Author and psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky defines happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile” in her book The How of Happiness.
According to Mayo Clinic, people with narcissistic personality disorder in which people “have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”
Considering these definitions, it’s difficult to see how a person looking for personal happiness and relationship satisfaction will find it readily with someone so self-focused and insensitive.
Why It’s So Hard to Be Happy with a Narcissist
When you care for someone, however contrary they may be, it can be difficult to let go of the idea that you could possibly find happiness with them. That’s why you must gain some clarity and educate yourself about the realities of narcissism before you sacrifice any more time to the relationship.
Happiness and Narcissism are Rarely Linked Behind Closed Doors
It’s often said that narcissism falls on a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum, lie those who have narcissistic traits. On the other end lies narcissistic personality disorder. If you are closely involved with someone with narcissistic personality disorder, then it’s very possible that you recognize one of the signs of narcissistic abuse in yourself.
From the outside, many people with narcissistic personality disorder seem to have successful, happy relationships. Pictures and posts on social media support the idea. Public demeanor and behavior rarely reveal that anything is amiss.
Unfortunately, that’s the issue with narcissists. Their outside, public lives are meant to be admired. But their inner life is fraught with insecurity, intimidation, and manipulation of those closest to them. If you’ve been in a relationship with this personality type for any length of time, you likely know the strain of balancing what’s happening between you privately and what you show the world. Not a recipe for much joy or loving intimacy.
You Can Never Get Back to the Best Days of Your Love
The courtship phase of your relationship was probably a dream. However, that phase, for the narcissist was never meant to last. It was orchestrated to complete the public image. Securing a partner worthy of them was the goal. To maintain it is usually a program of gaslighting, abuse, and manipulative behavior…not love and trust. The narcissist needs to control and absorb attention. This only gets more and more exhausting for their partner as time goes by.
There is No Time to be Anything but Unhappy
The relationship is predictably miserable no matter how hard you work to turn things around
Narcissistic partners keep misery going for their partners. They want the people close to them to feel off-balance and unsure of the relationship. It’s a control tactic that keeps their partner constantly attuned to them and keeping the peace. Blaming, criticizing, ignoring, forgetting, or dismissing you is the way your partner keeps you watching the clock, checking in, and feeling confused. You literally have very little time to consider your own needs or fulfillment.
Real-Life Relationship and Responsibility Just Don’t Factor in
To be happy in a relationship requires healthy, equal, rational partnership. As the non-narcissistic partner, you want to work out what’s is fair and comfortable for you both. Sadly, this reasonable expectation is likely to enrage a narcissist.
Narcissistic people are famous for lacking insight, so they don’t accept responsibility for much in any real way. Instead, they work around people. They lie, manipulate, and gaslight instead of really caring or making an effort to compromise. Empathy is not part of a narcissist’s skillset. Truth and their partner’s happiness are never more important than their own needs.
Don’t Fake Your Own Happiness: Seek Support
Relationships with a narcissist often require too much pretending or capitulation to foster much happiness. And if you’ve been trapped in a narcissistic abuse cycle, you can be left with a nervous system that is constantly firing and misfiring. If you’ve endured years of emotional and/or physical abuse then your life with a narcissist may also be contributing to C-PTSD.
Remember; being perfect and having the perfect relationship aren’t realistic goals. Don’t make the decision to stay without all the facts and some serious soul-searching. You needn’t be ashamed or embarrassed to reach out for help. And if you have suffered from narcissistic abuse
A therapist can help you work through your own needs, wants, and relationship history. You get to decide where to go from here. You deserve the support and guidance. Please read more about relationships and trauma therapy. When you’re ready, contact me for a consultation.