Narcissists Hate It When You Have Their Number

In last week’s post (see: Arrogance and Brutality Under the Guise of Caring), I illustrated some of the cardinal features of malignant narcissism through a case example excerpted from my book The Judas Syndrome.  Today’s example comes from one of the therapy vignettes featured in the last chapter (chapter 7) of my book Character Disturbance.  It’s a fairly lengthy vignette but it illustrates so many aspects of narcissism so well that I’m reproducing it all except for some minor edits (for brevity’s sake), and I hope the discussion about the vignette itself as well as my commentary will provide folks with a sufficient understanding of the problems ego-inflation in the extreme can cause.

Although I didn’t give him a name in the book, for the sake of discussion, we’ll call the person in the following vignette “Tom.”  He was referred to me by another therapist for evaluation and recommendations about a treatment plan.  I’ve highlighted in boldface and italicized certain parts of my interchange with him to aid in the discussion.  Here’s how it went:

CLIENT:  Hey, how’s it goin’ George?  Well, today’s the day, huh?  The big shrink’s gonna tell me what he thinks (smirks).

THERAPIST:  As I promised you last time, I am going to share with you my opinion about what I see as a problem. And I’ll give you some suggestions about what you would need to work on in therapy.  Then, I will give your therapist a copy of my report.

CLIENT:  Well, what’s the verdict, doc?  You’re a doctor of what…philosophy…. psychology?  Is that like a real doctor, or what?

THERAPIST:  As we talked about the first time, I’m a psychologist.  I’m not a medical doctor.  All of my training is in psychology.  My area of specialty is personality and character.  As we have discussed this at length before, perhaps we’d better get on with my assessment.

CLIENT:  Go ahead.  Shoot.

THERAPIST:  I think that, for you to have fewer of the kinds of problems you’ve been having, and in order to be a better person in general, you need to make some changes in the kind of person you are – some basic changes in your personality.  At your age, that won’t be easy, but I think that’s what you’ll need to do.

CLIENT:  What about my personality?

THERAPIST:  Mostly, you lack  good “brakes.” Also, you tend to think too much of yourself, and you tend to pay too little heed to others in your life and their needs.

CLIENT:  I’m not sure what you mean, bad brakes.

T:  I think you understand that when you want something, or want to do something, you don’t hesitate or stop and think about it first.  In fact, you don’t stop at all.  You don’t back-up, back-off, or give-in when you should.  You’re in full-throttle mode in the very times you really need to be thinking about applying the brakes.

CLIENT:  And you can tell all this after just a couple of visits?

THERAPIST:  As we discussed earlier, I consider much more than just our visits, which is why I’ve consulted with your therapist, interviewed some of your family, looked at your history, and given you some tests.  I’ve also made some important observations about the kinds of attitudes you display and behaviors you exhibit.  I consider my opinion accurate.

CLIENT:  Even if no one else has ever told me that before?  Dr. Brady thinks I probably have depression.  But you think I’m just a bad person.  So, he’s wrong and you’re right, huh?

THERAPIST:  I can’t speak for anyone else.  I’m giving you my opinion.  And, of course, you didn’t hear me say you were a bad person.  I said you’re a person with poor brakes.  I meant exactly what I said.

CLIENT:  Dr. Brady says my anger is a symptom of depression.  Maybe that’s what it is.  Maybe all I need is a pill.

THERAPIST:  Anger can indeed be a sign of depression, especially when it is out of character for the person.  But I’ve carefully reviewed your history.  There were many times when you were on a mission of sorts – taking no prisoners – fighting hard to get what you wanted – and you weren’t angry at all.  Many times, when you showed anger, it seemed more to intimidate those who opposed you – a tactic as opposed to a genuine feeling.  You seemed to do whatever you had to do to get what you wanted without care for whom you hurt, and you ended up losing in some way.  If you had put on the brakes, you might have really won.  Then you got upset because you’d made a mess of things.  How long have you had a problem putting on the brakes?

CLIENT:  I just don’t see how you could be so sure after just meeting me.  You don’t really know anything about me.  I mean, you’re saying some pretty heavy things here.  Besides, I like me.  Lot’s of people like me.  They love me at work, and I do great at my job.  Make good money.  But you tell me I’m all messed up.

THERAPIST:  You ask how I can be so sure.  I think you would know better than anyone else whether any of what I have said to you makes sense.  And, of course, you know that I’m not suggesting you need to change everything about yourself.  What I am saying is that, as an aggressive personality, you have to learn when and when not to pull out the stops, and when and when not to put on the brakes.  You also need to get a more balanced sense of self-worth.  It seems to have really riled you that anyone might have accurately assessed your character.  You actually helped confirm most of my hunches when you started out this session using the tactic of leveling; that is, trying to intimidate me by subtly denigrating my credentials, trying to throw me on the defensive.  I think you need to stop all the very destructive behavior that I outlined for you on the worksheets I gave you, and which I’m sending to your therapist as well. If you don’t work on correcting those things, you’ll keep hurting people and making a mess of your relationships.  It won’t be easy, but you can do it.  And you can start by doing some things differently, right here and right now.

Now, my question to you, if you remember, is how long you’ve had this problem…. I mean, with your brakes.

Client:  My whole life.

Narcissists hate to think anyone “has their number,” so to speak.  People who always see themselves as superior to others hate to see the field of “play” (i.e. social interaction) leveled.  They especially hate it when someone else in is a position of greater power or authority. “Tom” got really riled that I had the audacity to think I had him pegged.  And he used just about every tactic I mention in In Sheep’s Clothing to reverse the “position” he was in (e.g., he uses the tactic of “leveling” by calling me by my first name, subtly demeans me with the innuendos about me not being a “real” doctor, etc., engaging in covert intimidation to put me on the defensive, etc.).  And there’s something else really interesting:  he didn’t get upset and pretty much let it slide completely by when I said I thought he thought too much of himself and didn’t think enough about others.  He didn’t even get upset when I said it was his personality that was the problem. Rather, he got rankled at the notion of having defective “brakes.”  Although I didn’t mention anything about this in the book, there’s an interesting explanation for that.  You see, Tom never minded others seeing him as somewhat overconfident or even haughty, nor did he care that much about whether others had a problem with him and the way he was (as attested to in his self-statements about his liking of the person he is).  He also didn’t see a problem with his “me first and everybody else should be able to fend themselves” attitude, either.  But Tom always liked to think of himself as a person in total control (despite ample evidence in his history to the contrary).  So it irked him that someone would call attention to his lack of inhibition over his impulses or his “defective” mental “brakes.”

Tom’s opening statement – the first thing he said when he entered my office and sat down – also illustrates a key point about aggressive personalities:  the fight for position was already on and had begun even before he got there.  It was my job to hold position, without being sucked into a verbal and relational donnybrook, backed defensively into a corner, or being run over.  I probably didn’t do a perfect job.  But I thought the case was illuminating on this point anyway.

There are many other issues illustrated by this case, all of which merit further discussion, and some of which I’ll address again next week before moving on to a new subjectf.  But one thing I simply must point out is the axiom I’ve mentioned time and time again about encounters with character-impaired people whether or not those encounters occur within a formal therapeutic context:  change, if it is to ever actually take place, ALWAYS occurs in the here-and-now.  After all the back and forth power-jockeying, impression-managing, manipulation, and game-playing, once sufficiently cornered and overwhelmed by the evidence of his lifelong problem and served notice that he could change how he operates if only he would make the choice to do so at any given moment,  Tom finally does evidence some change.  He does this when he admits what I’ve said all along is a problem (i.e. when he says the problem with his “brakes” has been there “all my life”). Now, of course, this is probably more of an instance of assent as opposed to genuine surrender.  But it’s a start.  And as counter-intuitive as it seems, it’s really important to recognize the value of that small step in the right direction because it’s something that can be built upon.  And the process of re-building a severely impaired character is an arduous one that always has to start small.

I also want to make the point that the main reason I put this particular vignette in the book is because it illustrates so clearly just how differently potentially therapeutic encounters must be conducted when someone has a personality or character disturbance.  No focus whatsoever on the ancillary and purely symptomatic features that might accompany the personality disturbance.  Rather, a focus on the core “dynamics” of the dysfunctional “style”.  It’s the person’s interaction “style” itself that is the the problem, so that’s where the attention should be.  And when elements of that style are accepted as dysfunctional and corrected, everything else gets better.  I can’t count the numbers  (well into the hundreds and thousands) of times that exasperated folks have shown up at my office having repeatedly attempted therapeutic interventions to absolutely no avail because the real culprit responsible for all their distress (i.e. someone’s character) was never really confronted or dealt with.

Hopefully the readers will see a lot else here that looks familiar, resonates with them, and calls to mind other important principles I’ve mentioned in other posts on narcissism and character disturbance.  I’m really anxious to see the discussion on this one.

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240 thoughts on “Narcissists Hate It When You Have Their Number

  1. Dr. Simon,

    I am totally mind boggled that you have discovered through your education and experience how to confront these personalities. At the same time, I am totally thankful that you have. When you describe these sessions it seems so clear that you are able to keep the conversation on the real issue. It gives me hope that other doctors will follow suit. After living through this ordeal, I have felt there is very little hope for change in the outcome. You give me hope that others will have more support going through it.

    When I had my awakening with my xnh and about his actions, I called in our minister. Xnh paced the floor and said he couldn’t believe this was happening. He knew I was on to him, after a 49 year relationship. He was literally shaking. By the time the minister arrived, he had made up an excuse that there was polygamy in the Bible. Of course the minister shot every thing xnh down with direct scripture about why he was wrong.

    It was an evening that I and the minister will never forget. By the way, the minister was a hometown friend that we had known since childhood, so it was hard for xnh and his family to dismiss him.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. And thanks particularly for sharing your story. It is amazing, isn’t it, how some key episodes in our life that cause us to re-think things make an impression deep enough to stay with us for a long time?

  2. I find your articles so helpful and eye opening! I have tried changing my own response behavior with my ex husband to try to limit the high conflict so we can coparent our kids. The leveling is exactly what I have a hard time working around. Simple things such as a recent exchange where i sent a short email request of approval to sign up our child for baseball was met with a three page scathing, denigrating, and accusatory response that left me with feeling like I had to defend myself. He challenged my mothering skills, made conditions that could not be met then blamed me for “his” son not being able to enjoy the season. My head spins and I need to figure out how to communicate with him when he does this where I don’t respond with defending myself. I have put up many boundaries as I learn more and more and I have established no contact with the exception of email contact about important decisions that need to be made regarding our kids. It is exhausting! Thank you for your insight.

    1. Dear Kelly,

      Please look into the following books by Bill Eddy. He is both a lawyer and a therapist.

      “Splitting”
      “BIFF”
      “It’s All Your Fault!”

      Also, “Joint Custody With a Jerk”. I do not remember author’s name.

      Hang tough for your children! They deserve at least one sane parent!

      1. I am a big follower of Dr. Simon and Bill Eddy (High Conflict Personalities). Both these men have invaluable insight and approaches to dangerous personalities.

    2. I have been grappling with ways to deal with my gasslighting ex husband. Any time I try to do something good he comes back with harassment, degridation, accusations of my wrong doing and threats of legal action. He belittle s me and then goes out and finds something expensive to buy, at the cost of his own children. I have found that questioning his behavior instead of reacting works. For example: have you just come home from a trip? Are you feeling angry. I don’t participate in that abuse anymore, are you trying to pick a fight?. And best of all “that’s great, but I am going to bed.” When I was married I suggested counseling but he would not participate due his profession and he was adamant about it “being my problem”. I have been divorced for nearly ten year s and still seek counseling.

      1. Melanie Tonia Evans …… I STRONGLY recommend you look her up , after being married twice to narcs she has dedicated her life to others who have been or still involved with narcs. She has healed so many people with her programme “NARP” and will help you to “thrive not just survive” after escaping !
        Good luck
        Jane x

  3. Dr. Simon, What about when they THINK they have YOUR number and they are wrong wrong wrong??? But in fact what they are doing is accusing you of what they are doing, i.e. scapegoating the victim? I was accused of being controlling because i expected him to step up and function as an adult in my home and the relationship. But he was covertly resisting( being covertly controlling) only I didn’t know that at the time which caused such internal confusion…….

    1. These folks always like to think they know what’s going on with everyone else. It’s part and parcel of the superiority complex. And of course, the traditional view on this is that many times what they see in others is a mere “projection” of the attributes they want to disavow in themselves, but from another point of view many times the characteristics they attribute to others serve only to justify in their minds how entitled they are to treat others in the manner they do.

      1. AND possibly used as ANOTHER tool for confusing the prey? Gaslighting sort of? Or toying with?? I’m NEVER going to admit to you that your suspicions or concerns about me are well founded and accurate…….NEVER!! But I will give you leading hints by accusing you of what I am guilty of. On some sites they are called Psychopathic “tells”. Hints…..truth disguised in confusion and swept under the rug so quickly they ALMOST vanish. But they leave a trace…..A shadow remains in the victims head. No offense Dr, Simon but they are also called wtf moments. they happen in such a way they they are almost like a mirage after the fact………. I can remember thinking, wait a minute!!!! and they POOF! something else would happen,,,,day to day life would happen, time for dinner, etc…… But the traces left kept accumulating and weighing heavier and heavier.
        All SO twisted!

      2. It’s like they view everyone else through a magnifying glass and expect just the opposite when it comes time for them to answer for their own shortcomings and misdeeds.

        1. A very interesting analogy. A telescope that will magnify what is viewed when looking from one side will diminish what is viewed when looking from the opposite end. If partners each look through opposite ends of the scope, one sees an enhanced view showing every flaw of their partner in detail while the other seems a diminished view which would obscure details and flaws.

          1. This behavior is exhibited every day! Exhausting! I realize it’s a tactic my husband uses to keep his behaviors from being discussed. He will point and pick and yell about all of my short comings, failures, mistakes and things I just didn’t get done.
            But, I see this now and most times I am able to keep from responding to his comments. Or my response is a simple “listing of the things I did accomplish that were his tasks to do”. I no longer buy into his request for me “to do him a favor”. I remind him that he is over drawn on the favor account.

      3. “the characteristics they attribute to others serve only to justify in their minds how entitled they are to treat others in the manner they do.”

        Bingo!

        (hi Puddle)

        1. Hi Einstien!! 🙂
          I’m shortening your handle to E, btw because I just can’t spell!! I keep typing it wrong then looking back to spell, then typing it wrong!! OMG!! Hope you don’t mind?

    2. Puddle,
      I have found out that with a CD manipulator nothing makes sense in a relationship. The only thing that makes sense is to divorce and get as far away emotionally from that person as possible. Their “tricks” never cease. Quit wasting your energy trying to figure out why this person does what he does. He does things to harm you to in some sick way benefit himself. They are beyond repair and you should not have a spec of faith in him.
      I’ve been there and am DONE DONE DONE
      Linda

  4. Since some people don’t care about social rejection(only get embarrassed over exposure), can it still be said that social rejection does affect them, just in a different way, the way that reinforces their self-satisfied maladaptiveness?

    1. J, I would agree. It’s upside down and backwards but I think you are on to something……..not that I will ever understand it!! 🙂

      1. J, just to clarify what I typed I didn’t mean that you were upside down and backwards or what you wrote but that the whole THING is!!

    2. People, who only care about position, don’t care about social rejection. Still, doesn’t that uncaring also reinforce their inflated self-opinion? In other words, it does affect them, only in a different way. They don’t get hurt like some people, but it does affect them.

      When we think “something affects someone” we are quick to conclude “they are hurt or otherwise adversely affected by it”. Only not really. “Something affects someone” can also mean “it made his bad tendencies even stronger”.

      Perhaps this is a small detail people should discuss more.

      1. J, just like everything with all of this,,,,,,,it makes my head spin. They are a reversed image which is why people don’t understand what is happening. Think about what it’s like to read something looking in a mirror…….You CAN figure it out but it gets lost in translation……just not the same. Can you imagine reading an entire book that way??

      2. Another thing J,,,,,,they are like big fish in a little pond. They isolate themselves in a way and suround themselves only with other fish like them. I’m not sure how to say this! I think they are always on the watch with people, I’m speaking about spathtard. Like “is this working? is it safe to proceed HERE with this person? Are they buying it? Am I in??” Otherwise he was VERY quiet. Just hung back and observed.

        1. Spot on Puddle. The reaction of my wife, after being called for her behaviour, has been to step up her association with her mother. And guess what type of character she has?

          1. I’m guessing the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, or as in Spathtards case and maybe your wife’s…….the apple never even fell at all but is still hanging from a hard to reach branch.

  5. I read some of your material and was really impressed. Also, knowing I’m not alone in what I have to experience, and learning ways that I can personally not get wrapped up in the trap helps.
    Going through my divorce was the most painful event of my life, the high conflict and complete insanity of the system made me want to quit my job and become an advocate. Obviously, I cant do that as a single mother but now with this movie coming out it is bringing out a lot of emotion. Especially, as ugly emails are flying back and forth today. My ex actually thinks its a good thing that I may have to visit a food bank for the first time, while he has thousands of dollars in bank accounts. Superiority complex? Um..yeah. I told him though that even though I am facing challenges, financial stress, health issues: God is my source, not him.
    That was the best advice my attorney ever gave me.

    And it gives me a lot of peace when he belittles me, threatens me, and rants with how much he hate me for me doing this TO him. the 9th would have been my 15th anniversary, my divorce finalized in August. I chose to celebrate with the kids, break out the china, because after all I was blessed with two great children because we got married. We went around and said why we were thankful for their dad. I figured it was the healthiest thing I could do.
    Long way from broken heart and my weight down to anorexic over the trauma that learning my husband began a relationship with his boss at work and involved the children while we were married. He was actually calling her his wife before I even filed. I prayed for restoration, but it just wasn’t God’s plan. That was so hard.
    Desperately holding on to faith and having it be tested and the people that surrounded me from church really was the biggest blessing I can be thankful for that admist dealing with all the other drama

    1. I hope you find the resources here (both the articles and the great commentary by the readers) helpful and supportive. And perhaps you’ll find The Judas Syndrome particularly germane to your faith journey. And remember, although you’re absolutely correct that your faith and your own integrity will ultimately be the things that sustain you, that doesn’t mean you have to “enable” other folks in your life to shirk their responsibilities.

      1. Dr. S,

        Thank You!!!
        Yes, I can’t wait to read it!
        You are doing a great service to others 🙂
        I just received another email attempting to degrade me, attack me as a woman, mother and as a Christian. It’s very difficult to not want to defend myself and fire back, but I think reply that it was typical narcissist behavior and it was interrupting my enjoyment of football LOL

    2. Dear Beachgirl, you are so brave, my partner has similarities; he always blamed me for not “taking responsibility in life”, “was incapable of life” and was “fake”, I needed to “show” him that I could make a life “under a bridge” with nothing, that is what I “deserved”, I was a piece of filth not worth anything and deffo not his money, in my down time between jobs, I never gave up fighting, I got on my feet again, but not with his help, he only tried to push me further into the ground, financially and mentally, I believe, but I have to admit, my faith in God became a little shaky having met such a “devil” laced with charm, I resign to the fact he will apply exactly the same behavior to the next woman…….eventually. You deserve so much better!!!

      1. Dear Beachgirl: Sounds as if you were married to the same man I was. I did everything humanly possible to make it work. Three counselors told me to stop trying and leave, because he would never change. It took me a while to believe their counsel. No, he would never get any type of counseling. All psychologists were “quacks”. The divorce was a nightmare. He accused me of everything from being a prostitute to incest. Much of it in court records. None of that matters now because I am free. In my journey, I have learned something that I never see mentioned in any book or article (and I have read many). First of all with so many descriptions and so many people discussing NPD behaviour I came to realize I had married a man with the same characteristics as my mother. Yes I now know there are a lot of personality disorders in my family, most of them attributed to the way we were raised by her. Identifying the root of all those disorders was the problem. I found that when you are abandoned and rejected as a child you will subconsciously be drawn to a person that will elicit “familiar” feelings whether you know it or not. Having found this underlying cause, I am on guard against any person that wants to dominate and isolate so they can manipulate. NPD’s are notorious about giving themselves away if you listen to what they talk about for a while. It is impossible for them to have a conversation that doesn’t have I or me in it at least 75% of the time. Keep reading and studying, it will get easier to recognize them. Whatever you do, ……….do not get hooked up with another one. Seems odd to some people, but every one of my siblings has either married someone just like my mother, or they themselves are just like her and cannot maintain a relationship. Children do indeed live what they learn.

