 😀

                  Thank you very much for sharing, it means a lot to me ❤

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                  1. Thank you! It means a lot to me too 🙂 (I don’t have your cool emoticons though, so I am left with a stick figure side smile, blah)

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                    1. On my blog, for the comments I have emoticons enabled – so you have access to the same emoticons which I do. When you use them leave spaces around them and they’ll transform – I’ve edited your comment and added a space where you did a smiley face. It is now a smiley emoticon. Don’t do this:) do this [space] 🙂

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  6. Yes, people are confused and your essay reflects our process learning about narcissism. Since my introduction was based on the NPD, there was no mistaking pathological narcissism from “normal” narcissism. Understanding pathology first, allowed me to examine my narcissistic traits as natural (considering my childhood), limiting, and remediable. (Dr. Nina Brown) I was never ever confused about the DAMAGE pathological narcissists always do to other people. I might annoy people or tick them off, but I don’t give them PTSD. ;-P

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    1. I also came at narcissism from the NPD angle. It helped me to understand my parents, my childhood, my adulthood, and gave me the ability to distinguish between the narcissistic behaviour which is normal to all humans and the narcissistic behaviour of someone with NPD – they are similar, which can cause the kind of confusion that may lead someone to decide that someone else is a narcissist when they are not, yet very different. The difference makes all the difference and can clarify confusion. Like you pointed out with wonderful humour, when we are being narcissistic, we may be annoying (and someone may decide that they are going to label us a narcissist because we annoyed them) but we are not a long term annoyance which is traumatising.

      A turning point for me was when I realised that the behaviour which I had been told all my life was bad was actually healthy – although repeatedly being told it is bad, that you are bad because of it, can make it become unhealthy in its expression as you try to not behave that way because it is bad and you can end up walking the path of the narcissist by trying to be who you are not – and that those who told me this repeatedly were doing so because they needed me to be bad so that they could be good. I needed to be a sinner so that they could be saints, and their sainthood relied on pointing out my sins and never letting me forget them or ever be forgiven for them.

      I think those who have had a relationship with someone who has NPD know it once they figure it out, and there is no doubt about it (other than perhaps a hopeful doubt that they are wrong even though they know they are right).

      Thank you for sharing 🙂

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      1. You always write such in-depth responses to people and I appreciate your time and sincere caring. I am glad to know more about your history since I only became familiar with your blog a short while ago. NPD is very different from the narcissism we’re discussing today and as you said, there’s no doubt about it. I suppose my ex’s obvious “sickness” prevented me from worrying about my narcissism at the time because there was no doubt that I was (for once) more mentally healthy than he. That’s another humorous comment for anyone who’s been married to a narcissist since they generally accuse their partners of being crazy. I was, in his view, the “sinner” to his saintly sanity. I love your comment about that!

        I’m enjoying being part of this “narcissism movement” bringing a serious problem to everyone’s attention and right when we are more individualistic than ever (good and bad thing, right?). Seeing how this plays out will be interesting. However people use this new psych language is fine with me, although I’m sure some “controlling-type” psychologists are ready to pull out their hair!

        I think people recognize when they are self-absorbed and they don’t like it. They may even feel guilty because they know they’re not paying enough attention to “others” (or respect). That’s a pretty good sign they aren’t narcissists since they can reign themselves back before they do irreparable damage to their relationships.

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        1. Thank you 🙂

          Beautifully expressed as always, you have a way of seeing things which is inspirational and valuable. So grateful that you share and do so with courage and generosity!

          Being in a relationship with a narcissist, whatever form that relationship takes, often ends up with us being (labeled) and feeling like ‘the crazy one’. Investigating that through questioning it (is it me or is it them?)… is how we figure things out and get out of the mirror in which we’ve been trapped. Takes time and effort, which is worth it however painful it is, it is less painful than being stuck in a narcissist’s version of reality (especially their version of our ‘real’ selves).

          I agree with you, it doesn’t matter how people use the term ‘narcissist’ as long as the awareness grows and spreads. That’s how consciousness evolves, and we’re all a part of that movement – which is exciting! Everything starts somewhere… where it goes is a path of discovery.

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  7. Yey fantastic! 😀 god.. “having no expectations or not being able to see yourself as having rights contributes to the dissatisfaction of your partner” O.O !!

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      I did a bit of a double-take on the same sentence. I think it is a way of saying that a relationship needs some expectation, such as the expectation of being respected, of being treated as an equal, of working together on the relationship, give and take. The sort of expectation which lets us and the other person know that we care about the relationship, about the other person and about ourselves. When we deny ourselves an equal share of a relationship, when we are passive, ask for nothing, it gives the impression that we don’t care and the other person carries the weight of the space which we refuse to inhabit. It’s like having a silent partner who may as well not be there at all, but is there and we don’t know why and they won’t tell us.

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      1. Haha yes, the big eyes represent a realization 😀 It does make sense, I’m not so sure about the expectations, but for sure, if you don’t respect yourself (= not being able to see yourself as having rights), you may as well play the part of the invisible man/woman in a relationship as you say! For do you see yourself at all? Great post, and sorry for late response, have been taking a break from thinking, -again 😉

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