Let ME Explain Narcissism and Emotional Immaturity to Your Friends, So You Don’t Have To!

When asked if Tony had a podcast to refer to people who were moderately interested in learning about narcissism, he said, “of course I do!” And then he couldn’t find one. This episode is for those of you who want to try and explain your situation to people you care about who want to know but who a) don’t know what they don’t know, b) you worry that without a bit of background, they will throw judgment your way and c) don’t want to spend a lot of time researching something that they don’t believe that they’ve experienced in their own relationships. Tony references “17 Signs That You’re in a Narcissistic Marriage or Relationship” by Arlin Cunic, medically reviewed by Ivy Kwong LMFT

https://www.verywellmind.com/signs-you-re-married-to-a-narcissist-5208165

And follow Tony on the Virtual Couch YouTube channel for a sneak preview of his upcoming podcast “Murder on the Couch,” where True Crime meets therapy, co-hosted with his daughter Sydney. You can watch a pre-release clip here https://youtu.be/-RkRq8SrQy0

Subscribe to Tony’s latest podcast, “Waking Up to Narcissism Q&A – Premium Podcast,” on the Apple Podcast App. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/waking-up-to-narcissism-q-a/id1667287384

Go to http://tonyoverbay.com/workshop to sign up for Tony’s “Magnetize Your Marriage” virtual workshop. The cost is only $19, and you’ll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage. 

You can learn more about Tony’s pornography recovery program, The Path Back, by visiting http://pathbackrecovery.com And visit http://tonyoverbay.com and sign up to receive updates on upcoming programs and podcasts.

Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the “uh’s” and “um’s” that, in his words, “must be created by wizards and magic!” because it’s that good! To learn more about Descript, click here https://descript.com?lmref=bSWcEQ

Episode 64 Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 64 of Waking Up to Narcissism. I am your host, Tony Overbay. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist and host of the Virtual Couch Podcast, creator of the Magnetic Marriage Program, which is getting a revamp here in the next month or two. So if you want to find out more about the Magnetic Marriage Course, I’ve got an online pornography recovery program called The Path Back. There’s a Magnetic Marriage Workshop, which is a $19, 90 minute, all the things you didn’t know, you didn’t know about your relationship that is available. Some new podcasts are coming out, one based off of a book about addiction that I co-authored with a gentleman named Joshua Shea and an upcoming podcast called Murder on the Couch, which is psychology and therapy meets true crime. So just the easiest way to find out about all those things. Oh, and we’re here on Waking Up to Narcissism and the Waking Up to Narcissism Premium question and answer Apple Podcast is now available and you can find that, it’s specifically on the Apple Podcast platform, and I will have links to everything in the show notes. And there’s a link called a link tree that you can go to that will have everything you can find there as well. Sign up for the newsletter. I think that’s the quickest way to get all the content that is going out. 

Someone reached out a while ago, and they just said, hey, do you have a podcast episode that you recommend for people to start with who don’t know anything about narcissism or what a relationship with a narcissist or an emotionally immature person looks like. And as I traded messages with this person they went on to say that they had been out of their emotionally immature, narcissistic relationship for a while, and as they were starting to heal, they were starting to be a little bit more open with the people they felt safe with. And those people still, even the people that they really felt like were more than just Switzerland friends, were saying, well, tell me, tell me what that’s like because I don’t know, I don’t know what to look like. I don’t know really how to support you moving forward, which I’ll, I appreciate that. And the person said well, first I responded and just caught me in a real good time and I said, I do, I absolutely have this. Let me look at the Waking Up to Narcissism episodes, I said, I swear I’ve tried to cover this on a couple of different episodes and I will get back to you. And then I did, I spent some time looking and then I responded again and said, okay, so I have episodes about who you can tell, how to interact with people who don’t know that they are in a narcissistic relationship. But I did not see what I was looking for at first glance. So I think I need to actually do one.

So I said don’t have one planned. So I’ll get it, so then this person responded back and they said, okay, no worries. And they said they just had a lot of people who don’t necessarily want to invest tons of time reading or listening to a lot of things, but they still would be interested and they want to support others. Just this person said a basic overview of the most important things to know might really help people understand. And they said that they typically point the people to the death by a thousand cuts episodes, and those by far are the episodes that have the most views. But I do feel like if someone, it will help someone get a little bit of an overview of what that would look like. But if a person is not in that relationship or has been in a relationship with the emotionally immature, it can still feel like you’re being a bit petty if you are saying, well, here’s a thousand little ways that they just annoy me because I find that the person who has not been in that situation, almost their first response is gonna be a yeah, but. Well, yeah, but have you ever been really honest or, yeah, but have you tried or, yeah, but have you looked at maybe some of the things that you’re doing and then all of a sudden they move back into that category of a Switzerland friend. So this took me on an interesting ride of trying to find out the best content or identify the best content that I can share to then give someone that is just now tuning a better understanding of maybe what their friend is going through or maybe somebody in their family is going through as are leaving a narcissistic or emotionally immature relationship.

I started Googling how can you, I don’t even remember what I started googling with this, but what do you tell people to explain that you are coming out of a narcissistic relationship? That is exactly not what I Googled, but I really spent some time because I had assumed that I had an episode on this and I came to the realization that it’s a hard thing to cover with the other experts that are out as well, because if you are trying to explain what narcissism is in a nutshell to people that, number one probably don’t really either they don’t care and not saying that in a negative way, but that just hasn’t been part of their vocabulary, part of their world and quite frankly, I know that people feel like the term narcissism is overused right now, and it is. It’s being used a lot, which is why I’ve also made that shift to narcissism and emotional immaturity. I think that’s pretty significant, but if you aren’t in the relationship, it’s one of those. I think here’s another thing, another hashtag you can see on TikTok or any social media app, if you know, you know, so if you know what emotional immaturity and narcissism really is, it’s because you’re most likely in that in a relationship with someone that exhibits those traits and tendencies. And if you are not, you don’t know what you don’t know. So then if somebody is saying to you, hey, my marriage ended and it’s and I trust you, and it’s because I’ve got my PhD in gas lighting I think the person would literally say, I didn’t even know you went back to, or if you want to then share something, this is that concept where when we are given something to observe, we also immediately throw a judgment in there.