        1. Hi Darlene.
          The thing you said about marrying someone with your mother’s characteristics really resonated with me – although I’m a male. I can still remember the day over forty years ago when I left home, when I knew I just had to get away from my character-disturbed mother for my own sanity. I even went to live in a share house with people I didn’t particularly like! At the time however, I didn’t understand the situation – I just knew there was something wrong with her and can remember vowing to myself to never to treat children like she did. In fact I could remember thinking exactly that from a very young age.
          Now the strange part: even though I was aware of the adage that men tend to “marry their mothers” and should have been wary of this, in retrospect this seems to be exactly what I’ve done. Choosing a partner is obviously more of a subconscious (maybe hormonal) activity than we care to think. At the time we met, most of her character defects were well disguised – the only odd thing I noticed was how she would go on incessantly about her own mother’s defects to anyone who wanted to hear it or not. Even though our mothers were quite similar in many ways, I did not feel any urge to enlighten all and sundry to the detailed facts like she did. With hindsight, I can now see I should have recognised (Australian spelling) this as a warning because, yes, she has become everything she complained about in her own mother – plus a few of her father’s domineering characteristics to boot! Both her parents were extremely competitive, playing sport at the highest level and fighting non-stop with each other until he eventually conceded with a heart attack at 70. Her character and health (or was it attention-seeking) incidentally, improved markedly after “seeing off her main rival” as I like to think of it.
          The problem with having a female partner being overly aggressive is that, being a male, you tend think “I can handle her periodic outbursts” or “it’s just hormones” or “I’ll just ignore this behaviour as I’m physically bigger and stronger and she’s no real threat”.
          As a band called Split Enz once sang: “That was my mistake!”
          In truth, the really bad events were less frequent and more manageable in the early days – especially before her biological imperatives were satisfied – and I did manage to ignore or rationalise her behaviour to myself (the things men will put up with to satisfy their own biological needs!), but eventually it does get to you and you start to fight back. As Dr Simon says however, you’re really no match for someone with a lifetime’s experience (and who’s possibly been hard-wired from birth). So the net result is you start making bad decisions that affect your own life through frustration and confused, irrational thinking.
          Similar to yourself, my 3 sisters have all married people with obvious controlling or domineering characters.
          I was also amazed – after my father died – at how all 3 agreed that he should be nominated for sainthood for putting up with my mother for 66 years! And I thought it was just me she had a problem with for giving her such a hard time at birth! – and yes, she did remind me of that “fact” from time to time.
          Men tend to keep somewhat quiet about it for fear of being labelled sexist these days, but I’m sure it’s just as bad on either side. Now don’t get me wrong here and I certainly don’t condone it, but I can certainly at least understand why some men react with violence to this constant emotional and verbal abuse. Another unintended consequence of permissiveness, or perhaps of extreme feminism?
          You’re right about these people being self-centred as well – even in her senility, the one enduring constant with my partner’s mother is her need to always bring the conversation back to herself – even to the point of just saying “well I know nothing about that” – a statement of the all-too-obvious. In fact these days, a self-reference is her response not 75% of the time, but the start of every single one of her utterances.
          Anyway, this has been a bit of a rant and I still feel guilty talking about it (thanks mother) as if I’m somehow perfect, which I know I’m not – in fact throughout life I’ve mostly assumed I was the problem. As others have said, these people seem to be able to intuitively sense who will be an appropriate ‘victim’ for them – see “Emotional Vampires” for a more entertaining explanation.
          I like to tell myself that I’m still here to protect the kids (the oldest one has just enrolled to study psychology! Who would have thought?).
          Even though I often wish I’d read some of this stuff earlier in life, I sometimes think that experience is the only real teacher. What is it they say though? By the time you’ve learned the lesson, you’ve already failed the exam, or something like that.

          1. Gary,

            I loved your post, very funny way of putting your ideas. I think normal average people like us develop few funny bones after participating in the games. 🙂

            You certainly have highlighted some of the gender specific problems that men face dealing with aggressive women.

            Haha. “adage that men tend to “marry their mothers”… this seems to be exactly what I’ve done.”
            I wish I was so lucky to go by the adage. My mother is most gentle person one may meet, and that rubbed off me and my siblings. But, oh boy, I married one aggressive woman who can shout at traffic cops when they fine her for breaking rules!

    3. Of all the posts I have read in the past 6 months, yours is the most noble.
      You are obviously a wonderful and beautiful person.
      I know you will find someone to appreciate this x

    4. This sounds so familiar! My ex married his mistress this summer. Not that he didn’t consummate the relationship already on our 11th anniversary while we were still married. Between your story and the Doctors story above, I felt like I had flashed back two years.
      My ex and I did therapy in which he tried leveling the Dr., then by our next session actually threw a fit because the doctor wouldn’t agree with him that it was my job to die for him (my ex) as he wanted to go backpacking with our two children under 3, when I had just been advised to stay near a hospital for an appendix on the verge of rupture. How dare I mess with his life. Things are way better now, but I will always have to deal with a man who took delight in imagining my death and was psychologically abusive for pleasure. I wish my kids didn’t have to go through it too

  6. I appreciated reading this information. In my experience with an ex spouse this is exactly what needs to take place to gain ground. The problem arises when you need to coparent with this type of individual. I feel I need to defend every decision I make regarding our child. From going to the doctor to what clothes she wears. Now the issue for me is how to teach or help a child that has parent that manipulates her to do say exactly what will keep him happy. His happiness has cost her so much from extracurricular activities, vacations, and things she used to love doing. She says whatever she has to in order to keep this parent happy. This is exactly the reason why I left him in the first place. I lost friends, activities that I truly loved in order to keep him “happy”. His superiority was supposed to be the most important in the house. How can this be taught to a pre-teen? It causes so much turmoil in her life and I fear that when she does “rebel” against his wishes then she will become his next verbal abusive target. Help is hard to find and the legal system has no recourse with individuals with this type of parenting style.

    1. I’m no authority, but watched what my step-children went through with their Dad, how his treatment affected them emotionally. I don’t know that they would have ever come to the conclusion I came to about what made that monster tick.

      I think, it would have taken less of a toll on them had they understood what his real problem was. They wouldn’t have taken his behaviors personally. It’s the only way I could see to protect them, but their Mom thought differently.

      1. Yes…….and therein lies yet another problem E………..How do you explain something so twisted to a child. Adults can’t even wrap their heads around these pig monsters!! It’s just so indescribably MORE sick when an adult is manipulating and covertly overpowering a child to either get their way or pay the other parent back. S I C K

        1. I don’t know Puddle. My mom was an alcoholic, and at 6 I knew something was horribly wrong. By the time Dad talked to us about it, I was relieved and relieved of my confusion.

          Kids are MUCH more intuitive than we give them credit for. They may not understand all of it, but they understand enough to be able to cope with the reality of it in a much healthier way. What they are not is resilient enough to escape the baggage.

          1. If they actually were coping with it there would not be any baggage. Bagage is a result of litter in a childhood that was never picked up and disposed of.
            Knowing something is wrong (kids just know) and understanding what is wrong, why it’s wrong, and who is to blame for it being wrong are different.
            I guess my point is E, I can’t imaging a child being able to protect it’s self from covert aggression and manipulation from a parent without being severely scared. It’s incredible to me how many “adults” scar their children and are seemingly oblivious.

          2. Your Father deserves a lot of credit for helping you in this way E. You are fortunate. How old were you when he talked to you about your mother?

          3. Puddle,

            I was 9 or 10 and Dad explained she was sick. I didn’t understand the mechanics of the disease, but trusted what he said. It wasn’t a cure all, and it still sucked, but I could hate the disease and not my Mom (who is a wonderful, wonderful woman).

            I don’t know how on earth these poor kids deal with a Narcissistic parent, which has got to be ten thousand times worse. I think we tend to try to protect them, and we can’t protect them from this. Just inform them as much as they are able to understand.

          4. E, That is a beautiful post and You are a beautiful person to be able to see past her disease and still see the good in her. That makes me have a lump in my throat. I do think your father’s explanation may have helped there!! GOOD for him.
            I know there are plenty of people who see alcoholism AS a disease and I understand why. But it’s NOT an incurable disease and there is a choice factor involved there as well. I have always heard/ read that behind every addiction there is a certain degree of narcism. What are your thoughts about the roll that choice played in your mothers alcoholism?

    2. Authority must always be respected in a home, but well-earned respect and authority is very different from covert domination, brutality, and the unseemly brandishing of “superiority.” The marital alliance is the key to establishing the proper hierarchy. The marriage partners must be co-equal and committed, and the children must be aware that parental authority derives from the adherence to principle. This is a topic worthy of an article or two. Please remind me!

      1. That is a multi faceted TALL order in this world Dr. Simon! At the risk of sounding jaded (not sure if that is the right word), it would seem to be getting more and more proportionately unrealistic as well.

      2. Please post something about children and when to leave a relationship/marriage that is riddled with covert aggression and narcissism. I have a 2-year old who is very healthily attached and I fear that the law in Vermont will separate us to half time with her horrendously manipulative father and the other half with me- and that’s if I’m lucky and he doesn’t manipulate the law to his favor, which his family does often. My girl already doesn’t want him near her that much but if I’m her only hope for protection at such a young age how do I resolve that?!

        1. Oh Anne, I hope someone can help you. I totally understand how you would want to protect your child from such a person and I don’t know much about the law over there. Yet it seems such a common problem everywhere with the law. Can I suggest trying to get hold of Lundy Bancroft’s books, I say this because he has written a book about helping children in these sorts of situations. I don’t know that it can give you a lot of information about the law but he does address it in his books it might give you something to work with. I found it helpful. I also found this website in my travels trying to find information on this subject http://www.thelizlibrary.org/site-index/site-index-frame.html#soulhttp://www.thelizlibrary.org/liz/custody-evaluator-quotes.html it has a lot of articles on family law that may relate to your issues. I do wish you all the best in your search for answers and I understand your desperation.

      3. i e vermin counseling for over three years now.. I have always tried to protect my children from my husbands destructive behaviors.. He was always covert. It was after reading ISC that I finally realized I wasn’t losing my mind and that I was dealing with a disturbed person.. It was when I started confronting him that the viscious monster came out. I tried to protect my kids the best I could . It would amaze me how he would use them as pawns against me yet they told me they figured him out long before I did. Then when Ivwent to counseling they teach you that it is better not to discuss any part of this with the kids as it is more damaging. But how do I respond when they pariah me with their feelings and questions. How do I help them without hurting them.. They range between 16 & 35

    3. Erin, maybe try to help her develop a strong support system with extended (trusted) family and friends. My friends were my rocks in middle and high school. They are close friends to this day. My Dad is not off the charts character disturbed but he is definitely high on the spectrum. He’s probably a “channeled aggressive” as Dr. Simon describes it. My friends saw it in action and were so there for me.
      And don’t forget- you have already done a lot to teach your child what you stand for and what you think is important. You got out of that marriage. Your action in putting your marriage behind you speaks volumes without you saying a word.
      One more thing- Dr. Simon talks about how the CA’s stick out like sore thumbs when they are side by side with people who have a well-developed character, integrity, and solid principles. It’s hard for all of us to admit that we fall short, but we are human, and we do. And we just have to keep working on ourselves. Not only so that people like your daughter can see the stark contrast, but because it is, of course, the most important work we can do in this life. At least I believe that. Good luck to you Erin!

    4. Erin: I hope you read my post to Beachgirl. The danger I see here is that you are the parent to your child and you are still taking orders from your ex.
      If the daughter isn’t taught while she is young, she will be attracted to men that are just like him. I know this, because my own daughter was. I found out too late to teach her as a child but you can believe she can spot anyone with Narcissistic behaviour now, and she will run in the other direction. Her being married to one for less than 2 years was damaging enough. I don’t believe she will do that again.

  7. I have found that very often these disordered individiuals try to define you.. . . To me, it’s a “tell”. i.e., when somebody (out of the blue) says to me (as an example) “you’re (insert any negative word here)”. They’re often projecting, gaslighting, and trying to control your impression of yourself (i.e., get into your head). If you buy into it, or don’t respond immediately, they (the disordered individual) believes they “have you”. It’s totally sick sick sick.
    Did I mention sick?

    1. Oh, barf, yes. I was so committed to “self-improvement” as a young person that I felt somehow morally obligated to take to heart every negative criticism anyone leveled at me. Now I wish I’d told them to fuck off.

      I had a covert-aggressive boss my very first job out of college who made sure to assert on a regular basis that everyone ELSE was narcissistic/mentally ill/insert-favorite-psychobabble-phrase-here. Mine was “emotionally immature”–by which she meant bewildered and devastated by how I was being treated rather than sucking it up like a seasoned professional. By the time I left that office, I had clinical depression and complex PTSD.

      Years later, she mailed me a self-printed Christmas card with a Shakespeare quote about how not sorry she was. Pathetic…and disturbing.

      1. Some people pretend to there last dying breath. ..the only satisfaction, if you want to call it that, is what you find out when they F up later on in their so important lives. One boss I had was bi polar. She ended up lifting her dress while in elevator with medical director. She was fired from her “position”… this lady put me and my coworkers thru hell. Gutted our compassion and work ethic, taking credit and not praising or building a team. She was a whack job

    2. Sarah,

      Yes. My STBX projects. He says I’m a liar. (he loves that one) I’m delusional. I have a mental illness. Let’s see — I’m greedy. I’m stupid. An idiot. Thank goodness I’m finally NO CONTACT (except for bills) because I constantly felt the need to defend myself. It was so hard and troubling when I had contact with him. It was emotionally sickening me. NO CONTACT is the only way to go. When you have contact, it’s the same as inviting abuse. We have no need for that.

  8. Brilliant Dr. Simon….absolutely brilliant!! This scenario you present is uncanny in its similarity to a number of recent interactions I have experienced with someone very close to me. We have come very close to reaching a ‘here and now’ of sorts however the individual is as yet unwilling to do anything about seriously addressing her behaviour. No sooner do we get close to the ACTUAL ‘here and now’ moment, she will step back into the familiar territory of CA behaviour. Far more comfortable being comfortable with the way she is, rather than to properly address her destructive behaviour. My view is that, for her, the change is terrifying, coupled with the fact that she will no longer be able to assert control in the way she always has.

    You continue to demonstrate an incredibly accurate understand of how the manipulative character works. Brilliant!!!

      1. Sorry Puddle. I can have things clear in mind but the thought process often doesn’t really transfer as well to the written word. I mean realisation, acknowledgement and agreement to change. For me, it when the person agrees to sweep all the clutter and history to the side, and seeks to change. I’ve got mightily close at times. I can see that the person in my life knows full well what is the issue we are faced with, will give subtle hints that change is needed on her part HOWEVER is not prepared to go the whole way. My only conclusion is that she is terrified of the prospect of change because it will impact in so many areas of her life (including the relationship with her mother) that ultimately takes first place in her life. It may be wrong. It may be ignorant. But it is familiar safe ground, which I/we have communicated to her will not be tolerated.

        1. Danny, I would either say what Dr. Simon is saying in response to you OR maybe she just doesn’t know how to change. There are several of my own behaviors that I don’t like and didn’t like during my involvement with Spathtard but I didn’t know how to change them and the efforts I did make were making no difference in HIS behavior. In other words, my efforts were being undermined yet my feet were held to the fire. I WANTED to trust him more than I can put into words. HIS arms are the ones I wanted to feel safe in. His hands are the hands I wanted my heart to be safe in………there is nothing but 1000% truth to those statements. I didn’t want ANYone else and haven’t even looked at another man since we broke up. But the things required for me to feel safe with him and to be able to trust him were not going to happen if they required him to change AT ALL. No matter what line of crap he fed me to get what he wanted out of the situation……
          Yes…….one little thorn in the side of our “”relationship”” was his relationship with his mother. I did not expect him to turn his back on her or his children (as I was accused of repeatedly) but I did expect to be given equal if not greater consideration as his supposed partner. I wanted to be considered in regards to his life and other responsibilities. Taken into consideration. When you are a child you consider your parents above others. When you are an adult in an adult relationship with a woman you consider her at least at an equal level and to a degree that she feels considered.I was treated as an accessory. no matter what he told me I was to him…..the proof is in the outcome. All I ever was to him was a POA and a convenience.

          1. Dear Puddle, you hit home there….the treatment as “partner” was non-existent with reference to his kids, I was indeed an acessory and put down in front of them and always told they were the most important thing in his life, as his friends and family, I’d be below the ladder and when opening my mouth, inconvenient and on the receiving end of punishment, the classic was always; “so you think you are a princess???”…his doormat was more likely! it was his way or no way and in “partnership” I did not exist, he and his kids always arranged holidays/visits etc, I just had to conform and would be the last to hear about it…such a homecoming to read all this…thank you Puddle!

          2. I know what you mean Mitzi……….Spathtardx had kids and he SAID they were SO important to him………….. I’m sure that the truth is so different. I wanted consideration when it came to his kids, I didn’t expect him to “turn his back on them, his mother,,,,,,,,,,but because I wanted to be given consideration he twists that into something I didn’t say OR mean. It doesn’t matter……….NONE of what he said matters anymore because it was all BS, the good, the bad, the said and the unsaid. ALL OF IT. I know what some of the truth is but will nave know what all of the truth is/ was. He’s a pathological POS, plain and simple and I don’t think he has any clue that SOME people see through him in spite of his efforts to mask himself. He is fairly transparent once you know about these people and as long as you are not under his manipulation. Actually I had to laugh at some of the things a couple people I know (who know who he is) said about him…..the way they described him…….he would be horrified but maybe not.
            Anyhow, back to your comment……”partner”, yeah right. The stories I could contribute to your comment are endless but today I can’t even be bothered talking about him! It disgusts me.

        2. No Danny…….my fault. I see, just reread the article!! “The here and now”, from the article. Most often i just read the recent post and don’t put it together in the context of the article it is written under.

    1. Thank you, Danny. I try. And remember, most of the time, it’s not that change is so “terrifying” as it is unpalatable. Still, it can become a bit more palatable when they allow themselves to “taste and see” that taking a slightly different course of action might actually have its benefits.

      1. Sorry, I have just read this Dr. Simon (after typing my previous above). Yes, you see, this for me is wonderful and worthwhile personal education process……I have to keep reminding myself. Here’s me thinking and concluding she is terrified….yet she is not. You appear to be saying she simply doesn’t want to do it?

        1. What I’m saying is that when there’s a distaste for something, fear is not always behind it. Sometimes, it’s because the alternative behaviors simply don’t fit with the person’s “preferred” style or natural inclinations. Sometimes, for various reasons, an alternative behavior is simply abhorrent – not because it’s feared – but because the person has a built-in predisposition to be disgusted by it. There are a lot of possible motivators besides fear. Fear as the dominant motivator in psychological dysfunction is a bedrock axiom of traditional psychology. And the overgeneralization and blind acceptance of this concept have been the doing in of many a person trying to understand the character-impaired persons in their lives.

          1. Ok, thank you. And understood. I see….there can be all sorts of ‘reasons’. In many ways I have stopped trying to second guess her motivations and have been concentrating more so on the way I react to her behaviours, which has been a God-send. I feel more empowered, and her words and behaviours are less powerful. She has all but given up seeking a reaction through the spoken word….although she continues to play the victim, mostly to a small number of friends and associates. This troubles me no longer. I am mostly at peace….in a way I never was previously.

          2. Yes, Dr Simon, in my case, I wholeheartdly agree with your theory here, during the few times I managed to “get through” to my narcissistic partner, he admitted that he has never been able to grasp the term “love” and that “feeling” for people was something that was more applied out of a “what can I get out of it” approach, or “how will it benefit my image etc”, he also admitted he knew he was “different” and probably “disturbed” along the paths of “normality” but he always stressed that he liked the way he is and that he lives truly TRUE to himself and HONEST in how he his character is….to himself, and he wouldn’t want to change it…thank you very much for this platform!

          3. Dr. Simon,
            Can it be that they are so delusional and or plain stubborn or because they believe their way is the only way. If its someone else’s idea or view they will reject it?
            Thank you

          4. In extreme cases they can become truly delusional, but most of the time the reason they have to have all the right ideas and answers is because to consider otherwise would counter the image they’ve worked so hard to build and maintain.

  9. Dr. Simon…………..speaking of “leveling”………….when I reread the article something occurred to me. Spathtardx used to call me “babe, sweetheart, sweetie, honey”, the most significant one being “babe”. While i realize those can be terms of endearment, they didn’t strike me that way after a while, especially “babe”. “sweetheart and honey” were terms he also used for his daughter(s). The “babe” thing made me feel like a non entity in a way……I know there are a lot of men out there who use these terms on a regular basis with ANY woman they encounter. I don’t know why my thinking is taking me here but could this be considered another form of leveling? a way to impart a generic attitude towards women?

    1. There are a few women that have called me “dear”. To me, it’s a put-down. They wouldn’t refer to someone they respected as ” dear”. I specifically asked one of these women, would she call Hillary Clinton “dear”. She said no! I rest my case. I tell them please don’t refer to me as dear.

      1. Sarah, I’ve used it jokingly with friends and in that respect sometimes these terms are ok according to context but the way he used it, again…..I didn’t realize this at the time, certainly not to the degree I do now, doesn’t sit right.
        OK……I called him “honey and sweetheart ” but I don’t call anyone else these terms. I don’t say thank you honey to my brother. Sweetie was one that come one else actually commented to me about him addressing her with and the comment she made was like…..huh????? I’m not your sweetie!
        Interestingly, there are several people I have come in contact with SINCE we broke up who seem to have hi number. Not to the degree I do but they have made comments to me that indicate that something is definitely wrong with Spathtardx.

      2. Sarah,

        Maybe in some parts of the country it is a put down, but in the deep south, it’s a term of endearment – as is ‘sweetie’, which is usually reserved for young adults. Like overcooked green beans and stopping for funerals, it never made much sense to folks from other parts of the country.

          1. The Babe, Babe, Babe, Babe,,,,,,,,to the point of wanting to ask him if he actually remembered what my name really was! LOL

  10. Dr. Simon, Before I forget…….please post something about the damage these people can inflict on another person without even raising a finger in “anger”. this has changed me in a way, undermined me mentally and emotionally, in a way that nothing else ever has and that I am concerned that may be irreversible. How long does PTSD take to recover from?? And are there people who never do?

    1. Puddle it’s time to push yourself to get back out into the world. You are ready. You have a suspicion of everything now and that is not good. You need to “raise your threshold for anxiety” and risk someone calling you “babe” without it killing you.

      Life is full of risk. We have new knowledge of these types from Dr. Simon’s blog. Now it’s time to go out there again and live.

      1. Claire……….I’m not sure what you mean by “out in the world”.
        Someone calling me babe does not cause me anxiety anyhow because I’ve never had someone call me babe in my entire life! Before him or after him! THAT is what made it weird! Really, someone calling me Babe is not going to kill me or send me over the edge…..it’s just an observation.

