The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.
Most dealings with pathologically narcissistic people are unfair. If you've dealt with a narcissistic person, you know that. However, the common connotation of the word "unfair" doesn't really communicate how unfair the situation can be. It's kind of like calling a completely shattered tibia a "broken bone." It's true, sure, but it doesn't really convey the severity or extent of the situation.
When someone is dealing with a pathologically narcissistic person, the unfair and unreasonable expectations placed upon them are many. Those who are living in the narcissist's reality are like satellites circling the earth, or planets orbiting the sun. The narcissist is the center of this universe. They are the sun, the moon, the only thing that matters. Others are expected to accept this without question or issue. They are expected to provide for the narcissist, step aside for the narcissist and attend to the narcissist's every need without a second thought. Any deviation from this will likely result in punishment. This is because when you are dealing with a pathologically narcissistic person, you are playing by their rules and living in their reality.
This type of relationship is a very unfair situation where, in order to satisfy the other person, you must become a nonthinking, nonfeeling robot who only exists to fulfill the needs of another person - a person who gives nothing back consistently except abuse, cruelty and indifference. It's important to understand that, without a complete overhaul of their thinking, narcissistic people are not able to see things any differently. This is not going to change. They are not able to see that they are being unfair and they would likely not care if they did, because the only thing that really matters to them is their own feelings and their own needs. They are probably shocked that others don't feel the same way. To the narcissist, not only are their own feelings the most important thing to them, they are the most important thing - period.
As far as they are concerned, if you actually cared about them, you would agree. When other people assert their own needs, feelings or concerns, narcissists take this as a threat. There can be only one sun, right? This means that if your needs are important, theirs don't matter. You can explain that this isn't true to them all you want and it isn't going to make a difference. They don't accept it, they don't understand it, they don't believe it and they don't care. Anything that takes the focus off of them is a threat and therefore anyone who creates that situation is their enemy.
You simply having needs is seen as a threat and a betrayal. If you actually cared, you would only want to take care of the narcissist's needs. The fact that you have your own needs is proof that you are a selfish evil person who doesn't love the narcissist. The fact that you understand the narcissist is not perfect is proof that you don't love them as well. If you did, you would believe they are perfect. To narcissistic people, that is what love is and they struggle to present themselves as flawless and perfect so that they are able to feel loved and accepted - by others, yes, but most importantly, by themselves. Of course, this is doomed to failure because it is impossible. The internal backlash they receive from not being perfect is often so severe that they simply deny it completely. "I'm not imperfect. I have no flaws. I'm never wrong. I make no mistakes." They cannot deny the reality that there is a problem, or that the mistake was made, so they blame somebody else.
For example, let's say that the narcissist is cooking dinner. Time goes by as the family is watching TV and dinner gets burned. A non-narcissistic person would perhaps apologize or maybe even laugh at their own mistake here, but non-narcissistic people often react very differently. They see nothing funny about being imperfect. What often happens is that they will become angry at the other people in the home, blaming them for distracting them, not hearing the timer or otherwise causing the mistake. This happens because they cannot accept that they are not flawless.
As if this were not unfair enough, they also hold other people to these same impossible standards as well, so when it is you who has burned dinner, you may find yourself in the middle of a very nasty scene simply for making a basic mistake. Perfect people cannot be loved. This is how pathologically narcissistic people see it. If you are not perfect, you are not good enough. It's a perfect set up really, because it's doomed to failure. How can you be seen as perfect when your function is to take the blame for everything about themselves that they can't accept? The deck is stacked against you from the git-go and it never changes.
In a relationship of any kind with a pathologically narcissistic person, you will be punished, shamed and abused for normal behavior. You will not be permitted to just be a human being. This is because you are seen as a tool and not a person. Your needs are not considered. Your feelings are not important. You are experienced as a piece of property that they use when they need it and that's basically it. Narcissists keep people around because they need them. Not because they like them, not because they feel for them and not because they want them. They need them. Without other people, narcissists have no self-worth and very often, they will decompensate. They need a continuous flow of attention and energy from other people or they cannot exist.
Being treated so unfairly often creates many problems for people, especially if it happens over a long period of time. It can cause problems with self-esteem, self-worth, an inability to assert themselves, problems with guilt and shame, an inability to understand or recognize one's own needs, codependency, PTSD and even narcissistic types of defense mechanisms. Perhaps the biggest thing that being treated unfairly results in, is anger. This level of repeated unreasonableness, unfairness and the blatant dehumanization that results from it usually causes enormous anger in people. It may or may not be readily seen or recognized by the victim, but it's almost always there. Anger is often the legacy of narcissistic abuse.
If you are in this situation, please ask yourself what you are waiting for. What would it take to convince you that this person believes themselves to be the only thing that matters? And if you have accepted that, ask yourself why you are continuing to allow yourself to be treated this way. Think about how long you've been waiting to matter and ask yourself if the ends have justified the means. Think back to a few months or a few years ago when you thought the same things and see if anything has changed. It doesn't matter what they say or how they spin it. You are not responsible for the narcissist. Not their feelings, not their well-being, not their happiness. You are only responsible for your own.
Sandy on June 17, 2018:
Thankyou so much for explaining this particular dynamic that happens with narcissists and their victims