So as soon as somebody says, well, I was, I’m coming out of a narcissistic relationship. The other person’s immediate response is they’re gonna view things from their own lens and they are going to observe what you’re saying and they’re gonna create a judgment in that very moment just to try to make sense of things for them or to ease their own anxiety because if they now feel like that you even just saying that are somehow implying that, well, how could you not have known it would’ve helped if I would’ve had your support earlier, which is not what you’re saying, then that person receiving that information, they may say, well, I mean that that’s a real strong term. Or, well, I think everybody kind of throws out that term, says the person who just needed to throw out a judgment along with their observation. And so that again, is why even when you’re trying to share with people that you think are safe, it can feel unsafe. Here’s the direction that I think is going to make the most sense, I found an article and it’s from verywellmind.com. I like that site. And it is “17 signs that you are in a narcissistic marriage or a relationship”, it’s by Arlen Kuk and it’s medically reviewed by Ivy K Quang, who’s a LMFT, like myself. And the reason I think that this is the angle to go is because I could not find an article that just perfectly addressed the question that this person had sent. So we’re gonna go over these 17 signs, and I’m gonna give some concepts coming from a point of where I’m gonna assume that if you are listening to this, it’s that somebody’s maybe asked you to listen to this or you really are trying to understand emotional immaturity or narcissism.

So I’m gonna read a bit from this article and then I will make my own thoughts and comments kind of from the angle of this question that was posed earlier. The article starts by showing a graphic that says, narcissistic traits to look out for in a partner. So you feel like you have to walk on eggshells, or they lose their charm behind closed doors, or you’re constantly criticized, they break promises, you get the silent treatment, maybe they’ve cheated, and I think even just starting with those six things from this graphic of narcissistic traits to look out for in a partner. Again, I’m assuming, or I’m taking the angle that you, the person that is listening at this point is listening because maybe somebody’s forwarded you this podcast and you are really trying to understand more about the situation that this person’s been in that I think this is why this is so significant because you may not be, you probably aren’t aware that they have been walking on eggshells around their spouse, that their spouse has lost their charm behind closed doors that their spouse is constantly criticizing them, which then if you only see the good side of that spouse or former spouse, and the person that is coming to you now feels like they can trust you enough that they want to start opening up to, then I want you to even just sit right there. And if this is a big surprise to you, then that actually is, is one the warning signs or the red flags because that means that the face, that the person that you were unaware is being now these accusations of this person’s a narcissist or has these emotional immature tendencies that you have never seen them before. 

So now all of a sudden, I want you to step into that, the shoes of the person that recommended this episode for you and think, man, okay, I need to start putting my empathy gear on, because that would be really hard if this person that is now coming to me and sharing this information with me is doing so, coming out of a marriage, coming out of a relationship, I, the observer made the judgment that everything is great. So Wow. And that now that marriage is dissolved or is on the way to divorce and this person is coming to me I need to believe them. I need to meet them where they’re at. And that would be really difficult then if they were being constantly criticized or the person that this person’s married to loses their charm behind closed doors or gives them the silent treatment or is continually breaking promises or has cheated or so, I hope you can see the direction that we’re heading today. So in the article Arlen then says, signs of narcissism are often hard to spot in the beginning stages of a relationship, but over time, the can be seen more clearly, which is a bit of an understatement. If you are in this relationship and all of a sudden you find the life preserver that is a book, a podcast, a group of people that are having a similar experience, all of a sudden it is very clear. And as a matter of fact, it is so consistent and patronistic that it almost becomes a bit mind blowing. And the emails that I have I think well over a hundred pages now, single spaced on a Google document that say, hey, it sounds like you’re reading my mind, you were there in the bedroom as we argued last night, or you’re sitting in the backseat of our car, or you’re, you know, any of those emails, it really is because it becomes so incredibly predictable that all I’m doing is just commenting on the things that I see in my office on literally a daily basis. The article, they go into the DSM five. The diagnostic manual for clinicians about narcissism, and they give the view, and this is why narcissism is not always understood.

It really isn’t because they go into the grandiose sense of self importance preoccupation with fantasies is of unlimited success and power. Belief that they are special and unique and can only be understood by or associate with other special status or high status people, a need for excessive admiration, a sense of entitlement, interpersonally, exploitive behavior, a lack of empathy, envy of others, or a belief that others are envious of them, a demonstration of arrogant or haughty behaviors and attitudes. So at least five of those criteria must be met for a specific diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder, and that’s why I will say, okay, there are two or 3% of the population that may fit that five out of nine criteria for narcissistic personality disorder. But what’s funny about something even like that is let’s say that the person meets four of those, then you go, ooh, okay, I almost thought he was a narcissist. But, no, he’s, uh, he’s one, one of those away. Or if somebody, you know, hits six outta nine, then all of a sudden are we bordering on psychopathy or sociopathy?

So I, a little bit of a struggle for me when people are talking about, can you diagnose my spouse? Well, I can’t diagnose your spouse for sure. Or can you, yeah, I thought you said he was a narcissist, or I thought you said she is a narcissist. Oh, I will never say that. I will say, boy, they, they show signs of narcissistic traits or tendencies, but really we’re talking more about emotional immaturity. And that’s where I think that things start to be a little bit easier to understand. And, I have taken great liberty in an article by Eleanor Greenberg, which says “The Truth about Narcissistic Personality Disorder”, I think that this is one of the best articles as far as I’m trying to make sense of narcissism but Eleanor Greenberg says, this is so well put, and so, so put in a very simple manner, but she says that narcissistic personality disorder, she says it’s the name for a series of coping strategies that began as an adaptation to a childhood family situation that left the person with unstable self-esteem. The inability to regulate their self-esteem without external validation and low empathy, and that need for external validation and unstable self-esteem is really, those are the traits of the emotionally immature person with narcissistic traits and tendencies because emotional immaturity then is where it is my way. I cannot be wrong. Gaslighting is a childhood defense mechanism. It’s not my fault, it’s your fault. And that has been the air that this person has breathed since childhood. Because if they got in trouble or if they took accountability or ownership of something, then they would hear about it and boy would they hear about it. And as a child that attachment wound is deep. So the fact is, you want to do anything you can to know that you matter and to survive in that relationship. And so the way that you get those needs met is to not not react when you are being blamed for something because if you get in, you may die. And meanwhile, your own parents have most likely not modeled, taking ownership or accountability of things. They’ve either just given the silent treatment or they said, well, I wouldn’t have done it if you kids would’ve cleaned up your room, whatever that looks like.