    2. Puddle,

      It takes a while, but you will recover. You won’t be the person you were before, but you’ll be the person you were meant to be.

      This experience is harsh, harsh, harsh, and we have to consider why God would choose us for the task. Because someday, somewhere, somehow, your experience – the wisdom, knowledge and insight gained from it – is going to put you in the position to help so many people. You know the old saying, “sometimes you’re right where God wants you to be”?

      You will get past this. Trust in it and take one day at a time. It does get better.

      1. Puddle if you’ve taken a while at one stage of recovery, it’s time to man up and push yourself to wobble up to getting out there more.

        Oddly one the first stage of recovery is getting back in touch with our emotions, but the next stage requires getting a little more detached in a good way from our emotions. Just buck up and do gentle pushes to go out in the world more.

        The first stage of recovery is sort of “mothering” onesself. It is really easy to get stuck there if we don’t start taking small risks and “fathering” ourself against this fear and getting out there again.

        1. Again Claire, I’m not sure what you mean by “getting out there”. Sorry if I’m missing something. I’m not holed up in my house! I live in a very rural area and honestly, I don’t know where I would go toe “get myself out there”!! LOL I don’t drink and would not want to or enjoy hanging out at a bar in order to “get myself out there”.
          Sorry if I’m missing your meaning Claire.

      2. E, thanks………I seem to be going backwards sometimes. and I really haven’t had any treatment other than talk therapy……..for MONTHS. So I don’t know how this is going to heal. I do see evidence that in some ways I have moved, or the pain has lessened in some areas but other ways it feels worse. I do try to keep putting one foot in front of the other no matter………..that is my nature anyhow. It’s what it has done to my head and my mind and my ability to function and care for my self and my responsibilities that I’m really struggling with. A mental undermining I guess, like shell shock………it still is ringing in my ears all the time.
        (Hi Einstien! 🙂

        1. Every time a person talks about their ex, they strengthen and reinforce the connection to that ex. It makes sense to do for a while because we don’t want to walk back into the same trap.

          But at some point we have to zoom out, apply the lessons learned to the other people in our lives, and exercise a lot of self-discipline in nudging a dissolve of that bond with the person. One way is to stop saying the ex’s name.

          If you’ve only been processing this for a few months it makes sense. But if you feel you’re going backwards then pay attention to that feeling, may be time to shake things up.

          1. Claire……..I’m actually still sorting this out! Things are still becoming clear to me, the fog is still lifting in other words? I’m still having a hard time really swallowing the ?truth?
            This has left a scar in my mind that is seemingly very deep. He must of set the hook hard in my heart. I am having so much trouble coming to terms with the depth of his Lies! It’s unreal…….my inner self just can’t seem to believe that there are really people like this in the world and that one took a dump in my heart.

  11. I guess I’m in a weird place of having a hard time removing the impostor from my heart and replacing it with the psychopath he really is. It’s certainly been a seesaw ride from Hell.

    1. Puddle,

      I’ve experienced severe betrayal. You know what helps get over it? Just know that they are Bad, Bad to the Core. Believe it. Accept it. We’ve been fooled, duped. They are NOT GOOD PEOPLE and not worth fighting for a relationship with. Accept it. Accept it. Once you do you will start healing. Yes, there are BAD PEOPLE OUT THERE! I married one. I cannot like or especially love a person who does cruel things. Pollyanna doesn’t live here anymore . . . .

  12. Just a comment or two on the discussion regarding various names and terms spouses use. There’s some pretty substantial data suggesting that terms of endearment or little pet names are actually associated with longer-lasting, happier, more affectionate relationships. They key issue, therefore, is not the use of such terms, but the underlying intent. When malignant narcissists and other disturbed characters use various names and terms, they often do so as an expression of their desire to diminish the standing and value of the other person, even though that intent is not always evident. It’s when the true intent in such cases is discovered by the party on the receiving end that they experience the trauma associated with the term, prompting them to question themselves about why they didn’t pick up on the signs sooner, why they tolerated the subtle demeaning so long, and also causing them to bristle at the thought of being subjected to some similar circumstance again. The name is not the problem, although by “association” it can become a trauma trigger. Character is the real issue. And when a survivor has good reason to feel good about their increased awareness and determination to associate only with those of solid character, paranoia and sensitivity to the use of genuine terms of endearment is likely to be substantially less.

    1. Once again Dr.Simon, you demonstrate an impressive sharpness in highlighting how so-called terms of endearment can be put to destructive use by the narcissist mindset. My partner will often do the same as you describe, particularly when deliberately giving the impression of wanting to engage in open and respectful discussion. I have also noticed that it is often accompanied by highfalutin language. However the same thing happens time and time again, truckloads of pointless history is quickly wheeled out, she will take an eternity to ask a question or make her point, will totally monopolise the discussion…….and the same old gaslighting will occur and reoccur. My conclusion is that it is one big con-trick, intended to totally to disarm the intended victim into submission while masking the real intent, which is to insult and humiliate.

      1. Danny……I know I keep asking this but do you have an example? It helps me put things in focus and i want to understand your position. 🙂

        1. Ok, forgive please Puddly. I get a little uncomfortable in giving personal examples, for no other reason that I want to strike the right balance between acknowledging personal experience and not betraying personal experience. Either way, no air of superiority intended in any way but for many a year I have been referred to with the epithet “lovely Danny” by a small circle of family members and close friends. The term is not used all the time, more used especially when greeting each other and/or at times when in discussion about particular matters, personal stuff etc. And so, at times, my partner has used the same term affectionately, as if to confirm the feelings she or others may have. Of course I have no problem with that. However there has been times when the term is deliberately used in a CA manner. For example when we are in disagreement, when our relationship is strained, my partner will occasionally use the same epithet, as if to give the impression she is affectionately appealing to my heart, however it does not sit right at all. It feels as though she is disarming me while masking her real intent, which is to insult, accuse and humiliate, with little in the way of opposition. And guess what, the accusations, the negative patterns of speech and the gaslighting behaviour will almost usually follow shortly thereafter.

          I hope that makes sense.

          1. Yes Danny Thank you and I don’t want you to reveal anything you are uncomfortable talking about AT ALL! Let me try to explain what goes on in my head when I read some of your comments and a few others on this site…….
            I read some comments and I swear they sound like they could be written by spathtardx. I KNOW he misunderstood and misinterpreted me in the relationship and read motivations into my behavior that were NOT THERE.
            I don’t know why and I wonder if he was interpreting me through his own frame of reference and the sick frame of reference of his mother.
            SO, when I read something you or someone else writes, I think……what if she DIDN”T mean to be the way she was? It’s so hard because I only am reading one perspective when someone on here comments and i do NOT want to invalidate you or your perceptions at all.
            I know personally, I’m like a bull in a china shop at times when it comes to expressing myself and in the situation I was in with Spathtard, the door to healthy and productive communication was all but nailed shut. It’s not like I felt like we could really sit and discuss an issue in a way that was safe. I don’t think he felt like he even SHOULD! So it always felt like an imposition which made me nervous about bringing anything up and on and on and on……….Again, I come away from it all feeling like I was being toyed with.
            I don’t know Danny. Your situation………..again, so hard to comment on but clearly you have the sense that something is wrong there and it probably is!! I just wish for you that you can find a way to deal with it if you love her and value the relationship. It sounds like you are trying and I applaud you for that.

          2. Hi Puddle. The different way in which we see and interpret matters is something that is of huge interest to me. For example, I am naturally of an analytical leaning. I do think things through and can be guilty of over-thinking things and perhaps arriving at an incorrect conclusion. I also think that in any relationship, somewhere between the two polar opposite positions drawn by either party……will be the truth. No one is completely wrong and completely right. That said, on the subject of terms of endearment and as alluded to by Dr.Simon, the key issue is not necessarily the use of whatever the terms, but the underlying intent. And it is over time that this can often become evident, along with other types of manipulative behaviour along the spectrum. I feel it certainly has in my case. I shall always be grateful to this website (and a few others) that have helped me in this regard, opened my eyes in ways I could not have imagined. My last point is by no means conclusive but quite a few of those close to my partner, have communicated to me the same in a completely unprompted manner, resulting in my partner (aided and abetted by her mother) ostracising themselves more and more.

          3. Danny You typed :”I also think that in any relationship, somewhere between the two polar opposite positions drawn by either party……will be the truth. No one is completely wrong and completely right. ”

            That is very true until someone is being maliciously controlled and abused because that are being beaten down in a way that the other partner is not. That is affecting the beaten down partners ability to function at their optimal level. Just like when someone gets jumped and ends up in a fight……the person who GOT jumped is always going to be at a disadvantage and trying to fight from a down position from the get go.

          4. Danny, I respect your desire and ability not to betray personal experience and I’m afraid that is a character fault of mine in this situation. I have been VERY open when talking about Spathtardx and revealed A LOT of information even if only anonymously. I don’t know how to be measured in that way, I just don’t. AND, I don’t feel any sort of loyalty to someone who has used and abused me. If someone I knew forcefully raped me I would not even hesitate for a moment to expose them to the authorities and anyone else who crossed my path. Maybe that is harsh and maybe it does say something about my character but in my mind it is an eye for an eye. He stopped being someone I owe ANYthing to when he chose to take advantage of my feelings for him or when he targeted me as a sorce of his own pleasure and needs with no concern for mine.
            Everyone’s situations on here are different. I only ask for examples because I want to understand what is meant by someones comments. I give examples because I want others to understand where I am coming from and have experienced. I can’t tell you how helpful it has been to me to read other peoples stories and see that I am not alone in what I have experienced. It’s uncanny to read something that is SO similar to what I was experiencing in my situation because he tried to paint ME as the crazy one, that there was something wrong with me. I can not say that there is nothing wrong with me and never will but what I can say is that I am in no way responsible for him being an abusive manipulative user. I didn’t cause it in my relationshi* with him and I certainly had nothing to do with his abusive relationships in his past. It was an imbalanced pairing from the start only I was too emotionally “stupid” and naive to know it.
            Thank you for your comments Danny and others….always…..thank you. it’s invaluable.

      2. I know this may sound strange to some of the folks trying to deal with the trauma of being in a relationship with a malignant N. but………..
        When I understood what I was dealing with, and was preparing for my escape (it took several months since he had control of ALL the money) on the occasions where he deemed it necessary to speak to me I would immediately put up an invisible wall between us. Although I could hear what he was saying, I would also picture those hateful demeaning words hitting that wall and falling to the ground. The more he did it, the higher I pictured the wall. I didn’t respond nor did I react and it seemed like the most frustrating thing in the world to him. He would eventually stomp out of the room or leave the house. Needless to say he didn’t allow that to go on for long. He found himself a girlfriend that filled his Nsupply and after a whirlwind courtship (when I moved out of the house) he moved her in. The punishment phase started soon after in the divorce, but I said all this to those out there that can’t seem to find a way not to internalize those hateful words and actions. There is a way, it can be done.

    2. When I make friends with a person of my age (senior), and that person calls me “dear” which made me cringe . . it’s a “tell”. There have been 3 instances where this has happened. For me, it’s enough to make a conclusion. In each case, the person wound up being . . . well . . . at the least “a total phony”. I don’t like phonys!

      1. Oddly enough, in certain areas of the country “dear” is a term used very frequently when talking to men and women. There is nothing at all behind it….just a thing people say.

  13. Thank you for that explanation Dr. Simon, very measured and objectively worded.

    It is something so traumatic to get out of one of these entanglements and review even what you thought were the “good” things in the “relationship” and to realize that they were no more than a covert part of the abusers game. One thing……and this might be a little “risky”, I don’t mean to be offensive here but it is an example of how out of touch the victim can be when under the spell of one of these manipulative game players. I think back to when we were together in the beginning of this and still drinking…….we were sitting at the bar on bar stools and Spathtardx had his hand slightly down the back of my jeans. At the time I kind of liked it because he was my man and I loved feeling like that with him. Now I think back on it and se it much differently. He was “broadcasting to the other men that I was his POA. It’s sickening to me mostly because i know how pure my intentions towards him and the relationship were. It’s very painful. There are SO many realizations……and they keep coming.

    When someone leaves a relationship that just didn’t work out, as I have in my past, or looses a partner who dies,,,,,,,there are good memories and bad memories, it’s just part of being involved in a relationship with someone. In this case, the good memories are worse than the bad memories,,,,,,like a cruel poison left in my mind.

    1. Puddle,

      A couple of quotes, not verbatim, from another NPD site where women were talking about what it felt like after getting out of a relationship with a narc:

      I feel like I’ve just been extricated from a cult.

      I didn’t just get out of a bad relationship, I was kidnapped, tortured and held for ransom.

      I found those quite prophetic, and descriptive.

      Those are the reasons it’s so hard to recover, it does a real number on you. I see what Claire is saying. Knowledge is power, and will help you understand what happened to you so you can start coming to terms with it. At some point, you’re going to approach diminishing returns on the quest for knowledge. Only you know when that point is, and you’ll know it, and that’s when you need to get out there and ‘fake it till you make it’ (also not easy).

      You’ll probably end up being like me. You’re gonna know every inch of it, and years down the road it will be a fascinating subject and a research hobby for you. Others may need to have only a top-level understanding. Everybody gets to set their own schedule. This is one of those cases where one size doesn’t fit all.

      For the record, you have an EXCELLENT grasp on narcissism. Not an easy feat.

      1. E,,,,,,,,,Thank You…….A huge internet {{{HUG}}} to you. Those internet hug things kind of bug me but in this case I feel like it is well deserved to you because I appreciate your validation so much.
        I NEVER in a million years thought something could damage me the way this has. NEVER! I feel very impatient with myself because it has been over a year since we broke up even though his game continued for another 4 months after that.
        It is eroding my mind in a way that is hard to put into words. Im probably not doing very well this week because I found out on Monday through the grapevine that he has a new woman. Crushed me. So that uncovered even more untruths that he told me and brought a whole other layer of things he had said to the surface.
        And I can’t tell you how damaging it is to miss someone so much that it feels like a part of me was amputated and to know that that “person” was never real……that it was all a game and that I was and continue to be the butt of the joke. My psychiatrist KNOWS that I loved him…….who ever he presented himself to be. AND at 54 years old, he meant more to me than ANYone I had ever been with in my life. My mind just can’t seem to be able to neutralize that incongruency(sp). And that is what I felt the entire time I was with him,,,,,,confusion to the point that there needs to be another word for it because that is’t strong enough.
        One thing that I know,,,,,,because I’ve lived with me my whole life………What ever HE thinks MAY be the cause of MY issues is WRONG WRONG WRONG because I know in my heart, as do the people in my life who can actually see me for who I am, that my intentions towards him and the relationship were pure and deep. He offered me NO legitimate explanations or self discovered reasons for his issues and seemed like he expected me to just accept and understand without them. Unconditional love is something, like trust that is earned between two people not just expected………MOMMY is the person you look to for that.
        Thanks Einstien………

        1. I think even in a relationship with a CA (I don’t like the labels “sociopath” or “psychopath” because that grows them into bigger, more powerful monsters, I try to keep it pedestrian) even with a CA, sometimes the anger is sincere and other times it is brandished. Sometimes the affection is sincere and other times they have the manipulator hat on.

          If you felt loved trust that. Some memories if you’re not so sure, may be re-written and re-recorded in light of this new knowledge.

          “And I can’t tell you how damaging it is to miss someone so much that it feels like a part of me was amputated ” everyone feels like that after a breakup. Like a phantom limb. We have to actively do things unrelated to the ex in our day-to-day life to get that to fade.

          1. Claire, I have never felt like this after a break up, not even close. I’m 54 so it’s not like I just went through my first break up.
            Spaths don’t feel real love they only feel desire and attraction and desire to possess for what they can get out of the situation. The element that is missing with them and why what they feel is not love is the inability to commit and be responsible to anyone other than themselves. A lot of loving someone is choosing to do the right thing by them as well as yourself.
            I here you when it comes to the terms Ppath and Spath but if the shoe fits, it fits. I know the terms confuse me and many others but there are “breaking points where the behavior goes above and beyond something else and THAT is where I say Psychopath and they don’t need to be grown into monsters because they are already there.

          2. It is up to you to feel loved, either to believe that God loves you, to remember adults in your life who loved you when you were a child.

            Entering a relationship in adult life takes courage – because it is taking a risk of getting hurt. You exercised courage entering into this relationship, you took the risk. Now part of you is hurting, but not everybody exercises the courage to even take that risk in the first place.

          3. Claire…..Honestly?? I didn’t exercise ANYthing when I got into this mess!! LOL! Sorry, I just didn’t. I wasn’t taking a risk, I was on auto pilot. I was drinking to the point of potential personal disaster! AND that is what happened……only not in the way I thought it would or could. I was a mess! And then the bonding happened……the trance, the spiders dance. When the pain became unbearable I would come up for air but he was VERY good at pushing back underwater with his promises and I just couldn’t keep up with it. Things were always so ……..I don’t know how to explain! Off to work, home for work, time for dinner, time for bed……..the days just kind of rolled along. Issues got swept under the rug and another was right there to replace the other one that never got addressed. I feel like I was on a roller coaster ride that I couldn’t get off of AND………The good times, the good parts, the thing I LOVED about him and the relationship were SO good that somehow when it was good I could “forget” the bad. No one but me will ever know what I felt when he softened his eyes and looked at me, pulled me close and said, ” I love you SO much Puddle”. Like pouring sleeping potion down my throat.
            JUST CRAZY!!!
            So how could I possibly possibly possibly miss someone who mislead and deceived me so completely??? It’s been almost a year since I’ve actually touched him and that was a hug……but do I feel intense longing in spite of all my efforts to move on? indescribably intense. I formed a bond with him unlike anything else I’ve ever felt and THAT happened after I quit drinking.
            Well,,,,,,I better wrap it up…..I don’t want to hog the site….I just get on a roll and don’t know when to stop!

          4. Puddle…….
            //…..Spaths don’t feel real love they only feel desire and attraction and desire to possess for what they can get out of the situation. The element that is missing with them and why what they feel is not love is the inability to commit and be responsible to anyone other than themselves. A lot of loving someone is choosing to do the right thing by them as well as yourself…..//
            Couldn’t agree more if I tried. Never a truer word (or words) said 🙂

        2. The last guy I dated was what I would call a garden variety CA. As much fun as that was, it was a cake walk compared to the Narcissist. I think the spectrum Dr. Simon talks about isn’t linear (where toxicity is concerned), it’s logarithmic.

          Cool Puddle….I’m 55. Are we there yet?

          1. E, I’ve noticed that the mid 50’s seems to be a fairly common age on the “afterspath” sites! Because it’s just not enough to get trashed by a Spath, you know?? You have to do it during menopause. They take anything they can get for free……even your period. He took mine!

        3. Just a short background, this is my first post.

          I was married to a Narcissist for 20+ years. He just recently passed away; cancer.
          I know what it feels like “to miss someone so much that it feels like a part of me was amputated”. The pain is unbearable. My analogy to describe the pain was being a watermelon and agonizing over a water extracting procedure; excruciating.
          He lived 8 years after his diagnoses. I made myself sick over the stress of caretaking, especially towards the end. After he passed, my friends took me to the hospital emergency, thinking I was having congestive heart failure.
          (shortened story) eventually examined by a heart specialist, the doctor mentioned an illness called “broken-heart syndrome”. I had never heard of such a thing. Of course, the doctor explained what it was, but I really got an understanding when I came home and researched the internet. Broken-heart Syndrome is real, and people die from it.
          That got my attention, acuity like never before!!! Yes, I loved him, however, I WAS NOT GOING TO DIE FOR HIM !!! We can only live our own lives, and I made myself really sick. I was doing it to myself; my swollen legs, inability to breath, the pain in my heart, and the soars covering my body.
          I remember how it felt when the anxiety, suffering, the pain and sorrow was seemingly encapsulated and tossed out! I was teeming with unlimited ‘acceptance’. It was so liberating! I had all the answers at once!
          I am still alive and I still have time to choose … IT WAS OVER !
          It’s been 3 months since this breakthrough. My body healed itself. Acceptance is key, not just about how my husband behaved towards me, but to all aspects in life one can think of. I even realized that through my entire life, I have never even accepted myself.
          Acceptance – a good thing to have.

          1. Hello Adrienne, and welcome! So glad you are doing better, we’re here to cheer you onward and upward! Hope you will let us know how you are doing! Narcissists are so Not Fun, my biological mother was one. Peace and hope from Elva

      2. it is so surreal…..like I was drugged for the whole time I was with him! And, We weren’t even together 2 years really…………..it feels like ten. Weird! Maybe because he was ALWAYS with me?

      3. Still studying and still learning. A necessity for me since I have 4 family members that are NPD. Only 2 will talk to me at all but I have learned how to deal with their manipulations quite effectively. Knowledge is power to protect yourself.

  14. My husband has trouble putting on the brakes…he’s told me that sometimes he knows he shouldn’t do something but goes ahead and does it any way. Lately he’s been doing crazy things and def not applying the brakes. Then I got the tears about how he’s a mess, empty and he feels like a child, that he’s a bad person and suddenly I was no longer to blame. He acknowledges he has aggressive problems and that it has ruined his life and he feels so ashamed that he can’t live with himself. I wondered is this true contrition as it sounded like it but he still fell short of admitting he needed help.
    I admit I felt so sorry for him and at heart I still love him but my fear of him and my sons fear of him just won’t let me take a chance with him again unless he gets some help. On one level I’m ready for taking a giant leap of faith and leaving with my son to somewhere anywhere to start a new life yet he seems to want us to stay at home even while he’s setting his new life up and acting totally irresponsible at the same time. I don’t know if he’s turned a corner or not. I’d like to believe so but in the end it’s as been said before it’s actions not words. It’s so frustrating dealing with such a character.

