“I don’t care what you think unless it’s about me.” – Kurt Cobain
There are some people whose supreme self-absorption makes it impossible for them to empathically identify with others’ feelings. They lack concern about how their behavior might adversely affect others. They have an unquenchable thirst for confirmation and validation of their perceived importance, power, attractiveness, popularity, and/or success. They constantly need to display themselves in egotistical ways, and they thrive on others stroking their hyperinflated egos.
To deal with such people is extremely draining. They can be soooo charming at first. They know how to say the right things to draw you into believing their syrupy sweet persuasions. “I care about you. I love you.” They’re often quick to profess such things. In reality, it’s not about you. It’s about them. They want something from you. They’re really more enamored with the seduction process – with the thrill of pursuit – than with you. In reality, you’re the trophy. The conquest.
Once you’re hooked, the vampires come out. They systematically drain you of your love, your peace, your empathy. They need it all. They’re indifferent to who you are or what you have to say unless it specifically relates to them. They’re terrible listeners when it comes to your needs, unless they can gain more evidence of superiority with proof of having solved your problem (especially if they can add it to their ever-growing lists of accolades).
It can be a source of embarrassment when they inappropriately and shamelessly parade around their awards, titles, degrees, certificates, attaboys, ad nauseum. They take advantage of every opportunity to flash their curriculum vitae and drop names and positions of those in their social circles. All you want to do is scream, “NOBODY GIVES A SHIT! This is just a friendly conversation, not a fucking job interview!” But, at best, your protest would fall on deaf ears. At worst, you’d need to prepare for World War III. You keep silent.
When they do fail at something, it’s everyone else’s fault but theirs… and they won’t let it go until you or someone else in their self-amassed fan club agrees with them. They need your support and your validation. They suck you dry.
In the past, I was a magnet for these narcissists. As a co-dependent, I sought “love” wherever I could find it, even if it was one-sided, which it often was.
But not anymore.
With age has come not necessarily wisdom, but an increased awareness of the sting. I may not be the brightest bulb on the string, but I can now tell the difference between the smell of roses and the smell of shit.
Life is too short to spend it smelling shit. I learned that, too.
That means, of course, that I’ve had to cull out a few versions of Narcissus from my life. Some were eliminated outright. Others are kept at a safe but frigid distance. I’m cordial, but I won’t engage or invest myself.
Red flags still pop up on occasion. I’ve even found myself feeling perilously close to being drawn in. Fortunately the warning bells were loud and clear.
I’m not going to fall into this. I don’t have the energy to spare for you, and I’m not going to bathe my heart in your toxicity. I listened to you with genuine concern… but you completely ignored me when I shared my own secrets. Friendship’s a two-way street. If you’re not going to play by that rule, then you can go find another game.