Narcissists, characterised by their inflated sense of self-importance and intense desire for admiration, often display peculiar behavioural patterns that prioritise impressing strangers over taking care of their own family members. The motivations behind such actions stem from their inherent self-centeredness and the need to constantly fuel their egos. This article explores ten reasons behind a narcissist’s need to impress strangers, the effects on the narcissist’s family, and what you can do if you find yourself in this bizarre situation.
10 Reasons why narcissists impress strangers:
- Provoking jealousy:
Narcissists seek to impress strangers to evoke feelings of envy in others, especially their own family members. By highlighting their interactions with other individuals in public or social events, they aim to elicit a sense of inadequacy and stir up jealousy within their immediate family circle. This strategy allows them to maintain a perceived sense of superiority and ensure their own dominance in familial dynamics.
For instance, a narcissistic individual may ignore their family on a special occasion while being the life and soul of the party with people they’ve only just met.
- Seeking validation:
One primary motivation for narcissists to impress strangers lies in their desperate quest for external validation. Their self-esteem is fragile and reliant on constant admiration and praise. As family members often become desensitised or immune to their grandiose displays, seeking validation from strangers allows them to temporarily satisfy their insatiable need for validation and attention.
For example, a narcissistic parent may prioritise playing with other people’s children in public gatherings, relishing the compliments and awe they receive from strangers while claiming their children are being held from them, and they’ve no idea why or the other parent is bitter. This, in turn, aids in gaining flying monkeys and enables to support the narcissist’s version of events. Therefore the narcissist can avoid their parental responsibilities while playing the victim and gaining sympathetic attention.
- Establishing a favourable public image:
Narcissists place immense importance on maintaining a positive public perception. By impressing strangers, they perpetuate the illusion of a perfect or accomplished life, boosting their self-image. The family becomes secondary to crafting a public persona that reflects their desired grandeur and superiority.
For instance, a narcissistic spouse might invest significant resources and effort into hosting extravagant parties or events, carefully orchestrating a social image that portrays an affluent and successful household, even if it may come at the expense of their family’s stability or genuine happiness.
- Acquisition of external approval:
For narcissists, admiration and approval from strangers hold more weight than the opinions and needs of their own family. Receiving recognition and praise from unfamiliar individuals enhances their fragile self-esteem, as external validation serves as concrete evidence of their superiority in their minds. In contrast, their family’s endorsement often loses significance due to their belief in their inherent superiority.
Consider a narcissistic sibling who consistently seeks recognition and admiration from colleagues or acquaintances, actively ignoring and downplaying the accomplishments or emotional well-being of their own siblings or immediate family.
- Prioritising novelty and excitement:
Narcissists are often drawn to the novelty and excitement of impressing strangers rather than nurturing long-standing familial relationships. The potential for new interactions, social conquests, and the reinforcement of their grandiose self-image entices them more than the familiar relationships with their own kin. This serves as an ego-stroking mechanism to alleviate the underlying emptiness they experience within.
To illustrate, a narcissistic parent might prioritise attending glamorous events or social gatherings rather than dedicating time to engage with their immediate family members or support their emotional needs, seeking continued thrill and the admiration of strangers instead.
- Manipulation through smear campaigns:
Impressing strangers offers narcissists an opportunity to manipulate their family’s perception. By projecting an idealised image to outsiders, they can undermine their family members’ credibility. Narcissists engage in smear campaigns, subtly or overtly, to create doubt or scepticism among strangers, ensuring that the focus is on their family’s perceived flaws rather than their own.
For example, a narcissistic partner may skillfully weave tales of their family’s supposed incompetence or inadequacy when conversing with others, subtly planting seeds of doubt concerning the credibility of their spouse, children, or relatives.
- Avoiding accountability and responsibility:
Narcissists often seek to impress strangers as a means to shirk accountability and evade familiar responsibilities. By prioritising unknown individuals, they create a smokescreen that deflects attention from their personal obligations and shortcomings. This diversion helps them maintain an illusion of control while their family members bear the brunt of any consequences or neglect.
Consider a narcissistic parent who becomes overly involved in community activities, appearing dedicated and selfless to neighbours and acquaintances. Simultaneously, they neglect their parental responsibilities, leaving their children to fend for themselves.
- Sustaining a cycle of idealisation and devaluation:
Impressing strangers allows narcissists to perpetuate a cycle of idealisation and devaluation within their family dynamics. By withholding attention and admiration from their own family members, they drive them to seek validation and affection, creating a sense of competition and dependency. The narcissist then capitalises on this vulnerability by granting temporary affection solely to maintain control and exert dominance.
