10 Signs You’re Trying Way Too Hard To Get A Guy To Like You (And How To Stop)

So you can focus on finding real love.

When you first fall in love and feel deeply convinced the new guy you’re dating is “the one,” you might think that if he only loved you back, you’d be in seventh heaven.

This might lead you on an attempt to run that extra mile in order to entice him. You might think it’s a good idea to make sure you’re always available, perhaps going so far as skipping chances to meet up with other people in the hope that he might call and ask you to do something.

You could even find yourself doing all kinds of favors for him you would never even consider doing for anybody else, all because you so desperately want to believe you’ve finally found your soulmate.

That’s a natural response to the attraction you’re feeling, but there’s a fine line between being a kind woman doing what it takes to invest in a loving relationship with a man and overdoing it in your efforts to get this man you don’t even know all that well to want you.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of being way too accommodating while not expecting the same in return, so it’s important for you to learn the a distinctions between being kind and completely losing yourself in your overwhelming desire to keep a man’s interest.

Here are 10 signs you’re trying way too hard to get a guy to like you and it’s compromising your chances of finding true love.

1. You put him ahead of everyone and everything in your life.

You’re starving for his words and can hardly wait to hear his voice. You feel you have to be constantly available in order to get him to like you.

However, this type of behavior communicates that you don’t have a life, friends, or worse — that the people and things in your life, including you, are worthless compared to him.

This is a huge no. It’s important to maintain your regular schedule, work/life balance, meeting with friends, and sleep time. Make sure that you’re not just blowing people off in order to spend time with him. Adjust your time with him into the already existing schedule that you have.

You don’t have to be available 24/7, and it’s healthier that you aren’t.

2. You answer his texts (even when it’s disruptive).

For the “digital native” generation, this might seem like an archaic rule, but answering your boyfriend’s text immediately isn’t always advised, especially if answering will cause you additional trouble.

For example, if you’re hanging out with a friend that deserves your undivided attention, or in a meeting at work, or even exercising at the gym, replying the second he talks to you can disrupt your life and upset people around you.

Make your position clear from the beginning. Wait a few minutes or a little bit to text back. Don’t put your boyfriend’s wants and needs so far above yourself and your own needs.

3. You allow his schedule to determine your own.

If you drop everything in your own life to adjust to his schedule, you’re going to make yourself extremely unhappy. You’ll lose your time with your friends, hobbies, and even favorite pastime activities. Your needs will not be fulfilled.

Unfulfilled needs can wreak havoc on your physical and mental health. You can lose sleep rest, social network, support people, and much more.

Clarify your priorities; create balance between time spent with him and with other significant events of your life. Having a full, independent life full of colorful activities, people and interest is how you get the guy to like you.

4. You never speak up about your own interests.

Within the time you spend together, you might allow him to dominate the conversation. It means that your colorful personality won’t be able to shine and you aren’t experiencing the positive feelings of being seen and understood (as well as appreciated) in the relationship. You might think it’s up to him to give these opportunities you, but that’s not always the case.

You need to learn to recognize and then to stand up for your needs. If you don’t do it, no one will doing it for you. Don’t expect him to read your mind!

And don’t expect him to understand how you’re feeling. Speak up, gently assert yourself, and tell him what you need.

5. You agree with everything he says, even if you feel otherwise.

Supporting his ideas is a good way to get a guy to like you. It feels good to agree on many things. It can make you feel like you’ve found your “soulmate,” since you have so many things in common to share together.

On the other hand, there is no way that you can possibly agree on everything. But disagreements can be good for you, and healthy as well!

You might be concerned about losing his approval because you don’t share his view on something, but if you never come forward with your opinion, your point of view isn’t going to be recognized anyway. You’ll end up feeling lost in your relationship, or that everything is about him.

There’s no need for to argue or be overly-aggressive about your opinion, but it is important that you draw a distinction between his views and yours when you disagree. This might even lead to spirited conversations, or it might leave you both agreeing to disagree.

If you are with a man that gets angry or disapproves of you when you disagree with him, then he’s clearly not soulmate material, so why worry about it anyway?

6. You laugh at his jokes, even when they’re not funny.

Guys making girls laugh is one of the essential parts of courtship. Many women seek out men with a good sense of humor. So if your significant other makes a joke and you don’t find it funny, what can you do?

