Self-blame in the aftermath of a toxic relationship is common. Victims blame themselves for not realizing things sooner and for tolerating things too long.
Narcissists can be quite charming. And charmers know how to make you feel special, important. But someone’s interest in you doesn’t mean they have genuine regard for you. Victims in abusive and exploitative relationships unfortunately learn this too late.
Abuse victims learn the hard way that interest doesn’t equal regard. Unfortunately, they learn it after they’ve been exploited or mistreated.
Grandiose narcissists will use and abuse you. And they’ll do so without compunction. They lack two important capacities: shame and empathy.
Sometimes it’s the most decent things about us – things that it would behoove us never to change – that make us vulnerable to the most character-impaired.
For a long time it was assumed that everyone struggled with social fears and tenuous self-esteem. It was therefore natural to further assume, that any perceived criticism would only invite a person to unconsciously mount “defenses” against what they regarded as attacks on their already impaired self-image. And while such scenarios can and do still occur, they’re nowhere near as common as they once were.
Some individuals’ disregard for others goes far beyond simply not caring very much about them to purposely wanting to hurt, exploit, manipulate, and most especially, to dominate them, and that makes them capable of the most serious kinds of relational abuse.
For the most part, narcissists exhibit a passive disregard for (i.e. they simply don’t concern themselves with) the wants, needs, and desires of others, including those they purport to love. But the more malignant their narcissism is, the more active their disregard of others’ concerns can become, wantonly crossing boundaries and exceeding reasonable limits with a disturbing sense of entitlement. But whether their disregard for others is active or passive in character, it can engender substantial abuse and exploitation in their relationships.
People use and abuse others with alarming frequency these days. It’s an outgrowth of the culture of narcissism – a culture that promotes at least indifference to if not outright disregard for the welfare of others.
An “industry” of sorts has developed in recent years that tends to want to conceptualize all sorts of behavioral irresponsibility as addiction, emotional self-medication, “acting out,” etc., and in my opinion such conceptualizations are sometimes not only unhelpful but also damaging because of the misconceptions they foster and the “enabling” they promote.