    1. Tori, I can’t tell you how many times my ex turned on the tears and I believed him yet he never took one step forward ON HIS OWN to get help or change anything. And now, he still drinks (even though he assured me he was done with it, how he could see how much it had ruined his life, that he was quitting for him and not the relationship, how he thought he could control it but this time he REALLY SAW that he can not, how nothing is more important to him than me and the relationship, blah blah blah) Yet never went to alcohol counseling or even AA which is FREE and has helped millions of people.
      There is no dealing with such a character until they deal with them selves. The last time he tried to manipulate me with tears he came in the kitchen when I was laying in the bedroom, turned on the tv and started crying. When he didn’t get a response from me he turned down the tv and cried louder so I could hear him. When he still got no response he came into the bedroom and cried, I held him and then we ended up in the last fight of the relationship (almost last, not really but into the death throws). I know when I cry, it’s real an comes from somewhere so deep I can’t stop it but he accused me of “boo hooing it”.

  15. Seems to me – its a nightmare scenario for ‘wolves in sheep clothing’ (C.A.’s) – that intended prey see through the ‘thin disguise.’ Besides foiling a plan, such prospect apparently poses an even greater, more general menace – awareness of such goings-on.

    Awareness, sentry function, informed vigilance – is anathema to malign purposes. They rely on a naively “Condition Green” culture pattern, asleep at its own wheel on such issues (present condition of our society). That offers ideal conditions for their fun and games. Anything that might lead to a more alert status of C.A. in general, it seems, can really provoke fear, for aggressive treachery of grim determination and clear intent. Light, if it threatens to break on the horizon – seems quite a cause for alarm to the ‘dark side of the human force’ (my impression, from what I see all around – abundantly).

    This aspect of C.A. (character disorder past a certain point) recalls, for me – a lyric from the Moody Blues, ON THE THRESHOLD OF A DREAM: “Face piles of trials with smiles. IT RILES THEM TO THINK THAT YOU PERCEIVE THE WEB THEY WEAVE …” (caps for emphasis).

    Thank you again Dr SImon (all and sundry) for lighting a candle here. In darkness so deep, even one tiny flame, casting light in all directions – apparently has the power to dispel 10 times its weight in shadow. And it enables not just the candle-lighter, but all – everyone else in attendance – to see too. Dark designs have no such power, seems to me – can only spitefully envy it (a la Cain’s malign envy of the favor his brother’s sacrifices enjoyed, perhaps).

    1. Doclao, ……..Great lyrics! I used to listen to Moody Blues all the time when I was in High school,,,,,,,,little did I know what lessons and messages their lyrics contained. So many band’s lyrics take on such a different color to me now!

  16. Hi Dr K Simon

    I am going through a situation whereby people I live with are using subtle means of bullying like whistling when I am around or when they see me among other things. Example if I walk into the kitchen let’s say Matt is in the kitchen he will make a short whistle and ( it is the same whistle that the other roommates make when I am around) when I look puzzled he quickly says Hi in a jovial fake tone. Even my other roommate does that when I turn around when she whistles she immediately says oh hi in a very childish tone. I used to be a call girl and I think that is why they do this. My friend noticed and told me that I was not being paranoid that I was being harrassed and mentaly abused because he noticed that they did it frequently only when I could hear them . But maybe it just me but is it possible for people to be aggressive and quickly passify their victims by being jovial to avoid confrontation and by pretending what they are doing is not directed at the victim. I am not saying I am victim but I am relying on my instinct but I also feel like maybe it just harmless whistling that only happens when I am around. Please help me because it is driving me crazy and it is frequent when they are at home .
    Please tell me if I am being paranoid or if like my friend said being harrssed in a subtle way…they are well educated and middle class adults.Thank you for your time .

    1. Jane,

      Perhaps the readers will have some helpful comments here. I don’t feel comfortable replying directly in the discussion forum to all the issues you raise here (best to do that through the back-channel or “contact dr. simon” feature), but with respect to the question of whether people can be subtly aggressive then try to pacify, disarm, or subtly discount their targets by making light of things, the answer is definitely “yes.” People can and do engage in this type of behavior and some kinds of people do it a lot and with a fair degree of casualness.

      1. Turn to face the housemate after he whistles, look him in the eye, pause and just make eye contact with very firm, relaxed body language. Then ask “is everything OK?” in a really “concerned” tone.

        When they ask why do you ask? Pause again while maintaining eye contact, then walk away and say “I thought you were trying to say something”.

    2. I think you should just say “STOP IT”. If they stay “stop what” . .very innocently?
      Say “Your whistling is a put-down and bullying. You are a bully. Stop it!”
      You have put THEM on the defensive. If they still defend….”rinse and repeat”!

        1. What is it that a “passive aggressive” person cannot deal with? Confrontation. Especially if other people are around to see it. The plan is to think you are just imagining it. But if they are all doing it, then it is part of some sick plan. Just get them all in the same room and CONFRONT what they are doing. What you did in your past should not rule what you do today nor should you allow anyone to use it against you. I’m very sure all those roommates have something of their own they would like to keep secret.

          1. And don’t let the comment “You’re so sensitive” be the end of the conversation, or the laugh as if it’s a “joke”. The PA won’t own up to what they’ve done, they will act like you have some character deficiency.

      1. In Dr. Simons words,,,,,,,,,,,”of course you know what I’m asking you to stop and why, so are you going to stop”?

        Then I foresee them saying ……….”I have no idea what you are talking about”!
        You say…..”Of course you do.”

        And on and on and on………….where does it end? And I would get caught in explaining once again..something I had explained in great detail many times before because I thought/ believed that maybe there was a misunderstanding or he really didn’t get it or I had not been clear enough……etc.! A trap! Sure, I stepped into it but i didn’t KNOW it was a trap!

        1. Mean while my confusion and frustration grows and of course it finally erupts when the proverbial straw hits the camels back.

  17. Dear Dr Simon

    I am immensely grateful for your work. I have no idea where I could possibly start in attempting to describe how my husband fits the profiles you have outlined. I am sure I am not alone in describing the sense of horror that I feel in starting to recognise him for what he really is. He (and similarly his mother and sister) have utterly destroyed my life – and am currently looking into pressing charges and other legal implications. Perhaps unwisely I sent him some links for your site and he concedes that he may be a narcissist/sociopath. I wonder if there might be a glimmer of hope for him. Unfortunately it seems he has twisted his domestic violence counsellor around his finger as she now apparently comforts him and assures him he did not mean anything malicious by his behaviour (an assertion I believe to be fallacious). I believe his minor admissions of partial guilt (combined with demonstrations of distress) are yet another lie. Do you know of any good therapists in Australia as I would be prepared to travel to get him help?

    Kind regards
    Sarah

  18. Perhaps I should explain how bad his behaviour was at its peak. He detained me in our home under the guise of me being mentally unwell after I was very fearful for my life when he took my phone away (deleted contacts/read messages and emails), drove at high speeds in poor conditions (unsealed unlit winding roads in the Adelaide hills in the pitch dark), screaming at me, violently punching the steering wheel, forcing me to go to bed when we got home – all because I wanted to check my phone to confirm some travel arrangements. In the ensuing days I sat stunned and traumatised and began to dissociate. He took me to the doctor (and threatened to hit me as we walked in). The doctor gave him pills for me and in the following week he violently and forcibly administered these in our home (pushed them in my mouth, held me so I could not escape, blocked my nose and covered my mouth until I swallowed). He also forcibly fed me and gave me copious alcohol. I begged him to stop saying how fearful and devastated by his behaviour I was. Ultimately I was admitted to a psychiatric facility. I told the doctors about I wanted to leave him and press charges. He denied the abuse and employed a range of tactics and convinced the doctors he was a wonderful husband – and the doctors swallowed this hook line and sinker. Furthermore they required me to go home to him (when he further assaulted me). I should confirm that I do NOT have a history of mental illness despite having experienced sleep problems and anxiety due to my father’s abuse of me. I have not had a history of depression, mania, psychosis etc. Since I have been separated from him (as before our brief time together as a married couple) I am entirely mentally well and on no medication whatsoever. However as a result of his lies I lost my licence to practice as a dentist. I apologise I am so defensive of my mental health but it was so much more damaging to have the doctors defend him and attribute my allegations of abuse to delusion/lying. I should further add that my husband did many, many more abusive things in our short marriage (and even prior to the wedding) – screaming, punching walls, forcing me into a car when he had been drinking, forcing me to sign mortgage papers, mocking and imitating me etc etc. Anyway this is brief summary of my story. I am hoping that with the help of pastors the truth will come to light (my husband professed to be a christian). I still hold out a glimmer of home that he might come to faith but admittedly things do not look good.

  19. I found this most interesting site. I am a Gay male who was involved with someone I now feel has NPD. The relationship ended just over three years ago- but everything that happened from summer of 2009 through early 2011 now through my own therapy, education on this subject- I was indeed the victim of someone with this personality disorder. He sold me as his ‘soul mate’ it was just too good to be true- and in the end it was. The first few months where wonderful- but from the early beginning I saw some red flags which I ignored. One was the lack of emotions- the self absorption, and the inability to validate me as a person. About a year into the relationship- when I began to ‘pull away’ He then began to devalue me in the most subtle way. But the abuse was definite. The relationship began continued to decline over the final months of 2010, into early 2011. Today I have limited contact with this person. I have in fact been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder- and am also now in DBT- I found the lack of conscience, and empathy to be totally freaky- its like being with someone who is not human- a soul with no footprints. Over the last few years I have met others who have encountered this person. They still blame others for their problems- use projection, and consider others as simply inferior to their ‘greatness’. It was a very painful experience. I basically confronted this person with their illness- they said little- but today he avoids me- the truth and knowledge I have is simply more then he can bare. I believe after this relationship ended I suffered from PDST- I am on the long road to recovery from BPD- but admit the issues I have as being dysfunctional. I am gaining my self esteem back- and learned the lesson of a lifetime from this.

    1. Peter,,,,,,Good for you! You really sound so on top of this incredibly painful experience. I wish you continued growth and healing. In my opinion, even though any and all of us may come into an encounter with one of these twisted monsters, it it their deceptiveness, manipulation and game playing that makes their issues the crux of the matter. I will take away from this the lessons I have learned but I will never claim responsibility. I do consider myself a victim because I know how I felt and what my intentions were and they were pure………he also knew that.
      Good luck to you Peter!

      1. Thanks Puddle- I was once a victim- but I consider my strength and courage dealing with my own Borderline PD- plus a Psychopath/Narcissist has made me stronger and now a survivor. Many people who are intelligent can be fooled by this master controllers and manipulators. The simply have no heart- just are empty souls who go from one serial relationship to another, using and exploiting people, draining them of their life blood- until they find someone who really believes they are ‘touch by God’.

        1. Peter, Kudos to you! one thing you just said is so true…….”many people who are intelligent can be fooled by this(these) master controllers and manipulators”…..it so true and SO frustrating because until you have been a victim of one it’s impossible to understand how they operate. Most people blame the victim for ALLOWING themselves to be conned and manipulated and for having a hard time moving on after it’s over because they do not understand how insidious the manipulation is and how deep the damage to the victim can be. In my case, I didn’t even KNOW know until long after the nightmare ended. AND the damage has been indescribable.

          1. Puddle- the one I knew conned everyone- well most everyone- to optimize their ‘public image’. Those more intimately involved with this person have a far more negative opinion. One person I was casually involved with met the Narcissist several times in a social venue, and was ‘impressed’— he has a PhD in Psychology. LOL-

  20. Peter……I KNOW!!! It’s amazing! Well, here is a bizzare twist………
    Yesterday I ran into an old drinking buddy of mine who I really LOVE! He is and always will be like a brother to me. He is one of the few people from my drinking past that I find worth keeping in my life, both he and his wife. So, I have spoken at length with his wife about Spathtardx……she knows just about everything that I have been through with him. She told me that Spathtardx gives her the creeps, something is not right there, gives me a bad feeling, etc. Her ex- husband was a very sick disordered, mentally and emotionally ill man…..My point here is……..THEY are friends with a guy who basically stocked me briefly three or four years ago! This guy is VERY creepy but why does she not see it in him if she saw it in Spathtardx? He was with the guy I am friends with yesterday because my friend is very ill and needed a ride which is how I ran into them. So Spathtardx creeped her/ them out but this guy who was verbally abusive to me, trespassed on my property, repeatedly texted and called me leaving messages that were increasingly off the wall angry and abusive to the point that I called the sherifs department and was one step away from getting a restraining order on him!! I don’t get it.

  21. The PhD I knew had a rather high opinion of himself. What he thought he ‘saw’ was strength, courage, coolness and someone able to control their emotions, with a huge air of superiority- all ‘leadership qualities’ and signs of superior intelligence. This same PhD was sure ready to pounce on my ‘issues’ and those of a Lady friend of mine. Be that as it may we do not socialize today. Late last summer in a nice but very cryptic note I pointed out to him that the ‘Golden Boy’ he liked so much suffered from NPD- and I said these people are called ‘Psychopath Lite’- Adding that both the Psychiatrist I was seeing and my therapist quickly identified the behaviors I faced and endure as abuse from someone who was ‘likely’ NPD. In any case I enjoyed throwing this back in his smug face. I only have a BA- but I have real world experience with one of these monsters- the PHD had no clinical experience- was a Co Dean at a community College. He needed to get out of his Ivory tower of Academia- go out into the real world and see what these creatures are like- instead if reading about them in books.

  22. I have been dealing with a bullying female boss for 10 years. I strongly believe she has NPD. She has made my life a living hell. She is influential and outwardly accomplished in the field we both work in. I have suffered health consequences – high blood pressure and now am on medicine for it, depression, and anxiety. When I first started working with her, I felt an overpowering sense that she wanted to control everyone and everything in her surroundings so she could be in control. She has always had to dominate every situation, conversation, and perception. She has put me down privately and publicly, she has humiliated me on several occasions by treating me as if I am invisible and/or second-class and my contributions are not worth mentioning, and has regularly ignored my emails and phone calls. She has gossiped about me with several colleagues, coworkers, peers, and volunteers in order to persuade them to treat me disrespectfully (they all fall in line – it’s a group form of bullying called “mobbing”). One small example (of many) of her verbal/psychological abuse: Recently, while she and I were the only ones in the office, she said, out of the blue (while I was concentrating on other things and the office was quiet), “Ancient Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.” Then she got up and quickly/haughtily strode out of the office. I was confused but didn’t respond. I have had to deal with nasty looks, nasty tones, and embarrassment at meetings and in front of the director of a board that she and I both serve on. When I’ve gone out of my way to help someone on a volunteer basis, she’s found ways to put down my efforts; one time she actually told me she had heard I was “OCD” with the thing I did to help someone. She regularly made a point of treating a former coworker like her golden girl in front of me while treating me as if I’m worthless. She purposely poisons people’s opinion of me in order to harm my connection with them. Yet, when she goes out of town to do trainings, I hold the fort down, so to speak, and have been given positive feedback for the good work I’ve done over the years from the people I serve. She expressed in front of another boss of mine that I’m ‘neurotic’ and “book smart, not street smart.” She’s put down my educational background, ideas, tastes, preferences, and interests. She has been involved in a smear campaign with so many people connected with my employment and in my community, and has enlisted many people to be her ‘tools’ to ostracize/isolate me. I love the actual work itself and the people I serve. That’s the only thing keeping me hanging on. Yet, I have had much pain and hardship. I have tried on more than one occasion to address the issue privately with her – so she will treat me with respect and civility – to no avail. When I tried out frustration to resolve the issue by reaching out to someone in a position of authority over her, again it was to no avail, and her behavior became worse (badmouthing me to peers/colleagues, etc.). I know she has found ways to justify her sick behavior toward me, and has enlisted others to corroborate her spin/stories/lies. It’s sickening. I’ve read that psychopaths/sociopaths regularly take “vacations” into “filth” like other people take actual trips. After dealing with her, I believe it. Yet, as terrible as it has been to be bullied, it would be much, much worse to be like her.

    1. Hi, Chris. Puddle said it great.

      Do you have a recording device with you to record any abusive incidents? Gather enough evidence, it could show a pattern. When you have enough evidence, you could make a case.

      Do seek opportunities outside your community.

      If you can order a book, a great one I recommend is Bully in Sight by Tim Field. The late Field also has maintained a site with plenty of advice. http://www.bullyonline.org/

  23. Chris…………..WOW! I am sooooooo sorry you are dealing with this woman in your life and hope something in it changes soon for you. It does not sound like there is any hope for you in this situation and it sounds like a nightmare. Is there ANY way you can find a similar work situation at a different location without this type of anguish in it?

  24. This is one of the best articles ever! I was married to a narcissist for 20 years – divorced 4 years ago. I feel I need to research an article every day to remind me why I left. He can be so charming to everyone else. Actually, I wish I could say that I left. What happened is I told him during one of his “3 hour lock me in a bathroom and lecture me/tell me how rotten I am” episodes I told him it wasn’t what he provided (big house, kids, vacations, etc…), it’s how he ‘treats me and makes me feel about myself’- sobbing I finally told him this. We went to a counselor (he called it psychobabble bullshit). The counselor told him ‘his whole vantage point of life – his very character needed to change’ and he had a 2% chance of that happening. He seemed to ‘get it’ at first but then his level of abuse got much worse. He is just very highly manipulative! He manipulates people all over the place. Some people get it, some people think he’s amazing (especially church people).

    When he lost his high paying job, he learned how to manipulate people out of their money. When he had nothing left to his name and was about to be thrown in jail for lack of child support money, he was still making his motorcycle payment (a 2nd vehicle) – A Harley – most expensive of motorcycles. And he wasn’t really even a motorcycle guy. He is a corporate exec! Somehow he watched as me (his ex-wife and his daughters) struggled to make ends meet (I had 3 jobs).

    I have story after story…but I don’t see how he can change. He will TELL me “true inner change of my being probably came as a result of the near total devastation of my professional life and lifestyle” because he does have a good job again. But what I guess he doesn’t realize is that I suffered from “Complicated Post Traumatic Stress” from basically living in a war zone for 20 years. And he thinks he received ‘inner change’ after losing his lifestyle – not his wife and children…(it just showed that he has a imbalance of self worth). He only considers himself and how he appears.

    Since the divorce he’s had too many girlfriends to mention and tells our daughters they are ‘sisters in Christ’ and one of them has a separate room for him to sleep in as he visits that city(where they go to college). And I honestly think they believe him! I have to look back at my life with him and remember all the craziness I believed…and sometimes I get very angry!

      1. Is it really possible that they can change? Is there a book I can read to get over all of this? It’s been 4 years and sometimes I believe I will never heal. 🙁

        1. I speak to these issues in all three of my books but especially In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance. Also, check out the series here on the blog on surviving a toxic relationship (for example “Toxic Relationship Aftermath”). While the articles speak to this issue and should hopefully prove helpful, many of the comments on them should prove even more helpful.

  25. Hi Broken…..Welcome. Is it possible they can change? Possible, anything is possible. Likely? Highly unlikely. If this is a person that you have been with for 20 years and ended up with PTSD, it’s doubtful (in my opinion).
    Time is the healing element here,,,,,,,time, educating yourself so you realize exactly what the truth is and self love and care. When you finally put 2+2+2+2+2 together and come up with zero in regards to this “man”, there has to be a significant grieving period. It sounds like you are doing the math. The more honest you can get with yourself emotionally and let the feelings come up, be felt and expressed the better. These entanglements leave a emotionally toxic residue in the victim and feeling and expressing your feelings is the way to clean it out, like an emotional exorcism.

    I’m so sorry you are still in so much pain Broken 🙁 are you able to cry? Do you have a friend who you feel safe with to express your anger and rage over this? Writing is really good for expressing rage for me and screaming it out in the car sometimes was very therapeutic. There are books that can help you understand what has happened but you need to process ANY unacknowledged feelings and thoughts about what you have been through, not to him but in a safe and personal way.
    Right now I am reading The Emotional Rape Syndrome, by Michael Fox, and highly recommend it…..except for one thing in particular……..he is a little off base about the abusers motivations so I would caution anyone who does read it in that way. It was written 20 some years ago and much more is known as to what truly is behind covert abuse.
    Don’t expect that you will recover from one of these situations in the same amount of time or in the same way as you would from a normal failed relationship. Don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself. This is something that takes a lot of time to properly recover from and will leave some scars but you can and will recover. Do everything you can to support yourself and build your sense of self up. Anything that brings you joy or peace is where your true, inner self will find strength so focus on those things as much as you can.
    You are welcome and safe here!

  26. Great interesting informative stuff here. After my painful confusing experience with a NPD (8 years) I realized I could learn a lot. I asked myself what she did that was so hurtful & do I do any of those things because I didn’t want to inflict that kind of pain on the people I know, or will know in the future.
    As I read to be informed & heal I realize she must be in a state of constant fear & exhaustion. It’s weird for me to know I loved her & did not want to just abandon her because she had problems & in a sense she was too afraid to even get better. I would not have judged or discarded her during her healing process as she probably constantly feared due to odd statements like “I didn’t like anything about her” & she apparently thinks she reads minds “I thought she was a piece of s***.” I loved this woman. But now I’m relieved she is gone. I’m sad she probably will never heal & the wounds she carries will rot her until the end.