If you pretend to laugh every time he tells you a joke or teases you a certain way, you’ll make yourself miserable because you’re putting up a mask and hiding your true feelings on the subject.

And you won’t be able to pretend forever without wearing yourself out and eventually revealing to him all along that you never found those jokes/antics very funny to begin with. If you’re together long enough, this behavior can leave him with a sense of betrayal, or feeling that you lied to him.

The best way to handle this situation is to be yourself! Laugh only when you like his jokes, and politely let him know the ones that you don’t, or perhaps smile and nod rather than saying, “That’s so funny!”

7. You do more for him than he does for you.

If you express your love by doing favors for him constantly, like running his errands, cleaning his house or even cooking him meals, and he rarely, if ever, reciprocates, you have an imbalanced workload.

This kind of imbalance suggests that he thinks his time is more important than yours, or that he expects this kind of “mothering” behavior, which can be a huge red flag in your relationship.

Create your balance. He does the dishes you do the laundry. He earns the money; you take care of the household. Every couple’s balance is different; there is no right or wrong way to do it.

The two of you have to agree what seems fair and reasonable and uphold those standards together.

8. You turn a blind eye to his bad behavior.

If he is not on the same page as you in regard to integrity (like lying, cheating or taking something he is not supposed to take), it’s going to be uncomfortable for you.

It’s possible that in order to get the guy to like you, you may even go along with whatever he’s getting into. And then you’ll end up making excuses for his bad behavior to justify it, which could put you at odds with your own morals and ideas, in addition to your friends and family.

Set up your priorities. If the things he’s doing are not OK in your book, you need to let him know where the line he cannot cross is, and follow up with your decision if he doesn’t listen to you.

9. You apologize all the time, even when he’s the one in the wrong.

Many times, this is the first sign of you bending over backward in your relationship and trying too hard. You take responsibility for your actions; yet, you also take responsibility for his actions when he’s upset you.

You’d like to see him take accountability for what he’s done, but would rather just not upset him. You’re worried that if you call him out on his actions, he’ll get angry at you.

If he has a tendency to blame you for his missteps, pay attention and see if you’re accepting this blame. Determine who is really responsible for what part of a conflict. You can apologize if you did something wrong or hurt his feelings, but you should never accept blame for what you haven’t done.

And when your guy is in the wrong, it’s healthy and normal to expect an apology for the things he did that hurt you.

10. You let him walk all over you.

If you are a “peacekeeper,” you might be more lenient with him than with yourself. While avoiding conflicts can be helpful sometimes, it’s detrimental to your relationship in the long run.

The balance you set up now will stick with you for the duration of your relationship. And if you’re trying to find a soulmate, that means you’re potentially looking at the rest of your life!

Imagine your relationship in 1 year, 5 years, or 10. Are you satisfied how it is going right now? If not, consider your needs and wants, be aware of your rights, and gather the courage to stand up for yourself. If not you, who else will?

Sacrificing your time, your hobbies, your friends, your ethics, and your needs and wants will not get a guy to like you! This will only create an imbalance in the relationship and leave you feeling resentful of your partner later.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish — it is part of a balanced, healthy relationship. When you’re confident in yourself and know what you need in a relationship, you’re going to shine to potential partners, and attract people to you who admire and respect that confidence.

Don’t try so hard to get someone to like you; like yourself enough to know what you deserve in a relationship.

Originally published in Your Tango.

Need Deprivation that Causes Serious Problems in our Youth

Over the last few years, our community has suffered far too many losses.Credit: Jozef Polc via 123rf.com


I feel very much empathy for the family members. I am not even capable of comprehending what they have been through.

I’m afraid they were focused on thinking way too much about what they might have done wrong, what they might have done differently or what might have changed the outcome.

Friends, family members did the best they could in the circumstances they were faced with, I believe.

With that being said, it is far from me to blame anybody.

Furthermore, it’s also unrealistic to pull simplistic explanations about cause and effect.


On the other hand: if we really want to be sure to support our children and teenagers to reach their full potential with a reasonable emotional balance, we need to understand what they are facing.

When I was working in a Crisis Response Team, I worked with suicidal people on a daily basis. Oftentimes they admitted that they did not want to die. In reality, they hurt so deeply that they wanted to escape from the pain. Death seemed to be a form of relief.

Naturally, I have no way of knowing what was in the mind of our teenagers who took their own lives.

But one thing is obvious: they were suffering tremendously from something.

.Where does that pain originate from?

