Narcissistic Love versus Unconditional Love

Anyone with a giving persona, and a desire to help others, attracts narcissists. You give, they take. It’s a match made in heaven  hell. It’s an utterly confusing dynamic, not least because it’s so surreal. One of the keys to sanity is understanding that, when it comes to love, narcissists come from a completely different place.

Pick an electrical appliance that you use a lot. Maybe your computer, or cellphone / i-phone, or MP3 player. Got one? O.k. You know how an appliance like that can make a great contribution to our lives, to the point where, when it’s working, we really love it for doing all those things?

That’s a lot what narcissistic “love” is like.

You know how, when you truly love someone, whether it’s a person, or even a pet, you can get really angry at them, yet despite the anger, you still feel love for them? That’s healthy unconditional love. It’s not something narcissists are familiar with.

Healthy unconditional love requires a bonding beyond the surface appearance and behaviour of someone. It’s a love that connects you from core to core. You could say it’s soul based.  It’s a love that goes beyond appearances. This is not to say that there are no limits to what you will tolerate. You might come to a point where the relationship no longer works, yet, on some level, you continue to love the person, despite their behaviour. This is why letting go can be so hard. There is a loving connection beyond behaviour and circumstances.

Narcissistic love is more superficial. We love appliances, as long as they do what they are supposed to do. Who decides what they are supposed to do? We do. Similarly, narcissists decide what other people are supposed to do, and when expectations are not fulfilled the scene can be a lot like someone swearing at their computer for crashing. It’s not a love based on any core connection, it’s a love based on functionality. I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly grieve when an appliance breaks down and I need to replace it (I might be upset about the cost and effort required for the replacement though).

The Lack of Deeper Connection

Unconditional love requires an awareness of a presence beyond appearances. I imagine that, for a narcissist, it would be akin to asking you to sit in front  of your computer and connect to its soul. You might laugh, you might shrug, you might blink. Chances are, you’re not going to find anything to connect to.

Not everyone is able to see beyond the superficial image of others. While doing so probably comes quite naturally to you, it’s important to realize that it is not natural to everyone. The ability to see other people at a deeper level, requires the ability to see ourselves at a deeper level.

For many reasons, that deeper connection to self can be absent. Simply put, due to a combination of severe trauma and a collection of beliefs that state that ‘facing the trauma will just make things worse’ someone can actually become completely cut off from their inner experiences. It’s a recipe for disconnection so to speak. With such disconnection comes the inability to deeply connect to others. On the receiving end, this can feel like the frustrating experience of not being seen by the other, and not being able to get through to them or really communicate with them.

You know those days when electrical appliances break down, and you entertain the hope that if you just “do the right thing” they will spring back to life? That’s the point when we tend to talk to our machines (“nooooo, don’t break down!”). It’s also the point  where our conditional love is apparent. There is no old-appliances home for no longer functioning computers is there? Of course not. Now extend that analogy to people, and you’ve got a sense of an extremely narcissistic world-view.

Gradations of Narcissism

Obviously, there are gradations of narcissism. A little bit of narcissistic self-centeredness is necessary. We are not talking about the necessity to meet your own needs here. We are talking about the narcissistic approach of treating people as a means to an end only. Full-blown narcissism is a personality disorder. If you are dealing with someone who loves you when “you do things right” and who stops loving you when you don’t, then you are dealing with narcissistic love, which really isn’t anything like unconditional love at all.

Narcissistic love is the “look at my new i-pod / friend ” love. Later it becomes the “that used to be my i-pod / friend but it no longer does what I want it to”.

Recognizing Narcissism

Narcissistic love in the workplace is a lot easier to figure out than it is in our personal relationships. In the workplace, a person with narcissistic personality disorder will treat you like their best friend when they want something from you or when they somehow look better due to being associated with you. The next moment (perhaps when you are working on a different project), they will completely ignore you.

In our private lives, narcissistic love is harder to spot because you might be on the “positive” receiving end much longer. If your functionality includes:  a shoulder to cry on and a willingness to listen to a lot of venting, then you might be kept in the “appliances I love” category for a very long time.

They Love Me, They Love Me Not

Trying to understand narcissists from the perspective of unconditional love is endlessly confusing. It’s a flower with an endless number of petals: “they love me, they love me not, they love me, they love me not…” Think back to a time when you were in love with someone, and you weren’t sure whether that feeling was reciprocated. It’s agonizing, right? Usually though, that uncertainty wouldn’t last too long. At some point, you’d get a yes or no. With a narcissist, you’ll never get the answer, because it’s not unconditional love to start out with anyway. Whenever you behave the way they want you to, they love you, and when you don’t, they love you not. Yet if you ask a narcissist whether they love someone, they might well say “yes”. Translation: “Yes, I love this person like an appliance, when they do what I want them to”.

The Desire to Fix the Relationship

Being on the receiving end of narcissistic love can make us feel like we need to try harder. Yet at the same time, it can make us feel that, no matter how hard we try, we can’t really get through to or connect to the other person (which is true). We can come to believe that somehow, it is up to us to fix the relationship. For someone who has blocked their heart, to the point where they cannot connect to themselves, superficial functional connections are all that is possible though.

It takes two to have a healthy relationship.

It is impossible to love someone who will not let themselves be seen, even to themselves. The mystery of that can be addictive though. Again, the idea that ‘if we just try hard enough, we will find a way to create authentic connection’, can keep us tied up in a relationship that really only revolves around functionality, but, like a quest for a holy grail, holds the unspoken promise of one day becoming a connection of unconditional love.

For all practical purposes though, this is like trying to deeply connect to an appliance. Narcissists treat others like appliances, because that is as far as their own level of awareness about themselves goes. They are unavailable to us, because -in a deeper way- they are unavailable to themselves. We can’t have a truly loving relationship with a narcissist, no matter how hard we try, there is just nothing to deeply connect to. Trying harder is not going to unlock the magic door to their unavailable heart.

The Dream versus the Reality

When it comes to loving a narcissist, all we can really do is love a dream we have of them. This dream can be so strong (and beautiful) that it becomes something that we come to superimpose on the true narcissist. Every little positive spark of something nice they said or did, enforces the “truth” of that dream. This keeps us at a seemingly safe distance from what is really happening. The dream keeps the painful reality at bay. However, at some point, it’s necessary to see the dream for what it is and recognize that it is impossible to love or be loved by the narcissist.  It’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just that they have made themselves completely unavailable to unconditional love.

(If- right now you are thinking that -despite everything- you do truly and deeply love a narcissist, then ask yourself whether you have allowed  yourself to feel any hate or anger towards them. Due to all kinds of beliefs about how we’re supposed to feel, our true feelings can become buried very deeply. When it comes to dealing with narcissists however, any feelings of anger and hate are (as long as they are processed in a healthy way) extremely liberating and healing. It can be a great relief to realize that there is nothing wrong with your psychic radar: that you did know that this person is not a good person for you to spend time with! You may just not have been able to face the reality of narcissists before and therefore had to deceive yourself into thinking that there was a solution. )

What About Helping a Narcissist to Heal?

If you’ve ever tried to really help a narcissist, you know that the closer you get to the heart of the matter, the closer you get to things blowing up in your face. The narcissist doesn’t want their issues to be solved, they much prefer to blame others for their problems. No matter how good your solution may be, share it with a narcissist and they will either find reasons why it doesn’t work or will suddenly come to the “insight” that the true problem lies elsewhere. It’s a diversion tactic. Blame energizes them and keeps them at armslength from their true issues.

Some people believe that sending/giving unconditional love will help, but here’s the thing: narcissists don’t want unconditional love. Unconditional love requires openness and honesty. It requires facing fears, feeling difficult emotions and being open to change. In the narcissist’s mind, these are all awful things that are to be avoided at all costs.

So, when it comes to helping narcissists, every time it seems you are getting somewhere, you are faced anew with an impenetrable wall. Face it, they want to stay behind it. It’s not your fault that you cannot love or be loved by them, they were never available for real love in the first place.

The best thing to do is to let them be and move on. If you can’t seem to move on, ask yourself: what am I hoping to receive?  What do I still want from them? Then  consider: Have I ever received this from them in the past?

  • If so:  what did I need to do/give/ give up for that? Was it worth it?
  • If not: since the person in question is resistant to change, what are the chances that our relationship will change in the way that I want it to?
Newsflash! There is now a whole programme on breaking free from narcissistic abuse patterns: The No to Narcissists Programme for Highly Sensitive People, check it out here.
 
 
 
P.S. For more on this topic, please also read the other posts on empathy versus narcissism. Comments on this topic are no longer answered personally, as there is a lot of material in past comments & answers below this post already. Please remember too that the permanent way out of narcissistic abuse is by learning to recognize toxic people, learning how to set boundaries, making self-care a priority and learning to understand and respect your own sensitivity. I’d be happy to help you break the underlying pattern of attracting narcissists (please join the mailinglist below for invites to coaching opportunities), but if you’re in a toxic relationship right now and have trouble leaving, please seek specialized counseling. (As long as you’re in a toxic relationship – or living with a narcissist in some other way- , you’ll need all your energy to simply survive and there will be little time or energy left to focus on your own healing & future). 
Share in top social networks!

Subscribe and Get an Instant Download of the Happy Sensitive A-B-C Guide, + Spontaneous Audio Gifts and Programme Invites

*no spam or blabla
* indicates required
Email Format

{ 185 comments… read them below or add one }

kelly December 13, 2012

wow! thank you!

Reply

rose December 30, 2012

Thank you. I just feel so ashamed about being relatively blind to it for 31 years. I’m still in love with the dream. My friends have told me to accept my anger. Fortunately it is surfacing more, motivating more exercise and journaling. It helps a lot to have the appliance analogy. I’m clearer now on how I was conditioned. Your article also helps me understand why he’s so serenely blind to my pain and can casually say some incredibly heartless and thoughtless, yes, actually cruel things without any idea how they would affect me. Thanks again.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade December 30, 2012

You’re so welcome Rose ( &Kelly). I’m glad it is helpful.

“Serenely blind” yes, that’s a great way to put it! That is also why these people don’t change: they literally don’t see a reason to. The shame says nothing about who you truly are. It is conditioning, the result of maltreatment (often, it’s an old and subconscious way to make sense of things, inner-child logic so to say: “well, if people treat me like this then it must be because I am a bad person”) It surfaces when we start to question it and when we take steps to stand up for ourselves. Your friends are right, your anger is the way out. It gives strength, courage and clarity. (more on that here )

Reply

Frank January 1, 2013

As a person who has suffered greatly from a narcissistic mother and others in my life, I certainly can relate to much of what you are saying.

I really appreciate your “appliances I love” analogy. Very true.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade February 27, 2013

Hi Frank,

Sad but true, no? Thanks for sharing!

Reply

sayida January 6, 2013

I just ended a relationship with a narcissist male. It has been off and on for 2 1/2 years. He was always honest with me, even when what he was saying was painful to me. He finally admitted that he doesn’t have “feelings” for other people. I asked how he could be so affectionate if he didn’t have feelings for me, and he said that it was because hugging and kissing felt good- but it would feel the same for him no matter who he was hugging or kissing. He also said that he didn’t want to be with anyone else, and he didn’t want me to be with anyone else, but he couldn’t say why.It is really hard for those of us who DO have feelings for other people to comprehend the reality that there are people who don’t have those feelings, but it is a fact. He said that he has his own feelings of happiness, anger, sadness, etc.. but he doesn’t understand the concept of feelings toward others.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade January 6, 2013

Wow, that’s very insightful. Thank you for sharing!

If you ever feel like writing an article about your own experiences and discoveries/insights on this, I’d be happy to share / host it!

It’s one thing to “rationally understand” that people are different. It’s a different thing entirely to fully grasp how deep those differences can go!

Reply

Anne January 6, 2013

I dated a man for about 18 months, and there were all red flags: he was profoundly selfish, like the kind of selfishness and self-absorption of a small child, and not a man in his 30s; he lacked empathy – I cannot recall a single occasion where he expressed a desire or ability to really be there for another person; he would drop the silent treatment on me whenever I disagreed with him. And I was always the one to have to restart contact; he was unable to apologize, EVER, and the best I ever got him from was “I am sorry you feel that way”. And I did everything wrong: I kept forgiving his increasingly cruel behavior, because I couldn’t believe that that was really him. I kept waiting for him to go back to the charming, witty, smart, respected person I was attracted to in the first place (and that he still showed to everyone but me). I tried to get him into therapy. Really, I was so naive and foolish, and caused so much harm to my heart.

The relationship ended one year ago, and I was devastated. I had really loved him and couldn’t understand how he could have been with me for so long, and never felt anything for me at all. He prided himself on his moral superiority and upright lifestyle; how could he in good conscience fake affection? I found out a few weeks ago that he is now engaged to someone he started a long-distance relationship with just weeks after we broke up. I don’t think she’s even from this country. I am dumbfounded. He/we are in a community where marriage is taken really seriously; divorce is not an option. He cannot get out of it down the road. He was completely emotionally detached with me, but is jumping into marriage after 8-9 months of dating someone long distance? Is it possible that it was just me, and our dynamic? Can empathy be turned on and off? From what I saw, he had 8 of the 9 markers of NPD (if he was envious of others, he would never admit it so I can’t be sure).

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade January 6, 2013

Hi Anne,

One of the effects of being in a relationship with a narcissist is that we start to doubt ourself. It’s a normal human trait to define yourself partly through the image that others hold of you. Narcissist are very sure of themselves in a way. Don’t mistake their conviction for truth. People can be very convinced of things that are complete B.S. Yet, as sensitives, we will pick up on the feeling that the other is so convinced, and then conclude that if they feel so strongly about it, they must be right.
In my experience empathy cannot be turned off. What we can do is (through inner work) learn how to disengage and ” unhook” ourselves from people who drain and negatively influence us. We then still “notice” their vibes, yet they no longer control us.
I’m glad you’re dumbfounded. Narcissists are dumbfounding. You’d have to be like them to fully understand them. (Not understanding them is proof of your sanity!) Don’t beat yourself up about it, narcissists are a world unto themselves and it’s easy to get sucked in. Make a list of all the things you KNOW to be true (especially the ugly stuff). Take out the list when you feel you’re starting to be overpowered by his point of view. It’s a challenge to stay true to our own perspective in a situation like yours, and it’s important.

Reply

Allen Watkins January 21, 2013

I once was blind but know I see…Thank you so so much. I now know what it is I have to do…Move on!!!

The Recieving Appliance

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade January 22, 2013

So good to hear that & thanks for sharing! Unplug (from the N) & go :)

Reply

Anonymous January 28, 2013

I was unfortunate enough to be in a relationship with a psychopath for 3 years only to walk directly into the path of a narcissist 3 months later. Although there are definite differences between the two personality types they are also incredibly similar (in my experience). But after my exit from the relationship with the violent antisocial psychopath who has stalked me for 2years since, I meet the charming charasmatic narcissist. He seemed to good to be true at first he liked everything I liked he was very respectful the opposite of what I had just experienced. It only took two months for his true colours to show but he had this unbelievable ability to manipute everyone around him he turned everything on me made me feel like I was crazy and even when the evidence of his actions was infront of him he would still deny it. I never understood his denial of the truth even when it was infront of him. He was never violent towards me he was aware of my previous relationship and knew I wouldnt tolerate violence , so his manipulation was severe sexual and emotional abuse. What I struggle with now after finding out what he is is that I once again fell in love with a person who simply doesnt exisist evwn had his child, how could I be so stupid after my previous relationship

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade February 9, 2013

Hi Anonymous,

We get “sucked in” because of old internal patterns, assumptions, emotional triggers and expectations. It’s important to take a time-out from relationships and learn to take good care of yourself first. It’s also important to work on healing old wounds. Especially those wounds that we suppress make us susceptible to narcissistic abuse (narcissists are like drug-dogs when it comes to finding other people’s weak spots)

Reply

Danica Gale August 14, 2014

I can totally relate! Feel free to visit my blog of healing. :) I have MANY similar stories.

Reply

nicole marie van Kemenade February 9, 2013

Hi Caroline…very interesting analogy and very helpful. I have struggled with a NPD for one and a half years and…it has been a roller coaster between pleasure and pain and the pain has been extraordinary. many times I thought I was going absolutely crazy yet his beautiful intellect and his charm kept pulling me back. For a long time I was convinced he has ASD but over the past months I have come to realise that NPD is much more likely. I have been a RN for many years and from early childhood my empathy has been far too high for my own good. Yet I did not realise…until now. As painful as my experience has been ( because I felt so in love but had nothing to connect to) this man has given me a great gift. I am finally able to recognise within myself this exaggerated level of empathy…the NPD MAGNET…!! Educating myself on the net has also been very helpful and has enabled me to discontinue the relationship. Not that I did not try before…but I was always lured back…now I can finally think of all the horrible things he has done and said and I can feel hate and anger…which in turn free me of this strange bondage. For the first time I am beyond caring what he does and with whom and I am building up my energy once more…just for me…and happy to be on my own. I will write the story at some time and send it to you as it gives an amazing insight (in hindsight) into the chaotic world of an NPD.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade February 9, 2013

Hi Nicole,

“Beyond caring” – congrats! & Thanks for sharing! Yes, please do feel free to send your story, I’d be glad to share it in an appropriate & mutually agreed-upon shape or form.

Reply

Clara October 5, 2013

Your response has helped me to realize what good I got from my recently broken up relationship. You are right, it had made me realize how much empathy I possess and that is such a wonderful trait to have. Thanks for making me see this <3

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade October 7, 2013

That’s great to hear Clara!

Reply

Mia February 9, 2013

Caroline, your article reinforces everything I know to be true and your appliance analogy is enlightening. My challenge is how to exit the relationship. Not that my husband would ever talk about his feelings, but I know he fears losing our 3-yo child. I can’t get emotionally close to him after all the hurt he caused, especially when I discovered his affair which opened my eyes to the severity of his issues – before that I rationalized so many behaviors in our 15-yr marriage. Leaving him is not an easy decision (mostly because I fear his wrath) but I’ve exhausted all efforts, including counseling, reading books, talking ad nauseum, and shedding so many tears over the pain he’s caused me. It would take too long to list everything here, but no physical abuse, though he came close. Mostly it’s been verbal abuse, emotional neglect, and manipulation which occurs when he doesn’t want to hear anything about how he hurt me or anything that puts him in a bad light. That means problems have to be swept under the rug. He takes no ownership, deflects, blameshifts, disassociates and says he doesn’t remember so much of what he’s done that hurt me. I learned what to not bring up to prevent him from losing it, but that’s no way to live.

Meanwhile, he has shown no remorse or empathy. The odd thing is that he can feign appropriate behavior in public and come across like a saint. He pretends (or maybe truly believes) we’re a happy family despite my being open about my feelings, but we have zero intimacy. Yet he gets mad when I bring up divorce. Damned if do, damned if I don’t. He’s even threatened to make my life a living hell if I leave (lie to everyone about why we split, claim custody of our child and tell him horrible lies about me breaking up our family). However, there were times he got fed up with my crying when I was having PTSD from the affair shock and he brought up divorce and threatened to leave, but each time the next day he acts like everything’s fine! It’s exhausting dealing with someone who is detached from reality. How do I get out with my sanity intact and avoid all his vengeful threats and the child custody battle?? (We’re in a no-fault state) I told him he doesn’t have to fight over our son and can see him any time. I even said keep the house, contents, and cars… I just want out. Still, he is unreasonable and vindictive, unless I don’t bring up anything he doesn’t want to hear, but problems never get resolved. Who can be with a person who mistreats you or neglects you emotionally and pretends it never happened?? Why would he want to stay in this marriage when he gets no sex or intimacy (unless it’s fear of losing our son). It’s so toxic.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade February 9, 2013

Hi Mia,

Narcissists are all about having control. It’s their fearful obsession with always needing to have the upper hand that makes them mean and agressive, and it’s also their weak spot. I can’t give you a success formula unfortunately, but I can give you some pointers.
1. Make self-care a priority. You’re running a marathon of sorts, make sure you stay nourished! The best thing would be to get out of the house. Stay with friends and/or look around for any women’s safe houses where you can stay. It will make it easier to stay focused and not give in under his terrorizing (don’t underestimate the negative impact of simply being around him!). If you can’t get a away for a longer time, then at least find a way to get a few days away from home and the insanity there – to regroup.
2. Realize that the moment you expect understanding or taking responsibility from a narcissist is the moment you lose. For a narcissist, compassion & emotion demonstrates weakness. You’ll need to be quite strategic and unemotional with him to win this (and then let your emotions come out when he’s not there OR actually allow yourself to be very emotional around him if you know that will make him want a divorce more)
3. Prioritize. Every thing you do with regards to him needs to serve getting a divorce (and having custody). Those are two big and very important goals. The more you can swallow your pride and allow him to “be right” in other areas in order to get the divorce underway, the more successful you’ll be. Again, this is not about having your emotional sanity restored (that will come later), this is about getting OUT.
4. Know that the only thing that narcissists respect is power. There where a fight is inevitable, focus on how you can take control. Be forceful where you can. Be smart and look ahead. This is a battle, not a resolving of conflict. Assume that the conflict will intensify and prepare for it. Document everything that when left undocumented could be used against you in court, collect evidence against him, prepare for the worst. Go in with your eyes wide open and don’t give up. You’ll need to use everything you know about him to fight him. Offense is the best defense (even if the offense means “losing on purpose” to mislead him- his vanity is a blindspot. )
5. You cannot allow yourself to obsess about what others will think. Yes, he will spread lies about you (in fact, he’s already doing that by making himself look like the charming husband and you like the crazy wife). The people in your social circle will have to make up their own mind. For many, it will be easier to accept that he is “normal”, yet, you might be pleasantly surprised at the people who actually see through him. This is no time to worry about keeping up appearances of any kind. By being willing to be the “odd one out” you will effectively take away a big part of your husband’s leverage over you.
6. You’re in a warzone. Honour that. Don’t try to make it nicer than it is nor expect it to be easy. Don’t try to be nice to him either. He’s on his own now, he’s gone too far. Use the suggestions in the article to keep your eye on the reality of the situation. Focus on getting out. After you’re out, things will fall into a different kind of perspective.
7. Know that he gets some benefits from the relationship, otherwise he wouldn’t be in it. He might be afraid to be alone. He might need someone to look after him (cooking? household? keeping up appearances?). Whatever the case, you have more power than you think you have, and he needs you more than he wants you to know. Use that. Leverage it to your advantage. Caring and compassion are not going to get you out of this one, you’re going to have to activate the focused fighter inside (we all have one, even if we prefer not to activate her). This is where you are being challenged to truly fight for yourself. All your beliefs about how standing up and fighting for yourself is not ok/allowed/nice/acceptable/safe etc will be triggered. You’ll need to change in certain ways to get out of this. That is the real challenge: your willingness to become the person you need to be to win this with your integrity intact yet allowing yourself to pull some mean punches when necessary. Again, it’s survival, not an honourable duel. You have a responsibility towards yourself and your son. There is no perfect or nice way to do this. Cut yourself the slack you need to succeed at meeting your goals: divorce + custody.
8. For the “how” ask your intuition productive questions. Focus on asking the questions that will bring helpful answers. E.g.: How do I in fact have more power than I think I do? How can I take care of myself through all this? How can I best plan ahead? What do I need to be willing to do or be in order to win this? Let the answers come in their own time, take responsibility for asking the right kind of questions. “Why is he mean” or “why is this happening to me” are NOT productive questions. Be really strict with yourself with regards to the things you do and don’t allow yourself to think about, it’s easy to run off on a disempowering inner monologue. The first place to start turining things around is through your goals and focus.

