Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.
Some of the most charming, delightful go-getters in the world are narcissists. They make fun friends and parents but terrible spouses. They celebrate success and admit failure with false modesty and much fanfare in hope of admiration. In fact, it is admiration they crave, and they usually get it. They come in different forms. Here are some examples:
The handsome, corporate exec Dad alienated the kids from their Mom after their divorce, then apologizes and acts like he's correcting the situation, all the while maintaining control and still subtly intimidating and humiliating the Mom in front of the kids.
The fun- loving, social husband, Mr. Popular in the community, almost strayed a few times, just close enough to know he could have, then rededicated to the wife completely, as long as she does enough to please him and supervises closely. He stays the boss, does what he wants and does what she wants when it pleases him.
The ever-sad martyr Mom, bullied by her cruel, alienating ex-husband believes that he's the sole source of her daughter's anger without looking at her own problem behavior. Her relationships are based on appearances and comfort, what works for her and helps her most. She exudes competence in her high-powered career and helplessness in her personal life. She doesn't listen and learn how to empathize and agree, how to love for real but just stays self-protective. People think she's amzingly patient but she's rigid and it is still about her above anyone else.
You get the idea. These people are wounded, damaged, vulnerable and have a hard core of self-preservation which only works toward a false feeling of safety and never toward real, constructive intimacy and peace. Want to add your examples?