The significant other with a DNP

The Early Stage. It is easy to be enthralled with someone who has a DNP, as he or she can be charming and attentive. Many with a DNP are usually lively and outgoing, able to talk easily with others. At first they are also enthralled with you and believe that you are the person who can fulfil their needs and dissipate the emptiness within. And so they hang on your every word, flatter you, desire to be with you and do everything to make you believe you are important to them and their well being.

It is only after some time that you realise that the person is no longer enthralled with you. By that time you may already be emotionally committed to the significant other in a relationship, as you love and care for the person, you probably increase your efforts to please him or her and become increasingly frustrated when nothing you say or do works; you may begin to have self doubts and do a lot of self blaming.

If you were to analyse the course of the relationship, you would probably discover that sign of a DNP were present but not identified. The person had a history of failed relationships as evidenced by numerous intimate relationships that ended after a somewhat short period. The person will have demonstrated over and over that he or she is unable to develop and maintain satisfying relationships.

Other characteristics that may have been present early in the relationship are the desire to be admired, the need to be the centre of attention, the need to be considered unique and special, including hypersensitivity to anyone that intentionally or unintentionally appears to question their superiority (a need to feel superior as a compensation for the true core belief of inferiority!), and/or the feeling that certain rules, laws and so forth do not apply to them. You may have been willing to be all admiring at first, seeing no faults. Rose coloured glasses do have their advantages. However, there does come a time when reality begins to creep in, and while you still consider the person to be wonderful, you are able to see faults and still be accepting and caring.

Reality Stage.

More corrosive to the relationship are the person’s attitudes and behaviours of criticising and offloading blame, making misleading and distorted statements (although there is no doubt the DNP believes these statements). Gradually you realise that you are no longer wonderful in their eyes (“see how perfect you are?”) And that your partner is constantly criticising and blaming you, refusing to take any responsibility for maintaining the relationship, making demeaning and devaluing remarks to you, expecting you to show concern for him or her, with none shown you in return, and not empathising no matter how much empathy you give.

You may try some form of confronting where you bring to the person’s attention their behaviour and it’s affect on you and the relationship. There is little or no success in doing this, as no significant changes happen, and you always feel worse. Self doubt increases, anger and frustration flare up, and you may even feel that you are in a hopeless situation and are helpless. This is projective identification, the DNP has passed on to you their own deep beliefs about themselves. This pattern may become chronic and also have periods when it is acute.

A complicated factor is that your own underdeveloped narcissism can be triggered in intimate relationships through projective identification because you, unlike the DNP, have the ability to empathise and thus take on the feelings of the DNP. This is akin to adding fuel to the fire. Interactions may become more like children’s fights, where the attempt is to escalate the conflict, rather than adult interactions, where each person would make some good faith effort to understand the other person. As much, if not all of this is unconscious in the DNP, and that they are functioning on their misguided primitive urges without cognitive intervention, just like a child, all attempts to bring rational explanations or arguments will be completely ignored, because the persons cognitive, adult self is not in command. The DNP will seek to escalate the conflict, and not resolve it, at all opportunities because it is a projection of their inner conflict.

Coping strategies; The Destructive Narcissistic Pattern. – Nina Brown M.D.