So narcissistic traits and tendencies are emotionally immature, I think is a little bit easier to digest. So we get back to this article then so I’m not really looking at the concept of well what’s the proof that this person’s a narcissist, if, again, you, as the person listening to this episode, I would love for you just to just try to get into the shoes or the, into the experience that the person who is sending this to you what that experience is like for them. So they go on to, here’s some of the behaviors they say of people with narcissistic personality disorder, and I will add in our narcissistic traits and tendencies or emotionally immature people. And, I do appreciate Arlan says, well, many of the following behaviors can be indicative of a narcissistic personality disorder. Only a mental health professional can provide an accurate diagnosis. And this is, this is why I don’t talk about things in the way that this article does. And again, I’m referring to the article. I really like the article, but I am just gonna address the concepts of emotional immaturity and narcissistic traits and tendencies. If someone needs the full-blown narcissistic personality disorder diagnosis, then that is the, that is something that the person needs to do through I dunno, a mental health exam or those sort of things. So let’s get into those signs so you don’t feel connected, says that your partner talks with you when it’s convenient.

However, they’ve never actually asked what your plans are for the future, or how can we work together to build the life. They constantly brag about themselves and their accomplishments, and they rarely show interest or ask questions about anything going on in your life. Their happiness comes from external sources, such as prestige at work or money, and you wonder if they’re even capable of feeling romantic love or an emotional connection. So let the games begin. Here we go. And, and I appreciate when he says, don’t ask what your plans are for the future, or if they do, there’s an angle, if there’s a, hey, so what do you wanna do this? And this is where it’s gonna start sounding like all or nothing behavior, but it’s because of the person that has left a relationship and that is saying, hey, can you listen to this podcast? I think this will explain things a little bit better than I can. At the point where that person is left, I feel very safe in saying that they have spent years most likely trying to, trying to manage the relationship, trying to care, take the relationship, taking more ownership for things than, than I wanna say it’s humanly possible, in hopes of keeping the peace. They’ve been questioning their own reality. They’ve been gaslighting themselves, they’ve been being gas lit, and they’ve continued to try and explain things so that this emotionally immature and narcissistic person will understand. But, Arlen, put it simply, this is the thing where their happiness comes from external sources such as prestige at work or money or power and control. So this is where the concepts of control are interesting. And now if this person wants, if the, let’s say the narcissist says, well, I didn’t know what I wanna do this weekend. Instead of it’s, this is the part that is so just, it’s hard to, to imagine if this isn’t the way that you operate, but let’s say that they, I don’t know, they wanna go to a movie on a Saturday night and they say, hey, what are your plans on Saturday?

Now, in a healthy relationship, you might say, oh, I was, I don’t know, I was going out with some friends. And then, that scenario, healthy relationship, you might say, oh man, that sounds, period, because I want that person to thrive or have fun or I, I will make my, my desires and needs known, but I’m just gonna bring awareness to that because I know that if my spouse already had plans, then I, who am I to say, well, you must change them. So if I said, oh, I, man, I wish I would’ve jumped on that earlier. I was thinking about it, I thought it would be fun to go see this movie, but I didn’t even, it, it’s on me. I didn’t. I mean, look at this accountability, right? This is something that is not common or isn’t really happening in a narcissistic relationship where your, your partner is going to say, oh, man, I, if I would’ve mentioned that earlier then, then maybe that would’ve been an option, but you already have plans, so we will go do something another time.I want you do do the things that you would like to do. I mean, because then at that point, if she says, oh no, I actually, I was, I was trying to find a way to get out of going with my friends because they’re going somewhere I don’t really like, it’s loud there or, that’s a healthy relationship. 

And now this is where I, I kind of joke about the fight is then her saying, I would actually really love to go to the movie and him saying, oh no, I really don’t wanna be the person that got in the way of your plans are you with your, and that’s a healthy way, the unhealthy way is that the guy just said, oh, okay. No guy, go ahead. Like you, yeah, you always go with your friends, but yeah, that’s fine. I just thought maybe one, we would go to a movie, you know, because he wants to go to the movie and most likely he probably knew that she had plans with her friends, but he’s now, oh, I forgot. I forgot. I just, I thought I had mentioned this movie and it’s just, I dunno so I wanted to see it for a long time, you know, and this is one where if the, if the wife knows that also earlier in the week, he said, I didn’t know that this, that this was a movie, but now she’s made to question her own reality. If he’s saying, if she says, oh, I thought earlier you mentioned that you weren’t even familiar, that this had been adapted into a movie and no, he wants to go see the movie. So instead of him saying, uh oh yeah, no, you’re right because he wouldn’t, and that scenario’s like, oh no, I didn’t say that. I said, no, I’m glad that this thing has been adapted into a movie. I mean, this is, and here’s what the gaslighting looks like, I’ve actually, I dunno, I’ve kind of enjoyed this story since I was a kid. I mean, I remember my grandpa telling me the story, so, no, I’ve actually been wondering when this would be a movie since I think about the time I was 10. But that’s kind of funny that you think on Monday that I said that I, that I wasn’t even aware that this had been adapted to a movie. I mean, it just kind of shows me that you don’t really hear what I say. And you, matter of fact, that’s kinda a theme in our, in our relationship. So now that went from all of a sudden this guy, instead of him just saying, oh my bad, I was thinking it would be fun to go to a movie, and I just saw that this thing had been adapted into a movie. And I like this story as a kid, but we’ve got all the time in the world, how the vibe, the energy there, the emotional immaturity is, is amazing.

