Can you believe anything a narcissist says? Or, for that matter, a histrionic, borderline and the rest of the Cluster B variety pack? Especially as it pertains to you and your character? In other words, are you the best person ever, or the worst person ever?
In a word, no. First, these individuals are known pathological liars. Second, if you’re basing your value as a person on someone who goes from “I love you” to “I have you” in a nanosecond, you’ll be on shaky emotional ground forever.
Emotionally and psychologically stable adults don’t love you one minute and hate you the next.
I’m convinced the concept of “my truth” was birthed by a narcissist, borderline or histrionic. These individuals believe that their feelings are facts. Thus, “their truth” about you changes with their emotional kaleidoscope. If you’ve ever played with an actual kaleidoscope, you know the slightest jostle can alter the colorful pattern.
Because their feelings are intense yet shallow, they can shift rapidly. Thus, their narratives and constructs of self and other change with their emotions. Deep emotional attachment and attunement are persistently consistent. They grow and evolve gradually over time, not a lunch break.
The NPD, BPD or HPD idealization and devaluation cycle are similarly highly emotionally charged. As such, it can be difficult not to be taken in by them. These individuals hook people with intense emotions — positive and negative. Try ignoring the intensity of their emotional presentation and track the content of their narratives instead.
Pay attention to the details of their love bombing and devaluations. If you do, you’ll catch the inconsistencies, contradictions, exaggerations and impossibility of their assertions. You’ll also see their all or nothing thinking on display. All good, all bad. I love you, I hate you. You always, you never.
Can you believe anything a narcissist says?
If you’re the current or former partner of a narcissist, borderline or histrionic, I’ve got good news and bad news for you. The good news is you’re not the worst person ever. Not even close.
The bad news is you’re not the best person ever. Being in a relationship with a personality disordered person can cause self-esteem whiplash due to their endlessly oscillating intense idealization and devaluation.
Regardless, it’s all emotionally manipulative bullshit.
If you’re neither the worst nor best person ever, then what does any of it matter?
There’s really no difference between the love bombing pedestal (idealization) and the it’s all your fault POS status (devaluation). While one feels better than the other, both are equally meaningless. They’re just different versions of the same manipulation. The carrot and the stick are one and the same for codependent people-pleasers.
Meaning, both conditions can’t simultaneously be true. You can’t be the most amazing, most special person ever and the most horrible person ever. Especially when a borderline, narcissist or histrionic partner alternates between the two extremes multiple times within the same week, day or hour.
But which one is true? Again, neither. In your desperation to get approval and love from someone who’s incapable of genuinely giving it, you’re going to sustain more abuse. Ultimately, this is the special power narcissists, borderlines and histrionics wield over their partners and family. You become dependent upon them to feel good about yourself.
That’s the super glue in their glue trap.
So many clients are easily manipulated by the mercurial feelings-based opinions of their narcissistic, histrionic or borderline partners. It’s why they walk on eggshells. Cluster B personality disordered people don’t have a cohesive, stable sense of themselves (i.e., construct). Hence their rage and perceived victimhood at the smallest and/or imaginary slight or criticism. As such, their construct of other people — including you — is similarly unstable.
“You bought me a new car!!! Yay!!! I love you!!! Thank you, daddy!!!! Best daddy ever!!!!!”
“You won’t let me have a third cookie!!!! Mean mommy!!! I hate you!!!!!”
Therefore, any approval from a BPD, HPD or NPD person is meaningless if it can change on a dime. This becomes a manipulation tactic once they figure out the power they can wield by alternating withholding love or blowing smoke up your butt (i.e., variable ratio reinforcement schedule).
It’s all the same to them.
Can you believe anything a narcissist says?
Alas, their contempt for you is real. In my experience, these individuals fundamentally dislike and disrespect everyone given enough time. Or rather, once you see behind their false self to the messed up psychologically stunted child just below the surface.
These individuals enjoy being cruel. They resent having to love bomb or Hoover — what they call “being nice.” The overt cruelty is more enjoyable due to the contempt they feel for you for tolerating their abuse. I also suspect it makes them feel more powerful when a victim grovels for love. Contemptuous and powerful.
Furthermore, healthy adults don’t change their opinion of you just because they occasionally feel irritated, hurt or disappointed by you. In fact, healthy adults can still love and respect their partner even when they’re super angry with them. And can do so without engaging in wanton cruelty or childish nonsense. Imagine that!
If you’re still trying to make it work with a disordered partner because you don’t think you can live without their approval, please understand that for which you’re tolerating abuse IS NOT REAL. It’s your codependency and need for external validation from someone who’ll never be capable of giving it to you that’s real. They’ll continue to exploit your vulnerabilities and abuse you for as long as you’re willing to suffer it and them.
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals with relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. Since 2009, she’s specialized in helping men and women break free of abusive relationships, cope with the stress of ongoing abuse and heal from the trauma. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. If you’d like to work with Dr. Palmatier, please visit the Schedule a Session page or you can email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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