By Kim Cooper Author of “Back from the Looking Glass” 13 Steps to a Peaceful Home.

Kim and her husband Steve also host the site, with over 70 thousand subscribers in 36 countries.

Practical Self Help for Couples dealing with narcissism or NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder)


What is Narcissism?

True narcissism is not unhealthy. It is the part of us that smiles for the camera and enjoys both the spotlight and being around attractive people, and most would agree that these are positive things. The word narcissism in recent history however has had it’s meaning change and now describes someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), which is a very different story. These days when someone is described as a narcissist (or we hear talk of narcissism) it usually describing someone who displays the symptoms of this personality disorder which include verbal abuse, aggression and defensiveness and a tendency to manipulate and rely on (or ‘use’) others while being charming or ‘playing for the crowd’.

A Different Person When the Crowd Has Gone Home

Individuals with symptoms of NPD are first and foremost two-faced; this person will be charming and competitive in public but critical, rude, arrogant, sarcastic and aggressive in private; usually to the people closest who give them the most love and support.

This person will pretend to have high standards, but in reality will be low in perfectionism, being flakey, hypocritical or an outright phony or fake. They will not follow through on promises and will spend most of their energy seeking people to adore them, or who they can vent their aggression on; directly, by provoking fights, or by gossiping about them nastily behind their back.

Seduce and Abandon

People with narcissistic tendencies often show a pattern of seducing and abandoning lovers, friends or people they can attract as their ‘fans’. Their lack of empathy and personal self interest, mixed with a particular cunning charm (i.e.. ability to manipulate others) makes them highly abusive to live with. They will think nothing of exploiting their partner financially, sexually or otherwise, while blaming their own weaknesses and shortcomings on this very same person. At the same time they will hinder any attempt their partner makes to regain a sense of strength or self worth or to get back on their feet and get on with their own life or get away.

Not a Disease

Narcissism (or more accurately NPD) describes a pattern of behaviour in an individual and is a disorder and not a disease. There is no blood test for narcissism and three different professionals may diagnose the same person in three different ways.

Don’t Demonize

Most importantly a Narcissist is a human being acting in a particular way and should not be treated like a monster or an ‘it’ rather than a person. As unfair and damaging as a relationship with this type of person may be, we believe it more useful (and healthy) to use straightforward descriptive words about the bad behaviour, rather than relying on the term narcissist to generally describe a person. It would be more correct and useful in most situations for instance to say “My partner lied to me” rather than “my N lied to me”.

As common as the suggestion is that you must run or ‘get away’ from this type of person, we believe it is important for family members to learn to stand up for themselves and hold their ground. This response can be highly beneficial for the Narcissistic person too but should not be tried without the help of a solid support network. We have a lot of online material available to help with this.

A Selfish Child

A narcissist is someone who never grew out of being a selfish child. They find it hard to share and even harder to share the limelight, always wanting to be the focus of attention. They invent stories to get what they want and pretend they are more important than they are and blame others for their own wrong doings. Narcissism flourishes in those who are charming and attractive, because growing up they got away with this behaviour more easily. They may appear humble and very likable in public and may choose a less socially adept partner as their ‘foil’. Narcissists will usually get angry or sulk (and feel very embarrassed) if they are seen to be wrong or have made a mistake, and like a child might throw tantrums or rages and ‘rewrite history’ instead of admitting their misdeeds.

The Double Life

Narcissists are always looking for attention and often lead a ‘double life’. They are flirts and have constant crushes and real or fantasy affairs, they are very susceptible to becoming addicted to pornography and can be cyber-paths who have online affairs with numerous people who they manipulate and lie to.

When narcissism has a hold of someone, they will feel VERY lonely and desperate for the affection of a ‘perfect’ person who will be sympathetic and adore them. Sadly this ‘perfect’ person is an illusion in the narcissist’s mind, a fantasy that will make their life miserable and make them very hard on the people who they live with.

Steve and I beat the odds and overcame these problems in our marriage and hope that we can help you do the same. We host an online radio show called “The Love Safety Net” on Global talk radio with thousands of subscribers worldwide and have received countless testimonials from our readers. The advice we offer in dealing with this disorder will help anyone wanting to learn better relationship skills. Immaturity is rife in our community and is at the heart of this issue. We offer valuable and solid steps to help individuals and families to grow up and become more confident, happier and more secure.

  1. Do You Suspect that Your Husband or Wife May have Narcissistic Tendencies?

Do You Worry that You May Suffer From Narcissism Yourself?

Do You Attract Narcissistic People Into Your Life?

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