Image is everything to the Narcissist

Narcissists are extremely aware of their outward appearances as well as their supply’s appearance. They are overly sensitive to how others view them. They want to be perceived a certain way at all times, usually powerful, successful, and attractive. My narcissist ex-husband (we are divorced now) was so finicky about what he would wear, that it was laughable. He would fret about his clothes all the time, however, it was comical because he would usually be torn between two similar pairs of khaki pants and Ralph Lauren polo shirts. I would try to be sympathetic, but then it would get ridiculous and I would think, “Just pick one, throw it on and be done with it already!” But I could never actually say that or else he would be insulted and make me suffer his wrath.

Before I met my narcissist, I had been known to run out of the house with no make-up, my hair in a messy bun, and a pair of baggy sweatpants on to run an impromptu errand. I didn’t intentionally try to look like shit, but it happened sometimes, and I didn’t feel bad about it! However, that all changed after I married my narcissist. He always had something to say regarding my clothing choices. This was especially the case when we were going out in public, however, even the inside of our own home was not off limits.
If we were going out to dinner, he would want me to get really dressed up every time, even though I would be more comfortable with the type of crowd just wearing jeans. Honestly, who dresses up to go to casual restaurants? He would rather we be more dressed up than under-dressed. I like to look nice too, but there was never a let down, I had to be on the mark at all times. It became exhausting.

Even in our own home, he controlled the clothes I wore. There were so many arguments over me wearing my juicy couture sweatpants. Don’t get me wrong, he liked when I wore them, but I dare not wear them around anyone else. Whenever we were set to have housework done, or a plumber or painter scheduled to come to the house, my narc would tell me that I needed to put on some other pants because my sweatpants were “too revealing.” At first, I laughed at him because I didn’t think that he could actually be serious! I mean, my other pants fit much tighter and were more revealing than my juicy pants. What the hell? Well, that was the standard rule, I couldn’t go to the store or even go running in those pants according to his standards. It was ludicrous!  If I protested, he would then accuse me of wanting to be provocative in order to attract other men. How could I win an argument with a person whose mind was twisted enough to even think those kinds of thoughts? You cannot argue with crazy.

Then every Christmas we would get into huge arguments over what we were going to wear for the family photo Christmas card. He would make nasty comments when I would make suggestions on what we could wear. Regrettably, one time I dared to suggest that we could do what most people do and have a casual Christmas photo where we all wore jeans and he hit the roof! He said that “We weren’t white trash, but knows that I would rather look like that.” He intended to cut to my core with his nasty comments, scaring me silent.  Then the photos would have everyone looking awkward and nervous because of the tense environment he created during the photo-shoot. So every time I look at a past Christmas photo, I remember the fight that ensued before taking the photo. It is sad.  That was also the case for most of our family photos.  I look at past photo albums and see so many great pictures but all I remember about that day was the fight that took place over some stupid thing the narcissist was unhappy about.  It is a shame really. Narcissists are superior at sucking the joy from your life. They make everything about them.

Also, my narcissist would insult me if he thought I was not dressed appropriately to see his family. He would first make a hint, saying, “Oh, you are wearing that?” Then if I chose not to regard his hint, he would then skip being settle and would ask me to change. I once made the mistake of standing my ground and saying that I liked what I was wearing and he got insulted and irritated in a split second and said that “I looked like a hippie and he couldn’t understand why I would not want to try to even look nice for his family.” I was so upset to hear his comment, because I was wearing one of my favorite knit sweaters from free people and believed that I did look great, but he hated my boho style.

So, even the mundane decisions of what clothing choices you make could be propelled into an argument in the wild world of a narcissistic relationship. It was too much for me, every day was a struggle to get by peacefully. What a person chooses to wear should be their choice, not anyone else’s. At the time, I thought that placating him was just a compromise, but when a compromise turns into something that takes your free-will to a place of no, then it is not a compromise. This was yet another warning sign that I was in a controlling narcissistic relationship.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Narcissists are extremely concerned about outward appearances. They want to portray a certain image to the world, and if they don’t think you measure up to the image that they want to project, they will make sure you conform. Since the moment I left my narcissist and have moved on, I live each day on my terms. Now, even the smallest decisions I make give me great happiness.  I am free to be me, with no apologies. After I left, one of the first things I did was to get a family photo taken of me with my two children, and guess what??? We all wore jeans! Those photos are the best ones we ever had taken together because both of my children and I were relaxed and happy and full of hope for the future!

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