How To Deal With A Narcissist – Part 2

Narcissism has been a hot topic in recent years, with many books written on the subject.  And interest in Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in particular skyrocketed in advance of the news that the most current edition of the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by mental health professionals (DSM-V, released May, 2013) would be dropping the disorder as an official diagnostic category.  Heightened interest in NPD as well as concern and even some outrage over the DSM committee’s decision might well have been expected because even without official recognition as a distinct and valid diagnostic category, anyone who has ever had to deal with a person warranting the label knows NPD to be both a very real and extremely hard to deal with personality disorder.

NPD is not the first personality disorder to be “demoted” from official status, nor is it likely to be the last.  Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder met the same fate when one of the earlier editions of the diagnostic manual was published.  And of the conditions that have “disappeared” from the fully accepted list, many have done so for the same reasons: 1) the growing realization of the flaws inherent in traditional psychology theories (theories based on the concept of neurosis) and the declining influence of those theories within the professional and research communities with regard to understanding personality; and, 2) confusion and division among mental health professionals (especially those closely aligned with the “medical model”) with regard to the defining characteristics of certain conditions, especially personality disturbances and disorders (I address the confusion many mental health professionals helped perpetuate for years regarding passive-aggressive vs. covert-aggressive personalities in my book In Sheep’s Clothing).  Last week’s article highlighted some of the bad advice that’s still being disseminated fairly widely with regard to narcissists and how to deal with them (see: How To Deal With A Narcissist).  Both this and next week’s article will provide you some information that will help you better understand who these folks really are, what really makes them tick, and how to maximally empower yourself should you find yourself in some kind of relationship with them.

We all start out in life as narcissists.  That is, from infancy through early childhood, we tend to think the world revolves around us and around our desires (Notice, I did not say needs because not all of our “desires” represent true physical or emotional “needs”).  And we tend to gravitate toward the people, places, and things that we think will satisfy those desires and reject or distance ourselves from those that don’t.  A big part of developing a mature, decent character has to do with overcoming our natural egocentrism and coming to a mental and emotional place where we can truly value, empathize with, and have consideration for the rights, needs, and desires of others.  But some people never sufficiently develop such a capacity, and there are many reasons for this, including:  an inherent inability to empathize,  the experience of being over-valued, the experience of cultivating too much power too early (as is often the case within a dysfunctional family system), a cultural environment that promotes and rewards attitudes of entitlement, and the experience of being overly recognized and rewarded for one’s innate talents and traits as opposed to being credited for the willingness to display pro-social attitudes and behaviors.  And that’s why, in my book Character Disturbance, so many of the “Ten Commandments” I advocate for building good character focus on correcting these narcissism-fostering factors.

Most people start thinking about changing the way they relate to a narcissist long after life with them has already become unbearable.  And in part this is due to the fact that early on in the development of a relationship a person can completely misperceive (or be deceived about) the narcissist’s true nature.  I’ll give you an example:  Tom, as I’ll call him, seemed to simply adore Jane.  In fact, he appeared to love her even more than he loved his 1965 restored Corvette, and everyone knew how much he loved that car.  He and the car were virtually inseparable in that he spent almost every waking minute with it and pampering it – conditioning the leather seats, polishing the chrome, buffing the daily coat of wax to a see-yourself-in-it shine, etc.  But once Jane caught his eye, and perhaps for the first time in his life, Tom started spending less time with his car and centering his attentions on Jane.  Tom thought Jane one of the most beautiful creatures he’d ever laid eyes on and he doted on her, often sending her flowers, buying her trinkets, and giving her gift certificates to some of the most upscale clothing stores.  He had her on his arm at a variety of social events and sung her praises so openly that Jane was both flattered and overwhelmed to the point of near embarrassment with what seemed his deep appreciation for her.  It wasn’t until Tom began criticizing Jane for “not caring enough” to look her very best when they went out (after all, this would reflect negatively on him and his image as a person of stature and influence in the community) and picking out her clothes himself that she began to suspect the superficiality of what she once regarded as his “appreciation” of both her and her appearance. And when he began trying to control who she could associate with, she began to feel treated much like he treated his car (which she, among others, was not allowed to touch without permission!) – a possession he adored and protected in some ways, but a possession nonetheless. Later, Jane would learn that Tom’s early “adoration” wasn’t really about her at all but rather about him and the how it made him look to have successfully snagged such a beautiful person.  Everyone would look at him and think:  “Wow, those classic cars, a beautiful woman, that gorgeous house, and good looks himself besides – boy, does that guy have it all!” Jane would also eventually come to realize that despite all the attention and passion Tom displayed, he did not and could not really love her.  In fact, he didn’t really even love his car.  Narcissists love only themselves and all those things they see as “extensions” of themselves.  Fortunately, Jane realized all this early enough to save herself a lot of heartache.  And while for a time she found herself missing the attention and adulation, she knew she was probably saving her sanity when she gave Tom the boot.

The time to test the degree of genuine regard someone has for you as a person and for your needs, wants, and feelings, is long before the effects of their flattery start to wear off.  Deep down, most of us want to be loved, not adored.  And we want to be cherished, not possessed. So it’s incumbent upon us to “test” those we’re thinking about becoming intimately involved with for certain important aspects of character and to make sure they pass the test before proceeding. Getting involved with a person with narcissistic traits or features of any other character disturbance follows a predictable course and usually results in disaster.  So the time to take action is very early on, which is difficult for most “neurotic” folks because they’re typically so overly conscientious and hesitant to make harsh judgments.  And remember that lots of things can appear like love and appreciation on the surface, which is why you always have to scratch below the surface and test both how genuine and how mature and healthy someone’s regard for you really is.  Just because someone shows high interest in you doesn’t mean they really value you. And just because they might shower you with affection doesn’t mean they really care about you and your welfare.  When it comes to someone’s character, the things that really matter must be tested well and over a period of time.  And when warning signs do appear, we owe it to ourselves to pay them heed.