It is as simple as that:


When our needs are fulfilled, we are happy and content.

When our needs are not fulfilled, we are suffering.



Let me ponder about their needs for a bit.


There are some basic, biological needs including oxygen, food, water and sleep.

It is easy to understand that we need to breath, eat, drink and sleep.

Or is it? – I’ll get back to this question shortly..


In addition, there are our psychological needs of being loved, being heard, being appreciated, and being acknowledged.


According to Jeffrey Young, the founder of scheme therapy; there are 5 basic emotional needs of children that have to be fulfilled in order for them to be able to adapt in a healthy way to their environment.


1/ Need for secure attachment

2/ Need for autonomy and competence

3/ Need of free expression of their need and feelings

4/ Need of spontaneity and playfulness

5/ Need of boundaries and self-control


It is worth investigating how need fulfillment occurs in the families, and how we – as a society – support the individual families to fulfill the needs of their members.



I skipped talking about how we feed (and how we nurture) our children and how we teach them to respect and take good care of their body. Although this is a very important part of our health, it is not my expertise. Currently, there are many areas of thought about these issues.


What I find deeply troublesome is that we all are very well aware that sleep deprivation is a form of torture. The media is quite open about the new researches that show teenagers require at least 9 hours of sleep. Furthermore, they are in “sleep phase delay”. In other words, they fall asleep typically 2 hours later than children and adults.

Many want to blame the electronics. However, that would not explain that research found the same delay in many mammalian species in the same time of their development. There is a vague explanation about the hormones.  There is a more precise explanation that for whatever reason, melatonin secretion begins about 2 hours later during the teen years than in adults and children. Furthermore, there is a relative disconnection between the light and the circadian rhythm regulator: suprachiasmatic nuclei.

Whatever the reason is, we know that they cannot fall asleep as early as we would like and this is not their “choice”. We know that they need more hours of sleep than adults need because of their rapid bodily, hormonal and mental development.

Therefore; what do we do?

We put our teenagers into the earliest possible school start time usually around 7:20am.

In comparison, we do not start elementary school children who are wide awake anyway at 6-7!

We begin with the teenagers that are complaining that they are moody, irritable, cannot focus, snooze during class, turn to drugs to eliminate malaise, and struggle with mood swings.

If you read the symptoms of sleep deprivation, you will find this same exact list.


In states where school administrators experimentally put teenagers in later school starts, – including Seattle – studies found higher admittance, less tardiness, improved grades and overall mental health.


It should be noted that the CIA uses sleep deprivation as an effective torture technique for detainees.

Many US school administration uses sleep deprivation as an effective torture technique for teenagers.

Reason? I haven’t heard a convincing reason yet.




We are born with an innate tendency to form bonds with our caregivers. At the end of the first year, we already have certain patterns of how we are attached to them.

Scary, isn’t it? The most important things are happening before a word can leave our mouth!

Attachment theorists found 4 distinctive patterns in how we behave with our care giver. Moreover, we take  this attitude into  our other relationships.

The attachment types are:

Secure – Insecure – Avoidant – Fearful

The regular pattern is more flexible than we originally thought, not to mention we might have more distinct attachment types to our different care givers. We can “re-learn” attachment if we have a good teacher, mentor, friend, or counselor.

It is very important to get positive, affirmative, inclusive feelings from the peers as they are the “new family” and the reference points for teenagers.

Being seen, being heard, being acknowledged, being heard, and being understood – not to mention being loved – are all essential to our emotional safety.



The level of autonomy is changing throughout the years. Every phase needs a different approach.

Babies do not have and do not need autonomy. In the first year, all we have to do is fulfill their dependency needs. When it is done, their autonomy begins to flourish in their toddlerhood.

The “terrible twos” are the times when the first opposition arises based on the autonomy need:

“NO means YES” – as one of my friends’ daughter interpreted her brother’s behavior. Actually “NO” means the vague realization that I am not you.

In the preschool and school years, developing competence requires freedom of exploration and encouragement rather than reward.

Forget about correction and criticism, it undermines the confidence of competence.

Independence comes with responsibilities. This is why the Montessori schools are developed to a higher level. According to their philosophy, they control the environment not the child. Children have more independence than in traditional schools, and take a larger portion of responsibility for their actions.

In the teenage years, there is another spurt in autonomy, the second phase of growing independence. This is the time when they wean from their family and turn toward their age group in interest, and in attachment as well.

