Thank you to lansealan for suggesting the idea of writing a post about going out to eat with a narcissist.
So, where to begin…
perhaps first I should mention that most of my experiences of going out to eat with a narcissist involve one or both of my parents.
I apologise to any narcissist who isn’t one of my parents for forgetting our time out for food together but frankly it wasn’t memorable enough to give me flashbacks whereas as all those times when my parents decided to go out to eat dragging me along with them and chaos, like clockwork, ensued still have me flashbacking.
Offer me a baguette with ham and I’ll suddenly have total recall of one of the last meals I had with my father in the Tuileries garden… it was just a sandwich in the park bought from a vendor, what could possibly go wrong… if you’re with a narcissist the easier question to ask is – can anything go right?
The last meal I had with my mother was at a cafe in London where she introduced me to her new best friend in the entire world, who was a con artist she had met in the street who offered her a part of fortune but that fortune was tied up and until it became untied this most trustworthy person in the universe needed someone’s credit card information. My mother didn’t have a credit card at the time (for narc drama reasons) but someone she knew did, and that someone she knew would give it to her because if they didn’t mother would be upset and we wouldn’t want that. Apparently we did want that and we got called evil for it so we decided to not bother anymore with mother and her mad hatter’s tea parties anymore.
Those experiences where when I was an adult and I could have walked away at any point… even if walking away from a narcissist while they’re in mid-drama is not always possible or advisable (because they’ll follow you as though bound to you by a string which is unbreakable until they decide it can break and things will get even more dramatic).. or I could have not gone to the meals at all (but I was… um… only following orders? You know, those orders in the mind which are bullshit which tell you that you have to do something because… these are your parents and you must respect them, give in to them, put up with their antics forever and ever until they die… or until you die because they cling to life far more than you do, you’re always on the verge of letting go of it due to them being in it and forcing you to sharesies….)
if you spend enough time eating what the narcissist feeds you, you’ll end up murdering yourself and lying about it
There was one time when I refused to go out to dinner with my parents – I was about 8 yrs old and didn’t want to spend the evening with a bunch of adults having adult conversation (which I’d heard all before because I’d been dragged to these things all my life) while I had to sit there ‘behaving’. My mother exploded, my father didn’t give a shit – which meant my mother exploded even more (at him, at me, at him because of me, at me because of him) because once again she had to deal with me on her own without his back-up and other martyr-saint stories. They eventually left (my father walked out and my mother decided to follow his lead because she was damned if he was getting away from her that easily) to have dinner with their adult friends (who they hated and didn’t consider friends at all due to lots of ‘these people are inferior’ reasons, but you have to pretend because of social blah, blah, blah). By the time they left my evening was ruined, I felt like total crap for all of the crimes I’d committed by just being alive, I must have sobbed all the water in my body out, I even wandered the streets at night trying to find the restaurant… but who cares if my evening was ruined, only the narcissists matter and I had offended one of them and all the tears in the world could not undo such an offense.
And those are just a few mild experiences compared to some of the others I have stored in my memory banks – I keep trying to free that space up but for some reason those files can’t be deleted.
Going out to eat with my particular narcissists was always a last meal before someone got sacrificed to appease the gods of narc…
Staying in to eat with them wasn’t a picnic either, especially when they were both there brewing up a storm together which hung over the table like one of those black clouds which gives you a headache whose pressure squeezes your brain from both sides like a vice, which can only be relieved by thunder and lightning actually getting it on and washing everything away in a flood of torrential rain.
But staying in was preferable to going out… you weren’t quite as trapped, quite as much of a captured audience, your hostage status had leeway…
because going out to eat with one or both of my parents was like…
going to the opera…
the opera came to mind because I have this song stuck in my head at the moment…
… this song was one of my father’s favourites, perhaps because it’s about cracking a whip (sort of). He liked to sing this out loud and annoy the hell of my professionally trained in opera mother who never actually sang professionally because she married my father before she became who she was supposed to be and… other stories told by narcissists which may or may not be true.
… this particular version of it reminds me a lot of dinner parties with my parents, with my father (who looked not dissimilar to the baritone) lording it over everyone doing one of his set pieces, telling one of his stories to his audience, being the charming host (even if he wasn’t the host), with everyone smiling politely while he did it. In the meantime my mother would be sitting just offstage looking like she’d been hit by a ton of bricks and was stewing over it (waiting to blow off steam later all over me because I was a stand-in for my father when she couldn’t confront him or when she had confronted him and he’d left her unsatisfied, needing more confrontational stuff to happen until she could win her point and thus get satisfaction).
Dinner with narcissists is a play, opera, performance, film, made for TV movie, which takes place in several acts – the actual dinner is somewhere in between a long beginning and an interminable end.