But in this narcissistic relationship, that is the vibe that we get. So the person can’t just say, here’s what I would like to do. Because then they’re gonna have to take ownership of the fact that they forgot to mention it earlier. And now when the, the kind, the pathologically kind person, as I like to call them, says, uh oh, ah, my bad. I thought that you, I didn’t even know you wanted to see that now you just handed them your buttons. What you, you didn’t know. You don’t know. You don’t really know a lot about me. I don’t really feel like you really understand me or hear me. So by the end now, the narcissist gets to go see the movie that he just found out about on Monday, but that he confabulated this narrative that is he’s, that’s his only wish from his dying grandpa, was that someday they’ll make this movie and you’ll go see it on the first Saturday evening after it comes out. So now he also gets to go to that movie feeling in control and power and getting that narcissistic supply of control because at his core, unfortunately, that means I, we will still be together because I must maintain control because if I am vulnerable and open, this person might lead me because I have no idea what that feels like to be an interdependent, differentiated human being having two different life experiences, where in reality that is absolutely the goal of a relationship. So, you don’t feel connected. That’s item number one, I think of 17. I don’t think we’re gonna make it through all 17. 

The next one, you’ll feel manipulated. Your partner will make subtle threats throughout the relationship; they may not be direct with their words, but you get a sense that if you don’t do something for them or give in to what they want, bad things will happen. Sometimes it’s easier to just go along with what they want, even if you don’t agree. And this is a way of controlling and manipulating their partners to get what and often people in this kind of relationship, what life was like before the manipulation started. And, I’ll tell you, this is just on my mind right now because I’m having an expert, a friend, a current therapist Jeff Stewart, he’s gonna come on and talk about coercion and especially coercion in intimacy. Because one of the dynamics that happens so often in emotionally immature relationships, and I’m gonna go right now with the, again, the, what we’re gonna say, the guy is the narcissist or the person that’s incredibly emotionally immature, but the, this coercion. So even if we’re talking about things like intimacy and sexuality, where if the guy wants to have sex with his wife instead of being able to put that out in a confident way and having adult healthy conversations around intimacy and sexuality. And maybe him respecting the fact that she may not want to when she’s been with the kids all day, or if kids keep running into the bedroom or whatever that looks like, then he may then start to pout or he may start to withdraw, or he may start to just feel like, man, you just don’t care about me. I mean, I don’t even know why I’m here. And so then she knows, okay, I know how to get out of this. Then we will have sex and then he’ll be good for a few days. And then equally then he’ll say, you know, you don’t, you don’t initiate enough. You don’t, you don’t desire me. I want you to do that. So I want you to desire me, but then I also want in essence to do duty, sex, or, you know, transactional sex because that’s what I want when I want it. So that can really feel like manipulation. 

And then I appreciate the way Arlen says that sometimes it’s easier just to go along with what they want, even if you don’t really agree. And that’s a way of controlling and manipulating your partner to get what you. And so to the emotionally immature, narcissistic person that that is, that continuous, almost push and pull of, of pushing their agenda and then withdrawing and pulling their agenda along and having you as the spouse or the partner just in this unsettled state, constantly trying to figure out, okay, is this the part where I’m supposed to praise him. He’s the man or is this the part where I need to pity him and then go rescue him. I’m not really sure because the reality is the narcissist isn’t really sure because it can change in any given moment. Arlan goes on to talk about the next one. You don’t feel good enough and this one is such a common theme, such a common theme. You have feelings of inadequacy that don’t match what you’ve accomplished in your life. You know, you go into the relationship feeling like this is gonna be one of the greatest things in the world and we’re gonna thrive and grow. And I, we’re gonna be a power couple, but then your partner tends to put you down or make negative comments about the things that you do.

You’ve lost touch with the things that you used to enjoy doing because you don’t have time for them anymore. And, here’s where I think things are really fascinating. He says, maybe you’re always tired. It’s difficult to get out of bed in the morning. You become hiding things from family and friends or feel ashamed about what goes on in your life. And then you start to lie to cover up the things that your partner does or doesn’t because that’s what people start to do when they lose their sense of self because they are spending so many emotional calories and so much time trying to manage their emotions, manage their partner’s emotions, manage the room, to buffer for the kids that they, that is the part where they are not, they’re not exploring and thriving and growing and continuing to nurture hobbies and friendships and passion because there’s no time for that. When you’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with me, why can’t I get him to hear me or understand me? Why do I feel like I’m not being seen in anything that I do? And what can be so difficult is now added to that if the wife is spending the majority of time with kids as caretaker, because little kids by nature are little narcissists, but that’s a, bless their heart kind of way, but they’re egocentric. Everything’s about them. So they’re absolutely not gonna validate mom at all times. 

So now if she’s not getting that support or validation from the relationship as well, then she really does start to feel like, what, what is my purpose? I mean, I must be doing everything wrong because nobody is listening to me. And that can just start to break someone down. So again, if this is the listener who is hearing this, that someone suggested that you listen or if you caught the title of this, which I haven’t named yet, but hopefully I’ll put something very clever about, what you need to know about your friends that are claiming to be a narcissistic or emotionally immature relationships. It’s probably a little bit too long, but that person has not felt good enough. This person feels manipulated, that the person doesn’t feel a connection or didn’t feel a connection with their spouse. The next one, he says, you’re constantly being gaslit. when somebody constantly denies things that you know to be true, such as you’re pretty confident in that example earlier that he really did say, I did not know that a movie had been made about this story that I had heard as a kid, you heard that you know the things you know because you’re willing to admit the things that you don’t. So in that scenario, oh no, I remember that. There are other things, plenty of things I don’t. He says, for example, your spouse might make a comment like, you just don’t remember right about something that you know happened. They’ll gaslight you into believing that certain things never happened or that they did things because of something that you did or you said. 

