“The Party” Depiction of a Narc encounter

You’ve been invited to a party, but you realize on the day you’re pretty sure the party is happening that you’re not sure what kind of party it is or what time you should arrive. Well, you’re smart and you’ll give it your best shot. So you dress in a kind of neutral casual-dressy style and show up at seven.

*

As you come up the walk, you can hear the sounds of a party: music, laughter and you think, “This is going to be a great party.” When you come up the stairs you can smell aromas coming from the house and again you say to yourself, “This is going to be a great party.”

*

You ring the bell and your host emerges wearing a bemused, enigmatic smile… and a tuxedo

*

“You’re late,” he says. “I’m sorry. You didn’t tell me what time the party was.” “I thought you would figure it out” he says. “Well I am here now,” you say . Your host looks you up and down. “That may be true, but you are not dressed properly.” You look down at your elegant, if casual, clothing and then at his black-tie formal wear. “Yes, that’s true. But I’m not that far from home. I can just go and change quickly and be right back.”

*

You desperately think about what’s in your closet that would fit with formal wear and how long it will take to press it. You add up the travel time, wonder what you’ll have to do to your hair to look right, how to change your make-up…. after all this still seems like it’ll be a great party……Your host shakes his head. “But then you’ll be really late.” Dinner will be over and I was COUNTING on you to sit right beside me at the head table.”

*

Your heart sinks. Your one chance and you blew it! Inside your head, you say several unflattering things about yourself, your abilities, your intelligence, and your potential, but out loud you declare, “Honest, I’ll be back in 45 minutes. I’ll be perfect. Can’t you wait? You cannot imagine how you’ll be back, but you want so badly to be the guest of honor.

*

Your host shakes his head. “Well, I don’t know. But what are you planning to bring to contribute to the dinner? I’ve told you how much I like those special, individual nineteen-layer cakes you bake. I thought you’d know to bring one for every guest.”

*

Behind him you can still hear the laughter and the music; you can still smell the exotic foods, and you can still see the champagne in his glass. And you still think it’s the greatest party ever and you still want to be the guest of honor.

*

That is what an emotionally unavailable relationship feels like. You’re just never quite good enough to get admitted to the party. You get seduced by the clear, often indirect and unspoken, message that something is just a little wrong. If you can fix that, the implied promise goes, you’ll be the guest of honor and win the door prize: love…

*

But when you “fix” what was “wrong” the first time, something else is a little “wrong.” And when you fix that, something else will appear.

*

Your host has no intention of making you or anyone the guest of honor. Your host also has no ability to make you the guest of honor – or even to open the door to let you in. Your host is suffering from emotional unavailability. This is the inability of a person to reach out and make a heart connection with another person.

*

What is so unsettling and painful is that you end up with the clear belief that this somehow your fault and that it’s your responsibility to fix it by being perfect. If it isn’t fixed, you’re not perfect enough.

*

You did not break it, you don’t have to fix it.

*

You say to yourself that you would never get caught in a situation like that, it seems obvious… until – you are in the middle of it….. it doesn’t start out with unreasonable demands of perfection. If it did, you’d walk away after the first five minutes. We all get sucked into emotionally unavailable situations because the process is subtle and progressive.The demands move a little at a time, inching you away from your power base, shifting control of the situation to the emotionally unavailable person. This person doesn’t want love as much as he or she wants CONTROL. Emotions are unsafe; control gives the illusion of safety.


It is perfectly reasonable to expect an emotional connection with someone with whom you are in a relationship. We expect police officers to enforce the laws, teachers to teach, etc.. These expectations put us into a particular mind-set when we’re around those people.


Over time you expect a relationship to grow and deepen. When your partner turns out not to be making an emotional connection, it causes trauma; that is why these relationships are so painful. The trauma then does further damage as it undermines your expectations about yourself and YOUR abilities to make connections. As illogical as that may seem, it’s human nature to look for the flaws in ourselves when things don’t go as we expect.


We end up being traumatized twice in these relationships; once by the loss and abandonment and again by the loss of our own confidence in ourselves. That is why the end of these relationships can be so much more painful than the end of a fully realized relationship.. We ruminate about what we could have done differently to make it work….”