Everyone knows that you don’t always have good warnings about someone’s character (because of their skill in the arts of deception and impression-management), and sometimes you find yourself in situations where you simply don’t have a choice about whether to be involved in some way with a narcissist or otherwise character-disturbed person (e.g., a narcissistic boss, supervisor, or co-worker, relative, neighbor, etc.). Next week’s article will focus on the best ways to empower yourself in situations in which in you have no choice but to be involved in some way with a narcissist.

I’ll have more to say on narcissism on my Character Matters program this Sunday night.  And in the coming weeks I’ll have some information on a new discussion forum centering on the principles in my book The Judas Syndrome.

81 thoughts on “How To Deal With A Narcissist – Part 2

  1. Thanks for all your great articles, Dr. Simon. And I’m enjoying your book as well. I have a question for you: How do you test the depth and maturity of someone’s feelings early on? I’d love a few examples.

    1. Oh that’s a good question Stephanie there’s so much confusion in those early stages. I guess that gut instinct is the best but sometimes that doesn’t really kick in until you’re well entrenched or coming to the end of it when you really start to see who you’ve got involved with.

    2. The problem is that when we meet someone (before we’ve been educated in narcissism), we don’t doubt someone’s sincerity. We ASSume they are like us and take everything they say at face value. It’s the same reason we stay after figuring out there’s something really, really wrong – where your gut is telling you some very unseemly stuff. We believe they are like us, and that they must have some deep seated “issues” and maybe we can help them.

      They hide their ugliness until you say “I do”, they see no benefit of continuing the ruse after that.

      Now I know that all people are NOT alike, and I don’t ASSume they have good intentions. Unfortunately, I think it takes surviving this situation to know to even look for it. Truly sad.

      Dr. Simon….best, most important topic you’ve covered yet! Whenever I hear some psychologist advocating for their poor issues, I want to scream. They just don’t get it, and they are doing great harm to the victims.

      1. Hi Einstein! Yep, you have hit the nail on the head again. They create a salad spinner of a mental and emotional experience using every tool they possess, the good spath, the bad spath and the ugly spath, whichever tool or tactic is needed in the moment will be deployed on the hapless victim. Swimming in quicksand is one of my analogies, the harder you try the deeper you get.

      2. This is so true. I was thinking last night that i “wished he didnt change” then i quickly realized wait a minute, he wasnt some wonderful person that suddenly changed. The change was in the beginning hiding his true self long enough to secure the next victim. He just felt secure enough to finally let it all out and be his true self to me. My self esteem had actually split into two pieces. Now i do feel two years after getting out i am still struggling so hard with depression and pain over what he did. I just dont know how to combat it anymore.

        1. Michelle, I’m sorry. i understand all too well. One of the most painful things I had to realize was that NONE of it was real…….My feelings were real but who I felt them towards wasn’t?!?!? it so disorienting like that…..mentally taxing, emotionally exhausting.
          I have to think all the way back to the very very beginning when his mask slipped, intentionally or unintentionally. If I would have known what several of his very early red flags signified, i would like to think I would have run and never looked back. But yes,,,,,,you have to reevaluate the ENTIRE relationship, the good the bad and the ugly. And the hardest part is to know that even the good part was bad and just part of his game.

  2. In some case they are VERY good at maintaining “the mask” for a long period of time. They CAN “walk the talk” if it suits them. I have heard that there is usually an expiration date though, basically a year to a year and a half but a lot can happen in that time period. Disturbing because I do watch the shows on Investigation Discovery and there are so many shocking stories about this. For example….Israel Keyes…..NO ONE in his circle of friends, family, coworkers, etc,,,,,,No one had a clue, he was that good at concealing his dark secret. When he was finally caught he said, “there are going to be a lot of people who are going to be surprised by this”. Chilling…..
    It is a good question Stephanie.

    1. Puddle, they present the mask to the outside world 24/7…image with them is everything. For their nearest and dearest, the mask comes off as soon as they have you ‘stuck’.

      It becomes all out war after the first narcissistic injury usually perceived, or made up all together. I think in my case, I had overcooked his eggs a little. I paid, and paid, and paid, and paid, and paid for that.

      I hope Dr. Simon will soon elaborate on their capacity for malice. They seep hate and resentment out of every pore.

      1. Einstein, I see so thoroughly what you are saying and agree. I think I did something the first night I met him that he T O T A L L Y took wrong and I think it humiliated him. It actually could have all started right there in his reality. I know that it was brought up by him repeatedly, LONG after it happened, to the point of absurdity. It was just like a lot of other incidences…..SO bizarre and off track I guess my mind just couldn’t process it for what it was. I don’t know. But then I did many things that left egg on his face and I can honestly say it was never my intention to do so, just things that people do when they are being abused without their knowledge! I’ve come to see this now……how uneven the playing field was and how set up for failure i was.
        But yes……I’m sure he has run me into the ground to protect his image in his little world of ignorant bystanders. Good thing those people mean nothing to me.
        His best little buddy up here runs his exwife into the ground ALL the time in front of his kids and to listen to him, he is a perfect father and she is the worst mother in the world. He says all of this in front of their kids. Well, HE is the one with the severe parenting issues not her. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to be forced into continued contact with one of these types because of shared children.

      2. Yeah Einstein…….the BS I have uncovered paints a very different picture than a LOT of people are aware of but how to expose the real POS? I don’t know……..I do not want to go to jail over him, that’s for sure but I almost feel negligent to not do SOMEthing. It seems cowardly not to at least give some people a heads up……the ones who don’t have a clue. Like I’ve said……I’ve been surprised at the number of people who have spoke to me about their negative impression of him…..and it was bitter sweet, validating yet heart breaking.