Be reassured. Although it is not as obvious as before, the family support, acceptance and love is equally important and remains intact.

Do not worry about the “NO”-s. It’s not personal! (At least not always.) One of the assignments of this age is to establish a unique personality. It begins with: “I am not you.” (Meaning: I am looking for my own style, values, likes and dislikes.) Figuring out who they really are takes time. The “No! I am not you” phase is the necessary first step in this process.

The teenage autonomy phase brings another challenge which is the ongoing balance between the rights and responsibilities. Teens and parents have to participate in developing workable compromises.

Parents, who had controlling parenting style up until now might experience difficulties. Inevitably, we gradually lose control over our young adults. Trying to force control is not only useless, it backfires.

Whoever raised their kids with physical punishment might backfire and result in a slam to the face.

I prefer the democratic style from the very beginning, although it might take disproportionately more time than the authoritative style. Children who grew up accustomed to the cooperation and negotiation have an easy (easier) transition to adulthood.



This is the area where the water gets murky because we operate largely from our unconscious level. We tend to unknowingly pass over what we were exposed as children.

In general, in our culture, boys are not supposed to express fear, sadness, pain and anxiety, but they are allowed to express anger. (No wonder we have so many angry birds.)

Girls are not supposed to express anger but they are allowed to show fear, anxiety and sadness.

Expressing positive feelings are rather welcomed for both genders, maybe less for boys than girls.

In healthy relationships, the expressing needs are fundamental for the functioning of the relationship. Our happiness is dependent on it. Expecting our partner to figure out what we need by using a manipulative expectation, “If you loved me you knew…” is unreasonable. We need to express our needs firmly, but calmly.

Unfortunately many of us were raised with restrictions that did not allow us to express our needs in order to “not to bother” others. In some families there is a kind of “reluctance” or negligence fulfilling others’ needs. Rejection of the expression might come in the form of mocking, labels, put downs, and belittling.

Learning how to communicate our needs and wants needs guidance and practice: What are they? How do we express them? How we can let them be fulfilled? Repressing them is the possible worst training we can give. That is the parents’ responsibility to teach their children to communicate about their needs and feelings.



We don’t even know what that is, do we?

Free play? – When?

Doing what we want? – Are you kidding me?

In middle/high school, they spend 35 hours per week, homework is about 11-20 hours per week – at least it was in highly capable classes – not counting practice time on the instruments and the other extracurricular activities like sports, volunteer work, school programs. They experience 46-55 work hours.


May I ask the policy makers how many hours per week you are working? 40? Really?

What’s the reason we push our children over our limit?


But it’s only the official policy.

On the side note: a myriad of studies proved that homework does not correlate with academic achievement.

Afterwards, the pressure from society comes as we did not realize they are overloaded already anyway.

“You have to volunteer!”

“You have to play sports!”

“You have to participate in church!”

“You have to have extra music lessons!”


At the end, the infinitely exhausted children have no time, no motivation and no practice to reflect things of their own. They are unable to figure out what they want for themselves let alone how to entertain themselves or structure their time when no authority tells them what to do. We deprive them the opportunity to learn how.

Spontaneity and playfulness has no time or place in their life.


By the way reflection: Goldie Hawn and Daniel Siegel initiation to bring mindfulness meditation to school produced very promising changes in school children’s mental health.



There are 3 categories usually used for parenting styles:

Authoritative, Laissez-Faire and Democratic.


In the authoritative style, the parent sets and enforces the rules regardless of the will and feelings of the children.


In the Laissez-Fair method, children are free to do whatever they like, regardless of the will and feelings of their surroundings.


In the democratic style, there are flexible rules and boundaries. Everybody’s request is considered, everybody’s will and feelings are taken care of.


Surprisingly, children who were raised without regulations or boundaries are not as happy as children raised by rules. Limitations, as well as predictability, help us to feel safe and secure.


They need to know what is expected of them. They need to be sure what to expect from their family members as well as from the wider environment.

Structure seems to be essential for mental health on many levels.

What we expose them to in structure, rhythm and discipline, they internalize and it becomes their inner structure, rhythm and self-discipline in their adulthood.


When I was a child, we had 45 minute lessons and 10-15 minute breaks. I mean breaks. Not passing times. We had to pay full attention to the work in the classroom. We were not allowed to use the bathroom, eat, or talk unless we were asked to. After each class, we had time to go to the restroom and talk with our friends. We had one long break to eat.


