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Societal and marketing messages teach insecurity to entice us to purchase their products. Drink this alcohol, you’ll be popular. Wear these clothes, you’ll be desirable. Drive this car, and your romantic interest will suddenly appear…ad nauseum. The underlying message: purchase those things and live the lifestyles promoted in the advertisements, your desires will be instantly gratified and hopefully, their marketing message turns us into addicts chasing the dragon of narcissistic instant gratification, compliments of the current brand name de jour.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Once the purchase is made, we’re now consumers. Like the first time experiencing anything, each additional time is never as good; whether, it’s alcohol, sex, drugs, or adrenaline… we all end up escalating the stakes in hopes of experiencing the same quality high we felt the first time. In drug culture parlance, this is known as “chasing the dragon.” Our lives don’t become better and our relationships don’t magically become stronger because of a new pair of shoes, pair of pants, hairstyle, weight loss, car…or whatever.

As we continue to focus on ourselves to the exclusion of those around us, we lose emotional connections to those once close. For many, this disconnect starts at an early age, because of broken homes, technology, and the constant barrage of marketing messages teaching that selfishness is more important than loyalty and legitimate emotional connection.

Being constantly barraged by advertising messages marketing narcissism creates a fear of sincerity. For many, being sincere creates vulnerability. No one wants to be rejected, so everyone ends up being the one doing the rejecting. Oftentimes, we can’t explain why we’ve rejected quality people and once we realize their value, it’s often too late and we regret the loss.

To cope, many live compartmentalized lives. People completely separate their work life from their home and social life. For many, their home life and the social life are also separate. Instead of one complete life, they end up trying and failing to juggle two or three separate, incomplete lives, desperately hoping one will lead to fulfillment. Again…chasing the dragon. Unfortunately, all that’s achieved by living incomplete separate lives is creating incomplete separate relationships. Because none of them is complete, none of them is fulfilling.

This is why many personal and professional relationships fail.

Without sincerity, close long-term relationships become impossible. The only way to achieve successful close long-term relationships is through sincerity. However, to be sincere, one has to choose to be honestly and legitimately accountable for their actions, which means sacrificing instant gratification and discontinuing living multiple separate lives.

For many, this is an impossible task, because it’ll require a complete mindset change from a selfish “me only” mentality, to a “we are better together,” mentality. Even more importantly, there’ll need to be a separation from the narcissistic selfish people who feed into these tendencies, or these efforts are guaranteed to fail. However, like any other addiction, with a sincere long-term investment of time and effort in quality people, we can overcome the narcissistic messaging to create and strengthen legitimate long-term personal and professional relationships.