Is My Ex a Narcissist or Just Difficult?
Have you been in a coParenting relationship with someone who you believe is selfish, egotistical, and impossible to co-parent with? Have you been wondering if they are a narcissist? Well, there are many reasons for this type of behavior and for the sake of this article, we are going to explore narcissism. Keep in mind, this term relates to men and women alike.
What is Narcissism?
Narcissism, often referred to as “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” (NPD) is a long-term medical disorder where a person has the inability to empathize with others, has an inflated sense of self-worth and importance, and a strong need to be admired. Individuals diagnosed with narcissism attempt to associate with others whom they feel are highly intelligent and unique. People with NPD don’t like being criticized or to lose. Feeling defeated or being criticized leaves them believing they have been personally humiliated. On the surface, they appear off-putting but under the surface, they are quite fragile. Individuals with a narcissistic personality disorder like to be in control of their lives and the lives of others around them. Even when they know their interference causes problems in relationships, they still find it difficult to refrain from exerting control.
What Causes Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Experts aren’t sure what causes narcissism, but they speculate that not having a secure relationship with parents and family, especially during childhood, may be one of the causes. Without a strong feeling of security, children may not learn how to deal with the problems that most people effectively deal with in everyday life.
What Are the Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Medical professionals believe that unless individuals have at least five of the common symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, they cannot be diagnosed as having the disorder. Only certified doctors can diagnose as there are many facets to each symptom. Those symptoms may include:
- Feelings of entitlement, and an unreasonable expectation of being treated more favorably than others.
- Taking advantage of others in order to obtain their goals.
- Disregarding the feelings of and lacks empathy for others.
- Exhibits arrogant or egotistical behavior.
- Exhibits an exaggerated view of their self-importance.
- Needs constant attention and admiration from others.
- Is envious of other people, and believes they are envious of him.
- Is preoccupied with: being successful; intelligent; powerful; great looking, and having perfect personal relationships.
- Believing they are unique and superior and can be understood only by people who have similar qualities.
How Do I Handle Someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
If you are in a coParenting relationship with someone diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, the best thing is to understand why they feel the way they do and how you can best react/communicate with them. It doesn’t help to fight fire with fire, especially with someone diagnosed with NPD.
- Understand someone with NPD lacks empathy. They aren’t unable to understand another person’s point of view and are unable to feel what other people feel. For example, You just received a big promotion at work and relay your excitement to someone with NPD. Instead of showing encouragement or congratulating you, they will often try to turn the spotlight back to themselves. If this happens, don’t take it personally. Just know it is part of their personality and they don’t mean anything harmful by it.
- A narcissist needs to feel constantly admired and has a sense of entitlement. The best way to deal with this type of narcissist is to open up a conversation by saying something nice about them or thanking them for something they did. This may help them put their guard down and will likely result in a better conversation. Being the bigger person is key here.
- Know their limitations and keep your distance if you feel overwhelmed. Communicate via text message or through a mediator. This will help you maintain integrity in raising your child in a loving home.
What If My Ex Isn’t a Narcissist?
Good question! If your ex isn’t a narcissist, they could simply be going through a difficult time in their life or may have a great deal of stress in which they don’t know how to properly deal with. They could even have strong or hurt feelings related to the coParenting relationship or break up but they don’t know how to best communicate it. There are an endless amount of reasons as to why your co-parent can be difficult but the best thing to remember is to keep everything light and easy, as best as you can, for the sake of your child.
Whether you think your coParent is a narcissist or just difficult, there are many tools out there to help make coParenting easier for you. For example, coParenter is an app designed for co parents that can be used either by yourself or with your co parent (Coming May 2018). The app allows you to document messages between you and your coParent and receive coaching from coParenting Professionals who are trained to help you work through even the thorniest coParenting problems. The important thing is to get the help you need so that you can raise your children in a stable, loving environment.