Let’s see the structure of a typical middle school, high school day today:

Typically they have 52-55 minute classes. In Middle school they have 4 (four!) minutes of “passing time”. In high school they have 7 (seven) minutes of passing time. During those minutes they have to:


1: go to their locker that is sometimes located in the opposite end  of the campus than where their classes are.

2: open-close locker, change gears according to the classes

3: get to the next classroom


If they are 1 (one!) minute late, they are deemed tardy.

What do you think fits into those 4 or 7 minutes? Bathroom? Talk? Give a break to the brain? No way.


What does this rushed rhythm set them up for? Not being able to focus on the next class; less and less as time goes by. Ask the teachers how they are doing by the time they reach the 5th, 6th period! It usually amounts to repeated requests to go to the bathroom, drinking and so on.

Of course! The natural rhythm of their body does not allow them to follow this unforgiving regime.

Is this rushing stress provoking? – Pretty much.

I asked the teachers about it.: They state that they can do it. Yes. I know. This is not the point.

Knowingly, purposefully causing them stress is my problem.


On the contrary: if the teacher did not fit into the 52-55 minutes timeframe, some of them keep their students longer; taking away further by 1-2 minutes from the 4 or 7 without any consequence. Is it not the deprivation of an incredible short rest time?

Some do not let them out for restroom break. Is it not deprivation of the need for secretion?

Sometimes teaching stretches into the lunch break. Is it not the deprivation of the need of being fed?


Not having the right structure to internalize harms their future sense of scheduling as well.


I know how much I rely on my elementary school rhythm.

I schedule a one hour long session with my clients, and a 15 minute break in between.


It serves multiple purposes. They do not bump each other in the doorway, it gives us the possibility to clarify insurance or other things to arrange, schedule another appointment and the like. But my main reason I need to have those extra minutes in between sessions is that

I need to process what I have heard. I need to reflect on it, I need to let it sink in order to turn it to helpful interaction whenever I need it.

This is not only necessary, this is doable.



Most of the areas in how we treat and school our children need thorough improvement.



Healthier diet

More exercise

A lot more sleep – different school start schedule (See Seattle Bell Times.)

More resting – recuperation time



1/ For secure attachment: acknowledgment, understanding, acceptance.

2/ Need for autonomy and competence: negotiation, cooperation, balance of rights and responsibilities, encouragement.

3/ Expression of needs and feelings: empathy, acceptance, raising awareness about our own needs and feelings.

4/ Spontaneity and Playfulness: less rigorous schedule, more free time, more “let go”, paying attention to the “big picture”: lessening the accumulated demands of the school, families and different organizations.

5/ Boundaries and Self-Control: modeling clear boundaries, respectful behavior toward others, manner, encouraging empathy.



By only using this approach, we will be able to ensure that the next generation will become healthier: physically, mentally and emotionally.


I’d be happy to help you or your teen!


Please contact me! 425.280.2643


Free Initial Consultation

Mukilteo Is Strong, But Healing From The Emotional Wound Is Slow


How Can We Support Each Other?


Mukilteo has been shaken by the fatal shooting that occurred on Saturday night. We are all devastated by losing three of our young people, and another injured. For the young man who pulled the trigger, he is facing life altering charges.

In such traumatic events, we witness very different reactions from people: some cry openly, others are looking for the comfort of their friends, some need to talk about it, some are withdrawn and others look numb. The pain can be manifested in very different forms at different times. There is no right or wrong way to process traumatic events.

Everybody grieves in an individual way. However some basic stages of grief can be recognized in almost everyone’s reaction.



– when we first learn about a traumatic event or great loss, we feel shocked. Initially, we might deny or try to deny. However, when reality hits our body and soul, we react with a strong stress response. We might cry, shake, experience insomnia or refuse to eat.


– almost unavoidable is the fact that we got angry towards the person who caused the damage. It could originate from the person who left us or anybody who was not able to prevent the tragedy. We can feel guilt and blame ourselves because we did not do something different.


– after the most intense feelings sidetrack, we begin to feel the weight of the loss. I do not consider it depression, because it is a completely normal reaction to losing something important. It has nothing to do with the mental illness. You cannot spare yourself from it. If you try, you might not get to the end of the grief.


– after a longer period of intense negative feelings, the sting of the pain gradually dissipates and apathy takes over: feeling no pain, but not happiness as well. This is a kind of defense from the pain, but not the natural “base line”.

