I’m currently reading parts of the book “Malignant Self Love” written by Sam Vaknin. Contrary to other views, the author believes it’s possible to “outsmart” a narcissist, e.g. by settling into an agreement with them about what you need in return for you providing them their precious “confirmations”, i.e. listening to them and giving them compliments.
I would like to implement this “solution” now to get more intimacy in my relationship wit my somewhat cerebral narcissistic wife, but I’m looking for more specific tips on this.
Would anyone have some advice or refer to good books or sides providing more info on this topic?
This sounds like a slippery slope. No one has to outsmart anyone, and trying to manipulate a narcissist will backfire. I’ve only done it in a job setting, where I have to get work done. I wouldn’t attempt it in a personal relationship. It will not yield “intimacy”, it will only exhaust you. Take care of you is my best advice.
soho, while you can try to manipulate a narcissist, if you're looking for any real or authentic intimacy, this in itself is a contradiction, no? The reason you don't get intimacy is because a narcissist lacks empathy, can't see others as real individuals (others are extensions of self), can't be truly vulnerable, lack object constancy. They're not capable of what you want or need. Manipulating specifically for intimacy results in something that by definition is not intimacy since it was coerced and isn't about a real connection... and that's if you could even succeed at "winning" at all. In my experiences with a narcissist, it was not possible because they will find ways to twist and turn to "win," and their definition of winning is often quite different from yours.
Hi annieb and alexandra. Thanks for your replies! I see your points and agree with you, but since I prefer not to quit my marriage I’m still trying to figure out how I can get more of my needs being satisfied.
I don't know, because here's how I'd expect it to go.
Let's say you ask what arrangement would be acceptable to her for more sex (what would she like to be in it for her?). Her actual answers will change and shift depending on her mood, but the conversation will make her feel complete power over you via your dependency... which is why it may backfire. That feeling won't last forever and you may endure more abuse for her to get that feeling of absolute power back. This may happen even if you don't ask this outright as she sees through your manipulation as still proving you need something from her. Plus, duty sex may get old for you both after a while.
Or, you may not want this, but maybe you discuss opening up your marriage. It may be easier for you and take the pressure off. Though if she got mad about something she'd probably blackmail you with it later.
I have never been in a situation with a narcissist where I wasn't set up to "lose." I'm sorry you're in this position and wish you the best. Per annie's point, if you don't already have a therapist, some do specialize in helping people with personality disordered partners navigate it and emotionally take care of themselves while in the relationship. That would be the next step I'd consider before attempting to shift the dynamic with your wife so that you'll have some support as you try to navigate something difficult.
Most likely you’re 100% right, alexandra. I’ll re-read your comments a couple of times again to really integrate your message, including the part of therapy. Thanks to a therapist I already feel much more confident, but I should try to still become less dependent. Really sad there is nothing else I could do.
soho, please also understand I'm not saying that you don't deserve intimacy or sex. Those are legitimate needs, and you certainly are worthy of having them met! So it isn't needy to want that from your partner, and with a partner not suffering from a personality disorder, this wouldn't be a dependency issue. Because it wouldn't, and shouldn't, be about power with an emotionally healthy partner. That's why the support of a therapist who specializes in the special set of issues that come with this problem may be really helpful, because you also deserve a support system. I know that being in these unbalanced situations can feel very lonely, and that feeling of being alone doesn't help resolve the issues.
Thanks alexandra. Don’t worry, I understand. The most difficult part is to accept no longer to seek “support” from my wife. If I’d quit my marriage I would have to start all over again, and find good solutions for the kids. I’ll think about it and will also reflect about seeking specific help or coaching from a therapist.
Hi AM, I see your point. I’m just struggling to put everything I have now aside so that I can move on and start over again. Furthermore, and even more important: my 2 kids need two parents around to get everything (hobbies and so) organised.
Opening up my marriage could be a solution, though my wife said that she’s not open for that and I would have to leave the house, or maybe waiting 8 years until my kids are old enough to stand on their own feet.
I’ve been trying to improve the situation for so many years, including going to a therapist (best thing I have ever done, in combination with taking a small dose of medicine to reduce my anxiety I’m more secure now), going to couple’s therapy for many times (was very interesting; many things I can say about this, we did connect better, but in the end my wife said she didn’t see any progress at all, or she continued to blame me for everything (really)) and reading many books. Now I’m no longer the nice guy doing everything in the hope of getting attention, but that means as well that we rarely connect anymore.
My wife’s love languages are Words of Affirmation and Quality Time (= paying attention to her), mine are Acts of Service and Physical Touch. Maybe I’ve been too needy in the past, but there is no real Physical Touch anymore, even when I try to sincerely pay attention to her (as long as she s not blaming me or talking bad about my family, ‘cause I can’t support that anymore).
Contrary to most books I recently read part of the book of Sam Vaknin, who believes you can come to an agreement with the narcissist. See e.g. yourlifelifter.com/2015/07/27/how-do-i-manipulate-a-narcissist/amp/ I was unsuccessfully looking for some discussions on this theory, but I’m afraid Alexandra is right to say that narcissist will always twist their stories so that they don’t have to do whatever they don’t like to do.
Maybe I should indeed only focus on how I can gradually leave this marriage or find a way to “independently” live together for some more years.
And to come back on the couple’s therapy: one of these was based on Emotionally Focused Therapy. It was nice to learn about our core inner self (my wife said that behind the image she is very insecure) and about patterns created by interactions within a relationship. Though, it was difficult to come to structural changes. I had invited the therapist a couple of times to define a manual or some ground rules for both of us. I believe that too many conflicts in our relationship are linked to the differences between the two of us. When I get too insecure or critical, my wife gets into a DA defence mechanism, and visa versa. For one reason or another, my wife can’t accept my family, they are never good enough. No problem when my wife or the kids are not in the picture, but as soon as my kids are invited to stay over at my moms, my wife starts fighting again. She also finds a reason why my kids shouldn’t go there, but none of them seem valid to me. Not sure why actually. I wish I could just get a manual on what to do when confronted with our differences or with key issues. Same with regards to intimacy, both real or fake.