    1. Hello Eric and welcome! Everyone here has been through, or is going through, difficult years because of relationship issues. When it comes to understanding why the other person behaves in whatever way, it’s not always possible. But most people have the capacity to choose to be better, some just won’t. Keep studying, reading, it takes time to heal and grieve. We’re here to encourage you and you can vent safely here. Peace and hope from Elva

    2. I know how you feel…As hellish as it is to live with my husband when he is inone of ‘his states’… I know the root is deep and something caused him to disassociate early on. THese people are so deep into ‘their lie’ of a life… WHat sets my husband off is when he’s messed up some sort of a way, and I call him on it. I don’t let it go by. Especially when it comes to affecting the kids. PRetty much that is the only time I will say anything, because when it comes to myself, I’ve pretty much gotten over taking things personally. I know he has issues, and I am taking care of myself in other ways… through counseling…work…exercise…FaceBook!LOL…anyway…my happiness portfolio is diversified. ANd lately Ihave been practicing more of demonstrationg my faith in God by doing goood things for others…. Anywayz… I have been in other life relatinships and I have seen others, and amybe I am sort of totally jaded, but am coming to the conclusion that all reltaitonships have their really bad parts. It bolis down to me havin to DISCOVER myself thoroughly…then others marcisisist and other crazy ways won’t bug me so much. MAybe that’s the problem with me… I just need to love myself/like myself more.. thank you Dr/Simon. I will keep checking back. THis board and its members…. what a blesisng. P.S typos is my M/O

  27. Dr. Simon,
    I may have missed references to this along the way, but my question pertains to malignant narcissists as parents. My ex husband has left a trail of destruction behind him, he was manipulative and violent, extremely intelligent and has access to money. Everyone in the court system has (after 5 years in court) finally realized who he really is, but when it comes to access to the children, being a malignant narcissist does not seem to present immediate danger for the children. I was diagnosed with PTSD and so was my oldest son. It took bruises and an ACS investigation to put him into therapeutic, supervised visits only. My younger son has not yet been physically injured, but suffers the manipulation and what I consider to be psychological abuse and is still required by the court to spend a significant amount of time with his father, unsupervised (in spite of his older brother!). My question is philosophical, because I understand that you are not a lawyer: is there hope in the field of psychology that we will one day be able to quantify the damage malignant narcissists inflict upon others (especially children) in order to preemptively protect those most vulnerable? It seems to me that if someone is diagnosed with schizophrenia and is refusing treatment, it would be much more clear that there is a potential clear and present danger for a child in his/her care. Malignant narcissism seems to still be more of a thesis than a fact – at least in the court system I went through. I literally told our forensic investigator that my ex projected everything he was or would be doing onto me in the form of unsubstantiated allegations. The forensic then corroborated that the allegations were unsubstantiated, but was too daft to put 2 and 2 together and determine that this kind of person is a danger to the children. Shortly thereafter my ex beat is girlfriend and bruised my son in a fit of rage. What does the future look like? What can we do to get YOUR/OUR message out? I feel like “top notch” psychologists don’t understand the first thing about these people and how dangerous they are.

    1. For over 19 years, my word has gotten out the same way: word of mouth from appreciative readers and fans. So, please share the YouTube videos, recommend the books, send links to the blog articles, share them on Facebook, post reviews of the books on Amazon, etc. I’ve done the high-profile and high media visibility thing before. It was helpful when I got started. But nothing compares to positive grassroots word-of-mouth.

      1. Again I will say that it is not preventative. I’m a huge fan of your’s Dr. Simon and can’t say enough good things about you and your efforts but the sad fact is that until a person has personally been through one of these nightmares, and aparently this applies to therapists, lawyers, judges, child protective agents, etc, etc, etc., they just can not grasp the dynamics at play when one of these monsters is involved. Why?? Because it is like trying to understand someone from a different planet. I still can’t wrap my head around the basic concepts they are defined by. It’s no wonder things are like what Joy has just described above.
        This latest incident has occurred over the last month and every time i have spoken to my friend about it she keeps saying……”I think you just have different priorities regarding the project” or “I think you just have different ways of communicating and they are not lining up”. Or that “No,,,,,,I think he is a really committed guy”, or blah blah blah….but now, the evidence is pointing to him not being a really nice guy and that I was set up to take a very expensive fall. But guess what? There was no evidence initially and the situation was so dynamic that it was almost impossible to get a good enough foothold to make any kind of solid judgement call. It’s looking like she might be eating her words by the end of this but I’m going to be paying for her meal.

  28. Thank you for this excellent article. I dated someone once and kept wondering if I was just projecting things: the person seem condescending in a subtle(but emotionally glaring way.) The “confidence” almost seemed orchestrated to make the person project his Godlike superiority. The smiles and stares of attraction seemed mocking and rooted in some kind of unshakeable sense of superiority. Much of this was done even without words. On the surface everything seemed so friendly and wonderful but underneath there was this disturbing thing: the leaning back with hands behind the back as if he was donning to be with inferior creatures. The statements about spending twenty whole minutes of his precious time listening to you. Then the rages and lectures and absolute certainty of being right you being wrong. The subtle undermining and twisting of things you had said. It just got more treacherous from there. The psychoanalyzing of your flaws…but everything was balanced by this charm that kept sucking you in. How could such a person be charming? That is what is nearly impossible to describe. You could see through everything and yet still be puzzled, constantly questioning yourself and your own perceptions. Scary. Any comments.

  29. Here’s the other thing about the person that I forgot to say. He always said that others were manipulative. Others were aggressive. Others weak or immature or illogical or emotional and on and on. Is was as if everyone else in the world was a narcissist but not him. He was superior to all of that! Is it a common trait to call out in others what is in yourself? When is it true and when is it just projection or dumping of shame? How can anyone come to an objective answer of any kind? How can we be absolutely certain about our own lack of narcissism? What is the test?

    1. Pat, I had to laugh to myself because I could have written what you wrote myself. My heart goes out to you because I know exactly where you’re at when you feel these things you’ve written. I removed the last narcissistic character from my life 2 years ago(i’ve had repeating patterns of this type of person over and over because I was raised by one) and I still run in circles like this. THIS is the biggest trap a manipulative personality will get you to drown yourself in – questioning your own truth.

      I know that in my own life self-reflection and self-awareness are constants, and one thing I know for sure is that before, during these relationships, and after them, authenticity and integrity are things I seek in my own energy each and every day – yet manipulative people constantly cause me to question my own intentions – even the shady guy at the bank trying to “upsell” me can mess with my head in big ways lol. I think the fact that you are here seeking answers shows your own self-awareness.

      Here’s what I have come to feel for myself… we attract these people when we lack a core strength in who we are. But there is a HUGE difference between acknowledging our own energy in the situation, and taking responsibility for theirs. And there in lies the biggest challenge – sorting what is your “stuff” when manipulative people are busy dumping their “stuff” on you too. This is the lesson of these people in our lives – to learn to stop looking outside of us for truth of who who we are, and to let nothing outside of us take away the truth of who we are. I spent what feels like forever trying to figure “them” out, trying to figure out “how I can navigate around these people” or “why they are that way”. It’s an endless, dark, twisty tunnel that never truly has answers – because it’s not your lesson to learn – it’s THEIRS. The light at the end of the tunnel for me has been coming recently as this… stop looking at “them”, and just go inside. And then after that… keep going inside. The deeper I go into myself, and the more I seek the strongest, most pure and true “me” that I can be, then anything “they” do no longer matters. Their behavior can only be about me if choose to entangle in it, and the mind game of trying to figure out how to understand them or navigate around them does nothing but keep me entangled.

      So when you say “what is the test?” For me, the test is each and every moment to take my focus off of them and keep going inside. I know it sounds corny, but I do this by asking myself things like “who do I want to be?” and asking to be shown my truth and for help becoming the best version of me I can be. I think if I continue to seek the best, most pure version of myself, then that’s when I can trust that I’m in a good place, and that their negativity is just that – theirs. For “co-dependent” types like us :)(I say codependent with love for everyone here who understands the pain and confusion manipulative people cause), but the trick for “co-dependents” of these type of people is to learn that we ARE worthy, we ARE good, and we deserve to free of this kind of energy. And when we realize that, the manipulative personalities are left to figure out their own “stuff” on their own. The narcissist dies when the reflection is gone and they are left in the dark and have to look inside.

      You’re not alone Pat, there are many of us on this journey of healing from these experiences, and all I can say is keep seeking “you”, and eventually these kind of people can no longer take away your truth <3

    2. Hello Pat — I had a narcissistic female biological parent, so have had some experience. Almost everyone of us has a bit of narcissism in us, otherwise we wouldn’t survive. BUT, here’s how I can tell if someone is a full blown narcissist — s/he are NEVER in the wrong, even if you have seen them do something wrong with your own eyes. They will NEVER apologize. They might say “I’m sorry you feel that way.” — which is NOT an apology. If you can see that you did something wrong and you can say “I’m so sorry that I hurt you, I apologize, what can I do to minimize your pain?” — if you can apologize and mean it, you are not a narcissist. Peace and hope from Elva

      1. Elva,
        One I dislike is “IF”. “I am sorry IF I hurt you”. “I am sorry IF you feel that way” …. Is is not $#%@*&% apparent that I am hurt or that what you did was inappropriate?
        RS

        1. Hi RS — You are so right on that one. If? There’s no If here, what the person did was way out of line. Fortunately since I am self-employed, I can get rid of narcissistic customers, and as for the occasional one I might meet somewhere, they generally raise the hair on the back of my neck with their supercilious attitude. So I make polite noises and get away as soon as possible. Peace and hope from Elva

  30. I just can’t believe that there are so many of these identical types of people that exist. At the same time it relieves to read about others experience…for at times I wonder what on earth and why on earth is this happening? I cannot beleive anybody would be.could be so calloused and believe he is okay? My husband actually believes when he is ‘hateful, cruel and unkind, that he is not. I don’t know how I manage to forgive and forget ‘for the moment’, but I do and then we go through this whole vicious cycle…over and over and over again. Why oh why? ANd what on earth is up with me that I attracted him?

    1. Flo,
      Hard situation. You are not to blame.
      This is my opinion. Take it or leave it. You cannot change him. Only HE can. You are only in control of the choices YOU make.
      I wish you all he best.
      RS

  31. My ex got our girls, he had already dated 2 women before we were divorced. One he wanted to marry within a month of our divorce. Wouldn’t let me see or talk to my girls for 9 months. By the time it was over someone else was mom. Then he convinced our youngest that he didn’t want her, then dropped her at my door with a aweful letter a grocery sack of cloths and her bed. He got a dna test that proved she was his. Took her again.Now that hes remarried again hes telling people she isn’t his. Her older sister heard their dad tell his new wife “sge is nit her sister”. I’m just sick over this but now I have 2 boys as well one is special needs, no support really, and no extra money.

    1. Bob, what a nightmare of you and these children. It speaks volumes of this “man’s” character. NOTHING speaks louder in my mind than when a parent does ANYthing that will obviously harm their own child in any way because their head is so far up their own ***.
      I’m very sorry Bob. Welcome.

  32. Dr. Simon,

    I was married to a husband I believe to be a toxic narcissist, for nine years. Now that we are divorced, I have my life back, except for one lingering issue, which I would like some advice on.

    As a part of our divorce agreement, he is responsible for lawyer bills (on a case not related to our divorce) in the amount of approximately $50,000. The lawyer to whom $50,00 is owed, I’ll call LawyerA. According to my own lawyer, who I’ll call LawyerB, LawyerA can (an most definitely will) come after me to collect on this amount, once LawyerA’s work is done. But, ultimately, all is not lost…LawyerB has instructed me to pay for LawyerA’s bills if he makes a demand, and then take my narcissistic ex-husband to court in an “easy” case.

    I’d like to avoid this route if at all possible, not only because taking him to court will be expensive, inconvenient, and time-consuming, but also because I may have trouble collecting from him.

    Because of my ex-husband’s arrogant carelessness, I have discovered that he actually received a settlement (possibly the first of several) that more than covers LawyerA’s bills. However, I have also discovered that he has just bought a new car. While it is entirely possible that he could BOTH buy a new car and still pay off LawyerA (getting me off the hook from all the hassle I mentioned above), I am very concerned that he is trying to do an “end around” me, trying to stick me with LawyerA’s bills. Spending the money would be the best way to make the money unavailable for this purpose.

    The way I found out that he bought a car is that the insurance agent contacted me. He knows that the insurance agent contacted me, and that I am aware that he has purchased a new car. So, the cat is out of the bag that he bought a new car.

    The last bit of information is this: My ex-husband promised me that, if he ever got a settlement on the case, the first thing he would do with that money is to pay off LawyerA. However, if he bought a Jaguar, for example, he would not have the money to pay off LawyerA. And, even if he didn’t blow all the money on a new car, he could still decide not to pay off LawyerA, just to screw me.

    So, my question is, what is my best strategy to get him to do what I want, given that he is a toxic narcissist, and possibly even has narcissistic personality disorder? I have been researching the internet, and discovered two possible strategies.

    I would very much appreciate which strategy is more likely to entice him to pay LawyerA:

    1. Remind him of his promise to pay off LawyerA if he ever got a settlement. (Remember that he doesn’t know that I am aware that he HAS gotten a settlement.) A key phrase to use in this strategy is that “it is beneath him” to receive a settlement check and squander it (or otherwise refuse to use it) to pay off LawyerA, because he promised me he was going to pay off LawyerA in that scenario.

    2. Call to congratulate him on the purchase of his new car, ask him what kind of car it is, etc. Tell him I wish that I could be with him to share the thrill of this snazzy car, that he really deserves it, etc., etc. Then ask him the status of the lawsuit he is running with LawyerA. Regardless of whether he confirms the receipt of a settlement check, close by telling him I am a lucky woman to have been in a relationship with someone with such integrity as he. Because he has such integrity, I am assured that, once the check comes in, he will, without a doubt, pay off LawyerA.

    If there is a third strategy that would be better than either of these, I would love to know. I really cannot afford to “float” $50,000 to LawyerA while I try to collect from my ex-husband, so I really need to go with a plan that has a high probability of success.

    Thanks in advance,

    Maria

    1. Maria, for various reasons I simply cannot give you direct advice with respect to legal strategy. But I can offer you something in line with the principles I advocate heavily in my books that you might indeed find helpful: Big mistake to direct any attention or energy to any behavior designed to “get him to do what I want.” You don’t have power over anyone else’s actions and it’s both self-deceptive and often manipulative to try to orchestrate situations. Rather, the question to ask and the place to put your energy into is: “What’s truly best for me and serving my legitimate needs in this situation?” What actions am I both most prepared to take and most capable of taking on my behalf?”, etc. Take your focus off the outcome. It’s not in your hands. It only invites you to possibly whip yourself if even after choosing the strategy with the “highest probability of success,” your desired outcome still doesn’t materialize. And don’t obsess, either. Just act. Do what you have to do and reinforce yourself for every effort. And be sure to put plenty of effort into fashioning for yourself a life in which you are not so dependent upon any external support. Seek your own empowerment. The rest will take care of itself. 🙂

      1. Thank you very much, Dr. Simon! Just to clarify your last few statements, I think you are saying that I should fashion a life in which I am not counting on someone else to keep a promise? I wasn’t sure if this is what you meant, or if you were referring to “financial” external support.

        Many thanks,
        Maria

        1. Pretty much it, Maria. When you have an emotional investment in anything or anyone over whom you have no power, you’re always vulnerable to disappointment and depression. You can’t make someone keep a promise. That has to be a free gift. And to put your eggs in that basket, so to speak, is to disempower yourself. You have the capacity to do and be so much more than you think. Best to put all your energy where you really have power – you, and the actions you can take on your behalf to make your life better and fuller!

  33. What great insightful information. I’m also recovering from an NPD. Love reading others comments and experiences too. Thank you!

  34. Just a general question to “lars” if he is still here and reading…………
    When I read your post, it left me wondering about what your ex’s abuse was in your eyes. You have identified yourself as relating to the descriptions of Dr. Simon and people posting on this web site and from what I remember, can’t find your actual post, you see that you have done harm to others because of it. My question is this………..are you interpreting her behavior as intentionally abusive? The reason I ask is because many of us here know what being on the receiving end of abusive, manipulative, covertly aggressive, etc. behavior does to a person. We have also been falsely accused and scapegoated by our abuser for X, Y & Z to take the focus off of them. What I am saying is that when a person is being covertly toyed with and manipulated and abused covertly and even overtly, it can cause the victim to react in ways that make them appear to be abusive as well. This happens often in domestic violence cases when the police are called and the victim has reacted out of self defense or where emotional and mental collapse. To be honest, I read your post and the question that immediately came to my mind was………..hmmmmm……..I wonder what her side of what you said would be. No offense Lars, just curious.

  35. Hello Dr. Simon 🙂

    A week ago I didn’t know what a narcissists was. I’ve been with my husband for 16 years. He adored me until about 8 months ago. I’m in shock, heartbroken, sick to my stomach and searching for answers. I’ve noticed much this past week and my eyes are only starting to open. I want to see but I don’t want to accept that my dream may be over.

    To complicate things he has a history of heavy drinking. About 7 years ago he had to cut back on drinking due to his job, was working long hours and got depressed. He had two bad cases where he had thoughts of suicide but recovered and was back to his old self. He now says “I’m not going to stop drinking because I don’t want to get depressed”. Either he doesn’t understand how drinking causes depression or he doesn’t want to admit alcohol is the cause. He has had delirium tremens a couple times. I love my husband and was very supportive when he became depressed, took him to all doctor visits and was as kind and concerned as I could possibly be, spent many hours researching depression. The last time he took medication was about 2 1/2 years ago and he refuses follow up treatment.

    About 8 months ago he turned on me. I could not figure out why. It was like a switch went off. A new bar in town opened and he began to go every day, charging up thousands on credit cards and the bar owner(s) would drive him home. He would stay at the bar for 8-10 hours daily. It’s been a nightmare, many nights I would have to leave the house because he would come home and be very mean to me 🙁 Discarding my belongings, waking me up yelling at me, calling me horrible names, threatening me and saying he hates me. This was not the same man. The next day he would do the same thing over and over, day after day so no opportunity to confront him. He would never apologize.

    We are both in our 50’s. I’m kinda the quiet type, usually very relaxed and a very easy to forgive. A pushover who allows herself to get stepped on. I’m insecure and admit I would be afraid to live by myself. I handle finances which he has made difficult with buying himself whatever he wants on credit. I’m not perfect, gamble sometimes, I enjoy that thrill but realize I shouldn’t because of our finances. If I lose $150 I feel really bad and that’s not helping me. Last couple months I lost $200 a month. I have to work on this I know. It’s not a major problem but I don’t want to get in a bad habit.

    We have no children. Our dog is very smart, she can smell alcohol and knows trouble is coming and she hides under the bed. Our cat, on the other hand, just goes about his business, I’m glad he has no clue. Few things in life make me angry, child abuse is #1,animal abuse is #2, spousal abuse#3.

    The most frustrating part of all of this is why? Why was he doing this to me? to us? Ruining everything. We always happily agreed we would be together for life. I truly 100% believed this. Why did he turn on me? As I said my eyes are starting to open.

    He mostly used to drink at home because he didn’t like the old bar in town too much. He would tell me he didn’t feel well liked there but we would meet with friends maybe a couple times a month. He would always call and ask me to meet him. We would have a few drinks and go home and he would be nice. Suddenly, when the new bar opened he was first in line to get in with some coworkers who are also big drinkers. He made many new friends and everybody liked him, sure he’s buying the entire bar drinks. Suddenly I was no longer invited and he would come home at 1 or 2am. This was a big change, we always did everything together. Why???? and why was he mistreating me? what did I do wrong??

    Heartbroken I turned to a friend who knows my a husband a couple years now. She recommended that I try to turn on some ego boosts and romance. I thought her suggestions were very good. I realized that yes, I do realize he needs his ego boosted but I needed to know why? So I searched the internet and found narcissists.I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
    For months I’ve been looking for personality changes with depression wondering if he may be bipolar but narcissists made so much sense to me, sadly. I was happy and sad at the same time. Happy when I realized I found some answers but sad when I realized it’s possible he may have never truly loved me and I was just filling a need. I believe he’s been running to the bar to get his fix of EGO BOOSTING. My little ego boosts at home pale in comparison. He’s got a big crowd of ego boosters now so what does he need me for. This is what I think is going on.

    I know I’m not trained to label or diagnose anyone but here are a few things he does or does not do – which individually may not seem odd but add them together and it is a pattern of control

    -controls the thermostat to his comfort and questions me if I dare to adjust it, by doing so I could break it

    -controls the tv – if I turn the channel he complains how stupid the program or movie is or will say “your not going to watch that are you?”

    -turns the tv up very loud, if I ask to turn it down he complains he works around loud equipment. I have a feeling he’s doing it to irritate me. He blasts the stereo late at night

    -tells me to run to the store and get him beer, in front of friends, then gives them a funny smile like all he needs to do is give me orders and I do it

    -takes no responsibility for bills and does not want to discuss them at all. If I bring up anything financial he will walk away

    -claims he’s moving out of state in the spring in one sentence and 10 minutes later talks about when he retires in 10 years from his current job (makes no sense)

    -controls the radio in the car, gets mad if I ask to change the channel, actually hit my hand one time when I went to change the channel, I could tell he was embarrassed that he lost control over a radio station

    -soap dispenser has always been on the right side of the sink, will purposely play games and move it to the left. I don’t care which side it’s on I only get upset because I know he doing it to either get me mad or tell me he’s in control in a weird way

    – tells me how dusty the house is but won’t lift a finger to dust anything

    -if we go grocery shopping together and I pick out a piece of fruit or vegetable – I picked the wrong one –

    -we were by the muffins in the store and he said why don’t you get yourself some blueberry muffins (like he was thinking of me) well they had all different types of muffins so I picked out what I had a taste for – cranberry – he said why didn’t you get the blueberry. He does this sort of thing all the time, he’ll say I got you this at the store but it’s nothing I usually want – like he’s trying to get credit for doing something for me but it’s really for him.

