Narcissism is a personality disorder and it is important to understand what this means. People with personality disorders are rigid and unaware that their thoughts and behavior patterns are inappropriate.
Research indicates they are rarely the ones who come in for treatment. Instead, the spouse, significant other, children, and parents of the personality disordered are the ones who suffer and seek therapy. PDIs rarely seek treatment.
Furthermore, personality disorders begin in adolescence/early adulthood and do not change over time. While PDIs often have a hard time dealing with stress and may have symptoms such as substance abuse or anxiety that can be treated with medication, it is important to understand that the personality disorder itself cannot be treated. These personality traits are so deeply ingrained that they defy change.
One analogy I’ve read before that really helped me understand the permanence of a personality disorder is to compare it to a mental illness. Mental illnesses (such as Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder) can be treated with medication and cognitive therapy. Most mental illnesses are caused by disruptions in brain cell receptors and synapses, which are believed to be genetically inherited. As long as someone with Schizophrenia or Bipolar disorder is committed to taking their medication regularly, symptoms subside and they feel and act relatively normal.
The onset of mental illness is typically quite sudden and profound. It is often described as though a heavy wool blanket has descended upon a person’s personality and smothered it. A personality disorder, on the other hand, is all pervasive.
With mental illness, a person’s personality is smothered or blanketed by the onset of the mental illness. Medication used to restore proper chemical balance in the brain helps to remove the blanket and bring back the true personality of the individual.
In contrast, the personality of someone with a personality disorder is virtually interwoven into every fiber of that blanket. If you unravel the blanket, you unravel the person’s entire personality. The easiest way of thinking of it is this:
Someone doesn’t have a personality disorder; they ARE the personality disorder.
Therefore, the way I see it is simple: you have two choices. You either accept your partner for who he/she is or you move on. It is critical that you understand you have done nothing wrong nor is there anything you can do to change the situation. It is not your fault. You fell in love with someone who is incapable of having an adult mature relationship based on reciprocity and love. Personality disorders cannot be treated. It is time to move on. You owe it to yourself and deserve so much more in life. xoxo