Each relationship is unique and writes its own story. There is not a single couple in this world for which we could say with certainty that the partners will stay together forever. People change. Life happens. Destiny forces us to face unexpected challenges. Nowadays, most women start panicking when they come to the conclusion that their partners must be narcissistic and diagnose them with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Key word being that they diagnose their partners by themselves. If you read about personal experiences of other women, or study articles by authors who don't have any theoretical or practical knowledge of, or experience with, narcissism, then you're probably left thinking that it is impossible to have a happy relationship with someone who exhibits narcissistic traits. Well, think again because happy relationships with narcissists are possible.
Firstly, everyone you label as narcissistic is not necessarily narcissistic, nor does that person automatically have an NPD. Narcissism happens along a spectrum. On one end, we find narcissistic personality disorder, which doesn't get expressed in the same way or with the same intensity in every individual. On the other end, we find narcissistic moments. In between, there are a narcissistic pattern and a narcissistic style. We also shouldn't forget about positive narcissism which doesn't get enough attention or prominence because everyone is focusing on the demonized form of narcissism.
Secondly, many people claim that narcissism isn't treatable. That the whole situation is hopeless. They believe that a narcissistic person will never change. That is certainly not true as I have been working with people with NPD and with their partners, and they both make changes for the better. There are also many other experts in the therapeutic community who are developing effective approaches for treating narcissism. Therefore, NPD can be treated just like many other disorders. How successfully? It depends on how strongly the client wishes to change, and how empathic the therapist is in handling and dismantling narcissistic defense mechanisms.
Thirdly, many personal stories we read about in the popular media relate to individuals who demonstrate characteristics of people with an antisocial personality disorder and / or psychopathy. Yet, these notions aren't synonymous. Narcissism, APD and psychopathy are not the same thing. True, there can be comorbidity present, but narcissism is miles away from psychopathy, even though it often gets confused with it. Most importantly, the majority of these personal stories don't talk about people with narcissistic characteristics or NPD.
It takes two to tango which means that any kind of behavior can thrive only for so long as it is enabled by the other party. The biggest problem of those who declare themselves as "victims of a narcissist" is that they spend too much time focusing on their partners and their behavior. They're not focusing enough on themselves and on how they contribute to the maintenance of the unwanted behaviors. Everyone who wishes to change has the potential to do so. Every human being is capable of change and has the capacity for personal growth. The question is, just how much do they really want to change.
If you are in a relationship with a person for whom you believe has narcissistic characteristics, then it is advisable to see a therapist. Let an expert tell you whether you are indeed dealing with narcissism or not. There is no need to predict a bleak future for yourself and your couple. Even if your partner has NPD, it doesn't mean the world will come to an end. Your partner is just as capable of changing as you are. You can change your partner's behavior by refusing to indulge their whims, by stopping to play their games, by no longer enabling their unacceptable behavior. Focus on yourself and on things you can change. When one partner changes, the other inevitably has to as well. If that doesn't happen, you can always leave the relationship.
“If we want to change the world, we need to talk about the elephant in the room. That is why I love real people who say what they mean and mean what they say. No fluff, no lies and no pretence.”