There was one time when my mother got asked on a date by a man…
(quick parental relationship status update for this time – they were not divorced, they were not living together and hadn’t been for ages, my father by this time was shacked up with his longtime mistress who was far more of a ‘wife’ to him than my mother ever was or wanted to be, they hated each others guts but were passionately obsessed with each other, and my mother thought his mistress was an actual witch/bruha/black magic woman, my mother was a born again virgin due to martyr-saint type of narcissist reasons so she rarely ‘dated’, and definitely didn’t sex and the city it up)
This man… he was a rather nice guy, as those who end up on dates with narcissists often are.
If you end up dating a narcissist please don’t think this is because there’s something wrong with you… it’s far more likely to be because there is a more than something right with you – but having things right doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes go wrong.
Narcissists are a lot of things… one of which is being very good at spotting the best people in a crowd. So if they pick you – it’s basically one of those awkward compliments.
There’s something special about you…
unfortunately a narcissist has noticed this special something about you and now you’re about to end up wishing that you weren’t so special… because you’re a ‘special’ on their narcissistic supply menu.
but first you’re going to feel wonderful about them noticing you and you being special because they’re going to treat you to their specialty which is intoxicating you with their attention.
Chances are until you met the narcissist you didn’t know you were as special as you now know you are… even if you, like this man, had graduated from Harvard, were a successful professional, had loads o’money thanks to hard graft, were intellectually very adept and weren’t bad looking either (who says you can’t be smart and beautiful at the same time… smash that mirror!)
So… this man met my mother, she made him feel special, and he asked her out to dinner… at The Harvard Club in New York to impress her… but he didn’t know that he was trying to impress a narcissist… a narcissist who knew he was trying to impress her.
You can impress a narcissist… but if they know you’re trying to impress them and that impressing them is important to you then you’re fighting a losing battle (and it will be a battle, a competition – everything is a competition with them, an ego-tussle, which they intend to win) because them ‘being not impressed’ when you’re trying to impress them impresses them more than them being impressed by you and your efforts to impress them. They get their kicks from not letting you get your kicks.
I was a teenager at the time, living with my mother, and I was elated when I heard that she had met someone… to take her attention away from me – I was particularly relieved that I could perhaps stop playing ‘surrogate husband’ for her (for awhile anyway… the chances of this ‘relationship’ lasting were slim since my mother was ‘loyal’ to my father). The duties involved in being ‘surrogate husband’ meant doing things like inviting and treating her to dinner, finding a suitable restaurant which met her high, perfectionistic, idealistic, impossible to meet standards (basically finding a dump and letting her bitch about it was just as good as finding the best place ever because she’d still think it was a dump and bitch about it – but I didn’t know that at the time and this ‘job’ was killing me).
I cheered her on – as a good little narc cheerleader does – and encouraged her to go on the date with this man – she was a bit meh about it because he wasn’t my father = he wasn’t a ‘famous artist’ and other narcissistic delusions of grandeur through association. I hadn’t met him… but… I would because I was going to be the ‘chaperone’ for this date! Yay me! WTF!?!
I’m sure the man did the Harvard grad (before internet and social media) version of WTF when he heard that his date had been hijacked in this manner.
Well… apparently my mother needed me to be her chaperone… and both me and this man had to do what pleased her because… narc reasons.
So I got to watch her behave like a ‘teenager’ (although I would say she had regressed further than that as her pastime during the meal was all about pushing the prongs of a fork under her wine glass and then tipping it without tipping it over… I am not shitting you, this is what she did the entire meal. I wish I was making this up… while I’m wishing I made things up, I wish I’d made my parents up, but my imagination wouldn’t do that because frankly it doesn’t have that kind of juice) while I ‘behaved’ myself once again as I always had, making polite conversation, being impressed by the restaurant, awed by the environment and the host, delighted by the food, interested in the conversation – he was an interesting man and…
I hope he found someone after this disastrous date to confirm that for him, to appreciate him and to appreciate how considerate he was because he was a frigging bundle of consideration for others. He was really kind to me and a real ‘martyr-saint’ towards my mother (very different from her martyr-saint role which she loved to play so much). He had every right to feel that he had been ‘cheated’ because the date he had expected, the person he had thought he was wining and dining… never showed up, but someone else did (the flip side of the charming narcissist) and they brought ‘a friend’ with them… but instead he was gracious.
Grace under pressure… a very valuable trait, and when someone shows they have it they underline how ‘special’ they are without needing to say anything. Narcissists love those who have grace under pressure because they put people under pressure all the time and they are graceless about it.
Gotta go now… because I’m a tad late for dinner with someone who is not a narcissist.
Over to you!