 Coming to term

– after many waves of anger, sorrow and apathy, feeling better, feeling worst most of the time, we can come to terms with what life threw at us.


I know! Some days after the shooting, it is unimaginable that we can ever come to terms with such an incomprehensible loss.



What can we do to help each other and our children during this painful process?

Acknowledge the fact that we face difficult times.
Denial does not help to solve any problem.
Accept the different way of grieving.
Do not ignore, put down, reject, judge or ridicule whoever processes differently than you. Some are more expressive with their feelings, while others cannot show them at all. It is all fine.
Provide a safe place for processing, physically, mentally.
Let the stories out, let the feelings out, and let the tears out in an accepting, supportive environment. Knowing that the survivors are here for each other and accepting every feeling and thought can be the most important thing that we can give each other.
Movement heals.
Exercise breaks down the stress hormones. Take a walk, go for a swim or hit the gym, whatever works for you!
Nature has its calming effect on many of us.
If you are one of them, use it for your advantage: go to the beach, to a park or to the woods.
Music – listen to calming, soothing music.
People – Look for a connection with your support people. Don’t isolate yourself. Accept help.
Avoid alcohol and drugs.
Although it might ease the stress momentarily, it creates more problems in the long run. I addition, it elongates the grief by interfering with it.
Limit decisions for today’s needs.
Being deeply disturbed is not the time for making long term decisions.
Gradually return to your daily routine.
Making it through the days by focusing on your normal daily assignments brings back the normalcy faster. As hard as it is, it keeps you away from dangerous stress responses like reaching for alcohol or getting lost in extreme negative thoughts.


Mukilteo encountered one of its most devastating tragedies of our times, but the community already made its choice that you can see all around social media:

Stay strong, and choose love instead of hate.



I am more than happy to help!
First consultation is free.
We can talk further options then.
Call me!
+1 (425) 280-2643


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4 Components Adding Up To Raise (Or Not) Narcissistic Children

At the age of primer narcissism the child need to be the center of the care taker's universe.

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid by FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Narcissistic people can be very difficult to deal with:

they are self-absorbed, they focus on themselves, they might be hyper-arrogant, demanding, entitled and there is no way you could convince them to take responsibility for their action.

None of us dream to raise children who will then look through us or exploit us when they grow up.

Unfortunately this happens with many.

In his article: How Children Become Narcissist? Jesse Singal based on a new study tends to accept that parental overvaluation is rather the case than the lack of parental warmth.
If we contrast the social learning theory with the generalized psychoanalytic view of “warm” mother; it might be. Although still I doubt it.

I propose to narrow down the psychoanalytic concept of “empathetic mother” to a mother who fulfills the primary narcissistic needs. What exactly is that I go into the details below.
In this case for me the attitude is not either–or, but both.

What components are adding up developing a Narcissistic Personality?


1/ Genetics.

Narcissism is shown to have strong genetic background. This is what we cannot influence other than not choosing partner who shows the signs of Narcissism, and better to watch the family members as well. A Hungarian saying advises: “Look the mother, marry the daughter!”


2/ Intrauterine influences.

During embryonic development certain type of neurons are shaping in certain time bathing in a special mixture of hormones and neurotransmitters that basically regulate their later functioning. What happening is an incredibly sophisticated and orchestrated process shaped by millions of years of evolution. We don’t exactly know all of its components, nor can we influence it. The best bet we can get is to provide the least stressful and most healthy environment for the embryo/fetus to develop.


3/ Early Childhood: Primer Narcissism and Healthy Need Fulfillment

Psychoanalysts state that there is a state in child development at around age 2-4 what they call the primer narcissism. In this stage the child already developed a kind of independence from the mother or care giver, and begins to form his or her own ego. How she does it? Absorbing the significant other’s clues about him or her!

You recognize this phase: it is full of: “Watch me!” “Look at me!” Look how strong I am!” “I am smarter than you! “ “My father can beat up your father.” And so on.
Kohut and Kernberg suppose that the parental empathy in general is necessary to raise mentally strong and healthy children.

I suggest more specification. Parental empathy is important to realize that the child is in the normal, natural phase of healthy primer narcissism, and so s/he is in need of positive feed-back in double level:

Emotionally: parents need to fulfill the natural need for being seen, appreciated and valued.
The child needs to feel that s/he is the center of the caregiver’s universe.
S/he needs to feel loved – then s/he knows s/he’s loveable.
S/he needs to be seen – then s/he feels acknowledged.
S/he needs to feel appreciated – so s/he feels valuable.