For instance, a narcissistic spouse may shower affection and praise on strangers, conveniently withholding validation and attention from their partner or children, causing them to constantly compete for affection, significantly impacting their emotional well-being.
- Disregarding emotional needs:
Narcissists exhibit a limited capacity for empathy, often undermining the emotional needs of their family members. By focusing on impressing strangers, they devalue and dismiss the emotional turmoil experienced within their immediate family circle. This neglect serves to further reinforce their own grandiosity and self-centred worldview.
As an illustration, a narcissistic sibling might react dismissively to their sibling’s emotional distress, emphasising their own achievements when their family member seeks solace or support.
- Maintaining control and power:
Impressing strangers allows narcissists to maintain a certain degree of control and power over their family members. By emphasising their importance and superiority in interactions with others, they reinforce a dynamic of importance within their family unit. This control ensures compliance, as family members become conditioned to prioritise the narcissist’s desires, enabling their continual pursuit of impressing strangers.
For example, a narcissistic spouse may impose strict rules on their family’s behaviour, constantly reminding them of the need to maintain certain appearances or social connections, ensuring their submissive adherence to the narcissist’s vision.
In summary, narcissists’ tendency to seek the admiration and attention of strangers over the care and well-being of their family finds grounding in their self-centeredness, the pursuit of validation, and the reinforcement of power dynamics. Through strategies such as provoking jealousy, smear campaigns, and prioritising novelty, narcissists maintain an illusory sense of superiority while detrimentally impacting familial bonds. Their actions highlight an underlying need for constant external affirmation, which often comes at the expense of meaningful, nurturing relationships within their own family circle.
The constant need for validation and attention from strangers can have significant emotional impacts on the narcissist’s family members. Some potential effects include:
- Neglect: Narcissists may prioritise their own need for attention and validation over the emotional needs of their family members. As a result, family members may feel neglected and sidelined, leading to feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem.
- Emotional manipulation: Narcissists often manipulate their family members to meet their own needs for validation. They may use emotional coercion, guilt, or other tactics to control and undermine the emotions and feelings of their loved ones. This can create a toxic and unhealthy dynamic within the family, leading to feelings of confusion, anxiety, and emotional instability.
- High expectations: Narcissists often expect their family members to constantly praise and validate them. They may set unrealistic expectations for their loved ones to fulfil their need for attention, leading to constant pressure, stress, and feelings of inadequacy.
- Emotional rollercoaster: Narcissists may swing between moments of extreme need for validation and attention and moments of complete indifference towards their family members. This unpredictable emotional landscape can create confusion, anxiety, and a constant feeling of walking on eggshells for the family members, negatively impacting their emotional well-being.
- Challenged self-esteem: Living with a narcissist who constantly seeks validation from strangers can make family members feel unimportant, unappreciated, and lacking in value. This can lead to a decrease in self-esteem, self-worth, and a distorted sense of self.
- Exhaustion and burnout: Constantly trying to meet the narcissist’s need for attention and validation can be emotionally exhausting for family members. The constant demand for validation may leave them drained, stressed, and emotionally depleted, impacting their overall well-being.
It is important to note that the impact on family members may vary depending on individual circumstances and the severity of narcissistic behaviour. If you or someone you know is impacted by a narcissist, seeking professional help from therapists or support groups can provide essential guidance and assistance in dealing with these emotional challenges. (Sponsored.). https://betterhelp.com/elizabethshaw
Dealing with such individuals can be particularly frustrating and emotionally draining for anyone involved.
Here are a few self-help steps you can consider:
- Establish boundaries: The best boundaries around a narcissist are physical, psychological and emotional distance.
- Develop self-confidence: Enhance your sense of self-worth and confidence by recognising your own strengths and accomplishments. Cultivating a strong belief in your own value will enable you to rise above the validation-seeking behaviour of the narcissist.
- Seek support from others: Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, or professionals who understand and validate your feelings. Discussing your experiences and emotions with those who truly empathise can offer valuable insight and encouragement.
- Focus on self-care: Pay attention to your own well-being by engaging in activities that bring you joy, peace, and fulfilment. Practising self-care – be it through hobbies, exercise, mindfulness, or nurturing relationships – serves as a potent tool in defying the negative impact of the narcissist’s behaviour.
- Manage expectations: It is crucial to recognise that you cannot change the fundamental nature of a narcissist. Accepting this truth will help you in adjusting your expectations and not fall victim to disappointment or disillusionment when they prioritise impressing strangers over acknowledging yours or your children’s presence.
Remember, while these suggestions can offer a starting point, every situation is unique, and it is essential to adapt them to your personal circumstances.
Wishing you strength and success in navigating this challenging situation.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.