Have You Met a Narcissist?

Monday, February 4th, 2019

Many of us know the story of Narcissus: beautiful, self-obsessed, vain and shallow. Many of us may also feel that we have known, dated, or even been labelled a narcissist ourselves. But how can we know when we've encountered a narcissist?

There are countless articles online on what makes a narcissist, how to spot them, and the damage they cause. This can seem especially relevant living in today's digital world, where people seem so self-obsessed. But in the age of the narcissist, the entire spectrum of selfishness has been absorbed into this one trait. When looking at toxic relationships it seems many people have experience dating a narcissist.

Feeling like you are living with a narcissist in your life is scary. Identifying that someone is so self-obsessed they don't have the ability to care about how that hurts you can feel like the right answer for when we are scorned by a lover or betrayed by a trusted friend. These hurtful things can begin to make sense if that person were a narcissist, and helps to preserve the idea that we are not the problem or deserving of this treatment. However, sometimes labelling someone as a narcissist is also a way to decide this person is pathological and therefore unable to be helped or loved.

Sometimes people do things to us that are harmful and life-changing. And sometimes when they do those things it can be hard to understand how they could be so selfish, so cold, or so damaging. This is where the idea of the narcissist can bring comfort as it seems to explain it so well. But, there are many ways for someone to be selfish without it being narcissistic, and there are many things that feel narcissistic when really they are just human qualities.

Sometimes someone appears selfish because they are not connecting with us the way they used to. They can seem cold and rejecting when breaking our hearts, but really they've done all of their crying somewhere we didn't see. And while what they are doing feels damaging to us, they are simply doing the best they can for themselves and their life. It's hard when relationships we hold so dear change, especially when that change means a relationship is coming to an end. These things are never easy, especially when they matter a lot to us. But learning to recognize a toxic situation can either have good boundaries or to let go can free us. During the hardest changes, holding on to compassion, empathy, and love can only make things better.

This can be especially hard when someone is hurting us so deeply, and perhaps they genuinely are a narcissist. Unfortunately, labelling people with hurtful words doesn't truly make us feel better, and won't help a difficult situation. So have you met a narcissist? Maybe, but probably not. Regardless of this label, if there is someone toxic in your life, it's important to take care of yourself first.

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