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Recovering from Narcissistic Abuse, Part I: Blindsided

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We often hear the term narcissist, but what does it mean? From my vantage point as a psychotherapist, I work with a lot of individuals who are leaving and healing from relationships, especially romantic ones, with narcissists. When I first heard the term narcissist as a graduate student, I had a hard time labeling someone with such a name. I pride myself on being a strengths-focused therapist, in direct opposition of any of such disempowering diagnostic nomenclature.

However, as time progressed, I found in my own psychotherapy practice that, indeed, there exist some individuals on this planet with narcissistic challenges. My clients educated me about the aftermath of what it is to heal from narcissistic abuse. I feel I owe it to my clients, and others who may be in similar circumstances, to assist with educating the public about narcissistic abuse, so that people can be informed and aware of how to protect themselves in the event they encounter people with narcissistic traits.

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The following is an attempt at a primer on such individuals. For further study, please refer to the resources listed at the end of the article, as the subject is quite vast.

Identifying Individuals with Narcissism
So just what traits does someone with narcissism have, and what does that person look like in the early stages of dating? Studies say that 1% of the population (2-16% of psychiatric population) has narcissistic personality, while an even greater number exhibit typical traits of narcissism (Brown, 2013). In addition, although 75% of people with narcissism are found to be male, women can also be narcissists.

Narcissism is defined as: excessive sense of self-importance over and above the needs of others; grandiosity; arrogance; absence of ability to empathize and experience reciprocity in relationships; intense need for admiration/attention to fill very low self-esteem; impaired relationships resulting in parasitic/predatory behaviors designed to fill one’s self-esteem in the form of narcissistic supply (DSM-IV).

One could wonder, then, how someone would find such an individual, someone who embodies these characteristics, attractive. Well, studies show (Brown, 2013) that people with narcissism market themselves in attractive, deceptive packages. They may present with a swagger, intense eye contact, false bravado/charm, knock-your-socks-off seduction (often learned by neurolinguistic programming (NLP) programs or online seduction programs), swift pacing of rushing the relationship into commitment/cohabitation/marriage/business partnership, promising a future together (which is later discovered to be a lie), intense sexual chemistry, love-bombing (repetitive texting, emailing, phone calls), or romancing the target excessively (flowers, etc).

People with narcissistic traits are known for targeting intelligent, self-sufficient, empathic individuals as partners. They tend to lack core identity (Brown, 2013), and need narcissistic supply to fill their empty psyches. Narcissistic supply comes mostly in the form of adulation, adoration, and attention, but any sort of feedback allows the individual with narcissistic qualities to feel alive (including negative attention). These individuals feel a sense of challenge in targeting highly successful, attractive individuals who may already be in other relationships and/or who express a sense of vulnerability (i.e. having grief or depression, or recently getting out of a relationship).

Characteristics of the Relationship
The literature on malignant narcissism is extensive, yet many are not informed about the dangers of being involved with someone whose character or actions tend toward narcissism. I find that clients who were entangled in relationships with such individuals have more healing to do from breaks in these relationships than if they had been in relationships with healthy individuals, because often these clients are manifesting symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTSD).

Not only are they grieving the loss of the relationship, but they are also processing the unreality of a “fake relationship.” Furthermore, often psychological abuse (and sometimes physical and sexual abuse) has permeated the relationship. In order to heal, psychotherapy must focus on grief work and trauma recovery, in addition to understanding the elements of the toxic relationship, so that patterns are not repeated in the future.

Once the initial honeymoon wears off, partners of people with narcissistic traits go from feeling high on a pedestal (much like being on cocaine) to feeling devalued, discarded, and figuratively knocked off the pedestal. Their partners have successfully seduced and hooked them into relationships.

But suddenly, the individual with narcissism begins to reveal traits of lying, future-faking, and Dr. Jekyl /Mr. Hyde Personality. He or she may vanish for hours or days on end, or gaslight (confuses the reality of) a partner. This person becomes emotionally abusive and detaches from the partner, extracting narcissistic supply in the process.

The partner, then, is dropped/discarded, coming to the sudden and shocking realization that the other, the partner to has narcissistic qualities, is not capable of true intimacy/love, and really exhibits a limited capacity for emotional connectedness/bonding (Brown, 2013). The partner who has exhibited narcissistic personality traits, who was once a knight in shining armor, is now a mere fantasy, because he or she acted through mind control and brainwashing (Brown, 2013).

