Have you ever been in a relationship - whether a friendship, a romance, or a work relationship - in which the other person consistently forgot you were both in it together? Did the other person consistently forget that both of you would win or both of you would lose? Did the other person consistently maneuver to somehow "win" inside the relationship between the two of you? Did the other person consistently perceive the relationship as them against you? Did the other person too rarely view the relationship as both of you against whatever challenges might arise?
The other person was playing a "zero-sum game", i.e. someone has to win and someone has to lose. In a non zero-sum game: everyone might win. As an example of these dynamics, consider how various Americans view our national economy:
- Some have a zero-sum view: national economic success always comes at a cost to some segments of society.
- Some have a non zero-sum view: a rising tide lifts all boats.
For the narcissist it is always a zero-sum game she plays with other individuals. From the perspective of the narcissist, if someone else "wins", the narcissist "loses". It cannot be otherwise, since on some level they know that their own talent and skills are way overblown. Hence, they cannot hope to "win" based on those talents alone. Thus, the behavior of the classic narcissist is mostly directed toward making others lose so they can win by default.Vicious cycle, that. Vicious thing for you to try to work through inside the relationship. And a good thing to understand, as understanding gives you a greater chance of successfully collaborating inside such a relationship. Expanded Dr. Sanity:
To the extent that a person's behavior is mostly motivated by perceived insults to their self--i.e., their narcissistic core; then the "insult" will usually prompt a typical display of narcissistic rage directed toward the unfortunate individual who threatens them.
Such rage responses are invariably destructive, mean, and petty. Additionally, these rages are generally not beneficial to society-at-large (in fact, such actions often have strong sociopathic or antisocial elements to them) , although the person in the throes of narcissistic rage will often convince themselves that they are behaving perfectly appropriately and even for "the good" of others.
From the perspective of the narcissist, if someone else "wins", the narcissist "loses". It cannot be otherwise, since on some level they know that their own talent and skills are way overblown. Hence, they cannot hope to "win" based on those talents alone. Thus, the behavior of the classic narcissist is mostly directed toward making others lose so they can win by default. To that end, there is no behavior or tactic that is considered out -of-bounds or over-the-top.
Now, how best to deal with this? I've no clue. You're on your own!
Heh. I would like to try and think through a solution - in Part 2.