In Western society, we currently have an epidemic of toxic narcissism. Let’s keep it clean and say there are many people around behaving in ways that are toxic. That gives them the benefit of the doubt and allows for the fact that we may have had our toxic moments or things that we have changed.
As a result of this ‘trend’ narcissistic personality disorder is currently being assigned diagnostic criteria for the first time. Until now, it technically hasn’t been acknowledged as a formal diagnosis – only as a spectrum of behavioral traits.
What makes things tricky, is that those individuals always masquerade as ‘normal’ members of society (they wouldn’t get their needs met otherwise) and it can make them a tricky foe. To make it worse, they do ‘love bombing’ (in a romantic context) to sweep their unsuspecting target off their feet too.
While we like to think we spot such people early, sometimes we don’t. There are two types people who seem to have more challenges with this:
1. People who are genuinely kind hearted
These people are a bit naïve perhaps, but are very loving and naturally kind. They focus on people’s good qualities and make assumptions such as “She seems so nice, so fun, so warm”, “She has a good job, so she must communicate well and can’t be that chaotic after all.
Sometimes these potential ‘victims’ are somewhat insulated, because if they are undamaged, sometimes they will repel narcs and if the narc does try manouvres, they often don’t land.
The trouble here is, who the person truly is and how they are behaving (some of the time), doesn’t match with who the other person has decided they must be. We are very good at attributing certain characteristics to people who we decide fit certain boxes.
2. People who have had trauma and dysfunctional, abusive or chaotic relationships and families.
This group tolerates poor behavior and explains away red flags like champions, as they’ve had to, to survive their caregivers in childhood. Unfortunately toxic individuals can sense this and love to take advantage of it.
These individuals are often vulnerable and unsupported in their lives and narcs sense this. They are needy because of past experiences and may therefore place an extreme importance on friendship/relationships and have a misguided sense of loyalty to those who least deserve it.
People who fall into both of these categories, are doubly at risk. However, there is hope for these individuals if they are open to grow and learn. They can take new information and integrate it into wisdom to become as ‘narcissist proof’ as any of us are.
This work would involve learning to understanding behavioral cues, acknowledging red flags, and acknowledge the knowing that something is off and setting boundaries they enforce regardless of any mitigating factors.
It’s also about not going into self doubt and NOT placing a sense of compassion for the narcs struggles ahead of our own well-being. We must trust that if we do our inner work, we will be on the right path for more loving individuals to show up.
HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS WE CAN ASK OURSELVES IF WE ARE UNSURE IF SOMEONE IS A FRIEND OR IS HARMFUL TO US
❓ Truth, is this person a contribution to me?
❓ Truth, what is this funny energy/thing that I’m aware of?
❓Is this friendship working for me?
❓ Is it time to move on now with truth and grace?
❓ What’s required here?
❓ Can this be changed and if so, can I change it?
❓ Do I need to cut this person lose?
❓ Am I willing to tolerate this?
❓ How much am I willing to tolerate?
❓ Who does this ‘funky feeling’ belong to? Is it mine?
❓ What’s the benefit of ignoring this trauma and drama
The purpose of the questions is to become focused and aware of what we know, that we haven’t acknowledged, because we have been deceived or misled, or we haven’t yet fully realized what is happening.
Depending on how well we know someone, narcs can keep up a front for typically about 12 weeks, or in a less immediate/intimate friendship, for up to a year/eighteen months.
There is often difficulty when people feel a sense of loyalty to the narcissist. It’s a big shift from trusted friend to “Omg, you’re really, truly like that”???
It’s often a shock, to discover that someone you have held in high regard is really capable of treacherous thoughts or behaviors. Or perhaps, they have been manipulating or judging us this whole time, and masking their real intentions.
They may be professionally well regarded, or others may think this individual is wonderful. It can seem very surreal once you unmask this person if you share many friends in common. You may be the first or only person in your circle to have gotten to know them well enough to see this aspect of them.
You must realize this is a function of your ability to create connections with others and to see what is real. Don’t assume this is a wrongness of you (which is what the narc is hoping will happen).
When the truth is uncovered, it can be confusing and we can feel vulnerable trying to extricate ourselves – as thought we are trying to exit a minefield. Backpedaling, or implementing boundaries once we are entangled with them can seem futile.
There are strategies that will work with varying degrees of success. One is an immediate withdrawal, with as little explanation as possible. This takes strength of character and self confidence, (to not get suckered back responding to them or to feel sorry for their ‘confusion’. They will likely have experienced this before from many people before you.
The second is to sit back and observe. The first option is preferable, as once we’ve seen what is, we really don’t need to confirm it and funnily enough at that point there is often a flurry of damaging behavior, so if we stick around, it goes downhill fast.
NEVER enter into an argument with a narcissist. NEVER try to obtain an apology or rational explanation for their behavior. In my experience they are incapable of either of those things.
A real apology looks like this…
- I’m so sorry,
- I was wrong,
- How can I possibly put things right?
A narcissist apology looks like this:
If you do go down the route of pointing out to a narc how their behavior has affected you or someone else, be prepared for all hell to break lose.
You will be wrong and bad, you will be a ‘terrible’ person and on and on…This is why the first strategy is far more effective. Although, if you pick the messy route, you will soon discover (often sickeningly too late) that you were correct.
If you have had a recent narc experience, especially one that got ugly, here’s what you can do to move forwards:
💚 Cease all contact with them immediately
💚 Maintain your other relationships with care and be aware where the narcissist may try to do you damage in mutual friendships. (If that is the case, those friendships weren’t worth having either).
Sometimes the Universe will give us a ‘clean out’ and this is a very tough time and those friendship betrayals can feel just awful when we most need support and are already vulnerable.
Sadly, if this is the case, it is necessary to only retain genuine and loving friends. Often it’s some of the people who you least suspect, will betray you and those who you least expect to, that will have your back. It’s a very odd experience.
Think of it as ‘uplevelling’ your life (we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with) and be grateful that you worked it out now. Whenever we have a clearing out, there will be new energies and people who come along.
💚 Bolster your own well being emotionally and physically. Be around those who do understand, get and who value you.
💚 You aren’t wrong for this experience. You just needed some more instruction (from the great ‘Academy’ that is life), in how to avoid these characters.
💚 Forgive yourself, be kind to you. Clear all soul contracts with this person. Be thankful for their contribution to your life and your learning. Release all energetic connections and entanglements with them. Try not to go into wrongness of you. Just know it was part of a bigger picture and you aren’t in control. You get to chose your reactions from here on out and you get to choose new friends who are more aligned with what you are asking for.
💚 Deliberately have fun and do things to bring you joy. Focus on your work and/or your goals and things that are fulfilling to you and your purpose.
💚 Take responsibility, you manifest everything into your experience and there is some part of you that is an energetic match for them. Again, this is NOT a wrongness of you, it is part of your learning IF you are willing to see it that way. I’m not saying you are a narcissist, but maybe you have healing to do from some past narcissistic abuse, or more understanding to garner on that subject, before you can be truly free.
💚 Process, learn and thrive. As these events drift into your mind or experience don’t dwell and stay stuck in all of it. Allow it to be what it was, trust that life has your back and focus mostly on where you want to head, whilst still getting the development.