When dealing with a person who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, realistic expectations are extremely important for the sake of your mental health. They will help you not to be constantly disappointed or hurt. They also will help you to be prepared for whatever may come, because you understand that this is how the narcissist in your life acts.
For many adult children of narcissistic parents, adjusting their expectations to be realistic is very hard. It’s hard not to hope that this will be the time things are different, the one time that Mom actually cares about me or doesn’t insult my husband. It’s also hard to grasp that normal things- such as treating your child with basic respect- are things that no narcissistic parent wants to do.
If you feel that way about your narcissistic mother, you’re perfectly normal. However, Dear Reader, I urge you to consider taking care of your mental health, your peace & joy, & lowering your expectations of your narcissistic mother.
Realistic expectations of narcissists are very different than those of other people. Most people, you are safe in assuming that they will have some level of empathy, think of people other than themselves & not viciously criticize anything they wish to about you. Not so with narcissists. Let’s look at some features of a narcissist:
- They are constantly looking for narcissistic supply- anything that helps boost their self-esteem.
- They are incredibly entitled- they feel as if they deserve anything they want, even if it means hurting others (yes, even their own family) to get it.
- They have absolutely no empathy- never will a narcissist genuinely understand or care about your pain. Never.
- Narcissists are excellent manipulators- they read people very well to find out their vulnerabilities so they can exploit them for personal gain.
- Narcissists don’t care how much they hurt you, destroy your self-esteem or even destroy your sanity as long as they get what they want from you.
These few qualities alone mean you cannot deal with any narcissist as you would a normal person if you wish to survive this relationship with your mental health in tact. Keeping realistic expectations of the narcissist will help you tremendously.
So what are realistic expectations of a narcissist? Basically, have no expectations. Never expect to be able to run to your narcissistic mother with your problems without her criticizing or mocking you. Never expect her to be able to genuinely celebrate your victories either. She may try to take credit for what you have done, ignore it completely or trivialize it.
What you can expect from most narcissistic mothers-
- She will criticize everything about you without mercy. I don’t mean constructive criticism- I mean mocking, insulting, saying cruel things that can bring you to tears.
- Gaslighting. Lots & lots of gaslighting & mind games.
- Conversations will be all about her. If you try to mention something about yourself, she’ll find a way to bring the conversation back to her.
- No empathy. It doesn’t matter if you broke a nail or are getting a divorce- your narcissistic mother will treat any problem you have exactly the same way. She won’t care.
- Her trying to destroy any joy you have over something good that has happened to you.
- Demands or hints rather than requests. She thinks she deserves your complete obedience.
Of course, each narcissist is a bit different, so I’m sure you can add to this list.
The good thing though is that if you keep in mind that your narcissistic mother is going to do these things, it will help you tremendously. You won’t be caught off guard by her outrageous behavior. You also can plan ahead of time how you wish to handle her outrageous behavior. You won’t be so hurt because you know it’s coming.
And, if you know what to expect, when your narcissistic mother calls or comes by, you can decide whether or not you can handle her on that particular day before you pick up the phone or answer the door.
Lastly, having these realistic expectations of your narcissistic mother also will help you to remember what kind of person she is, which will help you to remember that she has problems. You aren’t the terrible person she claims you are!