All you idealistic young (i.e. younger than 25) whippersnappers out there might not remember this, but Jon Lovitz used to have a character on Saturday Night Live called the Master Thespian. He was a caricature of a stage actor backstage, in a silk robe and scarf, with pompous gestures and a hilariously dramatic voice. He’d act out “rage” or “anguish,” and his fellow thespian, being understandably fooled and taking him oh so seriously, would try to assuage him. Here, Master Thespian would say:
His friend would cry, “Brilliant!”
Master Thespian would reply, “Thank You!”
Which brings us to your cuddly life partner, the narcissist. (You ARE still with him, aren’t you? You PROMISED to keep him, don’t forget. That way he only annoys the rest of us by flirting with us unrelentingly and making us gag with his pomposity, rather than his actually putting us at risk by pursuing us.)
No actor on earth is more the master thespian than the narcissist. Actors take breaks. Not so the narcissist. He is ALWAYS acting. His whole life is pretend. This is one of the biggest cues to most people that the narcissist has something weird and creepy about him; he can’t help but show himself as ridiculously and somewhat nauseatingly fake. He seems shallow and untrustworthy in his fakery. He seems that way because he is that way.
He feels exceedingly comfortable fantasizing because it feels like real life to him; nice, comfy and familiar. He spends a lot of time fantasizing because real life tends to let him down a lot, since all the stupid boors around him fail to see him for his true worth, and in fantasy he can revel in the worship that is his due. The trouble is, his actual presentation is so fake that it gets all mixed up with his fantasies, and so here is one thing the narcissist will never, ever say:
In fact, if you EVER suggest he’s faking or playing up anything, chances are he’ll turn on you like a rabid jackal and hate your guts the rest of your life. His image of perfection means that he must be seen as authentic and credible, and that the perfect shell he projects is perfectly believable every moment. He’ll tell you you’re projecting, cruel, off-topic and totally wrong. And that HE is REAL.
This is part of the reason why nothing they say means anything. Mostly it’s because they’re forever editing their reality, and if one minute he’s going to marry you and asks you to pick out the house, he’ll likely say the opposite soon afterward and deny ever even suggesting such a thing. But another reason you can’t possibly take these guys seriously is because their whole life is a charade, a drama being read from an ever-changing script. There’s no foundation of meaning or depth of character to anything they say or do, no continuity or rhythm at all. They are truly a thin veneer of plastic personality covering an empty interior. When he seems to love you, he’s faking. When he appears to want to get closer to you, he’s acting. He’s not “exaggerating true feelings” or “especially passionate,” he’s faking. It’s all an act designed to get you to feed him attention and adoration. Yes, it really is that sick. And yes, he’ll always devalue you in the end. Every single time.
Ah, the stimulating challenge of it! You are one lucky mama– you get to play daily head games and you keep your mind sharp by second-guessing every single thing out of his mouth, AND you get drama, you get theater, you get play-acting that, admittedly, isn’t even remotely entertaining, but is all his disturbed personality can muster.
Whoops, there comes your man the narcissist.