Reply

Mia February 9, 2013

Thank you, Caroline!! This is very helpful, in particular your statement that “For a narcissist, compassion & emotion demonstrates weakness.” Sadly, that is true. The only time I’ve ever seen a tear from him is when he’s chopped onions and even then he tries hard to conceal it. I truly appreciate your rapid and thorough reply. It helps to see other’s comments with your replies here as well. May God bless you many times over.

Reply

Ron July 23, 2013

I have been going through a divorce from my NPD for almost 3 years now. It has been pretty crazy at times. It will help you greatly to get involved in a support group. The group I am in is call Celebrate Recovery, you can check the internet for a location near you. It is a free Godly based support system for all of life’s problems. You do not have to believe in God to get help there. Finding tools to help yourself is vital to keeping yourself out of the web NPD’s weave. Caroline is correct when she says some things you cannot think, as for me I need to replace the bad thinking with good. In C.R. we call that stinking thinking, in God we can have a renewing of our minds and an awareness of God’s Love for us. You used to say good luck, now I know I only need God, luck has nothing to do with it.

Reply

Lulu January 11, 2014

Oh my God I feel your pain ,the difference with me is that my daughter is not his. But I am sick all the time because of the stress, and they cut my work down leaving me with no money and under his wing. I am on antidepressants and much more just to handle him. Thank you for sharing my husbands image in yours.

Reply

anna February 27, 2013

Everything in the article is absolutely true in my experience of 3 narcissists who managed to get their vampire teeth into me. However what’s not there is how evil they are, how malicious they are, the deep hatred toward you that they harbour. They are incapable of honour, goodwill and respecting another human being. They are vampires. They will feed off your energies and resources for as long as you are in their range and they will never stop. When you are completely depleted they will kick you really viciously when you’re down (they get off on that) and then discard you like an empty drink can if you are of no further use to them. Like paedophiles, they do this BECAUSE THEY CAN. They target people and manipulate them just as paedophiles do, they groom their victims to believe they are wonderful lovers (at first) and then the abuse begins. It’s important to recognise, I think, that they target the damaged “child self” in us and they have a kind of radar that can spot that in potential victims. They are soul abusers.
They don’t have relationships, they have hostages. YOU. Leave. Fast. Please.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade February 27, 2013

Hi Anna,

Thanks for sharing. Synchronicity! I posted a new article a little earlier today exploring the negative mindset of narcissists. Feel free to add to it in the comments! http://thehappysensitive.com/how-to-stop-being-empathic-and-become-a-complete-narcissist-a-k-a-arsecissist/

Reply

Christine April 23, 2013

This is true. Run! I almost got myself killed, trying to get out.

Reply

Sayida March 8, 2013

Wow. This article is excellent. I just had a conversation with my N. boyfriend after a fight. He finally told me what “love” is to him. Love is an emotion to him like anger, sadness, happiness, fear- it is just as fleeting. He may feel love for me one moment, but not the next, and he has absolutely no understanding that I can be angry at him but still feel love for him. This is foreign to him. He also said that if he is not in my presence, he does not “love” me. In his words, love is something that happens only when two people are sharing a space, and love for him is the feeling of himself disappearing in the moment with this person. He said loyalty would keep him faithful to a person he was in a relationship with, and that he might feel “love” for someone he just met, but loyalty would stop him from physically acting on that feeling. He can act very loving with me, but if I start reading a book that he thinks has a stupid title, or watching a show that he thinks is garbage, or listening to music that he thinks is trite- he will tell me so, and can actually get very angry at my choice. Basically, his type of love comes and goes and has no depth to it. He can walk out at anytime if he is not feeling love for me at that moment. It might also help someone out there to know that if I am sad or feeling as though I need words of love or caring from him- he will refuse to say them because he feels as though he is being “coerced” into saying something he doesn’t feel at that moment, and he will let me cry my eyes out in front of him – knowing I am feeling unloved by him, and absolutely show no emotion- well, except a smug look on his face. He says that he doesn’t want to say something he doesn’t feel- he doesn’t want to lie- but 1/2 hour later if he “feels” love for me because I’ve said or done something “right”, then it’s no problem to tell me, but god forbid that I actually NEED to hear those words right at this moment- oh, no- he can’t tell them to me because he’s being FORCED to say it. This is not love, people. I have tried to tell myself that I can somehow adapt because when he really does feel loving- he is wonderful, but people, it’s like walking on eggshells to be with a narcissist, and you are constantly wondering when the shoe is going to drop. Nobody is worth that bullshit. Seriously, NOBODY. You are actually able to love someone even when you are angry with them? YOU ROCK!!!! Bring that love out, baby- pass it around, the world needs it! The love of a narcissist? Completely worthless.

Reply

Hope March 15, 2013

OMG!!!! I lived this for seven months. Still living it. Never knew when I was going to say or do the wrong thing. I had to choose my words and actions carefully. I was constantly being corrected and basically told I was “special” like yellow school bus special. My ex didn’t think I was capable of knowing, understanding and being intelligent. I think secretly that’s the way she wanted me to be, but she never gave me a chance.
It made her day to be able to tell me at least once in 24 hours what I was wearing, doing, or saying was wrong. I got so tired of not being able to be who I was, and then thought that wasn’t good enough. I began to see myself as someone unloveable and unattractive because she had been chipping away at me and my self-esteem. I couldn’t take anymore. She decided that she didn’t want a relationship. It was too much work because she didn’t really love me. Not to mention the lack of affection. No physical contact for months, but I
was so good and kind to her she felt, she had to keep me around. No one else was available to be her whipping boy, and now that I am completely in love with her, she says she doesn’t want a relationship. She just wants me to hang around until the next person comes around. I can’t. I have to abandon this relationship for lack of a better word. Thanks for sharing. It helps to know that I’m not the only person going through this Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde story.

Reply

Tee December 31, 2013

Im do sorry to hear that,these people are very evil.nobody deserves to be treated that way,i got sick of it and I left my husband.please get out they never change actually they are crazy and if you stay you will be physically,mentally,emotionally sick yourself.its not worth it please im telling you get out,these kind of people have no conscience,empathy,love,or any natural normalhuman feelings and emotions,they are.very.sick mentally.god bless and be safe.as to how you get out,as these kind of people can also be very dangerous as well if they sense you are trying to get out and away from them.once your out stay out they lie and say they will change thats a lie.they say they will change and if you fall for it,its the same over and over jekeyll and hyde behaviors.these kind of people are severely disturbed.take care good luck!

Reply

Marianne June 9, 2013

Thank you so much for sharing this. This is my ‘lover, boyfriend, whatever’ for the past two years. Cold, detached and yet strangely there and loyal but not loving, empathetic or affectionate except for ‘in the moment ‘. Some days I feel demented. He creates conflict to avoid doing anything he doesn’t control. He is not violent or raging. But I am aware of the punishment and reward system he dishes out in relation to my behaviours. I feel differently about him than I have any man I have known and he knows I am completely his to control. When I try to buck the routine, gain autonomy or be strong he has a way of getting the control back. It is mostly by text. Strange relationship than no one in my life understands

Reply

Hope March 15, 2013

Thank you for explaining what has been going on in my past relationship for the last seven months. I was involved with a woman that told me in the beginning that I wasn’t her type and proceeded to change me. Her type was tall, slim, and long hair. I am totally opposite from that. I was told that everything from the top of my head to my ankles were wrong. She loved my hands and feet. My self-esteem went from 8 to 0 in a hot minute.
How could I fall in love with someone who didn’t love me completely. I found that I was bending over backwards to please this person. I was giving everything I had to make this woman hopefully see that I was the person for her and that my love for her was unconditional and true.
I always felt hurt by her comments and lack of concern for my feelings. She knew she was an A-hole. She thrived upon it. She was always very honest about everything, and I always knew where she stood. She wanted everything to be her way or no way, and if it wasn’t she would become cold.
My friends told me I deserved better but I figured if I loved her enough, she would come around, after reading your discription of a narcissist, I now know that isn’t possible. I know she will go on an meet someone else. She told me she didn’t want a relationship and I know it’s because I couldn’t jump when she wanted me to. I couldn’t be the woman she wanted and how she wanted. I was disposed of.
I still love her but everytime I’m around her, I realize the affection that I want from her, I never get. I’m the only one who is in love in this relationship, and it was making me emotionally tired. Thank you for shedding light on this situation. I now know that its not me but her. I’m fine just the way I am. Thank you.

Reply

Doreen July 3, 2014

You have written everything I have been thinking. Today, finding this website has been so fantastic!!!

Reply

Sue March 27, 2013

the LAST narcissist i was involved with was a turning point for me. i was with a high functioning narcissist (hard to spot…they don’t usually show their true colours until after they think they have you hooked) for 9 months, and walked out on him almost a year ago. it took me another 6 months after leaving to disengage from him, even if it was only through emails that he continued to try and manipulate, deceive, distort, confuse… the sensitive in me recognized him early on, yet the confusion i felt (and that he would deny my feelings as anything but real) kept me with him and TRYING. there were a few key moments for myself: stating/mumbling out loud that i felt i was working to earn his love (like my mother), the very much out loud in front of he and one of his friends ‘i’m consorting with the enemy’ (where the heck did that come from?!), and after i walked away ‘you remind my of my mother…the selfish, self-absorbed, narcissistic part of my mother.’ hahaha. geez. and, oh, what Caroline wrote…”This is where you are being challenged to truly fight for yourself. All your beliefs about how standing up and fighting for yourself is not ok/allowed/nice/acceptable/safe etc will be triggered. You’ll need to change in certain ways to get out of this. That is the real challenge: your willingness to become the person you need to be to win this with your integrity intact yet allowing yourself to pull some mean punches when necessary. Again, it’s survival, not an honourable duel.” ABSOLUTELY and UNDENIABLY TRUE. standing up for myself inevitably meant i was not being ‘nice’…but so what?! i finally just stopped replying to his emails, and he STILL tries to get me to answer, though now he has switched tactics from poisonous to sucrous…he expresses his ‘concern’ for me (i was on antidepressants when i met him, and told him of past trauma (expecting empathy, of course)…whoopsey…shouldn’t have let those cats out of the bag!), yet writes things like ‘don’t punish me with your contempt’ and ‘it should be up to me (him) to decide if i’m good enough for you (me) as a friend.’ eh? i don’t even like him any more. i did once. i even tried to love him. but, i decided i was worth more. it took more than the 6 months after leaving to clear my mind and my energy, and now when i get the odd email from him, i am no longer emotionally triggered. there is hope after hell. and, for all of you out there who are going, or have gone through, the experience of a narcissist, you ARE worth more, if for no one other than your self. really. and, i have to say….i thank my narcissist for allowing me to understand myself better, and why i have attracted Ns much of my life. (BUT, i’ll never let him know that!!). now, my focus is me. me, and my animals. for now. if something comes along sometime later, all i can say is that i’ll be paying close attention to any red flags, raised hairs or intuitions, and making the conscious choice to NOT GET INVOLVED. p.s. almost 9 months antidepressant free and feeling more sane and energetic than i ever did with him! narcissists are soul suckers…don’t ever forget that!

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade March 27, 2013

Congrats Sue (on so many levels!) and thank you for sharing your insights and experiences! I love your comments on how a part of you “knew” and surprised you with right-on mumbling/statements. The parental connection you mentioned is essential too. We often end up working through stuff that started with our parents, in all subsequent relationships. Seeing that is a big part of breaking the pattern and reshaping ourself for something truly new. This is also where psychology helps us understand that it’s not our fault, it’s just a pattern that is unavoidable and that we can work at breaking, and that doing so is truly heroic.

Reply

Scott K Pierce March 27, 2013

Thank you very much for writing this, it has gave me a much better understand of a person I was with for 5 years and then all of a sudden wanted out. What hurts the most is she used me for physical reasons and not because of (knowing now) love as I was told. I’ve come to realize that I think I am an unconditional loving type person in most ways and she was a narcrissistic. I saw the signs, but I really didn’t know until reading this what they meant. I helped her through rehab and get off a short deal with drugs she had and in time I got her back with her kids, I then got her out of debt and her credit straightened around and I was no longer needed. It’s a very hard thing to go through, this should be taught in Schools to make them aware of what they are and for what us unconditional lovers should avoid…..thanks again

Reply

bo tyler April 2, 2013

This has been very helpful to read. I wasn’t sure what “label” if any to put on someone I grew fond of, but had troubles with, so I googled: why do men project their own faults onto women or vice versa, and NPD kept popping up. I’d only known about “narcissism” in the most general terms. In one way, all of the descriptions of NPD behavior seemed to describe this person to the T. But in another way, they didn’t. I found myself having feelings of hate and love. I initially walked away from the relationship before anything could get started, but for some reason the person lingered in my mind. So I decided to explore it. We had some nice times together, but there were always these returning conflicts. This was a person who always seemed to want to change everybody and talk about them. (A form of gossip really.) He did not show me the kind of respect that other men seemed to show me without even thinking about it. On the other hand, he would be charming and inquisitive, draw you in and get you to open up, then more or less slam you once you did, but always deny that he was slamming you. I believe he really thought that he wasn’t slamming anyone or being condescending. Is it really that impossible for a person to realize when he is being disrespectful? He was sometimes hyper and histrionic and seemed to care a lot about whether people liked him or not. He never said sorry about anything but expected people to say sorry to him as though he’d had no part in any of the incidents with people. On the surface he was such a likeable, nice people- person, you would not have discovered this other side to him immediately. (Although some people did.) He appeared to have “empathy” not a narcissistic trait but the empathy was abstract and not for a woman or girl he was interested in. It felt as if he wanted to customize me or whatever girl he might go after, the way a person would customize his computer with special apps. Then on the other hand, he had this spiritual sort of inclination bordering almost on bipolar mysticism. He was very attractive – and also very “metrosexual” in ways that made him seem technological, not human, in certain respects. But God love him, he was also human, and sensitive, I believe, and I felt for his inner turmoil or feelings, at the same time that I hated his every tactic. It was as if he had to devalue me but would do it in such a way as to seem like he wasn’t doing it. He was always trying to school me on my psychological defects so to speak. It was all very confusing. I do think he was capable of a certain kind of love, so perhaps NPD does not describe him. But his behavior was very competitive or overbearing for lack of better words to describe it. It just seemed that he had to be on top at all times, even when in the guise of being the lowly, listening people person. It was as though he had an unconscious presumption of superiority, and yet underneath was not bold enough to be truly forthright in his affection. Needless to say, my best traits did not come out much: I felt anger, hate, the need to detach, and also love. It’s natural that we question ourselves and wonder whether or not our own behavior brought all of this on. But I don’t understand why all these things didn’t happen with other people where I was just being myself, and not feeling so scrutinized, and somehow always short of something. Any insights?

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade April 26, 2013

Bo, this sounds exactly like NDP. It’s just that it’s a hard pill to swallow, so it’s tempting to look for another explanation. The thing is, as long as you keep wondering what you did to make him behave that way, you stay stuck. It’s like asking what you did to make a bird sing, or a snail leave a slimy trail. They do what they do.

Not all people are the same. Not all people have the same inner “software” so to say. The NPD software is different from HSP software, that’s why we always struggle to understand. It’s like having the same “human windows system” but having downloaded different programmes within it.

Also check out the other articles on narcissism – they are all under their own “article series” tab now (in the left margin)

Reply

Krystal April 25, 2014

Bo, honey that sounds like you’re describing my boyfriend who I am just realizing this week exhibits 6 of the criteria for NPD. My therapist just from hearing from me various recounting of him says she is pretty sure he is most likely NPD. Have you checked out the official criteria for NPD? They have to exhibit 5 of them at least to be diagnosed with it. My therapist explained to me Narcissism is on a spectrum. So you have some ppl who are more severe and less severe. I can relate to the questioning of if they really have it. I have been seeing this man who I have been describing as “the love of my life” for almost 2 years. I always knew something was off and saw big red flags but he has soooo intense, charming, delicious, handsome, interesting, intelligent and fun I figured it was worth the trade off to me. AND I’ve always liked living on the edge. 2 years later (this past Saturday) he got domestically violent again (intimidating & shouting in my face but not hitting me he’s never hit me & also smashed my laptop in pieces. He has very unpredictable explosions of anger since I’ve known him toward every type of reason I can think of) when I angrily but calmly approached him about something he had done that was very disrespectful toward me and ridiculous. One of the things my therapist and I have been working on lately is she thinks I could let myself be more mad. So that evening I let myself feel mad and tell him calmly but with an angry voice how he made me feel. He immediately interrupted me and got very angry at me for “being so selfish”, then leapt up & nearly touched his nose to mine yelling at the top of his lungs. He has been doing this since I knew him and I always backed off or walked away, but that night I was tired of him bullying me like that. I stood my ground and I shouted right back at him as loud as I could. We had been watching a comedy on my laptop because I don’t have a TV and when he wouldn’t stop yelling I picked it up and put it on my lap in an attempt to ignore him and not escalate it further. That’s when he smashed his fist down on my laptop completely breaking it. Now this is all my crud but at that point I flailed at him with my fists and screamed at him I hate you I hate you. He finally left and I felt so bad for flailing at him – so horrible I do not believe violence is EVER EVER ok or appropriate but I flipped on him. It can be tricky to detect the narcissism often because they are such good manipulators and usually adopt behaviors or words or phrases they’ve learned is appropriate to say, in order to get what they want from you, keep you in the relationship, and/or they think its what they “should” do, but there is nothing behind that. A blankness, if you will. A lack of concern for your feelings desires or needs. For example the next morning after the fight he called me and said he wanted to apologize for whatever his part in the fight was. He said “I must have done SOMETHING to piss you off so much I don’t know what it was… it was intense and I’m still processing it.” I wont go into what he did and said but my therapist confirms its obvious and absolutely aomething thats aopeopriate to be mad about. When we talked about the fight 3 days later he laughed heartily as he motioned with his hand & told me he envisioned and really wanted to put his hand around my neck and snap my neck. There was a concerning lack of any apology or conscience about this and in the same breath he said he was going to call the cops on ME but he didn’t because they would have arrested HIM instead. I am 5′ 9″, 135 lbs. He is 6′ 5″ about 250 lbs (?). No concern for my safety or feelings, only a concern for himself. This was about a half hour after I had cried and told him I was so sorry for hitting him and making him feel so horrible. I share these things not to hear myself talk (he also often told me I talked too much and thought too much. But everyone else says the opposite of me that I tend to be more quiet. I agree I do not talk too much and thinking is a gift – why would I want to shut my brain down?), but because I hope it may help u identify or not identify with some of it and for anyone else. Its helped me tremendously to be able to read each of everyone’s stories. Love, healing, and strength to you Bo and everyone, Krystal

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade April 28, 2014

Krystal, that seriously sounds like a dangerous situation. He LAUGHED about wanting to snap your neck. Please please please read “the gift of fear” by Gavin de Becker. Lack of conscience + the laughter points towards psychopathy, which is one step “up” (worse) from narcissism. I am concerned about the way you’re writing in to help others and analysing your relationship & making little changes and seeing where they lead. In a healthy relationship, that is commendable. In an unhealthy relationship, it can be a distraction strategy – to not have to deal with the big stuff. You can continue to figure things out from afar, in safety. Please get yourself out of this danger zone. “No concern about my safety or feelings” – Ultimately, that’s not his job, not primarily, it’s your job. You need to put your own safety first.

Reply

Krystal April 28, 2014

Thank you very much Caroline for taking the time to reply. Thank you for sharing your important thoughts. I was trying to get up the courage & decide the safest way to break up, and as I was he broke up with ME lol. This was last Thursday. The next morning he texted me trying to make sure we stayed friends “instead of enemies”. I decided to take all the advice I saw which was NO contact. So I responded to him yes I agree peace between us would be wonderful (I know now he wants his narcissistic supply, he can’t be a friend to anyone), and that can be achieved without being friends or enemies, and that NO contact is best. After a couple more snarky remarks he stopped contacting me since then. I know this may not be the end of it so im really working to find my sense of self. I read that if a narcissist can think its their idea, their choice, its better for the other party. I especially appreciate your remark that its my job to put my own safety first. I can see that is an area of growth for me. I have a good support system – a therapist & doctor I see weekly. I’m a recovering alcoholic (22 months 14 days clean) so I have some support in NA. The down side is we have a lot of the same friends and I don’t want to even talk to ppl who talk with him right now. He has a real way of talking bad about others. He’s called me crazy a lot and talked about me like I have such a huge problem and he doesn’t, that he has it all together (wow listen to myself… why would I put myself in a situation with someone like that?) so its like I don’t want to deal with “fighting” against his subversive turning ppl against me. I’d rather make new friends where they aren’t influenced by him and I can be myself in peace. Because I DO have serious issues and I need to be able to be open about it not know that it may get back to him so he can have more “ammo” to hurt and manipulate me. I’m not sure if that all makes sense. The environment around him is very subversive and “twisty-turny”, it can be challenging to explain to someone outside of the webs he spins. Thank you again for replying. Im letting myself grieve and looking forward to a new, stronger way of life for me, and a more aware and fulfilled internal life.

Love,
Krystal

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade May 1, 2014

That makes perfect sense Krystal. I’m so relieved to hear that you’ve gone no contact, thanks for writing in on that! And yes, that he broke up with you is perfect, it leaves his ego intact. He may one day get in touch out of the blue when his narcissistic supply runs out and try to win you back – it’s all just words, and very typical of NPD.

Susie April 5, 2013

Having a ‘dream’ relationship for three years after a divorce brought me to a level of happiness I never new I would experience. Once I needed him, the functionality of the relationship expired, and he reverted to the 16 year old adolescent he really was. The wall was there with a total meltdown/shutdown. He had trauma from an institutionalized schizophrenic mother and a ‘crazy’ ex-wife. His friends and family see him as a saint. He is also a doctor who doesn’t really have long relationships with his patients because of the specialty he’s chosen. This ‘perfect’ person in this ‘dream’ relationship was crushing to me because he hid his emotions so well and after my divorce, just need a drama-free happy place.

6 months later, with the help of friends, therapy and meds, I’m good. I have someone in my life whom I like enough for now and the real problem for me is that I’m haunted by my ‘dream’ person, I empathize and know that even though ‘dream’ boyfriend is in a new relationship, its foundation is based on dealing with his ‘mommy’ issues and he will probably go on into the sunset forever.

But I have to admit, I was in a very happy place for the first time in my life and realize that I can be happy again. It’s still difficult.