      3. I too think they have lots of hatred and avenge. They don’t just ‘enjoy’ to prey. It is sometimes contradictory – they don’t give a big importance to what they do, even though they know exactly, but they get N injury.
        I also think, that all the instructions on Ns are only read by those, who already got damaged in some way or another. Who is going to research on this before it happens? Also, letting them to socially overstep themselves was exactly the opportunity I had, I just didn’t know anything by then. And I mean it, exactly. It is not about being vindictive, but about this attitude to Ns, that irritates me – they are unbeatable. Really!!! Yes, they are very, very conning, as I said I didn’t realise some things, but as I now know, they are predictable, many not very bright, so alike, that …uhhh…which means the behavioralism has to come up with something better, then ‘stay away’. WANT TO STRESS, SURE STAY AWAY, BUT BY THE TIME PEOPLE KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON, THEY STAY AWAY ANYWAY. Behavioralism claims the treatment. How, if it’s not known how to deal with them? I believe, the treatment should be hursh, but I am also sure some tactics can be used by victims, as well, as therapists. NOT TO TREAT/HELP THEM, JUST TO DEFEND YOURSELF IN THE AFTERMATH. Just think of it: the situations almost identical at every instance, just like with syndromes, that are visible to an eye. Something similar should be going on in the brain ‘identicality’, I mean. They are just blueprints of one another.

  3. I have learned through this the importance of remaining entirely plutonic with a man for a very VERY long time. Unfortunately in retrospect I see clearly that this was my greatest vulnerability……touch hunger. He used that approach from the first day we met. That and the fact that I was still heavily involved with drinking when I met him set the stage for me to be overtaken. I think he also used flattery but that was lost on me and actually bothered me initially….but I was shamed for doubting his sincerity and second guessed my self, thinking that how do i know he is not sincere! I could write a book on the number of tactics I now see that he used and it’s so confusing to sort them all out because they were so varied.

    “So the time to take action is very early on, which is difficult for most “neurotic” folks because they’re typically so overly conscientious and hesitant to make harsh judgments. ”
    And one of his tactics was to shame me for anything I would question about his real intentions.

    1. You know, sometime a person can just have so many issues on their plate that the door is left wide open for one of these creatures to swoop right in. When I look back at the whole thing it is just a spinning, vague, dream like memory. like the time I was with him, I see myself like a circus pony and he is the ring master with the whip. horrible. But fortunately I was not able to take my abuse with “levity and a smile” which displeased him greatly and ultimately that is what brought things to an end.

  4. So I’m just watching another show on the ID cannel and here is what they say at the end………………”I think that David’s murder of Tammy and attempted murder of Randy illustrates, in a chilling way, the core paradox of the sociopath and it’s this……I can do what ever I want to you but if you do something to me, that I think is wrong or hurtful or insulting or unjustified, it’s a death penalty offense.”
    This is basically what I experienced with Spathtard only not to this degree. In countless ways……..I expect and demand to be treated in a way that I will never treat you and I don’t have the stones to tell you that because if I do, I will not get what I want from you. What a man……….

    1. Spot on. My experience entirely. The relationship is completely imbalanced, weighted to the advantage of the abuser. Once they realise you have their number, they will mostly resort to ever more desperate measures to maintain their selfish advantage.

      1. Or they will dump you or phase you out………..ANYTHING other than loose or relinquish their position.

  5. Could there be an article on nature and develop of delusions? That one article handled moving on from a toxic relationship with all kinds of poisonous feelings and it made the difference between justified mistrust and paranoia that is delusional thinking(also, like that one HB -article I linked to said succintly, paranoia also has that certain “fight a good fight” -mentality to it; Paranoia is used in a confusing manner generally speaking).

    Also, Dr Simon, you mentioned how some delusions spring from malfunctions of brain chemistry. Of course since some characters with agendas also can have delusions(although, like you said, believing in own lies doesn’t automatically mean true delusion), could there be an article about delusions?

  6. Real Narcissts will maintain the Mask as long as you are useful to them. For me I became no longer useful to my NPD mother when I hit my late 30’s. At this point she dropped me like a hot potato.

    They are so much worse than merely vain. You get an incredible “disconnect” feeling when around these creatures, they are creepy but it’s a very subtle creepiness hard to put into words.

    1. The mask is worn as long as their is an advantage, as long as they can maintain the power and control. When they are challenged robustly, or they are found out, they will mostly move on in pursuit of another victim – whilst claiming they were the victim of an injustice, stitch up, being picked upon or whatever. Their self delusion knows no bounds.

      1. Yes Danny but remember they are not self deluded, they know what they are doing when they cry victim. “They see, they just disagree”……”They are aware, they just don’t care”, in the words of Dr. Simon!! 🙂

          1. Your welcome Danny,,,,,,there is so much to remember and it really is like a forgine language.

        1. I don’t know, Puddle. I thought the N I was with was entirely self-deluded. They see themselves the way they want to see themselves – in glowing light. Now, you and me can’t do the things they do and view ourselves as anything but an arrogant jackasses. To them, mere facts have absolutely nothing to do with it.

          It’s part of their disorder – the inability to self-access based on past performance. They are UNABLE to see themselves realistically. It isn’t self-deluded in the traditional sense, but it is deluded nontheless.

          1. Yes, interesting Einstein. I was kinda thinking the same thing when I initially used the self delusion expression. On the other hand, I’m not sure if self-delusion is absolutely the correct expression. They probably know that what they are saying is a load of utter and mindless baloney but probably do not care in the slightest. The baloney is a worthy sacrifice along the path to getting their own way…..such is their outright determination.

          2. I just saw this string of comments Einstein/ Danny…….. it’s all very strange. I think the reason “self-deluded” doesn’t exactly fit is because just like almost everything else about them……it’s like they are in a totally different realm, not of the normal world, don’t fit the normal parameters of ANYTHING.
            Danny, I agree……it’s not really delusion because I think they are aware of what they are saying and on some level, maybe very consciously, know they are overflowing with BS.
            But I also see what Einstein is saying. Perhaps it is that they do think they are all that and a bag of chips but it’s based on some perception that was formed a long time ago, like in the narcissistic phase of development. I do think something went terribly wrong at that phase and it has just compounded through out their life.
            As usual, my understanding it like trying to grasp a mirage…….always strangely out of reach.

