What Do Narcissists Want?

If you strip away from narcissists all the accessories which people (who consider themselves not to be narcissists) give them, labels such as evil, monster, toxic, manipulative, Machiavellian, vampire, walking dead after your brain juice, etc,  you may actually be horrified to find someone who is a person that is not unlike you in their needs, wants and ambitions.

Narcissists are people.

Humans just like you, me, and everyone else.

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Two Stupid Chickens

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They’re just humans who don’t particularly want to be human because the human status is a painful, complicated, bothersome and sometimes boring one.

If you’re honest with yourself and have an intimate self-reflective chat between you and all the other facets of you… you’ll probably find aspects of you which kind of agree with narcissists on things like not wanting to be human, or at least not wanting to be an ordinary human being.

It can be shocking and annoying to agree with a narcissist once you decide that you disagree with them… there is a certain amount of right in their plethora of wrong, and sometimes that’s something worth checking out for yourself not for them – as every relationship we have, good or bad or whatever, teaches us something we need to learn.

The harder the lesson, the more important the teaching… or something like that.

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why does the pebble scream

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If your introduction to the world of narcissist came from falling in love with a narcissist, chances are one of the things which inspired you to fall for them was the fact that they made you feel special, different, anything but ordinary. You probably liked that and wanted more of it, so you fell for them and settled in for a wonderful relationship treat where they made you feel as though you were one of a kind, rare, unusual, super special… and they did that… but at some point it stopped being done in a positive manner and became negative because the unique snowflake that the narcissist saw you as being started to melt under the hyper-critical gaze of a narcissist.

You were still ‘special’ only now you’re they’re special kind of hell and they’re your special kind of hell because of it.

They’re hyper-critical because they’re seeking perfection as they’re idealists who don’t realise that ideals are there to inspire not to be made into a reality – we’re supposed to reach for the stars but live on Earth, admire the sun but not actually visit it with wings attached to our backs with wax which can’t take those kind of temperatures.

We’re all prone to being idealistic and narcissists often attract us to them because they seem to embody our ideals, they’re a dream come true… shame that dreams can turn so quickly into nightmares!

It’s not our fault (although they do like to blame us for everything).

It’s not their fault (although we do like to blame them for everything).

It’s not anyone’s fault (although we do all seem to like to find fault and make someone else responsible for it).

Some people are narcissists and some are not.

The two types of people often interact because that’s what people do and things go great until they go not so great and then get worse.

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The universe - Neil Degrasse Tyson

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One of the things which non-narcissists pride themselves on having and like to point out that narcissists do not have is the big E – Empathy.

I read an article which claimed that if you take Tylenol (or any medication which contains Acetaminophen) your ability to empathise may be reduced (that article can be found here – Empathy Is Killed By Popular Painkiller Found In 600 Different Drugs). Mind you if you’re taking something like Tylenol chances are that you have a headache, or some other pressing physical pain, and if you have a headache or are experiencing the pressure and stress of personal pain… you’re probably not in the sort of mood or frame of mind to deal with someone else’s issues and be empathic or sympathetic. It’s their effing turn to do that stuff!

Most of the narcissists I have known are under the impression that they are very empathic (more empathic than anyone else ever). I’ve had heated arguments with them about this because their version of empathy feels more like them projecting/transferring their own emotional state onto me (while disassociating themselves from it) and then telling me what I’m feeling (which is what they’re actually feeling), and telling me that what I’m feeling is bothering them because they’re empathic (while apparently I am not) and my pain is causing them pain (so could I please stop feeling shit!).

If someone who claims to be an empath or empathic only picks up ‘bad feelings’ from you while all the ‘good feelings’ belong to them – there’s something awry with their empathic picture. Real empaths and those who are genuinely empathic pick up both good and bad and the in-between, they benefit as much as they suffer, the glass is in constant flux of fullness, emptiness and halfness (which could go either way towards full or empty).

If an empathic person sees their empathic ability as solely a negative thing… gotta wonder about them and their version of empathy.

