Over the last several days, I’ve learned something about my husband that took me by surprise and, honestly, has given me anew perspective on his less desirable behavior. For a very long time, I’ve wracked my brain, trying to figure out WHY won’t the narcissist just be NICE to me.
I’ve made painstaking efforts, to very clearly communicate my needs to him. I was determined to never be like those women who hint at what they want and, then, pout when they end up not getting it. I was crystal. Yet, my hubby would REFUSE to do that which he KNEW would bring us peace…not to mention, a loving relationship. WTF?!?!
Any time my husband sincerely confessed, and apologized, for some wrongdoing, I always did my best to react with nothing but compassion, and forgiveness. I was VERY careful to never even hint that he might be “punished” for being truthful. Still, he lies compulsively.
Any time he would call to let me know he’d be late, I made every effort to rework my plans to accommodate him, just so he would experience the positive benefits of simply being considerate. Anything kind that he would do for me, I made careful efforts to reciprocate, to show him that he would receive just as much (and more) as he gave, to our marriage. I didn’t overdo it but, I was conscious of giving out appropriate praise, gratitude, and appreciation. Still, it seemed obvious to me that, regardless of my actions/reactions, he simply could NOT stomach being kind, or respectful me.
My most insignificant requests would be denied, on principle. If I tell him that I am feeling a little unloved, and that I would feel so much better if he could just give me a couple extra hugs throughout the day, he will take almost drastic measures to avoid being in my vicinity, or even to avoid so much as accidentally brushing up against me, in passing. It is insane!
Seriously, anything I ask, he does the complete opposite. But, then, of course, he feels unduly punished when he doesn’t get the most appreciative attitude in return. Go figure, right?
In most relationships, men are ridiculously grateful if their woman clearly expresses her needs and desires, and doesn’t make him try to read her mind. But, nope, not MY man… He only wants me to express my needs and desires, so he can completely, and utterly, neglect them. (Why, I oughtta….)
Most mind-boggling, is the fact that he constantly sounds off about how he just wants a nice, happy, healthy, PEACEFUL marriage, and he doesn’t understand why I can’t just be happy, when he tries “so hard to please me!” Um, come again? Seriously? You would not believe the sheer volume of bullshit I’ve received from him about how much he loves me, but obviously, I just cannot be satisfied. Obviously, I just need to be miserable.
Here’s a direct quote, from a recent conversation:
“I’ve tried, for years, to figure out the key to making you happy. And, yet, all these years later, you are even more convinced that I’ve spent this entire time trying to make you miserable. I don’t know what to say, or do… Just like the majority of the past ten years.”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!
Yes, he’s right. When my own husband purposefully neglects any needs, wants, desires, or preferences I CLEARLY & SPECIFICALLY communicate to him, IN DETAIL…and he insists on ignoring them, like a defiant toddler, well, gee… I wonder.. WHY ON EARTH, would I be upset? Could anyone help me figure out what my problem is here? No?
Hmmm…..Guess I’m just miserable…LOL
Why won’t the narcissist just be NICE ?
At first, I saw this behavior as an absolute lack of respect, reciprocity, and love. After all, who wouldn’t, right? Then, I realized something that totally blew my mind.
It all started the other day, when my husband was driving me around his new city, and I was asking him about what he thought his values for a relationship might be. He wasn’t, exactly, being Mr. Open-Book (You’re shocked, aren’t you?) but, I kept plugging along because, what else was I going to do? I was stuck in the car until his “errands” we’re done. (Don’t ask smh)
I was telling him about this research study I read about. He was riveted, I assure you. The results of the study showed that men are far more deeply affected (negatively) by a divorce, or separation, than women. Women naturally have- or, are able to easily create- support systems based on compassion and empathy. Women bond over sharing their pain. Which, of course, helps to soothe, and heal, the pain.
Men, on the other hand, tend to become isolated. Their performance, and work, start to suffer. Their ambitions decreases. They lose sight of any goals they might have had. They turn to drugs and/or alcohol- or, then, INCREASE the use of those drugs, since living alone provides them with the freedom, privacy, and lack of interference from their wives, which used to make using much more difficult (AHEM!!)- to fill the void left by the woman they no longer get to share their life with.
The study asked both men, and women, all sorts of questions and concluded that, men are affected more because, while they may have many goals, and dreams, and desires that they want to achieve in life, it’s the woman they love that gives all those things a deeper purpose & meaning. Without their woman, their biggest reason for wanting to achieve all those things is gone. Life has lost its meaning because, the woman gave the man’s life a sense of purpose.
I asked my husband if he could relate to that conclusion…at all. And the answer he gave me was… to say the least…enlightening (if not a bit insulting. But, nevermind that).