    -I make special trips to the store to get him exactly what he likes and sometimes, I feel, just to hurt me he won’t eat it then complains why did I buy it and I’m wasting money

    -complains how and where I park our vehicle, too far from curb, too close to curb, don’t park under the tree to many leaves, back up another foot, pull up another 6 inches, don’t hit the curb you’ll mess up the tires, who the hell is this parked in front our house

    -if I drive – don’t drive in this lane, do you want me to drive, don’t take this street take that one, look at all this traffic that’s why I’ve gotta get out of this state, did you turn on the bottom lights, your hard on the brakes the way you drive, your gonna mess up this vehicle, who taught you how to drive

    -I’m the one that caused him to get depressed

    -talks about work all the time, how stupid everyone else is and how he has to do all the thinking for them and he’s tired of it then talks about all his accomplishments that day and how he showed so and so how to do it the right way. Then tells me the great things the supervisor had to say about him that day

    -asks me to hold something, like a flash light for instance, telling me hold it right there, which I do, then yells at me and tells me I’m doing it wrong and then tells me to go away

    – he tells me when we are taking vacation and for how long

    – if he opens a window and after a while I get cold, if I close the window he will open it again but if I explain that I’m cold and ASK to close the window then it’s okay

    – we both smoke but somehow my cigarettes smell bad but his don’t

    – he used to always ask a question to me in front of others which was “Do I try to control you?” I would reply – no. Suddenly in the past 8 months he has not asked me this one time

    – about 6 months ago he said to me “you’re not going to be able to live with me” but he wouldn’t tell me why

    – I ask him everyday – how was your day? Busy is the usual response and then he’ll go on with complaints about it. Only once in a great while will he ask me how my day was

    – He will tell me I’m the one that causes him to drink or comment – No wonder I drink

    – he hates that I go on the computer, he once destroyed my entire computer room

    – he talks very loudly around people he’s comfortable with but does not bring attention to himself around others he doesn’t know well enough

    – he is easily angered, if a dog goes on our grass the owner of the dog did it on purpose

    – recently started degrading me in public, in the past he would speak highly of me always

    – he fell asleep on the couch and just woke up and hollered at me ” how many lights do you need on” then went to bed, no saying goodnight, no kiss goodnight just anger

    I’m afraid things will only get worse and I will have to get a divorce. My entire life will change. Unfortunately I allowed my relationship with my husband to be my entire life, always together and now I’m lost.

    I’m still very confused – he continues to talk about when we retire together??? He must believe that all of this makes me happy after all I’m with him, how could I not be happy.

    I know I’m confused because I will tell people “I know he loves me” but recently found myself wondering did he ever love me, then I remembered that I wondered about that before.

    I don’t get it or do I. I can’t change my husband but I’ve have noticed that sometimes adjusting how I present myself can bring a better result.

    I guess I’ve made the 1st baby step but want you to know I appreciate that you and others have provided information on the internet. I try to keep an open mind and sometimes I read something that give me peace, hope. I’m sad that my husband has no peace and I wish he could just get on the road to find it.

    Thank you for reading, just wanted to share my experiences. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

    1. Hello Marge and welcome. You are in a very tough situation. I’d like to suggest that you visit narcissistssuck.blogspot.com. It will give you more insight as to what you can expect from a narcissist. I grew up with a narcissist “mother” — NOT fun. This is a safe place to vent, ask for suggestions from other people. It’s terribly hard when you first realize that your relationship is not what you thought it was. Rug pulled out from under doesn’t even begin to cover it. I wish you well, peace and hope from Elv

      1. Good morning Elva,

        Very kind of you, I will check out the blog you recommended. When you mention rug pulled out you are so right.

        I hope you had someone, brother, sister, father or friend etc. that was there for you during your suffering.

        Wishing you peace as well.

        1. Thank you Marge — I had friends who helped a lot. I read a lot of books. It took some years, but I think I am reasonably emotionally healthy now. Not perfect, by a long shot, but I keep working on it. Peace and hope from Elva

  36. Marge, Thank you!! It’s been almost 25 years now since I divorced him. I’m here mainly to keep up with people’s manipulative tricks so I can try to recognize them up front and fend them off and away from my business. The main ones I have trouble with are the covert agressives, though did have 1 paranoid type a couple of years ago.

    Today an older couple came in with a sheepskin jacket with a torn lapel, asking if I could mend it. They volunteered that it belonged to their grandson who lives with them. The grandson’s father (divorced from their daughter) is apparently a violent alcoholic who visited, picked up his son by the jacket lapels to bang him against a wall, the jacket lapel tore (and sheepskin is fairly tough) — they reported him, it all ended up in court, the father had a lawyer and lied repeatedly in court, under oath. End result, there is now a restraining order against the son!!!! to keep him from “pestering” his father!!!! I said, you need to keep a log documenting anything that happens with this, and you need this book. Showed them the Navarro book, Dangerous Personalities, wrote the info out for them.

    I’m also here to give others like you encouragement. Most everybody here has been through some version of relationship hell, so we know at least some of what you are experiencing. It will take time, but any time you are feeling “down” — someone here will be available to give you some encouragement. Thank you again for Your encouragement to me, Peace and Hope from Elva

    1. Hi Elva,

      What a shame. So many lives being damaged and all for nothing. I wish people could turn their thinking in a new direction to bring about positive. Positive is so rewarding.

      It’s very difficult as an adult to deal with a violent alcoholic, I can only imagine how terrible it is for a child, teen or young adult living with or subjected to the behavior of a violent alcoholic. I hope the son is at an age where the grandparents can help him to understand that alcoholism is an illness. I’m just happy the son lives with the grandparents and is away from the father.

      Your encouragement is great and it’s nice to know I have somewhere to go in times of need. You mentioned you are here to keep up with people’s manipulative tricks. Well I can understand that. When I first starting reading about what a narcissist is, about a week ago, I began thinking about my experiences with my husband, I began to analyze in a different way. Before, I didn’t think so much about things, didn’t think about well this happened this way because I said this or etc etc you get the idea. Suddenly, this past week I’ve become aware that I’m analyzing everyone in my head and becoming more aware of how people around me react to what people do and say. I’m kinda fascinated but a little nervous too, will this change me? will it change how I feel about people, how I think? I wondered about doctors in the profession and thought they must be analyzing their partners constantly, is it a healthier relationship? Maybe so. I also thought, what if I’m totally off and reading things wrong? I guess you would have to see patterns. I could see where this could really get ones head spinning.

      Thanks for being here Elva.
      Marge

      1. Hi Marge — yes, now that you are aware of mental disorders and illness, you will begin to see patterns in other people’s behaviors. The boy who owns the sheepskin jacket (late teen-age judging from the size of the jacket) will, I hope, get some benefit from the book which I recommended to his grandparents. They said they were going to the local library to see if it was available there. It is really sad that there are so many “hidden” abusers — they seem to be everywhere.

        I’ve found that the more I read and study, the more I realize that “oh, Suzy was just like that!” I seem to attract more than my share of covert aggressive people, and emotionally needy people. I’ve become much more careful about choosing friends. Joe Navarro’s book, What every body is saying, is a great book about body language. Lots of photos to show you exactly what he is talking about. When people come into my business, I immediately start assessing body language, and are they polite, well-spoken, etc. But it has now become almost automatic, — it’s like learning to drive. At first you are frantically looking around, trying to be aware of everything, then with practice it becomes routine. But simply because there are so many mentally disordered and mentally ill people in our society, you have to be alert to maintain your own safety and sanity. So yes, it will change the way you think, in my opinion for the better, because forewarned is forearmed. So many times women come out or a bad relationship, only to find themselves in another bad relationship, because they remain ignorant of basic psychology. Knowledge is power, you will make more mistakes in your life, as we all do, but pick yourself up and keep going. Hope this answers at least some of your questions! Peace and hope from Elva

        About mental health therapists assessing their own spouses, I don’t know. Maybe Dr. Simon could comment on that.

        1. Hi Elva,

          Everything you are saying makes sense. I’ve actually started to wonder about my own personality 🙂 I do like myself, for the most part, but would be interested in learning techniques on self improvement.

          Anyway, wanted to tell you something I did realize my husband has been doing. I’ll call my husband Al and our friend Beth.
          Al kept coming home all excited about a girl at work, how nice was, mentioning things she does that are great etc etc.
          I almost thought he was trying to make me jealous or maybe make me mad. I met Beth and she was nice. Beth and I hit it off and we became friends. After that happened Al started talking bad about her and putting her down.

          I wouldn’t have thought much of this but I realized this is not the first time Al has dumped a friend who had become friendly with me. I see a pattern.

          Could it be that my husband was using friends to give him self more power but has no use for them, actually hates that they are now my friend. Once a friend takes my side he turns on them.

          Just thought you would be interested in this.

          Have a great day Elva 🙂
          Marge

          1. Hi Marge — your husband’s badmouthing people, after they like you, does sound very odd. I suspect that if you think back through your life with him, other incidents will come to mind. Once, maybe. Twice, could be coincidence. Three times, bingo, pattern.

            For self-improvement, I have spent most of my life working on me. Came out of a dysfunctional family, married the wrong man. I can make quite a few recommendations, but will just do a couple right now, need to get to bed early, LOOONNNGGG day tomorrow. One book that I bought about 10 years ago is by Robert M. Branson, titled Coping with Difficult People. I figured it might help me with some of my customers. It’s focused on dealing with oddball people with whom you have to work. As I read through it, I thought yeah, that sounds like Joan. Imagine my total surprise to discover that I was one of those difficult people, specifically, a bulldozer. When I told a couple of close friends, they nearly fell off their chairs laughing at me, because they already knew it. So I figured I’d better tone it down, be more judicious, and only rev up my engine when someone deserved to be plowed under. (hah!)

            Dale Carnegie’s book, How to win friends and influence people, has some good points. I have many other suggestions, but will stop for right now, more this weekend when I have a bit of spare time. Peace and hope from Elva

  37. Good morning Elva,

    First, thank you so much for your recommendations. I’m surprised that you haven’t taken this up as a profession.
    I’ve often admired the bulldozer from a distance. I don’t have the confidence to be that – bravo 🙂 I have a sister like this and she holds the family together. She keeps track of all of us,goes out of her way to make sure this sister called that brother to wish him a happy birthday for instance. That’s a lot to do. You don’t want her on your bad side thou. If we ever lost her my family change and we would become more distant. I greatly appreciate her.

    Your bulldozer story brought a smile to my face and believe it or not I knew you were a strong personality with a gentle side:)

    I’m going to write up a list of the books you’ve suggested and also Dr. Simon’s books and determine where to start. I feel like I’m on at a major intersection with many roads to choose. I hope I pick the right road, if not, I can always make a turn:)

    Thanks again and thanks for staying up late. You have helped me.

    Marge

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  39. I only recently woke up to the reality of the people closest to me being Narcissistic. My husband of 24 years, a master manipulator, a full blown “N” and someone who can not be told what to do or to do something differently. 45 years in automobile sales he has working on his side. I have felt out witted for years. I’m your typical good person who cares for others over my own needs. Im changing up that though to be less free with people I do not know. And with “N” types I have set boundries.

    My husband can say hurtful mean things to me, totally off subject. Yet if I say anything about him banging up the walls with the vacuume each time he rams it into my furniture or nicely painted walls I’m attacking his character and he hates it and will not stand for it. Knowing now how he will react to anything other than sticky sugar coated smooze about his greatness. I can steer clear of his rages for the most part. But what gets hard is when he is in company of my adult children (but not spending time with his own son who lives near my son it’s kinda odd I think) and he sets up some drama to hurt me and I have to choose to address it or take it. And I have held my ground twice now because my kids need to see what it is they know but have never been able to put words to it is true. He is a full blown NARCISSIST, he has emotionally abused their mother all this time making me look very bad to them. It was his goal to have my family his family and me out. He was causing situations and pumping up everything to make him look like the loyal devoted husband, and me, I was a lost cause. Well, I started gaining in wisdom and read everything I could on the subject and then I got real strong and stood before him and said “NO”, “No you aren’t going to get rid of me and take over my family” and the battle was on.After that stand up to him day He had me arrested and even though I could have had him arrested too that morning (we had both gotten high at a party night before so he tells cop that came to our house after he trashed everything I had that was precious to me from my deceased mom in a fit of rage because at this party night before I was dancing with everyone. These people all were our friends. It was a party and my husband was ignoring me all night and my husband was busy getting high with my female friend. I was kewl about it. My husband just got jealous i was having fun without him.) So instead of saying he is high too. I said nothing. and went to jail. And he paid all the legal fee’s too and classes court ordered me to attend. His little trick to hurt me did hurt me. I will never forgive him for that. That was the worst day of my life so far having my son see me go to jail. I don’t recommend taking on an “N”. They are evil and haven’t any remorse for what they’ll do. They must win at everything. But you need to get out, away from the person. You must stand to run so do it. and don’t back down once you have gotten away. I stood up long enough for my family to take notice I wasn’t gone. and slowly I’ve been working my way back. And I put distance between myself and my “N”. Finally my kids are seeing that their step father is insane and a evil person who twists everything up and stirs a lot of shit just for fun. He doesn’t really care about people just what he can get them to do that will entertain him and cause you grief. N’s hate when you reveal their real side. It’s dark and ugly. They are evil with no hearts at all.

  40. I only recently woke up to the reality of the people closest to me being Narcissistic. My husband of 24 years, a master manipulator, a full blown “N” and someone who can not be told what to do or to do something differently. 45 years in automobile sales he has working on his side. I have felt out witted for years. I’m your typical good person who cares for others over my own needs. Im changing up that though to be less free with people I do not know. And with “N” types I have set boundaries.

    My husband can say hurtful mean things to me, totally off subject. Yet if I say anything about him banging up the walls with the vacuume each time he rams it into my furniture or nicely painted walls I’m attacking his character and he hates it and will not stand for it. Knowing now how he will react to anything other than sticky sugar coated smooze about his greatness. I can steer clear of his rages for the most part. But what gets hard is when he is in company of my adult children (but not spending time with his own son who lives near my son it’s kinda odd I think) and he sets up some drama to hurt me and I have to choose to address it or take it. And I have held my ground twice now because my kids need to see what it is they know but have never been able to put words to it is true. He is a full blown NARCISSIST, he has emotionally abused their mother all this time making me look very bad to them. It was his goal to have my family his family and me out. He was causing situations and pumping up everything to make him look like the loyal devoted husband, and me, I was a lost cause. Well, I started gaining in wisdom and read everything I could on the subject and then I got real strong and stood before him and said “NO”, “No you aren’t going to get rid of me and take over my family” and the battle was on.After that stand up to him day He had me arrested and even though I could have had him arrested too that morning (we had both gotten high at a party night before so he tells cop that came to our house after he trashed everything I had that was precious to me from my deceased mom in a fit of rage because at this party night before I was dancing with everyone. These people all were our friends. It was a party and my husband was ignoring me all night and my husband was busy getting high with my female friend. I was kewl about it. My husband just got jealous i was having fun without him.) So instead of saying he is high too. I said nothing. and went to jail. And he paid all the legal fee’s too and classes court ordered me to attend. His little trick to hurt me did hurt me. I will never forgive him for that. That was the worst day of my life so far having my son see me go to jail. I don’t recommend taking on an “N”. They are evil and haven’t any remorse for what they’ll do. They must win at everything. But you need to get out, away from the person. You must stand to run so do it. and don’t back down once you have gotten away. I stood up long enough for my family to take notice I wasn’t gone. and slowly I’ve been working my way back. And I put distance between myself and my “N”. Finally my kids are seeing that their step father is insane and a evil person who twists everything up and stirs a lot of shit just for fun. He doesn’t really care about people just what he can get them to do that will entertain him and cause you grief. N’s hate when you reveal their real side. It’s dark and ugly. They are evil with no hearts at all.

  41. Wow I saw an article about narcissist that says, “Everyone has to keep speaking out,keep spreading the word about these people so they can’t hide behind their masks and lies any more.” This was a first. All the other articles says run away, hide, no contact, dont confront, dont say anything. is that because the victims are usually women and women are not expected to be fighters? Why doesnt anyone ever say the names of these men? Would that be illegal to say the name of the person you had a relationship with? I just warned the new woman my ex-narc brought to church with him after I broke up with him 30 days ago. I am a fighter, I challenged him every step of the way, I did no give him money, he gave me money and gifts to try to win me over. I told him I was never going to marry him or have kids with him and after another attempted three day silent treatment, I broke up with him abruptly, confronted him about his illness and refused to be friends unless he seek help. He then showed up to church last week with a woman he was clearly already seeing during our relationship. I told her everything, including showed her pictures, text messages, incoming phone calls and even let her listen to a voicemail. She was crying so I believe she will continue to date him, but atleast I was loyal to another woman and warned her. I told her to google the disorder and find out for herself. I also told one of his co-workers who happens to work with people with special needs and evidently the co-worker asked him about it. I want to post his name, and the information everywhere. He is a weak, manipulative, cheating, lying mentally ill looser and I want other women to know. he is a covert narcisist, so he plays the victim role, hiding behind a stutter, church and suppossedly and verbally and physically abusive father. He is supposedly such a nice guy that women have taken advantage of. Does anyone else want to out these guys, can we start a website, blog, something women can check? Would this be illegal? Someone please let me know?

    1. Well, a lot of them are vindictive, below the belt fighters who’d be only too happy to keep messing up someone’s life. Some are outright dangerous.

      So it depends on the situation. I think you did right letting the “next girlfriend” know.

      Each one teach one is my approach.

    2. I think you really need to be carefull in this department. You are not professionally qualified to diagnose anyone and it could be slandar to post a persons name along with a dirogitory label.
      I think by “speak out” they might mean more about the signs anf indicators that would let you know who and what they are.
      There is a website for “outing” them, btw. CAD?

  42. This is really interesting. And scary ! For the past couple of years I have come to the slow realization my husband could be a narcissist. Maybe not a full-blown one ( he is not particularly interested in his appearance?) but definitely has a lot of characteristics as after a burn-out due to discovering shockingly he lies very well and blames me for everything, always did, I began to recall the past and realised I have never been happy with him but stayed through loyalty , hoping he would grow up and especially for our three children.
    It terrifies me though I have been actually abused ! I always stand for myself and realised he did not appreciate that. He would use cold treatment for days and not tell me why( after 20 years ofmarriage said ” you should know what you have done”). so I always ( stupidly, never now !) apologised, for something I did not know I had done ! I look back in horror I did that ! This seemed to make him happy he could ” forgive” and all was well..i would never be like that for anyone else !
    And I tried to keep the peace forthe kids who are now grown. I have been sick all throughout our marriage. He has never emotionally supported me, sneered at me at times and even embarrassed me in public ,only a few times, as I was angry and years ago when we were younger, we married young, warned if he ever did that again I would leave him.He seemed shocked as if he could not believe he had done that and was ” decent”, normal somehow for a long period of time.
    He believes his own lies i think !. But now Ithink was it fear of losing all he had ? I figured out he is basically insecure. He did not have the loving normal background I did. I noticed this when we met, why did I choose him, I ask myself now ? i cannot remember even !

    It scares me as now I have changed ?He does not like it and is happiest when we are superficial. No emotional stuff or recriminations or me expecting him to explain why he could be horrible. He never remembers or knows ! Or lies and denies.
    Now he knows I have exposed his lying ( two years ago)he is shocked. but this also zaps me of energy. Is he playing games. Can he really be that mean I still want to just forget it and try again, for the millionth time but I know it will not work. I am not sure what to do. In his weird way he ” loves” me if he knows love. Not the way way I do for sure which always puzzled me too.
    I am now connecting dots but still catch myself feeling pity for him. On the other hand this is really blaming myself which he wants ? . Is he really sucha monster I then think, he is not a bad person.generous, Helps everyone, always helped me in the house, but robot-like, and with the kids but never showed initiative even though he is an engineer and good in his work ! I never could make him out. I am now beginning to.

    I am not ever going to have a fulfilling relationship with him, he is like a child really who never learns and never grows up. I am sad. Just feel dead inside and even scared I am becoming a narcissit myself now ! I go into uncharacteristic rages , like I now have no control as Idid before. As if I could care less.
    I dont even know who I am anymore. I dont even care if I hurt him ! I notice he is terrified I might leave him. But not for me, he does not know me after thirty years of marriage I have noticed . He never bothered to. I am in a very scary and lonely place to be.
    How would he be without me ? In many ways he relies on me, but like a “mother” ?! Awful ! He seems affected by my depression to a certain degree but mostly not. ! And I had to come and live in his European country so miss home too and just isolated really. i am not interested in friends. I used to have a large circle of friends. Now as with everything I care less.
    Can anyone give advice.

    1. Hi Maria,

      Spending many years in confusing uncomfortable relationship is a slow torture. And, later putting the puzzle pieces together is is even worse heart wrenching experience.

      Right now, you probably need to get better understanding of your situation.

      I can only suggest that you spend some time on blogs here, check the relevant categories at http://www.drgeorgesimon.com/sitemap/
      Hopefully blogs here will help you and reduce the number of questions that you have. Keep in mind that answers should not come as superficial justifications that do not make sense at gut-level (like he is 50 year old still holding on to lost mother), but as enlightening moments that make perfect sense. Only you can judge that.

      I read In Sheep’s Clothing, before hitting upon this blog. You can try the blog first, and then go for the book. Book provides a concise and organized book on the very same topic.

    2. Marie,

      If you think you may leave him and he thinks you might, it would be a good idea to check your finances, savings, etc. You’ll need money to leave. Or if you haven’t got a job, try to find one. That is the practical type of advice.

