Often we only understand everything when it’s too late. It was only after the divorce that Philip realized how destructive his marriage to Mary had been for him. Previously, even realizing that she was prone to narcissism, he hoped that his love would be enough for them to be fine. He thought he just needed to find the right approach to her. How wrong he was!
Soon after the wedding, Philip began to give up his hobbies for his wife. He began to communicate mainly with her friends. I took over her tastes and preferences. From the outside, it seemed that they had an ideal relationship. Maria became very attached to her husband, and this was fine with him.
But then the problems started. Philip stopped “gasping for air”, it seemed to him that he was being manipulated, that he could not do anything himself, without his wife. Her exactingness took away all his strength. The husband tried to withdraw a little, but the wife became even more attached to him. All the time they were getting closer and then moving away, and this endless cycle began to drive the man crazy. Finally, he decided to divorce, and when everything was behind him, he was able to analyze what was really going on in their relationship.
There are no personal boundaries in such a relationship. Philip thought and felt the same as Maria
“Who do narcissists usually get attached to? To anyone: parents, children, spouses, friends, even business partners. Narcissists are drawn to anyone who is ready to endlessly give them attention, admire them, appreciate and love them, ”explains psychotherapist Christine Hammond. The narcissist’s ego requires constant “nourishment”, so he looks for someone who is ready to admire and indulge him. For example, for Mary, her husband became such a person.
“If a narcissist develops an unhealthy attachment to one of the children, he becomes a favorite, and the rest are practically forgotten. Everything is forgiven to the pet, and “forgotten” children, on the contrary, are punished for any little thing. Unfortunately for pets, this relationship with parents can hurt them just as much as their “forgotten” siblings.
The beloved child and his narcissistic parent merge into one. When such a child grows up and gets married, the parent refuses to recognize his husband or wife and constantly tries to destroy their relationship, ”the expert explains.
Using the example of Philip and Mary, consider the seven dangers that lie in wait for the one who has become the object of narcissistic attachment.
1. Focus shift
All of Philip’s attention was focused on his wife: on her desires, needs, thoughts and feelings. When planning something, he always asked himself: “What will Maria think?” He practically gave up his own thoughts and feelings for the sake of his wife.
2. Loss of individuality
Mary’s affection for Philip was so strong that she viewed him as her continuation. There are no personal boundaries in such a relationship. Philip thought and felt the same as Mary, and any of his attempts to show individuality met with strong resistance and was perceived as a betrayal.
3. Feeling superior
At first, the narcissist’s affection feels amazing. He literally envelops you in love, which can cause real addiction. At first, Mary constantly praised Philip and did not notice any of his faults and shortcomings. This gave him a false sense of superiority, because Mary was not attached to anyone else as much as to him. Sometimes she temporarily moved away from him, and then they again approached, which only strengthened this feeling.
4. Feeling rejected
And yet, in those periods when his wife moved away, Philip felt rejected. She then ignored him, then constantly fell on him: cursed him, threatened to abandon or break things dear to him. She always had her own version of events, and in order to maintain peace in the family, her husband agreed with her, took responsibility for what he did not do, and begged her to stay. Even after reconciliation, this feeling of rejection persisted, and there was a fear that everything would happen again.
5. Life in constant stress
Next to Maria, Philip had to literally walk on tiptoe. He had to constantly adjust to her mood, otherwise a scandal would have erupted. She was happy – and he was happy, she was sad – he was sad too. Personal boundaries were so blurred that Philip sometimes did not understand where he was, and where she was.
6. The risk of becoming a “scapegoat”
Maria never admitted her guilt. She blamed the responsibility for her misdeeds and mistakes on her husband, who became the “scapegoat.” She never apologized, but she made him apologize for every little thing. Philip began to think that he was a terrible person.
7. Fear of provoking a scene of jealousy
Philip could not communicate with friends without Mary’s approval. Because of her, his relationship with his best friend and relatives soured. She forced him to change jobs and insisted that they move to the other side of town. If he had a friendship with someone, she made a scandal: they say, he no longer loves her.
Philip needed psychotherapy to realize how destructive a narcissist’s attachment can be. After a while, he was ready to enter into a healthy relationship.
About the author: Christine Hammond is a psychotherapist.