Here comes a Lesser Narcissist. We shall call him Lee.
“What did you call me?”
Hello Lee. A Lesser Narcissist.
“No I’m not, it’s you that’s the narcissist, I’m sick of you saying that there is something wrong with me, when it’s you that has the problem. You do it on purpose, always trying to wind me up, I’ve fucking had enough of it.”
Sigh. That’s another plate broken and a panel punched in the door. Again. He’s gone, but he will be back. You see, that’s a typical reaction of the Lesser. He doesn’t know what he is. Often he will not even know what a narcissist is, but if you try to tell him, even if you do it in a calm and pleasant way, he doesn’t hear what you are saying, he just hears the criticism. When that happens his fury ignites and usually he will lash out. That’s why he insulted me, tried to shift the blame on to me, smashed the plate and punched the door. He didn’t think about doing any of that. It just happened. He reacts and responds by instinct. He is a creature of instinct. I didn’t hear the front door slam so he must be in the house still. Let’s go and find him.
Here he is. Locked in his den. His bolthole and sanctuary from the criticism. He is tapping away on his ‘phone. Let’s see. Yes, he is texting a couple of ladies who he has been flirting with online. You see, he didn’t hang around to see my reaction to the ignition of his fury, but he knows it will have troubled me. Sometimes knowing that reaction will be enough but not today. His fuel supplies must be low. That’s why he is tapping into some secondary sources by texting or probably sexting these women. Let’s see if we can coax him out of his bolthole. I will knock at the door.
You see he has turned his head and smiled, but hasn’t answered my knocking. He is pleased that I have come to try to find out if he is alright. That makes him feel powerful. My reaction, of tip-toing to him and gently rapping on the door reinforces that he is the one who is superior in our relationship. Again, he doesn’t think this through, so do be grateful for your humble narrator explaining this for you, but that is what is happening inside of Lee. I knock again and call out his name. He remains silent. Lee knows that silent treatment makes him feel powerful. Add that sensation to the flirtatious messages I can see that he is receiving and he is receiving fuel from three sources. Me and two supplementary sources. They are probably acquaintances now since mobile numbers have been exchanged. The fury that Lee experienced at my perceived criticism will now be subsiding as the fuel is provided. This makes him feel calmer. Lee knows that certain things make him furious and then other things makes him calmer. Let’s ask him if he knows why.
“Hey Lee, don’t hide in there, why did you get angry like that? All I did was say that you are a lesser narcissist.”
Notice that I haven’t said this in a pleading way, or through tears, or even shouted it at him. I have made this point and asked the question in a neutral fashion. Watch what he does now. See how fast the irritation has arrived. This is because I am not giving him any fuel with my comment. I have also interrupted the flow of the fuel from the two women by distracting him. To make matters worse I have repeated the comment and he will perceive this as a criticism. Again, he won’t have worked any of this out, he is a Lesser so it doesn’t happen. Whereas I have explained the process. This is what actually happens in Lee’s mind.
- He hears my comment;
- He feels wounded by that comment. This manifests as irritation;
- His fury ignites.
It is as quick and as straight forward as that. Here comes the fury.
Lee marches from his desk and flings the den door open.
“How many fucking times have I told you not to disturb me when I am in my den? You never listen to me!”
Notice the contorted features as the fury takes over.
“I only asked a reasonable question.”
I say this in a neutral tone again. No fuel is being provided. This annoys him further because this is a criticism and it wounds him.
“Are you saying I am unreasonable?” he demands jutting his jaw forward in an aggressive manner.
Of course dear reader I said no such thing did I, but Lee doesn’t process it that way. My neutral remark is taken again as a criticism, hence his response.
“I’m just pointing out what you are and besides, you are always in there, messing around doing who knows what, you should be working.”
Lee rarely works. He doesn’t see any reason to. He believes I should keep him after all, in his mind he is the superior one and therefore I should run around after him. He only does chores when he knows he can get some fuel, for instance, chopping logs in the yard so people can admire his physical prowess, otherwise he won’t bother. Again Lee doesn’t think about chopping the logs in terms of receiving admiring looks from our neighbour Josie, he just knows when he does it, she smiles and talks to him and he feels good inside. But I digress. Back to the foaming Lee who is stood in the doorway of the den. He won’t let me in there. It is his domain. What is his is his and nobody else’s.
“What are you saying that for?” he growls. His fury is increasing at the criticism that he should be working. Here it comes. The right hand swipes and he slaps me across my face. You see he cannot control the fury and with Lee it manifests as heated fury as he lashes out.
I let out a cry and raise my palm to my face, eyes showing the pain arising from his physical abuse of me. Look at that small smile on his lips. That is because my fearful reaction has given him negative fuel. He wanted that. He doesn’t know that he wanted that but he knows that seeing me scared, upset, angry or frustrated, amongst other things makes him feel stronger and more powerful.