Cognitively: parents need to provide the appropriate positive feed-back that can be “incorporated” (built in) by the child which serves as the nuclei of the self-esteem. It has to be genuine and true: reinforcing the real positive accomplishments of the child let it be anything from packing away the toys, being cooperative or making new friends.

Personally I am huge believer of the positive discipline, so I rather reward – mostly verbally – 10 good move of a child than criticize or correct 1.

Wherever the unfulfilled need: there is the injury. If the parents don’t fulfill the needs of the primer narcissism, the personality development gets stuck. They might chase in all of their life what they did not get in the appropriate stage: being in the middle of attention, getting the acknowledgement and appreciation.


4/ Later Childhood: Expectations and Social Learning

Need fulfilling does not have to go against reality.

All children makes enormous amount of positive actions if you observe them with open mind.

Whoever is not the best in counting is caring about their toys. Who is not careful with toys might be an excellent tree climber. Some may not be any of them, but can be easy-going and well mannered… It’s the parent’s job to find the positive traits of their child and reinforce it as often as they can.

While we might hunt for positive behavior or achievements, we do not have to over-praise ordinary actions or exaggerate them.

If your child brings a painting for you, it is more constructive to pay attention, ask about the details, the choice of the color, the meaning and why did s/he choose to paint exactly what s/he did, than evaluate him “little Van Gogh”.

(Does it require more time, attention from the parent’s part? Of course! You did not choose to have a child for convenience reasons, did you?)

Moreover growing out of babyhood we have to set up expectations and slowly, patiently but consequently make them fulfilled.

Many of those expectations are social expectations: not making advances in the expense of others. Not bragging. Not demanding more attention than the others. Not interrupting others. Not putting ourselves before or above others, and the like.

Establishing rules and expectations are also parental assignments that go parallel with need fulfillment.


From the 4 components that support Narcissistic character traits, we cannot directly influence two: the genetic and the intrauterine effects.

But I am a firm believer that even with the worst genetic make-up and the most troublesome pregnancy, we as parents have the opportunity to counteract with the emergence of Narcissism with

A/ fulfilling the children healthy narcissistic need in their stage of primer narcissism
B/ guiding them, teaching them, training them tactfully the golden rules of social interactions.


More  about Personality Disorders




First published in: YourTango.com


Personality Disorder Under The Lens

Personality DisorderPersonality Disorder – not label, not put down, but no excuse for bad behavior: what is it then?


Attaching a mental health diagnosis to each other has become fashionable lately. Recently, statements in the press stating Trump is a narcissist, the neighbor is borderline, and the boss is bipolar are pretty commonplace.

In defense of my likable clients who suffered a great deal, it drives me mad because they are using mental health diagnosis as put downs or labels. I deem this behavior as something profoundly inappropriate and outright mean.

To make matters worse, the assumptions are blatantly false. Donald Trump’s inappropriate behavior is caused by lack of respect and bad conscious choices, not his narcissistic personality disorder.

It is true the other way around as well. Mental health diagnosis is not an excuse for bad behavior. Personality disorders might cause huge challenges in someone’s capability to accommodate his or her environment, but they are not excuses for disrespect or meanness.


Personality Disorders

… are diagnostic categories in which the individual has a longstanding , stable, relatively fixed pattern of thoughts, feelings and actions that permeates his or her whole life , including work and personal relationships, that deviates significantly from the expectation of the culture.

It differs from psychosis in that the person’s connection to reality is intact; there are no hallucinations or delusions that are present.

It differs from “depression, “anxiety” and “PTSD” in the extensive nature of the characteristics. Near the personality disorder, the person might suffer from the symptoms of depression or anxiety.


Causes of Personality Disorders

Behind them we assume there is genetic disposition with epigenetics that certainly plays a significant role and environmental stressors; especially early childhood abuse or neglect are contributors.

In the case of Antisocial Personality Disorder, James Fallon in his book “The Psychopath Inside” ,proposed the “Three legged Stool” theory that says: “… (1) unusually low functioning of the orbital prefrontal cortex and anterior temporal lobe including the amygdala, (2) the high-risk variants of several genes, the most famous being the warrior gene, and (3) early childhood emotional, physical or sexual abuse.


