Why Does a Narcissist Appear Harmless?
The narcissist is by nature a contradiction. Not unlike this picture.
The glamor of this exquisite bird somehow diminishes the impending death of its prey. Danger does not appear imminent. Instead, it looks as if the equally attractive and delicate dragonfly is not at risk. But has simply come to rest in the bird’s beak.
I chose this picture intentionally.
If it were a lion taking down a gazelle it would be far more difficult to view. Most would need to turn away. Unable to bear a gentle creature in the clutches of a beast. No matter how good-looking the magnificent cat may appear.
Yet somehow this picture of a beautiful dragonfly in the mouth of its captor is tolerable. There is an allure to the colorful interference.
Narcissists are pretty.
It’s that simple. And because of this exterior, they draw people towards them.
When one drew me in I felt privileged. A relationship lottery winner. How did I get this lucky? But I soon realized I misinterpreted the signs.
Narcissists are often attractive, successful, and charming.
What’s not to like?
It’s no wonder this serious personality disorder is overlooked and acceptable. Add to this, that narcissists are often good at pleasantries and civilities. Only increasing their ability to properly work the room. Imagine the songbird compared to the roar of a lion.
Just like the picture, the sound of one is far more appealing than the other. One is threatening while the other is melodic.
Narcissists are surface feeders who do not delve too deep. Therefore, they are full of corporate or cocktail one-liners. The aforementioned pleasantries and civilities.
Nice outfit, great to see you, you’re the best, what a game, congrats on that promotion, what a win!
How’s it going? How’s the family? Can I get you a drink?
Sorry to hear about that, that’s too bad, what a shame.
And in between these social catchphrases, they inject humor. Making them more engaging.
However much like their beauty, their words run skin deep. Narcissists are not deep conversationalists. That is unless it is about themselves, their interests, or their profession.
They are not likely to engage another in deep dialogue.
They are conversational injectors. The king and queen of one-liners. The ‘hey how you doing?’ individuals.
The Seinfeld version of people — talking to everyone about ‘nothing.’
There is a profound irony to the surface beauty which makes the narcissist appealing. The fact they aren’t capable of anything deeper.
They are one dimensional.
What those of us who have loved them would call a cruel irony.
That the narcissist who can inflict both coldness and charm — two polar opposite personalities — and make those who love them feel crazy — are relationship wise, one-dimensionally flat.
Because of this, the narcissist is only capable of a shallow relationship.
This won’t deter the deeply caring individual they attracted themselves to. No. They will try fruitlessly to dive deeper and deeper with no success.
But all this still doesn’t make the narcissist seem threatening.
Unfortunately, narcissists are likable
To the general public, they seem nice. After all, how much time do people really have to delve into deep topics while meeting in the grocery store, a restaurant, the office, or a ball field?
And then there is me. One of those who fell in love with a narcissist.
How did I interpret it?
In short, I misinterpreted it.
I thought my husband was great with people. I thought he never knew a stranger. Chatted with everyone. Put people at ease.
Personally, I didn’t initially detect his shallowness. Yes, I definitely felt the coldness.
How do you lose your father at twenty-eight years old and then six months to the day later lose your mother — cry hysterically — and your husband fall fast asleep within the first five minutes of going to bed? I felt that sense of abandonment while I wept for hours as he peacefully slumbered.
But I still didn’t grasp the extent of his lack of emotional intimacy.
I thought he was a busy man, self-employed, exhausted. These were the things he told me. I had no reason not to believe them. He was successful. A hard worker. I had built the business with him so I knew what it entailed. At least in those beginning years. It seemed plausible.
While he did not meet my emotional needs — I didn’t demand many.
I had been raised by a strong single mother. At home and raising the children, I was more independent than the average wife because of the example my mom set. She did everything. I was also a big joy of life person. I felt happy and therefore, I didn’t demand much and was overly social.
Capable of a few one-liners myself. I loved people. I loved a crowd.
And my husband was passive-aggressive and a covert narcissist.
Meaning, for the most part, he ignored me. If I didn’t get in his way or interfere with his world everything was okay.
I missed and misinterpreted everything.
Despite the episodic periods of emotional abandonment, cruelty, and coldness. Sure, I knew something wasn’t right. But I still felt strongly he was a good guy.
I couldn’t understand the contradiction in his being.
When I finally did, I screamed for the world around us to recognize it too.
It hurt me, frustrated me, confounded me, and it angered me, they couldn’t see it. No one could see it. It made me feel desperate.
My children could see it. I could see it. And of course, a few closes to us could see it.
But in the end, how could I not release my anger? Because I had missed it for years. How could I demand or expect anyone else to see the predator?!!
When I myself had stared relentlessly at the beautiful bird — until I caught sight of the magnificently frightening cat.
The world around us saw the bird.
Unable to see the gentle creature in the clutches of a beast. Even though I cried and screamed for rescue. No one came.
They were blinded by a colorful interference.
Narcissists are pretty.
Their melodic song mutes the roar of the lion.
And the dragonfly in distress.