    2. Yes Claire there IS a creepyness there but if you don’t know what it is signifying, you don’t run until it’s too late. My N mother never dropped me, she fought a loosing battle to mould me to the bitter end.

    3. Very true Claire, the dropping like a hot potato when they have no use for you and subtle creepiness.It is difficult to explain and no one else sees it either except those who are really intimate with them. Then yes they move on, run away and that’s it as far as they’re concerned. It makes me shudder that I could have been involved with such a person and how I could have been duped all these years. Knowing now as Danny says that he’s probably playing the victim card to entrap his next compassionate victim.

      1. Hi Tori! 🙂
        No one sees it as long as the spath is getting what they want from them and the reason it shows up so strongly in romantic involvements is because they require honesty, depth, compromise, a certain submission to another person, being genuine……….things that superficial “relationships” with “buddies” and casual acquaintances (especially drinking buddies…..Spathtard’s favorites!) don’t require. Once you get past the honeymoon phase, a phase that is there in any relationship, and start wanting more depth and solidity, they can’t provide it………then the trouble starts because the victim starts ASKING for something they will never get because the Spath never had the intention or ability to give it in the first place. So now you will be devalued because you are not able to exist happily on crumbs, it will be your fault (in their world) that you can’t survive on crumbs and then you will be discarded because you were unable to be the perfect, fun, compliant playmate/ baby sitter. As a friend of mine said……her spath shifted gears immediately as soon as it became apparent that she was unable to take her abuse with “levity and a smile”.

        1. That’s it Puddle 🙂 they want you to accept all the abuse and not complain. Just keep going on the way it always has and when you don’t Bingo!!
          That’s when you see the real truth! I still don’t get how others can’t see surely they must suspect something is not quite right. Yet it’s those false tears and the sympathy sucker that wins people over every time. I remember my CD’s mother saying that he was always soft emotionally as a child…ha! Soft! I think about that and can’t get my head around it, if anything he’s callous and cruel but he uses soft to his advantage.

          1. exactly Tori…..they are like little toddlers who need their diapers changed and expect everyone else to do it and if you don’t they throw their poo at you.

          2. OH….the soap opera tearful displays I feel for…….only something never FELT right about them to me. Pathetic.

    4. I get that creepy feeling around my NPD mother and NPD ex husband. It was so good to read that thanks Claire, I sometimes think I imagine it, Its hard for me to remember that I don’t imagine it. It is very real.

  7. A while back I asked this:

    “[C]ould there also be a chapter or two(Edit: or an article) for recovering from any encounters with aggressors?

    Having read a lot about effects of emotional abuse, bullying and toxicorrosacidic relationships, especially the feeling of breaking down, disintegration, burnout, disorientation and being crushed. Also, refering again to Evan’s Controlling People, it does explain how a target of abuse can also get disconnected from themselves, start mistrusting their perception and judgment, have a weakened readiness to think for themselves.

    Couldn’t there be varieties of ways handled in detail that can help in recovery?”

    1. When their mask is found out they will try to destroy whomever finds out. I slowly saw through the mask but made the mistake of trying to tell her, wait, this is odd when you do this. In order to play the victim she had to convince everyone we knew (who knew both of us) that I had victimized her and she was just so sad about losing me. She smeared my reputation and my therapist recommended I go to therapy with her when she offered. What a huge mistake, she used all the information I divulged in family therapy against me in the following year.

    2. “it does explain how a target of abuse can also get disconnected from themselves, start mistrusting their perception and judgment, have a weakened readiness to think for themselves.”

      To recover from the gaslighting, specifically, I think group forums and group meetings such as Alanon is really helpful. It is helpful to listen to other peoples’ shares to tease out what is common vs. what is balona that the aggressor claimed to be true.

      1. Absolutely Claire, I don’t know how people can even tease it all out without support and validation from other people who have been through it. Being painted the
        bad guy and scapegoated the entire time I was with him I was brought to tears and shocked to start reading the information like Dr. Simon’s.

    3. J this is sorely needed an in depth look at recovery. For as soon as you think you can get through, there’s another knock down. It’s like being consumed with grief because something you thought you might have had is deadd. Then coming to terms with the trauma you’re left grappling with coupled with new abuses in whatever form they come in such as financial and the havoc the whole thing has on the children who just cannot understand why all this has happened (innocent victims). Crushed is exactly the term. It’s like not only do they stamp on you like an insect but then slowly twist you into the dirt.
      No matter how you try to put a smile on the day they do have you at their mercy. Well that’s how it feels for me. I’ve come a long way but then get stalled from moving forward with my life because of this CD who wants his own way. I’ve found there’s no right or wrong decisions when trying to get through this…you try one thing and if that doesn’t work you try another. I know I have great trouble trying to make a decision that can make a difference to MY life. As being the responsible one leaves you doing what you have to…not necessarily what you’d like to do. I know I feel exactly as you say disconnected, unsure of my abilities to deal with the situations that arise let alone trust people though I refuse to let him demoralise me in that way. Somewhere deep inside I know there’s a person of great determination but finding her through the fog is the hardest task I have ever had to face. They cripple your self esteem and getting that back is extremely difficult.

      1. This is very trueTori. I suspect mostly because one is never dealing with consistent ‘factual’ issues with the manipulator or CA. On any given day, in any given instance, they will resort to use whatever gives them the best advantage for getting their own way, for gaining outright control. The only ‘consistent’ is their inconsistency. So what one may be ‘fighting’ today, will likely be completely different to what one may he fighting tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after. In my experience, this is the most energy sapping thing of all. Nothing they will say is ever reliable. They do not mean what they say. They have no interest in whatever they may be claiming is the reason for why they may have done this, that or whatever. Their (the manipulators’) ground is always shifting, and because of that, the way we (the victim) will respond, has to keep changing too.
        We just have to make the best of it, do the very best we can, do not blame ourselves (we will often make mistakes along the way – we’re imperfect). Please don’t beat yourself up – it sounds to me that you are driven overwhelmingly by good intentions!

