Realised he is a narcissist

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    Sorry in advance for the long post! I’m struggling with the realisation that someone I was/am still in love with is a narcissist. For context, I met a man a year ago when I joined his band. We spent a lot of time together and became good friends. I fancied him from the beginning, and he later claimed he’d felt the same, but nothing happened because we didn’t want to mess up the band. A few months later he got a girlfriend. However, several months ago he finally confessed feelings for me and pursued me very intensely for a while, messaging me all the time etc. Nothing physical happened until he’d broken up with his girlfriend, and I said we should take things slow as they’d just broken up. I was really happy and, since we’d been friends beforehand so he knew me fairly well, thought this would be great. However, not long after, despite saying he wanted us to be together long-term and apparently telling everyone about me including his family (who I met), I could sense something wasn’t right so I felt forced to end it. He sometimes seemed distant despite saying how much he enjoyed spending time with me, he kept bringing up ex girlfriends, made a few offensive comments and generally seemed to have lost interest. This did make me feel anxious and insecure, considering how full-on he’d been at the beginning. I bought it up a few times but he generally just seemed confused when I did. We met up a few weeks after, but he said whilst he hadn’t changed his mind about me, us being together was not a good idea as it was making me crazy and insecure. He also conveyed that he’d never really cared about me other than as a friend. I didn’t protest and insisted we stay friends.

    For the last few months I’ve been beating myself up for managing to repel such a great guy so quickly by being so crazy and insecure. I even posted on here and received similar feedback. However, last week I read an article about narcissistic personality disorder and realised it fits him perfectly.. which has changed things, so I wanted to post again. He is single-mindedly obsessed with external validation and has tied his entire self-esteem to musical success and fame. If anything goes wrong with the band he gets very depressed and told me he thinks about ending everything. He has created a band of people around him (who I also became good friends with) to serve his musical interests and boost his ego, and he is very hard to say no to. It helps that he’s also very good looking and charming and has an incredible effect on women, which I obviously fell for. But he has a dark side too; I know he fell out with some old friends ending in a physical fight on stage. He and his current friends go out all the time, take lots of drugs and drink loads- before meeting him I was sober but by the end of the year I was going out with them all the time, which was fun but I couldn’t really handle it. He also needs drama in his life, and is very pretentious (he likes opining about art, literature etc., but it doesn’t always land). His close “friends”, and me, know he is like this but just laugh it off since it goes with the sensitive/ troubled/ passionate/ artistic persona. However, I have now realised that he truly believes everyone takes him very seriously.

    I feel totally betrayed realising that as a narcissist he never cared about me or anyone other than himself, even as a friend, and that this person I thought I knew so well for a year.. is completely fake and, worse, manipulative. I also feel an intense connection to him because our childhoods were very similar- we both had fathers who I believe were also narcissists- they both had multiple affairs throughout their marriages, eventually left when we were around 10 and moved across the world where they started business ventures and got into debt, and had multiple flings resulting in half-siblings we know little about. His eventually died a few years ago whilst mine is still here (to everyone’s surprise). I do think seeing my own parents’ relationship made me extra sensitive to noticing that he wasn’t fully emotionally connecting to me, as I saw my father never did to my mother.

    I know realising he is a narcissist should make me happy that things went wrong so quickly, having read about what they can be like in relationships. But, apart from losing interest rapidly and a few borderline comments, he didn’t actually do anything too badly wrong with me, which makes it harder to hate him. He managed to sustain a relationship with his previous girlfriend (who he left ostensibly for me) for 6 months, although I don’t think she ever twigged about the narcissism- they are still on good terms and she didn’t know about me. Although I could see whilst they were together that he never let her in emotionally either. But he also had a previous relationship that lasted several years and ended in drama (he wouldn’t go into details), and he always used to mention her. I just feel like a failure because I couldn’t sustain a relationship with him for as long as he did with his exes, and I still care about him because I know he is in pain emotionally and I relate to it because of our common family backgrounds and musical interests. I also feel extremely depressed and upset by this situation and ironically he is one of the only people I know who understands these feelings!

    He asked me to play another gig with the band next week (he needs someone who plays my instrument) and I agreed, before realising about the narcissism. I now know he is just using me, and I’m disappointed in myself for agreeing but feel like I can’t say no at this stage because I’d let the others down too. I’m just struggling on a daily basis because I know I should cut him out, but I miss him (or who I thought he was) so much, and feel like I’ve become obsessed with thinking about him and processing what has happened this past year. I also worry that he will achieve fame (his dream) and I’ll have to constantly be reminded of him. I also know he has already got another attractive woman in the band since I left, and I would not be surprised if they get together- maybe they already have, and I’m going to have to witness it and pretend not to care next week. I’m just struggling to move on and accept this whole situation. Any advice much appreciated. Thanks for reading.