To Protect Yourself
So how does one avoid encountering someone with narcissism? I would suggest being particularly cautious with the pacing of dating. If you’re using a dating website, exercise extreme caution when meeting up with a dating partner for the first several dates until you feel you know the individual (i.e. meet in a public place).

If the dating partner attempts to rush the relationship, that is a red flag. An individual who respects your boundaries will work with you to slowly progress the relationship at a pace that is mutually agreed upon. Just because initially there is a highly seductive “zing” quality to the attraction does not mean that the dating partner is healthy. To protect yourself from someone who may end up behaving out of narcissism, it is best to allow the connection to unfold slowly and observe to see if actions and words are matching up.

Sexual chemistry is not the same thing as healthy bonding and attachment. A healthy person will want to get to know your personality, dreams, and interests, and slowly evolve the relationship. An individual with narcissistic tendencies may also want to know all about you, but then may fake being your soul mate by rushing you into consenting to a relationship/marriage/cohabitation/business arrangement (Hotchkiss, 2010).

If you have encountered an individual who seems to display these qualities, or are considering leaving a relationship with a similar person, it is in your best interests to get yourself out of the relationship as quickly as possible. People with narcissistic characteristics may be prone to causing harm by invading personal boundaries, lying about future possibilities in relationships, engaging in abuse, and exhibiting no empathy or remorse for emotional harm they have done.

Consult a licensed psychotherapist who is trained in narcissistic abuse recovery in addition to locating a qualified support group to help you through this time. You will recover. You will heal. But, it will take time and the assistance of qualified professionals who understand what you have endured and how to help you to reclaim your self-esteem.

Resources:

  1. Saferelationshipsmagazine.com:  Sandra A. Brown, MA’s website and resources related to abuse recovery from unhealthy relationships
  2. Lisaescott.com: The Path Forward online forum and support network for survivors of narcissistic abuse
  3. Baggagereclaim.com: A website dedicated to individuals healing from relationships with emotionally-unavailable people (including narcissists)
  4. Outofthefog.com: A website with support and resources for people moving forward from abusive relationships
  5. Help! I am in Love with a Narcissist by Steven Carter and Julia Sokol
  6. Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of Inevitable Harm with Psychopaths, Sociopaths and Narcissists by Sandra L. Brown
  7. Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among Us by Robert D. Hare
  8. Emotional Vampires: Dealing With People Who Drain You Dry by Albert J. Bernstein, PhD
  9. Emotional Blackmail: When People in Your Life use Fear, Obligation and Guilt to Manipulate You by Susan Forward
  10. Why is it Always About You? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism by Sandy HotchKiss, LCSW
  11. The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love and Family by Eleanor Payson, MSW
  12. Narcissistic Lovers: How to Cope, Recover, and Move On by Cythnia Zayn and Kevin Dibble
  13. Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder by Bill Eddy, LCSW
  14. Stop Walking On Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Love Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul Mason, MS
  15. Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited by Sam Vaknin
  16. Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life: At Home, At Work, With Friends by Linda Martinez-Lewi, PhD

© Copyright 2013 by Andrea Schneider, LCSW, therapist in San Dimas, CA. All Rights Reserved.

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Comments
  • Rebecca June 7th, 2013 at 9:33 AM #1

    In an extreme oddity… I believe you have explained to me what I am and why I loose interest in partners as soon as I know they aren’t going anywhere.

    Intriguingly enough… the person I am currently with demostrates all the exact same tendencies. And we are always trying to conquer each other.

    So perhaps it is only weak minded romantics who should stay away from narcissistic personalities. They seem to do just fine with each other.

  • Jena June 7th, 2013 at 2:52 PM #2

    Oh have I ever been in this kind of relationship before! I was with a guy who couldn’t ever give me a compliment because he was so busy thinking about and talking about just how great he was. I bought in to it for a while, thinking how lucky I was to be with this guy who was so smart, so hot, so rich, until I got so whatever! I was tired of hearing about how wonderful he was and feeling dinimished because I just knew that he didn’t really see me as being on his level. Took a while, but I finally kicked him to the curb, with no tears shed on my part I might say.

  • jason t June 8th, 2013 at 6:05 AM #3

    Hard to have a relationship with someone who loves themselves far more than they could ever love you.
    You give and you try so hard but they are such a taker, that sometimes it’s hard when they are not reciprocating that love and affection.

