Knowing the Narcissist : The Errors of the Ignorant : No. 3
A series based on the comments made by people who fail to understand the true nature of narcissists and the narcissistic dynamic. Whilst these comments may be well-intentioned, they are incorrect, perpetuate misunderstandings and in many cases create false hope, dashed expectations and perilous outcomes.
“Try to find more things in common.”
The instruction from the advisor is for the victim and the (as yet unidentified) narcissist to try to find more things in common. The confused victim has complained that once upon a time she and the narcissist once did so much together, they had so many shared interests, things in common, a mutual desire to experience certain things as a couple. Now, that has gone and fallen away. The victim does not understand what has changed. Where once days were spent engaged in pursuits which both she and the narcissist enjoyed, talked about and planned, now the situation is very different. He is either locked away in the study ( the Bolthole), goes out who knows where or sits in the same room with mobile phone or tablet glued to his hand, rarely speaking.
The victim complains of feeling like the relationship has hit a rut, that it has somehow gone stale (oh how it has but not for the reason the victim realises) and is looking to understand how it can be invigorated with a return to those halcyon days of the golden period. The addictive qualities of that sensational time still infect the victim who understandably hankers for the relationship highs associated with that dizzying and scintillating time. The victim turns for help, explaining the trough that the relationship appears to have fallen into and listening to friend, family member, supposed relationship expert or whoever it might be as they listen and then offer this prescription in order to cure the ill that is being currently experienced.
I have seen this suggestion made on the pages of an apparent experienced relationship advisor. The background that the writer detailed evidenced clearly the pattern that is recognisable (not to all though clearly) as that of the romantic narcissistic dynamic. The situation was clear and evident, but the response was that described above. The victim was urged to find more things in common in order to rekindle the excitement, interest and vibrancy of the early part of the relationship.
Note how the suggestion is for there to be ‘more things in common’ which presupposes that there was anything in common to begin with. No there was not. What you thought was a magnificent alignment of common interests was the effect of the mirroring that we narcissists engage in. We show you what you want so you fall in love with it. We show you yourself and thinking that it is someone else you fall for it hook, line and sinker. Our apparent enjoyment of fell walking was done to bind you to us. Our interest in Japanese cuisine was only done so you drew closer to us. Our enthusiasm for world cinema was driven by our unquenchable desire for your fuel. Since we saw the person that was going to fulfil our Prime Aims then your interests became our interests. Whether it happened to be morris dancing, medieval battle re-enactments or wine tasting. Whatever you enjoyed doing, we claimed to enjoy it as well, yet this was all fabricated purely for the purposes of ensnaring you. We attended the Star Trek convention with you, we volunteered to pick up rubbish on the local beach and to read the works of Lord Byron to one another. It did not matter because all we were concerned with was drinking up that wonderful positive fuel that you flowed with as a consequence of your enthusiasm, admiration, enjoyment and love for our supposed mutuality of interests.
This advice to try to find more in common is doubly dangerous.
Firstly, it causes you to believe that you actually had something in common in the first place. You did not. We created an illusion for you to fall for as I have described above.
Secondly, it causes you to keep trying to win our favour. You spend your time thinking of common interests that you can engage in with us. Indeed, you start to consider those pursuits which may not really interest you, but you try to find something that will interest us and you, because you want to save the relationship, you want the golden period back, you will go along with them because you are a good person who is trying to fix the slump in the relationship. Your advisor has led you down a dangerous path with such an instruction. This is because
- You are misled into believing that the problem can be fixed by you trying harder. It cannot but you do not know this and the supposedly wise advice compounds the error.
- You start to erode your sense of self as you actually move away from finding mutual interests to forcing yourself to do the things which we like.
- You may well engage in behaviours which you do not really enjoy but you go along with it because you think that if you can do something with us then you will meet with success. You start to make the sacrifices.
- You fail to realise that you are being devalued by a narcissist. You may be in the Stranger Zone at this juncture and whilst it is dull and bewildering, it is not the out and out abuse of the classic devaluation. This is a time when you might make good your escape from our clutches (if you had been properly advised) but instead you remain and leave yourself exposed to worse behaviours and abuses which will take their toll on you.
- You continue to plug away, trying to please us, suggesting things together, perhaps turning to those interests we once both engaged in. You will be met with either a lack of interest or your suggestions will irritate and then enrage us. By telling us what we ought to do together you are trying to tell us what to do (at least that is how it will appear from our perspective) and therefore we will feel the need to assert our authority over you by the unleashing of our manipulations. Not only will this hurt you, it will leave you feeling even more confused – you tried to do something good and enjoyable, you followed the advice which you thought would work – yet here you are shouted at, left in silence, berated and accused of being controlling and over-bearing. You are miserable, perplexed and no further forward. You keep trying to get it right but you cannot because you do not know what you are dealing with and you are only going to irritate and annoy us all the more.
- You become conned by the imposition of a Respite Period. Your suggestion of a bike ride through the countryside is met with a favourable response. You feel elated, it has worked, you have made a breakthrough and you have a wonderful day with us. You had no breakthrough. Your suggestion was irrelevant. It just happened to coincide with us applying a Respite Period. This supposed victory will just bind you to us for longer and then when you suggest such an outing in three weeks’ time (and this time we refuse and pour scorn on you) you are left perplexed again.
Once again, the ignorant have provided their advice which is useless when applied to one of our kind and all that follows is further misery for you.