– “Doctor…Whatever I do or say to my boyfriend is always wrong—I’m exhausted.”

Isabel X. is a gorgeous young graduate student that has had a longstanding conundrum. She fell in love with a dashing fellow student two years ago and they started living together six months ago. Initially she felt that her dream had come true: a handsome, intelligent and romantic guy. However, she found out that the pretty packaging was concealing a particular personality trait: narcissism.

It is easy for a woman to fall in love with a narcissistic man: they are so much fun as a company. They are very sociable, eager to meet new people, have wonderful conversations, show courtesy. However, there is a telltale sign that trouble lies ahead: they talk too much about themselves. Living with him under the same roof, Isabel found out that her partner was not listening to her. Worse, every time she opened her mouth to share something big or small, he interrupted her. Her emotional frustration was gnawing slowly but readily her self-esteem, which negatively affected her studies.

Her strong romantic bondage and high level of expectations for her partner, prodded Isabel to take his sickening attitude in stride, which was obviously worsened by her big fear of abandonment. Her girlfriends and her mother, who occasionally dropped by in her campus dorm apartment, got it right from the start; they all encouraged her to drop that relationship and clean her slate quickly. She continued to give, give, give…In return she was getting nothing except toxic feelings of guilt.

“Is it my fault?” “Should I talk differently?” “Am I asking for too much?” “Do I deserve him?”

Jeffrey E, Young said that the only way to break off negative life patterns is to re-evaluate your relationships and start to appreciate those persons, who, in spite of appearing boring, listen to us. Oftentimes a companion that sits down or snuggles in the sofa next to you is very precious. The always fun-always attractive-always romantic hero of so-called “chicks’ movies” is a total fake. Wait a minute. With my daughter, we did enjoy watching the film “Leap Year” where the central character found out that the rough Irish guy she met on vacation was better than her NY boyfriend. Amy Adams fortunately found out that Matthew Goode was a better match for her. He listened.

Isabel did ask me what to do. My answer: “move out immediately and cut all contact with him.” When she left my office, I didn’t think that she was going to follow my tough advice. She did. She later told me that the same evening she said to him; “we need to talk.” Like Nora had done before in “House of dolls”. Her boyfriend became very aggressive and refused to even listen to her. But she stood firm. In the morning she gathered her belongings and moved out with a girlfriend living in the same dorm. She re-connected with her network of friends and went back home for a long week-end. Despite his frantic attempts to contact her, she was shielded by her circle of friends and family.

After a month, she finally accepted that she had engaged in an extremely damaging relationship. She vowed never to repeat the same mistake. She found a boyfriend who was willing to listen. Exhilarated with her blessed happiness, she learned how to cook. Compared to the sorry version of herself I had witnessed, she was simply radiant.

And she brought me delicious cookies. What do you want me to say? If most men only got a glimpse of the strategic advantage bestowed unto others by just listening more.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.


12 thoughts on “Toxic feelings of guilt

  1. Good morning Dr. Sahib
    In any relationship to be successful, it is must that there is a balance in our attitude and behaviour. Anything excessive than needed erodes the edifice of our relationship. Anybody who gives more importance to his viewpoints and disregards others’ is a difficult person and is not fit to be lived with. That persons remains drumming his own trumpet and hardly cares or listens others. The person with narcissistic behaviour pattern need care and you as a doctor with human touch, have to suggest remedy for this sort of a tendency. Identifying such persons and then subjecting them to cure is a must otherwise they may spoil the life of others with them.

    With regards

    1. Good morning and thanks for your nice commentary my dear Harbans. Yes, these persons need help to overcome their noxious tendency to focus on themselves to the detriment of family and friends. Sometimes it id difficult (in the middle of the frenzy that most modern medical practices have become due to the financial pressures fro efficiency) to locate and find the time to help these suffering patients. But we have to keep trying to extend our hand. There are no valid excuses for falling into indifference.
      A big hug. Arrivederci!

      1. Good morning Dr. Sahib.
        It is the indicative of fact that you are totally aware of the contentious issues involved. Rendering assistance to those suffering lots in any form, medically or otherwise is a compassionate act and those doing so are the gifts of our Lord. I am really impressed by your commentary.

        With warm regards

  2. “Good morning my love and Happy Sunday. I”m back to take good care of you and I hope that you didn’t miss me too much. I know you’re enjoying my sweet words as if I were there, right by your side, whispering them softly in your ear (left one of course) while I lovingly prepare you the first “mate amargo” of the day and….”

    One of the things that I’ve always found intriguing is how come someone who professes to love you can start to abuse you. The answer is: it’s him, not you. Luckily, I’ve never been romantically involved with an abusive narcissist and can only imagine how traumatized those poor women are after they decide to abandon them so as to pursue happiness elsewhere.

    It’s hard to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, esp. if that someone is a victim of abuse, devalued, embarrassed and misjudged. They themselves wonder what on Earth made them make such a terrible mistake and stay with their abusers for so long (that is, the ones who begin to see. Lots of them don’t or do when it’s too late).

    Narcissistic behavior is said to be pretty predictable, narcissists signaling who they are all the time, which is a good sign when starting a new relationship and trying not to make the same mistake.

    Remember ladies, they might have intellectual depth but not emotional empathy. Don’t let their wit, attention, gifts, flattery and charm fool you. It’s only a matter of time when a narcissist starts seeing your perfections as flaws.

    I’m back, love. I’m not going to ask you if you missed me, because I know you did. The question is how much.
    Have a nice weekend dottore and talk to you soon. I see you have been pretty diligent so I have some catching up to do. And so do you.
    Un baccione.

    1. Ah…If only life were so easy as to hit a few strokes and change a little bit what people tell us. Did you like my edited introduction of your message, dear? I know you hate me for that… Fine, because in a woman’s mind Love and Hate are just two good neighbors casually chatting over a flimsy fence, as I pictured in an allegory of the book I’m writing.

      Good morning my Impossible Love and thank you, not only for writing a nice commentary, but for being back in my life. Miss you? To the Moon and back, at least.
      Well, thanks for starting to read my novel and picking a typo. I will correct it asap.

      Let me clarify something about “narcissism”, which has taken a bad beating recently. It’s necessary to be a little bit narcissistic to come ahead ( I recently read a book a bout it and I will forward you the info) but when it overwhelms your personality, then trouble starts, especially in an intimate relationship.

      Un grosso baccione. A posto!

  3. Good morning dear Mario. How are you doing? And your family? My beautiful doggies and my hubby are doing just great. Thanks for asking, dear.

    Spent 4 years in this kind of relationship. A manipulative and user as well. Everyone saw it but me. I was in love. It took me years to find myself again after he reduced me to an empty shell.

    Keep up the good work. The suffering ladies that adore your writings like me are always grateful. A big kiss. Ciao!

    1. Good morning dear Jamie and thanks for your commentary. How are your doggies and hubby doing dear? Ha-Ha-ha. I took the liberty of editing your input just a tiny bit (remember the sign I pay heed to) Since you seem to be in a good mood, please press the link to the Preface of “Emotional frustration”, the book that I am writing now, and encourage me with some kind words. Remember that even for women, it is a “two way-street”.
      Un baccione. Arrivederci!

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