I recently read a letter online that a distraught middle-aged woman had written to a life coach. She said she had been happily married for seven years to a well known “relationship expert”.
She said they have filed for divorce and her life is now unrecognizable from the life they had for many years. The woman is over 40 now and is depressed and crying every night, wondering why her husband discarded her, why she didn’t see it coming, and why she didn’t recognize his narcissism before it was too late.
She ended the letter by saying that she was writing with tears in her eyes. That she usually is very strong and tough, but the divorce has shattered her to the point she is not sure she will ever recover, yet he has so easily moved on.
When I was dating my now ex-husband back in 1978, I was annoyed by an attitude he had, which I couldn’t quite name or put my finger on. I rationalized that only sometimes was he a selfish, immature, thoughtless jerk that made my blood boil; and I knew he would outgrow it. I didn’t know anything about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD.
My ex was handsome, in medical school, and a great catch by most people’s standards, but I turned down his first marriage proposal because of that “obnoxious attitude” he had. After a lecture from my BFF about what a fool I was and what a wonderful life we would have, I changed my mind and married him.
Sadly, I identify with the distraught woman I mentioned earlier. One of the hardest things I have had to accept is that it’s been five years since my ex suddenly left me at age 51; and I am still picking up the pieces…yet, he moved on instantly and apparently never had one down day.
How can that happen? How can someone discard their life partner like used chewing gum and never look back for a single second?
Well…it’s because The Narcissist isn’t connected to their partner and isn’t capable of really loving them.
When my sons were in middle school, I sought counseling to try to understand why I was so angry. My male therapist explained to me that I was angry because my husband “wasn’t connected to me” and I was being emotionally neglected.
I could not comprehend what the therapist was telling me. I was certain my husband loved me, and I literally tried to convince the therapist that he did; while at the same time, I was being told that my best option was to leave my husband.
Years later, after he left me, a second therapist suggested to me that I had been dealing with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders…”the essential feature of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts”.
“Narcissists possess an exaggerated sense of importance concerning themselves and their work. Work and Self come first while other people, especially close, intimate relationships, become less important. A narcissist would say, “I’m more important than you and so is my work” says Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D.,MFCC.
The DSM says that 75% of those with NPD are men. Can you think of any politicians or other high profile men who just might be narcissists? In 2008, Emily Friedman wrote the following piece for ABC News:
John Edwards, former senator, one-time vice presidential nominee and two-time Democratic presidential hopeful, can now add one more title to his resume: self-proclaimed narcissist.
The North Carolina native, who just last week admitted to cheating on his wife with documentary filmmaker Rielle Hunter, told ABC News that his time in the political limelight fed into his self-adoration so much so that his personal life eventually became the latest high-profile sex scandal.
“[My experiences] fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe you can do whatever you want,” said Edwards, admitting that he cheated on his wife, Elizabeth, with Hunter to ABC News’ Bob Woodruff. “You’re invincible. And there will be no consequences.”
Feeling invincible and having no regard for the consequences your actions may have, is not uncommon for men who fill powerful posts, several psychologists told ABCNews.com, and are common attributes of narcissists.
“There is something about a lot of the people in power that they think the rules no longer apply to them or they’re above the rules,” said Wendy Behary, an expert specializing in narcissism and the author of Disarming the Narcissist.
Mark Held, a clinical psychologist in suburban Denver who specializes in treating overachievers told ABCNews.com that “people who go into certain fields are much more prone to get involved in these kinds of things—they’re people who seek power and need validation,” Held said.
Miami based psychotherapist Samuel Lopez De Victoria describes narcissists as people who get a high from getting attention and who often are unaware of the chance that they might get caught misbehaving.
In turn, De Victoria said, “not only does a narcissist become unable to consider the effect his actions could have on his own career or personal life, but it also inhibits him from considering the feelings of those around him.”
If you think you might be involved with a narcissist, the internet abounds with information on this disorder. Some experts say narcissism is incurable, therefore, you should run in the other direction post-haste.
I have read several excellent books on this topic, and I recommend Why is it Always About You?: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism, by Sandy Hotchkiss, or Narcissistic Lovers: How to Cope, Recover and Move On, by Cynthia Zayn and Kevin Dibble, M.S.
Cheryl Alexandra Michaels CPC, CSC Cheryl is a Certified Professional Coach and Spiritual Coach. She is a Reiki Master, an Angel Therapy™ Practitioner and a Reconnective Healing™ Practitioner. She lives in the suburbs of Seattle, Washington.