    Hi Sarah!

    I think you have to be careful with those articles on narcissistic personality disorder. The way some of them are written makes practically anyone who is immature, selfish, and ruled by their own ego seem like they have the disorder… when they don’t. And it’s unfortunate that that word is thrown around so much lately, just as much as “empath” seems to be. So many bloggers these days appear to be experts on both, but are they really?

    Narcissism exists on a scale, and although someone can be a little further up the scale toward the narcissism side than others, very few actually have the personality disorder. It also takes a specifically-designed psychological eval test and an interview by a licensed psychologist to actually diagnose this disorder. Because it’s tricky.

    This guy you’re talking about just sounds really immature. From what you say, he needs attention and validation (which is actually pretty common with social media culture). He likely needs his ego fed externally because he’s missing something internally. He needs to do some growing. You also said he likes drama, which is another sign of immaturity. Immaturity is different than narcissism, even though narcissists also do tend to be immature.

    I’m pointing this out, because I want you to know that he may actually have cared about you as a person but just handled things really poorly, as an immature person often does. There are a lot of reasons people don’t let others in emotionally, and his childhood experiences with his dad are likely a big one.

    With that said, I think you have a right to feel hurt and upset by this. Rejection feels bad, and you seem to be comparing yourself with his past relationships, but what happened between you and him says nothing about your worth as a person. He clearly has some issues to work through, and there was likely something going on with him in his relationship of 6 months that made him suddenly chase after you so intensely. Given that you started up right after that, he wouldn’t have had a chance to work through whatever those feelings were from that previous relationship (especially if he was bringing up ex-girlfriends… he’s caught up in feelings there still), and that could’ve made him stall out or act distant with you, which, of course, flared up your insecurities. I’m pretty sure emotional distance makes most people feel insecure, so go easy on yourself and just try to find the lesson in this so that it doesn’t repeat.

    Do you get paid when you play in the band with him? If so, I would consider it just a job rather than him using you, just for the sake of your own feelings. You play an instrument that is needed in that band, so they asked you if you were available… the same way people are hired in companies who have needed skills. Maybe framing it that way will help you to feel better about playing the gig, but I would probably say no to future gigs as long as your feelings are wrapped up in him. Do you know of anyone else who plays your instrument that could fill in for you?


    Dear Sarah:

    I want to elaborate on part of what Valora expressed so intelligently and eloquently:

    Narcistic personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental disorder diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5, 2013). Only a health professional, such as a medical doctor or a certified psychotherapist is permitted by law to diagnose a patient with NPD or with any of the hundreds of mental diagnoses listed in the DSM-5, and such professionals have to meet with the patient in-person for a session or sessions so to come up with a diagnosis.

    It is estimated (Wikipedia, based on the DSM-5) that 1% of the population fits the NPD diagnosis. Notice, only 1%.

    Melody Wilding, an executive coach, licensed social worker nd professor of Human Behavior, stated it well: “As an executive coach and Human Behavior professor, I hear from readers every day who claim that they work with a narcissist. They complain about managers and colleagues who make their work life harder.. Psychologically speaking, narcissism is a personality trait that every person possesses to some degree. Like any characteristic, it exists on a spectrum. We all fall somewhere along the narcissism continuum… However, any personality trait taken to an extreme can become pathological. A person who is excessively high in narcissism is said to have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), which is a diagnosable mental illness. A person with narcissistic traits may be mildly self- centered at times, but NPD, on the other hand, is a deeply ingrained, pervasive pattern.. to the point where it interferes with normal functioning across a wide range of settings beyond work” (www. business insider. com/ narcissism vs narcissist).

    If you look at the diagnostic criteria of the many mental disorders listed in the DSM, you will see that you fit part of the criteria for dozens and dozens of diagnoses, if not more. One way to look at it is that every diagnosis is a spectrum diagnosis and everyone is on that spectrum. In other words, everyone is a narcissist, just as everyone is bi-polar (has highs and lows), everyone is depressed (at times), everyone is dependent, etc. But it doesn’t mean that everyone fits the diagnosis of bi-polar disorder, and/ or major depressive disorder and/ or dependent personality disorder.




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