Reply

Krystal April 25, 2014

Oh my gosh thank you you’re speaking my story too when you say “a new level of happiness”. Me too! Wow was I madly in love head over heels I didn’t care about the danger and red flags because I fell for his magnetism, charm, oozing sexuality, confidence, great higene, warm eyes, incredible hugs, excitement, his playfulness the way he’d light up a whole room. But so much death, darkness, and decay underneath it all. So quick and easy to turn on me as if I was his greatest enemy for any perceived slight by me. Also such a thick denial system in place he’s not open to seeing himself for who/what he is so he is very hypocritical. He will condescendingly put me down for something then turn around and do the exact same thing he “thinks” I did to me and not think he’s doing anything wrong. He has a very sad and traumatic childhood and a hooorrible mother so I don’t judge him but like everyone says… run the other way. Very confusing and twisty-turny way that he is. Like being in one of those funhouses at a carnival with all the warped mirrors & I know to a degree its the fun house that’s twisted not me, but I get dizzy and disoriented so I second guess myself and my perception of it. Yuck!

Reply

Louise April 10, 2013

As of yesterday I have left Mr NPD. His unbelievable desire for attention from the opposite sex broke us apart. He’d message other girls, send them pictures of himself and give them all of the attention – all the whilst I got nothing but the pain and hurt from finding out again and again what he’d been up to.

I’d break up with him and he’d say everything I wanted to hear and said he’d be everything he knew he should be, and then within a week he was up to his old tricks.

I know I never loved him. I used to look at unconditional loving relationships and wish I had what they had – so I always knew it was wrong. I’m still very young so there were no financial or families ties between us (thank goodness!!) so now I can just get used to not having him in my life. Finding out how deceitful he is (turns out I was the only one who could see that we were in a relationship on FB! Typical.)

He didn’t bother trying to fight for me, he just tried to justify what he’d done. As you stated, to him I’d stopped serving my purpose so he went elsewhere, yet didn’t want to loose me.

I want him to still thinks he loves me, so my absence is painful for him just so he has to deal with the consequences of his actions. I know this won’t happen and he’ll turn off his emotions for me as quickly as he ‘turned them on’.

This article has really helped, thanks so much for writing it. I just wonder what advice you have for future encounters with him? As it finished only yesterday I’m now anticipating whether he’ll be in contact again or not?

Thanks, Louise

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade April 10, 2013

Hi Louise,

First of all, congrats! You did a brave and good thing! Know that post-break up times are very vulnerable times. Protect yourself from his influence. Unfriend him on FB, block his phonenumber in your phone, set up an e-mail filter so his emails go right to spam. If you suspect he may show up on your doorstep then routinely check who’s ringing the doorbell (if possible) and don’t open if it’s him. Also, make up a no-contact excuse beforehand and be ready to use it. Something that feels doable to you e.g. “this is a bad time” and then slam the door / hang up the phone (should he eg be calling from a friend’s phone) etc before he has a chance to react. This is crucial. These people are master manipulators and at a time when you feel extra vulnerable, it’s extra easy for them to get a foot in (can you get a friend on board to help you stay no-contact?) Narcissists are much easier to handle when you don’t have to handle them at all. Plus, absolute silence, non-engagement is the best way to get them off your back. They thrive on attention – of any kind (so they will even get a kick out of your anger and rage – punch/scream into a pillow instead) You may not need all these strategies, but it’s good to have them in place just in case.

For yourself, make a list of all the crap he pulled (to remind yourself of what he’s like when you feel yourself getting pulled in). You could even make a list of what he’s like versus what kind of relationship you actually desire to remind yourself of why you’re doing this.

Reply

LeaAnn April 12, 2013

This was probably the most painful realization I have ever come to: that my husband will NEVER truly love me and that I have spent 18 years in “dream” mode. It is as if you followed me for years and put my life into a story. I have begged and pleaded for The Lord to help me become what he needs and I truly believe He brought me to this page to show my He understands! I wish I could say I feel a sense of empowerment with this information at this moment but I can only pray it hits me after I have a moment grieve the loss of the “dream”. Thank you for powerful information.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade April 16, 2013

Hi LeaAnn, the empowerment comes in little steps and shifts, as you become more firmly rooted in what is truly present. Along the way, you have to find your own way again, start asking yourself what you’d like and what you’d want, purely because you enjoy it (and not to please anyone or meet any kind of ideal). This is big stuff and yes, it does take time to truly sink in and redirect you. It can help to make the grieving process more tangible through little practical rituals: e.g. saying goodbye by e.g. writing a letter and then burning that, consciously changing things in your life that “he wanted you to do/be”, start creating little extra-self-care practices, getting rid of things that remind you of him one item at a time etc. and with each, know that there will be some grieving and also -with that- a little space that opens up for something new.

Reply

Jeremy D April 13, 2013

I wish I would have read this article last year before I got involved with a woman who I thought was “the one”. A beautiful baby girl later and I realize now that there was no way I was going to penetrate her wall. I’m going to counseling right now to be able to learn how to move on from her narcissistic behavior but it’s tough. I beat myself up alot when she said she couldn’t love me how I loved her. Thought it was something I had to do to change things. Nope, never was going to change her mind. Not the mind of a narcissist.

Reply

Jan April 13, 2013

But what if it’s your only brother?

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade April 16, 2013

Then you have to decide: do you want to set strong boundaries to limit abuse, or do you want to go no-contact? Narcissists respect someone who shows up powerfully (if they can’t beat them, that is), but they will also try to cross all the boundaries you set. You’ll have to see what is and isn’t worth it for you.

Reply

Krystal April 25, 2014

Caroline, very interesting what you said. Its clear my boyfriend of about 2 years perceived me showing up powerfully… didn’t think of it that way before but I could tell he only respected very strong women. “Respect” as in the best they can respect. Because they still disrespect. I felt like I was constantly parenting a stubborn, tantrum-throwing and vindictive child. Knowing his childhood and because I’ve loved him I would stand up powerfully to him and he’d fight me visciously every step of the way but several occasions he’d comment how he liked me being strong and that he needed that. More often though hed never thank me but berate me and tear me down repeatedly or explode in anger when he perceived me having a need or desire.

Reply

Dawn Marie April 13, 2013

I have had a full dose of narcissistic personality disorder. After trying to make this person feel loved and cared for . Only after seeing his half truths and lies and blaming and horrible verbal abuse from this person. I let him go and told him this is his drama and his issues and let go. I see he is unable to care or love and grooming his own sons to be as he is. Two men one masked and dark and into more than I care to share. The other in his public life to be upstanding and working with children and school groups. Scares the hell out of me. Moving myself out of harms way but feeling sad there is no hope to help others around him in harms way.

Reply

Kristy April 14, 2013

Brilliantly insightful! I went through all the efforts to love a narcissist mentioned above. I have since come to terms and moved on emotionally. However, we had a child together. I continue to ignore his antagonisms towards me but any suggestions on how to deal with ways in which my son might be affected by his fair-weathered love?

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade April 16, 2013

Hmm, that’s a tough one! Here’s my thoughts: As kids we learn “acceptable ways of being” from our parents. You don’t control the things your husband models, but you can model an alternative. The more your son experiences (with you) that it’s o.k. to be himself, and that he’s loveable exactly as he is, the stronger it will make him to deal with the conditional love of a narcissistic father. The more you model personal integrity, self-care and emotional honesty the more that will be a viable alternative for your son to emulate. Perhaps most importantly, narcissistic abuse revolves a lot around power and respect. Narcissists give off an “all powerful” vibe that is controlling. For kids, a narcissistic parent can seem like an all-powerful unbeatable superhero. If kids see however that there is an alternative to that, a different kind of strength (that doesn’t require manipulating others nor -the opposite- sacrificing oneself) then that will provide an alternative route for them to feel powerful and respected and give them a way to counter the desirability/acceptability of powerhungry narcissistic charm. I think one of the biggest things all kids need to learn (or rather: not unlearn) is that they can trust their intuition and that if something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. With that B.S. detector intact, they’ve got all they need to see narcissism for what it is when the time is ripe.

Reply

Dawn Marie April 18, 2013

Thank you Caroline for the reply: As I have no contact with this person and will go out of my way not to hear or talk with any one who is. As far as children who are teens the part where they have to find out on there own. It was hard to hear but it is true. As it took me some time to see narcissism for what it truly is . I have to allow children to also see in there own time as well. My heart goes out to all who suffer from a relationship with one. Know you are not alone . Others have shared the sadness and pain. And we can go on. One healthy and brave step together. Dawn Marie

Reply

Mandy K April 22, 2013

This is REAL eye opener. You just clarified all of my Whys, IFs and Hows.I forget to love my self, his perceptions of me conditioned me to take all blame on myself, his behavior made me feel that there is always something wrong with me, i was the real reason behind all of our troubles.I wish i just recover from his terror and I WANT TO LIVE LIFE TO FULLEST. He took all of my friends, my family my existence so that i only be a victim of his obsessional behavior which he calls “HIS TRUE LOVE” but abuses me when i was in labor, does not even care about me when i cry, my tears are drama for him.I am sick of his demands.When i do what he wants me to do, he is happy when i don’t he gives me terrible silent treatment for weeks,currently is for 3 weeks.I am totally lost. Once i was charming, and beautiful 21 year old girl now in these 3 years, I am sad, suicidal,depressed, out of any money even 10 cents, ugly, aging before my age,Fearful, low-self esteem, no confidence, and useless.Sorry for typos!:(

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade April 24, 2013

Hi Mandy,

You can recover. It will take time though and first things first: find a way to leave him. It’s crucial to see that you cannot recover as long as you are in contact with him. Being close to him will trigger all your fear patterns of pleasing him, you need to get yourself to safety first before you can start to heal and recover. You need support, and will need to ask for it. Being young helps in a way though, because the relationship patterns will be -although powerful- less entrenched.

It’s painful for friends and family to watch someone they care about be in an abusive relationship, they may not have wanted to abandon you, but simply not have known what to do at the time and felt it best to disengage. If you are ready to find a way to leave, then consider reaching out to them for help. You know where things are at, now it’s time to take action!

Reply

Frankie Wilson April 23, 2013

Found this article through divine intervention as well, love it! I have been searching loveless relationships, withholding love, emotional/physical neglect and nothing I found was exactly spot on and empowering like this article.
Thank you. Blessed understanding! Spread the word everyone!

How would you go about giving the heads up to your current emotionally/physically neglectful “N” that you are about to email his mother the baby blog diary of your shared 3 year old, that in his many terribly neglectful ‘habits’ has neglected to tell his mother exist. Or that I still exist after 5 years as well!
This is one thing I can not tolerate any more but I would like to give him the chance to come clean first so I am going to have to confront him either in person or email to give him the chance first to tell her what is really going on in his life.
The baby and his mother deserve better treatment than to be swept under the rug.
How do you recommend approaching him to avoid being accused of “causing trouble” or “playing games”?

Why would a “N” keep such a huge secret from everyone? Is it some insane identity crisis or something?

They suck!! May be they are vampires after all :\

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade April 24, 2013

Hi Frankie,

With regards to your question, I think the thing to get clear on here is: what exactly are you hoping to achieve? Whichever way you turn this, he will perceive your intervention as criticism so you can’t avoid that he’ll lash out. So the question is, what is it that you want to do just for you, regardless of the response you get?

Also check out the other articles on narcissism for more insights.

Reply

Christian April 27, 2013

Great article!
I’m not sure my situation fits here between your comments, but I experienced an unbelievable and indescribable pain.This pain has has really awakened me.Our relationship was rocky from the beginning.The only time I (we) felt love was when we would be in each others arms.The truth is BOTH of us we’re not really into it completely.BUT there was something powerful from the start.Was it attraction?Then something happened.I realized after 8 months into the relationship, that I was judging her.Physically, intelligently etc.This is why I couldn’t love her.These judgements were not allowing me to love.Then something profound happened.I STOPPED judging her completely!I let all those judgements go.Just like that.I saw her for who she really was(is).A beautiful human being.An innocent, playful child trying to figure out the world, just like me!
I fell completely in love and felt the presence of UNCONDITIONAL love!
I can’t describe it in words and I know now this cannot be put in words but you have to experience it, then you know.
Unfortunately, almost exactly at the same time I felt this profound love, she left me!It turns out, and I really could not believe this was possible, that she never really loved me!It wasn’t real!My God, what a horrible and at the same time beautiful and profound experience.
How can someone, just use you like that?I truly believe that they’re not evil.They’re just some lack of selflove, so they have to find it in others.They absorb the love and when they had enough they move on.I know that she has not a clue of true love, but I pray and hope that she will one day.I have never felt anger towards her after all this.Not once!
I feel truly blessed, to now know that I can love a woman unconditionally.
My pain now is still very deep.I’m still in shock and and have a hard time accepting that this reality exists in the world.One person can think that he or she is “the one” and the other not!? One can love and the other not?Maybe that makes true love between 2 people even more rare…

Reply

Frankie Wilson April 29, 2013

I am all alone in a foreign country right now.
I would love his mother to know that her son’s baby and I exist. It would be nicer if everyone who could be, at least had the option to be in the baby’s life…and truly in the ‘what’s really going on’ of our life as the “unit” we actually are.

You’re right, honestly what is there to achieve to my detriment, what’s it worth. I realize now I suppose that I am still only in the “If only ________, it would be better” stage, what a fool. But it will never ever be better no matter what I do or whom ever knows that we exist and will always be exactly what it is.
I should know better by now. These things sneak up on you though, too much.
Why does he keep these secrets about his baby and me after 5 years when there is really nothing to hide?
Are there any exercises out there to build up emotional strength and control to help digest the emotional neglect so as to not look like an emotional wreck but to endure w/ at least the outward appearance of a level headed “normal person”?
I want to avoid another emotional breakdown.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade April 30, 2013

Hi Frankie,

Honestly, I think the more you try to control your feelings and put on a brave face, the more you’re actually headed for emotional breakdown. Emotional breakdown is just a way for emotions to force their way to the surface, much better to work with them. As for the processing, I’d definitely recommend finding a counselor or e.g. an EFT coach. Someone who can help you both get clarity and be present to what you’re feeling.

Reply

G May 7, 2013

After several years of reading just about anything I could on this topic – desperately trying to understand, I have to say that your articles really summed up the core of this issue in the most straightforward and understandable way. Thank you so much.

I’ve been through many phases over the years starting with the “It must be me and I must be crazy-I have to try harder” phase (which resulted in what felt like I burnt out the emotional treadmill “running” so fast and was so indescribably draining)

… to the “Okay-I can help this person/show them love and mend them” phase (not well-received by them which further confused me as who wouldn’t want to talk through issues and try to improve? Why did my helping always seem to evoke bitter defensiveness like if I were attacking them?) … more pain for me.

… to the “Let me understand this issue fully so I can help them (STILL)” phase (at which time I proceeded to buy all books on amazon on the topic and read anything I could related to the topic – relationship was over at this point. I had been discarded like an old rag and now had a stack of books that I read diligently between crying in bed on many a Friday night; most of the time confusing myself further as many of the books describe that to attract a narcissist, you have to also be one to some extent – so now I was totally freaked out) … more pain … AND now ….

… THANKFULLY to the “What can I change about ME to stop attracting this type of person” phase. This is where I am now – but by the grace of God. Although I have been dealing with a narcissist off an on for the past year, I think I am FINALLY accepting that I can’t help him and I must just let go – and I’m seeing his behaviour realistically now and not making excuses for it – as I did in my past relationship – so many excuses – so much taking responsibility for things that he wouldn’t – just to stay sane. I’m FINALLY accepting that I need to focus on healing myself and understanding that I deserve more out of a relationship and that I am actually loveable and worthy of real love. I realize that although I am generally a nice enough person who likes to see others do well and likes to give love, I have big problems ACCEPTING real love and that’s one of the reasons that I’m drawn to the emotionally unavailable man – because somewhere inside I don’t feel like I deserve better I guess – such a sad reality … but happy I can finally articulate it – that’s got to mean something. It’s been almost eight years since I met my first narcissist and was exposed to a way of thinking that will always baffle me – difference is I no longer care to understand it or change it anymore. I am only interested in changing me now. There is HOPE. So working daily on my self esteem, self focus for healing, and trying daily to curb the relationship I have between my self image and pleasing others. I think I’m on the last leg of my journey. Fingers-crossed.

Wow – I’ve talked on and on but just writing this – I feel a release. All I wanted to say is THANK YOU and if you are out there struggling with this, you are not alone and you are in my prayers. I am going to be a survivor of this kind of exposure and you can too.

Reply

Hurting May 8, 2013

Dear people of the world I am half narcissist I can’t love others but I do feel pain when I can’t express that to the person loving me. Many things said about us is true but many are not, I feel the same way about my self as a normal person does about them selves I like my self but I’m not in love with myself. I enjoy being loved by others but seriously who doesn’t. I have loved but felt like I couldn’t he chased after me for three years but I let him down. If you do know a way to help I’d like to know, I don’t need your love or pity, and if you feel like hating me that’s ok, I’m used to it so I’ve grown to like it.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade May 11, 2013

Hi & thanks for commenting here,

“I have loved but felt like I couldn’t” – would you be willing to elaborate on that? What was it like to love at that time, and how did it feel/seem like you couldn’t? What is the help you’re looking for? (It may seem obvious, but spelling it out prevents people – including me- from making unhelpful assumptions)

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade May 12, 2013

Here’s an interesting article btw on “turning up the volume” on other people. Written by (a rare!) someone working to overcome his own narcissism. It’s interesting because the technique is opposite to one for empaths (turning UP the volume on what’s going on inside of you, and turning down the volume on other people). The comment section also offers some food for thought + the distinction between NPD versus narcissistic traits is an important one. The writer of the article is questioning a lot of things, including whether he actually has NPD, or rather narcissistic traits. I’d have to agree with one of the commenters though: someone with fullblown NPD does not self-reflect in this way, so inner work like this would not even cross their mind, nor would they be interested in it. Yet, for people struggling with narcissistic traits (that affect their personality, but don’t dominate it) and who want to do something about it, this would be worth looking into.

Reply

mike May 9, 2013

Thank you for the enlightenment!!

Reply

Joan May 11, 2013

Thank you so much. This is a great way of making things clear. I needed this today.

Reply

Frankie Wilson May 12, 2013

Thank you, Caroline. EFT sounds exactly like the something I was looking for. I have never heard of it before but have now researched it and tried it. I have already felt some changes.
I was not looking to bottle up my emotions but rather to find a healthy internal way to manifest them.
Thank you for your help and your enlightenment, your site is totally bookmark worthy!
……”Even though I have this sadness, I deeply love and accept myself” :)

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade May 12, 2013

That’s good to hear Frankie!

Reply

Natalie May 13, 2013

It has been an eye opener reading all of the posts. I have been living a very stressful, unhappy and emotional life with my husband for the last year. We have been married for about two years. When I first met him I thought I met my soul mate, after about 4 months things began to change and he became emotionally, mentally and some what physically abusive. We had moved into his house, which I was ok with. I began to make some changes with is approval of course. One day I took one of his pictures off the wall and put up our wedding picture. I asked him what he thought about it and he just flipped out. He took the picture off the wall and became very angry. I have never someone become angry, red in the face and just full of rage. It scared me to the point that I felt my life was in danger. He told me that I only cared about my self. I didn’t care about him and that this picture was his favorite picture and how could I move it. I was stunned and shocked. I told him I was just asking for his opinion and that he could put the picture back. There was another episode in public where I walked about 10 feet from him at a motorcycle show to look at a booth, while he was talking to someone else. He came up to me and said to never leave his side again and I had to hold his hand. I was shocked. He grabbed my and we got onto the bus to go back to our car. while on the bus he started putting me down and telling me that I had many problems and I was crazy in front of the other people on the bus. After a few more episodes like these, I moved out. I realized that I had PTSD and a lot of anxiety. I moved back in with him a few weeks later after he told me he loved me and we were meant to be together. He told me he loved me and our marriage was going to last forever. After moving in again I began to have severe anxiety, I began feeling sick and felt like I was drowning. I had to get away again. I have been going through this cycle for the last 7 months. I want to leave him, but it is so hard because he keeps telling me how much he loves me and that we can get through this. He has been seeing a counselor and so have I. We have also been going to couples counseling. Our couples counselor has told me that he has NPD and that he will never change. I want to move on, but when he keeps telling me how much he loves me and needs me and can’t live without me I feel bad and just give in and put myself back into the craziness. I feel stuck. I just want to tell him its over and leave me alone. I told him I want a divorce and he began punching his car and throwing things. He acts like a child some times and I feel like I have to lower myself to his level and talk to him as if he was a 5 year old. I just want this to be over. I want to be happy and move on, but I am afraid of him and what he might do when I finally file for divorce.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade May 13, 2013

Hi Natalie,

This is serious stuff. First know that some of the things you want will not happen. He will not make it easy for you to leave, and he will not leave you alone. Second, he’ll try to make you feel guilty if that will make you stay. Know that right now, these are your weak points.

This is what I’d suggest: whenever the guilt comes up tell yourself: “even though I feel guilty right now, I know it’s not safe to stay with him. I owe it to myself to leave”. Take things one step at a time. Start by just e.g. staying with friends for a weekend. Then from there, stay away longer. I wouldn’t have a discussion with him about leaving for good, because that will just make him angry and make you feel guilty. Get away to get some perspective first and take further steps to leave for good from there. Also, take your fear of him seriously: get help to protect yourself. Notify the police of physical abuse. Inform friends and family that you trust etc. You don’t need his permission to leave and you don’t need to have a peaceful or satisfying resolution. You just need to get out. Every time the fear comes up, of what he’ll do when you file for divorce: consider how much more dangerous power he’ll have over you if you stay with him.

You can focus on just getting away from him first, get the protection you need, and only then file for divorce. It’s probably all happening all at once in your head (which makes it overwhelming) but in reality, you can take things one step at a time. Taking things one step at a time makes it a lot more manageable.

Reply

M May 13, 2013

This was a good post. I’m afraid I’m a narcissist, and a lot of the things said sounded like how I am. The inability to love, feeling like I have no connection to others, that sort of thing.

But then there are things I don’t connect with, like this: “It requires facing fears, feeling difficult emotions and being open to change. In the narcissist’s mind, these are all awful things that are to be avoided at all costs.”

If this doesn’t apply to someone, does that mean they aren’t a narcissist? Because for myself, I’m scared all the time and talk about my fears, and I’m also, unfortunately, open and honest (I view it was self absorption and entitlement, though).

So.. is it possible, do you think/know, for someone to change? To become empathetic and love and feel a connection if they deeply want to? I certainly do, but.. I want it for selfish reasons. *I* want the connection, *I* want to care about others.. in the end, it’s still coming from a place of self-absorption, so it’s maybe doomed to failure.

I apologize for asking these dumb questions and going on about myself (also narcissistic!), it’s just, I’ve been googling this stuff for months now, and I don’t have anyone in real life I can talk to about this (if I tell them I’m a narcissist or worry I am, they just tell me I’m not, and that I have low self esteem and hate myself).

