When Your Partner Is the Only One
with Wishes Worthy of Respect
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
The disregard in relationships of narcissistic abuse is so poignant that it stops me in my tracks. When you see it in action, you may ask yourself how can a person have such little regard for the wishes and needs of their partner?
Answer: It is part of the psychopathology. Period. And when you understand the underlying dynamics, you see it for what it is: narcissistic abuse.
What Is Narcissistic Abuse?
The term “narcissistic abuse” originally emerged in the late twentieth century referring to a specific form of emotional abuse of children by narcissistic parents...“parents who require the child to give up their own wants and feelings in order to serve the parent's needs for esteem, (which constitutes narcissistic abuse).” Online Wikipedia
The concept has also been used to describe forms of abuse in adult intimate relationships by individuals with narcissistic traits or a narcissistic personality disorder. As we look closer at the dynamics in play, you can clearly see the same relationship dysfunction: one Partner A requires the other less empowered Partner B to give up/ignore/disregard their personal wants and feelings in order to serve their (Partner A) own needs for esteem.
For example, take a look at Don and Jackie. From the outside looking in, they appear to be a happy couple in a successful, thriving relationship. However, upon closer examination, one can see nothing could be further from the truth.
The Muddiness and Clarity of Meeting Family
Jackie’s nephew was getting married and it seemed like a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with many members of her family. However, hesitation lurks wherein she remains at an impasse for weeks over a “drug war” that isn’t even her own.
Her partner has a significant daily cannabis smoking habit, and she is on the threshold of her beginning to see its compelling grip on him. Jackie engages Don in lengthy discussions about her not wanting him to invite members of her family into his habit. Specifically, she requested that he not fire it up with her brother, due to issues of his own.
Don and Jackie have numerous heartfelt conversations over her wishes regarding his exercising restraint in this matter with her family. All she wanted—as the condition for their going to this wedding together—was that he not bring his pot habit into this meeting with a specific family member. She didn’t even care if he was stoned silly, as long as he did not engage her brother in getting high with him.
Jackie detailed at length all the many reasons for this request, and Don expressed complete understanding and full support…in the interest of her partner’s brother. At all hours of the night and day they hashed this out, and he appeared willing to respect and honor her wishes. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. He had no intention to follow through on his promise to her, once the party weekend was on.
The Reality of Narcissistic Disregard
The wedding was beautiful and the evening lovely when they were not fighting over whether or not Don would bring out a handful of joints to experience and share with the wedding party. The tension over this back and forth significantly compromised Jackie’s enjoyment of the evening. And then, the whole mess of their different perspectives climaxed the morning after...
Not only did Jackie realize that her partner has a daily habit dictating much of his waking life, but he had no intention of honoring his commitment concerning her wishes. During breakfast, Don invites Jackie’s brother to take a stroll and join him in what he believed was an effort to bond with the ole boy. From Don’s perspective, smoking a joint with her brother was his gesture toward intimacy with her family. From Jackie’s perspective, it was a display of his disregard for her wishes and for the very commitment he made to her.
Adding insult to injury, Don seeks to make their conflict over this all about his loving efforts “to bond” with the brother amidst Jackie’s intolerance for this kind consideration. Don cannot see that he has violated a commitment he has made to his partner. Don cannot feel the betrayal because from his point of view there wasn’t one. Don cannot experience the impact that his behavior has on his partner. There is no disregard for anyone whatsoever from his perspective, because he is the only one in the room. You heard me. He is the only one with wishes worthy of his respect.
If you recognize these dynamics in your intimate relationship, trust that you already know the workings of narcissistic abuse. For information on interrupting spousal/partner domestic abuse dynamics, visit http://www.preventabusiverelationships.com/spousal_abuse_tx.php and claim Free Instant Access to The 7 Realities of Verbal Abuse. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people worldwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse.
© Dr Jeanne King — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention
Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.