Environments can be structured in a way that promote – even reward narcissistic behavior. Narcissism was once regarded as both an aberration and a significant disturbance or disorder of character. But a culture of entitlement, permissiveness, and relativism has helped make it more the norm. And sadly, in far too many aspects of modern life, narcissism has actually become quite adaptive.
For relationships to really work and endure, connections have to develop and deepen on multiple levels. Intimacy is always the key.
Loving relationships can promote character growth, that’s for sure. But when someone has significant character disturbance no amount of loving care alone can fix things.
We grow in character by learning to love rightly. That takes considerable, committed effort. But the payoffs are immense. Unfortunately, in our character impaired times, too few among us are willing to pay the price.
You have to have some decency of character to make a relationship work. But there’s also nothing more powerfully character-building than a truly loving relationship.
You have possess character yourself to make a relationship work. But you also have to be able to rightly judge the character of another.
We all have distinctive, preferred ways of relating to others. And those distinctive “styles” of relating define our personalities. But when our very manner of relating is in itself the source of problems, we call it a personality disturbance. A style of relating to others so rigid, so ingrained, so extreme in its manifestation, and so deviant from the norm of a culture that it severely and negatively impacts a person’s ability to function well has traditionally qualified as a disorder.
Grandiose narcissists will use and abuse you. And they’ll do so without compunction. They lack two important capacities: shame and empathy.
Relationships with any narcissist suffer because it’s always about them. They’re so wrapped up in themselves and their desires that there’s no room to consider others. And because they can’t really concern themselves with you or your needs, intimacy suffers.
Vulnerable narcissists haven’t fashioned a balanced or well-grounded view of their own worth. Pay attention to them and revere them, and all is fine. Ask anything of them, and you’ll quickly learn how “shallow” they are. This makes true intimacy impossible. They may do all sorts of things to “prove” they’re love-worthy. But they don’t know their true worth. And they neither know how to love nor how to be loved.