One of the most well-known theories in psychology is Sigmund Freud’s theory that as children, we pass through different psychosexual stages. According to Freud, if a child is over-indulged or under-indulged in any of these stages, it results in what he calls fixation. Fixation describes an adult who is stuck or attached to an earlier childhood mode of satisfaction.
An infant does not see others as indistinguishable from the self. An infant or small child perceives the world as an extension of himself. Children feel that people, particularly mother, are present to cater to their every need. They know that if they cry, they can elicit an immediate response in those around them. They will be presented with food and cradling in response to any fussing or crying on their part. They see others as existing solely for their purpose.
This type of selfishness is natural for an infant or small child. They must rely on others to meet their needs in order to survive. According to Freud, this extreme selfishness, or Narcissism, is a normal psychosexual stage of development between the stages of auto-eroticism and object-libido.
Children eventually grow out of this Narcissistic stage. They grow out of it and learn to understand that others have needs as well. Unfortunately, not everyone grows out of this stage. If they received TOO MUCH or TOO LITTLE attention, they become fixated in this stage, obsessed with getting their needs met at all times.
Sadly, a Narcissist was either neglected as a child or over-indulged. They are stuck. They never developed the more complex feelings that make us uniquely human, like love and empathy. They do not relate to the world or others in the same way we do. Narcissists are emotionally stunted and disconnected from their true selves. The easiest way to think of them is as a five or six year old child who has yet to understand that he/she is not the center of everyone’s universe.
Since Narcissists are not in touch with their true self, they are dependent on others to fill a void. Unfortunately, no one can ever fill this void because their expectations are unrealistic, unattainable and ever-changing. No one will ever be good enough for them and they will repeat this cycle of abusing and discarding romantic partners throughout their lives.
There is much confusion and pain when in a relationship with a Narcissist. We repeatedly find ourselves let down and disappointed by our partner. We have given our heart and soul to this person, but they cannot return our love and we do not understand why. Often, we deny the reality of our situation for years before we get honest with ourselves.
Getting over a relationship with a Narcissist is not the same as with a healthy well-adjusted adult. In a typical breakup, we grieve the loss of love, the pain of saying goodbye, the sadness of something wonderful ending, broken promises and halted dreams.
When grieving a Narcissist, this pain is compounded by the reality that this person is not who we thought they were at all. Thinking you know someone and then suddenly being confronted with a person you don’t even recognize is quite a shock to the system. This person professed their undying love for you one moment, but then abandoned you the next by either emotionally withdrawing or physically leaving. You realize they never loved you and simply used you to meet their never-ending child-like needs.
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 there is nothing 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.
Personality disorders cannot be treated. Sometimes in life we must accept the fact that the only person we can change is ourselves. Accepting that there is nothing you can do to improve your relationship with the person you love is painful, but powerful.
The painful part is obvious. Loving someone who cannot return your love is agonizing and difficult to accept. However, the knowledge that no matter what you do, this person will never change is quite powerful, in my opinion. Once you understand this fundamental truth, a whole new world opens up to you. Your newfound knowledge should be liberating. As we say on our forum.... Knowledge is Power!
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark: the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”