First your partner may tell lies about your behavior and then try to twist reality so that it fits their version of events rather than what really happened. And you might begin second guessing yourself, and that is part of that feeling like you are going crazy. And if they do this in front of family members or friends, which they often do, then those people may start to think that the problem is with you instead of your partner. And here’s the problem, because you as a kind person don’t want to, don’t, you don’t wanna be mean. So it’s hard for you to say that is absolutely not true because most likely by the time that he is sharing that information to friends or family, you’ve already been in this situation for quite a while and at that point you’ve probably questioned your own reality or you definitely know if I say anything right now, he is going to lose his crap when we get home. So, it can be really difficult for others to realize what happens behind closed doors because your partner appears charming on the surface. You avoid conversations. It may seem as though every conversation with your partner ends up in an argument, no matter how hard you try and stay calm and not get upset by what they say or do.

The narcissist constantly tries to push your buttons to get you to react. Controlling others’ emotions gives them a sense of satisfaction, so it’s easier to just avoid conversations. But at some point, if you’re in an adult relationship with a partner, conversations need to occur or they are going to occur when you finally need to make them happen, and you start to realize that, man, I just don’t like bringing things up around him. And then your body starts keeping the score, your heart rate starts to elevate, you start to get panic attacks or sweats. And then just the ramifications or the, just the, it’s almost like this ball rolling downhill and picking up momentum is that at this point now, you already know this is not gonna go well. My body is telling me this is not safe. But at some point we have to have a conversation about, you know, the finances or the car or the, or the kid going to college or needing to pay for something. And you just think, okay, here we go, and now whatever button, whatever button I expose so that if I say, hey, so I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this, but I just, I’m, so, I just feel like our conversations don’t go well. And then your spouse will say, um, yeah, they don’t go well because of the way you’re, look at how you’re showing up. What am I supposed to do? And, this is all here we go. So batting down the hatches, we’re going into battle. That is not a way to be in a relationship. And again, I have to keep reminding myself, if you are the person hearing this, this has been the experience of the person that is now saying to you, I know it looked great on the surface, but the reason why I would just smile and just giggle when he would say, yeah, she doesn’t really know much about what she, she’s horrible with money. Am I right, guys? That is not an okay way to communicate, especially how and if that person now is willing to put that face out there in public. 

You can only imagine or can’t imagine what’s going on behind closed doors. You’re made to feel responsible for everything. Narcissists think that everything that they do is always somebody else’s fault, including the things they do wrong. So you won’t get an apology from a narcissistic person. They don’t see other people as being on unequal footing. And your partner will not take responsibility and they will blame you. And that is, that is, again, this is that concept of the air they breathe. And so when I talk about, so person listening, when I talk about, I give these five rules of the way to, in essence, show up or interact with someone that is narcissistic or emotionally immature in your life. And, I would take another 10 minutes to explain the reason why I, I even hesitate on the phrasing of these five things because I am meeting people, my goal is to meet people where they’re at. When people first start finding out about emotional immaturity and narcissism, they’re typically met with a, hey, leave your relationship right now. But when the person finds this information, they think, no, I, number one, that would be scary to leave my relationship. Or we have kids, or we’re a financial mess. And so I can’t just do that. So maybe with this information, then I can change the dynamic. So I say, raise your emotional baseline, which means I want that to start really exploring self-care, and even if it’s starting with having hopes and dreams, because already their life has been consumed with trying to manage their relationship, that the last thing they’re doing is thinking about themselves other than from a survival instinct.

Raise your emotional baseline. Self-care is not selfish. The second one I talk about is getting your PhD in gaslighting. So just meaning what we talked about earlier with gaslighting, that is the world that this person is living in that has probably sent you this podcast or that you’re aware of that was trying to open up to you. And that would be hard if they’re now, now even look, if you are saying to them, and this is a, bless your heart, you’re just now listening to this yourself, but if you’re now saying, oh no, I don’t think narcissism is a, well, by definition, you kinda just gaslit them. So now you can go back and say, hey, my bad, I’m now understanding I’m starting to learn more. The third thing is to get out of unproductive conversations. I tell them, please, because the conversations are where you are continually just handing them your buttons, handing them your buttons, and they will use those later. The fourth thing is learning to set healthy boundaries, but unfortunately, know that boundary, a boundary is a challenge for the narcissist or the emotionally immature. But here’s the big one, the fifth thing, there is nothing you will ever do, I tell them, that will cause your partner to have the aha moment or the epiphany- that has to happen on their own. And a huge part of the challenge is the kind person has been trying to get through to the emotionally immature, narcissistic person, without understanding that that is, that is not gonna happen. So they’ve continually given examples and talked about their feelings, and this is hard for me, and continually going on and on in that regard. In the hopes that this narcissistic person will then at some point say, oh, gotcha. Okay man, I, I didn’t really understand what was going on. But that’s not gonna happen.

So then the more things that you say and do, the more ammunition that you’re typically giving that person. The next one that he talks about is that you feel responsible for everything. And narcissists think that everything is always someone else’s fault. And I love that I’m not a big all or nothing statement guy, but I have no problem with this one saying, I think that everything is always someone else’s fault, including the things that they do wrong. You won’t get an apology from a narcissistic person. And this is a fascinating one because I have tried, I have literally tried especially well before I understood narcissistic traits, tendencies, emotional immaturity, but I still remember the very moment that a person, the wife had said, he’s literally never said he’s sorry. And she brought up some pretty hurtful things that had happened in the relationship. And I said, is that true? And he blank stared at me. And then at the time I didn’t realize that this is where you can watch an extremely emotionally immature or narcissistic person revert right back to this childhood defense mechanism. So when I talk about gaslighting as a childhood defense mechanism, there’s also fight, flight, freeze, fawn. And that freeze is where, where the person will literally just go blank and it’s as if they emotionally shut down, because that is definitely a defense strategy of having to take ownership of something until you just say, okay, well, I guess we aren’t going to have this conversation. 

