Today I will turn to the last unavailability factor I intend to deal with for now: self-obsession and narcissism. Just because I decided to put it last does not mean that this is the factor I was least affected by. With time it also came to be a heavy burden and combined with all the rest of the unavailability factors it created a situation that – slowly but steadily – became unbearable. Back when I was still part of the relationship I didn’t assess the whole situation properly and therefore never had a deep understanding of why I was feeling so miserable and pushed aside. Only in retrospect was it possible for me to work out these five unavailability factors, and only after reading several books did the idea cross my mind that the guy I was dating might have been narcissistic as hell…
The idea didn’t cross my mind while I was still dating him. I just thought that he liked to talk a lot about himself. It never bothered me, because he always had interesting things to say and I enjoyed listening to him. In all of my past relationships and in my friendships I am used to doing a lot of the talking. So somehow it felt fine to be the listener for once. Only after having gone on several dates with him, I was beginning to have some slight doubts, as I noticed that I barely spoke a word because he was monopolizing the conversation.
In the beginning, I also didn’t really have a problem with the fact that he sometimes liked to talk in a very favorable way about himself. He made comments like: “I know I am a pretty good teacher”, “I know I can sing very well”, “I know I can be pretty attractive to some girls”. It never bothered me. I always thought: What is wrong with having self-confidence and with knowing what you are good at? Maybe this is exactly what I am missing?
To sum it up: I could have lived with those little quirks, I even found them endearing and thought there was nothing really wrong with it. I’m not a person who dwells on trivialities. So what if he likes to talk a lot, so what if he likes to talk favorably about himself? It was fine by me. It really started to bother me when I realized the other effects of his narcissistic behavior: I was taken for granted, my feelings were never really considered by him, he avoided conflicts by getting defensive, and he never sought the faults in his own behavior, but preferred to blame others for everything (right up to the fact that he was miserable with his own life). Nothing seemed to be his responisibility…It was always everyone else’s fault that he didn’t get ahead, that he was miserable and unable to make plans and decisions.
Due to the four other factors that I’ve already dwelled on in my last posts I was unhappy a lot in the course of our interactions. I felt disrespected, not taken seriously, even fooled at times. I swallowed most of my pain and doubts, but sometimes I would reach a point where I just couldn’t take anymore of it, and I dared to voice my concerns (always in a very nice and friendly tone). He immediately got defensive, blaming me for everything I listed and never even trying to consider the part he played in the poor state I was in emotionally. I tried the tactic of writing my concerns down and tell him about the things that were saddening me via email. In his replies he always shifted the focus away from me and instead started to dwell on his own problems, his own feelings of depression. I would get entire litanies of wailing and complaining about his situation, about how unhappy and miserable he was, about how he longed for profound change. It got to a point where I was sick and tired of always having to listen to him whining about everything. And I have to say at this point that I am a very patient listener and always take the concerns of the people I love very seriously…So if I ever got sick and tired, it must have been really really bad…
I just never felt appreciated and never thought that my feelings and concerns really mattered to him. If he had thought about me for just a second he would have had to realize how unhappy I must have been with the entire situation. As it turns out, he was always so busy thinking about himself that he never wanted to realize that I was slowly falling apart because of the treatment I received from him. He was going on making promises he couldn’t and didn’t want to keep. He was brilliant at doing what Natalie Lue called “Future Faking” in her book “Mr. Unavailable & The Fallback Girl”. Whenever he realized that I was unhappy he would make promises for a future that was never supposed to happen. However it worked and kept me going, as I was clinging to the hope that one day he would at least act up to one of his many promises.
So to sum it up: It was always okay for me that he liked to talk a lot about himself, that he often spoke very favorably of himself. It started to bother me when his narcissism led me to feel pushed aside, neglected and not taken seriously. He was always so immersed in his own misery and dealing with his self-image that my feelings and concerns never found a listening ear or were ever taken into consideration. I never really found the courage to address the issue. I thought that my feelings were obviously not valid and not worth being discussed. This way of thinking was in tune with my low self-esteem. And by pushing me aside and not appreciating my feelings he lowered my self-esteem even more. I was convinced that I didn’t have the right to be discontent, that I was being unreasonable and that no one would ever give a damn about what I felt.
Being with a narcissistic and self-obsessed person will probably always leave you feeling worthless, empty, alone and neglected. They tend to be so busy with themselves that your needs and hopes will never be met. And the worst part: They won’t accept blame for their behavior, but will redirect it to you. In the end you will not only feel miserable for being neglected, but you will also gladly accept the blame for it due to your low self-esteem…
I’m done for now with pointing out the factors that doomed my last relationship from the very beginning. I just failed to notice any of it with a clear mind, as I was not thinking reasonably while we were still dating. I let this miserable situation drag on for far too long without finding the strength and confidence to release myself. I allowed him to drag me down and instead of assessing the situation correctly, I tended to blame myself for everything that was going wrong. I was trying to make up for everything by being even more loving, patient and kind, which only added to my Frustration, as it wasn’t getting me anywhere.
You might probably have realized that almost all of the factors I elaborated on are somehow interconnected: Because he was immature, he couldn’t take a grip of his life, which lead to him being aimless and changeable. His aimlessness contributed greatly to his depression. All of these factors prevented him from moving ahead which also explains the fact that he couldn’t figure things out with his exgirlfriend and was still very involved with her…It was a vicious circle and of course I never had the power to do anything about it…Only too late did I realize that the problem was not with me…it was with him. And I never ever want to give someone the power to drag me down and shatter my sense of self-worth to the extent that he did!