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade May 13, 2013

Hi M,

Please note, I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist or other kind of “official” mental health professional, so what I am sharing is based on my own insights, research and experience and on the assumptions I’m making from what you’re sharing here. There is a difference though between having Narcissistic Personality Disorder (which you don’t appear to have) versus having narcissistic traits. Narcissistic traits come (according to some theories) on a scale. So you could e.g. have 70% narcissistic traits, meaning you relate to a lot of aspects of narcissism, but not all, and that you also have the ability and willingness to self-reflect on all this.

From a healing perspective, fear is a state of contraction, and you cannot feel love and fear at the same time. In order to let more love in, fear needs to be “cleaned up” by facing it, feeling it and letting go of it. I certainly believe that there is love underneath all the fear present, but the fear obscures it and makes it impossible to feel it or act from it. I also think that wanting to care about others from a selfish place is as good a place to start as any. (You can take the next step from there)

In the long run, you’ll want to consider getting help working through childhood bonding experiences. Narcissistic traits tend to be learned “survival” behaviours, often learned from parents / caretakers, and a lack of connection to others could well stem from an experience of early (chronic) disconnection from those parents/ caretakers. We often end up re-experiencing early childhood patterns later in life, again and again, until we see where they come from and can fully understand them and have compassion for ourself (compassion that was necessarily lacking at the time).

You could start with trying a technique like E.F.T. to help process and work through fears and build compassion for yourself. Ultimately, we cannot really bond with others if we lack self-compassion. So caring for yourself in an emotionally honest way would – in my opinion- be an excellent way to reduce both fears and the stronghold of narcissistic traits.

Also, anything that helps you to soothe yourself and reduce fear (without suppressing or numbing it) would help. The right kind of brain entrainment music can be a life saver (what does and doesn’t work is a very personal thing). E.g. here.

The number one reason why people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder don’t change, is because they don’t really want to. They wouldn’t even be asking the kinds of things you are asking now. People with NPD tend to assume that the only reason things in their life are not working is because there is something wrong with other people. They might start out saying they want to learn something, but when it gets down to it, they don’t take responsibility for their own behaviour and attitude. The moment you take responsibility for your life is the moment things can change.

Reply

M May 18, 2013

Thanks for your reply and advice! I will definitely think about it quite a bit and try to make positive steps.

Thanks again!

Reply

Alana May 13, 2013

..just to thank you.

Reply

Natalie May 14, 2013

Caroline, Thank you for your advise. My husband keeps telling me that things will get better and that we can just start over and pretend that the bad things never happened. I have been trying to move forward, but I just can’t get the fear of him out of my heart. He can’t understand why. He just gets upset and tells me that those thing happened in the past and we can be happy if only I try harder to move forward. He wants a family, I did when I married him, but after I learned who he really is I can’t see myself having a family with him. I have read so many books about NPD and I feel like I have a good handle on the fact that he will never change and that a marriage with him would be a life of constant stress and fear. I know I can’t live that way and I just want to move on. So thank you for your support and information. I do appreciate it.

Reply

tamara May 15, 2013

This site has given me great in-site thank you. I have been in a treatment centre for a month for emotional break down and co-dependency. I had to leave my children and go through emotional hell and hopefully now back to recovery. My ex with NPD has enjoyed these same last few months with his new girlfriend. He met her two weeks after telling me that I must never ever mention the fact that he stalked my cousin to punish me for supposedly flirting with a great friends husband. He did the stalking two years ago when we had a temporary split but I only found out this year. I asked him if we might talk about it to which he replied that he would only stay with me if I never mentioned it or he would take his stuff and I would never see him again. My therapist advised me that these things do need to be talked about so I said to him that we must all take some responsibility for our actions and then move on with love together. He told me he wanted to show me a Game I could never win, it was a punishment.Within two weeks he was with someone else and I was in the treatment centre. He has broken my heart despite the fact that the pattern was there all along. He always said that his feelings switched off but because we are not like that we can not see that they really mean it. I was always a poor second to him and his son and it was made very clear that I was not important. I was not invited to his 50th birthday with his ex, best friend and son. It hurt intensely and when I tried to explain that I was told I had ruined his day. Everything was always my fault. I was “not well”. I was driven to be really unwell and he is happy and well. I do not understand why life is cruel to those who love with our soul and the narcissist moves on with ease.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade May 15, 2013

Hi Tamara,

Life is not cruel to those who love. Narcissists are. That’s a crucial distinction. Please don’t make the scope of narcissistic power bigger than it really is. They are cruel, not life. Life actually allows us to make different choices. Every person has free will, this means people can decide to be cruel if that works for them. It doesn’t mean we need to hang around and become their victim. Co-dependency tends to come from childhood, meaning that all this is not as much about him as it seems (meaning he is likely a symptom of a deeper pattern in your life). That being said: the therapeutic advice to talk things out with a narcissist seems incredibly naive to me. Talking things out with a narcissist just gives them more intel to use against you.

Reply

laura May 15, 2013

What if the person in question is a parent? My family is still struggling to help a stubborn person who refuses to accept she goes hysterical for no reason and blames it on ‘no one loving her’. Although it has been this way all my life, it has escalated recently, so I was looking for self-help online. Thank you for the article although it doesn’t change our situation, I feel less like the defective, imperfect child I was led to believe I was.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade May 15, 2013

Hi Laura,

The “only” thing that is really different with regards to a narcissistic parent is all the (false) societal ideas about “but ofcourse your parent loves you!” and “ofcourse you cannot possibly disconnect from them!”. Narcissistic parents are in many ways protected by all the societal taboos and blindspots and fairytales in which we like to assume that all parents love their kids unconditionally by default, which is simply not true. The bottom line is, if someone is chronically trying to undermine you (which is what narcissists do, because it makes them feel and look better ) then take a stand for yourself and do what you need to do to protect yourself. If that means severely limiting contact or cutting them out completely, then do that.

You’re right, this article doesn’t change the situation. That is precisely the point! All we can do is see things for what they really are and then decide where we set our boundaries. Looking for a way to change a narcissist (trying to help them see sense is also a way to try to change them) is really just a waste of time.

As a general observation – you might be able to do some damage control if you can find a way to control them more than they are trying to control you, but the question is, why would you want to go there? I’m guessing that becoming an enlightened despot isn’t high on your bucket list (and if it is, you might want to do some soul-searching as to why it would be so wrong to just let this person be miserable and find their own way in their own time) . There’s enough work to be done in repairing the self-esteem damage, and keeping a narcissist around isn’t going to help.

My suggestion: stop helping this person, and start helping the parts of you that need love and support. That’s where the real (permanent) change it. As long as you take responsibility for someone else’s problem, you keep confirming that it is somehow your fault. Don’t do this to yourself. As long as you stay wrapped up in their drama, it’s hard to acknowledge your own hurts, but those are the most important to acknowledge. In the end, we are not helping anyone by taking too much responsibility. I know it doesn’t feel like that in the moment, but that’s why I’m saying it here. Narcissistic drama’s are endless. A narcissist is not interested in resolving anything, they just want a constant big stream of attention. Your attention is too precious to be abused like that.

I know that things are more complex in practice, aka knowing something is not the same as being able to apply it in practice, or being able to be at peace with it emotionally, but that’s where blogposts end and coaching starts.

Reply

Robert May 16, 2013

Oh my…
Firstly, thank you for the clarification of how a narcissist behaves and your wildly helpful analogy.

That being said, I now know it is I who am a narcissistic lover (I know, oxymoron) and am in a relationship with an unconditional lover.

I began my research into why we experience the problems that we have had in the past couple of years and eventually stumbled upon your page. I can not thank you enough for opening my eyes into how much of an @$$**** I am. I exhibit so many of these traits you have described and my behavior is unacceptable. There are simply too many parallels in your writing for me to ignore (from “a lack of a deeper connection” to “they love me, they love me not”. I definitely had a rough childhood and I already recognized long ago that there would be some residual side effects from how I spent my earlier years. Identifying those effects has always been an issue for me (difficulty in pinpointing the resultant trauma, if you will). I have always handled stress and extreme situations remarkably well (which I attributed to my disconnection with my inner self). This, however, never had any correlation to my relationships until I read your article.

I am absolutely to blame for the folly of my personal relationships.

My inability (or refusal for that matter) for self reflection has lead me to hurt the woman that loves so much. She wants to spend the rest of her life with me but after reading this it has dawned on me that she loves the DREAM of me, the man I COULD be. You are right in saying that “every little positive spark of something nice [I have] said or [done] enforces the ‘truth’ of that dream”. She loves me so much that she desperately clings to the idea of me, the version which comes to grip his heart firmly and realizes how lost he has been all these years.

I tear up at the thought of how much pain I have already put her through because of how incapable a lover I have allowed myself to be, how selfish and cruel. I want her to be happy, truly happy and now I realize that a man such as myself (in current form) should not be in a serious relationship. Above all else, I just need to know how to right this wrong. Therapy is seeming like a must, so I will absolutely commit to that. Since this does not seem to be the type of problem that heals overnight, I am not expecting her to “wait” for me to get my head and heart reconnected. So, in the meantime, I am supposing the best course of action would be to set her free. To allow her the opportunity to find a man who not only “feels” the way a man should but also have a heart to give her.

I never knew until now that the main reason I could not give her my heart was because I had lost it.
A contemporary Tin Man…

Any advice would be appreciated on how to handle my situation with her… delicately. She really is a wonderful woman and I do not want her to experience unnecessary pain at my hand.

Concurrently, I want make my way down “the yellow brick road” in search of that which I had lost so long ago. I am tired of being a narcissist. I know I am better than this and people deserve more from me.

-An appreciative Tin Man

Reply

JustaGirl February 9, 2014

Tin Man… yes, congrats on your self evaluation but careful to say this woman is in love with the “dream” of you. Despite you hurting her, she does have unconditional love. By you saying she deserves better is condescending because it’s you she wants. If she wanted someone better, she would have left. Whenever someone breaks up with us, it will always get better with time (should they open themselves to it) but you’re deflecting responsibility when you question her motives saying “she’s in love with an idea.” Unless there’s evidence that she is trying to change the essential part of what makes you a whole person, then she truly loves YOU, even with your issues. That’s unconditional love. If you want a break while going to therapy that’s fine. You give her the option of whether she wants to “wait” or whether she wants to go. But don’t make her feel bad if she would rather wait. She invested in you and can’t just turn it off like some other NPD’s can.

Reply

DeepSand 7 May 23, 2013

Hi everybody….I am a middle-aged man with a servant’s heart and love to give my all in my relationships. And I have to tell you that it’s really quite refreshing to hear / see / encounter that there are so many great women out there that are the opposite to a Narcissist. I agree that the Narcs can spot a host from a mile away. I just pulled out of relationship of 3 years with an Agressive Narcissist Woman. Charming, Attractive and smart… unfortunately completely devoid of love. I tried everything and I will probably send her this link to possibly assist her, but I think it will just make her mad. But who cares. I am out and really feel a sense of “liberation”. And now I am educated thanks to your fine website. I see the warning signs and will heed them. It still baffles me how the Narc is so hard wired to take advantage of others. God has protected me. I give Him the thanks.

Reply

Chastity May 25, 2013

Wow, I have been trying to figure all of this out for almost eight years ! And after spending 5 min. Reading this I whole heatedly understand why my life is so up and down,and why it’s never fixed for very long !!! They give and they taketh away just to give hope ,,, then in the next breath they treat you like you are nothing, and inconvenient to their lives!! It’s so heart breaking now that I understand why he has treated me this way and changing it doesn’t seem possible .I don’t know to accept the fact that I’ve waisted 8 years of my life .Tried harder in this relationship than I’ve ever tried at anything in my life… Just chalked it up to I must have done stuff in my past that I’m paying for now cause carma is a ¥%€<~ now I read there is nothing I can do about it besides let it harden my heart ,cry or loose my mind!! Cause I don't know how to leave and start over ?????????

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade May 25, 2013

Hi Chastity,

Of course you don’t know how to leave, you’ve never done it before! You’ve practiced staying with your partner against all odds, and you’ve practiced all the skills you’ve needed for that for 8 years, if not more. Simply because, based on the information you had, that seemed to be the right thing to do. Now the information you have has changed, and so you have different options. So do cut yoursellf some slack there. The question is not whether you know how to leave, the question is whether you want to. If you want to leave, you’ll find a way, one step at a time.

Reply

Sensitive Poet May 28, 2013

Since you enjoy poetry Ms. Kimmenade
Fleeting Hearts Vs Juicy Beating Hearts

No resolve, never such closure
My only comfort, cure composure
Expanding horizons relinquish depression
as well as inhuman outlets of expression
Constantly convincing you of my worth
makes me feel like a loser
and winning you over will not make me a winner
though that would be an achievement
and unattainable victory disguised as bereavement
while this heart cracks building up pressure from hot and cold treatment
I try and let go……poof
but not of my self this time
We’ve only just begun and now I’m in my prime
Distractor, heart extractor, do you enjoy me on the shelf?
There are better inhuman outlets than you through which I can express myself
Art, exercise, producing and the 5 steps of grief
accepting there is no relief
you are so absent and now so am I
good bye
go and live in your delusional facade
you’ll always be “happy” and I will try
good bye, good bye you enigma of pride
I tried, I tried and tried and tried

Reply

Natalie May 29, 2013

Hi Natalie here, i am not sure whether i am a N.

I had two past relationship spanning four and half years each, right now I am in my third relationship.

There’s a cycle to it, I will be that everything they ever wanted, give them that kind of love and affection they have not felt, the sweetest ever they will be in shock for. However, in few month’s time, i will start to “correct” their lives. I will find things I am not satisfied in them and start to plan for their lives.

My first ex was his self grooming, no sense of dressing and not being manly enough, i will bring him down with hurtful words and i can not tolerate weakness in him. I will be cold, I will start to point his faults further and degrade him. Every time things don’t go my way, I will start an argument and get angry and start yelling.

My second ex, when he starts to show his sensitive side (i am having headache, sick, feeling weak), i begin to “turn off” and i do not find him manly at all, and i constantly say negative things about him, i hardly give compliments of any sort unless the person is doing exactly what i want him to do. Like losing weight, and if there’s progress i will be happy and excited, if there’s none, i feel like i should not show my love for that person at all. I yelled at him to the extent several times of punching him but I end up punching the wall or kicking a bin instead. Every time he wanted to leave me, I will come crawling and ask to be forgiven and I say I will change I wont do this and that, but it never happen, I will still be who I am in a few weeks time, back to square one.
When he really left me, I told him, I will never change except for myself, and I realise I am too attached to him to let go easily, so it was hard for me initially, he wasn’t all that perfect anyway. He kept saying he can not handle this cycle of “argument and fights” every other week, he thinks this is not healthy, well if he had not say trigger words, I will not. And I never fail to throw everything he bought for me into the bin, every time we had this fight and I do not regret.

My current relationship, seem to be that i am unhappy the most with him, i keep telling him to change almost everything. Tell him to lose weight, stop complaining about my ways, I told him I want him to be seen as fit and healthy and have better sense of dressing. We will argue about almost everything I am unhappy about him, I’m not happy with his teeth, chubbiness, introvert personality (I’m extrovert), messy house, disorganised planning, accent, flailing arms when describing something to me, his defensive driving style and many more. When I see progress, I will be that sweet girl he used to know, when it doesn’t, I will be cold to the extent i am unhappy about something about him, I will just get out of the car and walk off or leave his house abruptly.
So he happens to be the straight forward kind he said these exact words to me “you are egoistic, self-centred, demanding, angry, mad woman”. I said “that’s okay, the truth hurts doesn’t it when you thought I was all that sweet, end up, this is the real me.” And ever since those words, I have stopped helping him to make his life better, I washed my hands clean, taking care of my own life. But I am still with him, however I no longer see him as someone I love. I am no longer that “egoistic, self-centred, demanding, angry, mad woman” he keeps complaining about. He will find my friends and start sharing to them what kind of person I am, all of my closest friends do not believe this because I was NEVER seen this way to them. I do tell my friends the truth that I AM like that, but they just cant see me in that light.

I never censor what I say to the person i consider to be very intimate or close with, I say the truth and the truth hurts. Its reality and its up to the person to take it or leave it. They do bring me down, but I cant seem to be brought down, I will accept the truth about myself and say “that’s okay, this is who I am, I can’t do anything about it, nothing can change me except myself, not even you and your love.”

As a woman, I do cry and I cry mainly for myself, I can’t cry for others easily except at funerals.
And for everything that has happened or happening, I can not regret my decisions.

So am I a N or half N or none? I can’t seem to figure it out.

Thank you for reading.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade June 3, 2013

Thanks for sharing. Your description sounds pretty clear. So, what is it about all this that has you confused about being narcissistic or not?

Reply

Nichole June 2, 2013

This is so eye opening and painful. My husband of 13 years is the star-child, ‘nice boy’ of narcissistic mother. His entire family avoids any human communication and projects an appearance of smiley perfection. My husband struggles to express himself and most would say he’s a nice guy, but a bit 2-dimensional. While we get along great with a ton of laughter, play, kisses and respect, I have been sexually deprived for nearly my entire marriage and he has strong conflict / growth avoidance mechanisms. He has been struggling to find himself, his manhood, and his sex drive. My counselor suggested that he is passive aggressive. I feel like I am going crazy with his promises and no delivery. He is well intended, but lacks the drive to address the issues.

After a big blow up last week, I kicked him out of the house. I proceeded to get a book on passive aggressive personality disorder and learned that it is closely linked to NPD. Meanwhile, my husband sends an email admitting that he just did not give enough of himself in our marriage. Together, we watched a few YouTube videos on passive aggressive personality disorder and passive narcissism. My husband right away said that this was him. After all these years he and I both now know what was going on. Since then, he has proactively embraced researching the disorders and has been practicing telling the truth (even if he is afraid that it will make him look bad), trying to connect to his faults daily, and is researching psychotherapy and reading resources. He is ashamed for what he has done. He feels as though he woke up sick and finds a dead body on the floor with a gun in his hands. He is also accepting how his childhood created this disorder in him. At the same time he is telling me to focus on myself, while begging that I not be co-dependent and take away the responsibility of addressing the disorders from him. He is being brave and honest in all of this… even if the honesty is painful, such as admitting that he internally blamed me when ever he felt inept.

I don’t know what to do here. It all seems so very positive, while at the same time he and I both know that our marriage may not survive this. Is it a black and white issue where one should always leave someone with NPD even if they are seeking help?

Thank for your website. You have given many people clarity and helped them get off the crazy train. Bless you!

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade June 3, 2013

Hi Nichole,

If I understand correctly, you are in counseling, and he isn’t? This is important, if he truly wants to change, then he will need to get a professional counselor himself. Otherwise, you will end up being his counselor instead, and that doesn’t help either of you.

Secondly, do you see how the way you’ve written down this story, it’s almost all about him? His struggles, his childhood, his desires, his bravery. You’re more like the narrator, overseeing his life, giving an accurate description as best as you can, but you don’t have an active role in the story. Your own pains and struggles in all this are only briefly mentioned in passing. Unfortunately, this is indicative of the general HSP-narcissist dynamic: we tend to get sucked in to the point where we lose ourself in the narcissist’s problems.

Thirdly, your husband is right. If you are going to change and stay together, then you cannot take on his issues, you cannot stay in the co-dependent role. Yet, co-dependency and narcissism are a “perfect” (and very painful) match. Trying to change that dynamic is like trying to pull apart two very strong magnets. For him to be able to change, you will need to stop being co-dependent. Yet, for you to change, he will need to stop being narcissistic (notice the double bind here?) At the same time, trying to change your own “magnetic polarity” in this way, while you are staying together, is like completely rebuilding your home while you’re living in it. And unlike a house, people often “bounce back” from changes they’ve made to their behaviour, only to need to make the change anew. It’s important not to underestimate the enormity of what you’re potentially setting out to do and consider whether you actually have the desire and the resources to do it. In an ideal world scenario, you’d both be retired millionaires and have personal trainers, therapists, masseurs etc, time to get away from it all and recharge, eat out etc. Yet I’m guessing that that is not your situation, and that on top of all the personal development work, you’ll both need to keep a lot of other balls up in the air too. It’s important to calculate that in and consider whether it seems workable or not.

In making a decision, make sure that you fully factor in your own feelings, your own desires and your own natural limitations. Whenever you find yourself obsessing about what all this is like for him, ask yourself what you are avoiding in your own feelings and put your attention back on you.

It’s great that he is now being honest with you in new ways, but from what I understand, this happened after you kicked him out of the house. Hence, once you set an ultimatum, he was willing to change somewhat. Unfortunately, in addressing his behaviours long-term, he’ll likely need many more forceful boundaries to be set by you. Change is hard, and we all need a push from time to time. For a narcissist, that push will come from you saying no to his old behaviours. At the same time, you’ll need to be very upfront with him about what you do want and require of him, and make there be consequences if he doesn’t meet your needs.

So, on top of both having individual counselors, I’d assume you’d also need a couples counselor, to help redefine your relationship and your ways of communicating with each other.

The way I see it, whether your marriage survives or not is not the important question here. The question is, do you want to work at changing the co-dependent / narcissism dynamic while being in a relationship with your husband, yes or no? If you do, then it may work out, or it may not, but you will both be a ton the wiser for it anyway. Alternatively, “giving up” on the marriage completely is also a very valid choice though, there is no need to do something simply because it is theoretically possible or because it “could work”.

Keep in mind though that from what you shared, there is also a very real possibility that he is “just pretending” to want to change, because you decidely stood up for yourself and he doesn’t want to lose you (because he wants someone to take care of him). Take some time away from him to really listen to your gut. Does he have fullblown narcissistic personality disorder, or does he have narcissistic traits and truly wants to change? Listen to your own intuition, and look at what he does (not at what he says).

Nobody can make this decision for you, there are no “shoulds”. As long as you continue to set firm boundaries, you’ll get clarity on all this in one way or the other. If he’s pretending, then firm boundaries are needed. If he wants to change, then firm boundaries are needed too. So whatever you decide, firm boundaries will be needed.

Reply

Nichole June 12, 2013

Caroline,

Thank you for your incredibly insightful and generous response. You hit the nail on the head with the co-dependency bit. I have decided to check myself into rehab. It is time to get healthy and stop my co-dependent behaviors! As for the relationship, husband and I have separated and are each using this time to heal ourselves. I really believe his intentions for many, many reasons, such as he is equally motivated to learn to manage his narcissism so he can have better relationships with friends and co-workers . . . not just me. He has been incredibly supportive and I am happy for him that he is running towards this and openly discussing with others his disorder and need for help. Wish each of us luck, we’ll need it as individuals and possibly as a couple if we come back together. At least we will each grow through this process and at worst, remain friends.

As an aside, a marriage counselor years ago told me that in the frog prince fairy tale, it isn’t the kiss from the princess that turns the frog into the prince. The impact of the frog hitting the wall when the princess threw him in disgust after realizing she kissed a frog is what caused the frog to change.

Caroline – thank you for your website and being a great catalyst for clarity, healing and moving forward.

