WHEN people talk about abuse in relationships it has mostly been assumed to be physical abuse where one party physically assaults the other.
When a person confides that they are being abused in their intimate relationship, most times the one being confided in would want to know how badly they are being beaten or even ask to see the bruises while some would rush to say “let’s go and report to the police right away.”
Well, abuse in intimate relationships is certainly not just physical and more and more people are
talking about the different forms of abuse they are coming across in relationships. For a longest time, most people in African environments have not really broached the subject of emotional abuse.
As a result, men and women suffer emotional abuse for years without anyone noticing it till they break down.
Speaking out would lead to one being ridiculed hence many would just take it in their stride.
Lately, however, just as people are beginning to open up more about issues like mental health, I see that more and more people are also talking about emotional abuse.
So as I have been reading, observing and listening and have picked on a word that is being used a lot by people, and that word is narcissism.
Apparently there are men and women with narcissistic tendencies and they are a nightmare when it
comes to relationships. What is interesting, however, is that more and more people who encounter such kind of people are speaking out or leaving the relationships they are in.
So when I first heard a caller on The Breeze on Star FM tell the presenter Mai Judah that he was contemplating ending his one-year marriage because he was super convinced the woman he was married to was a narcissist I decided to look up the term because I had seen it pop up several times.
It popped up in a Facebook discussion about red flags in relationships with a number of people saying once a partner showed narcissistic traits one should leave them.
So I decided to look up the term.
A narcissist is a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration for themselves.
According to the Oxford dictionary narcissists are individuals who think the world revolves around themselves.
I went deeper and found out that most of these individuals lack empathy, thrive on superficial and
exploitative relationships, suffer from identity issues, have chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom among others.
Some actually suffer what is called narcissistic personality disorder and have a huge
sense of own importance. If not admired, they blow up.
So in intimate relationships, these people may truly cause a lot of pain for their partners.
But I wonder, do all narcissistic people know they are actually narcissistic? From this definition; there are quite a lot of them around don’t you think?
You could be one of them or your partner could be one of them or someone you know.
To delve into this subject further, I started a thread on twitter about this subject and these were some of the reactions that came in.
“If you want to know if your partner is narcissistic, check out for a constant need of praise and admiration, living in a fantasy world, exploitative tendencies as well as bullying and demeaning habits. This person can literally call you fat, skinny, dumb and make
derogatory comments that strip away your dignity and confidence,” said Tari from Canada.
She said if you dare criticise something about them, even if it is something that they truly need to
fix; it becomes a problem.
“They will blow up and twist it to mean you do not appreciate anything about them. So they will not fix anything while you the partner end up feeling bad for
not appreciating them.”
Another lady, Lina, said if one finds that they are with the type of person who never apologises when they are wrong or when they have hurt someone then they are narcissistic.
She said in most instances, these people trick their partners into apologising or feeling bad when
it is actually them who should be apologising.
Some cheat on their partners and then blame their cheating on their partner.
“Well she led me to it because she is always nagging,” they say.
Or those that get super angry on being caught out cheating that they may actually leave the house, stop talking to the injured wife until she is actually begging them to return or to eat meals at home, while the cheating subject remains undiscussed and an apology is never given. Tino also touched on fake apologies as a common trait.
“They give fake apologies which they don’t mean.
It is just the words, but the words are never accompanied by action. So when you are with this kind of person, you are expected to accept this insincere apology for that is the best they can give.
In most cases, not accepting this apology will have them screaming at you to go and find someone better. They just cannot be held to account,” he said.
Serial cheating is another trait they almost always exhibit, with lots of flirting online or physically.
Apparently these are the people who may beat a partner just for touching their mobile phone or laptop as it may contain their dirty secrets. This does not mean everyone who is very private with their gadgets is narcissistic by the way. However, you may want to check yourself and your partner to see if the shoe fits.
“Almost always, these people cheat because they find it difficult to form real attachments with people,” said Anesu from South Africa.
Some other traits they exhibit include beating up partners. Yes, some of the men and women who beat up their partners are actually narcissistic.
Some of those who bully their partners into silence until they can no longer speak for themselves are narcissistic.
There are women and men who have been so browbeaten into silence by systemic emotional bullying by their partners that they end up becoming a pale shadow of who they are. Chances are they are with a narcissistic partner.
Claire said another thing to look out for is someone who is always the victim; who blames everyone
else for failed relationships.
They may end up moving from one partner to the other and never being satisfied, yet blaming all these partners and never themselves.
Then there are those who refuse to break up with you. You say it’s over, but they will not accept it?
Are you one such person?
Have you encountered such a person? Is it a healthy space for you? Are you
seeking help as to deal with it? Talk to me. These are real issues we encounter and by speaking about them; we hope we are one step closer to having healthier relationship spaces where no one ends up suffering from mental health issues.