When I was in an abusive relationship, I remember asking myself this question all the time. I’ve since spent years studying narcissism, and this is my answer: every narcissist is an abuser. They need to feel in control and thrive off of the power. To a narcissist other people are not their equals; they need to feel above everyone else, even though, deep down, they’re very insecure, which is why they do it.
Narcissists need to feel better, look better and even have better possessions than everyone else. They want to be admired and envied and to gain as much validation and attention as possible. To a narcissist, ‘supply’ is their fresh air - they need it! A narcissist has many faces, depending on what they want from people. To many, they may seem charming, funny and generous; but with family members and partners the mask slips, they don’t need to pretend, so they expose their true personality.
Narcissists abuse you because they enjoy it, and they know they can. The unhappier you are, the happier they are. They might show you a nice version of themselves sometimes, but that’s only to suit themselves and to keep you under their narcissist spell of web and lies. They enjoy breaking you down and changing you into someone who is unrecognizable. Seeing you lose your mind through the relentless gaslighting gives them a sense of achievement; they’ve made you question your sense of reality.
How Narcissists View Others
You are there to feed their needs, not the other way around. Narcissists see people as property. They like to think they own you. They can’t love you the way you love them. They don’t have empathy so they don’t feel bad for abusing you, instead they feel they’re entitled to do it. There is no happy ending with a narcissist, and they can never be your soul mate.
When I was experiencing abuse from my ex-partner, I tried everything I could to make him happy. He didn’t like my hair color (blonde). He said it made me look cheap and people thought I looked like a slut, so I changed my hair to dark brown. He didn’t like the way I spoke, so I tried to speak differently. I tried everything I could to make him happy, just for his approval and acceptance. But every time I changed one thing, he complained about something else. There was never any respite.
Narcissists set unrealistic goals, so you’re constantly striving to be better, just to be loved and to feel safe. If you have any childhood traumas, the narcissist will reinforce the feeling of not being good enough.
Narcissists and Love Bombing
All that most people want is to be loved by their partner. The person we first meet, if a narcissist, will pretend to love everything about us. They present themselves as the dream partner. This is the love bombing stage. Unfortunately, it never lasts, and over time, they break you down piece by piece. Narcissists become a huge part of your world because they make your world very small. They deliberately isolate you from friends and family, because that is your support network, those are the people who might question the abuse and will maintain your sense of reality.
Narcissists even make you question who you are and what you believe. Over time, you might notice that your views have changed, because in your relationship, if you give your opinion, you can be shut down very quickly and often brutally. I remember feeling so humiliated. So, it is not just your looks that will change, you may even start to think differently. You then start to notice health changes. Tiredness, to the point of chronic fatigue, is common. You will feel isolated and depressed. You have no energy to fight back anymore or even to question what is happening to you. You look in the mirror and you don't see the same person.
In my clinic people often ask, ‘how on earth did I get here?’ You don't notice the changes happening because of the push and pull of a narcissist. One day they’re your biggest fan and incredibly loving and generous and then they go back to pulling you down. This inconsistency creates a trauma bond; you become dependent on the narcissist's approval and love. You have become addicted to the highs and lows. This is now what ‘normal’ looks like. Your body is in a permanent state of trauma response. When they tell you, as they often do, that you’re lucky to have them because no one else would want you, you agree.
A Narcissist Will Never Change
It's important to realize that narcissists don't change. They won't change for you, they won't change for the next person, and even if they promise that they’re going to change, it will never happen. Narcissists are very clever manipulators and will say and do whatever it takes to get their own way. They are very good at making you believe the reason they behave like they do is your fault, you are to blame. This is not true, and the sooner you can be away from a narcissist the better.
I have had many people in my clinic that are suffering severely due to narcissistic abuse. I have to tell them all the same thing. Nothing you can do will ever be enough, you cannot make them love you. They get pleasure from the abuse, so it will never stop and to stay with them means you will completely lose yourself. I advise clients to stop focusing on changing the abuser and instead focus on yourself and how you can get away and start a life without a narcissist in it.
I know it takes so much courage to walk away from a narcissist, but by doing so you are setting yourself free and allowing yourself to live the life that you deserve.