Nichole

Reply

mari June 3, 2013

Im so sorry for what u girls are going thru.
Im going thru that too. But my love for ”Medicine” is bigger.
ive been living with a narcissist with paranoide personality disorder for 2 years.
Im moving on now. I guess.
To me now, its a big experiment and learning cycle.
After years of suffering and wanting to die everyday, im learning that we are all here trying to accept the fact that its not up to us. Its not up to me to save him. And it hurts because the feeling of failing is devastating.
We all know its not about them. Its all about us.
We are the ones that are crying and going thru hell. But its not their fault. Its up to us to move on. I realized that its not getting over them. Its getting over the fact that its over. The battle is over. Stop fighting girls.
Theres nothing we can do to make them better, to make them heal.
We feel that we have to be the mother, the one that protects, the one that they can trust…but thats not how they see us.
Its all about us being strong again. all about finding out who we are again.
I look in the mirror everyday and i dont see the old me. And that can be frustrating.
I ask myself why did i let him play with me all this time. But the real question is why did i allowed myself to be played.
I have control over my life and what i do. Not over his actions and the way he lives his life.
We will never be the same again. The experience of being in love with a narcissist is real. The pain is real.
There is no way to be the old you again.
Its like losing a leg. You will get over it and used to the feeling of not having it anymore.

Reply

angella June 4, 2013

i can totally relate to tht, i hv been with a narssistic guy who ws my friend for 3 years n in relationship for anothr two…n i find it too hard to let go off the fact tht how cud i let all tht happen to me..i wasted best 5 years of my life, takin pain tht never as mine.

Reply

Bob June 11, 2013

This is probably the best, and most clear explanation of the phenomenon of interacting with a narcissist that I have read (and I have read a lot about them in the past year!). I believe I have co-dependent tendencies and walked into the path of someone who I believe is a narcissist. She called upon me for favors and advice, but never wanted to meet unless it was for something she would gain from. But she clung to me tightly, which I mistook for affection. The cold and eerie thing about it, though, was that she really did not feel an emotional connection. She knew the words and the affections, but she was missing the meanings. She truly depended on the outside world for validation of her existence, as if something was missing inside her. The most frustrating thing was that there was nothing to reach, no “person” to be touched. I could almost feel the stone wall that had grown around her soul, letting no one in. She is now with a popular, successful man, whom she always spoke admiringly of. Those are the people she is attracted to–the ones in whose glory she feels significant. Your description of the addiction of trying to reach them was very apt for me.

Thank you!

Reply

Golightly June 19, 2013

These are terrible things that happen to a human being :( Your article is so great because it speaks in a simple and logical way of thinking. Thank you for being an eye opener! :) I was in a realtionship with a guy who seemed sooooo crazy in love with me because he would say and do such wonderful things. The only weird thing was that he felt so helpless when it came to giving me some advice on my confusion over which career path to take. He just couldn’t find the words. After a year – BAM – he breaks up saying that I did that, I didn’t do that – basically it was all my fault. I couldn’t grasp why would you, if you make your girlfriend your top priority and treat her wonderfully, just break up. A month after the break up I stumbled upon Joseph Gordon Levitt’s comment on his character in 500 Days of Summer in which he said: “I would encourage anyone who has a crush on my character to watch it again and examine how selfish he is. He develops a mildly delusional obsession over a girl onto whom he projects all these fantasies. He thinks she’ll give his life meaning because he doesn’t care about much else going on in his life. A lot of boys and girls think their lives will have meaning if they find a partner who wants nothing else in life but them. That’s not healthy. That’s falling in love with the idea of a person, not the actual person.” It’ been 6 weeks since the break up and I’m feeling most of the time very good, because I know I’m a good person with great qualities, who can give and receive unconditional love and that is a great thing. Although my ego is hurt and I feel hurt, I know it wasn’t completely my fault. I care for him enough to wish him happiness and hope that maybe someday he will.

Reply

ellejae June 26, 2013

How do you tell the difference between a Narcissist & someone who just hates his life & is miserable? Is that a typical Trait for Narcissist to be miserable? Do they also make one Excuse after another?… on why things never go right for them?
I’m just trying to figure out if my b/f is just utterly un-happy cuz life didn’t go as planned for him OR if he has core Narcissistic qualities.
What are the best questions to ask or how do you go about it to TRULY find out if he TRULY has a emotional connection with me (or not)?

Reply

Robin June 27, 2013

Thank you for writing such an insightful article. I had never thought of the notion of a narcisit and their take on love… but I think it has really just shifted something in me. I was in a relationship for about 8 months with a guy and it has recently ended. I moved away from the city him and I were both in because I needed to move back in with my parents and recover from some health issues for a while. I left the city and he informed me that he was not interested in a long distance relationship, even if it was only for 2 months because it wasn’t worth the effort to him. Long story short, he is a narcisitc and I am so blown away that I never realized it before. My attempts and trying to get us to connect and to talk and all I ever wanted was to feel improtant to him, but he was never able to give much back to me. I always felt like the one that was ‘broken’ and that needed work. When I left, he told me that he is happier without me.

I’m writing to you because after reading your article I have this huge desire to send the link to him and say “See?!?!?! I wasn’t the crazy one… I’m valid in my opinions.” But I have a feeling that that is probably the worst thing I could do…. It’s partly out of self-justification but partly because I still have that desire to ‘help’ him become more tuned in with his inner desires/emotions/self. There’s nothing I can do, is there? I need to move on an accept that it could never work no matter how much I try…

Thank you,
Robin

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade June 29, 2013

Hi Robin,

A lot of people feel the way you do, and I recognize the feeling myself as well: hoping you can fix things as long as you can make the narcissist “see” the truth. The desire to fix is what attracts a narcissist, because it ensures a constant stream of attention, no matter how badly they treat you.

It really requires shifting out of your own perspective (and sense of what is normal) to get it, and instead see it more like an “economic resource” issue (for them): their focus is on monopolizing your attention, it doesn’t really matter how. Your attention is what feeds them, and also what drains you. It really makes people ill being drained over time like this. You give 200% and it goes down a bottomless pit. As long as you keep giving attention, the narcissist has no reason whatsoever to heal their own bottomless pit. They’re not victims, they don’t need saving, but it sure seems that way.(There’s more info on this in the other articles)

My best advice is to work at taking your attention OFF of him, and putting it back on yourself and your own needs. Take care of yourself, not of him. You don’t have the ability to fix him, no matter how hard you try or how smart you are. You were not put on this planet to waste your energy trying to help people who don’t want to heal. That’s a tough lesson for us HSP’s, but it’s one we need to learn in order not to be used.

The more you trust the part of you that says “just move on”, the more the feelings of wanting to help him and get his validation will subside. Each time those feelings come up, see them as your own wounding that requires care and attention. Each time you want to help him, to fix him, to finally get his long-awaited validation…put your attention back on yourself. You don’t need his validation, you need your own. When you feel in need of support, talk to a friend instead, someone who can confirm that you’re not crazy. A narcissist’s power comes from their ability to create an illusion of being more knowledgeable than anyone else. They love being in the seat of the supreme judge, deciding who or what you are. Don’t let them.

take care,

Reply

Kathy July 14, 2013

I’ve been with a man for 3 years; even relocated far away from the placed I called home since childhood to a place out of state that he had moved to 20 years before.
I was going through a lot of emotional changes in my life when we met. He latched on to me and willingly accepted him. At that time he was a source of comfort and security for me. We also have to remember that the relationship was very new and still exciting for both of us.

As time passed, reality started setting in. Everything I read in this article I’ve actually said in all of our arguments. How he became disconnected and aloof whenever issues in our relationship were presented to him. I’ve actually said that he loves conditionally; he’s only happy when things are going his way. It’s always a great sacrifice when he does something for someone else and it’s never without an attitude. He has withdrawn from intimacy and told me it was my fault because I lost my job and I’m not working now. Meanwhile, he had been withdrawing for a long time and he had to throw an excuse at me to free himself from blame.

I’m still with him now but I’ve maid the decision to leave. I’m grateful for all these articles I’ve been reading because they have become my therapy and confidence booster. I normally second guess myself all the time, but with research realized that I have to break my dependency on him and move on. The relationship is extremely unhealthy and has me stalled from moving on with my life and doing what makes me happy. I’m moving back home and starting over. At least I know that I tried my best (even though he says I’m running away) and now realize that it’s all been futile. I told him that he’s the one that ran away emotionally a long time ago.

Reply

Disheartened July 20, 2013

Thank you for your article, it helped me clarify what I went through. I was married for 20 years and all this time I thought it was the temper that distorted the marriage, so I tried to walk on egg shells to avoid a blowup. I thought I could fix him, and do everything his way to avoid confrontations. I had to think of the right way to say things to prevent him from getting angry. I managed to survive on the few “good times” patch up the hurt and pain I did this for 15 years, but the bitterness increased to no longer wanting to be in the same bed. He blamed me for everything that didn’t go right including small petty things that happen in daily life. It wasn’t all bad, there were happy moments that kept me hanging on to that string. As long as I agreed to everything he was good. But I started to say no and disagree in the last few years of marriage and he couldn’t handle that and he left, we divorced 3 years ago after 20 yrs. Up to this day he does not call or communicate with our 2 daughters and uses the excuse that they wrote him off because they wouldn’t make effort to see him. There are times when I think “what if” I tried some other method, but I realize now I was in a hell hole. His own mother once told me that whenever he did something for me it was because there was something in it for him. At the time I thought she was trying to break us apart. I am barely now, finding who I am and who I was before I ever met this man.

Reply

Jean July 21, 2013

Thank you. I needed this since I am seperating from my husband after 14 years. I really hope our children will not suffer too much. He wants to be a loving father, but I know where that may end. Still, I know the insight more than he does. And he is beautiful, if only he could truly believe that. But I work on giving up the dream.

Reply

Jean July 21, 2013

Sorry, of course I meant ‘inside’.

Reply

Melanie August 2, 2013

Thank you Caroline
I have read lots about Narcissism in an attempt to understand what has happened to me over the last 25 years. In one page you have brilliantly summarised this agonising condition for those on the receiving end.
I have just finalised a divorce from mine. We have four children together and I have just discovered that in the process of our divorce he has fathered a child with the woman he cheated with seven years ago. My two younger children don’t even know he has been in an on-off relationship with anyone, since he is so secretive (read fearful of their judgement). There was a time when I would have vented all my fury on this woman but in time came to realise that in some way she has been my saviour. Without her and his infidelity, I would never have ‘woken up’, left and started a new life based on my authentic self and not some shell of a woman constantly trying to please an ever-demanding child of a man. I still feel angry (partly at myself for not realising the value of boundaries) but for the most part I park the whole thing in a box in my brain marked ‘neutral’ and just let it sit there. I cannot ignore that it exists, he is the father of my children and so we still have some contact, but I don’t have to let my feelings for it affect the rest of my life. There will always be something new to add to the box – I know that he won’t give up trying to rock my boat, ‘suck me in’ – but I have learned to keep an impassive face/tone and not to give him the pleasure of seeing me hurt or upset by his actions or revelations. I cannot go no contact but never initiate contact. I reply in as brief a manner as I can and ignore any emotional content. It will be a life long battle, I know that but, as you suggested, I keep my list of the things that were said and done and how they made me feel, in order never to forget who he is and how he works. Sad but true.

Thanks once again for your great insights.

Reply

Barbara August 4, 2013

I just felt like someone punched me in the guts.

Realizing that my dreams and hopes are lost, how I’m being manipulated each day and being the only one responsible for this pain, is quite embarrassing. I feel like I can’t talk to anyone about it.

I am in shock. My body is tense every day, my thoughts race in circles in my head and I can’t seem to take a step forward. I have lost my job, my car, my financial security, even worse: my friends and connection to family.

I get hopeless sometimes but blogs like yours keep my feet on the ground and my head up. Thank you so much for your insights!

Reply

Kelly August 7, 2013

I can believe reading this is like a mirror image of my life. I’m currently separated from my N partner of 13yrs. An I still struggle emotionally every day. During those 10yrs he has hurt me over and over again. In the beginning he was everything I wanted in a man, loving, caring, clever, hard working an genuine. we seemed to want the same things from life. Looking back it was obvious within the first few months he had serious issues, black moods, silent treatment for weeks on end, twisting every situation to being my fault, accusations. We could never make plans to go socialising or do anything nice with family members or friends because he would always have to cause an argument before hand so that we wouldn’t end up going (now I realise this was all so he could alienate me from anybody I loved or enjoyed their company). I had many friends when we first got together but 13yrs on I have one or two, no confidence an not much of life either. He has turned so many people against me with his lies an manipulation that i find it hard to leave my house unless accompanied (i have no desire to bump into any of these people who believe i am some crazy, spiteful women). I got so low an depressed that I had a breakdown a few years back although I am now a lot stronger now I’m still nowhere near being the woman I was 13yrs ago. I still struggle to find much enjoyment in anything. I’m currently unemployed and this is down to my severe lack of confidence and anxiety (all caused from this relationship). I haven’t given up on being the person I once was but if I’m honest I struggle daily an wonder will I ever find myself again??

Reply

priscilla August 28, 2013

Hi
Thank you for writing this article and am happy to say I have just gotten to the bit where I have understanding tat I am helpless to do anything to salvage my relationship with my narc partner, I have been in turmoil for 3 long years and we have a Son together, I have children from a previous relationship and fortunately for them they have strong personalities, thanks to my former self before I got with narc, and when I see them arguing the point with him over some rubbish that he is droning on about and giving them grief for hours on end (like I told you to shut the door or something equally pointless) and see the way they never back down and how much anger is made of a nothing situation on his part I have realised that I used to be like them, the fight has left me and believe I have fough and begged and pleaded with him in our years together trying to get him to realise you don’t treat people like he does if he loves them, NADA, silence is violence in his book, I have completely exhausted myself through anger, tears trying to detach but am pleased to tell everyone there is hope, for the last three weeks I have taken a step back and for once haven’t tried to argue my point over anything, I watch him act like a lunatic, a fridge a small child and much more but have become unaffected, my last conversation I had went like this, I am NOT putting up with you treating us like crap any longer, you now do not have a choice you either change or leave, half way through he walked away and said, if you want to talk to me anymore you will have to follow me down the garden as I am going to the gym, I of course walked in the house(we were in the garden) started cleaning and lo and behold I had no tears or pain or fear BECAUSE, of course I knew the reaction, wasn’t dreaming I would get a sensible response or discussion, for once I could see if for exactly what it is, he walked in the house to leave for work and said, without facing me, SO, do I need to come back tonight a changed man? I looked at him and carried on with the dishes and he asked again and at that pitiful point I realised the only how he could do that was by quite literally coming back as a different man..BOOM..reality hit, Still cant actually get him to leave, but I have left, emotionally and completely and now need to show him the door, there is much more misery and heartache and countless things I could write about the hell I have let this maniac put me through emotionally but..you all know anyhow..good luck to each and every one of you and thank you for the appliance analogy as that makes perfect sense!

Reply

GRINNING FROM EAR TO EAR August 30, 2013

I told my husband yesterday exactly what he is. He very surprisingly took it well. I don’t believe it for a second. I almost feel guilty about how much I really don’t care whether it hurts him or not. I almost feel like I’m hiding this huuuge secret from him that he should be told and it feels GREAT. I want to smear it in his face. For the first time in over 10 years I don’t feel responsible for him, it’s just sooo damn liberating.
Trouble is we’re still together and I guess I kinda still think I can change him. But for the first time ever I’m not scared of him cheating on me, infact I’m kinda sitting here thinking ‘I f#@ken dare ya’.
I’m kind just waiting for the next narcissistic game so I can say “Ooops there it is cowboy, seeya later”
My pain , self-doubt and anguish has turned into anger and I guess almost arrogance. A trait I despise usually but I think will serve me well in my fight to reclaim my life. Everything he says now goes straight over my head, my eyes are now open and he’s about to lose everything.
Is it WRONG for me to be excited about this??? I don’t have any compassion for this man I’ve lived with for 12 years and have had 4 children with. Oh well too bad I’m liking this high I’m on and I plan on riding it for asking as I can. :)

Reply

Hugh September 17, 2013

The best article I’ve read since my recent break up with my ex-girlfriend who is a narcissist! During my relationship I had suspected her of being a narcissist. At first when we met she seemed very nice and sweet. She was a yoga teacher and had a daughter. She had been divorced for over 2 years. I assumed she had crappy husband that treated her badly. For the first 4-6 months everything was perfect, or I thought so. We are so close and intimate. People thought we looked so cute together. I thought she genuinely loved me. I thought she was “the one”. One of the first red flags was when I got sick or when I sprained my ankle. Instead of caring or being nurturing, she would shut down and pout. Act real cold and act like she didn’t care! Which I thought was really odd since she was my girlfriend. About the 6 month mark, she began to act distant and little cold. Then we got into our first argument, she felt she was in the right. Also should refuse or acknowledge my reasoning or feelings. She was completely irrational about it. And when I asserted myself and mentioned how I felt. She would break down and cry. And I would feel bad for telling her how I felt!

After our first argument, that’s when I started seeing her true narcissism. I noticed it was a lot about her. When she spoke she talked about herself a lot and I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. And what I said didn’t to seem much importance to her. She also become more hot and cold. It was almost she choose to give me attention and affection when she wanted to. Instead of unconditionally. This was apparent manipulation of my emotions she was playing. The last six months of our relationship I often questioned if she truly loved me! It seemed as though the harder I tried, the farther she would move the carrot. I felt as though I was propping the relationship because I was pretty much the only person giving in the relationship. And at times she would give me scraps of kindness to appease me or keep me around.

It felt as though it was my job to keep her happy at the expense of my own! I felt as though I was being used. Eventually I had no more gas left in the tank to prop up this charade. Something had to happen as she couldn’t siphon anymore of my energy away from me. At one point I was so angry I almost exploded at her. But I allowed myself to calm down. And eventually I confronted her and told her about her actions and how angry I was. Of course she broke down and cried like she was the victim! Again she was making it all about her!

Eventually, I initiated a conversation about our future. Which ultimately led to us breaking up! After the first day I was sad and upset. Thinking that I lost someone I loved and someone that cared for me. However, after the second day and subsequent days. I felt as though a weight had lifted off my shoulders!!! Which made no sense to me! I thought I would be super sad and devastated after this break up. It was uncanny how I felt okay, which I found was super odd. I had a belief that it was my fault or it was something I didn’t do or could have done. So I eventually researched stuff about break ups and types or relationships to make sense of everything. Even during my relationship nothing made sense! I had to figure out why my relationship failed no matter how hard I tried! Every time I came back to narcissism, which made perfect sense! And then I found this article that explains my ex-girlfriend to the T! She just didn’t have to the capacity to love unconditionally due to her narcissism. I’m so glad find this article!!! I feel so free and lighter!!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Reply

Devin October 5, 2013

Caroline.

What if I am the narcissist? And I am well-aware?

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade October 7, 2013

I don’t know Devin. Is it a problem for you? There’s other resources out there for you for sure, but they’re not on this site.

Reply

M October 15, 2013

What happens if you attempt to tell a narcissist who is in therapy, and so thus committed to some practice of bettering himself, that you found him to behave like a narcissist in your relationship? What’s likely to happen, in your experience/opinion?

Reply

Sabrina October 23, 2013

My mom hasn’t been diagnosed, but since childhood, if I vent to my mom about any issues, it seems like she always sides with the culprit, and goes silent if I get upset and even mention her siding with them, never feeling validated, always feeling bad for having my feelings, as if I’m the bad guy for not taking anyone’s crap. Your saying that any glimmer of hope isn’t consistent, and whatever hope I got from our interactions were due to my ‘being good’ (not rocking the boat one weekend). I rock the boat whenever I feel things aren’t right in the family dynamic, (Im the scapegoat to them). I often feel crazy pressing a subject I have an issue with regarding my mom/dad/sisters, telling them they way they come at me isn’t right and then as I ‘superimpose’ my feelings onto them, wanting them to change, due to the superficial glimmers of hope I inconsistently receive, I get told I’m the bad guy who has a problem with everyone. I do curse them out if they push and push and push my buttons-God forbid they have any issues, they need validation, but me? Im dramatic, sensitive and need to get over it. My favorites: “she’s not glaring at you, that’s just her look” “she didn’t say anything to you” (yet they weren’t there). Never wanting to hear my side. I think they despise me, bc I don’t take their crap, I always speak up. My therapist asks me if I can remember the good times of when my mom’s validated me, there haven’t been that many, but with the recent validations I thought I was getting, it was due to my working on myself, which to her meant I wasn’t rocking the boat. If someone were to stab me, I’d be the troublemaker lol for speaking up! If I press a subject with mom, bc Im not getting what I need from her, she eventually lashes out, becomes vicious, like two different people when things are ‘going well.’ It’s mentally exhausting/frustrating. She wouldn’t dare show anyone outsiders this side of her, and if she snaps at someone, she’ll say sorry, with me? How dare I ask for an apology-which is true, can’t ask someone who isn’t sorry to apologize. One thing she told me herself, not regarding herself, is never beg for love, how ironic it’s from the one woman who isn’t able to give it to me yet I want it so bad from her.

Reply

Freebied November 2, 2013

Most succinct reminder of the nothing that will come out of any more giving and caring. Thank you. Was tired of reading Sam Vaknin as he got lost in his own narcissism so often. As a Christian I have been taught to care. I have now learned about boundaries necessary to care for myself also. If only the ease of putting this into action were apparent.

Reply

DF November 23, 2013

What if the narcissist is one of my family members (like my dad)? I love him very much, but it’s unbearable being around him. He’ll pick me apart for what he sees as my problems, and even say that he loves me more than I love him. It’s like he gets a rise out of putting me down and getting me to argue with him. I don’t feel good being around him, but I can’t imagine avoiding him for the rest of my life, he’s my dad after all.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade December 8, 2013

Hi DF,

This question has come up quite a few times, and your question summarizes the issue really well, so there’s a new separate post on this topic now, here.

Reply

Elizabeth December 3, 2013

24 yrs. 3 kids, youngest 16. planning my exit and I am in much pain.
He is a senior pastor. So not only am I feeling like the destroyer of our family for leaving, but the destroyer of our relationship with our church family. I have prayed and know that God showed me the problem for a reason. I am in this boat for my lack of trust and allowing myself to feel worthless except by my husband’s validation. I feel I have repented but leaving feels selfish still. I watch him and feel so much pity especially when he is hateful during arguments. We have been in heavy duty counseling for months but he has lied during sessions and come home telling me how he can change if I act in certain ways, otherwise, I am his enemy and can be expected to be treated that way. Someone please tell me how to do this with compassion and mercy , if not for him who can’t feel it, for my kids and the church. With the kid’s , it’s almost like if I leave now, they will think the pain they went through ( emotional) was for nothing. As long as I defended him and kept up the facade it is was ok. Now I am just as terrible as the n behavior if I just leave. ( at least that’s how I feel)

Encouragement or suggestions and prayer would be appreciated!

Reply

Mary December 16, 2013

Wonderful Analogy…makes it all so crystal clear!!!