And I have watched that on the couch where you can watch a successful older male or female person, successful meaning they get to have financial means positions in the community, but when it comes down to the point where they feel that they may have hurt that someone in their family or they may have done something wrong where they will, they may try to get angry. They may try to withdraw, but at times they will just go blank slate, and then you eventually say, okay, this is just pointless. And move on. It’s really interesting. So, they just will not take responsibility because ultimately that responsibility could mean that they did something wrong and it goes back to what it feels like to be them when they were younger is a no, I can not get in trouble. As if from childhood, they’re screaming subconsciously that you don’t understand people who get in trouble, their families get really angry with them and they cut them off. A matter of fact, there’s a concept called the narcissistic discard, where once you are no longer serving their purpose, it’s really easy for them to move on to another supply. And that’s where you’ll even see in narcissistic family systems where the parent, when they don’t feel like they are getting validation from their kid will often then discard the kid in a sense. And that’s where you start looking at the concepts around a scapegoat child in the family. And if you have been in a narcissistic family system, or if you even are around people that this is maybe what’s happening in their family, you will often notice that one of the kids seems to just get an awful load of, I was going to say crap. I know that’s not a psychology term, but they’re going to get the brunt of the negativity in the relationship. 

And then that will typically mean that there is someone else in the family that is the golden child. And the golden child has consciously or subconsciously learned how to play the game to make the parents feel good about themselves. And then it’s that back to that black or white all or nothing thinking of the emotional immature, where then that must mean that there is someone in the family that then will get the brunt, will get, in essence, blamed for everything. So even if a parent gets angry, yeah, okay, sure, fine. I’m sorry. I got angry, but I wouldn’t have been angry if you would’ve just listened to me or if you wouldn’t have done those things that you were doing. And as a matter of fact, now, I can’t believe that I’m the one that has to apologize. And now I’m really frustrated at you again. So that’s even that concept of a narcissistic apology. Is one where it will still end up being about the narcissist being right. And you being wrong. You’re walking on eggshells, it says. Do you ever feel as though you’re walking on eggshells because you never know when your partner is going to explode or be in one of their moods? Typically it goes like this, everything seems fine, but then something minor happens and they go into a rage, even a small thing, like somebody at work being recognized for an accomplishment while your partner feels overlooked. 

It can cause a narcissist to throw a fit. And this is known as narcissistic rage. And you probably will feel like you’ve lost yourself now because all of your decisions are based on what will keep your narcissistic partner happy. So if you are listening and then you are starting to try to put the puzzle pieces together that maybe someone that you love or are aware of or somebody who even suggested you listened to this podcast, or even if it, again, as you listening to this and starting to wake up to the narcissism in the relationship. That is a major one where you start to feel like all of my decisions are based on what will keep this other person happy. And now I’m even putting that on my kids. And I’m putting that on those around me of, hey, a mom’s having a rough day today, so everybody needs to kind of back off and so we’re, we’re putting that emotionally immature narcissist person’s needs ahead of all of the rest of ours. And that is one of the things where people stay in these emotionally immature or unhealthy relationships, and they sometimes say, no, I’m doing it for the kids. But in reality, you’re teaching the kids to learn to suppress their emotions and to read the room and try to figure out how to show up so that somebody won’t get mad at me rather than just showing up and being. And having a secure attachment with a parent or the ability to go out and do, and possibly even make mistakes and then come back and it doesn’t become something that then the parent says, see, I told you so, or the parent gets to take the one-up position and say, man, I never would have done that when I was your age or, or why didn’t you learn from the stories that I’ve told you? So the narcissistic or emotionally immature parent can go right back to making it about themselves. 

You see through the charm, he says on the surface, your partner can be charming and confident and accomplished. However, this seems this way only because they’re so skillful at hiding their true colors in public. They say all the right things and people love them. But the second that you’re alone with them, then things change. And it’s really fascinating. A lot of the examples when I’m working with individuals directly, where as the mask starts to drop on their emotional immature partner. They will, and I do sound like I’m being almost in my own all or nothing thinking where, when they start to identify these patterns, they’re so strong. The traits are so strong that then they will say, but sometimes, my spouse will be really nice to me. And then I often say, okay, well, right now let’s just put a little pin in that and say, what’s the angle? And then typically you’ll circle back around and find one recently where the person had shared that they realized, oh, it was because someone else was in the room. Or it was because they were being nice because they knew now they found out in hindsight that whatever the situation was that their spouse had now had done a 180 on and said, oh no, I, you know what I think I would like to do that. It was because when they got to this place, then they were, in essence, given praise for going to this place. So, there is this angle. And so you may see through that charm that others do not. 

Feeling constantly criticized, and I wanted to make sure that I got to this one and the next one, your needs are ignored because either some of those people that I think that didn’t grow up with a healthy relationship modeled, or they are in an emotionally abusive or emotionally immature relationship, don’t realize that this is not part of a healthy relationship. So Arlen says your partner is excessively critical of your parents. They might make comments about your weight, your clothing, your choice of hairstyle. They make fun of you or put you down, and this might happen behind your back and or to your face. They also make fun of others, especially people they perceive as lesser than them. Someone they deem as less attractive or wealthy in general. They’re highly critical of everyone. So one of the things that I will hear is if somebody will say, well, yeah, he comments about my weight often. You know, I remember just a heartbreaking story early on in my therapy career of a woman who had had a couple of kids and her husband would just continually, when she would get out of the shower just make fun of her weight and just criticize her. And she, I remember her saying in my office, she said, I mean, but it’s a fair point. I mean, I have put on some weight. I said, it’s not a fair point. How much weight did he put on when he had kids? Which isn’t even the point. I mean, you’re going to show up in the relationship and when you have a healthy relationship, then you want to be there to support each other. And so the narcissist who, or the emotional immature, is saying things that being hypercritical of someone to put them in a one-down position. Because let’s say that that person now, I don’t know, got in perfect shape, then that narcissist isn’t going to go, okay, everything is great. Now I will stop criticizing you because unfortunately that’s the way that they show up in the relationship because they still feel that they need this control or power. 

