Do you wonder why your Narcissist ticks that way? Ever marvel at how ruthlessly he can use you to get what he wants? Do you reflect on whether he was born a soul-killing predator, or made that way through environmental influences?
In the first of a series of co-authored posts exploring how nature and nurture can work together to reinforce Narcissistic behavior, Kim Saeed’s Let Me Reach and Avalanche of the Soul draw on their own experiences to explore the optimal conditions in which your tyrant can thrive. Here, we talk about how culture can play a big part in nurturing abusive, dictatorial Narcissists – and what that means for you.
Top of the Heap: Choosing the Optimum Culture
Prime real-estate for your male Narcissist can be found in societies where men are at the top of the pecking order.
Our Narcissists were born and raised in Middle Eastern cultures, where – generally speaking – boys are seen as a particular asset to the household. Men are expected to care for their family, which includes elderly parents and unmarried sisters. This expectation can mean that, even from an early age, the whole family puts the boy’s needs at the top of the priority list. An educated, well cared for child is more likely to be able to fulfil their obligations to provide for their family.
Society Rewards Narcissism
Your self-obsessed Narcissist will bask in the attention, which reinforces his belief that his needs ALWAYS come first. Your needs are unimportant because, in his mind, your only purpose is to serve him.
In times of conflict or competition for scarce resources, Narcissistic tendencies are especially rewarded by society. People who are skilled at puffing themselves up usually score more than the lion’s share of success and wealth – particularly if they can convince others that they are superior, too. Which Narcissists usually succeed at doing.
This is not to say that other cultures don’t produce Narcissists: they most certainly do. Similarly, if your junior dictator is of female persuasion, don’t be led astray. The narcissta’s sense of grand self-entitlement can still be nurtured. To do this, you simply need the right attitude – more on that another time!
The Best of Both Worlds
Narcissistic Middle Eastern men who relocate to the west often target successful, independent and connected women to be their partners. There is a strategic purpose for this: the Narcissist doesn’t have to be the responsible caretaker that traditional expectations often demand – particularly, as would be expected by a woman raised in this culture.
In Middle Eastern cultures, the man and his family often have to put down an expensive dowry and offer a respectable place to live to the new wife. If a man is unable to provide this, he may be looked over as a prospective suitor. When the Narcissists touches down on overseas soil, there is an array of women who already have their own place, a career, and are self-sufficient. And because of their strong sense of independence, they don’t like having to depend on someone for their livelihood. From our experience, these traits present a prime target for the Narcissist.
In these relationships, the gender roles become ill-defined. The woman becomes the caretaker, the money-maker, and head of household while the Narcissist lounges at home a ‘kept man’. He may give the impression that he is starting a business or a partnership with a friend, but nothing lucrative ever comes from these scenarios. They’re just a means to enhance his false image.
Unfortunately for the woman who pairs up with a Middle Eastern Narcissist, she shoulders the role of the man and the woman. While she assumes the ‘male’ role of working and taking care of the bills, she is still expected to fulfill the more traditional expectations of a wife. She literally becomes two people, which is impossible to sustain over the long-term.
Stigma fuels an elaborate illusion
While this gender role-switching happens with other Narcissistic men, there is more of a stigma attached to the Middle Eastern Narcissist because people from his culture frown upon his taking advantage of a woman. That’s why it’s crucial that he maintains the perpetual illusion that he is taking care of a family emergency, or negotiating business deals that never transpire. He may go further, telling everyone who will listen that he wants you to quit your job while he provides for you and the children – whilst choosing an irresponsible and chaotic lifestyle that makes this utterly impossible.
Important Health Warning:
Understand that investing everything in the Narcissist will not be reciprocated or even acknowledged. Nor will you be respected. Ever.
While pouring your heart and soul into the Narcissist, your time, energy, knowledge, and any material resources will be focused almost exclusively on him. We were personal assistants, mothers, baby-sitters, cleaners and bank managers to our Narcissists – who were expert exploiters.
You can look forward to him being dependent upon you for life, even as he treats you as an annoying and unwanted burden. When he loses his job (as Narcissists inevitably do), and his risk-taking lifestyle winds him up in prison, buried in an avalanche of debt, or disowned by exasperated family members – expect to be the fallback for this ungrateful man-child.
Expect intimidation, disappointment and misery
For your efforts, you can expect to be the target of uncontrolled and unwarranted meltdowns. This looks like rage – but is actually manufactured anger, as your Narcissist works himself into a frenzy designed to intimidate and subdue you. Our Narcissists had no qualms whatsoever about hateful tirades – whether directed at us or their parents.
You will experience the miserable existence of being let down and embarrassed. Our Narcissists could always be relied upon for a spot of public humiliation – whether childishly stealing olives from the local deli counter or deliberately trying to alienate your nearest and dearest. Jealous over-reactions to random strangers will be common, especially if your Narcissist grew up in a patriarchy where a woman’s virtue is seen as a direct reflection upon the worth of the men around them.
What happens when you challenge the Narcissist?
If you object to any of this crazy-making behavior, you’ll meet the Narcissist’s ego head on. Expect more rages, and manipulative tactics designed to make you feel deficient, worthless or mad. Watch out for stock phrases such as:
- ‘No-one else could ever love you the way I do’
- ‘You are crazy’
- ‘You don’t love me enough’
- ‘I only get angry because you won’t believe me’
- ‘Why can’t you be more like a traditional woman, (as well as keeping me in the standard to which I’ve become accustomed)?’
You’ll soon find yourself unable to make a decision without checking first with him. You’ll forget that your world didn’t once revolve around this emotional leech and wonder how you ended up in this thankless position.
Do not be fooled into believing you need to be more understanding of cultural differences in order to make it work with your Middle Eastern Narcissist. Though Narcissism can be culturally reinforced, is not a Middle Eastern trait. Like a Narcissist from any culture, your man cannot and will not change. So, bear in mind that you are always stronger than your abuser and that at any point, you can choose to use your power to cross the bridge to your other reality.
© Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-2014 and © Kimberly Saeed and Let Me Reach, 2013-2014