Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Narcissism Dating

I recently came across an article on The Huffington Post called “6 Ways to Recognize and Stop Dating A Narcissist” written by their Chief Love Officer Sandy Weiner. Normally I would avoid such a piece but the coincidence of locating a “Chief Love Officer” with a suggestive surname was too much to pass up. Plus, I have a natural affinity for succinct numbered lists that claim to decode complex psychological problems.

It turns out that narcissists tend to be “charming, exciting, intoxicating nice guys” whose emotional deficiencies are so well disguised they lure people into forming “soul connections.” I believe that Mrs. Weiner has succeeding in sowing seeds of discontent and doubt into even the most functional of adult relationships. No longer content dissecting actual negative behavior, we are now forced to undermine good behavior by casting suspicion on its origins. Sure Frank may be polite, charming, and treat you with respect, but what if he is simply playing the relationship long con and his behavior these last ten years are nothing more than a clever ruse? Before long I will be reading articles titled, “He may physically and emotionally abuse you with an unholy fervor, but at least you don’t have to speculate on whether or not he is a terrible person.”

The article advises that if your man exhibits even just one of the following symptoms you should “walk away, never to look back and hope for reconciliation”

  • When you express your needs, he gets defensive
  • When the going gets tough, he gets going
  • He gets angry when you discuss exclusivity
  • His actions and words don't match
  • He runs hot and cold

Some of these probably should be sticking points (such as flying into a violent rage when you request he stops sleeping with all of the hostesses at your local Olive Garden) but others are irresponsibly open ended. I am not sure you should run screaming from a first date because you perceive him as sending mixed signals. Sometimes guys are just nervous and imperceptive, a combination that doesn’t necessarily indicate chronic narcissism. Don’t get me wrong, there are early warning signs that should be heeded (he won’t stop asking when your little sister will be “legal” or he refuses to explain why his roommates call him “Patient Zero”) and could potentially save someone from wasting time and energy on a dead end. However, it appears we are now just penning articles because someone out there might actually be happy operating within an imperfect union between two flawed people.

More enlightening than the article was the comment section:

Rita admits that she dated a narcissist who “threw knives” and she had to “hit over the head with a pan” so that she could escape while he was dazed.
Robert explained that men’s self-absorption is simply “looking for cues from consenting females.”
Daliah credited the article with reminding her why she “would never get married.”
Mary knew her ex-fiancée was a narcissist when he objected to her spending money on a “pony-riding party for her daughter.”

I would like to address these individually if I can.

Rita-I believe you misread the article because the real danger is not that a man with a knife will say one thing and do another; it is that he will do exactly what he says he will do.

Robert -there is nothing creepier than a grown man admitting that he spends all his time “looking for cues from consenting females.” Also, I believe you owe Rita an apology.

Daliah - there are plenty of legitimate reasons not to get married, but the comment section of a Huffington Post advice column is not the place to locate them.

Mary – I can only hope that you did not end a long-term relationship over a disagreement concerning equine rental fees.  I dare say that it is possible to maintain a healthy monogamous relationship with someone who expresses a disparate valuation of short term horse leasing.

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