Type of Personality Disorders

The present Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders discriminates 10 personality disorders and groups them in 3 clusters:

Cluster A: the “odd, eccentric” (and its features shortly)

Paranoid Personality Disorder: fears that everybody is out to get them.
Schizoid Personality Disorder: social detachment, in emotional “desert”.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder: odd beliefs, limited social capacity.


Cluster B: the “dramatic, emotional, and erratic” (Features shortly)

Antisocial Personality Disorder: no regards to others rights, no remorse, no morals.
Borderline Personality Disorder: intense, unstable emotions, polarized worldview, impulsive behavior.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder: grandiose self, entitlement, self-love.
Histrionic Personality Disorder: excessive but shallow emotionality, attention seeking.


Cluster C: the “anxious, fearful”

Avoidant Personality Disorder: avoiding social situations in order to protect themselves from feelings of inadequacy.
Dependent Personality Disorder: strong need to be taken care of by other, great difficulty to stand up for themselves.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder: preoccupied with rules, regulations or rituals in order to control their anxiety.


It seems like a well defined system. Professionals can categorize the illnesses quite well, right? – Wrong. The criteria are vague, and fall into continuum. The “Box” is not as well contoured as you might think.


Diagnosing Personality Disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders gives a list of vague characteristics that are more or less typical of anybody in certain phases or situation of their lives.

Let’s take the example of Narcissistic Personality Disorder according to the DSM –IV:

“A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
(3) believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
(4) requires excessive admiration
(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes”

Before freaking out by diagnosing yourself as Narcissistic, it should be noted that everybody likes to feel important, admired, having power, brilliance, ideal love or feel entitled, have unreasonable expectations and so on.

We can place people on the continuum regarding these features. We consider it a personality disorder if it manifests itself in rigid and overwhelming emotional states or behaviors that interfere with the everyday functioning of the person.

This categorization raises other concerns as well. In order to diagnose Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the person needs to show at least 5 of these characteristics from this list. If another person shows another 5, is it the same illness? What if someone shows only 4? What if someone shows 3 from this list and 2 from let’s say the Borderline or the Antisocial Personality Disorder’s list? By the way, it’s quite common.

It is obvious that the category is not as unambiguous as people might think.


Treatment options

• Currently, there is no medication prescribed for personality disorder. However, pills can help to withstand the intense depression or anxiety bouts.

• Cognitive Behavior Therapies, as their names imply, are working on the conscious level and can achieve a lot by re-training the “Ego”. Famous among them is the Dialectic Behavior Therapy that manages stress syndromes, and teaches coping strategies for patients struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder. Furthermore, it has proven to lower the suicide rate among them.

• Long term – more often psychodynamic therapies are trying to unfold the unconscious connection in between the trauma/neglect they suffered and the present symptoms. Psychodynamic therapists believe that the symptoms are communications and unconscious attempts to resolve the issue and/or protect the person from the trauma they encountered. The therapy’s goal is multiplex: dealing with the trauma in the emotional level, bringing the unconscious associations into awareness, and modeling a healthy relationship with the therapist.


Prognosis varies…

1/ by person. No one can change somebody else but themselves. If the individual has the motivation, primarily by suffering enough, they might change. A real, severe personality disorder that had decades to develop needs more years of therapy to show some improvement.
2/ by severity. The more intense the symptoms, the bigger the challenge to change.
3/ by type of personality disorder.

Antisocial Personality does not react on psychotherapy because they do not have the interest/sensitivity for social clues that psychotherapy works with.

The Cluster A “odd type” disorders are quite stubborn, but at least they might have one trusting relationship with their therapist in the otherwise asocial “hostile” world.

Slow changes might be expected from the remaining types if every other condition including motivation, rapport with the therapist, and time for processing is in place.
4/ Occasionally, family members might suffer more from the symptoms than the client. They might benefit from consultations on what’s the most advantageous approach to handle the person suffering from personality disorder.


All in all:

personality disorders are deeply engrained, dysfunctional emotional, attitudinal and behavioral patterns of a person. Its emergence has a genetic and epigenetic background in interaction with the social environment. Its definition is somewhat vague, because of the different manifestations in different persons. Aiming for reasonable changes requires a huge dose of motivation as well as adequate time in committed therapy.


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First published in: YourTango.com

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici from FreeDigitalPhotos.net.