An Open Letter from a Divorce Lawyer to America: Think Hard Before Saying "I Do" to a Narcissist this November
Hey, America--I know you’re a grown woman and get to make your own choices, but I have to level with you. Before we get into it, I want to make sure you understand where I’m coming from: While it’s true that this decision is yours to make, because I love you and we’re family, your choice will affect me and the rest of the family, too. So, please, give what I’m about to say some serious thought.
The guy you’re thinking about getting hitched to on November 8, 2016? He’s no good. It’s not just that I don’t like his personality (I admit it—I don’t); it’s that he will wreck your life in fairly short order. How do I know? I’m a divorce lawyer, and I see guys like him divorcing women like you all the time.
The problem is that he’s a narcissist. I know, I know; most of us are to a certain degree, but (as he himself likes to say) “believe me,” he’s in a different category altogether. He’s actually got* narcissistic personality disorder, which is very, very different than being self-confident, a little full of himself, or even amusingly cocky. The brand of narcissism he has is about as amusing as, say, Ebola, or a chemical spill, or third degree burns on 90% of your body—or all three mixed together. Which, coincidentally, is the best description I can give you of what being married to him will actually feel like.
His narcissistic personality disorder makes it impossible for him to have a real relationship. Why? Because his love for himself is (to steal another term or two from him) so “tremendous,” so “huge” that it leaves zero oxygen for anything else. And that’s out of necessity, really, because directly beneath his seemingly unlimited love for himself is an insecurity so massive that it is constantly threatening to swallow him whole. In other words, his self-love boner that rages 24/7 is the only thing that keeps his colossal insecurity at bay.
You’re probably thinking that you are different from all of the other wives and girlfriends that came before you. You’re convinced that your love can change him—that it’s enough for both of you.
That’s very sweet—and also very wrong.
It is actually impossible for him to change in this regard. His disorder won’t allow it. Think about it: A mandatory component of real love is vulnerability. When you really love someone else, there’s a risk that you might get hurt. Narcissists cannot allow themselves to be vulnerable. Their insecurity makes them constantly on guard against it. Vulnerability is their kryptonite.
But what about his kids, you’re wondering? If he loves them—and it sure looks like he does—that means he can love you, too. Right?
A narcissist sees his kids as an extension of himself. So, loving his kids actually counts as loving himself. We already know he can do that. In fact, that’s all he can do. But pity the kid who ever disavows or disappoints him—especially in any sort of public way. Disavowal or disappointment will result in immediate disownment. That kid will go from “winner” to “loser” faster than Gretchen Carlson can get Roger Ailes fired from Fox News. That son or daughter would be immediately rebranded from Daddy’s pride and joy to Daddy’s idiot of an ex-wife’s total failure.
I know this is really hard for you to believe—especially right now. After all, he’s showering you with non-stop praise and attention. But you have to look at all his adulation in context. He’s into you for one reason and one reason alone: He’s into you because you’re into him. It’s not who you are; it’s what you are: You are his personal hand mirror. Even when he appears to be looking right at you, he’s actually gazing lovingly at himself.
But what about all the promises he’s making you—the ones about how great your life with him is going to be? You have to run his promises through the narcissist decoder—and the narcissist decoder works a lot like the fortune cookie game, only instead of putting “in bed” on the end of every fortune, you put “for me” on the end of every promise. “Our life together is going to be great!” becomes “Our life together is going to be great for me!” “Make America great again,” means “Make America great again for me.”
He doesn’t care about what you think is great, or what would enrich your life. The only interest of yours that he cares about is your interest in him. Your job is to like whatever he likes—and you’ll like it because he likes it. If you don’t, then you’re a stupid, ungrateful bitch. Just ask Megyn Kelly—or any woman who has ever disagreed with him.
Any disagreement with him represents a crack in the mirror. And because your sole value is to be his personal hand mirror, reflecting back to him the perfect image of himself that he wants to see, the minute you become a cracked mirror, you are of no value to him at all. You are defective. You are faulty. You are worthless.
Maybe you’re thinking that even if all of this is true, at least you’ll have all of that money to console yourself with. And with all of that money, how bad can life be?
I can answer that for you: Really, really bad.
First, a significant percentage of the whole “super successful business tycoon” persona is Grade A Bullshit. Sure, he has some money; but not nearly as much as he pretends to have. His self-worth is inextricably bound to his net worth. And because money and success are the two most important things to him, he assumes they are the two most important things to everyone. One of the side effects of his raging insecurity-fueled self-love boner is a compulsive need to try to convince everyone of how rich and important he is. Unfortunately for everyone, that lasts a hell of a lot longer than four hours. “Trust me.”
Second, narcissists are incapable of sharing anything. Money. Power. Credit. Blame. You name it. When a business deal goes right, they’re self-made men—veritable business geniuses. But when deals go wrong, it’s some other idiot loser’s fault—and there’s no way in hell he’ll get left holding the bag.
Third, no matter what you do or how much you contribute, all of the money will be “his.” You’ll take what he gives you and you’ll like it. He’ll get the cake and you’ll get the crumbs. And you’d better not forget to be grateful.
Even if you think you can live with all of the above, I hate to break it to you, but your relationship will still fail, anyway. Why? Because he will not stay interested in you. His disorder forces him to always need a new “sale.” Once he has you, you are no longer interesting to him.
He knows that the longer you’re around him, the more you’ll see through his bullshit. He cannot look at you knowing that you know that he’s not all that he pretends to be. His insecurity can’t handle that. And the longer he’s around you, the more real you become to him. He doesn’t want “real” he wants “perfect.”
So, let’s review: The money and success? Smoke and mirrors. The promises of a great life? He’s talking about his own life, not yours. The declarations of eternal love? Again, the only relationship of his that will last a lifetime is the one he has with himself.
With all of those reasons to commit to him totally debunked, there’s only one left. It’s superficial, but yours wouldn’t be the first marriage based on it; and it’s subjective, so that means only you can size it up: I guess you could marry him for his looks?
*I’d say “he suffers from narcissistic personality disorder,” but let’s be honest—when it comes to his disorder, it’s everyone around him that suffers.