        1. And yet doing all of the above fully in the knowledge that we are often completely alone in our understanding of their (the manipulators’) deception/s. I can tell you from personal experience, this can be a very lonely existence……a lonely road to travel. Another reason why I find this website a haven.

          1. Danny, your SO right about the above posts. Shifting, changing, saying one thing then something different and meaning neither one of them. It’s insane.

          2. I can’t tell you how many times I thought or said……”but I thought”………fill in the blank
            or “but wait… said”……..fill in the blank.

          3. I found this a little earlier. I claim no expert knowledge, certainly not anywhere near some of the seasoned contributors on this site, but it seemed to me a very accurate analysis overall

      2. Tori, it is debilitating on so many levels which all translate to physical and mental exhaustion………mean while he is living in his mother’s basement, drinking like a teenager, and slandering me in order to be painted in a favorable light to those he still has a use for,,,,,,,,it turns my stomach.

        1. Don’t let it touch your self esteem. That comes from how you think about yourself and you need to know you were doing the best you could given the situation. you were swimming as hard as you could and didn’t know you were in quicksand because he is a liar and a manipulator. Don’t talk yourself out of your self esteem and try your best to keep your self respect strong.

    4. One woman I once knew told me she suffered dissociation as a result of abuse at the hands of her narcissistic husband. They’d known each other all the way from childhood and he’d always seemed sweet and friendly. He was “soft” so much of the time towards her.

      1. J, for me….it’s like I woke up one morning in someone else’s life. It’s VERY disorienting and quite honestly I feel like I don’t know who or where I am anymore in this very weird way……….it’s just bizarre. It’s such a weird thing…..all of it. It’s so hard to explain, to put into words.

      2. I’m being kind of technical here(and I don’t know your experiences so obviously I’m not trying to speak for you), since waking up one Morning “in someone else’s life” sounds like one scenario where one can mistrust one’s perception even though there’s that vague, uneasy, disorienting feeling that something is wrong.

        Listened to one piece of music on YouTube recently titled exactly “Something’s wrong” by a username myuuji. Musically it does a great job of conveying such feeling. I can imagine it even though I’ve never been myself in such severe situation.

        1. J, it’s so hard to describe in words…..and that song definitely captures the feeling. it’s very unsettling…… know that you loved and were with someone you don’t even know. Too weird…….

  8. Seems like people either get their childhood narcissistic needs under met or over met! I mean seriously……what ARE the odds that someones parents hit the bullseye in this department? And in the nature vs nurture department, if a person had strikeouts in both areas, it seems almost impossible for them to ever be any different, the imprint would just be so deep. I’m not saying that people can’t change or that there aren’t people who do change but when I look at the big picture… seems pretty dismal. I just don’t see how someone can turn around damage that is so deep it’s preverbal. how does one ever even GET to that type of woundedness?

    1. I wonder will there a time when I won’t feel so wounded… each day I rise with this cloud following me. I’ve tried twice to escape this place and while away the cloud does follow but there’s also somehow a space of calm as I am not in the place where the abuse happened. Coming back was overwhelmingly scary. Yet here I am as I said constantly changing my plans to find something that will fit. Trauma is hardest to get over. I think for most of our marriage I was in a disassociated state for the same reasons J. When that fog really lifts it’s devastating. It’s so true about the loneliness Danny, just the situation of it all, no one quite understands why you feel so down and damaged along with as Puddle says the exhaustion of it all. So you fall in a heap and then have to reassess the next step…which is what I’ve been doing AGAIN!! Though one thing is now most sure in my mind there is no more negotiating with him. I should have stuck firmly to no contact…it’s just an excruciating game of cat and mouse. I think if I’m reasonable he will be…and that’s never how it works or has worked in our long time together. My only concern now is keeping my son and I safe with a roof over our head and fix the chaos he’s creating. (Though it feels a little like I’m fixing it all up for him in this same process but right now I have little choice.)
      I really liked that site Danny some articles there seemed quite accurate from my perspective too. Oh what a difficult journey we travel, and all I can think is there’s got to be a reason and maybe it’s just in the sharing of experiences so that others can avoid these situations.

      1. Tori………I don’t buy into the “there’s got to be a reason” thinking. Sometimes things just happen. I also think that given any life experience, good and bad, there is always something positive to take away from it and the potential for personal growth but I would never give Spathtardx ANY credit for anything other then the pain and destruction he has wrought in my life. He is a looser and a POS and a pathetic mamas boy…..PERIOD!
        Even the job he works is a joke…….one of the most looked down upon contractors in the area who hires alcoholics and drug addicts. Just a looser straight across the board.
        Im sorry you are in this position Tori, my heart goes out to you and anyone else who has a child in common with one of these types. I can’t only imaging how much harder this would be in that situation. Please keep yourself safe and KNOW that NO CONTACT is the only way for the healing to begin and to take hold.
        I can relate so much to what you are saying about the dissociated state during the time you are with them. It really is like being under a spell or drugged or whatever. AND when that wears off…….reality sinks in and it’s more painful that the pain was when you were with them (for me anyhow).

        1. Please know that this takes a lot of time to get over. Keep your expectations realistic and don’t judge yourself for not being over it in the time frame you think you SHOULD be. This is not like the end of a normal relationship. You can read article after article on the internet to confirm that.

          1. Hugs to you Puddle, Yeah I know I shouldn’t rush things emotionally. I’ve been known to be slightly impatient 🙂 I guess the brick walls I keep hitting get me down. Actually as I sit think of this new way of going about this I can see the ways in which he can thwart my progress. Which frightens me in that will I have to give in a little again and then that gives him an advantage. Because as you say nothing about these relationships whether in them or out of them is normal. Particularly when there are settlements involved. It’s so frustrating and he wants to WIN at all costs. Even if that means his own child suffers. It’s just crazy and bewildering to me that that’s how they think.
            The only way I can deal with it is to think what possible ways he’s going to react and somehow be ready for them when they happen. It’s so exhausting.
            Oh I certainly wouldn’t give him any credit either for any personal growth etc… They are losers!

