I was worried that I was a narcissist myself because I had a therapist who told me I was one, mostly because I happen to like myself a lot. So I sought out my best old therapist from the old days and asked him. He told me that I had “high narcissism” which just means “high self-esteem.” I am perfectly happy to have high self-esteem, but some people don’t like it. I have had girlfriends complain that I am “self-impressed.” My attitude is, “This is bad?” When I was young I remember a young woman maybe aged 18-20 once offhandedly said, “All men are vain,” in a world-weary tone of voice. She acted like it was some sort of basic fact of nature.
I don’t have NPD because I still care quite a bit about other people. But I have gotten the “You don’t care” thing from girlfriends before. One thing is just that I don’t need humans all that much. I won’t even call my best friends for long periods of time simply because I don’t need them. I mean I love them, but I would probably only call them if I needed them. I am quite happy by myself, and I don’t have huge needs for others. But girlfriends keep interpreting this as “you don’t care.”
What’s nuts is when they say this I am so crazy head over heels nuts in love with them it’s pitiful. I keep trying to tell them that, but they keep coming back with the “You don’t care” thing. I told my Mom and she said, “Oh, women are always saying their husbands don’t act like they love them.” Then she told me the story above about the guy who responded to his wife that the fact that he stuck around at all meant he loved her since if he didn’t love her, he would be gone in a New York minute. I think men and women have different ways of expressing love.
Generally speaking, when narcissism is excessive and you are turning into an asshole, it’s better to tone it down, and you will often become a better person as a result.
I watched a couple of documentaries about some rock stars who are now in their 40’s and 50’s. A couple were notorious for being arrogant, egotistical assholes. Actually I imagine it was more than a couple. But I noticed that so many of these guys had really toned it down at age 48-58. Even the ones who were serious arrogant assholes had seriously toned it down. They were so much more likeable as a result that it is hard to put it into words. A little bit of humility goes a long way.
A lot of people are pretty narcissistic, arrogant, egotistical and assholey when they are young. In particular, many young men in their 20’s and even into their 30’s are serious assholes. I like to say that the reason they are like is because they haven’t had enough bad things happen to them yet!
But usually by age 40, most people have toned it down. Arrogant people over age 40 are not common. The thing is that by age 40, most people have had about a million failures and bad things happen to them and not too many still think their shit doesn’t stink. With age comes humility. This is a rather normal life course for a lot of basically normal people who do not have any particular personality disorder, narcissistic or otherwise.
The problem with NPD is the narcissist hits 40 and has had a million failures and bad things happen to him, but instead of becoming humble, his response is to wildly ramp up the narcissism as a response to all of the narcissistic injuries or wounds that these bad things and failures caused. NPD’s also don’t take to aging very well. Aging is hard on anyone’s self-esteem, and to the narcissist it is positively confounding.
In other words, NPD’s do not follow the typical life course of increased humility with age.