When the compassion or empathy chip is missing in a mate

Several years ago I appeared on Alisa Bowman’s former site, Project Happily Ever After. The site is no longer—though she does have a book of the same name—and yet I wanted to share some of the dialogue Alisa and I had about narcissism and union. I will be posting snippets in the coming weeks that might help broaden the way you view what narcissism is.

Alisa had asked, back when Narcissism: Surviving the Self-Involved (the first book in the Surviving Narcissism series) launched:

“Just about everyone thinks they know someone who is a narcissist. I’m guessing, however, some of the people that we think of as narcissists are just your common everyday jerks. How can you figure out if you’ve accidentally married a narcissist?”

And I had answered:

“Though a common everyday “jerk” is not necessarily someone who is great to be in a relationship with, what might set him (or her) apart from the narcissist is that, despite the stupid things they do or say, a particular “jerk” might still be able to feel and express empathy for others. If one feels the protracted absence of empathy in a relationship, and feels a cold frost in its place, this could indicate that narcissism is present.”

It’s important to be able to differentiate between someone who gets on your nerves and someone who is unable to truly express or feel empathy or compassion. This doesn’t mean a person has to be gushy; personality style varies from person to person. But if the compassion/empathy chip is missing, that is a problem that only the individual with the missing chip can decide to work on. Remember that the next time you attempt to fix something that doesn’t belong to you. It might preserve your sanity just a bit…or maybe more.