I often think that a lack of respect for others’ boundaries is at the heart of narcissism. Narcissists want to run our lives for us, want to violate our privacy, want to engulf everything about us, and do not care one bit about our choices for ourselves. They will run all over us.
Today, I happened to see a daytime talk show that I’ve never really seen before, and I heard some comments from one of the ladies that really annoyed me. I have no clue what this woman is like, but at least in a couple areas, she was dead wrong…and wrong in a way that enables dysfunctional behavior.
I was watching The Talk and one topic was about a good-looking actor who often goes “commando.” That is, he doesn’t wear underwear, which means the outline of his genitalia is visible through his pants. Apparently, some women find this so sexy, that there are web pages featuring photos of his crotch. He has released a statement that his genitals are private…and that’s why he has them covered with pants, so he really doesn’t appreciate people discussing his private areas in this way. One of the hosts said, (paraphrased,) “Oh he loves it. He’s just saying that, but he really loves having women lust after his penis.” She then said if he didn’t like it, maybe he should wear black pants so his parts wouldn’t show through. This struck me like a red flag. Why?
Because this man has publicly stated that he doesn’t like it when women focus on his penis and share crotch shots of the outlines of his genitals showing in through his pants. He has made this clear. He doesn’t like it. So how is it someone else’s business to say he doesn’t really mean it, and to then dictate what he really wants and likes? Oh wait, it isn’t! No one gets to say how another person feels. Only THAT person gets to determine their boundaries and how they feel. As I mentioned, I know nothing about the host who made these comments, so I’m not saying she’s a narcissist or anything, but in this situation, her complete disrespect for the actor’s boundaries alarmed me.
We all get to decide what makes us comfortable or uncomfortable. One person might be fine with some things that another person might totally avoid. We don’t get to tell each other what we will put up with, and we don’t get to insist that others have the same boundaries as we do. Sharon Osbourne does not get to say whether or not Jon Hamm wants women to share close up photos of his “package.” HE gets to decide if that makes him uncomfortable. And since he’s said he doesn’t like it, that is a huge hint that…he doesn’t like it. Another one of the hosts also stated that all men like for women to check them out. Again, that’s not for her to determine. I have no clue who any of these people are or what they are like in real life, but I do say they are wrong in their comments.
No one gets to decide what we like or don’t like, what we will accept or refuse, who we will see or won’t see, who we trust or distrust, how we want to be treated, or where we draw our boundaries.
Narcissists will often force or project their own preferences on us, then act like we are wrong to disagree. They will use peer pressure and words like “everybody else does it,” to try to bully and guilt trip us away from our personal boundaries and choices. They simply will not respect another person. And narcissist or not, this woman on The Talk was most definitely disrespectful of the actor’s wishes, thoughts, choices and private space–projecting her own choices onto him as though his wishes didn’t count. Normalizing these kinds of boundary violations is not good.