Dear Kim – Should I Tell the Narcissist They Are a Narcissist?
I’ve been with my boyfriend for about a year and a half. At first, he was really nice and caring, but now he is verbally abusive, jealous, and controlling. From what I’ve read on different sites, including yours, he has most of the traits of a Narcissist. Would it help if I talk to him about his behaviors and try to get him to a counselor?
Thank you for reading my blog and for reaching out. This is a common question on my site. I wish I had an answer that would provide you with relief, but typically the answer to whether you should get this guy into counseling would be “No”.
I fully understand why people such as yourself would want to confront their partner in an effort to improve the relationship, but the reality is we are projecting our willingness to compromise and our intellectual maturity onto the Narcissist when we believe that suggesting therapy to them would help.
A Narcissist may not agree to counseling because to do so would imply that they need help. There are three general scenarios that would play out. The first reaction would be rage, where he would belittle you in an effort to make sure you don’t make that suggestion again. By the time his tirade ended, you would need to make your own appointment with a therapist just to recover from what he said to you.
The second scenario would include his pretending it’s a good idea, going with you to the counselor’s office, and then proceeding to make you look like the one who is mentally unstable. How this happens is…the Narcissist goes in with his full mask on and succeeds in fooling the therapist with his fabricated maturity and calm. This may produce in you a state of high anxiety, frustration, and defensiveness because the Narcissist will accuse you of everything under the sun while sitting in smug self-righteousness and you’re sitting there knowing he’s acting, but you can’t make the therapist see it.
The third scenario includes the Narcissist going in, trying to get the therapist on his side, and then losing all interest when the therapist tries to hold him accountable for his actions.
As you can see, none of the three endings are productive in the least, and each would leave you feeling more frustrated, which would be highly gratifying to the Narcissist. It would also give him more ammunition because he would take something the therapist said, twist it and season it with far-fetched accusations… in an attempt to have you believe the therapist thought you were a loon.
I’ve worked with many clients who’ve wasted years of their lives (and thousands of dollars), going to couple’s therapy with their narcissistic partner, and I’ve yet to hear of a successful outcome.
Your failed relationship has nothing to do with you and everything to do with his own shortcomings and insecurities. If you’re really adamant about giving it a try, approach the topic in a non-threatening, non-condescending way. If he rages off the bat…you likely have yourself a Narcissist.
Do you have a burning question about your partner’s dubious behaviors? Submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org and your question will be entered into our database and possibly included in a future publication.
© Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach, 2016