…. want, anyway? What do they TRULY want from us, their victims? It will pay to remember that Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a very REAL disorder, wherein the individual does not process, nor experience, nor have thoughts, actions, reactions, and beliefs about the world in a normal, healthy manner. This must be realized and fully accepted before moving on. Someone with NPD is different, and lives differently, than ‘normal’ emotionally and mentally healthy people. As we move forward through this article, please always keep this fact in mind; it will help bridge the gap between what we expect from normal and healthy people, and what we experience with a narcissist (narc). Simply stated, a narc has no need, want, nor desire for a healthy, emotionally equitable and balanced relationship; that would serve no purpose at ALL for a narc. Please note: Because of the way this personality disorder manifests itself, a narcissist is NEVER satisfied. Your very best 100% of the time, 100% of your effort, time, energy and emotion IS NOT ENOUGH, and it never will be. Think about that.
“Having a balanced and equitable relationship serves no purpose for a narcissist. Driven by power and control needs, and the need for attention and admiration, ‘balance’ would not allow what the narc desperately needs; to cover up their very shallow sense of self. They must overpower others to feel worthy; they must control others to feel strong.” L.A. Gilliam
Let’s take a look at what a narcissist wants in their life, which carries through their relationships. While not all of these may fit for each and every relationship, please do adjust the details for your specific situation. Here we go:
- POWER. At the core of any narcissist, is a frightened child full of self-loathing, fear, and despair. This cannot be shown to the world of course, because to do so (in the narc’s mind) would strip them of their very existence; there is nothing more devastating to a narc as being seen as ‘less than’, weak, or VULNERABLE. Vulnerability and intimacy are the ENEMIES of a narc. It is this very shallow and empty sense of self, the low and inadequate feelings of worth, that the narc works tirelessly to overcome. Because they do not process the world nor experiences with others normally, a narc truly believes their needs must be met through POWER. There is no narc on the planet that does not have a driving need for power over others, and will use all sorts of mind-games (see the June 6, 2018 post for more on this) to achieve this end.
- CONTROL. A narcissist is not able to be authentically gentle (they can fake this at times) , is not able to ‘go with the flow’, is not able to adjust to life’s twists, turns, ups, downs, and unexpected challenges easily. Because they lack authentic inner strength, they feel as if everything must be controlled. They have no ability to truly ‘let go’ and enjoy life as life comes to them, or as others come into their lives; everything must be controlled, coordinated, and manipulated for their benefit. Without a strong sense of self, without true feelings of inner worth and ability, they OVERCOMPENSATE the control of everything else and EVERYONE else they can, in an attempt to quell those internal feelings of lack and longing. A sense of POWER comes from the narcissist’s ability to CONTROL. Twisted, isn’t it?
- SERVITUDE. As children of narcissistic parents, we exist to serve, obey, honor, and cherish them, even under the most difficult abusive relationship dynamics. This extends into adulthood of course; we are not allowed to live our own lives, have our own needs and wants. We are still expected to bow to the every whim and desire of a narc parent, and narc parents do not view their children as separate and WHOLE people with full lives. Even into adulthood, children of narcs are expected to bow to the DEMANDS of the narc parents at all times. In romantic relationships, it is truly more of the same. We do not have the right (in a narc’s mind) to be our own person; we are only an extension of the narc, and we better not disappoint. We exist as a narc’s servant; to please, honor, and obey. WE HAVE NO RIGHTS. If we WERE whole people unto ourselves, with rights, ownership of our own lives, we would cease to serve the POWER AND CONTROL needs of the narc. See how it all ties together?
- DRAMA. Everything is dramatic. Everything is chaos. Nothing is calm, nothing is tranquil. Oh, a narc will ‘talk’ about not wanting drama in their life – but have you ever noticed a narc WITHOUT drama surrounding them at every turn? No? Me either! This is largely because a normal, calm, and peaceful life would BORE the narcissist to tears. Narcissists often have a very low tolerance for inactivity, a low tolerance for the regular, the mundane. This can sometimes be attributed faulty processes and communication, and structural abnormalities between the Pre-Frontal Cortex and the Amygdala in the brain. Studies and neuro-psychological research have shown that people with Anti-Social Personality Disorder and psychopathy have very real deficits in brain structure and processing abilities; their brains are DIFFERENT. Without near-constant chaos and drama, they just do not feel ALIVE.
- ATTENTION AND ADMIRATION. This goes back to the narcissist’s total lack of authentic internal self-worth, and their overcompensation for those feelings. A confident, self-aware, and secure individual simply does not need to be told they are worthy, or shown through actions (the servitude discussed above) exhaustively they are appreciated. This is not to say that every now and then as a general practice, words and tokens of appreciation that make us feel special are not important. They are, of course. Those things are also part of the great joy that comes from being in a loving, genuinely healthy relationship; there are few things in life that compare to making a loved one feel SPECIAL. With NPD however, this is an entirely different scenario. The narcissist needs, wants, and must have extreme demonstrations and affirmations on a near constant basis to feel worthy; for all of their over-compensations (it is common for narcissists to seek careers that will provide a means to have their power, control, attention, and admiration needs met), they cannot escape their genuine self-hatred and insecurity, and rely on others to build themselves up – at every turn. If I had a nickel for every time I was asked “Have you ever known someone like me? Tell me I’m special.”, I would be a rich lady indeed. It WAS CONSTANT. Unhealthy. Unbalanced. PATHOLOGICAL.
- WHAT THEY CAN NEVER HAVE. Yes, a narcissist WANTS to have the positive and altruistic qualities authentically possessed by others, but the narc internally is actually the opposite of positive and altruistic (no matter who they pretend to be to the ‘world’ – often, it is only behind closed doors that we see the truth of who they are). A narcissist will never be able to possess those qualities and characteristics, and thereby attempt to gain them BY PROXY through others. Why and HOW do you think so many of us who are genuinely nice, caring, giving, loving, and supportive people END UP WITH NARCISSISTS in the first place? We were targeted, plain and simple. WE are attractive to the narcissist because we are everything THEY ARE NOT, and can never be. This is important everyone, because in the beginning of a romantic relationship a narc will MIRROR who we are BACK TO US – pretending to be similar to us. The narcissist WANTS, and is attracted to, the very qualities they themselves lack. This is such an ironic twist; because the narcissist can never be genuinely nice, caring, giving, loving, and supportive (they can fake these things, but there are always ulterior motives and strings attached), they seek partners who ARE those very things. They want to be these things, never will be however, and will try to destroy others who DO possess these positive qualities.
So, there you have it folks; some of the primary drives, needs, and WANTS of a narcissist. If you have a narc in your life, please consider your choices carefully, and act decisively. Your life will be chaos, unsafe, and emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically debilitating if you choose to stay with a narcissist. It deserves repeating that due to the way this personality disorder manifests itself, a narcissist is NEVER satisfied. Your very best 100% of the time, 100% of your effort, time, energy and emotion IS NOT ENOUGH, and it never will be. Think about that. Save yourself, get out, and STAY OUT. Best, L.A.