Why do you say that I likely will forgive better if I see the “potentiality” for love in the one who hurt me? To be quite honest with you, all I see is narcissism in the one who abruptly walked out on our relationship.
Aristotle makes the important distinction between Actuality (what is occurring now) and Potentiality (what underlies the current situation, including the capacity for greater perfection, even if we never reach true perfection). The one who abandoned you had the potential within to grow as a person, to develop more goodness within that then can be behaviorally demonstrated outwardly to others, including you. The narcissism of the other is a current Actuality. The person is capable of much more with conscious, deliberate effort to bring out a fuller humanity, a deeper sense and expression of love.
How can one reconcile with a NPD spouse, who has been emotionally and physically abusive and forced to leave?
Humility: What Can It Do for You? (This link will take you to my personal guidance column at Psychology Today.)
I am starting to get nervous. My new partner has a tendency to blame me and I know I did nothing wrong. She then tells me that she forgives me. This is so confusing to me. Should I run or what should I do?
Sometimes people will state that they are forgiving you even when you know you did nothing wrong. If this is the result of a mistake on the “forgiver’s” part, then this can be somewhat easily corrected by your explanation of the truth. In other instances, you have to be on your guard against what is called gaslighting, or the false blaming of you in the hope that you will come to believe the lie as true. Sometimes the other will receive your correction that you are being falsely accused. If the other refuses to consider your viewpoint, it is possible that the person’s narcissism may be blocking genuine and honest communication between you. If the latter is the case, and if you suspect an entrenched narcissism in your new partner, then, yes, you have cause for concern about having a healthy relationship.
Sorry again for another follow-up question. When I read your response that self-forgiveness is more than self-acceptance and leads to self-love, I can’t help but see narcissism in this. Isn’t the person now engaging in too much of a focus on the self, which can lead to an exaggerated sense of self-importance, inducing narcissism?
Narcissism is a vice. Genuine self-love is a virtue. When people genuinely love themselves following misbehavior, they are not saying how great and wonderful and perfect they are. Instead, they courageously acknowledge wrongdoing and this requires humility, not narcissism. When people conclude that they have worth on the same level as all other people, they are not exalting themselves above all others. Instead, they are leveling the moral playing field, seeing how all people are special, unique, and irreplaceable, including the self.
For additional information, see Inherent Worth.
My spouse says that I am an angry person. She is correct, but I cannot recall anyone in particular who treated me unfairly. So, what’s up with my anger?
You might have what is called repressed memories in that you are in denial about some injustices from your past. Sometimes, we so respect our parents, for example, that it is hard to admit unjust treatment from them. See if this might fit your own case. At the same time, it can be the case that you are angry because you reason that the world owes you a lot more than is reasonable. In this case, you might have some narcissistic tendencies (a me-first mind set). This can be hard to admit because narcissism exalts the self. It takes the moral virtue of humility to see the narcissism and to willingly change the pattern.
For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness.