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The Impossible Standards of a Narcissist

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He used to ask me all the time what I loved about him, and I’d ramble on about all the things I thought were wonderful about him.  Sometimes I’d return the question, curious about what he’d say.  Then much later in the relationship, I’d ask him why he kept trying to come back into my life, as so many of his other actions seemed to indicate he didn’t value the relationship.

“You care about me.”

“You take care of me.”

“I can trust you with my life.”

“You accept me for who I am.  I can be myself around you.  I can tell you anything, things I can’t tell anyone else.”

“No one has ever taken care of me like you do.”

“You are the love of my life.”

“When I am here with you, I feel complete and happy.”

“You’re a good person.”

What I wonder is whether there was ever anything about me that makes me who I am that he found interesting or that he loved?  Or was it all about him?

Did he ever miss my personality, the quirks or my humor, the way I might surprise him with something I said in response to what he said, or the unique conversations that only the two of us could ever have had because of what we conjured together with our minds as we interacted together?  Did he miss the experiences I brought into his life because of who I am, and being able to bring things into mine and enjoying my unique reactions to them?  Did he remember and miss the ways only the two of us could have had sex because of who we are as people and how our bodies respond to one another?  Did he miss little things like my smile or knowing what makes me smile, or how my voice sounded and how I gesture with my hands when I talk?

You know, things like that.

It’s not that I need to be missed.  I’m not so special.  I realize that even though we may miss certain things about one another, the roles themselves that we all play in each other’s lives are refillable by someone new once we get over someone.  I just wonder if there was ever anything unique he appreciated about me to “get over.”

I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that question.  Can people who present false selves to everyone be capable of appreciating anything other than the ability to fawn over what they falsely present?  After all, to them, their deceptions are worth risking what they claim to love, so maybe everything else is negotiable.


  • must be a good person
  • must take care of me
  • must overwhelm me with love and affection 
  • must appreciate the person I present to you

So goes the initial list of requirements. But wait– there’s more.


  • must do exactly what I want you to do and rearrange your life to please me, which includes reassuring and soothing me when I’m controlling and jealous
  • must accept or believe all that I say without questioning me, and squelch all of your own intuitions


To a normal person, these additional two criteria are unreasonable and impossible to fulfill.  They are the hidden criteria to meet, however, to avoid falling off the pedestal– which will inevitably happen.

It is at some point after the fall that the narcissist will be revealed for who he truly is. The degradation will begin.  The triangulation will begin.  The secrets and double lives will be revealed.

And then one final criterion will be added.

  • must not ever under any circumstances bring up any issues in the relationship or try to discuss anything I have done to hurt you 

If you enter this bait-and-switch arrangement, here is how it will play out:

He will promise you change and then dump all of the burden for improving the relationship onto your shoulders– while you recover from what will feel like unbearable pain because of what happened when you failed to meet the impossible and hidden criteria you didn’t know about.  And he’s just getting started.  It’s then that the crazymaking really begins.  You will be expected to be as loving as you ever were, to continue to ignore the new transgressions that he continues to engage in, and to deny that the earlier ones ever happened.

If you shove yourself in a little box in your mind and don’t give in to that blackness that would mean an acknowledgement of what has actually been done and is being done to you, if you manage to pass the test for an evening or a few hours, you might be rewarded with compliments, generosity, surface-level apologies, future-faking and lots of physical affection.  If you can’t do it, if something about you actually being you dealing with life and trauma and the world leaks out, you will be punished.


*  *  *  *  *

Yes, this is one of the questions I do know the answer to.

There was nothing about me as a person he valued other than keeping my mouth shut and letting him do whatever he wanted to do. 

And there is not a person alive who could ever be detached enough to be the robot he wants and still be caring enough to satisfy his desires for love and attention.

Kristen Milstead

Kristen Milstead is a narcissistic abuse survivor who has become a strong advocate for finding your unique voice and using it to help others find theirs.


  1. Whew. It’s still emotionally and intellectually shocking to read someone’s account of their own private relationship, yet find that it so perfectly describes your own. How can that be? Isn’t love and life more complex than that? Hmmm …

    1. It still leaves me in awe too when I read about my experiences being relayed by someone else. This type of person is the worst I have ever met. I would feel more comfortable around a murderer, or even a serial killer because I know what to expect, SMH.

      I had gone no contact, but broke it in an attempt to get court papers signed. It was a mistake. I already knew he was sick, but of course I was punished. It wasn’t unexpected, but as a person with genuine feelings, it hurts to see him for the monster he is and it hurts to accept that not only does he not give a shit about me, but that he intentionally tried to hurt me and cause problems in my life.

      It’s been almost a week and I am still seething with anger. I wish I wasn’t, but I am. I keep trying to think that he will get what is coming to him one day, but maybe it won’t. But i suppose the fact that he is so empty and miserable that he needs constant reassurance, something to fill his void, that fact means he’s already getting what he deserves even though it may not be his fault that he is the way he is. At this point, I sincerely hope it gets worse for him. I also hope my anger subsides quickly.

      I felt better with no contact before, I hope to feel better again. I still hope his emptiness swallows him and I mean that. I hope that anyone who treats people the way these sick people treat people have genuine epiphanies and SUDDENLY gain a soul complete with genuine feelings, understanding and empathy, TODAY, RIGHT NOW.

  2. Hi,
    The way you describe your story really is confronting me with what happened to me. It hurts but it is real. Something inside of me still cant accept the truth fully and i tend to still blame myself. I guess keeping no contact is important to heal and accept the truth.

    1. I’m glad you find it comforting, Jacky. I understand so well all of the feelings you are expressing. The truth is very difficult to accept, and acceptance does happen in stages. It can only really happen once no-contact is truly applied, and that’s the only way we start to really get better.

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