As common as the narcissistic disorder is, vulnerable narcissism has been diagnosed in the newer generations more than it was before. The Millenials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha are more markedly suffering from this type of narcissism.
Unlike its counterpart i.e. the grandiose narcissism, vulnerable narcissism is far more subtle and difficult to point down. It is most often confused with an introverted personality trait. Only a professional psychiatrist can diagnose someone with this disorder through a series of tests and behavioral observations.
A vulnerable narcissist shows signs of neuroticism. They are very sensitive people. Due to their self-absorbed and self-conscious nature, they tend to easily feel negative emotions such as regret, depression, shame, and uselessness. This trait makes them very different from grandiose narcissist who takes no blame. They are very outspoken and confident people.
Grandiose narcissism is characterized by low neuroticism. They lack empathy. They have a sense of superiority and believe that they are entitled, whereas vulnerable narcissists are neurotic. They worry a lot about how they are perceived by other people. Due to their hypersensitive nature, they always try to please other people. They agree with almost anyone because they don’t want to feel unwelcomed. They are not good at taking rejection.
In social settings, they have a lot of acquaintances. They are not specifically introverted. But they rather than shallow relationships with most people they know and meet. They may have a big circle of friends but they are close to none of them. Due to their fear of rejection, they always keep their guard up. They have trouble opening up to other people.
Resultantly, they are thin-skinned people. When something goes wrong, they don’t reach out for help. They do not like to ask for it. They turn to themselves and keep it all inside. They feel ashamed of needing others. Due to their fearful and regretful nature, they do not want to be let down by others. Vulnerable narcissists are still a narcissist. They believe that nobody has the right to hurt them. Nobody should ever abandon them. And so, they do not let anyone close enough to be able to hurt them in any way.
Narcissistic relationships can be very hard to handle. Vulnerable narcissists have their own way of showing their deep-rooted self-absorption. They overthink how they are perceived so much that it affects their relationships too. They want to be known as the “nicest” people. They don’t want anyone to misunderstand them. And for this, they can go to any extent. Their complexity with how they are perceived applies to their personal life, finances, their looks, and even their relationship status.
Even if they seem introverted, the vulnerable narcissist is also finding opportunities to be admired and validated. They take up tasks that are going to get them in the center of the spotlight. It’s in the subtle ways that they find to be loved by other people.
These people stay at the heights of emotions. Either they are prideful or they fall into the pit of self-doubt and shame. If they fail to get attention or if someone criticizes them, they enter their vicious cycle of shame and guilt. Otherwise, they remain very prideful of who they are.
As said before, many young people suffer from vulnerable narcissist disorder. The narcissistic relationship only ends in toxicity. The pattern is not easy to break. A lot of times we meet people who show traits of narcissism. And we try to help them. But it isn’t that easy. There are far more failures than there is a success because narcissistic people are not good at taking criticism.
However, it does not mean that you cannot try. In this article, I want to share a few tips with you about how you can help a vulnerable narcissist heal and avoid getting involved in a narcissist relationship. I would like you to try a few of the following ways to help a friend, family, or anyone you know who is suffering from the disorder.
Ways to help Vulnerable Narcissist
Love and Acceptance
We humans are not meant to be alone. We were created to interact, to love one another. With love, you can cure almost anything.
Narcissistic relationships or friendships also fall in that category. When you let someone know that no matter what, you are going to be there for them, there comes a point when their heart softens.
If you know someone who is a vulnerable narcissist, talk to them. Try to let them know that you care and you accept them the way they are. But there are a few things that they can change about themselves to be better. With time and the right words of affection and love, they are going to realize soon.
Being hypersensitive, vulnerable narcissists are more likely to respond positively to love. Let them know that you love them with their flaws. Because they have a lot of self-doubt and shame, they might need reassurance. But it will definitely help a narcissist heal with time.
Understanding their Childhood Trauma
Sometimes, when people share their problems with us, instead of making them feel heard, we make them feel uncomfortable and unwelcomed. We tell them, “Why are you worrying about such a thing? It’s nothing. Forget it.”
These are not the words that a wounded person wants to hear. Narcissists are emotionally wounded people. They have gone through some kind of childhood trauma that has left them with fear of certain things. For example, if a person has been abandoned by his parents in early childhood, they are going to grow up with the fear of abandonment.
So when you are trying to help a narcissist heal, you need to understand the root of their fears. Do not judge them for who they are. We all have gone through some kind of trauma in our lives. These traumatic experiences build nerve pathways in our brain that form over reflexes. And it is hard to break those patterns. But with attention and understanding, we can help vulnerable narcissists through their journey.
As I mentioned earlier, vulnerable narcissists have a lot of self-doubts. This is also linked with insecurity. In a narcissistic relationship, efforts need to be made to make it long-term.
You have to constantly assure this person that you intend no harm to them. If you are looking for a long-term relationship with this person, let them know. Tell them you are not going to abandon them or cheat on them. They will need that assurance to avoid getting doubtful or paranoid.
Let them know about your true intentions. And remind them of how important they are for you.
Identify the Triggers
Being with a vulnerable narcissist, you will need to identify the trigger factors of their narcissistic episode. What is it that makes them angry? What makes them sad or doubtful? Is there something you say or do that makes this person feel insecure?
Why is it that this person is not able to have a deeper connection with you? Is it because of their fear of abandonment? If yes, you will need to make a recovery plan according to that.
Last but not least is therapy. With narcissistic relationships, it is always wise to seek therapy. However, in most cases, narcissists do not agree on getting therapy.
This does not mean that you should stop trying. Try to convince them to go for therapy. It will help a vulnerable narcissist heal through professional therapy exercises. We should not underestimate the importance of therapy and counseling. Especially, for someone with childhood trauma, they need to let it all out.
I am sure if you try these techniques to help a vulnerable narcissist heal, it is going to take some time but you will definitely see a difference in their personality. So do not give up.