To understand why narcissists can be so mean, you must understand that there are no limits or boundaries when they get triggered (e.g., something makes them look bad, countering the false, impermeable image they desperately try to sell to themselves and to the world overall). Nothing is off-limits with the narcissist when they are upset. No one else in the room has feelings when the narcissist is overwhelmed by his or her own negative feelings. It’s a true onslaught, and to see someone who supposedly cares about and loves you completely deny your — and everyone else’s — reality and to rip you to shreds, at times, is simply par for the course. If narcissists were foods approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the sticker would read: “Can be extremely malicious and destructive when provoked.” Perhaps some men and women can handle being occasionally treated in an abusive way, but I’m not sure that should be the goal. The goal isn’t to steel yourself against a loved one to the point where nothing they say or do hurts you. Yes, you could play that game, but what’s the point of investing in a relationship that has no real emotional intimacy? Moreover, what’s the point in having a relationship with someone who violates basic social rules that most third graders already subscribe to?
Why narcissists are so competitive and can’t let you, figuratively speaking, shine
Because the narcissist’s emotional scar involved them being unnoticed, humiliated, or subjugated at a crucial point in their psychological development, the overall topic of succeeding, shining, or getting noticed is a so-called hot-button issue. It is a loaded issue, fraught with primitive and unconscious memories, thoughts, and feelings. So many people in close proximity to a severe narcissist feel confused about why the narcissist has such an intense and often negative reaction when the other person feels really good, succeeds, or shines. Here is where things get tricky, and highly personality-disordered. Oddly enough, the severe narcissist takes your success as a reflection on them, but not necessarily in the way that you might be imagining. The mind of the narcissist is a binary, all-or-nothing world. If you succeed, their twisted logic tells them that your success means they failed. Someone else succeeding or shining (especially someone close to them, whom they see all the time) is actually upsetting (even unconsciously painful), because they see your success as a missed opportunity for themselves to get a little love or attention. While most people rightly believe that there is enough of all the good stuff to go around — love, attention, respect — severe narcissists are convinced that only a select few will get recognized. Sadly, no amount of convincing will convince them otherwise. It is critical to understand that the narcissist isn’t competitive with you, because they hate you or want to hurt you emotionally. They do what they do, because they are feeling emotionally deprived themselves.
Normal people are entirely confused about how the narcissist — or anyone, for that matter — can go through so much of their life without ever having learned and accepted some of the most fundamental social laws. Most third graders already understand and follow these basic social conventions, so it is almost hard to understand on a logical level how someone who looks like an adult and is not cognitively disabled could act so much like a child. This issue broaches the subject of another factor that underlies the disorder: oppositionality.