          2. Tori, Rather than spend your time preparing for his possible next assault or attack or move……….what do you think about just preparing and rehearsing a reply to whatEVER he says or does……..just a solid reply like,,,,,,”hm……I will have to think about that” or, “I can’t really answer or commit or agree to that at this moment, I’ll think about it and let you know”.
            I know that I tripped myself up so many times because I DIDN’T understand what was going on and responded from a place of confusion. I felt like I HAD to because we were still together and it was so awkward IN THE MOMENT to say what I suggested above. But if you are out and not “involved” with him any more, you can take the time to think things through and analyze what your best response might be and what might be behind his actions and words. They are experts at catching you off guard and switching things up and twisting things around so in replying the way I mentioned, it prevents him from being able to do that as easily. Look at it this way, it buys you some time so you don’t say or do or agree to something you will regret later.

  9. I have read many of the replies and agree with so many. But I believe we have only touched the tip of the iceberg in this rather fascinating but sad disorder. I believe there are people out there that are very unaware of there disorder but know something is wrong, But what? It’s scary to dump ones most private feelings on a stranger. Don’t get me wrong the deeper I delve into to this disorder the more frightened I become and say to myself “what next”. I do have some compassion for these disordered individuals and stay at a arms length,


  10. I,m curious Puddle, how long ago did you leave your CD? I left mine after 31 years and to date its been 3 years since I left. I basically practiced NO CONTACT otherwise, I know I would had been sucked back in. After 3 years I still cry my eyes out.

    1. Jaycee, It’s been almost a year since I’ve been No Contact and a year and four months since we actually broke up (only it was not really an official, clean break up at that point. it transitioned into a break up).
      I’m sorry you are still in so much pain and sadness Jaycee. 31 years is a long time to be with someone though and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to still feel sadness about it.
      I honestly had no idea whatsoever that he was what he turned out to be until after we broke up. I knew there were issues and that something was wrong but I swear I had to have been in a trance of sorts to have believed ANYthing he said. The writing was SO on the wall from the beginning but not knowing what i know now played a huge part of how he was able to dupe me. What a man…………….disgusting.

    1. Kaylea, can you please help me out by being a bit more specific about what you are meaning? Are you being smeared by a narcissist at work? 🙂

  11. One of the biggest difficulties when attempting to recover from an abusive relationship (in my case my ex was an NPD sufferer) is the mental turmoil, the constant questioning… “perhaps he’s right, perhaps I AM crazy”… I still wake up at night rethinking the accusations. I look at my life in the cold light of day; I am successful, I run my own business, I don’t depend on anyone to pay my way, I have lots of caring friends and a loving supportive non-abusive family; I love animals and children… I have every reason to be happy. I used to love life before meeting him, and now, since the break-up, I suffer from anxiety attacks and agoraphobia. I have never had this before. I used to travel around the world all by myself and I wasn’t afraid of anything. Now, I’m anorexic-thin (even though I eat normally), and I’m in a constant state of fear.
    He was so incredibly kind at first. He ticked all my boxes. It felt as though the sun shone out of my a**. We laughed together all the time. We had pet-names. He was the PERFECT companion for the first 1-2 years, and then the accusations started. I wasn’t good enough for him. I asked him to clean the house, and that wasn’t right. I ate too healthily. I had too many “principles”. My income (although decent!) wasn’t regular enough. I didn’t invite friends round often enough, and when I did I didn’t do it ‘right’. Meanwhile he had quit his job and his mother was paying him the equivalent of a (pretty good) salary so that he could lounge around and ‘write a book’. She projected grandiose dreams on him, and he was never good enough for her. He never fought back against her, instead, every 2-3 months I would be on the receiving end of his rage. I stood by him all the way through, and encouraged him to undertake psychoanalysis. He did, and after 2 years of analysis (and I suspect after having manipulated his analyst) he kicked me out of his house in a ranting fit stating that I was “narcissistic, and too nice, and too loyal, and that I should have punished him more often for his bad behaviour”.

    1. What makes such scenarios especially hard to sort out – especially for the over-conscientious among us – is that most of the time there is at least some modicum of truth to the accusations leveled by the person manipulating. So, not only are you left wondering if in fact they’re right and you’re all messed up, but it becomes almost impossible to see clearly the primarily manipulative intent of the person leveling the accusations. Suffice it to say that in this case, it appears you might have also been the victim of “over-idealization” on the front end followed by wrath for not living up to the expectations held for you to be the perfect satisfier of all his desires. And the fact that he blamed you for not punishing him enough for his bad behavior is an almost poetically pathetic exemplification of the narcissist’s unwillingness to fault him/herself. And this unwillingness does not usually – as traditionally-minded therapists always used to think – arise out of their “fragile” sense of self but rather out of their failure to outgrow the notion that others exist in the world primarily to serve their wishes.

    2. P.S. Notice, I said “desires” and “wishes,” NOT “needs.” The use and exploitation of others might be what the narcissist wants, but it’s the very last thing they need. Also, it’s really important to eventually sort out the legitimate issues you might have both to avoid a potential similar relationship disaster in the future and to maximize your own emotional health, overall well-being, and sense of empowerment. Although it’s hard to resist turning attention to the other person and the damage inflicted, all attention, focus and energy needs to be given to your own well-being.

