Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Narcissist And Their Pursuit Of Perfectionism

“Bulls Eye Target Shows Excellence And Skill” by Stuart Miles via 


It goes with Narcissism like peanut butter goes with jelly.

Narcissus, the hunter in Greek Mythology was known for his handsome looks… when he discovered his beautiful reflection in a pool of water he was so enamored with his image he fell in love with it… hence drowning. From the name Narcissus came the term we know today as Narcissism... defined as a fixation on one's own self.

Narcissists crave positive 
social feedback 

One would think at first glance that narcissists are secure in themselves, that they have a healthy self esteem but in reality they are quite insecure and feel best when receiving positive feedback from others because the voice of their critical narcissistic parent since childhood is alive and well in their head… continuing the destructive verbiage that they don't measure up. These grown adults have lost their true sense of self because their self is intertwined with their parent they grew up with… they are still an extension of their narcissistic parent's fragile ego.

A Narcissist/Perfectionist:

1. Demands nothing less than perfection from others.
2. Is hardest on their spouse.
3. Expects unquestioning compliance.
4. Sees themselves as requiring special treatment.
5. Lives a "my way or the highway" type mentality.

Narcissists are intolerant of imperfection as they believe it reflects poorly on them and others will view them as less than. This is why living with a narcissist is impossible… the spouse takes the brunt of the stress in the relationship… if they aren't "perfect" then it will surely reflect poorly on their narcissistic partner and the narcissist can't have that.

If you are requiring your partner to be perfect… 
there will be marital problems guaranteed. 

The Spouse of a Narcissist: 

You are viewed as an extension of the narcissist's ego
You are viewed as the "blame" for anything going wrong in the relationship
You are viewed as merely a trophy by the narcissist that better not change, get sick or age
You will never be able to get emotionally close to a narcissist
You will never be able to receive a healthy, close and safe love with a narcissist
You will never be able to "criticize" a narcissist even with fair, careful and tactful feedback
You will be devalued and invalidated anytime you try to voice your concerns

So why are they perfectionists?

They had one or two parents that were narcissistic… a parent(s) that made them feel inadequate, insecure, not good enough. Their parent talked down to them… disparaged them, talked to them like they were an idiot… grabbed their shirt collar and screamed how incredibly stupid they were when working on a project… they demeaned them in front of other family members using them as a prime example for others of what not to do… they were held to such extremely high standards… standards no one could meet.

Perfectionists make terrible parents… they pressure their children to be perfect… and if a child feels they cannot live up to the expectations… inevitably they may choose to throw in the towel, figuring what's the point (?!) and rebel instead… leading to poor choices… failing grades, drug use, promiscuity, etc. The best approach parents can take to prevent the development of perfectionism is to have an open dialogue with their children in what they are achieving… to strive for personal excellence, not perfectionism… and that at the end of the day failure/missing the mark, etc never equates to losing a parents love.

If a child brings home a paper with a ninety a perfectionistic parent may say:
 "If you can get a ninety you can get a hundred." 
They always expect more and more. 

As adults perfectionists are often all about productivity… which translates to working all the time; the classic workaholic along with being rigid in their outlook, controlling in their relationships, cheap in their spending and and critical of others. They grow up with you guessed it… a controlling perfectionistic parent(s). Perfectionism is a killer to a relationship, namely a marriage… in that the perfectionist often takes on the authoritative role… they know how to do everything best, won't accept feedback, minimize their own weaknesses and exaggerate the flaws of even the most trivial of their spouse.

"We who are strong ought to bear with the failings
 of the weak and not to please ourselves." 
Romans 15:1

When it comes to perfectionism one must choose their battles… how the dishwasher is loaded doesn't really matter… how the food and drinks are arranged in the refrigerator aren't a make or break situation… 

At the end of the day… our marriages must be laced with grace and humbleness to succeed, not a desire of pleasing one's self through the pursuit of perfection. 

© ~ 2015


  1. I haven't been able to entirely figure out the childhood thing (although I have some pretty good theories), and he was a fairly good father. BUT -- The rest of this is spot on for me.

    He would drop trash on the floor where the trash can USED to be in the den, let the toilets turn black (Cleaning them was supposed to be HIS job), and tell me that he hadn't unloaded the dishwasher because he didn't know whether the dishes in it were clean or dirty. (Are you an idiot? It doesn't take a degree in neurosurgery to figure that out.) When we were getting counseling, he complained that the kitchen floor was dirty. Never mind that it was July, and I was canning like a maniac, figuring that I would clean it when I finished. The counselor asked him if he knew where the mop was. . .

    But this was the capper: "You will never be able to get emotionally close to a narcissist.
    You will never be able to receive a healthy, close and safe love with a narcissist."

    After I had unloaded on the counselor how I felt unappreciated, constantly criticized, and emotionally abandoned, he asked the jerk, "Do you understand why she is not interested in intimacy?"

    His response? " Yes, it's physically painful for her. She needs to see her doctor."

    Yep, he said that.

    Ten months and counting without that nutcase. Woo-hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Such another prime example of how they don't have a clue… and the innate ability to always twist the truth to make their partner look like the one with the issue(s) and not themselves. Good for you for getting out and continuing your new chapter!