      You aren’t as confused as you may think you are. You know in your gut how you feel and you know that what has gone on in your marriage makes you feel sick and scared. Your feelings are true. You don’t have a live the rest of your life in this state. There is a bright side out there, once you get through divorce hell. I’m doing it. Am on my way after a 28 year marriage.

      My counselor once said to me “I really believe he loves you.” You know what? I don’t care if he does. It does not matter. What matters is the way he treats me.

      Keep posting and reading. I want to hear from you.

  43. Hi Maria,

    Spending many years in confusing uncomfortable relationship is a slow torture. And, later putting the puzzle pieces together is is even worse heart wrenching experience.

    Right now, you probably need to get better understanding of your situation.

    I can only suggest that you spend some time on blogs here, check the relevant categories at http://www.drgeorgesimon.com/sitemap/
    Hopefully blogs here will help you and reduce the number of questions that you have. Keep in mind that answers should not come as superficial justifications that do not make sense at gut-level (like he is 50 year old still holding on to lost mother), but as enlightening moments that make perfect sense. Only you can judge that.

    I read In Sheep’s Clothing, before hitting upon this blog. You can try the blog first, and then go for the book. Book provides a concise and organized book on the very same topic.

  44. Thanks Andy, for your reply. And so soon ! Appreciated.

    Your words do make sense.
    And so true ! Also that actually piecing everything together is the worst part.

    I have only just read your reply so have not yet clicked onthe link you provided.
    Will do so. Just wanted to thank you
    Maria

  45. When I read your article I realized that I wasn’t insane at all. My ex was exactly like this. After nearly 28 years I left but when I did I was a broken wreck of emotional rubble. It took a long while to find a way back and in fact I would say I still struggle. Something will trigger the old emotions and I go back. But when you talk about how this type of person will change their tactics when they realize you can no longer be manipulated you could not have said anything more true. Of course he tried to get me to come back and when I didn’t resorted to blaming me and raging. I told him that he could no longer control me with his anger and immediately his tactic changed. He ‘became’ depressed and suicidal. He sucked in everybody but me. That was many years ago now but I will never forget that. Of course he did not commit suicide nor did he even attempt to. It was a manipulative tactic, and it never was me he loved at all. He needed a pawn and I was, at the time, happy to be it. I am so glad I didn’t fall for his new manipulation. But for me, and for other victims, it leveraged emotional damage I will fight for every moment for the rest of my life.

    Fern

    1. Fern,

      Your story sounds like mine. Tactic one doesn’t work, try number two, then three. What was really interesting is when it all happened in one day. It’s like watching a bad movie.

  46. Interesting article. Certainly see a number of traits that I would associate with a narcissist.

    Although, coming from a different angle to most of the posters (though I haven’t read all, I’ll admit), I would suggest that his sudden ‘all my life’ comment is less of a ‘ok, you’ve got my number, I submit’ comment, and more of a ‘let’s see where this goes’ comment in order to try and determine your perception of him. He was wrong: he thought he had your number, but it strikes me that you threw the narcissist off guard by highlighting that you’d spotted a flaw in their faked personality. The only reason (I believe) this narcissist would submit to a comment about defective brakes in such an overt way is to determine how you come to that conclusion so he could rectify that flaw. To try and suss you out a bit more: what else have you spotted in him that he needs to hide better?

    A narcissist doesn’t always have to be right, and will be open to re-evaluating their ‘read’ of someone. Being able to fake a submissive stance is one of the narcissist’s greatest assets, in order to appear human again, and make the person (perhaps the interviewer here) believe they have made a breakthrough.

    By submitting to the statement, the narcissist allows the interviewer a small ‘honest’ glimpse of him. Of course, the interviewer is pleased with himself for making this breakthrough. In future, he will continue to tell the narcissist what else is wrong with his personality, in an attempt to make similar ‘breakthroughs’. I believe the narcissist knows this, and is trying to figure out what parts of his personality need adjusting.

    Of course, this is an excerpt of the conversation between the interviewer and the narcissist, so I wouldn’t know where the conversation lay beyond that! But I’d be interested to get your thoughts on this possibility?

  47. It’s amazing that a narcissist was in therapy, and even agreed to go for an evaluation. Narcissism is not treatable. And, now you all see why. …. That said, I learned a lot from the “leveling” technique. How often do they go after someone they deem to be a scapegoat, and stat tossing crap back in our faces, when they are the ones tossing the crap to begin with.

    1. No. No one in his/her sane mind will try to rip relatives away, at least those relatives that are in general good decent people with may be one or two quirky behavior.
      Nasty people needs to be ripped away.
      Nasty people who wants to control their spouse try to isolate spouse away from his/her relatives.
      You should read “In Sheeps Clothing” to get better insight into people’s behavior.

  48. This article answered a question that I have always had about my narcissistic husband of 25 years. No matter what someone wanted to be called for example, Dr. Bill Smith, my husband would call him ‘Billy’ or what ever he wanted. I would tell him that is not polite but he would say to me “I’ll call them what ever I want”! I now realize that he was leveling the playing field so someone would not seem to be above him. Now I realize what he is doing when he does that. Thanks for the insight.

  49. How very apt! My mother is a narcissist. After she could sort of tell, that I had her number, I didn’t see her for months. Even though before, she’d visit, and list all the wonderful things she’s done and of course the wonderful things others said about her, and I’d listen quietly and bring her tea and snacks, she cut me off for a long time. I ignored it. Now when (and if) she comes, I won’t sit and listen for a whole afternoon, and she is free to get herself a snack or a cup of tea. I just grew tired of it all. Other people, like my children require my attention now. I feel bad for her, because I think she has no inner self. Whereas most people will know they did a job well and sort of pat themselves on the back, she absolutely requires others to know her accomplishments, to be able to pat herself on the back. I don’t envy anyone who lives a shallow life.

  50. this is wild when you see it in action. ” so is this dr. a real dr”. ” is this dr. even married”. ” the dr. says im fine, wasting my $”

    god, if only 🙁 .. they were open minded.. and saw that they are destroying the family.
    and the irony, i am the bad person.. i caused all his lifes traumas, even though the therapist told him ” you had self hatred WAY before you met her”.

    god speed to anyone in my boat. #20yrswithanarc

    1. My counselor would reiterate to me “You know who you are. You know what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter what he says.” This is so true. Thank goodness I know myself well and have a high regard for myself, otherwise, being in a marriage with a CD Narc would be much devastating than it is.

      Marie,
      They don’t seem to be open minded nor care about what trauma they have caused. It’s all about them.

      Did you notice that your husband would relay about anything you’d say how it would come back to somehow be about him? My STBX did this continually. So self absorbed. Wish I’d left sooner . . . . I keep saying that.

  51. To All,

    I had the pleasure, through marriage counseling, to watch the dynamics of the counselor and STBX, he positioning to take control of the session and she doing her thing. I learned so much from watching and keeping my mouth shut. He would try to take control of the session at the onset. He would lie and she would ask repeated questions. He would say he was “sorry” for what he’d done and she just wasn’t feeling it, and would ask me, do you feel his “sorrow” is authentic? She knew it wasn’t. I wanted to believe it was, but I knew it wasn’t.

  52. Great article. Thought you were interviewing my husband. Levelling is so annoying. You just don’t get to have an opinion. Better to not even speak to him cause he just breaks you down.

  53. Dear Dr. Simon … This article was very meaningful to me and my husband! It helped us to figure out why a family member didn’t seem to care what others thought of her, nor her social status. When she hurt (in some cases destroyed) disappointed others, or didn’t meet obligations, there was always an excuse. It was always the “other person’s problem” … not hers. She would blame it on circumstances beyond her control rather than take any personal responsibility. (Some years ago she was diagnosed as Bipolar, but we suspect personality disorders could have also been discussed with her, because she uses the “bipolar card” when it suits her situation). Your “putting on the brakes” metaphor fits her perfectly! Whenever she loses power or control, her personality and demeanor drastically changes. She never stops trying to manipulate us, but because of your excellent book “In Sheep’s Clothing” and other resources, we have the guidance and support we need to not fall into this trap! Glad I stumbled upon this blog!

      1. Kerry,
        I just started to listen to Dr. Simons radio show it is great and just rich in information. Dr. Simon also has You Tubes you can watch and I have read all his books and there are some in the making. I hope you continue to educate yourself and participate on the forum, everyone is so thoughtful and helpful.

  54. Hi Dr. Simon,

    I just stumbled upon your page. I was in a relationship where I knew something wasn’t quite right. I was referred to a book called “Psychopath Free” and it was incredibly accurate to what was happening to me. Suffice it to say I was one step ahead of this narcissist and since I broke it off and never game him the opportunity to triangulate or make me look crazy and obsessed, I now fear he will try harder than he did the last time. I’ve cut off all communication and short of him showing up at my doorstep I don’t know if he will try again. Do you have any advice on what else I should do or proactively think out to protect myself?

    1. Deidre,

      Others can chime in, but my take is following:

      Hold up your defenses.
      Get a support group of close friends and relative to share your thoughts and feelings.

      – Earlier you were giving in to him, so he had no reason to use high-power tactics.
      – Then you stood up for yourself, and he did use some high-power tactics.
      – Seems you are still holding out your defenses.
      So, expect even higher assault. Only when you put up your defenses, you get to know the depth of character disturbance.

      1. He tried again this last Sunday. I’ve gone to the police now. He is threatening my job with false accusations. I hope the police can deter him from further action.

        1. Deidre

          You’ve done the right thing. You may want to get an Order of Protection. You don’t need an attorney for it. Go to your local courthouse or State Attorney’s Office and they should give you some guidance. Bring your texts or witnesses with you. If I were you, I’d ask for an Emergency Order of Protection.

          Don’t answer his calls. But keep all the texts for evidence.

          I work at the courthouse. We handle numerous orders of protection weekly. If the judge grants it, you’ll have the paperwork and can call the police whenever the slimebag breaches the order.

    2. Deidre,

      It sounds to me as if you’re doing everything right. You’ll hear over and over again on this site that No Contact is the best, possibly only way to go. Block his phone calls. Don’t answer emails. He may have given up and moved on to a new victim. Let’s hope.

      1. I believe most advice here is correct, if they see that they can’t win at their childish games, they’ll end up destroying the relationship anyway (at the very least) along with any innocent bystanders. So you might as well prepare to make a pre-emptive strike and get out while you’re still sane.
        Failing that … keep smiling

        1. Hi Gary,
          Welcome Gary, almost missed your post, glad you found Dr. Simons site and validity to your experiences. I hope you have found answers and hope you stay for awhile.

          Dr. Simon has written 3 books and a fourth is on the way, he has You Tubes and does a regular radio show that is vary informative with live call ins. I hope you avail yourself to these resources. The archives are full of information and other resources you can readily access for more information. Thanks for posting, a newcomers input is so welcomed.

          1. Actually my second comment here – there’s another more detailed one few weeks back up the page a bit. If I wasn’t on the other side of the planet, I’d suggest we all get together sometime. Funny how all of these disturbed characters acting independently can lead to the creation of a group of such like-minded people.Must be some pattern there.

          2. Gary,
            The majority are posting on the most recent Topic. I hope you read it and join in. Will look forward to your input.

  55. I have lost all hope for my sister. She won’t get help, cause she believes she doesn’t need help… everyone else must change. I have no hope for her husband either, as he seems to be co-dependent but the children… the children are the ones that concern me the most. My nephew (21yrs) is physically and emotionally abusing (and being abused by) his girlfriend. She comes from a broken home, where the father abused the mom. My niece (19yrs) is secretly engaged to a young man who suffers from major depression and refuses to get help. He doesn’t work and his parents are also divorced. His dad is also abusive. IT IS CRAZY! Wish I could see a happy ending, but there is none and I think it started with my sister. We also come from a broken home. My dad died when we were very young and mom’s new husband was extremely abusive. She has turned into the monster he was and I am too scared to say anything. No one wants to say anything in fear of her retribution.

    Wish there was something I could do.

    1. MySistersKeeper,

      Unless you are forced to stay with your sister (if yes, I would question Why?), consider yourself lucky that all the misery is in your sister’s family.

      It seems you are surrounded by several problem people. There is nothing that you can do. Keep distances from your sister as two 40+ year old siblings should do.

  56. MySistersKeeper,

    Unless you are forced to stay with your sister (if yes, I would question Why?), consider yourself lucky that all the misery is in your sister’s family.

    It seems you are surrounded by several problem people. There is nothing that you can do. Keep distances from your sister as two 40+ year old siblings should do.

  57. I work with this person who exhibits most of the characteristics of a Narcissist. She’s a kiss-ass and always points the finger at someone else when she’s been caught doing something she shouldn’t have – despite the proof that SHE fucked up.

    What’s interesting though is that observing her behavior patterns these last 2 weeks, it appears she really wants one person to think she’s the bomb: me. She talks shit behind my back, her mistakes are really stupid ones involving my area in H.R. (!) She’s been caught numerous times (by me ’cause I pay attention to details and sticks to the facts at hand). But she doesn’t care about that. She wants my job I’ve heard, but I don’t think that’s it either.

    She plays the same “look at me look at me see how important I am” game when there’re no higher-ups around but I AM around.

    This one’s not as smart as she thinks she is and she knows it. I ran across a quote today that I think sums this one up: “Some don’t like you just because your strength reminds them of their weakness.” I’d substitute “don’t like you” with “are intimidated by you”.

    She’s what I term a “broken person”.

  58. Putting on the brakes! This is a powerful tool to see with clarity exactly what and how my husband does with his energy. I see how difficult it is for him to stop. As he is a teacher, we decided to call this ” professor mode”. It was our code to help him remember to allow others to participate in the conversation. It never really worked. But since I’ve learned about putting on the brakes, I don’t really bother, I usually just keep on about my business and let him talk to the walls. In the company of others, I will, however, refer to the ” professor” in a comical way taht seems to ease everyone including my husband. It is tiring, but it’s not the end of the word.

  59. Hello Dr. Simon,

    I consider myself to have become something of an expert in NPD, having had a short-lived relationship with a narcissist last year that traumatized me for most of the year, because he did the worst thing he could to me: he raped me. Whether he did this because of “reactance” (I told him a particular sexual act was off-limits) or deliberately to hurt me (I had opened up to him in the “idealization” phase about my history of sexual assault), I don’t know.

    I have done SUCH a character study on this person that, although I think he is scared that I “have his number,” he is probably also flattered. I have done this in an effort to understand just how someone could claim to love someone, and be supportive of someone and sensitive to their past history of sexual assault, and be knowledgeable about this (know and *say* exactly what rape is, and that men know when they are doing it and not to let them off the hook–that is, telling me not to have empathy for rapists), and be knowledgeable about the effects of child sexual abuse on adult women, and to claim to be feminist (despite many slips that proved the contrary), and then to sexually abuse his partner, devalue her, discard her, and then rape her after the discard. The moment it became clear to me that he *knew* what he had done but cared more about protecting his own ass than simply saying “I’m sorry”–that is, the moment I told him “I can’t be your friend after that weekend” (and, considering everything else he did that weekend, I could have been referring to just about anything) and he stood up and named it himself, while denying it–I saw with horror the “monster” he had told me himself was inside of him (I also, at points, saw him flatly describe his methods for manipulating and seducing women, and had him coach me on how to avoid “creeps” in dating–that is, men like him–with solid advice which, if I had followed, would have meant no relationship would ever have happened with him). He insisted on friendship after our breakup (insisted). He was incredibly angry when I said “no,” and asked him if he had ever seen me as a person.

    Some things he did:

