Narcissists come in two main varieties: vulnerable and grandiose. And I’ve been posting on the vulnerable type and how such narcissists relate to others. Because they have some vulnerability (i.e. sensitivity), relating to the first type can be trying but still manageable. But grandiose narcissists both regard you and treat you very differently. That makes life with them unbearable at times. And in the more extreme cases, they place you at risk for all sorts of exploitation.
Two Very Different “Styles” of Relating
Vulnerable narcissists are often a bit clueless about how they come across to others. That’s because they’re completely wrapped up in themselves. So, they don’t pay much attention to the reactions and feelings of others. They can be pretty oblivious the reactions and impressions of others. On the other hand, grandiose narcissists have plenty of awareness. They know well not only how others see them but also how others are impacted by them. The problem with them is not that they’re not aware. Rather, the real problem is that grandiose narcissists simply don’t care. They don’t care what you think of them. They also don’t care how their behavior toward you affects you. It’s always about them. You don’t really matter.
Grandiose Narcissists: What Really Makes the Difference
Grandiose narcissists will use and abuse you. And they’ll do so without compunction. They may see you simply as an object to possess or an opportunity to exploit. That’s because they lack two important capacities: shame and empathy. They don’t care what it says about them that they regard you so callously and disdainfully. The way they see it, they matter and you don’t matter. And they don’t have feelings of genuine remorse when they take advantage of you. When their empathy and shame deficits are severe, we say their narcissism has become truly malignant. (For more on this topic see: Malignant Narcissism.)
Next week I’ll be giving some examples of how grandiose narcissists conduct themselves in relationships. And I’ll have more to say on how empathy and shame deficits factor into their behavior. Hopefully, commentators who’ve had experiences with these types will also want to chime in.
Character Matters will again air live this Easter Sunday evening at 7 pm EDT (6 pm CDT). We have a new way to patch callers in, so join the conversation at (501) 258-8326.