Living with Narcissistic Personality Disorder

27 - Jun - 2024

There are many articles written about being in a relationship with someone who has a narcissitic personality doisorder (NPD) but this article considers what life might feel like if you have NPD.

One of the primary feelings that might be experienced with narcissistic personality disorder is a deep sense of insecurity and vulnerability. Despite being seen as self-assured, you may harbour intense feelings of inadequacy, and those around you might miss that your facade of superiority actually covers up these difficult and painful feelings. The need for validation and admiration from others might be constant and may leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled, you may feel constantly unappreciated and ignored.

Furthermore, you may also experience feelings of frustration and anger when you perceive that your strengths, skills and abilities are not being recognised or validated by others. Criticism or perceived slights can trigger intense emotional reactions, because this expereince is the opposite of your expectation for praise, appreciation and even admiration - leading you to react in a way perceived by others as hostile, defensiveness, or aggressive in some cases. You probably have difficulty accepting and processing negative feedback, which can lead to strained relationships and interpersonal conflicts.

Additionally, individuals with narcissistic personality disorder may struggle with feelings of loneliness and alienation, they find themselves accused of lacking empathy and being told they have an inability to truly connect with others - this alone can hinder the forming of genuine and meaningful relationships. 

Often new relationships can start out very well as it is natural for partners to focus intensely on each other initially. Given relationships usually form because there was someone each partner appreciated or admired about the other this level of focus and appreciation is missed when the relationship settles into one of more familiarity and less intensity.

Living with narcissistic personality disorder can be a complex and challenging experience, affecting an individual's thoughts, emotions, and behaviours in various ways. Often others struggle with the behaviours of those with the disorder and this can cause further hurt feelings. It can be confusing and frustrating that at times when you want to feel cared for by others they react in ways that feel attacking. Your subsequent reaction to that being naturally defensive only serving to validate the other persons position.

When it comes to interpersonal relationships, what can be most helpful is curiosity and compassion, to be able to speak about the facts of the behaviours and their impacts and consequences. In therapy people are able to speak about what the impacts are on their life and talk about ways to ensure they live the kind of life they ultimately desire. A therapist is able to help uncover and understand what needs to change and the therapeutic relationship is one whereby a client (or clients where partners come for therapy) can feel safe with someone whilst together exploring their way of being in the world, how they are impacted on and impact on others and ultimately use this awareness and understanding in how they live.