Are you married to a narcissist? Probably.
Let me clarify this statement. Narcissism in general terms is being self-centered, selfish or needing to feel special - and we all can do some of these things - some of the time. Often, we can display signs of narcissism when we need to booster our confidence, hide our vulnerabilities or protect ourselves from being sad, lonely or scared.
Teenagers are often stuck in a state of narcissism for a couple of years. Two-year olds are known for this quality of thinking the world revolves around them.
A healthy amount of narcissism can actually help you to feel more appreciated, loved and to help you gain the confidence to get a new job or go after a dream. Interested in your level of narcissism - take this quiz from psychcentral: http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/narcissistic.htm
Often, we hear the term narcissism thrown around a lot - as a defamatory term to account for someone who has hurt or disappointed another person.
However, to be diagnosed as a true unhealthy narcissist an individual must live in fantasy or grandiose, lack empathy and "..the capacity to see the world from any other point of view other than their own...have a complete lack of remorse and a penchant for manipulation." Dr. Craig Malkin, Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad-And Surprising Good - About Feeling Special.
In reality - less than 1% of the U.S. population has a narcissistic personality disorder.
It's important to understand the difference between a person who needs closeness but trying to hide their emotions of feeling vulnerable, sad, scared and lonely versus a true narcissist who is actually devoid of empathy and has a extreme sense of entitlement.
If your partner is on the extreme spectrum of narcissism or if there is emotional, verbal or physical abuse - please get help now.
However, in most cases, when our partners are acting selfish or unable to be vulnerable - they are really looking for guidance and unconditional love.
You can encourage your partner to be more caring and compassionate by letting them know how much their relationship means to you and sharing your own deep feelings and emotions with them.
Keep in mind, you'll also need to set boundaries. For example, if they try to project their feelings onto you or place blame onto you - then let them know you will not be treated like that, and walk away. At first, the person will feel hurt and may attack further - but stick to your own boundaries because that is the only way to break the cycle.
In any case, remember to stay in touch with your own emotions and self-care. You do not need to accept unhelpful criticism, put impossible demands on yourself or lose yourself.