If you think you’re married to a narcissist look for the signs…

Do you feel engulfed, controlled, manipulated, and find that you are losing your sense of self? Then you may be married to a narcissist. Does your partner use one set of rules and expectations for him/herself and another set for you? Then you may be married to a narcissist.  Does your partner dismiss your feelings as “crazy” or too “needy”, but no one else in your life sees you that way? Then you might be married to a narcissist.  Does your partner act out sexually, act reckless, is emotionally attacking, manipulative, and blames you for her or his feelings? Then you are probably married to a narcissist.

It can be quite confusing when the person you love consistently ignores, dismisses and explains away your feelings, wants and needs, while complaining that you never do what he or she wants. It can also be verry hard to feel safe, cared for or even heard and considered in such a relationship. You may feel under constant pressure to say and do just the right thing in just the right way to please her or him or just to keep the peace.

This pressure can lead to depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, fear of making a mistake, and lack of energy and enthusiasm. Basing your self-esteem on the opinions of someone else is always a vulnerable proposition, but when you are married to a narcissist it is devastating. A narcissist feels most secure when his/her partner looks really good and feels really needy. So s/he keeps you off balance with criticisms, withdrawal of love, impossible demands, and lectures about how he or she knows better than you do what you feel and need. Ultimately all your attention goes to the narcissist, trying to get and keep his or her attention and love, and your needs get stuffed and ignored even by you.

The only way to break out of this scenario is to start payin attention to your own needs and wants and doing something to fulfill them yourself. Stop waiting fort he narcissist to notice and spontaneously start responding to your feelings. Start paying attention to your own wants and needs and create a plan to get them fulfilled by YOU. Here are some ideas:

1. Be present in your own life. Start noticing what you feel and when you feel it. Write these down so you won’t later try to discount or diminish them. Paying attention to yourself puts you more in touch with your own life and existence.

2. Respect yourself. What you feel, want and need are ALL very important. These things are a part of you. Choosing for yourself your preferences, your friends, your activities, your thoughts and feelings are all ways of validating WHO YOU ARE and respecting your own uniqueness. Increase your self-respect, and you will decrease your neediness on the narcissist.

3. Quit making impossible demands on yourself. You cannot change another person, so stop trying to make the narcissist pay attention to you, hear you, respomd to your feelings, understand your point of view, or be more thoughtful. This is an impossible task so it is time to give it up and concentrate on something that can be successul, that, is, doing these things for yourself.

4. Stop taking things personally. Don’t take anything the narcissist (or anyone else) says or does as meaning anything about you. You are not the cause of what other people do. You can’t MAKE another adult think, feel or act a certain way. That is under the other person’s contrrol, not yours. In fact, narcissists are so focused on themselves that whatever they say is actually a statemet about themselves, not you. Think about it.

5. Encourage yourself. Start saying, thinking and believing good things about yourself. Self-criticism does nothing to make you feel better nor does it help you be a better person or take better actions. Being kind, gentle, and forgiving of yourself are the best ways to become immune to the harsh criticisms and invalidations of the narcissist.

If you ARE married to a narcissist, what are you doing to take care of yourself? What are you doing to identify and meet your own needs? What do you need to start doing to make your life better? Narcissists, by definition, think only and entirely about themselves. So it is up to you to figure out how to take care of YOU.

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© Copyright 2015 Margalis Fjelstad Ph.D., LMFT, All rights Reserved.
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Dr. Fjelstad has been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for nearly thirty years. Through her college teaching at CSUS in California and Regis University in Colorado, she has trained hundreds of students to become therapists. She is noted for her work with clients who grew up with a mentally ill parent and those who take on a caretaking role with a borderline or narcissistic family member. Her book, Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist: How to End the Drama and Get on With Life, was published in 2014 by Rowman and Littlefield and is available on Amazon.com. Dr. Fjelstad has a private practice and conducts Caretaker recovery groups in Colorado. She has a workbook, an on-line class, and a monthly newsletter available through her website for people who want to quit caretaking. Dr. Fjelstad also provides phone consultations for people who have questions about a current or ex-loved one with BPD or NPD.