Don't Share Information With a Malignant Narcissist
The Lessons We've Learned
Some of us reach middle age older and much wiser, at least in terms of knowing how a malignant narcissist operates. This particular personality disorder (I prefer the term "moral disorder") is something we once couldn't comprehend, until we found ourselves caught in a snare. This was a trap, or a series of them, set by someone we once trusted.
Then, we had to face up to the fact that some folks are so sick that they like watching others stumble.
The psychological landmines we wandered into were sprung by someone we considered a friend, a person with whom we shared many intimate details of our lives. This is very hard to come to grips with.
Or, the narcissistic abuse may have come from a coworker or a supervisor. Before we realize what's happening, they've already spent considerable time "grooming" us, in an effort to gain our confidence, and, they hope, access to our deepest secrets.
Some targets of narcissist abuse find it comes from within their family of origin. A parent, or perhaps a sibling, is morally disordered. If that's the case, this person already knows your weak spots. But they don't need to know anything else. This includes the names of your current friends, their addresses and where they work. A malignant narcissist is not above contacting someone in your social circle, or arranging a "surprise" encounter, in an attempt to ruin your other relationships. They know that isolation is the best means of control.
The Prevalence of Malignant Narcissism
According to Dr. Martha Stout, PhD, author of The Sociopath Next Door, narcissism and other Cluster B personality disorders, such as sociopathy, are frighteningly commonplace. About 1 out of every 25 people is disturbed enough to meet the criteria.
Any personal information that falls into their hands is dangerous. It will be used against you, even if it takes years to follow through on a particular plan.
Although we can't live in fear that everyone we meet has a deep-rooted character flaw, it's best to exercise prudence and restraint when someone new enters your life. Give it some time before you start to share.
Oftentimes, a malignant personality presents themselves as the nicest person you'd ever want to meet, until you get to know them better.
Discerning Someone's Character
Most people are well meaning. We can't let our encounter with a malignant narcissist blind us to this fact. The majority of people want to do all they can to alleviate human suffering, whether it be physical, spiritual or psychological. A distinct minority, however, behaves much differently.
They don't appear to have the empathy needed to avoid hurting others. Or, they go out of their way to inflict pain. They damage those around them, and sow discord wherever they travel. These are the ones we need to never feed with information, as I'll explain further.
So, how do we discern if someone is trustworthy or not? Although there is no foolproof way to avoid getting burned, there are some red flags to look for.
Beware of "Instant Friendships"
Determining that someone is potentially malicious isn't always easy. Even professionals miss the sometimes subtle signals that an individual has a moral disorder. That's because malignant narcissists know they're different than the rest of humanity. So they work hard to perfect their image, in order to convince people they are virtuous.
Malignant narcissists also seem to possess superhuman abilities to size up a rival. They have excellent observational skills, coupled with the gift of gab. They are also remarkably charming and persuasive.
Be wary of "instant friendships." This is when there seems to be instant rapport, as if the other person you've just met seems to totally understand you. What could be happening, instead, is that they're reading you, and mirroring your behavior to gain your confidence.
Occasionally, you really do meet a soul mate and the two of you just happen to click. But it's also possible your gregarious new buddy may not be everything she appears to be.
Until you have a better idea of her character, consider my advice. (I have no formal education in human relations, but have gained some unfortunate first-hand experience.) Don't share your secrets until you get to know her much better.
Watch for Loose Lips
I'm going to refer to malignant abusers in this article as "she." That's because gossip and slander form the backbone of relational aggression, a psychological device used by character-flawed females. This involves chipping away at someone's friendships, so that they become a pariah. The intent is to drive them out of a particular setting. When this happens on the job, it typically results in resignation or firing.
Pay attention if someone habitually talks badly about others. This reflects a lack of emotional maturity. Someone who gossips about everyone else will also gossip about you. Do not share any information, even if it's not considered "sensitive," when you observe this kind of conduct.
Sometimes gossip isn't immediately apparent. That's because it's camouflaged in "nice" language, such as, 'Susan's a wonderful person in all ways, except....," right before they drop the bombshell. Don't be fooled by praise, followed by a jab. This is gossip, and just as hateful as the more obvious kind.
I don't automatically assume someone is dangerous if they happen to make one, or even two, offhand comments about someone else. It could have been a slip of the tongue, and it's something they might regret. But a pattern of incessant backbiting is an ominous sign.
Understanding How the Malignant Narcissist Works
This only happens early in the relationship, when the narcissist idealizes you. You'll notice more disordered behavior later.
This can occur simultaneously with love bombing. This is when the narcissist explores your personality, probing for weak spots.
Morally disordered people are deficient in this department. They simply cannot relate to another's suffering.
Malignant narcissists will never forget a real or perceived slight. They may exact revenge years later.
What About Their Other Relationships?
Everyone who's reached middle age probably had a failed friendship or two. This can happen because people simply drift apart. Or, it can be the result of a misunderstanding. We all have times in our lives when we seem to be either surrounded by people, or somewhat isolated.This, in and of itself, is not particularly alarming.
But what's potentially troubling is meeting a person who seems to have absolutely no history of previous relationships. They don't have any friends from high school or college or from any of their previous jobs. Nor do they seem particularly close, or even in contact with, any of their relatives.
Now, they've found you, and you're their main focus. They suddenly want to spend a lot of time with you. They want you to watch their children for a few days, just a week or two after you've met them. Perhaps, you've only known them a month, and they ask you to be godmother to their newborn. These are all indications they could have problems maintaining healthy relationships.
However, someone could have a legitimate social anxiety disorder or be extremely introverted, and still be a wonderful human being. That's why they don't have any close friends. But someone who fits this description is generally not extremely outgoing, and likely to form instant "friendships."
Tips on Handling a Narcissistic "Friend"
The Danger of Casual Conversation
When speaking with a potential malignant narcissist, establish a firm rule of no disclosure. Even something as innocent as what type of dog you have can be used to discredit you.
But how could that be?
Morally disordered people have no integrity. They tell outrageous lies if it suits their purpose. So, now they know you have a golden retriever. They'll use this true fact, and mix it with some very unsavory falsehoods. Because the rest of your coworkers know about your golden retriever, it's much easier to swallow the fabrications.
No fact, no matter how trivial, is too insignificant for a morally disordered person on a mission to destroy.
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