Reply

GR Vimont January 13, 2014

Thanks for a wonderful article. Recently I’ve been doing research on narcissism because of this girl (she’s 24 and I’m 54) in the work place that gravitated towards me early on in our working relationship. In the past year her father distanced himself from her probably because of her narcissism. She gravitated towards me so fast and so intensely that I literally thought she had a crush on me. As it turns out, from her behavior and from what she’s even told me (i.e. having delusions of grandeur), I came to the realization that she’s a narcissist. “If your functionality includes: a shoulder to cry on and a willingness to listen to a lot of venting, then you might be kept in the “appliances I love” category for a very long time.” Yes this is my function and what also doesn’t help is that I like to be needed emotionally. However, I’ve come to the realization that I must start to distance myself from her.

Reply

Rachel January 19, 2014

I’m a 21 year old female and I am an aware narcissist. Reading about narcissism extensively is like reading a book about myself (such a narcissistic thing to say), but it is true. I know my condition which has enabled me to effectively recognize and stop some of my habits. Delusions of grandeur mostly. I spent all of my childhood and majority of my teenage years fantasizing about a life where I was very beautiful, rich and powerful. I don’t do that any more except for the ocassional day dreaming of being very beautiful. While the delusions are less my view of myself as an “appliance” or a functioning thing is worse. I know I am only getting further away from my true self. I suppress all feelings. It is instant and out of my control. I can remember a time when I felt feelings like being smashed or overwhelmed by waves in the ocean but now I live in a childrens paddle pool and I am lucky if I feel a little splash. I believe most narcissists see no problem but I do, I have felt unconditional love and I once knew my heart so I know that I am wromh and that my brain wiring is warped. This is hard to live with. Everyone sans there is no xure to npd and that is probably true. But what becomes of those of us who know our condition amd wish to feel again? I am not happy to be this way. I am a husk of a person who’s functions are all in order to avoid, ignore and protect myself from my true heart and emotions. My narcissim is born from fear, a fear so great that I absolutely refused to feel, acknowledge or live with. I feel like an abomination. If I did not know my condition I could live the narcissistic life with my own set of rules and explanations. Nobody knows or realizes that im wired wrong because I function well most of the time and I do not very often treat people badly unless I have not had enough alone time to rest which can easily be brushed off as a normal persons “bad day”. I do not want to deceive or hurt anyone but deception is in my nature, I try very hard to be honest to everyone I meet or know but it is impossible to be completely truthful to others when you are not truthful to yourself. I try to be a positive factor in other people’s lives and often people find me funny and appreciate me. It makes me happy to be able to make others laugh and feel good eventhough my existence is a useless fraud of a human. I see alot of people hating and abhorring narcissists and rightly so. We should not be. Unconditional love is the epitome of the human experience in my opinion. It is hard knowing my wretched condition but having no hope of change. I try to explain it to my “appliances I love” but they don’t understand. They brush it off and I continue to function as the friend they enjoy and want me to be. I play the roles people like. Its a rip off but its the best I can manage. I don’t really know why im writing all this but it feels good to tell this to people who know exactly what narcissists are like. If you read this then thankyou. I just want it to be known that at least one narcissist in the world is unhappy that theyvare fundamentally flawed at being a human being.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade January 22, 2014

Hi Rachel,

Thank you so much for posting here. I think many people will find it helpful reading your words, in so many ways.

The big reason narcissism is considered incurable (as far as I know) is that, like you say, most narcissists don’t see any problem with their own behaviours etc. As a result, professionals have little positive experiences working with narcissists to heal, because there are just so few who really want to. I truly believe many things considered incurable by many can be healed, if we truly want to, even though it may take a long time and a lot of work. You have such clear insights into your own inner workings, that combined with the desire to do what it takes and visit inner dark places where needed, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t heal.

You say that: “My narcissim is born from fear, a fear so great that I absolutely refused to feel, acknowledge or live with”. Knowing that, the key place to start would be: 1. acknowledging that healing your narcissism means – first of all – deciding to face the fear. 2. Finding an encouraging approach. In energy healing, fear is simply an energy. It’s a very strong one, but it’s an energy, not a fixed kind of “thing” that is eternal. In other words, it can change, it can be let go of with the right tools and support. This is one example of an approach that encourages healing. In other words, it’s important to choose a methodology & approach that says that healing is possible. 3. Doing the work. 4. Knowing that you can take things one tiny step at a time and that your body & soul will help you heal. When there is a desire for change, there is also an automatic pacing that happens. We only get to see the “next step” that we need to take, and if it’s a big step, we never need to take it all at once. Biting off little bits and pieces is a totally normal way to heal. 5. Knowing that you are not your narcissism. It’s a deeply wired coping pattern that currently defines your life, but it’s not the essence of who you are. Since it’s not who you are, you have the power to change it.

Reply

Rachel January 19, 2014

Also sorry for all the mucked up words. I am commenting from my phone.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade January 22, 2014

no problem! (There is very little mucking up in your text, that I can see btw :) )

Reply

grace January 25, 2014

thank you for this. I have searched and read and searched and read so much on narcissism and this is the best description of what I have experienced. Honestly, I don’t think I had ever been around a narcissist, or at least didn’t have a relationship with them (or tried to) until this particular man. I am still reeling from it and even after he found several prostitutes in Nigeria to bring into his lair, (and I promise I am not making this up!)and an STD to go with them, I even managed to allow him back into my life! Holy Cow! I am a smart, educated mother of two children but the allure of a narcissist completely took me by surprise. At some point I snapped, and cut off all communication. He is madder than hell, and says I betrayed him. Yes, I betrayed him. That was after his treatment for STD’s that he exposed me to. Again, I am obviously reeling from this abuse but finally find the lack of any communication (blocking him on my phone, deleting emails etc.) liberating and giving me back my power. But it has been a long hard road. To anyone in the middle of this I wish you luck and know that it does take two to have a healthy relationship. The point you make about the dream and letting go of the dream of what your relationship is KEY to understanding this. The narcissist tricks you and makes that dream seem possible but it is not, at all.

Reply

Saumya sunder January 28, 2014

You stole my words… I was diagnosed codependent last year which meant I am a hopeless giver and a doormat. The frustration of my feelings not being understood just drove me crazy angry and frustrated…. I have felt deep anger at times for the amount of energy I invested and the way I felt unloved even if I put my feelings or realistic expectations like togetherness in a relationship it was dismissed as a demanding plea…

Making my small upsets into a big deal like I hyperventilate then I’m mad he does then its breathlessness… It just tested me and my patience until I was seething with anger because I had to take the tag of an unstable and crazy person when I was genuinely in it… Something that I haven’t really exhibited in my previous relationships. I think I am at peace with myself now because I don’t care what the world says but I know I have come out of this to be in a better position in my life where my emotional health is concerned

Reply

susie gregor January 31, 2014

I was with my ex husband for 27 years. I tolerated him. I am a believer in Jesus Christ and thought that I had to work at the marriage because divorce was not to be considered. Even after the multiple affairs he had, I still stayed because we had four kids. It was a miracle I even had the last two because he removed all intimacy, he preferred himself. He blamed me for everything, I was the one who was nuts. No one outside of our marriage knew how bad it was. When the light bulb went on and I realized that my mindset had been in a chaotic, abusive cycle, I was set free. Despite his “top of the lung” threats that he was going to sue me, I divorced him as a poor person. I was my own lawyer. I went to divorce court a few times and watched the preceding. I downloaded divorce papers, manually filled them out and submitted them. The judge ordered us to meet with a mediator. During the session, he screamed at the mediator saying “see what I have to deal with”. We agreed on a number of issues but he has not met any of them on the document he signed. Since I was suing him, he was not allowed to say anything. We stood before the judge and I was the only one to state out-loud that I was severing our relationship and marriage. The happiness I felt was FANTASTIC. That was in Feb 2010 and I am happily divorced. His mantra when we were married was “if and when I divorce you”. Believe me, when you discover happiness, you will not let it go.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade January 31, 2014

wow Susie, that’s an awesome story of doing what it takes to take your life in your own hands. thanks for sharing!

for others reading this, note how she
- didn’t let poverty hold her back
- found ways to become her own lawyer
- didn’t let his threats define her reality
- empowered herself & how fantastic that made her feel.

Susie, do you remember what specifically helped turn on the lightbulb for you? How did you come to realize that you were caught up in an abusive cycle and needed to leave? Was it something that happened? Something you read/ heard/ reflected upon?

Reply

Chris February 2, 2014

I’m from the UK and my mum has NPD. My brothers and sisters have only just come to this realization within the past 12 months, we just put it down to “depression” but now realise it goes much deeper than that. Sadly, we all take turns in the firing line…..it’s been getting worse and worse in recent years. My mum’s health has really deteriorated in the last 10 years and I think this is partly to blame. Losing her sight was devastating as she now can’t do the things she used to and this makes her dwell on her crazy issues and feeds her paranoia even more.

My wife of 10 years has always been THE target, she could never be good enough for my mum and was always perceived to be falling short. I’ve always made a stand for the truth though and stood up for the very unfair way my wife is being treated. Every so often another venom-filled feud comes along – issues include my wife not going round on her own enough to see my mum, jealousy with the other in-laws, lies about my wife stopping them seeing the grandchildren etc, etc. All not true. Plus constant criticism of the way my wife feeds, clothes and raises our kids. My wife will never be able to live up to her expectations and now it seems my 8 year old daughter is being affected by harsh criticisms that are starting with her too.

The thing I struggle most with is this: my mum suffered tremendous physical, mental and emotional abuse as a child from her own parents. The issue I struggle with is that she never chose to be damaged, never chose her own parents, and never chose to get NPD. Of course, I’ve come to realise that it’s vital that people take measures to protect themselves from the narcissist, otherwise they can literally make you ill. But how can anyone possibly BLAME a narcissist who only has NPD because of the terrible abuse they suffered as a child? Surely there will always be a feeling of understanding and compassion for people that fall under this category?

Although I could never cut myself off from my mum, I support my wife 100% from doing this as it’s the only way she can cope. My mum is very much a mixed bag as there are moments when I see she genuinely cares for my well being…….it’s just my wife she has always it in for! Plus I feel so sorry for my dad as he has to live with it my mum’s condition 24/7 and has continued to do so for over 50 years.

So Caroline – does it seem sensible how I cannot fully condemn my mum given that that her NPD was almost certainly caused by her childhood?

Thanks for any advice,
Chris

Reply

Erica Winter & Rob Dunn February 4, 2014

Hi, My sister is narcissistic. is there anyway of helping her see the light? If we tell her she has this problem and maybe seek counselling? She is 58, very much alone and is unemployed…

Reply

jen February 5, 2014

This resonates so profoundly with issues that I am struggling with …trying to come to terms with how my family has treated/ mistreated me & my husband. Thanks for the article & the comments. I feel less isolated b/c of y’all.

Reply

Grace February 8, 2014

Wow Chris – your story could be my story and your big question my big question. I also struggle with the dilemma that my mother has obviously been severely traumatised and did not ask to go through life damaged. I feel distressed all the time about this one question: that she also is a victim of circumstance. How to get past it seems very difficult when I am trying to shield myself from all the toxicity and being with her is just plain hard work and extremely stressful.

I feel sorry for her and distressed that her upbringing has impacted her life so negatively. What can be done about showing compassion when dealing with someone so unreasonable?

So Caroline (like Chris above) I have the same question and would be incredibly appreciative of any advice you may have. Thank you for your wonderful site and information. Grace

Reply

Chris February 10, 2014

Hi Grace – I’m really sorry to hear you are in the same position as me. It’s so hard having a mum with this condition…personally I think this must be psychologically harder to accept than having a husband and wife with the condition (don’t we expect unconditional love from a parent even more than we do from a husband/wife.) A lot of the time, my dad goes along with my mum’s behaviour, not just because of brainwashing but also because life would be simply unbearable if he didn’t. Plus I suspect he feels he would somehow be betraying her if he didn’t “support” her. There’s NO WAY I could cut them off completely – they are still my parents after all and I’m sure you’ve also had some HAPPY times with your parents too?). Anyway, to cut a long story short, I’m now trying to set some boundaries and when those boundaries are crossed (e.g if things start turning nasty/unreasonable) I am simply going to walk out of the house and show that I’m not prepared to take it. Hopefully this will help them to understand they have to behave reasonably, otherwise I’ll be off. Reading about the condition does help me though as I’m now going to try and start thinking more along these lines “this is not rational behaviour….I’m going to try and not take it personally as it’s just the NPD…I’ll leave now to show her that this is unacceptable behaviour. Maybe this might work for you too Grace? I’m sure Caroline will post a reply when she gets time. Take care.

Reply

S February 10, 2014

I was really confused and hurt when I stumbled on this website. I was crying and praying to God for some type of peace of mind and understanding. I went on google and typed in “Did he ever love me?” I don’t know why or what I expected to find. This article was one of the first to come up. I am currently getting the silent treatment (for about the twentieth time in an eight month span) from my significant other, and I suspect that this time it will be indefinitely. Because I read this and understand I believe that I have the strength to not initiate the contact again (like I always do). I had been feeling things that I could just not express or explain in words and this article finally did it for me. Thank you for that. I believe that I am a Sensitive and I am attracted to/or attract narcissistic relationships in my life. I believe my mother exhibits traits of narcissism and I believe that all four of the serious relationships I’ve had (that have failed horribly) were with men who had some form of NPD. It has been a vicious cycle really and I always ended up getting out of a serious relationship wondering “God, what did I do? Why do I bring this selfishness and apathy out of the people I love? Is it cause I’m an emotional, needy woman? What could I have done to make it better or win his love back?” Of course I would eventually come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t just my fault. I was far from perfect, but in general the men I choose are clearly selfish. My only real problem is figuring out why I keep going for those type of guys. This last failed romance of mine truly confused me beyond anything I had experienced before. We started off as friends and I fell in love with him deeply as time went on. He was very understanding, respectful, morally upright, and he would really open up to me about his past (Him opening up to me about his past relationships later gave me clues that made me realize that what he did to me was actually a type of pattern in his life). We had different belief systems. He was an atheist and I was a Christian (besides the NPD I still think that our different world views were a large part of the problem to begin with). But it wasn’t so much our different beliefs that hurt me, it was his utter intolerance of my faith. He would constantly put me down for it, he would call me brain washed, ignorant, hypocrite, a science-hater. And he said several times that he had every intention of changing me. I couldn’t understand it. I never put him down for what he believed in and I have so much love and respect for science and progress. I didn’t want to change him but I did want him to understand me, my view on love, and what drives me in my faith. Friendly, intellectually rewarding, and enriching debates (that we use to enjoy having with one another) would turn into a stifling of my ideas and feelings. It got to the point where he would not allow me to express deeply how I felt about anything. He would shut me up if I even spoke to him about my emotions or things unrelated to science and religion that were getting to me in the relationship. He would always say that I was narrow minded and he didn’t want to talk to me about emotions, how I felt or about what was important to me. Throughout all this he peppered our time together with frequent and lengthy silent treatments and would completely ban me from his life. Something would upset him and instead of working it out in love he seemed to prefer just cutting me off like I was some type of tumor to teach me my lesson. I would feel guilty, we would work it out later, he would come back (after I learned my lesson like I was a child that needed to be taught how to behave)and it would just happened again. It was awful. Finally a time came when the only time we enjoyed being together was when we were just watching TV. It made me sad to watch this all unravel because I love him so deeply and he was quite faithful. But it didn’t seem that his faithfulness was out of love but more or less convenience. To him, it is more convenient and conducive to a stress free life to be faithful in a relationship. It wasn’t like hey, I love you and genuinely care for your well being and want to see you happy, that’s why I want to be faithful. I don’t know if that makes sense? I felt like he treated me in a manner that was similar to his pet dog. He loved his dog, he played with his dog, he bought his dog treats and toys…but that was the extent of it. If his dog misbehaved he would yell and the dog would stop doing what upset him. It’s like that is what he expected out of me. He couldn’t connect on a deeper level it seemed. He always needed to be right even at the expense of our relationship and he was never genuinely sorry about anything. There was some type of wall there and I tried so hard to express it to him in words but I couldn’t. And every time I did he would take offense and turn it around on me, like it was my fault. Like I brought that out of him. He just couldn’t understand how I felt about him and I couldn’t express to him the abandonment I felt every time he would leave. When we were together I didn’t feel safe approaching him with problems or things I needed help with. And now, looking back on it all, he said he loved me but he was never there when I needed him during a hard time.

Reply

Grace February 11, 2014

Thanks Chris for your feedback. I think boundary setting is a start in the right direction. My eyes were really opened only a few years ago as to what was going on with my mother (my father is not in the picture). I was in a desperate place and started to realise something was not right with our family dynamic. I now realise what I thought of as ‘normal’ behaviour was in fact ‘faulty’. I knew something was wrong but didn’t realise to what extent until I was really on the verge of a breakdown from the stress. As soon as my mother started to see a change in me, the problems ramped up a notch and has culminated in a 5 month break which was a HUGE thing for me. My brother has kept in contact during this time to ensure she is ok. Her actions, ‘bad atmosphere creating’, rages were affecting our whole family including my teenage son, who fortunately has been resilient through this, even though my mother tried to undermine both my husband and I to him over the years. So like you, I love my mother and have compassion for her, but unfortunately she just won’t take any accountability for her actions.

I know people who have had really hard starts in life and have come through great people and then there are those like my mother (and yours) who have obviously had hard starts in life and their problems just continue for a lifetime. I go back and forth on the whole ‘personal responsibility’ on this. Everyone is given a choice. You mentioned that you have decided to not take things personally as it’s just the NPD – I use to think this too, but from much reading it would appear that some psychologists do believe that people with NPD do know what they’re doing because there is quite a lot of lying/deception that goes on to cover things up. Whether this is the case or not, I am not sure, but in my instance it does seem to marry up with what has gone on for over 20+ years with my family. Like you my mother has disliked my brother’s spouse and my spouse and caused all sorts of problems over the years. Our spouses have been kind and respectful the whole time, but have come to a stage in their lives (like my brother and I) that it’s all getting a bit long in the tooth and they’re not willing to be in the firing line anymore.

So I’m not sure if I’ve posed more questions, but I am meeting my mother in a few days with my brother to see if there is a way we can move forward in a functional manner, which is what has brought me to this website. Reading up on good boundary setting information.

Thanks again Chris for your interest and I wish you all the best. Like you, I am sure Caroline will give some input when she has time. Regards.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade February 12, 2014

Hi guys,

Have you taken a look at all the previous articles I’ve written on this topic? They’re all collected under the empathy vs narcissism tab and there’s one specifically on narcissistic parents.

As to any specific questions/situations/dilemma’s posted in this thread, I read everything, but generally no longer respond to comments on this post since a lot of different questions have been asked and addressed in the comments above in various places (and yes, that’s a lot of reading, but it’s worth going through, you’ll note the themes brought up are often very similar and the experiences people share are very helpful and insightful to read). For any new questions that come up, I do collect them and write about them in due time when I feel I have something coherent and general enough to say in the form of an article (sometimes, it comes down to fleshing out personal situations, and I can’t do that in a post).

Since this post is quite popular, responding to all comments was getting a little overwhelming for me. So trust that I will read what is written, and feel free to help each other out and ask questions, but know that -as stated just below the article- I am no longer posting replies here 99% of the time.

If anyone visiting this page would like to continue the conversation with someone else who has posted here, I’d be happy to ask that person for permission to share their e-mail with you so that you can contact each other personally if you’d both like to.

Some food for thought: often, the questions we ask are more important and fruitful than the anwers anyone can give.

Dealing with narcissists is messy, generates a lot of questions, and we all need to find our own way as to what we will and will not put up with and how we handle and process that. I’m happy to see that this article provides a “click” and explanation for so many people. One that, necessarily, raises lots of new questions, and brings up issues for clarification and healing. That’s a good thing.

Reply

Jenn February 12, 2014

I have a question. Does their life ever catch up with them? They seem so happy to live in their own world. They continue to blame and project. I know it is so that they can believe that what they have done was “justified” but it still really hurts. The people that we thought we knew were not what we thought. Other people from family to friends do not see them for what they are. They see us as the problem.
I struggle that they cause so much destruction and continue to cause pain to their kids, even adult kids and yet continue to seem happy with their decisions.
Am I wrong to see them want to fail? Does that make me as wrong as them? It is not easy to watch them “get it all”
My father was also a narcissists as to why I married one. He was happy until the day he died.
Sometimes I wish I too was a narcissists. Living in my own world where I would never have to take responsibility for anything and nothing was my fault. Thinking that I was perfect. Seems like an okay place since Karma rarely catches with them since it was not their fault!
Please help me to understand

Reply

Grace February 13, 2014

My heart feels heavy for you Jenn when I read your post. I do think karma has already caught up with these people as the people closest to them (ie. you) have recoiled from them!

Reply

Chris February 13, 2014

Thanks for the link Caroline – that’s very helpful and much appreciated.

Grace, good luck with your meeting. I’m really sorry to hear about your experiences and you have a good heart wanting to at least try and get things resolved. Myself, I’ve a 2 or 3 meetings lately in the hope of getting them to acknowledge how the repeated episodes of nastiness have really hurt my family. But they just say they have a different “interpretation” of those events. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any acknowledgment at all of the very upsetting rows they have caused. As you say, they never take responsibility!

Yes, I think you are right that they know what they are doing and lie/cover things/backtrack etc and it does seem strange how some people have awful upbringings but don’t go on to develop NPD.

My parents simply cannot stand the fact that my wife no longer wants to go round to see them. This obviously means they are no longer in control of her…..plus I suspect they may be worried about losing face with the neighbours if they notice and start asking why they haven’t seen her.

The point is a simple apology or even just some acknowledgement would go so, so far to help us but I doubt that will ever happen as everything is usually “swept under the carpet” until the next incident. But as you say, there comes a time when you cannot cope with things any longer…everyone has their breaking point, especially when it starts making you ill….

Best of luck and let us know how your meeting goes!

Reply

Jenn February 14, 2014

Grace,

I wish I believed that Karma has caught up with him but has not. He has what he the life that he wants. He sees the kids when he wants. He doesn’t care that he isn’t there for the everyday things as it would interfere with his life.
It has been almost 2 years and he has yet to introduce the kids to his GF or even acknowledge that he is with her even though he lives with her. He never has them over to their place. This way he can continue to play the victim. He continues to tell the kids how his GF had nothing to do with our divorce and he wants them in his life he just doesn’t want anything to do with me.
It was me that he threw away. Tells the kids how unhappy he was for so many years and he only stayed in marriage because of them.
He never mentioned his unhappiness to me until I discovered his deceit.

Reply

Grace February 16, 2014

Jenn – I’m sorry to hear all that you are walking through. Try not to feel de-valued by these actions, you are a valued person and obviously he did not deserve you.

Chris – My brother and I met with our mother. To say my stomach was doing double somersaults was an understatement. Bottom line – it went better than we had expected. Started feistily, but we managed to end with a coffee and some chit-chat. It appeared that mother genuinely could not see our points on a couple of topics which largely related to ‘rage incidents’ where she projects what she actually did and how she behaved on to me. (I had read about ‘projection’ but it is unsettling to see it played out in my mother with me as the target – I can only imagine this is the disorder and is related somehow to the trauma she has suffered). Nevertheless, projection is very interesting to watch out for.