The empathy issue is usually where I fall out with a narcissist (and where I often realise someone I thought wasn’t a narcissist may be one… there’s always room for doubt as this may just be a one off instance), because their version of empathy isn’t the same as mine.

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Empaths be like...

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For me empathy is about understanding where someone else is located, coming from – while putting yourself aside for a moment. It’s not about you, it’s about them – what you get out of it is understanding them, and by understanding them you may also understand what’s going on between the two of you if there’s a relationship issue going on at the time.

Understanding others also helps us to understand ourselves better because… as much as we all have differences we have similarities.

And as much as we don’t like it – we have similarities to the narcissists in our life.

We were attracted to them as much as they were attracted to us – it’s as much a part of our algorithm of life as it is theirs. They’re a number in our equation as much as we are a number in their equation… but our task is to figure our own formula out, not theirs. However maybe trying to figure their formula out is a part of figuring ours out…?

So…

What do narcissists want?

They often want something very similar to what we want.

And many of the problems which we have with narcissists – are problems which they have with us.

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demon lovers

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They want us to love them but we don’t love them the way that they want to be loved.

They want us to understand them but we don’t understand them the way that they want to be understood (and since they’re super rare and super special they quite like the fact that no one understands them as it confirms how rare and special they are – but it still frustrates them because they need stuff from us and if we don’t understand them we won’t give them what they need).

I saw an Entertainment News headline the other day which stated that – Jaden Smith claims he always knew he was different and that no one would understand him. I have no idea what he actually said, I just read the headline and went – Welcome to how everyone feels privately about themselves and about others not being able to understand them! Welcome to being an ordinary human who feels anything but ordinary (but who somehow thinks that everyone else is ordinary in comparison)!

Oh woe is me – this woe makes me special (even though everyone else has a similar sort of woe)!

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love-me-without-restrictions-1

(I both love and hate this quote… it’s made me think and rethink a lot)

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Narcissists want us to accept them. understand them, love them… but to do that for them we want something similar in return. If they do it for us we’ll do it for them… and we do it for them while we think they’re doing it for us, but the moment that we begin to suspect they’re not doing it for us… we’re so not going to keep doing it for them!

And this is where the love affair with the narcissist who made you feel special ends and the hate affair with narcissist who makes you feel a special kind of hell begins.

There are times when I think that people seem to benefit more from the hate affair they have with narcissists than the love affair which got them into this sort of situation in the first place.

Humans sometimes get far more out of hate than they do from love… hate has an intensity which lingers on and on and on and inspires a deeper delving into ourselves, we have to dig deep within to find the strength to face those whom we decide and deem are our enemies…

whereas we tend to surf the surface when we like, love without worry, and feel okay about things, others, ourselves…

sometimes those we hate mean more to us than those we love

sometimes the negative gets more of our attention than the positive… think about it, how often do you notice you head until it aches and aches in a way that needs something like Tylenol, then you notice it and can’t seem to not notice it. All those times it doesn’t hurt, did you notice those… but now it hurts…

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child of pain

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There are many similarities between narcissist and non-narcissists…

one of which is that both of those sides don’t think they’re narcissists, but may think that others are.

The similarities are informative, and if you’re one of those who is endeavouring to understand the narcissist in your life (because you’re genuinely empathic and don’t limit your empathy to those of whom you approve, and empathy is an intelligent process for you rather than just an organic one) then the similarities are a key to finding the understanding which you’re seeking.

Something else I read while roaming t’internets was that ‘liking’ quotes online may be a sign of low IQ or something like that… all I got from reading this was a sense of wonder about the person who wrote it (it was on the same Psych blog as the Tylenol thing and you can find it here – Why You Should Avoid Wise-Sounding But Meaningless Quotes) as it seemed to reveal more about them and their perspective than it did about the subject and others.

However the differences are what makes the difference.