And so one of the ways that you can gain control or power is to put someone down. And criticize them. And it’s really hard because if I’m working with the individual who is being criticized, then I’m saying, okay, this is a concept where I really don’t want you to even engage or to give that any validity. So if you know that you are doing your best really is what it is. And let’s say this woman who had had a couple of kids and she was just trying to do her best and survive and hang on, then the last thing I wanted her to do was then say, try to say well, but you don’t understand. And because once you engage with the emotionally immature narcissistic person, then now they are now again, they get that dopamine bump because now they feel alive because that’s their, in essence, their sense of purpose is getting their validation through other people. And it rarely means a positive version of getting validation. It typically means a way to control and a way to manipulate. And then he says your needs are ignored. Your partner thinks only about their own needs and how things affect them, not you or anything else, including the kids, if you have a family. And they’ll end up doing things that benefit themselves, not you or the relationship together. And you give some examples of, they may want to have sex when they want it, but not when you do. They expect you to pick up after them and they take credit for your hard work. They get upset when others treat their family better than yours. They favor certain children over others in the family, if they feel that child actually makes them look better or that child is the one that listens to them. 

And along those lines, your needs are being ignored. I think that this is the part where when you start to look at the selfishness of narcissism, that you really can step back when you can step back and take a look at the situation in the context of the event, let’s say is that if the narcissist wants to go to a basketball game, then they are going to come up with every reason that they can, that this is the most special basketball game. This is all they’ve ever wanted to do is go to this one game. If you want to go to the game and they don’t feel like it, then you’re going to hear that it’s pretty expensive and it’s a school night. And I don’t think that we really need to stay out late. And so that’s the part where you will find yourself confused at times, because if you want to do something and they want to do it, then, okay that works. If you want to do something and they don’t, then sometimes you feel like, why do I even bring it up? Because I know where this is, this is heading. Or if I go do it, then I’m going to hear about it and now it is going to be this thing that is going to be used against me. Your family is warning you or is oblivious. I thought that was a really interesting part because it’s true. He says your family has told you, they don’t like how your partner treats you or your family is oblivious to anything wrong because your partner has been feeding them the lies about you. Either way, your partner is a point of contention when it comes to family relations. 

And there’s a concept that he doesn’t talk about here, but it’s also called, well, it’s sequestering, where you will often find that the person in the relationship with the narcissist is often told don’t, don’t talk about this to other people,that’s embarrassing. We don’t air our dirty laundry out to others. So you can often feel isolated. And so if your partner is showing up as the wonderful person that they are trying to present themselves as, that’s part of what can make you just feel crazy is if you feel like no one else really understands what I’m going through or seeing this, but so often, and this is just something to note. So often when people get out of these relationships, they will hear many people say, man, you know, yeah, I didn’t think that looked very good or I don’t think that looked very healthy and the person getting out of the relationship will often talk with me in my office about, why didn’t they say or why didn’t they tell me before? And then that one’s a pretty quick version of me asking the client, well, what would you have thought at that time? Because when you are in that relationship, you are also trying to defend the emotional abuser, or even it can be at times the physical abuser. Because if you have to admit that your relationship is not good, we have this just survival mechanism that kicks in that we want to go to this place where we say, okay, then something’s wrong with me so I can make this work. So it’s a, one of those concepts where until you were in that position to be able to do this work to self confront, and maybe start to really sit with that discomfort and then be open and start to take in this new data. 

It can be the exact opposite where you feel like you need to defend the person. I will often find that in the beginning of those types of relationships, if somebody will come in and seek help from me that they are going over and over with what’s wrong with me, I must be broken. And then they will start to open up a little bit about the relationship. And often during that opening up process, I will hear, I mean, but I’ve got my faults too, or I know, I know he means well, or none of us are perfect and those sorts of things are, they are, in essence, invalidating themselves and what their experiences and wanting to just say, if I can figure this out, and so that can just be a really difficult situation for somebody as they are starting to just wake up to this overall unhealthy relationship that they’re in, he says, one of the other key signs, if you’ve been cheated on in our system often is often a master flirt might be cheating on you. They’re very charming and not as sweet people off their feet. That’s the love bombing side of things. Here’s something that I won’t go into too much detail because this would probably be a completely different podcast, but there’s, it’s that paradox of the emotionally immature narcissistic relationship with the pathologically kind person. And what I mean by that is, when Arlen’s talking here about you’ve been cheated on, is that the narcissist will often just go seek the dopamine dump for the supply of adoration. And when they do that, that can lead to physical affairs, emotional affairs. But I will often find a good pathologically kind person that is coming in because they feel so incredibly guilty about turning to another person emotionally and yeah, sometimes physically as well. 

And this is going to sound again, here’s what I call this, this paradox of this relationship where it can be someone who has been, in essence, driven into a relationship with someone else who sees them and hears them and understands them because we crave to be seen and understood. So if we aren’t getting any of that in our, in our marital relationship or our long-term committed relationship, and then somebody at work or a neighbor or someone else truly sees us and hears us and really is inquisitive and curious, that can be almost like a drug in and of itself. So when you have the version you’ve been cheated on and this article where it’s the narcissist, who is in a moment, and then feels like they are just getting this dopamine bump of this person, just adores them and puts them in this just high status situation. Then they may act out sexually. And then in that same narcissistic way of, and then just immediately, okay. I can be done with that, but then meanwhile, you’ve got the pathologically kind person who has tried for decades to make a relationship work. And now they’re coming in because they feel incredibly guilty because they like communicating with, I don’t know, the school crossing guard or the person, the barista at Starbucks or the person at work, because they feel like here’s somebody that actually is asking them questions and wanting to know more about them, which it can just, that can be like a drug itself. 

