“If only.” Now there is some loaded words right there, I don’t care who y’are. (Ahem. Pardon me, I was just briefly taken over by my inner hick.) Those words have lots of power. The problem is, none of that power is good.
“If only I can get him to see that….” “If only he would understand that…” “If only we could communicate about…” With narcissists, the ways to complete those sentences, or mix them into new ones, is endless. This is because a narcissist is rarely BLATANTLY useless at something, or OBVIOUSLY permanently defective. From where his partner sits, it looks like they’re so close to making it work. It’s not like wishing pigs could fly, which is so clearly and ridiculously impossible. It feels more like wanting chickens to fly — they’re just so CLOSE to flying sometimes, like when they jump off a perch and flap their wings. It feels like narcissists start out a day or an hour with such promise, and then it collapses into disappointment and pain because of… something. What is it? Well, no doubt it would help, and be better, if only… If only. With a narcissist, it always seems like there’s still… hope.
Narcissists LOVE creating this feeling in their partner, because it keeps her sucked in. It ALSO keeps her believing that if SHE makes some or another change, or if SHE cobbles together a workable plan (because SHE’S the one feeling like there’s a problem), they’ll be a fabulous success as a couple. They’ll be happy, relaxed, and the model of bonding and intimacy. If only. If only we can fix this one part, things would be awesome.
“If only” is a very common and not necessarily unhealthy place for our heads to go. It turns into a problem when, with narcissists, we believe we can actually create, or wait out, or “find” those conditions that resolve the “if only” deficit. We continue struggling. Seeking. Compromising. For something that will never, ever come together, because we’re trying to play Patty-Cake with an armless puppet — he doesn’t have the equipment to bond, or be fair, or be a good guy. He couldn’t if he tried. This sounds harsh, I know, but, if only it weren’t true…
Here’s one that works: If only he weren’t a narcissist, you’d stand a chance as a couple.