Hello, everyone. Thank you for being here. We are drawn together here and have a bond, through our relationships with toxic people, people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and even Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD). When we have a narcissist (narc) in our life, we are reminded often at how difficult our dealings are with them – it does not matter if they are a friend, family member, wife, husband, etc. Narcs bring difficulty, chaos, turmoil, upheaval, and unpredictability into our lives. As mentioned in previous articles, because of their personality disorder, they process and live in the world differently than we do. They just DO. Even when they say they may share a common view or perception, when it comes time to act on that ‘view’ (ie. showing respect to you), often the ‘talk’ flies out the window, because the BEHAVIOR does not match the spoken word. This is how ‘it is’ with narcissists. This brings us to our topic today: Expectation and Disappointment. It bears repeating that a narc is a narc, NPD is a long-standing, pervasive, and consistent behavioral pattern which will not permanently change in positive ways. There may be temporary reprieves from the abuse, but the abuse will always return. Here, we need to address what OUR expectations are, and where our disappointment comes from.
“When we expect behavior from people who are truly unable to give it, we come out the loser. Simply stated: expecting permanent respect, genuine and long-standing loving care from a narcissist is a no-win expectation. You will not receive these things because a narcissist is UNABLE to give these things. Your expectations will need to be adjusted. Unrealized and unfulfilled expectations lead to ongoing disappointment at best, significant emotional pain and trauma at worst.” L.A. Gilliam
In our daily lives, suffused throughout our relationships with others, we have expectations. We expect to be talked to with respect, we expect no one will try to purposefully hurt us in any way. We expect that the friends we have are in our lives – and us theirs – are mutually beneficial, supportive, understanding, and loving. The best relationships no matter who the person is, are those that have mutual reciprocity – genuine loving care and respect GIVEN AND RECEIVED. This mutually beneficial ‘back and forth’ allows each person to not only contribute positively in and to another person’s life, but to also be on the receiving end of these things as well . This is solid. This is truth of reciprocity. This is the FOUNDATION of any great friendship/relationship.
Now, this is not to say that every now and then disappointment does not occur in these overall healthy relationships and friendships. Of course it does. There are tiffs here and there, differing views, differing perceptions, and any relationship will have its ups and downs, naturally. In a healthy relationship with mutually beneficial reciprocity however, disappointment is mitigated by the knowledge and understanding of that very deeply held and felt mutual respect. Differences are accepted, perhaps discussed for clarification, and the two parties move through the temporary disappointment that resulted from whatever the issue was, with the relationship intact and perhaps at times even strengthened. This is NOT the case with a narcissist.
Keep in mind that narcissists process the world and those of us in it, DIFFERENTLY. This must be remembered always!
Unfulfilled Expectations Lead to Disappointment! Let’s dive in to the reasons we cannot have ‘normal and healthy’ expectations with a narcissist:
- Lack of genuine mutual respect. Over time in any narc relationship, you will have lost any respect shown to you in the beginning. This is because the respect shown in the beginning was FAKE. Narcs do NOT respect others, because they feel above and superior (as a cover-up for their lacking self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness) to everyone. When we expect to be respected by a narcissist WE LOSE, because a narc is NOT ABLE to give genuine respect to others. Your expectation will need adjustment here; you cannot expect something from someone they have no ability to give.
- We are not seen as individuals, with rights. If you have a narcissist in your life, you are seen as an ‘extension’ of the narc, not as a separate human being with your own rights. A narcissist sees others as a means to an end, an entity to be ‘used’ as an extension of themselves, to make themselves BETTER, to be catered to, and to be molded into whatever the narc desires at the moment. WE ARE NOT INDIVIDUALS, to a narc. We are there to SERVE them. We are NOT there to have our own ideas, our own needs, wants, nor desires. Oh, those things are fine as long as they align with what the narc wants, but let our own needs and wants deviate from the narc’s desires, and you will quickly see how fast things turn abusive. When we expect to be treated as a whole, worthy, and separate individual by a narcissist WE LOSE, because a narc is NOT ABLE to see us as our separate and rightful entities. We are only extensions of the narcissist. You are NOT ALLOWED to have rights. Your expectation will need adjustment here; you cannot expect something from someone they have no ability to give.
- We will not receive genuine care, understanding, empathy, sympathy nor genuine love. A narcissist is driven by their internal feelings of worthlessness, of emptiness, lacking a real sense of self. In order to give genuine care and all the rest, someone MUST have an authentic sense of self – in a healthy capacity. Because the narc lacks this important authentic sense of self and is driven by insecurity and feelings of worthlessness (believe me, they work tirelessly to cover up these deep feelings – hence all of the overcompensation and exploitive behavior), they have NOTHING authentic to give, except for abusive behavior. This is so so important! It is because of what THEY LACK INTERNALLY they are not able to GIVE genuine care, understanding, empathy, sympathy nor genuine love. They are EMPTY inside! They cannot GIVE us what we would expect in a healthy, normal, loving friendship / relationship. It is JUST not possible. Yes, they can fake it – for a time. Yes, they can ‘bring it back round’ at times – temporarily. These traits within a narcissist MUST BE ACCEPTED, for us to make our own adjustments to limit the negative affects of narc abuse. When we expect to receive genuine care, understanding, empathy, sympathy and genuine love from a narcissist WE LOSE, because a narc is NOT ABLE to give genuine positive regard to ANYONE. The narcissist is filled with feelings of internal self-worthlessness, deeply felt insecurity, and driven by the need to OVERCOMPENSATE for these things, and do so through their behavior toward others. Your expectation will need adjustment here; you cannot expect something from someone they have no ability to give.
Friends, NONE of this is pleasant to discuss and downright awful to have to accept. Accept we must however, if we are to move beyond continual DISAPPOINTMENT FROM UNFULFILLED EXPECTATIONS. We simply cannot continue to have expectations of people who have NO ability to give us those things. We would never expect a dog to meow; the dog has NO ABILITY to meow. We would never expect a cat to bark; the cat has NO ABILITY to do so. It is the same with a narcissist; because of their mental / emotional disorder, they have NO ABILITY to be, FEEL, nor show the above listed items GENUINELY to others. It must be stated here that narcissists are some of the best actors on the planet; they can and do fake these things all the time with others in their lives – temporarily. They do NOT have these genuine feelings for others; showing temporary gestures of the above are USED by the narc as MANIPULATION. Today, ask yourself what expectations do you have of people (with NPD)? Accept what I have written as truth – it IS the truth. Knowing what you know, what expectations do you have that need to be adjusted? There is NO NEED ever to expect differently from a narc; they are INCAPABLE. So, it is up to us to adjust our own expectations to avoid the consistent, never-ending disappointment that comes from being continually let down by narcissists. Best, L.A.