On the other hand she did seem to acknowledge that losing 25 years of closeness with our spouses was not good and that she understands now that children marry into other cultures and it’s best to accept it rather than giving endless opinions and assuming things.

What I learned over these past months when I was effectively ‘de-coupled’ from my mother was: ‘be your authentic self’. I had lost myself and had become an extension of her. I am now finding myself again and realise that this is not a crime to be independent and happy. Some parents crush this by constantly controlling your with their ‘disappointment’. This was a big learning curve for me.

My concern now is that my mother is also being authentic. I know she wants the ‘family’ back together, but my brother and I are concerned that the ‘pot may be boiling below the lid’. Time will tell, we have set our boundaries in place, so we will continue on along this journey. Thanks for your interest Chris.

Grace

Reply

Kema February 20, 2014

This is awesome. I sat in my room last night praying for well over an hour about him last night. I finally understood that no matter what I did I couldn’t force him to love me or allow me to love him. There was somethin mg wrong with him psychologically that forced him to treat me the way he did and get angry about the things he did.

But this makes so much sense. I am relieved knowing there is a reason for it and I an not just a failure because I couldn’t fix it. Thank you.

Reply

Chris February 20, 2014

Hi Grace,

I’m really glad to hear your meeting wasn’t a disaster and that you have set some boundaries in place – I hope they work! It’s hard isn’t it when you see a glimpse of how things could be…we are creatures of hope. It’s good she accepts that alienating spouses is not fruitful behaviour and also good to hear you are allowing yourself to be you. I am also starting to do the same. As you say, time will tell whether things remain stable and I really hope they do for you. The best thing is that your conscience can be very clear as you have done all you can.

One thing I have certainly come to realise is that it’s incredibly hard to persuade a narcissist even with material evidence (tried this!), facts and logic. Now Mum truly realises my wife can’t face any more aggro and isn’t coming back she is furiously backpedalling and saying that my wife is the best thing since sliced bread whilst trying to shift all the blame for the latest row on my young daughter (completely despicable)!! I have to now decide whether to send an email back defending my little girl or whether this is just going to stoke up their fire even more. As I said, I’ve come to realise you’ll never really persuade a narcissist so I’m thinking I won’t bother and it’s best that we just stay away for another long period. I think my wife staying away will certainly be a sobering thought for them, just like your husband seems to have been with your Mum…

All the best.
Chris

Reply

Jennifer Lynne February 21, 2014

Thank you so much for that whole blog!!!! I needed to hear and understand sooo much about narcissists. For 14mos I put up with a lot there are no words! I’m still in love with thw dream but I haven’t gone back thank GOD!!!! Not supplying his finances for three mos he has put me in that old appliance category. It hurts but I’ve been reading a lot about this behaviour and its really helped me with healing!!! I would love to hear more from you its so rewarding and brings me back up again THANK YOU!!!!

Reply

Grace February 21, 2014

Hi Chris, yes you are right – it is good to know that our consciences are clear and that we are good people who seek to do the right thing. Also on the point of trying to convince a narcissist with facts and logic (yes, same for us – completely useless). It’s like they are wired differently and actually see the world differently to us on this point.

Also the same situation with my brother’s wife in particular – mother would not have a bar of her for 20+ years but in my recent ‘no contact phase’ she reached out to her to try to get her assistance and mediate. As you can imagine – this was a no go. My sister in law is beautifully mannered, but did not fall for this for one minute and told her so.

I read a funny phrase recently which describes it perfectly. ‘Plasticity of the moment’ Syndrome – which basically means they will change their mind on anything they may have previously disagreed with because it now suits their current agenda.

As for writing anything down – from my experience your displeasure will only feed their ‘narcissistic supply’ and so the cycle continues.

I think your wife staying away is a good move and your little girl. I had the dilemma with my teenage son as I didn’t want to feel I was depriving his Grandma from seeing him. I realised though, that if I couldn’t deal with her, I wouldn’t put my son out there on the front line to deal with her either.

Our mothers push us away with their bad behaviour, although they would have us believe otherwise. I’m heading up to about 3 years since I had that ‘light bulb moment’ and realised something was terribly wrong with my mum, but slowly I am realising more and more that God has given us all freedom to live our lives as we wish (as individuals) and nobody should try to take this freedom away from us. They are our mothers not our God.

More power to you Chris and your wife and daughter as you navigate these tricky waters. Grace

Reply

Stan February 23, 2014

Hi Everyone,
My wife and I lost a daughter,7 years ago to a man with NPD. We now have 3 grandchildren we never seen. It all stared so weird. He mad crazy comments almost immediately. Like, he will not visit his dying grandmother of 87, anymore, because she is a quitter and is giving up on life. He is also not buying Christmas gifts for nieces and nephews (ages 2&4) who do not appreciate him.
I told my daughter something is wrong with a person that thinks like that.
It was not too long afterwards he tested her. She has a medical problem that requires surgery every few years. She was 24 than. She told us we were not allowed to see her in the hospital and he would care for her in his home until she recovered. Well, she never did come home. He told us he was taking our daughter when they got engaged. He than told us he did not need us in their life. What we cannot figure out, was our daughter was strong willed with a good job. He cannot hold a job but made her quite her job. She told us in order to get back in their lives her husband needs praise from both of us. We refuse to praise him for anything. They live in a 100 year old home in desperate need of repair and have nothing. She has no friends or family and never gets out. She says ,she is truly blessed to have him and their family and does not need us, unless we can except and praise her husband. We do not understand how our daughter forgot what we had as a family and no longer cares about us. I should mention we seen our daughter 7 years ago at his house. We told her the house was a dump and we would help them get a better place. He went insane, when she told him. Several months later after no contact from her, we went to the his house to talk with them, and he called the police. We had to go to the police station and we were both charged with harassment. After they were married and had their first child she called us and said we could come over. We went and he came outside with our daughter and said: “Its payback time you well never see our daughter” He called the police again and said we came their to harass them. We spent over $20,000.00 on attorney bills and was found not guilty. We do not think we well ever get her back in our lives. I am not a good writer but need to write. We both been to numerous counselors and time does seem to ease the pain. My mother died in July 2013 and our daughter and her husband did come to the viewing. He never lets her go anywhere alone. I taled to her and asked her if we could try and move forward with a relationship. we started writing and got one telephone call. We sent gifts for the grandchildren for Christmas and Valentines Day. It seemed to be going well. Than we got a letter saying he needed something from us to move forward, a apology and a thank you for the good life he has given our daughter. We send a nice letter back stating we did not want to rehash the past and want to move forward by meeting with our daughter alone. He already said we could not see the children unless he was present. We just got a typed letter back saying it is from our daughter. We do not want any more gifts from people the children do not know. She cannot see us unless he is present and we must give him what he requested.

Reply

Chris February 25, 2014

Thanks a lot Grace – you talk a lot of sense and have really helped me to process a lot of thought. I really hope things keep going on a good track for you. God bless and thanks again for your help and sharing your experience with me. Bye for now, Chris

Reply

Love March 1, 2014

I moved to another state with my son to be with my N. I gave all of my money, time,love, and care. He used me and my family until he couldn’t anymore. One month before we were supposed to marry he dumped me and my son. Took everything, and sent us back to our home state with only our clothes. He did all of this knowing that I had given up my house, sold my car because he gave me his old one, and then took it back. He had nothing when I met him and I was doing well. I feel so used. Now I am left to pick up the pieces for me and my son. My son called him Dad and loved him. The sick bastard is now flaunting on social media all that we built together while I lay on a blow up bed with my son on the floor. I feel hurt, rage, and disgust. I pray that we heal quickly.

Reply

Michelle March 17, 2014

I am so sorry. I pray that you and your son are well. This is very sad.

Reply

Grace March 4, 2014

Love, I’m hearing you! I relate to giving your all to someone and how hurtful this can be when it all goes pear-shaped. If there is anything good to come of this, it is the fact that you and your son are no longer with the N and you are a lot wiser for the experience. Your life sounds so hard now, but it would have only ended up even ‘more ugly and hard’ in the years to come. Cut your losses, re-build your lives from brokenness to wholeness. From a person who’s been there – don’t let your anger stop you from moving on and getting the life you really want for you son and yourself. All the very best as you travel along this road. Grace

Reply

Michelle March 17, 2014

I need help. I believe my husband is a narcissist, yet I can’t stop thinking that everything is my fault. I have been with him for 30 years. I am wondering constantly if I am the narcissist, and maybe it is my fault. I also am suffering from deep depression. I keep thinking about leaving, but I don’t want to leave my kids. I have learned a lot about narcissism and have discovered that my father was one. I have a counselor, but our meetings are few and far between. There are a lot of comments above that I can relate to, which is giving me the guts to write such personal stuff to strangers on this site. I guess the thing that confuses me the most is that dotes on the kids, especially the youngest, and ignores me, except when he needs something. I don’t know what a normal relationship feels like. I have been told so many times that I am not normal, that I really can’t straighten this out in my mind. I feel resentful that he can ignore our relationship so easily
and begin to wonder if I am the narcissist.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade March 21, 2014

Michelle,

If he’s a narcissist, it’s worth thinking about the impact that will have on the kids in the long run. Other people have commented on that in other places in this post. It’s also worth considering what kind of relationship you are modeling to your kids. If he routinely ignores you, then that is what your kids come to see as a “normal relationship”. There’s more at stake here than whether he dotes on them or not, other things to consider. It’s worth talking through those things with your counselor (or get a new counselor). Either way, what good will his one-sided doting do, if it’s destroying you? (You’re their mom!). I believe kids need a happy mom, not one who suffers “for” them. How do YOU want to be as a mom, and what do you need to be able to be that person?

Reply

Anonymous March 23, 2014

Thank you Caroline. I thank God that I haven’t experience this kind of situation. This topic is very helpful. Thanks for sharing your ambition with us. My eyes are open.

Reply

Empty Charm March 29, 2014

I’m figuring out that I am a narcissist and I am horrified. And isn’t that sentence an example of narcissistic manipulation? “Hey, I’m so conscious and self-aware that I FEEL bad about discovering what I am. Now give me some attention and sympathy and tell me how cool I am for knowing.” I am very afraid, I don’t know what to do. When I realize how I hurt people, lovers in particular, I dump a shit storm of guilt and self hatred all over myself for not really caring. And then I double down on that because I think the self recrimination is phony, just an attempt to convince myself that I do have empathy. It’s such a trap and endless cycle of negative reinforcement. I don’t really care, therefore I am garbage for not really caring. I think maybe I should just pay attention and never, ever have a relationship with anyone again.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade March 31, 2014

Hi Empty Charm, I believe there is a way out for sure (how far out depends on many factors, including your actions), and that much of it revolves around whether you’re willing to truly deal with your own emotions. I’ve written a general article here on this. Finding a therapist who is knowledgeable about narcissism, AND who works with emotions directly too would be key.

I know e.g. that Dr Phil has resources on his site, of therapists he’s recruited to work with people who’ve been on the show. He’s had narcissists on his show. That could be a good place to start (his therapist listings). You might need to work with different people over time, but the important thing is to start somewhere. Healing is a personal journey, there’s no one size fits all, so you’ll need to find your own route and get help along that route. Pick someone who can see through you, not someone you’re comfortable with because you know you can outsmart or manipulate them.

Reply

Archer Unknown April 1, 2014

Hi, i really need an advice, so if you got the time to listen, i need your help.

he’s workaholic, selfish, critical, self-centered, and ambitious about fame. he said once that his priorities were always college and his YouTube cover videos first, and then relationship. how do you know if he is a narcissist or just didn’t like me enough to work it? we’ve been together for 8 months and I’ve had enough, but i can’t tell if the problem was mine by giving always more into this commitment emotionally, and he never give enough of it, sometimes it was just none emotion. i always felt for months that something was not right, but i couldn’t know quite right what or why, so i kept testing him, and I’ve seen the worst behavior from him. My friends were always saying to me that i should break up (that he’s to selfish, he want different things, and he’s not right for me) but i ignored it, and i tried to do something about it… but it only it got worst. i only saw the real him, when i finally wanted to broke up for real… he started to disrespect me, he disrespected my mother (when i always gave my house for us to do our thing, since we are gay and he wasn’t out of the closet in public or to his parents – he said that was no problem at all for us to work out as a relationship) and was always putting me down professionally and calling me a kid (that was the only arguments he always had), and i decided to finally break up….

he wanted to stay friends, but i said no, it’s obvious we need space to move on each other and he didn’t even respected me enough to be a friend or respect us not to talk for some months now, what the hell was he thinking? I tried and tried, but i couldn’t reach him, and i still don’t know why. i always gave him space for his life and all other stuff, so i can’t say i was obsessed or anything. when i ended it was a relief, but it’s been a month and it’s been harder then i though. i can tell if it was just me that wasn’t enough for him to love me, and give just like i gave within time, or if he’s a narcissist and i simply couldn’t do nothing anymore, since people never change. he only experience was one relationship that he was cheated, 3 years ago, and it seems that he didn’t let go of it too… not that he still likes him, but i feel his anger about it, resentment for being cheated and thats the excuse he uses for him to be so cold and not believing on the emotional side, and only rational. why was he in this relationship with me after all this time? lol. i believed that it was only a matter of time to get more emotional, but i guess it was a bullshit, and i was only blind. he somehow tricked me to let my self-esteem go down with his general critics about everything, for me to get adapted to him to save this relationship (i tried to end the relationship other times, i just didn’t end it because i was blinded about him), and i forgot to listen to my voice… i feel so stupid.

he has a HUGE ego, that’s why i think he can learn or ear me out when i say he has big problems to resolve with himself as a person. he goes out on the street, and he thinks hes famous everywhere in my country just because of some cover videos he does on YouTube with 1,000 views or less daily. He leaves in a reality that he is better than everyone, he puts himself on a pedestal not only with me, but people in general. (his teachers, partners of work, etc).

i was blinded by his ways… i didn’t know exactly what was wrong, i just felt it. i just though he was insecure, scared (since the lack of experience with relationships and was cheated last time), so i fighted for the relationship, and tried to pull him off the square he lives in. but anyway, i did a research, and i think i can agree with some topics about “the codependent”… is it my fault, for me to be like this, who damaged the relationship? i always had my opinion on things, although, i was always corrected by him in the end, he was always right about everything… i started to shut my mouth, because he said i was always starting fights, when i was just speaking my mind of what i think it was wrong generally.

It’s been a really painful phase of my life, with so much happening in my professional life, i feel i can’t focus anymore, or feel like doing anything at all at the end of the day.

Recently i’ve came to know he is inviting fans to go to the cinema with him on Facebook, how lame is that? Lol. Even yesterday, after 1month and 2 weeks of no contact with him, he added me on GooglePlus, and i think it was on purpose?! All i wanted was him to say sorry, at least, and it would be so much better for me to go on… i’m afraid to see him with another guy, doing all the things he never did with me, like love him and treat him right? can a selfish/narcissist have that? he never did say he loved me though. i’m confused between if he never said he loved me, so all this happened, or he really is narcissist and he can’t love me. oh well.

help me on this one, thanks.

Reply

Kristian April 10, 2014

Hi

Could you view this situation as narcissistic motivated?.

My father who is now 60+ grew up on a farm, and has also worked as a pig farmer almost his entire life. But he never liked horses, he has never showed much interest at all, and call them names i cant translate to english.
Nothing seriously, we often joke and laugh about it.

But today, at the dinner table he suddenly says he wants a horse or a pony, and is very interested, and motivated.

I (27years) ask him very puzzled: Why??! why do you want an horse you always hated horses..

Reply: Because i never had one

I, still very puzzled and baffled, my mother included: Is it because of the girls? (my brothers 3 girls, who sometimes wish for a pony).

Reply: Yes (Or i think that was what he says.. It seemed very, clear/unclear)

…. ?.

Now, i know this would be a nice thing to do. And i do the same thing often, we are all somewhat narcissistic, part of life.

But, its like… A succesful singer who says its all about his fans, all for them. Nothing without them.
Is he a hero, or..

Id like to add more.. But yeah..
My dad is not a bad man, at all.
Yet, of all the comments from him, on my career path. The only comments i remeber is when i failed at a school.
I was told that no one will ever like me, if i dont do something, become something.
No one will ever want me. “No one will ever want you..”

And he has the theme: It is good to be needed.

I cant pickup the television remote control without hearing in the same split second.
“Channel 15.. 2… 22″

Often feels like i cant have a mind of my own.

Reply

Jen April 16, 2014

In some ways, this article is a bit of a life saver for me. I’ve been grappling with feelings of rejection and not being good enough after I did all I could to make this person know that I love him. I just got out of a relationship with him, and he fits to a “T” the description of someone with NPD. I felt I could never truly connect with him; he wouldn’t let me in. Now I realize he didn’t have the capacity to let me in. I always felt nothing I did was good enough. A week after we broke up, he asked me if I was in love with him. When I asked him if he was in love with me, he said, “I’m in love with the person I know you can be, with the happy person in that picture (he had text me a picture of us in happier times).” In other words, when I was a brand-new, highly functioning iPod. Now that there’s a new generation iPod out and I don’t have the functions it has, he has moved on to something shinier and better. I was both relieved and sad when our relationship ended because it had become increasingly emotionally abusive–he was shutting me out and saying cruel things to me, and I couldn’t love him the way he wanted me to. Since our last conversation, I have cut off communication with him completely. I felt it was best for both of us.

Reply

Kris July 6, 2014

I take a deep breath and say “thank you” I was dating a retired athlete for 4 years and I knew something was wrong but I kept hoping my love would pierce his heart. I thought it was concussions from the past or his career of being in the spot light. He was always asking me to loose weight, or he didn’t like my cloths. I have long hair he never wanted it up around him I had to put my hair down. I always put it down for him even if I did not like it. I never felt like I was good enough for him and then he never wanted to talk or open up on a deep level. I go through periods of missing him just because I loved the time we spent together. Now I realize I was nothing more than object an appliance he has no real love to share. I was an object or a doll to him and when I did not lose weight he told me to move on. He felt like I needed to prove I loved him. Wow I have to be crazy myself, but I honestly went for all he said. Still going through cause I have unconditional love and it’s hard cause I don’t want to be bitter. What to do in the mean time this falling in love with the idea of love cause I see now he never loved me. What sucks even more he probably already has some new object of his desire while I am stuck. Deep Breaths!

Reply

Amanda Panda May 19, 2014

I have been in a relationship with a narcissist for five years. It took me this long to fully realize what was going on with him. But after reading this it has put alot of things into place. This was truely helpful, Thank you.

Reply

Neil May 22, 2014

I must thank you for writing this so clearly, everything you said here I have lived it in great pain, and you explained it so well. I have tried to win the love of a woman for the last 14 years, but I could not change a SINGLE thing about the way she feels or behaves. I finally decided to move on, but i have paid for my freedom with the price of loosing my children to her.

Being married to a narcissistic woman is one of the most taxing things in life, it feels like the very woman who is supposed to love you goes at you with a hammer and chisel chipping away at your being bit by bit non-stop until she leaves you depleted and defeated and you suffer from the effects long after you leave them!

Thanks for sharing this and I wish those in it and those who made it out (like me) the best of luck in recovering from such a traumatic relationship. My biggest loss is my children, she has slowly turned them against me and i know I have lost them for now.. but I do believe in karma and one day the truth shall be out.

Reply

Tabitha May 23, 2014

…Reading this instantly put my soul at ease…

Reply

Barb Bowen August 27, 2014

I did the same for me!!! It never occurred to me until reading this blog that the man I so Loved was this person.

Reply

Christie June 1, 2014

Help! I fell for a man that is a mild narcissist, I believe. I am probably a hsp, but I am guilty of participating in this messed up situation. I am married, yet responded to his romantic overtures (missing this in my marriage). We did not physically act on them, but did virtually through sensual/sexual messages online. Anyway, after I had opened my heart to him in emotional as well as physical ways for a few months, he suddenly ended it, telling me that he had a deepening of his relationship with his significant other (another married woman–yes, I know this is a mess. I did not know that he was seeing this woman when he first started making overtures to me. All three of us are in the same social group, but they kept their relationship hidden, probably b/c she is married to someone else).

When he “broke up” with me, I didn’t respond for about 3 weeks. I was devastated, and extremely confused. Then I sent him a message apologizing for my silence. He was out of town for an extended period of time, and he wanted us to meet to “talk over” things before we saw each other in our social group. I have been insanely busy, so we are planning a meeting, but have already seen each other in the group. I have been crushed by how he has acted around me in the group. The first time he was very cold towards me. He and his girlfriend have gone out of their way to be very affectionate towards each other when they know I can see them, which hurts a lot. What’s crazy is that I have not pursued him, and I have definitely not had any romantic correspondence with him since he “broke up” with me. So I am perplexed and confused and hurt by this very hard push from both of them. In fact, he flirts with other women in front of me in this group, but is still a bit stiff around me, and he doesn’t talk with me about the things we used to talk about for fun. I have been hoping to at least have a friendship with him, because I felt that we had become very close emotionally. I was willing to go through the pain of still being in love with him but just having a friendship to keep the deep connection. But now I don’t know what I’m going to say at our “talk.” I’m really hurting, and I’m a little angry now, too. Am I insane to try to have a friendship with this guy? If he is only a mild narcissist, can he have a positive and caring friendship with me?

Reply

Eunice June 3, 2014

The appliance analogy is perfect as in I always saw myself as an object when I was married to my ex-husband. My first knowledge of the word “narcissist” was approximately seven years into our marriage and I was struggling to understand that man. I prayed and asked God to help me even to the point of conditioning me to change to make our relationship work. Then that word popped into my head and I began my research on the topic. Amazing accurate. I might add that he may suffer from a multiple of personality disorders but this for sure. Anyway, I divorced him but the residue is still there as I have to deal with him due to our two children together. DAMN!!!!! When will I be free of his craziness. Anyway, just praying that my two boys don’t inherit his mindset. I actually feel sorry for people who suffer in this way both on the giving and receiving ends. God bless us all who have ever dealt with a Narcissists.

Reply

Oceanwave_59 June 9, 2014

You nailed it:
Bottom line, “It is impossible to love or be loved by a narcissist”.
I reread this page when I remember a fond moment of the one I loved.
I call it my NA meeting (narcissist anonymous). It helps me a lot to enforce why I can only love him from a distance.

Truth be told we became addicts to them in our own ways.

Your writings on this subject are appreciated.
Peace, love, joy~

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade June 9, 2014

having your own NA meeting ritual, love that!

Reply

Kay June 11, 2014

Just found this site and now know that I am not going mad! – thank you – all the comments and stories are so helpful. I have been struggling with this for 20 + years. I know it’s time to get out but I don’t know how :(

Reply

Steve June 12, 2014

Hi there,
I think I’m a narcissist (pretty sure both my parents were), my shrink said I was.
Anyway I just want to know, is there any help for me? I want to love someone properly and be loved properly. Been going through a lot lately and need help.