“You should be working,” I repeat but the neutral tone is gone now and it comes out part comment, part sob as the tears well up. His hand is raised to deliver another blow but he doesn’t because my tears are fuelling him. Although I have criticised him by stating he should be working, it will not feel like criticism to Lee because it is surrounded in emotion. That is what he wants. He doesn’t know that, but that is what he wants.
His fury is still there but it has receded within his parameters of control, low as they are. If I had kept on he would have erupted further and probably punched and kicked me down the hall. It has happened before. And will again. As a Lesser his control threshold is low and regularly his fury boils over into verbal and physical violence. Notice how he is standing there grinning. The provision of my fuel is making him feel powerful and that is why he looks happy. It is not true happiness. Lee doesn’t know what that is, but he knows that feeling powerful makes him feel good and that is why he is smiling. I am going to back off now.
I walk away and Lee content with the fuel he has extracted from me (although he does not know this) turns and goes back into the den. He will text the two ladies for a while longer, gathering more fuel and then with the fury receded and his fuel levels higher, he will feel more settled so he will watch one of his action films or play on his Xbox for a while. He won’t be thinking about me. He doesn’t have the function to do so for long when I am not in front of him. Lee as a Lesser is very much about dealing with what is on his plate. Yes, I will invade his consciousness from time to time but he is not given to planning. It is all spur of the moment, reaction, responses, instinct, seat of the pants. That is why he is seen as such a whirlwind, bouncing from one ignition of fury to the next. He has no overarching strategy, no grand design, but he is an aggressive hunter gatherer who knows that I, his longstanding and long suffering partner infuriates him but he keeps me around because, well, I do the chores and lie there and think of England when he is grinding away on top of me. Writing of which, let’s fast forward to bed time. I have retired first and here comes Lee padding up the stairs, a belly full of Scotch (he likes a few drinks when he is watching his films).
“Hey,” he says as he enters the darkened bedroom. He doesn’t lower his voice or gently shake me. Why would be bother when he is entitled to do as he pleases. Again, Lee doesn’t think that way, he just does it, he just acts in that manner of the entitled Lesser.
“What is it?” I ask blearily.
“Move over, I’m getting in.”
That’s his way of saying he wants sex. If he wanted to sleep he would just climb into bed. Notice how there is no apology for hitting me, no expression of concern or remorse for the earlier altercation. That’s because he has forgotten about it. Imagine Lee’s mind like a small external hard drive. It only has so much memory and automatically jettisons so much information. If in a few days’ time I refer to him slapping me he will give me a confused look and say,
“What are you talking about?”
That’s because he cannot recall it. It has been wiped from his mind. It is an instinctive reponse and demonstrates why with the Lesser he denies so much of what he is accused of and does it with sincerity because he really does not remember. There is no pretence, not like those from other schools. He does not remember, but that is a few days away. Let’s return to now.
“I said, move up, I am getting in.”
Still no apology. He continues as if nothing happened earlier. This is because he sees no wrong in what he has done. He responded. It was instinct to him and therefore for him, instinct is natural and correct. If I challenged him about his behaviour from before, now, it would be a criticism. His fury would be ignited and with the additional accelerant of the alcohol I would be dragged from the bed, beaten and forced to sleep downstairs. He may even throw me in my night clothes on to the street. All an instinctive reaction to the criticism and his lack of control over his ignited fury. I won’t challenge him though. I have learned not to, it is safer you see. It took me a long time to realise that this was the best course of action. I used to stand up to him you see. I thought that it would make him respect me if I did but it won’t. The Lesser regards any denial of their authority as criticism and, you’ve guessed it, the fury ignites.
Time to put on a performance then. If I refuse his advances he will kick off. If I don’t put in feigned enthusiasm, he will kick off. As a Lesser he is not very good at distinguishing between real and faked emotions at times. He is better with some than others. For instance, he knows real fear and upset compared to any that is faked. This is because he has the most experience of seeing people scared, upset and frightened so he instinctively knows when it is real and when it is not. When it comes to matters between the sheets although Lee believes himself to be the champion of sexual technique (he has certainly had plenty of partners as he regularly likes to boast about them to me) he could be rutting a slab of steak for all the variance and finesse he deploys. He wasn’t always like that. He did make an effort during our golden period, but that is long gone. Now he just wants to exert his dominance over me and be made to feel powerful so you will have to excuse me as I make the relevant noises, say the stock phrases and pull my porn faces. That will please Lee the Lesser and provide him with a final burst of delicious positive fuel before he slumps besides me and falls into an undisturbed sleep. He always sleeps well does Lee. His lesser function means that there is not a lot racing around in his mind as slumber approaches. So, there’s a glimpse of how a – I’d better whisper this so he doesn’t hear – Lesser Narcissist is. Now, turn around please, you shouldn’t be watching what comes next.