The title of this post arrived in my search terms about a year ago. This query also came up for Ursula over at An Upturned Soul; she posted a excellent response that you can read here.
Frankly, I considered responding but then dropped it because I felt very ambivalent. I wondered if it was a real question or if it was in fact a narcissist who was just trolling. If real, what would I say to someone who is looking for an answer to this? I felt a little depressed every time I thought about it – there’s some poor, desperate person out there who is trying to save a marriage, an engagement, a friendship, a relationship of some sort. But Ursula encouraged me to try – to give my take on it.
This person – I’m going to call him or her “Terry,” has likely done at least a little research because he or she has learned that narcissists have been categorized as being unable to love.
But undaunted, Terry perseveres. There must be a way! There must be some hope out there! Some obscure research or study or enquiry that espouses an approach that claims to work! That does work! I’m going to find it! And proclaim it to the world! I will not give up! I will not be a cynic who gives up on someone!
I wanted to say: Dear Terry, have you ever heard of snake-oil salesmen? Of bridges for sale? Of swamps that can produce the elixir of youth? Of spaghetti that grows on trees? Are you one of those people that P.T. Barnum indelicately described as being born every minute? Wake up, grow up, throw up or do whatever other “up” you need to do to get your head out of your ass and understand that narcissists are completely incapable of loving anyone, ever. Oy!
That’s what I wanted to say.
But then I thought about it. Why shouldn’t Terry have hope? Why not? If we human beings had allowed ourselves to be stopped by every obstacle that ever came our way, then we would be a very sorry lot. No antibiotics. No lunar landings. No dinosaurs. (Oops. That one was fiction.)
But that’s the point, though, isn’t it? It’s okay to have hope, as long as it’s realistic. Maybe some day, we will know enough about narcissistic brain function to effect a “cure,” whatever that means. Medication? Talk therapy? An operation? Better parenting? Maybe a combination of all of these? Who knows?
But then again … maybe we won’t find a solution. Hope is good thing to have, but it has to be balanced.
Fear and emotional desperation can tend to unhinge us, can make us behave in irrational, illogical ways. And that’s what the narcissist generates. It’s intentional. In this highly subjective situation, hope is, well, it’s hopeless.
There we are, emotionally sickened and dangling by one fingernail while we grasp at any vestige of possibility – what can I do to get him back, to get him to love me (again)? The interior disintegration is profound and swift. We are like addicts who will do anything … That’s why it’s important to separate ourselves, to go “no contact,” to endure the pain of withdrawal so that we can get our lives back. Because this drug is bad for us. Really, really bad. It has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It just is what it is, and it does what it does, and you are nothing more than the gravel under its feet or the sky over its head.
So hope? Yes. After you have disengaged from the narcissist and re-established your life and maybe even had some counselling, because let’s face it, if you have been involved with a narcissist, there’s a reason for it.
A reason that you have buried, that you have ignored, that you have spun. You have to face yourself and your part in this.
Cautiously. Carefully. Deliberately.
I tried to get my ex-narcissist to love me, again.
I desperately wanted to get him back into that idealization phase, even though I didn’t know at the time that that’s what I was doing. I sometimes encouraged him to talk about love, because I wanted him to put me and love together in his head.
Not that he really needed encouragement, because he loved to talk about
He ranted endlessly about how poorly he had been treated by every female who had ever crossed his path for more than five minutes. We were all “scorners of men” who were lying in wait and planning to trick, trap, or otherwise punish every male in creation.
We were Eve incarnate, juicy apple in hand, enticing patter at the ready. We were evil landlocked mermaids with nothing but the siren call of total male destruction in mind, day in and day out. We were impulsive Pandora, straining to free all those spites and careless of her husband’s warnings.
And then the cycling would start:
Women, yes. I love how you smell. I love your clothes. I love how you look on my arm. I love … I love … I hate you!!! I hate what you represent!!! I hate you because you are women, and you have more than me, and I hate you!!! I love you! I hate you! I want you! I don’t want you! I want what you have!
Yes! That’s it. I want what you have! Give it to me! Give it to me, pleeeese. If you don’t give it to me, I’m going to take it, and make you wish you never tried to stop me. And I’ll swallow it. And then you will be weak and I’ll be strong and then I can feel better. Yes. It’s okay now.
I love you.
(Cue lines and music from a romantic movie. I say this because that’s literally what would be going off in his head. He might even quote the movie and pass the quote off as his own.)
But, two minutes later or two days later or two hours later:
I hate you!
Terry, do you see how this works? Your narcissist may tell you that you’re loved. But the very mouthing of these words is nothing but a tool. It’s a tool to get whatever it is you have that your narcissist wants. It’s a tool to relieve whatever pressure has built up in this individual’s festering mind. It’s tool to keep you off-kilter, off-balance and off-off, so that you can easily be controlled. It’s not love. For the narcissist, it’s one of many other words that is a means to an end.
The narcissist doesn’t understand love, doesn’t really believe that it exists and is really rather amused that the rest of us could expend so much energy engaging in such theatre. It’s about as real as the starship Enterprise.
And eventually, if you trail after this dickhead long enough, there will be nothing left of you. Not even your smell.
And then you will be discarded. Because what’s the use of keeping an empty shell around? It’s just cluttering the place up.
So, do I have hope for my ex-narcissist? I do. I send him good wishes every time I think of him. He, and those he’s in contact with, need good wishes more than most. But will I ever answer an e-mail or phone call from him? Never. Will I ever see him again? Not if I can help it. He is permanently “no contact,” now and forever. I will never again place myself in that situation.
So dear Terry, separate yourself from your narcissist. Get help. Find your own life again. The life that you deserve. Your narcissist will never love you nor anyone else. She or he is simply not built that way.
Good luck. 🙂
What would you say to Terry?