Friday, December 9, 2011

Narcissists in Love—Brief Examination of Narcissism in Marriage, Part 2


The last article ended with the question: Why do some individuals marry narcissists?

Narcissistically wounded  people seem larger than life. Due to their tendency to idealize their experiences, everything is a grand adventure. They often are the most charismatic individuals in the room. Others are drawn to their grandiosity and spontaneity.

Once people enter the orbit of a narcissist, they are required to submit to the narcissistic person’s control. This control unfortunately is initially attractive to those who are used to regular self-effacement and self-abasement. Also, some individuals lack the self-confidence to take chances. Narcissists solve this problem by allowing others to live vicariously through their adventures.

However, marriage to narcissists is extremely difficult. Narcissists are insensitive to the needs of their spouse. They are dismissive of their partner’s opinions and thoughts. They have trouble empathizing with others and seem emotionally distant.

Since getting help requires each member of the relationship to address their individual contribution to the marital difficulty, these marriages often end in divorce. Narcissists rarely see themselves as part of the problem and tend to resist the therapeutic process. They are filled with shame, and the fear of being perceived as a failure makes them resistant to change.

In such circumstances it can be helpful for the narcissist’s spouse to seek individual counseling. Through the support of a trained professional, the spouse can learn to define and maintain healthier interpersonal boundaries. The spouse can also carefully assess whether staying in the marriage is possible for his or her psychological well-being.

The next article will be a list of reading resources about narcissism. It will be the last article in the series exploring the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

In the new year, we will begin to address another difficult personality disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder.

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