Narcissists are often the ones most likely to label someone else a narcissist and add all those other labels – evil, monster, toxic, manipulative, Machiavellian, vampire, walking dead after your brain juice, etc, – to it and be adamant that they’re right about it with no room for doubt whatsoever.

Most humans, of the non-narcissist variety, cut other humans slack because we all need a bit of that, a lot of that… we can all be un-empathic headaches to others… we don’t mean to be or want to be but sometimes that’s just the way we are or how others experience us (and vice versa). So we give others the benefit of the doubt (’cause doubt ain’t always a bad thing) and hope they’ll do the same for us because sometimes taking that kind of risk pays off!

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6 thoughts on “What Do Narcissists Want?

  1. Interesting post and take on empathy. I truthfully never considered the positive side of empathy before. I always have associated it with more with empathizing with others when they are in pain or going through a difficult time. That’s not to say that I haven’t empathized with others when they have experienced something good. I’ll even go so far to say that I have empathized with others happiness to the point of at times feeling envy over it.

    You say most of the N’s you have known are under the impression they are very empathic. I think about the narcissists in my life who have had the greatest impact – (or those I believe are N’s) – my parents, and specifically one romantic relationship- and not once have I ever heard them even utter the term empathy. I really never even heard empathy discussed much at all or narcissism for that matter – until my life had reached such a breaking point that I became a seeker of answers to my experiences and eventually stumbled upon narcissistic PD, through search terms like emotional abuse, emotional neglect, self esteem, infidelity, manipulation etc. – once I entered the world of recovery forums that’s when I began to hear people discussing empathy and N’s lack of it. I’m pretty confident this has been in ALL forums I’ve visited. I find it difficult to believe the people who found their way to such forums are N’s themselves, but some could be for sure. Even myself included, or not pathological but heavy on N or other cluster B traits.

    I’ve come to believe whether an N in my life considers themselves empathetic or not – they have a great deal of empathy – but use it as a tool to gain something – not necessarily reciprocation, more like a tool for information gathering.

    What about indifference? From my experience that’s what the N’s in my life seem to be very capable of. Indifference to another’s pain and suffering, but absolutely not indifferent about their own.

    You say they are human too, but to me they seem capable of a high level of indifference towards others compared to people who aren’t N’s. Is it feigned as a defense mechanism? Or are they truly indifferent?

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    1. Thank you for sharing 🙂

      There are different types of empathy – Cognitive, Emotional, and Compassionate. Most people tend to mean ‘Emotional Empathy’ when using the term ‘Empathy’, which is where you feel what another person is feeling.

      This is a good summation of the 3 types of Empathy – http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/empathy-types.html – and it explains the good and the bad side of having emotional empathy:

      “Emotional empathy is good because it means that we can readily understand and feel other people’s emotions. This is vital for those in caring professions, such as doctors and nurses, to be able to respond to their patients appropriately. It also means that we can respond to friends and others when they are distressed.

      Emotional empathy is bad, because it is possible to become overwhelmed by those emotions, and therefore unable to respond. This is known as empathy overload, and is explained in more detail in our page on Understanding Others. Those with a tendency to become overwhelmed need to work on their self-regulation, and particularly their self-control, so that they become better able to manage their own emotions.”

      N’s who think they’re empathic won’t necessarily use the term ’empathy’ to express their view that they’re empathic. Whether they use the term or not depends on several factors.

      One of which is generational – Empathy as a term and concept has become more popular with the increased awareness of NPD/narcissists – the term ‘narcissist’ not so long ago referred mainly to very vain people rather than those with a personality disorder – so older narcissists won’t necessarily use ’empathy’, just as they probably wouldn’t use the term ‘narcissist’ the way it is now used, they’ll use other terms like ‘considerate’, ‘thoughtful’, ‘caring’, ‘sensitive’, etc. If being empathic/emotionally tuned in was deemed to be a ‘weakness’ in their formative years they may shy away from that terminology.

