Alli Billings from my novel Girl Rise could not get over the fact that Nick, her boyfriend, always made sure how she was doing, what she was up to, and who she was around. However, while she was still on cloud nine for the traits mentioned above, it gradually became more and more bothersome and pressing for her since she could not feel free and independent anymore. How does it make one touch when the first thing in the morning is a good morning text with a bouquet of red roses on their door? What happens when one feels covered all the time? Does it always make one feel butterflies in the stomach or occasionally give a strangling feeling in the throat too? Of course, the excess of anything, be it good or bad, causes anxiety and frustration, and with Nick getting jealous of her friends and taking note of her whereabouts was making Alli feel more suffocated, controlled, and fastened. She knew Nick felt jealous and insecure, and she wished to eliminate jealousy and insecurity magically to cement their relationship.
But, what could she do to get out of this vicious cycle and gain control of her personality and her life while retaining a healthy relationship with Nick? Is it even an achievable goal? The traits Nick exhibited in the garb of nicety and care were actually more like toxic positivity or nice narcissism that was slowly gulping her personality down. It came as a blow for Alli to know that it was not just a problem but also a proper mental disorder referred to as narcissism. Alli got further shocked to learn that according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, between 0.5 and 1 percent of the general population (50 to 75% are men) is diagnosed with NPD (Peisley). Her own partner was one of them.
At first, she wanted to break free and find herself anew as a person, but it was easier said than done. So, she maturely approached the issue. Jane, her relationship counselor, acquainted her with the right skills to overcome the nice narcissism and control from Nick, which was done in the name of love. The primary way to cope with narcissism is to digest the fact that one cannot fix others but can certainly control how one reacts to how others behave. She needed to set boundaries immediately to regain her self-esteem and independence. A firm yet straightforward “NO!” to every intervention from her partner’s side would eventually form the tone for his future initiations.
Next, Jane emphasized the significance of keeping one’s own sense of goal and purpose in mind. When in a relationship, instead of just yielding to anything or centralizing it on one person only, it should focus on both the partners equally. The frequent use of the word “I” would make Alli’s presence felt in the bond rather than about Nick and his likes/ dislikes.
Finally, last but not least, Nick’s overprotective behavior and jealousy towards Alli’s social circle hint towards the inadequacies and the bluffs he must have faced from his past experiences with his girlfriends or other relations. After Alli develops this understanding, she quickly makes sure Nick’s self-esteem is bolstered even without crushing her. Nick had been self-sabotaging the whole time. The empathetic behavior towards the narcissist leads to healing and reparation of the relationship instead of a ‘fight or flight’ thing.
Every relationship one has in life is worth fighting for. Whenever one of the two partners falters or trips over, the better half must ensure the recovery without ruining the relationship. After all, who can claim to have the perks of their relationship incessantly?