Reply

Jenna July 18, 2014

Hi i think its amazing u are able to realize and admit. I just want to know how you come to accept that u are a narcissist?

Reply

Ray June 13, 2014

I have been in a five and a half year relationship with a psychotherapist whom I have come to believe is a covert narcissist. It is over now but I am so screwed up it is unbelievable. I can not help but believe she knows she is a narcissist with her education and that she is ok with it and uses it to her advantage. That really makes me angry to think she knows on some level what she does and has the psychological training to really be proficient at her abuse and then flips it onto me. I still love her for some reason. I get mad at her, feel sorry for her, want to run from her, want to run to her, want to help her, don’t want to waste my time trying to help. Now I can’t be with anyone else because I’m so screwed up, I know it, and it wouldn’t be fair to them. I think to some degree I will always love her, I don’t know if I can ever love again. I don’t even know why I am telling you this because it seems so hopeless and yet I know I want to love again.

Reply

Irene June 21, 2014

WOOWW.. Thank You ! You just awake and save me
It’s exactly what i’m feeling right now. He never wanted everything to be solved, keep the distance and at the time he needed me then i’ll be just like an appliance..
So it’s good just to letting go someone who doesn’t want to grow with us :)
Thanks much for this.

Reply

jenelle June 21, 2014

Thank you for this information.. Truly enlightening.. I just broke up with my ex for good who wanted to stay in my life as friends.. He is a narcissist and I been trying to figure out why my love for him was reciprocated the same way.. I didn’t know he was a narcissist until I read this article.. I feel so relieved now that I did make the right decision to cut him off completely and move on.. He prob is enjoying himself at this very moment while I am here testing articles to give me strength at this time.. I def have learnt my lesson and don’t ever want to get back involved with a narcissist.. They really drain your joy and strength.. Thanks again for this information.. Truly helped me now I can go sleep in peace. Goodnight

Reply

Kim June 23, 2014

This is a really good article on the subject. If you find yourself fighting the same ole battles never moving on past them that’s a sign too you’re with a narcissistic partner. It will break you down emotionally if you let them continue to be in your life. Put distance between you. And know what you deserve better. They will guilt you. But just look straight ahead and keep walking.

Reply

Taylor July 1, 2014

Thank for this, you helped me out of a hole I found myself in.

I confronted her on her narcissism, and she did as the article said, cut me out of her life and tried to make me feel guilty for confronting her.
Her artful amnesia made a mockery of what our relationship was, and she thinks she can bury it under lies. Unfortunately for her I have an Eidetic memory and what memories I do have, I do not forget, assuming I don’t drink. Even though I tolerated her artful amnesia, I was completely aware of it there entire time.
She heard what she needed to her, so hopefully that’s enough.

My dad is even more of a Narcissist than she is. He managed to fulfill he dream like she wants to, using people left and right in the process. Now he has no friends, no wife, and no family. Out of 3 of his children, only two of them make contact with him and that’s at arms reach.
I see the road she is taking and I wish her luck.

I love her unconditionally, and will always love her, but for my health, I can’t subject myself to that treatment.

Reply

Doreen July 3, 2014

Thank You!!! I have been searching for what seems like forever to understand my ex-girlfriend and why things went sideways. Things were great at the beginning and then for no reason BOOM, things would blow up. I am the ‘giver’ and she is the Narc. I have been struggling for a month since the last break up of many. All of my friends pointed out the red flags along the way, but my standard answer was always ‘she is a really great person in there somewhere’. I have finally gotten to the healthy, angry part of me and do realize I am worthy of having someone in my life the values what I have to offer emotionally and physically. I just can’t understand how someone who is supposed to care just doesn’t. A bit more challenging because I am a lesbian and sometimes it seems that is harder to find people out there. I will when I am ready, I guess. I need to heal from my 9 month roller coaster ride with a narcissist.

Reply

Rhonda July 12, 2014

I really thought, I found the perfect one. In the beginning, she wanted me to know how she isnt an easy person to be with. She would just focus on her issues and never to concerned with mine. She would always text me that she loved me so much. Wanted to move in right away and meet the family. Things were going fast and slow if that makes any sense. She had me at bay. I could only see her when she wanted. We only lived 12 miles apart. I seen her only on the weekends. If lucky an occasional weekday. Her needs and friends or dogs came first. She is the life of the party and is great when everything is going well. Her other issue was she has ADHD. So I needed to understand her feelings. When things in my life fell apart is when she bailed on me.Turning everything around and blaming me. To this day, she is angry with me and I don’t know why? She ended it. My eyes are just opening up to her now. I’ve fallen into a deep depression and seeking counseling,because my self esteem is so low. I guess,I couldn’t understand how someone can just switch thier feelings like that one day,they adore you and then they hate you. I found myself stuck blaming myself. Maybe, I’m co dependent because I find myself trying to reach out to her and get rejected each time.

Reply

nicki July 18, 2014

this describes my ex boyfriend (father of our unborn child) to a t. he lied about being from ireland, has a fake accent he uses, sought attention from people even when we were together. now with our break up, he plays the victim for everyone to see. whenever he did something i didn’t agree with (no woman in a committed relationship would,) he would flip out on me and tell me how i have issues i need to work on. now that i am pregnant, he doesn’t want to be involved with me because what we had was unhealthy (i asked him questions about a few females he was talking to that clearly hit on him and liked him more than a friend that didn’t respect me or our relationship but he plays the i “interrogated him” card to everyone.) he says he wants to be there for me and our child, doesn’t want me to move on and eventually be friends and possibly work out again in the future. i have mentioned therapy, he says he wants to go, then tells me how it wont change anything. how does one move on from this? i am a forgiving person, i love this man that i thought i knew and i want him to get help.

Reply

Sarah July 25, 2014

Thank you. So very encouraging and validating. I could particularly relate to the realization that:

“The ability to see other people at a deeper level, requires the ability to see ourselves at a deeper level.”

and that when (or if) healing is ever to come to a person with NPD, he or she must first learn how to express unconditional love directed inward. I can imagine how difficult this must be, especially after years of reinforcement–to see into one’s own soul and recognize one’s Narcissism as damaging and hurtful, and then be able to love oneself in spite of it, not because of it? What a radically different worldview from the classic Narcissistic worldview.

I find also interesting that you speak so much of a metaphorical “blocked” or “unavailable” heart, or a heart “behind a door.” Consider Dr. Bradley Nelson’s research on heart-walls… there may be a clue here. Many (non-Narcissists) have described the experience of having their heart-walls removed as that precise feeling of the “magic door” to their heart being unlocked. My Narcissist tested as having a very thick heart-wall, made up of the emotion “Blaming”–which was -inherited- from a parent. Imagine having your heart surrounded by a wall of Blame from birth. Narcissism makes some more sense in this context.

Alas, as you say, it is incredibly important to remember that we are not responsible for the Narcissists in our lives–the healing has to come to them from within. But for any Narcissists out there, feeling a rare moment of vulnerability and openness, whose souls are begging to be freed from their tyrannical Narcissistic master: look into this heart-wall stuff. You don’t have to stay trapped in there forever.

Reply

Caroline van Kimmenade August 4, 2014

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for your suggestion! I never thought about how Bradley Nelson’s work could help narcissists, but it’s true. Finding “blame” indeed makes a lot of sense. I do get people asking me about this, where to turn for help.

So, this is another option indeed. There are plenty of “Emotion Code” practicioners out there now all over the world (or, it’s possible to get one of Bradley Nelson’s certified practicioners to work with long-distance here: http://www.drbradleynelson.com/freeconsult/ ). The Emotion Code work is very powerful and effective, definitely recommended.

Reply

Emile Foreste July 28, 2014

Thank you so much for this article! After reading through it all the way to the last fullstop, I finally understand truly what narcissism really is all about. It has been something I never even heard of until early this year through online gaming.

The player in the game claims himself as a narcissist and at first I thought it was more of an act, a show, a roleplay persona but now I see the true colors as he is slowly distancing himself from me. Now I know he will most likely completely stop interacting with me when he finds out I have absolutely nothing left to offer him. I have yet to meet anyone in real life that is a narcissist but I am beginning to have strong feelings after reading this post that one other person I know might have NPD.

Thanks again, it was a very educative read for me. I am going to recommend this to my mother and friends. :D

Reply

Mikael August 3, 2014

hello,

4 years relationship with a narcissistic woman…OMG!!!
for what? nothing…4 years for nothing.
promisses, promisses…and then nothing.
laughing, shouting, crying…that was my daily life.
in the beginning, everything was perfect (too much perfect actually).
i called her, she came
i needed to speak, she listened
2 first years where ok, even we had some bad words (who has not???)
then things change :
-i like music, she says “why do you bye so much cd? it is enough i think”.
actually i bought maybe 4 cd in a year.
-i like reading books, she says”why reading so much? it is not good for you”.
actually reading books is my hobby all my life.

all the time she said : “dont think too much”.
of course, thinking was dangerous, now i know why.

all the time she said : “do you love me?”.
really, everyday.

she went sometimes back to her home for 1 or 2 days for cleaning. when i came to her, nothing was done.

her Phone nevers rings (no contact)

she critics everybody : parents, classmades, friends, …

when we wanted to go on holiday, she never helped me, i mean she was never interested in where we go, how we go, where we sleep…i did everything by myself.

No interests, no hobby, no taste for nothing.

She spoke only about marriage, and i told her it is ok, but she has to think about her caracter, that is why i all the time pushed the marriage more far in the future.

She told me : afther marriage everything is ok. I told her that everything should be ok before, that is logical.

it made me so tired, alot of times i pushed her out of my life.

now i know what she is (not who she is), i am feeling sad but free.

sorry for this long toppic, and sorry for some language mistakes, english is not my speaking language.

Succes to all of you

Reply

Rain August 7, 2014

I recognized a lot of the signs in my family members, and the narcissist they are dealing with here is me. What are you supposed to do when, 1. You hate person A and have no intention of interacting with them, B. They still come and annoy you despite you repeatedly saying to their face that they are being annoying and wasting your time, and C. they sabotage your school and workplace relations if you don’t give in to their demands? I am a narcissist, but I can say truthfully that I don’t use or manipulate people. Cut us some slack; people who demand our attention without any regard for plans are even worse than the narcissists you spoke of in the article.

Reply

Jennifer August 13, 2014

My story is beyond devastating to say I am shattered is being kind
First I want you to read the letter I was asked to write to immigration for his fiancée visa “Our Story”

In early September 2011 I received a Facebook friend request from SJF which I accepted. Our families had been very close friends during the time I was in Iraq each summer.
On September 12th while at work I received a message from SJF. We began chatting and somehow hours had passed by as if they were minutes , we totally connected and I felt more accepted , protected , cherished and safe in those few hours than I had ever in my lifetime. We liked the same things, we just fit so well together and I knew right away I never wanted to lose him no matter the cost.
That first few weeks were euphoric, I knew I had to see him. The pain of missing him left me hollow inside I had to find a way to get to Jordan. On October 14th I left Houston to Jordan, I met my cousin in Amsterdam and together we went. Saif was waiting for me at the airport and I remember seeing him standing there with a smile that melted my heart, I flew into his arms and never wanted to be separated from him again. We spent 5 days and nights together, my cousin and I checked into the Marriott but I left with him that night and stayed at his apartment. Some afternoons we would go back to the hotel and visit with my cousin and a few times he left me to attend classes. We were so in love , so attuned to each other , when I look at our photos together from that first trip I see a smile on my face that I have never seen before , if a person can glow than I was glowing . Age didn’t matter – nothing mattered except we were together…. It was heaven on earth until it was time to leave. Those last few seconds before we said goodbye I saw tears in his eyes and he said “Jenny please come back “I promised I would, I didn’t know how or when but I knew I would be back
As my flight took off that morning, I looked out the window below at Amman, silently thanking god once again for giving me this amazing gift of love, for allowing this trip to happen, pleading with him not to keep us apart long and praying for strength to face what was ahead. I cried the entire flight – sobbed openly. Mascara running down my face, my nose running – I didn’t care I just wanted SJF. I felt like I was missing a limb – the loss the emptiness was tremendous. So tremendous that within 4 days of arriving back to Houston I was already booked to go back in late November for 10 days!!!
November came and again we were joined at the hip, more in love than ever, more connected. I was actually nervous about seeing him again. Afraid that things might not be the same this time … How wrong I was … We picked up right where we left off 5 weeks earlier … All I could say those first few hours is ” I can’t believe I’m back ” SJF kept looking at me in disbelief kissing my forehead … Hugging me and holding my hands … I couldn’t get close enough to him… Later that night after we devoured each other and he fell asleep I looked up to heaven with tears in my eyes and thanked god once again for this love – for allowing me the next 10 days … Again I asked him to slow down time so we could avoid goodbye as long as possible …. Thanksgiving night we checked into the Marriott for two nights … SJF had a family event to attend and left me for a few hours … I remember laying in the big bed of the royal suite once again talking to god … Asking how could I repay him for this?? What could I have possibly done to deserve so much happiness??
Reality hit me that I was leaving in a few days — all this would be over – I would be back in Houston waking up and sleeping without him without his strong arms to hold me. Once again tears appeared and when our eyes met he knew what I was thinking and as usual all he could do was kiss away my tears and reassure me once again that we are one … No goodbyes … Only see you later …. Which was two days away …Our last day together we just clung to each other … I remember sitting in his lap and sobbing telling him how much I loved him and how unfair I felt our relationship was to him. My heart pounding – I didn’t want to leave him … I was frozen…
He called me on the way to the airport – he sounded lost and said he could not face the apartment alone without me and was at his uncles…. We talked the whole way up until I checked in and boarded the flight … All I remember is the tears and him telling me he loved me … He missed me and begged me to please always be careful – drive carefully made me swear on my love for him that I would not let anything happen to myself …I promised but inside I could not promise anything because I felt like my heart was literally breaking inside and each time I had to leave him a part of me died inside … I thought how can I do this again surely there would be no way to come back anytime soon … My job , my children , my responsibilities ??? But I needed to be with him and did not give up until I found a way to go back in early February and this time I would stay 3 weeks –
I arrived alone this time on February 6th – my cousin joined me two days later. Again we were back at the Marriott in the royal suite – rejoicing in each other’s company and making up for lost time…. I had 3 weeks – 3 weeks to love, spoil and adore this angel god sent me … My god how I loved him. How happy I was …I put out all thoughts of goodbye for now.
We had the most special valentine’s day / night together – SJF surprised me with a big decorated balloon filled with mini balloons and two necklaces … We stayed up all night just holding each other and talking about our lives … Sharing personal stories and just basking in the glow of our love … Our blessing in finding each other We were together every night – in the freezing cold we clung to each other night after night – we watched movies – we took long naps , talked for hours and sat in the most beautiful silence ever – words were not needed. I could not remember how I ever lived before he came into my world and how I was going to live without him again.
My flight left on 2/28 but I had to be at the airport before midnight on 2/27 my birthday … God again I was leaving … The night before at midnight he kissed me and wished me happy birthday … We snuggled on the couch silently mourning inside as this was our last night together … After a beautiful shower together I fell asleep next to my love … He stayed up all night and watched me sleep … When I woke up the next morning and realized he had not slept I was so touched and sad because I could see how tired he was – how he was trying to be strong for me. We were both heartbroken. Later that night on the way to the airport I tried so hard not to cry not to fall apart but once I got out of the car and it was time to go I just held him crying begging him not to make me leave. We held each other him holding my face in his hands kissing my cheeks , my nose , my forehead … Wiping away my tears … When I had to finally let go he just stood there watching me go in – go thru the check in area .. I was openly sobbing again my eyes glued to his for as long as possible – he stayed standing there until we could no longer see each other and I was upstairs in the terminal. I wandered around the duty free shop just crying – so afraid that this was it … I called my cousin who was riding back with him and they were both crying in the car ….she tried to make me laugh but I was completely gutted. When he finally reached the apartment he called me again and once again begged me to please be careful – take care of myself and made me swear by my love for him I would not let anything happen to myself.
How many times can I leave this man and survive I asked god?? How many times can I go home with less and less of me? From September to June of 2012 we had over 20,000 messages on Facebook, phone calls, emails. There was not a day that has passed since the day we met we haven’t been in contact.
My daughters have been frequently upset that I was always leaving and even when I was home I was not fully present. And they were right I was just a shell of a person – my body was in Houston but everything else was with Saif. It hasn’t been easy, we have had long distance relationship hardships at times but I can honestly say now almost a year later that all I want is to be with him, to love him and take care of him, to share my life and my home with him … I love him and cannot wait until we can be married and just know we don’t have to be separated again. I can focus on my children, my work and my love.
I need nothing else in life than to see his face daily, hear his laugh and sleep in his arms. He is everything to me and I don’t care about what people think or our age difference. I love him and we deserve to be together for whatever time god gives us.
now fast forward one year later :(

I was addicted to his extreme over the top love, adoration and affection so completely the exact same treatment that my larger than life Narc my father was – he singled me out as special – his love – his life – his Jennifer – he openly adored me as did him… this was of course as long as I obeyed the rules, the laws, the isolation, no friends, the passiveness and complete control he exerted – if I disobeyed or rebelled I was disowned…

I had no idea the damage this relationship between us would do to me later in life….. All my relationships looking back have been with copies of him

As for my love SJF I worked for a year on his visa , I paid for everything, all those long months he blew hot an cold but all I did was make excuses for him – all I wanted was the one back I fell in love with… I made a total of 6 trips overseas in 2 years to be with him.

I did everything a person could possible due to support and love him , I put myself, my kids ,my life last and always put him first, I brought him to the states so we could be married believing in the love we had him being my soul mate. He terrorized me and my family and tried convinced me that I didn’t treat him right – he humiliated me publically and in front of my family and coworkers. He raged at me over everything big or small, than would sob over how I was hurting him, he followed me around like a little boy lost and was insatiable sexually, he would keep me up all night knowing I had to work the next day and when I said I was tired or not in the mood he would go ballistic. He left the US back to his country after 6 weeks of hell here, he sobbed at the airport begging for forgiveness – promised me the moon just not to leave him… I should have left than instead I held on for 6 more months of being terrorized from overseas… I did not want to give up on him and kept thinking if I could just love him more he would change.

I decided to make one last trip to be with him to see if we could work things out after 6 months apart – on June 5th I left my children , my job, everything and flew overseas to spend a week with him – I wanted to give us another chance… I still thought I could get thru to him- love him enough to keep him calm and loving.
I had done some research on narcissism and convinced myself I could handle it.

After arriving we were on a honeymoon again in separable – he was beyond amazingly loving with me and I fed him his supply all day long I knew if I kept this up he would behave himself and I guess I was testing him to see how long we could go without a rage episode.

From day one he reminded me that I belong to him – he owns me and my body and can have me any time he pleases, he took my phone and deleted 71 contacts he felt I didn’t need – even though I said explicitly I did need them, he went thru my iPad and all my email accounts looking for something to prove I was cheating on him , he tried to take me to a fortune teller that could read the past so he could find out if there was anyone else in my life, he went thru my Facebook account and deleted all photos of me – he deleted my friends he felt I didn’t need – he basically told me that in order to be with him I would have to live with his rules – I could not ever wear heels or boots again, I would have to wear clothes to cover by body, I had to end all my friendships ( lifetime friendships because he felt they were a bad influence) I could never again travel on my own, I could not ever again enjoy the pool or beach without him, I could not go out after 9pm and I had to give him live updates of my every movement – when I left the house to work , when I arrived work, he always had to know where I was and I had to be prepared that at any second he would Tango me to see what I was wearing and where I was. He expected me to leave the states and move to the middle east , he said I would give him my passport to hold and that I could only see my children once a year and with him, I would not drive and he would take me everywhere I needed to go…..
I cringed inside… I loved him… I was willing to do it all just to keep him happy and loving towards me.. I thought in time he will change once im with him and he is secure he will change… I headed home… he held me kissed my forehead at the airport… I didn’t want to let go and we both cried…

One week to the day I left him standing in that airport – he calls me raging cause my phone was dead , said every mean thing you can imagine, I didn’t love him , I didn’t care about him, I wasn’t calling him , I changed , I spoke to him daily by phone and messenger, he said he could not be with a woman he didn’t feel was there for him – that put him first above all else ( I was doing this) he just became more and more hurtful and the more I tried to apologize and begged for another chance I would try harder…. He ended it and he asked to please not hurt him!! Not hurt myself because he was leaving me and if I loved him I would pray to god to send him a woman who deserved his amazing loving heart.

The sad part is that there is so much we enjoyed together – food – movies – conversations, politics, sex was amazing, I loved his sense of humor how he made me laugh.. I loved how he was so affectionate – but the minute I did not follow his rules he would cast me aside like trash…. Time and time again. Even after everything that happened I convinced myself I could not live without him and would make any sacrifice to keep him, I am a beautiful strong woman, confident and educated yet I could not love myself enough to end it to get out of lala land.

I have been thru so much hell and I feel broken, gutted and ashamed of how I allowed myself to be treated, how can I ever trust again? I’m a shell of who I used to be – my friends and family are so worried about me –

How could I continue to let this happen – just reading this makes me sick to my stomach – what kind of person allows themselves to be humiliated and abused like this??

Where do I go from here??

How can someone change so drastically into a monster….

Reply

Freefromhim August 22, 2014

Wow. I am so glad to have found your website. I am just getting out of a relationship with a man who very much fits this description. It has been a rollercoaster ride for sure. Long story. We broke up for the last time in February of his doing. I was devastated. We’ve been together on/off for 3 years. We were going to get married, have children (I already have two children that aren’t his and I had been trying to “take it slow” with this man). He broke my heart in Feb and this wasn’t the first time. He came back a few weeks later, trying to get back together. I have stayed strong but have been in contact with him. The contact has become much more angry and extremely hurtful from him because he says I “have been rejecting him” over and over again. Simply trying to maintain my own boundaries but he is pushing, pushing, pushing. The last contact from him a week ago was a long nasty email telling me every flaw I have, every wrong I have ever done him, how disgusting and nasty he finds me. And lastly that he has found a new girlfriend who “understands him like I never could” and he told me every detail about her and their new relationship. This email ripped my heart out and I was baffled and lost and very hurt. Finding your blog is like finding a well in a desert. I see now what I am dealing with. It hurts still but I feel less crazy and more able to handle this situation. Thank you again!

Reply

Barb Bowen August 27, 2014

I queried Google and found this, I’m just like this past Saturday, August 23, 2014 ending a toxic relationship with one that you describe as a Narcissistic! WOW!!!Now I understand and hope and pray to God I will be able to move on. This Blog is so helpful to me at this moment in time, I’m 71 years old and did not know or understand these kind of people. Thank You so Much!!! Much Love and Gratitude!

Reply

questions bubble final

Leave a Comment

Powered by sweet Captcha

{ 11 trackbacks }

mysterious h web button

Hey there sensitive surfer. There's more you can do here!

Take the quirky quiz on the right.


Or do some "ask and you will receive"


Click for... A Random Post

OR pull An HSP Card!