      One of which is social – It depends on whether those around them use the term, whether it is in popular use around them, and whether those in their social circle or those they look up to stress the importance of being empathic and having empathy. A narcissist must always have what others deem to be a ‘must have’, thus if the ‘must have’ is ’empathy’ then a narcissist has to have it and the easiest way to have it is by saying you do – as what a narcissist says they are becomes real to them whether they are that or not. Since people don’t tend to question what you say you are a narcissist can pretty much say anything about themselves and it will be accepted until the divide between who they are and who they say their are is too hard to ignore. Even if questioned a narcissist usually has examples they can give to back up their statement and they may give proof even if they aren’t questioned as a way to confirm to themselves that they are who they say they are, with empathy they’ll say something like ‘I cry when I watch sad films or listen to sad songs’ as for them that is ’empathy’.

      An interesting story is of the recent interview with Clint Eastwood and his son in Esquire, where he called this the ‘pussy generation’. The most interesting part was how much the son was mimicking his father.

      The indifference of a narcissist is both a defense mechanism (a means to hide their ‘weakness’ by pretending to be an immortal who doesn’t suffer from mere mortal stuff) and simply their inability to be interested in anything which does not directly concern or impact them. If it is not about them then they’re not interested. If it serves no purpose for them then it’s irrelevant. If you aren’t useful then you don’t exist to them.

      If your pain is useful for them then they notice it and usually turn it into something to do with them – “Oh, I see you’re suffering, poor you… let me tell you all about how much I suffer too because you should be a sympathetic ear for my pain due to your pain, and then let me tell you how my suffering is probably worse than yours as I see everything as a competition which I must win” or “Oh, you’re suffering, pull yourself together you pussy generation… in my day you had to grin and bear it and make your pain into something you gain from, let me tell you all about my miracle cure-all system which I created and sell at a high price to all those like you who aren’t as strong and powerful as I am”.

      Being indifferent to others is a human ‘ability’ – it’s part of our primal survival skills. So being indifferent doesn’t make them ‘less or not human’ in some ways it makes them typically human.

      Often what you’ll find with narcissists is that they learn quickly from negative experience – if they showed caring towards someone and that someone did not react the way they expected that person to react then they decide never to care for anyone ever again because caring for others hurts and they hate pain. – especially the negative experience which brings heavy disappointment. If their first time riding a horse ends with the horse throwing them off or with it not being as amazing as the dream ideal they built up of it, they’ll end up hating horses, hating people who like horses, and may decide to make a living selling horse meat.

      Their indifference usually has a story attached to it which centers around them being deeply hurt, disappointed, forced to deal with reality, badly impacted and therefore now trying to ignore whatever it was until it doesn’t exist and cause a rift in their perfect world. They may also just be mimicking their role model.

      It’s intriguing to explore our own personal experience of narcissists as it reveals our own story to us, perhaps more so than theirs – we all have a certain degree of narcissism, that is part of being human. Being narcissistic is sometimes necessary, as is being indifferent, all things complement the opposite and give balance. It would be difficult to go on a Narc forum is you didn’t have a certain detachment from others and focus on yourself, the stories of others would overwhelm you and the sound of the suffering of the world would make you go insane with feeling all that pain.

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  2. I want things my way as well, so it’s been difficult walking a constant tightrope of…. the reality, staying grounded and keeping balanced. However, I do know she does want the same things I do.. but goes about them in a VERY unhealthy, selfish, self-serving and harmful way; Unfortunately, I’m already seeing the affects in my lil one. Thank you for sharing and always helping me keep things in perspective.

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    1. Thank you 🙂

      It’s often the similarities between us and them which confuses us and causes pain far more than the differences, because we find it hard to understand why they don’t behave the way that we do to get the same things.

      Your lil one is little – children do what children do to try and deal with the adults in their life. They’re usually far smarter than the adults, more logical due to not having accumulated all that gumph which adults have which causes complications. She’ll figure things out in her own time – just be there for her as you are – taking care of yourself will benefit her too 🙂

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  3. In the World to Come…may I have The person there, that I hope buried deep down, was meant to be 🙂

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