Which can lead to that next one, where he talks about feeling unloved. When you got together, you felt like the most amazing person in the world. However, as time went on and problems arose, your partner starts to de-value and ignore you. And this is a red flag that they’re not who they made themselves out to be in the first place. And, I’ll pull the marriage therapist card here and say that I have sat with a number of emotionally immature people who, when we’re having the couples therapy, they will say, let’s say that it’s I know I keep going with the that’s what I typically see my office, but I know it can be the reverse. But if the wife is saying, okay, this, he was this amazing person who wrote love notes and we did fun dates and we just had all this spontaneity when, before we were married. And now that’s changed. And I have numerous examples that come to mind of where the husband will look at me and say, yeah, that’s the way marriage works. Can you tell her? And that’s, you know, never ask the therapist a question that you don’t know the answer to, because that is not the way it works. That you don’t love bomb someone to get them into your grasp and then just settle back down and say, okay. All right now, we just, now let’s just settle into life. It’s now we’re trying to find a partner who we can go through life with. So as we go through experiences in life, then we can start to process them together, live them together so that I can really share my hopes and dreams with a spouse and that I can also be open and willing to comment that they may have questions, or even healthy criticism at times. 

Or if someone will say, hey, tell me more about that interaction you just had with one of the kids, like help me understand what’s going through your mind and not in a oh, okay, really? What’s going through your mind right now? But help me understand so we can grow to be better people and in a stronger couple. You get the silent treatment, this, this one’s huge in the world of emotionally immature, your partner uses a silent treatment as a power play to control you. And they will withhold affection and they’ll ignore your existence until they feel like being nice again, which is when I call, hey, do you want to ride bikes? And that’s only usually, well, no, it is not usually, it is when it will benefit them again, like getting what they want a lot of times it’s when, okay, now they’re ready to be intimate again, or when they feel like, okay, they need you to do something for them, he also mentions you can be stuck financially. Maybe we’ll explore that in a future episode, but an emotionally immature narcissistic person is very impulsive and doesn’t take a lot of ownership for the things that they do. So they make bad financial decisions and choices. And that’s just one of the things that happens. That doesn’t mean that everybody that makes bad financial decisions is emotionally immature or a narcissist. 

And then just a couple more. You can’t rely on your partner. When they make promises, you never know if they’re going to keep them. Narcissists are notorious for making promises and then breaking them when it’s convenient. You don’t feel as though you have a partner that you can rely on and you find yourself having to do everything yourself. And a lot of, again, all or nothing or everything statements there, but one of the consistencies that I’ve been noticing a lot lately and trying to write more about is that I really do feel like when I am working with someone that is just struggling with emotional immaturity and they are coming in and they are seeking help and they want, they’re willing to self confront, that we get back to that concept of, we don’t like to sit with discomfort. And so, especially if somebody is more on the emotionally immature scale, it can be really easy when they feel uncomfortable to be put on the spot and with someone saying, hey, can I count on you? I need to buy these tickets in two weeks. Can you do this thing with me? Then it feels good. One way that they will alleviate that discomfort is to say, yeah, I want to do it because I think that they really do, maybe in that moment, want to do it. But that also is just a way for them to say, okay, I’ve alleviated that discomfort. I will kick that down the road. And there’s a lot of kicking the can and the world of the emotionally immature that I will do a lot of things later. But then when later comes, then, if that has not been something that’s put on their radar or something else comes up that they would rather do, then here comes the gaslighting. The, you know, I’d only said that at the time, because I thought that was what you wanted, but the more I thought about it, I’m kind of, I can’t believe you put me in that spot. 

And that’s not, or, you know what, you can take one of the kids that I’m sure that they would love it. As a matter of fact, I think that that’s kind of what you probably should do, but really it’s not me being willing to say, hey, I said that in the moment, because that is what I wanted to do, but then I should’ve let you know that I was only saying that because I really wanted to make you happy and get rid of my discomfort, but no one emotionally immature is going to have that kind of insight, especially right early on when you’re trying to wake up to this narcissism or emotional immaturity in your relationships. He ends by saying you’ve asked and they won’t change, narcissists aren’t willing to change because that would mean admitting something is wrong. And we’ve spent a little bit of time today talking about that is just the air that they breathe. That admission of being wrong feels like the end of their world. It feels like that will lead to sure abandonment, which will eventually lead to death. And so rather than just saying, taking ownership and accountability, my bad, what can I learn from this? What do I need to own up to? It’s a lot easier to just say that that’s ridiculous. I don’t, I don’t do those things or, well, when you start working on your stuff, then come back and talk to me and then I’ll see what I can do about mine. So, your partner isn’t willing to change their behavior, then he ends by in essence saying, well, you might be in a relationship with a narcissist. 

So if you have made it this far, I appreciate that. If you’re the person that’s in this relationship with the emotionally immature or someone that is struggling with narcissistic traits or tendencies, then you know, you’re on this journey. You’re starting to wake up to this in the relationship. And just, if you can go back and find those episodes that talk about the five things that I recommend that you can do, if you feel like you’re in this emotionally immature or narcissistic relationship. And if you’re somebody that is trying to understand more about what someone is going through, if they have said, if they have mentioned the concepts around narcissism or emotional immaturity, I hope that you can see that this is a, this is one article that has 17 different things that say you may be in a relationship with a narcissist or an emotionally immature person and boy again, I will acknowledge that if you Google this concept, you will see that there are 17 things, 30 things, 50 things. There are so many different articles that talk about these consistent patterns of behavior. And it’s because they’re very consistent. So, please don’t take it lightly if someone is saying that they are in a relationship or escaping or getting out of a relationship with someone that they feel is emotionally immature or narcissistic, because it has been a slow process, a death by a thousand cuts process to get them to the point that wherever they are right now. So what they really need is somebody to say, man, tell me more. And that sounds hard and I’m here for you and what can I do to help? That’s some of the best advice that I can give if somebody is asking you to take a look at what these concepts of emotional immaturity or narcissism look like. 

All right. Hey, thanks for taking the time. If you have questions, feel free to send them, and contact me through my social media contact at Tony Overbay underscore LMFT on Instagram, at Virtual Couch on TikTok or Tony Overbay licensed marriage and family therapist on Facebook, or you can email me contact@tonyoverbay.com and I will see you next week on Waking Up to Narcissism. 

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