How It Began, Dating a Narcissist
I never intended to date a narcissist but until it was all over, I don’t know that was what he was. At first he made me feel good he told me how beautiful I was. As a student of Industrial Chemistry at university I spent most of my time with people more focussed on compounds than women. I was living at home so to make a little money I took on some bar work and that is where we met. My self- confidence with boys and men had always been quite low. People told me that I was pretty, but I didn’t believe them. This was probably in part a result of the fact that my parents had extremely high expectations of me. I have a high IQ, but I expect their high expectations of me were because my older brother has Downs’ syndrome and takes a lot of looking after so my parents tried to compensate.
He was charming, very good looking and even though he was 12 years’ older than me, it felt like he had a young attitude, being able to mix with a group of people my age and even lead the whole crowd in what to do. If Ian said “let’s go into town” they would all follow. He was the life and soul of the party. And, what was best, he made me the focus of his attention, when his wife wasn’t there that was. She was older than him and he told me stories about how, before him, she had been a mess and he had straightened her out. He had been a step-dad to her children and made himself out to be some sort of heroic rescuer especially of her son who had been in big trouble at school.
Getting To Know The Narcissist
Before I knew it, we were sneaking away after closing time and having cheeky, romantic, rendezvous at the beach in the dark. It was idyllic, moonshine, stars and the lapping of waves, his strong arm around my shoulders, I was in love. I left my boyfriend and he left his wife but not before he told me everything about himself. He had been expelled from school and had gone to borstal. He had served a short prison sentence for getting into a fight in which the other guy had suffered a serious assault. He said he was sorry for his actions, but at the same time there was a boastfulness in his remorse. He would often say “The school hasn’t been built that could contain and manage me”. I guess I colluded with his story, that the world had been unfair on him.
I agreed with this self-diagnosis that he was intelligent but his rough start in life had got in the way of his ability to succeed. He boasted that when he was assessed at special school his IQ was in the top 1%, higher than mine. I believed everything he told me and defended him to my parents who said little but I could tell they didn’t approve my choice of a fork-lift truck driver who spent nearly every evening in the pub.
After The Honeymoon
We moved in together after about a year of dating. My parents helped us financially because as a student I didn’t have much money and Ian hadn’t managed to save any money in the six months we had been planning to get a house. He had loads of excuses. All he contributed to the home was his weightlifting equipment. But all too quickly, his behaviour changed. He started to go out on “all-nighters” including going to a lap dancing club and a casino where he managed to spend £500 in one night. His friends thought he was generous but I couldn’t afford to turn the heating on and sat alone at home shivering.
One night on my day off, we were at the pub and a male student on my course came in. we started to chat about a practical we had recently done and before I knew it, Ian was standing next to him and began to threaten him for talking to me. He put his arm around my waist and almost dragged me back to where we had been sitting. The guy I had been talking to left he pub soon after and hasn’t spoken to me since.
Soon, he began to be drunk almost every day and started to miss work. It was a miracle he didn’t get the sack, but the owner was a friend of his dad’s so he was given more chances than was reasonable. We stopped going out together and he started to hang around with a group of impressionable lads who were only about 20. I will never forget our conversations, which would veer from settling down and having kids to his assertion that “you can’t put a ball and chain on me baby!”. The fact that we went to three weddings in a year of our peer group seemed to make matters worse.
Several times I planned to leave, but even though I had said nothing to him each time he managed to do something to redeem himself – he helped my parents move house, even wore a suit for my graduation and smiled proudly as I collected an achievement prize. These little things kept us going.
The End Of The Affair
About five months before we split, he stopped coming to bed and would sleep on the couch. Then he started to drive into the next town to drink, stay up all night and turn up at home after I had left for university. Then came the event that blew me out of the water. A friend shared a photo on Facebook of them all out for the night an event I hadn’t been invited to. He had his arm around a girl and the next photo was of them kissing. I suddenly knew what I had tried not to believe, he had someone else.
What My Therapist Told Me
For months after I returned home to my parents, I was miserable. I felt ugly, worthless, because he had dumped me for someone else. After a few months’ I started to feel very unhappy until one day I broke down in tears on my way to work and realised I was suffering with depression. I found a therapist and began talking to her about my relationship and feelings.
The therapist helped me understand that it wasn’t me who had a problem. She described him as a “narcissist”. Apparently, their whole focus in their lives is about them. They can justify their behaviours and believe it too. Even their explanations for failure in any aspect of their lives can be blamed on others or bad luck. She said he showed classic signs of narcissism: a focus on himself, a justification for his behaviour and his “love bombs” which made me feel so good and which I missed with all my heart.
I am getting better and I am back at work. My advice to anyone reading this who thinks that their relationship with someone, man or woman is anything like the one described here is run, you can’t change them and like a moth to a bright flame, you might get your wings burned.