The relationship with a narcissist infects you slowly, starting with a phase that psychologists call “The Love Bomb.” The narcissist shows up and brings excitement to someone who’s seen better days, been kicked around a little – someone who feels like the world owes them something better. There is a initial flutter of excitement, concentrated energy – oh baby, you never knew me before, and soon, you’ll never remember a time before me. At first, that sounds like the deal of a lifetime. Pretty soon, it’s the ordeal of a lifetime.
Although they initially seem focused on your needs, narcissists are in reality grandiose, thinking themselves to be supremely successful irrespective of their specific achievements. They believe that their intrinsic value entitles them to more than others. They require constant admiration from those around them and are as quick with self-aggrandizement as they are with putting others down. Unconcerned with the needs of others – including those who mistakenly love them – they seek their own ends without a single care for the wreckage they might cause around them. Because after all, they deserve it.
When it’s time to end a relationship with a narcissist, batten down the hatches – things are going to get ugly. Just when you realize it’s time to limit the damage from their toxic personality, you realize that the narcissist has invited the whole world to their private drama, seducing some and horrifying those with a stronger sense of identity. The narcissist prances around, loose with the truth and insouciant about anything known as honor, integrity, or dignity. God help you if public institutions or authority figures are involved, as they tend to get swept up into the nonsensical dramatic maelstrom, realizing too late that they have become another weapon in the narcissist’s unending quest for domination. The only way to actually leave the relationship is to break it entirely, shut it off, walk away. You have to stop playing their game.
There is very little question that Donald Trump is a narcissist, and the entire GOP has realized too late that this guy essentially has the keys to the house and the authority to spend the marital bank accounts on kitty toys if he’s so inclined. He is beyond logic, so you appeal to those supporting him, folks bewitched by someone who just sounds so damn resolute and who promises them the world. And it turns out that they, too, have lost their souls, they just haven’t figured it out yet.
There is only one chance for a future beyond that sort of relationship – out and out divorce. Stop, immediately and totally. Throw the narcissist out, or go get your own place, furnish it with couches and knick-knacks that make you feel good (flat taxes, school vouchers, a foreign policy that won’t guarantee a nuclear exchange with Canada) and just start living your life.
The GOP could do it any time. Chris Christie could get on Twitter and go bananas on Trump and Reince Priebus could have an exorcism consigning his soul to the White Nationalist party while Mitt Romney rents everybody a place and they all get together and decide who’s gonna be president or SecState or whatever. They could just refuse to play, totally break with a cycle that only has one outcome – leaving the narcissistic supply nothing but a husk.
Refusing to play along anymore will be so extreme, you think. Everybody’s going to notice that you’re not in control and the messiness is going to spill out into public, you worry. Fact is, people who know you best already realize how bad it is; the mess is plenty public already. Moreover, the situation is so pathetic, most just want it to stop for humanitarian reasons. Even plenty of the GOP’s enemies are kind of pulling for them to set things right, because nobody likes watching a nemesis get beaten up to that degree even if he is kind of a prick most of the time.
On the other hand, it might all turn out okay. If what we’ve seen so far has been Trump In Love, imagine the fireworks when he realizes that the romance is over. Narcissists go into quite a rage when they are exposed for who they really are.
Strap in, and say a prayer.