There are numerous narcissistic traits that define the narcissist but one of the most frustrating is his need to win at everything.
While some people thrive on competition, the narcissist needs it for survival, as long as it is a competition in which he can win. His entire existence is based on a game of life and death where he must always be the best at whatever he does. This is so important that if he comes up against a situation where he may not be the best, he will either refuse to engage or he will lie to outrank the competition.
Can’t Compete? No Problem. Just Lie.
One afternoon, a few months before things blew up, my teenage son came to me with a question. “Was Dad an officer when he was in the Marine Corps?”
I looked up at him with a startled look on my face. “No, not at all. Why?”
My son looked at me quizzically, “Well, he told the doctor this afternoon that he had been an officer.”
When I questioned my husband, he was offended that I would even ask. “Of course I didn’t! He must have misunderstood!”
My guess is that during my son’s exam, the conversation turned to military service. I don't know it for sure, of course, but I bet that the doctor mentioned that he had been an officer. My ex, narcissist that he is, would not have been able to handle being less.
This is normal behavior. It might not be normal for other people, but it becomes normal for you. You get used to hearing exaggerations and outright lies when you are out with friends; you learn to look away when he gets going on one of his memories that never happened, because that way other people don’t see you roll your eyes. Your children live in a gray area of fact and fiction, never really knowing which is which, until at some point they just don’t believe anything anyone says.
Keeping Up with the Jones’s and the Smith’s and the…
That competitive spirit that you admired when you were dating and he was playing sports? Yeah, that wasn’t a game to him. In the game of life there are winners and failures, and he is determined not to be the latter.
I found that when I began blogging he began blogging, too. No matter what I was good at, he seemed to need to be better than me, even if it was an area he was even remotely interested in. Sadly, he was never interested in being better than me at cleaning the house!
I love horses, as anyone who knows me can tell you. Shortly after we moved to this house I bought a four year old mare that had been mistreated. She had serious trust issues, but she was very sweet spirited. My son and I worked with her day after day, slowly re-acquainting her with the saddle, the bridle, and finally weight on her back. It took a year.
I am very gentle in the way I ride. I prefer to teach my horses to be sensitive to knee pressure and weight shift, rather than kicks in the flanks. I was having a little trouble with the mare one afternoon as my ex watched me. “I will do it,” he finally said.
“Are you sure?” I knew he didn’t have a lot of experience with horses, although you’d think that he was an expert.
He got on her back and encouraged her to move. When she wouldn’t, he kicked her with his heels.
She went straight up in the air and came down channeling the meanest rodeo bronco you’ve ever seen. He slid off of her back and landed flat onto his own with a grunt. It didn’t sound good. The horse continued to move across the yard like she was hinged in the middle.
My son ran to calm the horse and I probably should have gone to see if the ex was OK but I couldn’t move because I was laughing so hard. He limped past me and said with a snarl, “I got off on purpose.”
Do not engage with your narcissistic ex
Just Don’t Go There
You might as well understand that this particular narcissistic trait is deeply rooted and you can’t win. God knows, I have tried.
I am a perfectionist and I like to do things well. I might not be the best at everything but I will be the best that I can be at everything, you know? It got on my nerves that no matter what was going on in my life, he bested it.
- If I got sick, he got sicker
- If I learned a new skill, he learned it, too
- If he couldn’t be better at it or lie about it, he disdained it
As an approval addict, it was the worst thing that he could have done to tear me down. I wanted so much to hear that I had done something well, that I was pretty, desirable, that I was talented, and that I was special in some way. A narcissist can’t give affirmation because they (maybe unconsciously) feel that affirming someone makes them less important in some way.
You probably already know this, but you have to learn to believe in yourself, to affirm yourself, and to be confident in your own self-worth. I think that maybe those of us who are addicted to affirmation gravitate toward narcissists because they seem so confident.
It’s important that you don’t compete – unless, like me, you eventually get so sick of it that you take great pleasure in taking on more and more hobbies so that he has to work harder and harder to keep up. It’s sadly comical, because he is really intensely serious about it and for once you are playing the game.
Of course, once you do that your marriage is doomed. He will be forced to find someone that doesn’t know his background so that he can recreate his life and be top dog again, letting his new victim know about how horrible you are and what he has had to put up with.
Just learn to laugh and move on.
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