He began by going on (for a while) about how, at different points in life, different things motivate him. His whole life never revolved around one thing (or person). He was a man of diversity (Ummmm…..ok). Long answer, short- his answer had nothing to do with whether he feels the woman in a man’s life gives his life added purpose & meaning, or not- and everything to do with asserting his individuality and personal freedom. As if he could have neither individuality, nor freedom, if he allowed a woman he loved to give deeper meaning to his life.
This is the part of my movie where one of my emotion characters picks up a light bulb, and places it into my emotion control-center, giving me a brilliant idea. A moment of true clarity….
[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]The narcissist is terrified that ‘being nice’ will, ultimately, cost him his freedom & identity.[/clickandtweet]
I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen this before! I should have. I mean, how many times have I bemoaned the fact that my husband can never compromise on anything because, he sees compromise as me controlling him? How many times have I told him that his lame, and sarcastic, “sorrr-eeey” apologies, were unacceptable- only to have him, then, remark “What do you expect, if you’re going to try to extort it from me? I feel like you’re verbally raping me.”? (Amazing he’s still alive, isn’t it?)
Ugh! It seems so obvious now.
My husband has made so many comments to suggest he harbors the aforementioned fears. At the time, those comments baffled me, and had me wondering if, perhaps, my husband wasn’t truly narcissistic after all but, simply, brain damaged.
Every single one of those baffling comments revolved around the idea that I was either forcing, extorting, demanding or, in other way, attempting to forcibly remove decent behavior from him… Which is precisely WHY, according to him, he couldn’t just provide decent behavior willingly.
There is an example of one of these comments in a previous post I wrote titled, In A Narcissist’s Own Words: Justification & Blame. In that conversation, my husband remarks to his landlady, “It’s just that she demands things from me and, then, punishes me if I don’t give them to her.”
True, those “things” I was demanding were those frivolous, little extras in a relationship we call ‘kindness, consideration, respect and love’ but, that’s beside the point. My point is that, because my husband had experienced negative consequences for withholding such things from me, in HIS mind, he was being PUNISHED for not providing them.
Therefore, he felt his ability to exercise his personal freedom, was being threatened, along with his independence. Ultimately, I was attempting to alter WHO HE IS by demanding behavior from him that may, or may not, be a natural part of his personality. Thus, regardless of whether, or not, he was capable of such decent behavior, subconsciously, he felt compelled to deny it, for fear of losing himself if he complied.
Does that make sense? (Notice I did not ask, “Does that seem rational?”)
This fear isn’t an issue with other people in his life because, well, he doesn’t love those people. And those people don’t love him. At least, not in the intimate, or romantic, kind of love that one shares with a spouse, or parent/child.
Upon further study, I’ve learned that this fear is called, #fear of enmeshment. Now, I’ve heard this term used before, in relation to #narcissistic personality disorder but, not often. Usually, it refers to the victim becoming enmeshed with the narcissist (also described as “losing themselves”). There very well could be articles about the narcissist and his fear of #enmeshment but, I have not stumbled upon them yet. (Of course, I haven’t actually googled it yet, either. I’m getting to it, though).
In any case, I think this definitely deserves more study, and discussion. We don’t seem to have gone very deep into this topic…or, looked at it from a different perspective, to see how it might be affecting the whole Narc/Victim dynamic. Realistically, if this subconscious fear does, in fact, play a significant role in the narcissist’s behavior toward intimate partners/family, then developing a ‘treatment’, of some sort, to help the narcissist overcome this fear could, arguably, offer unheard of behavioral changes (and perhaps even- dare I say it- healing?) which, thus far, has been considered impossible.
Maybe I’m off my rocker. I don’t know. But, I have decided to try to devise an experiment, in order to test this theory. The main challenge being, of course, getting a narcissist (namely, my husband) to actually, genuinely engage in the process, without sabotaging it. Hmmm… Shit, this is obviously going to be more challenging than it seemed, at first.
Maybe that’s why we don’t hear more talk about this…. LOL (Good thing, I don’t give up that easy)
I’ll be sure to report back, if/when I have some concrete results. Wish me luck and, feel free to leave any ideas, or suggestions, if you got ’em. We’re all in this together, after all.
p style=”text-align: center;”>Let’s do this,
~The Narcissist’s Wife
What do you think? Do you recall hearing some crazy explanations for why your narc just couldn’t be nice? Do tell! I love hearing from you!
Hi. I’m Story Lynne, (a.k.a. The Narcissist’s Wife). Nice to meet you. I’m the mother of 4 amazing kids, the (soon-to-be-ex) wife of a narcissist, and the author of this blog. I’m also a teacher, a healer, an intuitive empath, and Angel Card Reader.
I love fairies, angels, the color pink, anything sparkly, and Legos. (the Elves are my absolute favorites). I also love fixing cars, building shit, and shooting my bow (as in, bow and arrow).