This is the way disorientation works. And the gradual erosion of all we understand and know by messing with our normal expectations and reality, by subtly shifting the goalposts. Why, in the end, we can no longer trust ourselves. Our psyches were gradually shaped to respond in a certain hostage-like manner, and our cell kept getting smaller and smaller. ~Invicta

Excerpted from “EMOTIONAL UNAVAILABILITY” by Bryn C. Collins

  1. Hi ANA,
    Thank you so much for this. You’ve saved my life with this description. It’s an EXACT reflection of what I went through. You’ve moved continents in my head with this. My N was a very careful person with very high intellectual/educational achievements so that I was left with no way to explain what he did to me, and left with nothing but c-PTSD (and I didn’t even have words for that until I read your blog) and no way to reach out to anyone or explain what he did. It ruined my life, my relationships, my work. Thank you, I finally have the words.

    Like

  2. jaques cousteau

    most narcs, and the people who keep flocking to them, then complaining about it, deserve each other completely

    Like

  3. Thank you SO much for this amazing metaphor. I have been the scapegoat of two narcissistic parents and my golden child brother. I’m currently trying my best to go no contact with a narcissistic partner of 9 years. You really hit the nail on the head when it comes to constantly “shifting the goal posts”. My parents constantly changed the rules, promised things and then decided for a completely imaginary reason that that they didn’t have to follow through. I fought back and challenged them when their reasoning made no sense or was completely unfair. Unfortunately, standing up for myself made it much worse while living under their roof. My self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness still linger and my N partner assaulted me I filed a police report and it’s scary because a part of me feels guilty that he may end up with a record…but I SHOULDN’T..he slammed my head against the wall and gave me a black eye…yet he believes I’m ruining his life by telling the police the truth…No one should be allowed to physically, emotionally or psychologically abuse anyone. I would NEVER wish this pain and anguish on ANYONE. It is very hard for me because I don’t have much support from my immediate family but I’m trying to rebuild my identity…I can’t even remember what makes me happy. Realizing you’re not to blame when “you’ve been to blame” your entire life is an uphill battle but I am hoping this will make me a stronger person in the long run. I wish the BEST for anyone struggling with narcissistic abuse and recovery…just know you are loved and amazing and you’re incredibly STRONG and resilient. Much love!

    Like

  4. So true. The damage that is done in these “relationships”…the things that are taken from you that you don’t even notice you’re losing until it’s too late. I was married to a man like this for 10+ years and tried to make him happy…nothing ever did. I finally got away and thought I would be fine, but boy was I wrong. The recovery period from a relationship like this is long. It took me 4-5 years to get back to a basic version of myself and from there I continue to build up my strength and self-esteem (both of which were shattered and destroyed without my knowledge by this horribly abusive man). When I left him, I had two young children (1 and 4) who I have always sheltered and kept happy despite their “father’s” shortcomings. He thankfully disappeared from their lives years ago. He never loved any of us. It took me a long time to admit that to myself and to stop taking all the blame for it.

    Like

  5. Amazingly eloquent example of the interpersonal dynamics with these characteriologically impaired individuals. Bravo, you are helping to educate others! I will share with my patients!

    Like

  6. My ex used to talk about us moving in together, buying a house and settling down in a home with my son as a family. He would often expect me to stay over at his apt after sex, meanwhile I have a minor child at home. He didn’t often stay at my apartment overnight and if he did he would leave in the morning. I complained about his leaving and not staying and he made me out to be some control freak. He turned it all around and said that I constantly upped the ante. I was never satified, although I had reasonable expectation of building a life with someone who insulted my intelligence by using words to promise some future that he apparently had no intention of gradually building up to. I told him that I didn’t think it was unrealistic to have my boyfriend want to, not only sleep over, but to want to stay and spend time in the morning on the weekends. The party was his, all on his terms and I didn’t even realize how horribly I was being manipulated to play the puppet in some sick game of constant “holding out”.

    Like

  7. I love the party story! It really explains exactly how I felt in my marriage to NH. I always felt like all the great things we could share together were just a little bit out of grasp and that some how it was my fault. No vacations, no diners out with other couples, no Christmas parties and I couldn’t help but think that it was because he was embarrassed of me. Strangely I am an attractive and intelligent women who just fell prey to his insidious emotional abuse. No more!

    Like

  8. WOW. You are serving a great purpose. I have never heard given voice my exact exact experiences with such clarity. NO ONE knows what its like to be in relationship with narcissists unless they have been. Intensely damaging. Thank you so much for your work. God bless you! Theresa

    Like

  1. Pingback: Your Boyfriend is on Steroids | Yes, your nigel.

  2. Pingback: Voice for Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse

Thoughts or Feelings you'd like to share?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: