Narcissists Thrive on Non-negotiables!
During the love bombing phase the narcissist learns what your non-negotiables are and emulates them, leading you to believe you’ve met your “soulmate”. Even if you don’t actually believe in soulmates, you will by the time the narcissist is done love bombing you. All of your non-negotiables, even ones you never knew you had, are exactly what your narc fulfills. He/she becomes your dream mate. Who doesn’t want that?
Alas, that person doesn’t really exist. He has learned what you want and become that person…….temporarily. You have no way of knowing this and, being a normal trusting person, you trust what he claims to be, and you celebrate your good fortune – you have met the person you never even thought existed; you are the luckiest person on the planet!
Once you’ve been hooked, he starts chipping away at your non-negotiables. One by one you come to see how unreasonable your “demands” are, how little you deserve consideration, how foolish you are to expect anyone to “comply” with your wishes. This is called the devaluation phase and, if done well, as my covert narc did, you don’t realize it’s happening until it is too late. By the time you leave the relationship you have no idea who you are, what your non-negotiables are, or why you deserve to have them. In fact, if you’ve stayed long enough, you are now convinced non-negotiables are ridiculous.
If you had asked me several years ago what I thought of non-negotiables I would have told you they are crazy. Flexibility, willingness to give up what is important to you, is key to all relationships. And yes, it is up to you to sacrifice, because you can’t count on another to do so. In fact, asking another to “sacrifice” only proves how demanding and unreasonable you are.
I would have also thought that it is unlikely you would ever get hitched because of your non-negotiables. Hahaha! Now I understand that it is better to be alone than sacrifice all of your non-negotiables.
I’ve been thinking about this in relation to one of my friends. She is in her mid 30’s and half way through the 2nd year of a new relationship. Her man is a bit younger than she, and at first glance the two seem an odd pair. She is the epitome of a yogi, deeply involved in all that is mystical. He is the epitome of a jock, a basketball coach at a D1 college. When I first found out they were dating I thought they were doomed. As it turns out, they might be a perfect match. Yes, on the outside they seem to be opposites, but when you look closer you see one essential element to their relationship: they honor each other’s non-negotiables. They actually talk about this. They discuss what each values, and how the other can honor them. There are times when it seems it might be impossible for one to fulfill the wishes of the other and, during these moments, their conversations are difficult. There seems to be a fairly even split between the sacrifices each makes for the other. At least I hope so. Because there is one thing I know for sure: when only one person is sacrificing, when only one person is stepping away from their comfort zone to accommodate the other, the relationship is doomed. Having been the person giving up what I wanted & needed, every step of the way, I know that what is left is anger, hurt, resentment and eventually loss of health and a sense of self. As I write this I see the similarities between what I became and the zombies of the Walking Dead. That is what I became; a zombie, no needs other than survival. I was snarling mess of resentment and damage, seeking only to survive.
I am working on my non-negotiables, those core qualities and characteristics I require to make the effort of a relationship worth my time. I have found that this list applies to friends also.
So far the only one I’m completely sure of is kindness. The people in my life must be kind. This seems like a given, right? It is not. For me, kindness is a deliberate act. Kindness is the act of looking past the obvious, and into the soul of another. Kindness often requires us to overlook an unpleasant or messy presentation, a damaged outer shell, and peer underneath. I suppose I’m looking for empathy rather than kindness.
Empathy means that we care enough about others to put aside our preconceived notions, prejudices or values, in order to understand why someone is behaving as they are, or why they believe what they do. Empathy requires the Democrat to hear and understand the Republican, and vice versa. It requires all of us to acknowledge the pain felt by the disenfranchised, as well as the privileged. Yes, my heart will always be with the victims of the Harvey Weinstein’s of the world, but what lies beneath his behavior? If I am to be the kind, empathetic person I seek to be, and hope to find in others, I will look deep into his soul, his experience, to understand why he is as he is. Not excuse him, but understand.
Is this too much to ask?