Spouses of Narcissists-Addicted to the Lifestyle
Narcissists are masterful at reading you up close and personal. They know exactly what they have to do to get your undivided attention and to eventually possess you. Narcissists go all out when they are on the hunt for a man or woman who will fulfill their insatiable needs, enhance their public image, remain compliant and discreet regardless of their atrocious behavior. They are always seeking pleasure, enjoyment and escape. Psychoanalyst Dr. Otto Kernberg describes the narcissist’s psychological inner (unconscious) state:”…these narcissistic patients’ experience of emptiness is characterized by the addition of strong feelings of boredom and restlessness…patients with narcissistic personality…do not have that capacity for empathizing with human experience…Their social life, which gives them opportunities to obtain confirmation in reality or fantasy of their needs to be admired, and offers them direct instinctual gratifications, may provide them with an immediate sense of meaningfulness, but this is temporary. (When the narcissist cannot obtain these gratifications)…their sense of emptiness, restlessness and boredom take over.”
This is where the spouse comes in. She/he is expected to keep the narcissist feeling splendid about himself at all times. As the spouse becomes an integral part of an upper tier lifestyle (in the case of high level very successful narcissists) it becomes more and more difficult to see through the delusion of constant distraction, material acquisition and incessant pleasure seeking. The spouse has strapped herself in for the ride of a lifetime. How could she possibly give this up. Ugly cracks begin to appear in the elaborate persona of the narcissistic spouse. Temper tantrums and menacing intimidations become more frequent. The spouse is on the receiving end of these ugly interludes.
Many spouses are unaware that they have a choice and can wrest themselves from the narcissist. They can separate themselves and their lives from this. But they are already addicted to the lifestyle that the high level narcissist provides. Who could walk away from this set up. It’s too good, too wildly self indulgent to say “goodbye.” The price the narcissist’s spouse pays is with her life. It no longer belongs to her. Even her thoughts are dictated and run in tandem with the narcissist. Her previous values have faded—she has new ones–they are narcissistic–flitting from one thrilling event to the other, meeting the most important people, traveling incessantly, buying whatever she impulsively wants. (This equally applies to male partners of female narcissists).
There are a few individuals who wake up and realize that they can no longer be a prisoner of their narcissistic spouse. They have listened finally to the steady voice of intuition that has been telling them that this is not a healthy relationship- in fact it is not a relationship. It is an arrangement, the source of narcissistic supply for their highly pathological spouse. Those who take the steps and sever themselves from this pseudo partnership, discover that despite the divorce aftermath, they are freed up on every level. Of great significance is the case of freeing one’s children from the narcissist’s grip. This is a great victory for you and them.
As the western world marches ever faster in sync with the Narcissistic Style, rewarding those who are most egregious and calling them “good people” , take the other road–authenticity, inner peace, creativity, kindness, true individuality—There you will thrive and celebrate all of the blessings of the true self. Visit my website:www.thenarcissistinyourlife.com
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life
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