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You Will Always Be A Stranger To A Narcissist

The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.


One of the most confusing things about dealing with pathologically narcissistic people is that they never seem to get to know others. Not only are they usually completely uninterested in you as a person or in anything about you that they cannot somehow benefit from or that does not specifically and solely relate to them somehow, but it appears that they can't get to know people even if they try. Their brain creates an image of a person in their mind and that becomes the sum of their knowledge of this person. It's inflexible, it does not evolve or change, and it is often not based on facts or reality anyway.

This is one reason these relationships eventually fail: the narcissist cannot understand that things, people and situations can change, and they will never accept that they have or allow this to happen in their perception. Anything wrong someone did - or that the narcissist thinks they did or would have done - when they were upset or a child or 10 years ago or anything else is considered to be the kind of person they are and will always be. This perception never changes and cannot be influenced by reality, proof or anything else. It is rigid and very inflexible.

This causes enormous problems in these relationships. When you get to know someone, you start to learn aspects of their character, such as whether they are someone who keeps their word, if they are honest, if they are responsible, if they are reliable, things that are typical for them to do and say... This does not seem to happen with narcissistic people. They are never able to see what kind of person someone actually is even if they did actually care to know and consequently, they are never able to trust anyone. They don't really understand having a fixed identity, and that some people are unlikely to do some things. They can't learn from experience and nothing overrides their perceptions - which they actually don't trust anyway. They don't trust themselves and because of that, they cannot trust you - or anyone else.

Narcissists often become enmeshed with people due to poor boundaries, but though this creates an unhealthy closeness and dependency, it is not true intimacy and it does not translate to actually getting to know who, how and what someone is. They simply feel controlled by the other person because they are dependent on them, and they usually fear and resent this fact. Enmeshment is often described as not knowing where you end and the other person begins. People who are enmeshed may believe they know the other person well, or that they are experiencing intimacy, but in actuality they are "too close" to the other person and are unable to view them objectively or separately from themselves. Their own needs and emotions have gotten totally wrapped up in the other person and the relationship, and they can no longer see either one clearly.

Narcissists may be able to feel marginally more safe with someone who has never caused them a narcissistic injury. However, this does not translate into trust because their fear that this will change does not go away no matter how much time has passsed, and the behavior that narcissists exhibit because of this fear often causes people to inflict narcissistic inury on them in self-defense. For example, let's say that a narcissist feels marginally safe with a new partner; the new partner doesn't know anything negative about them and they still believe the narcissist is their dream come true. The narcissist enjoys this immensely and would love it to continue, but has zero faith in it at all; their fear - paranoia, really - that it will change causes them to begin to accuse their new partner of cheating or of not caring about them. This causes their partner to be hurt and confused, often leading them to pull away or respond in a negative way. This causes the narcissist to feel abandoned and rejected, which provokes a narcissistic injury. In the narcissist's view, the person has now become unsafe and therefore, untrustworthy. It's all downill from here.

The only way to be considered "safe" and therefore trustworthy by a narcissist would be to never be linked to a narcissistic injury in their perception. This means to never expose them in any way, never hurt them in any way, never upset them in any way, never question them in any way, never see them as having a flaw or making a mistake, always view them as completely, totally perfect and to live with them in their false reality. This is of course not possible, not just because they are not perfect but also because the narcissist's reality is not actuality and the things they feel exposed or injured by cannot be predicted with any true reliability. Their interpretations of people's motives or actions are hard to understand and often impossible to foresee.

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Because of this, it is not possible to remain "safe" in a narcissist's perception. They live in a perpetual state of fear, flux and vulnerability where anyone is capable of any- and everything at any time, no matter how much proof or experience to the contrary they may have. Of course, anyone is capable of anything, and even if we don't think something is true or don't want to believe something, if we have proof that someone has done something then we should take that seriously. But for example a person could never have stolen anything from the narcissist - or anyone - for the entire 30 years the narcissist has known them, but the narcissist will still believe this person will steal from them, especially if they are upset at the person or believe the person is upset with them. No other reason, no other facts or proof. Just, "I think they will do that, or do they did do that and that means they will do it or they did do it." The fact that they have 30 years' worth of experience that point to the conclusion this person is not a thief does not matter.

Feelings are facts to a narcissist and that's all there is to it. They feel this person will steal from them and so the fact is, they will. No benefit of the doubt, no accepting of someone's statements based on good faith, no consideration of anything to the contrary at all. The past means nothing. Experience means nothing. Reality means nothing. They believe everyone to be as unstable, terrified and ruthless as they are and that's where it ends. Once a person has become unsafe, they are always unsafe.

No apology is accepted, no explanation in entertained and no correction of the narcissist's conclusion or perception is allowed. They do not genuinely accept apologies for either real or imagined wrongs done to them, they do not accept solutions to try to repair issues or resolve problems, they do not try to understand anyone else's side or point, they do not let things go or move on from things, they don't understand that things and people change and they will not allow this perception. If reality does not convince someone of itself, you certainly have no hope of doing so. It is a pointless exercise to try to build or maintain a relationship of any kind with a person who has gotten to know you no better and has no more trust in you after 5 or 10 or 20 years than they had the day they met you.

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