      1. Like your life depended on it because it’s does and at best your happiness and fulfillment does.

      2. You know Dr. Simon, it’s hard to turn your attention away from the other person and the damage they have inflicted when it’s left in your head and heart like napalm. When it has twisted your head and life beyond recognition and when you feel and KNOW that you must do your due diligence to a degree that you have never had to before in your life to HOPEFULLY insure that this never happens again, not to mention the physical depletion going through something like this inflicts.
        There are plenty of instances that the only reason someone was targeted is that they were on top of their game…they had it going on and were targeted out of envy or retaliation for a perceived slight. I remember reading a vignette in Martha Stouts’s book about a psychiatric hospital director totally sabotaging a staff psychiatrist for absolutely no reason at all other than the Dr. WAS “all that” and this director was a total fake! I believe she called it covetous envy.
        I don’t mean any disrespect by my position on this nor do I mean to negate your advise but I also think it is very common to underplay the roll that some of the dynamics of these relationships have on a person, not only by the victim but by others. I read time and time and time again how the victim feels so foolish or stupid about having fallen for what they fell for. You know what that tells me? It tells me that there was something being done to them that prevented them from being able to asses and deal with the situation in a way they might normally. I know that is true for me because I have confronted plenty of people before Spathtard who were not treating me well and I have since Spathtard too. This was different, and it was the same “me” that it was previous and post Spathtard.
        I personally don’t think that once you have been through one of these nightmares *****and understood who and what you were targeted by and how they went about victimizing you*****, you will ever be victimized in the same way again. BUT, what IS scary to me is this…..what if it’s different? What if it’s not a romantic involvement and it’s a situation like a financial or legal advisor? Or a medical practitioner? Someone who you have hired specifically because they supposedly have the expertise to advise you about things you are not knowledgeable about? how do you know? For the longest time I have had the advantage of using the people my parents used for accounting and legal matters, etc……and they were friends of my fathers or had worked for my Grandfather, etc….. Well, these people are getting way up there in age now and either retiring or sorry to say, dying. So replacements are stepping in and I don’t know them and have to basically cross my fingers and hope that the people who supervise and hire them are on THEIR game.
        Part of the reason Spathtard was able to do what he did was that he was from somewhere else and had a very small friend base here…none of his ex-wives live here, etc..
        Anyhow, i apparently had something to say but I’m not sure I’ve made my original point. 😉

        1. No disrespect taken, here, Puddle. And there’s certainly no intent on my part to discount how hard it is to direct your attention away from these folks, their game, and their behavior. That said, I’m committed to personal empowerment, and the ONLY remedy there is to re-direct focus. And just like the 12-steppers say, sometimes it has to be one second at a time, one minute at a time, …one day….etc. But that’s where the power lies. And in the process, you even develop a stronger will and other important aspects of your character, which gives you a degree of inoculation against further toxicity. Your point is not only well made but well taken. I hope I’ve made my point well, also.

          1. Yes, Dr. Simon….you have made your point perfectly and in spite of my protests, that is exactly what I am trying my best to do. Just keep moving forward with my integrity as intact as possible, from day to day and making the best of the latest mess he left behind………. It’s just really, REALLY hard not to hate what this has done to me especially when I can’t understand it.
            What a looser he is, I can’t EVEN begin to imagine this being his legacy….as in the ONLY thing he has to show for himself. I would LOVE to be the one giving his eulogy! LOL!

        2. One thing, an example maybe…….I was going to say it earlier, There is not a day that goes by that some word or phrase or expression that reminds me of him doesn’t come out of my mouth or go through my head. I can’t even say something like “sweetheart” to my dog without hearing it echo 10 times in his voice. Or sit in my chair and just look up at the sink and not see him standing there. This is something so different than any relationship ending I’ve ever had. There is no “not getting” why they call it getting slimed, their toxin just doesn’t wash off. It doesn’t help 1000 times over that it all happened here, in my house, on my property. I can not explain it to anyone who thinks I should just move on! My psychiatrist AND councilor both say i loved him, but I didn’t love HIM because he is a fake! How crazy is just that one little fact? My brain just can’t get out of that loop! This didn’t just happen last week……it’s been over a year and a half now or close to it that I have been no contact except for one time I saw him at the grocery and I think I saw him the other day. It just boggles my mind that it is still right there, that he is still there.
          I find myself thinking……”if he only knew how much I loved him….how much I loved us.” But immediately realize it wouldn’t matter one BIT to him. That’s not what he was after. He wanted me to love him but he didn’t want my love….he had not use for that, it was just another tool to use against me.
          I don’t long for him anymore, I’m past that phase…….REALLY past that stage, in fact….that was a huge turning point for me. I wouldn’t have him in my life for ANYthing but i can’t seem to get over the damage, the remaining curse of him/ it.

          1. It takes years of living the ‘new normal’ because you aren’t the same person anymore, so you have to accommodate this experience into your new world/self view. I believe it takes as long as the whole idealize, devalue, discard took, perhaps longer. It won’t be there forever like it is now. It will eventually be filed away with the distant past. You’re staying in the present with your feelings, that tells me your on the journey to healing. I believe it’s something that can’t be rushed or given a ‘healthy’ time limit. It’s grieving, with other complications.

          2. I find myself thinking……”if he only knew how much I loved him….how much I loved us.” But immediately realize it wouldn’t matter one BIT to him. That’s not what he was after.

