The faces of love: The grimaces of pleasure can help or inhibit eros
by Valeria Randone
Born a little crawling, it could be a need for love, sang, enchanting us, Patti Pravo. When the need for love overwhelms all logic, all balanced love and the psychic well-being of those who live it, it is not a “wonderful thought” but a toxic love.
“Just the thought of seeing him inflamed me with desire. The wait was unbearable. Overflowing love. Uncontainable sexuality”, Paola (invented name) tells me in the first consultation. She is forty years old, has a good job, an affectionate family, a husband and two children, and behind her a cold mother, who has not known how to love her. She taught her to trade skill for love, generosity of soul and heart for school grades and she instilled in her the seed of insecurity and inadequacy.
by Valeria Randone
Paola, who has just finished university, accepted a modest fixed-term job that would give her the opportunity to be economically independent and to leave the house. She fell in love with Giorgio (real name), she married him after less than a year in order to distance herself from her mother and her painful childhood. After a year she became a mother. You felt like you were touching the sky with your finger.
The relationship with the child gave her the opportunity to redeem herself from the suffering of her family past. After her first child, she had another. Paola vanishes completely as a woman. Her marriage is not nourishing, because she had actually chosen Giorgio moved by naivety and the need to escape from home. Paola was her and she is a woman hungry for love.
After the second child, Paola, went through a moment of profound crisis, she felt very alone. She had never felt such loneliness before. Despite this she has decided to stay with her husband. Giorgio didn’t notice anything, their married life went on without major jolts. And here is Federico (invented name), the classic handsome and damned man, but more precisely he is a man with a narcissistic personality.
He seduced her and brought her to him. He has crept into that deep need for love and care that has always governed Paola’s life. He deluded her into healing and loving her, but he actually drained her psychic energies from her. Slowly he destroyed it.
Paola felt so involved with this lover that she forgot the children at school one day, another time she had a car accident, and yet another caused an irreparable problem in the workplace.
valeria randone *
Despite the increasingly pressing discomfort, despite the crisis of her marriage, work and affections, her lover forced her to forget friends and family to control her better. Now she is completely dependent on him. Her sexuality ignites only for him: she passes from the silence of the senses to an excessive, bulimic, overflowing, dependent sexuality.
Federico has adopted the usual strategy of intermittent reinforcement: he appears and disappears, he seduces and mistreats her, fills her with attention and effusions and then punishes her with silence.
One day she is called by the principal of the school who is attending the eldest son: the boy has beaten a friend and they are both in hospital. The teacher tells her that the young man has never been so quick-tempered and nervous, and that according to her he is suffering from something that is not yet clear to him. Paola understands. She finally stops and begins a journey of introspection.
by Valeria Randone
As glittering as it may seem, in reality, the narcissite is a suffering person who does not know they are suffering and who will never even admit to themselves that they need help.
He is a man (or woman) hungry for consensus and approval. The hurt and the sense of overwhelming failure felt in the narcissist’s childhood – because he too had a dramatic childhood – make him need reassurance about his very existence (basically he fears he won’t exist unless he’s admired and flattered).
How he obtains them and from whom he obtains them – always and only from the emotional employee – is not always ethical and not even painless, especially for his sacrificial victim. On his way he tries with great anxiety and then meets the emotional addict, the one who will try to nourish him, to heal him, at the cost of giving up himself and his own needs of the heart.
“I will save you” is the classic phrase that each of the two members of the dysfunctional couple says to the other. The narcissite drains, vampirizes of psychic energies and the affective addict, while believing that he is loved and helped, allows himself to be drained and in the meantime shifts his addiction from the parent who has not been nourishing to the narcissist who has absolutely nothing nourishing. And the vicious circle continues undisturbed.
The uneven and manipulative dynamics are exhausting and dried up and resist undamaged and unchanged over the years. They feed on twists and turns, on bursting messages, on intermittent reinforcements – today I am, tomorrow I abandon you to return more present than before when I understand that you are suffering more than ever (suffering feeds the narcissist) -, to strategic disappearances, to verbal and other punishments inflicted with silence. Verbal or physical threats follow, increasingly excessive requests, words, words, words, up to the point of completely crushing the personality and the person of emotional dependence.
by Valeria Randone
In love there should be no suffering, or at least not permanently. The theme of pain, on the other hand, is always central in the relationship between manipulator and manipulated: the affective addict cries out his pain but does not understand where it comes from, the narcissist blames his own pain on the affective dependent partner to make him feel in guilt, to then use this guilt to bring water to one’s own mill and continue to manipulate and control more and more.
In this perverse game of roles, there are those who give and those who take. The more the narcissist takes, the more the emotional dependency gives without reserve (usually the one who gives the most in a relationship is the one who needs the most). The more the emotional addict gives, the more he weakens, and the more he is drained of psychic and physical energies. The race to the massacre does not end there.
The weaker the emotional addict feels, the more he believes he needs his drug, his daily dose of poison. So he drinks from the bitter chalice: he tries to feed himself but in reality he poisons himself. The hole in the heart. But does the narcissist change?
The mismatched couple of a narcissist and an emotional addict – it’s hard to have one without the other – is made up of two people who are suffering and have a hole in their hearts. The final epilogue, however, is different: the emotional addict is saved if he goes to therapy, the narcissist remains a narcissist.
by Valeria Randone *
The possibility of a narcissist changing is unlikely. It is, on the other hand, absolutely predictable that he comes back every time to inhabit the relationship. It will come back every time, after every abandonment, after every heartbreaking or strategic disappearance. Will always come back. And it will do so until the emotional addict decides to really heal. When the victim realizes he is a victim, when she goes to therapy, when she decides that she wants to stop feeling bad and loving badly, only then will the narcissist go elsewhere. When she realizes she has lost the ability to control the emotional addict and feed on his energies – by controlling her mind and body, including sexuality – she will go in search of the next victim (if he hasn’t already seduced her. at the same time as the relationship in progress).
Let us remember that the narcissist cannot live without his prey, without shining, without manipulating to try to feel a little better.
by Valeria Randone
A narcissist doesn’t go deep. He can’t afford it. He is completely devoid of the ability to have object relations warmed by notes of authenticity and deep intimacy. Even sexuality is used for his purposes, in fact he hardly ever accesses a dimension of exchange and loving intimacy. He uses sex as a means to draw attention to himself, to mistreat and confuse his partner about his amatory ars, and ultimately to exercise constant control over him. Just like the fox who does not reach grapes and says it is unripe, the narcissist adopts the same modus operandi with female sexuality: it denigrates it.
What your partner does under the sheets is never enough. It’s not fair, it’s not beautiful, it’s not good. And if by any chance the narcissist should have a moment of sexual discomfort, it is obviously the fault of the partner who is not good enough. Either he is excessively cold or he is exaggeratedly desirous. The narcissist tends to use shame as a weapon, he wields it as if it were a sword. He goes out of his way to make the partner feel wrong, inadequate, out of place.
He compares it with other women (or men), compares it, evaluates it, tears it apart on an aesthetic level. So in the end he (or she) will be able to insult, manipulate, offend, betray and abandon intermittently because justified and even authorized by events. Even toxic loves can be cured. Just put on the reality exam lenses, ask for help and get help.
Because a wrong love in life can also happen, maybe two, but from the third onwards there is the hand of the compulsion to repeat – a powerful unconscious mechanism that cannot be stopped and unchangeable if not with the help of a clinician – which only pushes to choose dysfunctional loves.
* Valeria Randone is a psychologist, specialist in clinical sexology in Catania and Milan. www.valeriarandone.it
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