A Therapist’s Guide to Living with a “Narcissist” – Chapter One

In the past, I have written a number of articles about the narcissistic personality.  Recently, I conceived the idea of posting a multi-part blog about someone, in therapy with me, and their life/struggles with a “narcissist”.  Thereafter, someone contacted me after having read a number of my articles about the narcissist.  She was seeking assistance. I explained my idea of a multi-part blog and she agreed to allow me to use the content of our sessions in my blog.

What follows are the blogs from therapy sessions with this young woman in which I will describe various situations she presented she is struggling with, questions she asked assistance with in regards to her narcissistic partner, and observations I made of her/his situations.

A number of points need to be clarified. First, I have changed the names of the woman and her partner.  For the sake of confidentiality, from hence forth, she will be known as “Sally” and he, “Bob” and I have changed some of the details of their situation. Second, my primary focus will be on Sally’s behavior and response to her partner. I will focus on Bob’s behavior only in relation to Sally’s. Third, I have not diagnosed Bob (as narcissistic), and don’t intend to. I have never met Bob and don’t expect that I ever will so I have no basis for a diagnosis. I am taking Sally’s word that Bob is narcissistic and helping her figure out more effective ways of interacting with him in the context of their relationship. I do the same with any person who is in a committed relationship that comes in to address relationship issues.

With that having been said, let’s begin.

In our first session, Sally provided me with background information, about herself, Bob, their relationship and her past relationships.

Sally is a free-lance model and works for a non-profit educating young, under-privileged women about personal hygiene/self-care and fashion. Bob is the assistant to a city administrator. They have been dating for 3 years.  Sally describes their relationship as a roller-coaster and that she frequently feels she is “walking on egg-shells”.

Sally indicated she was single a very short time between her last boyfriend and Bob; “I don’t know how to be alone.” Her prior boyfriend was a drug addict. She said they felt more like friends or roommates when they broke up. Sally describes that she is very self-conscious about her appearance and her sexual functioning. Yet, she believes in helping others and especially the less-fortunate; hence her work for the non-profit.

Bob was born and raised in Europe. His family still lives there.  He was the only person of his family to move to America; immigrating when he began college.  He is 5 years older than Sally, having been at his job for 10 years now.  Because of budget cuts, his intelligence, capabilities, and demeanor, Bob commands quite a bit of power in his position; a large number of people answer to him and he is quite effective in his job.

Sally describes him as organized, thoughtful, sweet, and financially responsible. She enjoyed the attention he gave her and felt her horizons were being expanded due to his interests; the theater, symphonies, etc.  She described him as mysterious as a result of his maturity and accent.

One the other hand, in the relationship, she described that he moved “very fast”. And this made her worry.  Within a month of dating her, he professed his love for her.  Within 2 months, he was suggesting they move in together. While she was looking for someone who was serious about a relationship, she was uncomfortable with his speed.