    He would use my own words, sometimes exactly my words (“I have never felt so betrayed” “I feel like you never saw me as a person” etc.) against me
    He would claim things were my fault (he was horrified at himself–though he didn’t apologize–for sexually assaulting me early on, after I read him a sweet but also very sad and astute poem; I think he felt exposed and lashed out in anger; I think he felt horrified because he thought I hadn’t done anything at that point to “deserve” it, in his mind, though what he did to me later was much worse. He admitted it himself and then blamed me for not stopping him. He refused to talk to me and was self-pitying about it. The next day he was very romantic and wanted to publicize our relationship). He later told me that “if I hadn’t been so mad at him” after this incident “we could have gone back to having romantic sex,” referring to the fact that, around this time, he began to devalue me, and in this devaluation began to sexually abuse me more and more (as “horrified” as he was, he couldn’t help but notice that when someone does something sexually to me without asking that I don’t like, I freeze up and become completely limp and docile, which meant he could sexually abuse me easily). He became demanding and when I didn’t like something he would do it without asking. He later blamed me for this.
    He was hypersensitive to an extreme I’ve almost never seen.
    When drunk, he insecurely tell me I was smarter than he was, and he told me I was more attractive as well.
    He seemed to see everything as a competition.
    He was extremely jealous of me and my abilities in the same field we share.
    He was jealous of the job I got.
    He became emotionally abusive, using cruel teasing and sarcasm to put me down.
    He made fun of my “goofy” aspects, in this phase, that others might see as endearing (my habit of punning, for example, including a fondness for the low-hanging fruit).
    He decided our schedule and tried to control everything we did. The first time that I objected, he called me controlling.
    Everything he did and said, he told me that I did and said.
    He pushed me into sex on our first date, in spite of my multiple “no’s.”
    He “love-bombed” me after that, spending all of his time with me, moving the relationship very quickly, and playing the role of “supportive boyfriend” he knew that I wanted (I was skeptical of this, of the reality of any of this).
    He made sure, in the love-bombing, to get plenty of what he wanted out of me (sex, for the most part, and intelligent conversation, although sometimes he found that intimidating, as if he could be found out too easily; he liked to show me off as a kind of trophy girlfriend, though; he only dates smart women, even if he finds them intimidating, to reflect how he feels about his intellect and wants people to think of him. He usually looks for smart women with a major vulnerability he can use to control them–women like me).
    He pulled away suddenly in the devaluation phase, wanting to go out all the time, get drunk, and act single, instead of stay in sober and get to know me (as he had at first).
    I got understandably confused. Also, he had taken me to a psychiatrist who had put me on an enormous dose of medication. I began texting him, not maliciously, just bugging him (usually saying nice things); I think I just wanted the communicative person I had met in online dating, who had disappeared by this point.
    We both have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. After extensive research, I believe he has NPD and I have C-PTSD. I have never had episodes of any sort not related to my childhood trauma or adult sexual abuse (either in the aftermath, or reliving it in some way, such as writing about it for a nonfiction seminar in graduate school). My low-grade depression, low feelings of self-worth, and tendency to be revictimized all stem from this untreated condition, I think (I am finally in therapy now). I believe that this ex-boyfriend of mine, on the other hand, has narcissistic personality disorder. He hurts people, and he knows it (at least sometimes; other times he buries it. He is at times consciously aware of his malice, or of his manipulations, but other times he denies it, even to himself). In the beginning of our relationship, apropos of nothing he said “I tend to hurt people.” I replied, “Well, everybody hurts people. That’s part of having relationships that don’t always last.” His response was, “no, I mean I really HURT people.” I brushed this off, but shouldn’t have. I am friends with an ex-girlfriend of his from our mutual alma mater, and after what I went through with him I contacted her, and found out how he had hurt her after their breakup (they were together three years, he decided to break up with her as their relationship was not going well–how he gloats over how he breaks up with women rather than vice versa is another childish aspect of his nature–after their breakup he seduced her best friend and they came out as a couple two weeks later, alienating her from her entire friend group. He went out of his way to go to places he knew she would want to go, taking along her best friend and “new girlfriend.” She described it to me as one of the toughest times of her life).
    He was jealous of the number of friends I had on Facebook (500+). I told him I don’t use Facebook much, and never friend request people, that they friend me (he had, at the time, under 300 friends; this was one year ago exactly).
    After our breakup, he launched an online literary magazine, which later became more of an activist and social justice blog (he had a brief period where he flirted with being a “bad boy” and had another “instagirlfriend;” this was right after I had confronted him about the rape, and stood up to him. After that shortly ended, and his “bad boy” period–which included photo shoots of him looking “dangerous” and drinking Jack Daniels from the bottle in an old murder house–ended, he became an activist and began fighting for “social justice,” and calling himself an entirely different name).
    He used to tell me that I was “boastful,” and said he was a humble person because of his upbringing. He created a writer’s page (in spite of only ever having had one story published, in his university’s press), and began bragging about some radio personality who wanted to have him on his show. He then became an “activist,” interviewing all kinds of local bands and authors. He bragged about getting books signed by favorite authors, and knowing famous people (a dubious claim). He began organizing writers’ groups (blocking me out of the writing community), and organizing activists’ groups, and showing up at every concert or event I might want to go to. He even wrote about feminism and rape in one piece he did (this was after he had raped me a second time).
    To backtrack, after he broke up with the new “instagirlfriend,” I made the mistake of looking at his online dating page. I had been contacting him incessantly, extremely wounded and baffled by what he had done to me; I was incredibly traumatized (drinking myself to sleep and vomiting; I broke a glass and slept with it in my bed, and woke up with a huge shard puncturing my thigh and blood pouring out; I could not work; I had nightmares; whenever I left the house I looked over my shoulder constantly). When we had broken up he had friend requested quite a few of my friends on Facebook (and people automatically accept friend requests usually–only a few of my closest friends did not, as they knew what was going on). He created a fake Facebook account to stalk me, though we had mutually blocked each other (he pretended to want to block me, while stalking my friends, stalking me with dummy accounts, and using other social media platforms like Instagram to stalk me as well). I contacted him incessantly, asking him why he had raped me and calling him a narcissist. He called the police (which was insane) and sent them to my apartment, where I filed a report against him (my friend, a lawyer, was there as a witness; the police officer believed me, took down the details of our relationship as well, and told me I should warn people in the community about him).
    The weekend he first raped me he also revealed to me he had lied to me about not dating anyone in the two weeks since we separated and had seduced six women. He bragged to me about this after raping me (after holding me down and forcing on me a sex act I’d said no to, until I screamed, after which he stopped; and then having sex with me in my sleep in the morning). He continued to brag about it during the day, while acting like I was his sexual possession, and acting alternately anxious and needy and cold and distant, and telling me he would visit me wherever I went, and he still loved me (then bragging about the good-looking women he had slept with again). He came back to see me that night (I had said no to him the night before, but he had worn me down; he texted me, asking to come back, and I said, “you know I can’t say no to you, but is it the best idea?”) He said he was a “bad person for coming over when I knew you wouldn’t say no.” He began to bemoan how “all he ever did was hurt people,” and a “relationship was a cage,” and he had “no real friends,” and when I began to cry and told him he had to let me go, he said “not permanently though, not permanently.” He also asked if it was okay to put his arms around me to cuddle (this after he had raped me the night before).
    In any case, after I confronted him about the rape, realize he knew what he’d done and didn’t care, and was deeply traumatized by that–I felt horror, actually, that someone like him existed, and I had been so fooled by him–I harassed him quite a bit (only on email), alternately forgiving and angry, demanding to know why. He called me a “stalker” but would engage with me (and did not like it if I did not talk to him), and I managed to get him to admit to quite a bit that he did (he also changed his story several times).
    I finally got tired of feeling angry. I looked at his online dating profile to see if I could find clues, red flags I’d missed. I forgot he would see this (I had not contacted him in a while). Intuiting I was feeling lonely, and in a forgiving mood, he contacted me, talking about “still loving me” and “second chances” and “not being nasty to each other” and pressuring me for sex but then calling himself horrible for doing so. He asked permission to call me and asked me over the phone “didn’t I miss it” (with him; in the beginning–before he changed, before he became abusive–we had had really good and truly intimate sex; he told me, at one point, right before the change, how vulnerable he felt to me and how scary it was. I think he failed to understand–in his failure of empathy–that I felt the same way). In any case, I agreed to go and see him. I felt like what he had done to me two weeks after we broke up was a manifestation of heartbreak, that he had lost it, and I felt sympathy for that; I decided it was a “mistake,” and I could forgive him now.
    The second time I saw him, he raped me again. That is to say, the specific sexual act he began demanding toward the end of our relationship but which I had asked him to stop asking about (and he had agreed to, saying it was no big deal, we did not have to do that now, or ever)–we began to have consensual sex, but then he held me down and forced that on me. I said “stop,” and he pinned me and enveloped me and held me firmly in place. I couldn’t believe he was doing it–after what he must have known I had just gone through (and I had even been HONEST with him in the first place about why I didn’t want to do that–it was not just that I felt things were getting out of hand between us, sexually, but that my first experience of that had been a rape, when I was a young teenager, and I had felt coerced into it and degraded by it since). He held me down and forced this on me. Not only did he not ask, and did I say “stop,” but I had explicitly said “no” to this act before–we had a whole conversation about it–and it was why I was so traumatized the first time he tried it, after we broke up (even if he stopped when I began screaming, and then was self-congratulatory about the fact that he stopped; when I pointed out to him later that he should not have done it in the first place, he suddenly “did not remember”). He knew exactly what he was doing, and the second time he did not stop (whether the trauma he caused me was a feature or a bug I don’t know; whether he was trying to hurt me–to exert power over me that way, to keep him in my head, to hurt me in the worst way possible short of killing me, because what he did was more traumatic than nonsexual physical violence–or whether it was simple reactance because I had denied him this sexual act and he felt both entitled and unfairly rejected, I don’t know).
    Of course, strangely, after this, just half an hour later he had an attack of conscience about “making me do something I didn’t want to do” (not about that; to make this all the more disturbing, I dissociated during the attack, and he panicked when he was done because I was unresponsive–I think he thought he’d suffocated me or I’d gone into shock–and then he went out of the room for a smoke and a shower; when he came back in I was aroused, imagining myself as HIM raping ME, trying to imagine how he must have felt, but I could not reach orgasm; he became aroused again and asked me for oral sex; I offered to keep going even though I was unenthusiastic; he had an attack of conscience about it and said “no, you don’t have to keep going, I know you don’t want to”). He then slept all night with a very angry look on his face. In the morning I acted child-like and asked him if he was mad at me. It’s really very disturbing to think about in retrospect.
    However, I identified what had happened immediately and immediately began to message him asking him why he had raped me (again). We blocked each other again (him saying “I’m sorry our second chance went to shit so quickly”). It was after this he became an “activist” and even interviewed a feminist band and interviewed the lead singer about her sexual abuse (returning to the subject again and again).
    I went through PTSD all over again. I developed panic attacks, had constant nightmares (of rape and cannibalism, and having to help other women escape), woke up with flashbacks; sometimes I became aroused, imagining myself as the rapist (I have never had a rape fantasy of being raped, as I know how it feels; only of being the rapist. I know it’s very wrong, and very disturbing, that I was trying to identify with him). I was formally diagnosed by a psychiatrist with PTSD and given medication for the nightmares and anxiety (which helped immediately), and a drug for bipolar that is also used off-label for depression (not an antipsychotic and not something I object to taking; it has been helpful before). I was teaching a full load of classes at the time of my trauma, which was not helping (my first semester teaching), though I managed to hold it together enough to teach, and teach well (otherwise I withdrew socially totally, from all my friends and family). I barely moved on days off (I stayed at work and did lesson planning on the days I would go in to teach).
    I begged him for an apology. I kept feeling it was my fault, or that there was something deeply wrong with him, or he must be human at some level. He began a different tactic: instead of being incredibly mean, he began preying on my desire for an apology (and also telling me he still loved me). He told me he would talk about it “in person,” but when I saw him I was very nervous, and he bought me drinks, introduced me to some friends, took me out, and got me drunk, and treated me like his girlfriend (and then took me home and had sex with me). On Halloween, he dressed up as a “formal apology” (in a suit with a sticker that said “I’m sorry”). I saw him, and again, I got drunk (I needed to be drunk to be around him), and he took me home and had sex with me (as usual, without a condom), only this time he did not withdraw. The next day he said I had “asked him to” but didn’t remember because I was “too drunk” (great excuse; he was sober enough to drive, both times). I did NOT ask him to. I don’t know if it was a power thing, or if he was trying to get me pregnant (to force his way back into my life; we would HAVE to start over then, my friends and family would HAVE to give him another chance then), or both. He did not offer to pay for the morning-after pill and made mean jokes when I asked what he would do if I got pregnant (he also refused to look me in the eye, though I was being kind to him; the time before that I had seen him, in the morning he had also had trouble looking me in the eye and had continued to sing a song that came on in the car on the way to breakfast, “I’m evil and only you can save me,” singing only the chorus over and over again, “I’m evil, I’m evil, I’m evil.” This did not stop him from getting jealous over my job again, though). Of course, I was the one trying to be sweet and cheer him up (something he tried when I became depressed by his demeanor again).
    I think he is also jealous that I can have real feelings and be a kind person. And he KNOWS what he did.
    In any case, now apparently he has (one year later) 3000 friends on Facebook (I remember his confession that he had begun friend requesting random strangers from all over the world, and when asked who he was by one woman had replied that his niece had gotten a hold of his phone; most people just hit “accept”). He is also a “community organizer” and “activist.” He hates Trump (probably because they are very alike, personality-wise) and has organized a protest of “voices most affected by the Trump presidency” (maybe I should turn up, as the rape crisis shelter where I go for counseling will have its funding affected. So would the Planned Parenthoods I might have relied on if he had succeeded in getting me pregnant).
    He is also doing stand-up about me, calling me a “stalker” who got mad at him for “whatever reason” and saying there was a “misunderstanding” between us (I have gone out of my way, apart from on those two occasions he requested to see me to “apologize,” in order to avoid him; I have harassed him via email only, which goes into a Spam folder–as does his email–we apparently both check; I have harassed him because he raped me, which was the one way he could have REALLY hurt me and the one thing that would keep me returning to him in confusion, trying to make sense of it; I was fine after the initial break-up–I mean, I told him he’d been sexually abusive, honestly, and I felt he had lied to me in saying he loved me–he told me how “in love” he’d been–if he broke up with me after one fight, without communicating; but apart from that I was going out with my friends, happy, perfectly fine. It was after he sweet-talked his way up into my apartment two weeks later and raped me that I really went off the rails. I told my friend–the lawyer–right away I felt I’d been raped; and once I realized he knew it too it was chilling…I could not shake the pervasive sense of horror this caused. It was the rape that caused the post-traumatic stress and that I just could not integrate into my worldview or my life, even though I’d been raped before…never by someone I loved, or who pretended to love me, even while continuing to prey on me…I couldn’t fathom it).
    I told him he was dishonest, calling me a “stalker” rather than a “harasser,” as I made no effort to call him, see him, or talk to anyone about him, and only sent him emails, and only about one thing; I also told him it was not for “whatever reason,” and that there was no “misunderstanding,” as he had said himself “men never just ‘lose control,’ they always know when they do that to a woman, that’s letting them off the hook.”
    He called his stand-up bit (also posted on the literary magazine we had come up with together as an idea) “based on his life but not 100 percent accurate,” and that of course he had “changed some facts” and “made some stuff up” (for example, that he was not dating anyone, as he stated in this piece); basically admitting–AGAIN–in email that yes, he knew it was not for “whatever reason” and knew he had raped me. He said he was sorry if it hurt my feelings and asked again to see me to talk about it in person to “make up for it as best he can.”
    I am finally in therapy (after many years) to figure out the root source of why this happens to me, why I attract predators, why I’m down on myself, why I over-empathize with people who prey on me and why I don’t protect myself (I have worried about him incessantly and been, in my correspondence with him, excessively kind, if anything; if it were me I could not live with the guilt of what I had done, which is why I worried about him, but clearly we are very different–he has low to no empathy), why I can stand up for myself in non-sexual contexts but not in sexual ones (and for other women in sexual contexts but not myself)–I am in therapy to figure out the root cause of all this so that sexual assault and abuse does not define me, my sense of self or self-worth, my ability to accomplish things, or my relationships, with family, with friends, or romantic, in the future. My therapist seems to think if he TRULY felt bad he would not be able to live with the guilt and would turn himself in, or would at the very least stop smearing me and lying about it, or would tell his own therapist the truth.
    I think his motivations are to prey on me again, to stay in my head (power and control), and to pretend apology so he can assuage his own guilt; also, spin control, so he can have some power over the narrative (he consistently uses pity ploys to manipulate others into doing what he wants). I think these are his motivations whether he is aware of them or not.
    Did he love me? Who knows? What is love to a person like that? I don’t even want to know the “why” anymore, as I don’t really want to be inside the head of someone like that. I DID fall in love with him (and not just the mirror) at some point: I liked what I saw as the “real” aspects of him, which were so different from the false self (he was quiet, stoic, bookish, a bit shy, kind of introverted and day-dreamy). I liked that person. The false self is grandiose, extroverted, outgoing, can be mean/pushy (bullying), says what he thinks others want to hear, exploits people, has shallow/fleeting but intense emotions; his cruel side protects his vulnerable side, when people get too close or see too clearly. Does he love? Not as long as he is busy hating himself, and trying to control others like an unruly part of himself he has to tame, he doesn’t.
    I know it will take time for me to heal. What he did to me was terrible. I see him as a kind of “dark angel” (someone not as strong might have killed herself, to be sexually assaulted again, by someone she opened up to, loved, and trusted, no less, after many sexual assaults); instead it caused me to finally acknowledge this is a problem that even when I think it is resolved–or when I am not looking to “repeat” it in some Freudian fashion–is apparently written all over me, for predators to see; I need to address this and get help. Better late than never.
    I would like to eventually do what he is doing–publishing, editing, activism–but I need to heal myself first. I cannot create a front to hide behind. I have been active, strong and dynamic in the past, and can be again; but I must also be authentic, and sincere. It’s part of who I am. And right now, I am in a healing phase.
    I will not meet with him. He thinks this is a joke, something he can do stand-up about, something he can make into a visual pun on Halloween before he takes advantage of me again (when he was booed offstage during the costume contest, he said to me, “see? Nobody likes puns”).
    I think he was jealous. Jealous of my abilities (I am a good poet, and he has been writing poetry–badly–all year), jealous of my personal strength (I have taught and traveled all over the world, in spite of setbacks, gone places where I didn’t know the language and learned it, made friends, done things), jealous of my goodness (of my desire to see the best in people; he kept telling me I had a “negative worldview” because I could be wary of men, as if that doesn’t make perfect sense now; I tend to be too trusting). He was jealous of my friends on Facebook, for God’s sake. He was just jealous, and could not comprehend that I loved him, and did not care about that; all he had to do was treat me well, and I would have stayed with him and been kind to him (and he claims to want love and a partner, though his behavior seems to the contrary).
    I feel immensely sorry for him. I know pity is not the same as compassion, but I cannot help it. His father is a malingerer who neglected and emotionally abused him by turn, and emotionally abuses his mother. He has a poor relationship with his sister, whom he calls “controlling” (his favorite non-physical adjective about women). He was married when he was younger and had a baby who died, and blamed himself for smoking (the baby was born with spine ibifida). His initiation into sex was a rape by an older girl when he was twelve. His mother and grandmother spoiled, indulged and pampered him (his mother still does). If his father is any indication, there is a genetic component to his character disorder. He has had multiple relationships with women that didn’t work out (and he blamed them; another red flag: he told me had had been “abused” physically by his ex-girlfriend–trying to connect?–yet he used to brag about how much her parents had loved him–they didn’t–or that her dog had died when he broke up with her, because it missed him–it didn’t–and pull out pictures of her and her new boyfriend, jealously comparing himself to him; he acted as if his ex-wife had left him for a classmate when in fact he had left her, cheating on her with the new girlfriend before the dissolution of the marriage, and he also pulled out pictures of her with the new husband and children, etc.).

    I have had some abusive relationships, but some normal ones as well. I wish ALL of them well (even him). I would never pull out pictures of an ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend and show them to someone I was dating, with half-jealous, half-gloating commentary. All of these should have been a massive red flag, but somehow I kept forgiving him.

    Now that I have figured out his psychology (although I don’t know what kind of bleak world must exist in his mind–he was always so NEGATIVE, even in the beginning–oh, this won’t last, that sort of thing–and, if he has a shred of conscience, I have no idea how he could possibly feel about having raped me, a rape survivor, and someone who loved him, and trusted him) I need to figure out my own. Why would I, a feminist, date someone who, words aside, was a pretty obvious misogynist (just the way he talked about other women and girlfriends)? Why would I keep forgiving him as I did? Why did I trust him? Why did I feel sorry for him/empathize with him? I need to figure out my own psychology, and get better (for myself, not anyone else). I am certainly not going to date or have sex again until I have done as much detective work on my own psychology as I have on his.

    In any case, that is my story of a narcissist. And the parallels between him and Trump (political differences aside) seem rather astonishing (I mean, after a major narcissistic injury, but also to “prove” something to someone–me–my ex-boyfriend has mounted this massive campaign to see both just and important, which is bizarre, as it’s only to make himself feel better–he must have felt inferior–because I don’t care at all how popular or philanthropic someone appears to be, I care if he is kind; the rape was also about him and not about me, I know–I was a convenient target of his cowardice, his fantasy and his insecurity); Trump began his campaign after being goaded (or at least ridiculed, even if mildly) by Obama; Trump also has no real moral values but just says what he thinks people want to hear (the people who will get him in); he is having a love affair right now with the alt-right and the “disenfranchise white voter,” but once they begin to question him (say, when he fails to bring jobs back or in any way deliver on his promises to make anything great again) he will begin to devalue them; he will hurt them as much as possible in the discard, using their worst fear against them, fear of total disenfranchisement and losing all their power (fear of being lumped in with all the others currently being “othered”)–Trump is not the dark cipher, as some have claimed (though he is a cipher) but another dark angel, playing to both the better and worse sides of human nature (he is a pot-stirrer, bringing out all the latent bad–the narcissism, grandiosity, entitlement–in large segments of the population; but if we can get over the nastiness of the discard phase without all-out cultural collapse, we can begin to examine how we fell victim to such a con man, we can begin to do the necessary work of reevaluation, as a society).

    So that’s my story. And by calling my ex-boyfriend a dark angel, I don’t mean in any way to imply what happened is good, or to excuse the terrible things he did to me. I am just looking for a silver lining about what I can learn from this, personally; how I can start to examine myself and change these old patterns for good.

    (And, to be clear, I was far from perfect; I bragged a bit when we were first together about past glories, because I was feeling so down in the dumps about my current state; I was a bit defensive/stand-offish because I think, subconsciously, I didn’t like what he was doing to me–the way he was pushing himself on me; I correct his grammar at times, etc., something I have never done in other relationships, regardless of level of education–my ex-boyfriend and I have the same level of education. I think I did this because of subconscious resentment, though I stopped when I began to actually surrender to his love and to actually like him. I did sort of harmlessly bug him via nice but clingy text when his “change” began; I did get angry at him after the break-up, telling him I felt he had lied to me, and also been sexually abusive, although this was true enough and he’s even owned up to it, though at the time he told me I was “projecting” because of abuse by other men and even using my own words against me and telling me I “didn’t see him as a person but as just an abusive man,” after I had asked him, after we broke up and he insisted on friendship–and I said no–if he had ever seen me as a person at all). I harassed him via email after the weekend in which he came over and assaulted me (and generally treated me so awfully and acted so insanely); I quit harassing him, and he lured me back to see him (when I decided to forgive him), and raped me again, and I resumed harassing him after that (mostly demanding an apology), which he turned against me by saying he wanted to “see me to talk about it in person” (and acting nice, not mean) and then exploiting me again.

    I was far from perfect in this relationship, but I think it’s clear he never minded my “harassment” and in fact enjoyed the fact that he had gotten under my skin, and that he had some control over me, and liked using me whenever he felt like it (when he broke up with me, I asked him if he didn’t want to have sex with me anymore, and he said, “Of course I want to have sex with you, but it wouldn’t be fair to you!” This was the most reasonable thing he ever said on this issue; he proceeded to talk me into letting him come up to my apartment two weeks later, when he raped me). Maybe he saw me having fun with my friends on Facebook and decided I wasn’t hurt enough, I don’t know. He was definitely mad his sleeping around didn’t hurt me more (though I worried he was coercing the women, and also about getting an STD).

    I was definitely blame-worthy in this relationship too. I take full responsibility for my crazy behavior. However, I was extremely vulnerable when I met him (the full story of why is a long one), and he got me to open up to him, and then took advantage of my weakness (sexual exploitability) in the worst way; and dating someone like him could, I think, drive anyone crazy, so I forgive myself for that.

    Even though he is everywhere in my town (including befriending old friends of mine–even the man who first raped me when I was a teenager, which I find appalling and creepy as hell) I know I need to ignore him, and forget him, and focus on my own healing…as long as I am in touch with him, or concerned with him at all, he is still in my head. At least the medication is helping with the physical symptoms of PTSD. I hope I can start to heal from this soon.

  60. Very true observation. My job over the past 3 years has to observe some of the worst behaved children in the school, find the root of the disturbance, and fix it. I am good at analyzing multiple sources of information and coming up with individualized strategies that work.

    So when my mother in law became an immatature, selfish, screaming banchee when I married her son, I went to work. As long as she was attacking me, slandering me, and being hostile towards me, I gathered information, and put on my strongest stoic face. When she got no supply, the worst she could say was I was weird and she did not like me. She did not know I was running interference for her son to break free. When she turned her attention to my son, I showed her I had her number.

    When she insisted on watching my son, I allowed her with great attention paid to her actions. She was fine for months, her grandmother face securely on, and her aggression put only on me and my “incompetency”. Then one day my son was in a wet, dried diaper, no pants though it was chilly, and he was listless from low blood sugar when I came home. I changed him, and found a rash. She screamed she JUST changed him… I put his pants on his cold legs; she critisized my clothing choices. I fed him, and she screamed louder that she JUST fed him! He ate 8 ozs of hardy baby food, 8 oz of fomula, and began to perk up.

    Then masterfully I played my hand. Her greatest fear was being irrelevant and out of control. I left with my son without a word, took the next day off from work, and said not a word. Her flying monkies had nothing to launch at me for, and she went into such a panic attack she thought her heart was causing the problems. When she tried to enlist my husband, she realized over the year I had deprogrammed him, and he could see her now. He was not in unity with her, but with me. His eyes opening, began to open his father’s eyes as well. The only one defending her at all was her daughter, who had zero information to go on. While my mother in law went through abusive cycles, I had dismantled her entire power structure, and created a united front with my husband. My strength of character disarmed my father in law, and she was left to her victimhood and false sickness in her dark room alone.

    She lost unsupervised visits for 9 months, though I never announced it to her. She saw my son on weekends only when my father in law was present to assist and monitor. We moved a hour away, and my father in law made up the difference by visiting after work a couple afternoons a week when he could. He was a pleasure to have around.

    Since then, my mother in law has kept her grandmother face on securely and has acknowledged that I have full authority to take my children out of her grasp if she misbehaves ever again. If I cannot have respect, I will take fear if it keeps my children safe. We also added an additional 5 hours of distance to be sure we could have some peace.

    I have great brakes. The time to be worried is when my engine starts up. Then I set prisoners free, uphold the rights of the abused, and slip the rug right out from under the abuser’s feet.

    I chose a man that is an excellent husband and father. He could not choose his mother. Personally, I wish I could find an end to the war, but I don’t see that coming soon. For now, all I can do is manage the damage and protect my family. I know her number, and I can win any battle she engages. I just am very selective when I engage.

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