“Some people aren’t loyal to you, they are loyal to their need of you. Once their need changes, so does their loyalty.” ~Unknown
Ever have a “frenemy” – you know, the “friend slash enemy” combo, all neatly wrapped up into one friend, relative, co-worker or acquaintance? Not sure? Well, let me ask you another question.
Have you been just SHOCKED at the level of betrayal to which someone subjects you on a regular basis? Whether it’s a friend, a family member or even a co-worker, a “frenemy” is also often a narcissist, which is officially defined as “
Do you know and/or love a narcissist? If so, have you ever had one tell you that he or she “knows you better than you know yourself?” How about being told that your feelings and thoughts aren’t real or legitimate? And depending on the point in your life in which you met the narc and the intensity of his manipulation, you might even believe him.
But everyone’s got a touch of narcissism – it helps us stay alive. Still, some have what might be considered “toxic” levels of narcissism – and one of the most telling signs is when someone from whom you expect (and deserve) loyalty goes the other way and betrays you.
For example, the boss who doesn’t back you up on a project – or the one who steals your idea and takes credit for it. Or the wife who just can’t seem to get it through her head that you are a person with feelings and emotions, too. Maybe it’s your child or your father who is “touched” by narcissism – it could be almost literally anyone you are in any type of ongoing relationship with.
Why do narcissists feel the need to create such difficulties for the people in their lives? It has a lot to do with their need to be in control of every person, situation and thing they come into contact with – at least on some level.
For a narcissist, this is just par for the course – it’s how they manage relationships and how they keep themselves artificially elevated within their own fragile egos- they start by messing with your head.
Seriously. It’s all part of a complicated and convoluted manipulation technique called gaslighting.
You become addicted to a narcissist’s approval. As his source of narcissistic supply, you seek it out, changing yourself entirely if necessary to get that coveted “atta girl.”
You develop what appears to be extreme loyalty to the narcissist. But what you might really be dealing with is a whole other ball of wax.
See, because of the excessive pressure you’re under inside of the relationship, you might find yourself being almost rude to people on the outside.
This might be due to your desire to keep your narcissist happy and avoid another raging episode, or it might just be because you’re so mentally exhausted from dealing with him that you literally can’t deal with anyone else’s issues.
In any case, the narcissist gets what he wants yet again – you, isolated and under control.
Loyalty isn’t a two-way street when you’re in a relationship with a narcissist.
At some point, you begin to realize that the narcissist’s loyalty isn’t with you or with any one person, but rather with whomever or whatever is offering the attention and validation that he craves, needs, must have to survive.
KNOW THIS: You won’t ever be his first priority unless he needs or wants something from you, or unless someone is watching and he needs to prove how devoted he is. And it’s really not you – it’s him.
You will begin to notice that the narcissist isn’t really a whole person. There’s a very detailed and finely tuned shell there, alright, but the narcissist left alone will begin to wither like a plant without water.
He will grow bored and depressed because he has nothing of his own to hold on to – or if he does have his own “thing,” then he wants you to love that thing too. And if you don’t or won’t? You’re the one with the problem. And he will tell you exactly what’s wrong with you and everything that you are.
Dear Narcissist: You can’t handle the truth!
Even though you and other people in his or her life can see through the narcissist, there are plenty of “flying monkeys” who can’t. And let’s not forget that the narc can’t ever believe that something isn’t right about him or her self.
So unless you want an exercise in futility, I don’t suggest that you try to enlighten him to the error of his ways. So what can you do?
You’ve got choices.
1. Stick it out and shut your mouth.
I don’t mean to be harsh, but if we are being honest, there’s only one way to really communicate with a narcissist.
2. Get out.
If you can go no contact with your narcissist, that is the only sure way to truly eliminate their influence in your life. If not, you can try these tactics to temporarily control a narcissist.
3. Go ahead and get your exercise.
Stand up and say what needs to be said. While it may cause a narcissistic rage or narcissistic injury situation, sometimes you just have to tell the narcissist the truth and hope they get it – for your own sake. In some cases, you can get through to them temporarily at least – but most often, you’ll find that any concessions the narc makes are just part of his latest manipulation tactic.
Have you had the misfortune of experiencing the two-faced narcissist? Have you visited “One Way Loyalty Street” before? How did it make you feel?
Not sure you’re dealing with a toxic relationship? Try this quiz.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.