            Hi Puddle again I can identify with this, I myself do the same thing. I do believe they know how much we loved them because that’s how they could hook us. Gosh that’s the real pain, the real betrayal. I think about that a lot and that whole if he knew how much I loved him maybe…he would seek help, change or somehow I could have the loving kind person he could be. (the person who was fake). I wouldn’t have stayed if he’d been honest either. Who would. Yet their whole life depends on this deception almost. I can relate to Sweet Pea too. Mine would tell me “all I need is you to fix me”, “you’re the only one I need not some stranger psychologist”, “I just need to lie next to you and have you take care of me.” Ha…how can you fix someone who has terrorised you and your family. Knowing that on his mind is the fact he really wants you…well dead. I never felt good enough for him no matter what I did. Damned if I did what he wanted and damned if I didn’t. He’s taken no responsibility for any of the damage and violence he has inflicted except to blame me for all of it. And love, well it’s only now after all that’s happened since we’ve separated that I know love never existed in his heart and yet I still think like you do… if only he knew how much I loved him and it doesn’t matter a jot!!
            I understand the trauma of living where it happened too…I couldn’t stay in the place I loved, my house felt like a trauma cell. Flashbacks to violence, fear of waking and finding him standing over me at night haunted me. I’d never have him back in a heart beat… I know he’s evil but that doesn’t make it easy to just get over. There’s grief, loss, trauma and worst thing of all that lack of trust in people and yourself all which take a heavy toll. Even making decisions can be stiflingly hard.I think Puddle for all of us as individuals it takes whatever time it takes just as long as you take little steps forward. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in the same place as you still do Puddle. I think I’d freeze if I saw my husband while I was shopping…I wouldn’t be able to cope at all. Just the thought of laying eyes on him terrifies me. I can’t even look at old photos with him in them. Which even now as I type it makes me cry…14 years of memories that mean nothing and all with my son. It’s that you are cheated of your life and what you thought it meant. So again a big hug to you!
            Still, I do make those steps…today being a day to move forward I made myself go out and meet people and get involved with my new community and for the first time met someone down at the shops I knew! Wow what a difference that made to my day. Just a social interaction. Also today marks the day when he can no longer financially abuse me so that’s a relief. It has been an ongoing drama with still some more hurdles to jump but these will be the last ties to undo…no doubt he’ll drag them on for as long as he can but slowly I’m getting somewhere…where I don’t know yet but hopefully a wiser me. I’m sure you’ll be a much wiser you too! Love to you Puddle! 🙂

          3. Tori :(…..14 years……double, triple OUCH. It was 2 years max for me and we were broken up about 1/10 of the time,,,,,arbitrary number. And that is why I am dumbfounded by the damage it did.
            Yeah,,,photos………they are horrible and how the ones that I loved because the were reminders of fun and SO different. Just the look on his face……all but a couple just give me the creeps and not just ME! I’ve shown them to several people who really didn’t know him and THEY find him old, creepy, scary, gross,,,,,,a host of things I never thought during. I was totally happy with his looks and our life in spite of what I thought were some problems that with a little sincere cooperation and effort would work out and once he got financially straight and caught up with his (what I thought were just,,,,,) financial left over responsibilities, everything would be fine, HA!

    3. Hi Sweat Pea, I won’t add any specific thoughts except to say the I agree with Dr Simon and Puddle’s insights wholeheartedly. This week I went to the Opera and saw Mozarts ‘The Magic Flute”, as is often the case with the beautiful poetic way Opera is written, there was a classic one liner in it, that says volumes about the subject, which was Love in this case…the love between a man and a woman. It was this…

      The measure of a man in love is reflected in the happiness and joy of his woman.

      The fruit is on the tree, its that simple. How does your garden grow?

    4. “what the narcissist wants, but it’s the very last thing they need”

      Important to remember. Also, simple.

  12. SweetPea, I’m so sorry and I understand SO well. The end of your post is just …….. just unreal. It sure sounds like another instance where the whole mother/ son thing is entirely out of whack! Same with Spathtard…..just something entirely wrong there.
    So, it sounds like you see things pretty clearly now, yes? He is not right….you have plenty of other people in your life to back YOU up. I don’t know how they do it… wasn’t till close to the end that I realized that if he was right about anything he said against me, why was no one else seeing it!! People who had known me for in excess of 10 or 20 or 30 years??
    The thing about “punishing them for their bad behavior” is that they twist everything upside down and inside out to the point that you don’t know which end is up or down……they create the mess they leave behind. They break you then blame you for being broken then pitch you out the window…….
    Hang in there SweetPea. Do your home work and you will see……….it’s not you. No one is perfect but it is not you that caused THIS!

  13. My first post here. You all sharing your horrible experience is so helpful, I could have written any of these posts. I just ended phase 1 again, now in the DD phase, been doing this for 4 years, this time I’m armed with knowledge and that is key! But I must ask, since my N is a textbook N, do they all cheat on their significant others?

    1. Hi Headspinning, welcome and I hope you find as much information as you can on here. If you define cheat as in the dictionary definition, then I’d say yes all N’s cheat, simply because they are cheating you out of a genuine interaction. On some level the N is cheating with you by being in love with themselves and themselves only! I don’t think anyone can truly know that for sure but I bet if the truth were known, the percentage that do is alot higher than other personality types. That cycle you speak of, can keep you staying there for too long if you let it. I know I did that and now I’m so destroyed and having to regroup in order to become independent. Best Wishes 🙂

    2. Hi there Headspinning, I think that the answer to your question depends mostly on the individual situation and manipulator and what their particular goal is. It would seem that most DO cheat on their partner with someone else but as Juliette said…..they are basically cheating on you from the beginning because their objective and goal is different than yours yet never disclosed. You are “fortunate” to have started your search now and to have gotten to this point. I hope that it can help you to sort things out a little more cleanly before it ends and that maybe YOU can be the one to end it before being permanently tossed in the wast can.
      BUT, the choices and decisions are your to make And I would never advise someone to just end the relationshi* unless they are 100% sure they are ready and sure of what they are doing. Do you feel safe? Have you been threatened of have any knowledge that he is or has been violent? Your safety needs to be your number one concern.
      I wish you well HeadSpinning and welcome.

  14. So True. The only thing you can do is completely separate your self not contact no mention of existence. this is hard when children or family is involved. It got so bad I became a Hate crime victim because of the Narc. religious connections then it was a predator aggressive parent. to the point paid Assassins and Government officials were involved trying to cover up their(her) mental disorder the only thing worse than narc. is a narc. with money. it became a classic cat- mouse game even hiring others in that class that had killed before . this one had 2 other men murdered then got Red collar criminals involved that used their religion to murder x wives and x husbands. the bitch went as far as having a radio transmitter put in a tooth when I went to the dentist. use of electronic devises /hired assassins/ conspiracy. all traits of a serial killer social-path and couldn’t even save my child from this religious organization. where does the mentality come from??????? John

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