I wasn’t going to make the subject of my blog solely about relationships but it just keeps coming up right now. Maybe I still have a few things to work out. Also, I read an insightful article about 9 signs You’re in Love with a Narcissist (Huffpost) and this would have been such valuable information for me a few years ago. I don’t think that I have ever been involved with such a complete Narcissist before so I made excuses for his behavior – which was further complicated by the fact that it was an intercultural relationship. This has caused me problems in the past as well – I am a compassionate and curious person and trained in cultural anthropology, so many times I try to do some analysis about the cultural context that I am living in (abroad), about adjusting to what that is part of the culture, what I can accept and whether it is a chance for me to expand my understanding of how others may work in the world. But, some things are not to accept and, by the time I realized it, I had already fallen under his spell. Loved him.
So, let’s call him Wolfgang.
Indicator #1: In the beginning they love bomb you – oh my bejesus did he love bomb me, I never felt so attended to and cared for. He was a master… pulling me close and interested in everything about me – expensive dinners, botanical garden trips to buy me my favorite plants. It was intoxicating. CHARMER.
Indicator #2: Grand, sweeping gestures are their strong suit – picking up the tab for dinners with others – always in situations to elevate status. There was always an ulterior motive and he would usually pick situations where he could get information, gain some control or leave the others feeling like they owed him something. I saw this build over time, but thought it didn’t apply to me. He made me feel like we were in it together. Sucker I was.
Indicator #3: They never admit they are wrong – NEVER. He would make an obviously poor decision, but was never wrong – and, more likely, it was my fault. I couldn’t even begin to defend myself, forget it – I was just the stupid, incompetent one in the end according to the world of Wolfgang.
Indicator #4: They’re envious of your relationship with others – Shit and shit again. I was such a fool as I allowed my friendships to be cast aside to spend all my time and devote all of my attention to him. Even my dog. I am not joking – she was left with a caretaker and when she disappeared, she was gone from my life. She was such a good companion and I basically abandoned her because he didn’t want the complication of a dog. This has been a difficult one for me to live with.
What was I thinking? More indicators and revelations in the next round. I have made myself remember enough pain for now. I hope that some of my insights might resonate with others….
Relationships are on my mind. I am thinking about all the kinds – family, work, romantic and everything in-between that we encounter every day. Even the casual couple we meet at the bar talking about tacos. They all mean something and what bind us to the social and emotional part of our world. We talk about what they mean... “I love my family”, “I don’t like the smelly guy in yoga class”, but these relationships or connections seem to have different meanings for different people; such as, how much contact/connection we need with outside social situations, do we like new and/or varied experiences or do we like the comfort of routine ones? I think this says a lot about US.
And when there is great differentiation within a couple, problems can arise. I have seen that couples that have the same sense of external social stimulation and intrapersonal (between them only) combination – or close to – have more trust and understand each other better. This is one of the most difficult differences to work out. Maybe jealousy – or wanting to know why your partner needs that “rush” of meeting people or being entertaining – is really hard. It has been for me and I think there is a fine line. I think that there is a limit of what we ask our partner to expect before it becomes disrespectful… is a partner supposed to accept three drunken nights out with friends a week? Or six-week business trips 3x a year without you? What do you think?