The Narcissist’s Golden Rule

The Golden Rule, or some form of it, is universal within world religions.  In Buddhism, it says “hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful”.  Christianity promotes the Golden Rule as, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12).  The Golden Rule is considered to be the basic principle that should be followed to ensure success in general or in a particular activity.  According to dictionary.com, the Golden Rule is a rule of ethical conduct.  But, narcissists do not follow the universal Golden Rule because they have their own rule.  Their Golden Rule reads more like this: “treat others horribly no matter how good they treat you”.  Furthermore, while the majority lives by the Golden Rule, narcissists who don’t, accuse us of treating them badly.  What gives?

The narcissist perceives that they are being mistreated when their target reacts to something the narcissist did that hurt the target’s feelings.  When this happens, the target is then deserving punishment by the narcissist.  The target may have just disagreed with something the narcissist said or the target might have did something as innocent as voice their own opinion on a specific topic.  The narcissist gets upset because the target is veering from the role that the narcissist has assigned to it.  It’s not always only the target that gets treated badly, it can really be anyone.  Whenever the narcissist feels slighted or perceives that he or she is being attacked, they fight back by verbally abusing the other party.  An excellent example of this is when my dad died, my narcissistic mother was left with a large home.  Friends and relatives, out of concern for the upkeep of the home as well as the burden of all of the bills, would voice their opinion to my mom, about how they thought my mom should sell the home and get herself something smaller and more manageable, like a condominium.  Well, my mother was appalled at their comments. Even ten years later, when she was still living in that big house, people kept asking her why she is staying in that huge home and she continued to snub them.  She punished those people, some very close friends, by never speaking to them again, ever! She could have just responded with, “I’ll think about it”, but instead, she just eliminated them from her life.  She couldn’t even talk about them without getting that “look in her eye”.  She did not see that her friends were only trying to help she way it as being told what to do.  Looking back, I see why she stayed in that home; it gave her worth.  She was the queen of her palace;  It was her narcissistic supply; it defined her.

More recently, I remember getting tickets to a concert for my best friend (so I thought) and our daughters.  We planned on driving together so our daughters could share the whole experience.  Well, unbeknownst to me, my friend had been trying to get her daughter enrolled in modeling.  I was not aware of this until she called me the day of the concert to tell me she would have to meet me there because her daughter had a “modeling shoot”.  I was quite shocked because I remembered a couple of years prior, when my narc friend told her daughter to “take her glasses off” for a photo with her elementary school friends.  I was speechless when I heard her request of the removal of her prescription glasses.  To me, it was telling her daughter that she “wasn’t good enough as she was” (a familiar feeling of a daughter of a narcissistic mother.  Looking back, it was a huge red flag about who and what my friend was and I should have went with that gut feeling then, but being the daughter of a narcissistic parent, I ignored it as we do with all caustic comments and feelings of worthlessness.  Anyways, it wasn’t until about 8:00p.m. or so when the my friend arrived.  Of course I was hurt so I didn’t ask my friend any questions about the shoot because I was still shocked she had her daughter in modeling and that she would just throw me to the side when something better came along.  This was a double whammy for her though, because not only did she get supply from the modeling shoot, but she was high on causing me pain as well.   Years later, I still heard how I mistreated her that night.  She never let me forget how she rushed to get to the concert and I should have been more appreciative of her efforts because she could have canceled the concert all together.  Never mind that we had planned this for a weeks and I sat there on a hill, just me and my daughter without her friend, watching the show.  Later, I found out that her daughter was not allowed to tell anyone about her modeling endeavors.

Contrary to the above paragraph, I can only imagine what would have happened if upon the planning of the concert with her and her daughter, I had suddenly changed plans.  I had been friends with her for several years and was not aware of her daughter’s promising career in print ads and television commercials.  Was this her daughter’s dream or hers? Even my daughter didn’t know about any modeling pursuits of her friend.   I am almost positive that my friend would have called some of our mutual friends to tell them how horribly she had been treated and how I had picked something else over her when we had made prior plans.  Either way, I am sure that in conversation with mutual friends, she did call to tell them how silly I was for being upset with her and labeled me as “babyish”.  In her mind, and in true narc fashion, she did the right thing by still showing up.  Let’s not forget that when narc’s talk behind our backs to our friends, it is known as “triangulation”, or getting people on her side so she looks innocent.  Now, since learning about narcissism, the three stages of their relationship agenda, and several red flags of the disorder itself, I tried to go “no contact”, but still have to see her at school events and club volleyball.  Trust me, this was not the only time I felt like I was mistreated!

Non-personality disordered people live by the Golden Rule and assume everyone else does too.  It is so shocking to find out that someone you know or love does not adhere to this universal principle.  In our ignorance and naivety, we think everyone is playing by the same rule book.  But they are not!  Its sad to know that victims of narcissistic abuse are subjected to manufactured chaos, are made to think that their reactions are abnormal and then actually are deserving of punishment.  If anyone feels they are not being treated in a respectful and courteous manner, they need to re-examine why they accept such treatment.  If anyone feels that their relationship is not a reciprocal one, they must form boundaries so that they don’t become emotionally destroyed by toxic people.  If someone you know is not adhering to the universal Golden Rule, its time to move on.  Read the Basic Human Relationship Rights found on this site as a starting point for setting personal boundaries.