  • Alison June 8th, 2013 at 2:05 PM #4

    Perhaps you could make your fortune by setting up a dating site for narcissists then, it would give your kind a more appropriate opportunity/challenge to outdo each other… and it’d keep us ‘weak-minded romantics’ a hell of a lot safer!

  • Andrea Schneider June 8th, 2013 at 5:51 PM #5

    Hi Alison, sounds as if you are directing your comment to the commenter who claims to be self-professed narcissist… I would encourage you not to respond to incendiary comments as this fuels a narcissist’s NS (narcissistic supply)– also any criticism coming from a narcissist is really a projection, and is actually how they feel about themselves…”don’t feed the animals” was a great suggestion of wisdom by a smart person ;) Be glad you are a human being who actually knows how to love and what that feels like, Allison. A narcissist can never be capable of mature, true love. Sad, eh? You wouldn’t want it the other way around.

  • melinda June 9th, 2013 at 9:41 PM #6

    Was married to a narcissist for two years and it was hell.little things could turn into big conflicts and anything that goes against such people is a big big mistake you have done.thank but no thanks.walking out of that marriage was the best decision I have ever made.

  • Paul June 19th, 2013 at 6:23 PM #7

    This is empowering to read your comments. I don’t know if my wife is a narcissist or not, but she shares a lot of the oddities of personality disorder. My passions were often ridiculed, hurt emotions dismissed, opinions questioned and I was rudely treated (disrespected) in front of her children and family. It happened so fast I was overcome with shock that I didn’t know how to react. She was so difficult/blaming in arguments that I felt I needed reinforcements. It was so deflating and defeating. Once I purchased a book on ADHD and found she had written a note inside stating that I didn’t have this and it was just the “flavor of the month”. Rudeness beyond belief. God help me.

  • Walter July 6th, 2013 at 7:41 AM #8

    Paul, your wife sounds VERY much like my own. We could never disagree, someone always had to be right, and it was always her. She would escalate any argument more and more until I found myself giving in from exhaustion. She would try to get involved with my friends and family, but then make an enemy of anyone I was close to (my brother and mother for example).

    I don’t know how long you’ve been married, but I was married for 18 years. You should get out as quickly as possible. But be prepared for a storm. My ex went nuclear when I left her, and has done as much as possible to destroy me in every, legally, financially, and personally. Prepare yourself, protect yourself, then get out.

  • Ali August 8th, 2013 at 2:09 AM #9

    I have been married for 10 yrs to my hub who i tried to leave as i could take no more about how demanding i am and controlling within 6 hrs he took huge OD and was in a coma for 4 days obviously i went back to him with the kids. since them which was only 5 months ago he has been diagnosed with Autisum ok so i am now back on meds as the emotional abuse was too much i also hurt my back as he refuses to do housework etc before this i tried to start tai chi and after the second week accused od having an affair. when i was unable to move he didn’t get me a drink or anything to eat. i tried to explain this and i got a barrage of verbal abuse about how exhaustive it is for him and that he has no energy left for me not even enough to hold my hand. I am now to scared to leave again due to what happened last time. i also tried to explain that what he did and how it brought all od my sons death back. Is this just Autisum.

  • Andrea Schneider August 10th, 2013 at 4:35 PM #10

    Both men and women can have personality disorders…although narcissism is more common in males, and borderline personality disorder more common in females…there is a lot of cross-over, however, in these personality disorders. Ali–I am unclear about your question, but if you are asking if autism and narcissism are the same thing, my answer is: no. They are very different conditions. A narcissists lack of empathy could look like a social skills deficit though. Autism is neurological and developmental disorder. Both conditions are very different with different subsets of qualifying symptoms.

  • JANELLE August 11th, 2013 at 6:59 AM #11

    I was in awe reading this. After dealing with a divorce and relationship of over 10 years, I began dating one of my best friends of 17 years. I thought it was a safe and logical option. I trusted this person. I felt connected to this person. The person I knew for half my life was a lie. The relationship became intense. He spoke of being my soul mate. He spoke of marrying me one day. He spoke of loving my child as his own. He spoke of our children growing up together. Once I became comfortable and trusting of the idea, he broke up with me. Stated he couldn’t give me what I needed. I didn’t understand. I didn’t ask for anything. For four months after the title of commitment was taken away, he would still come by. He would still say he loved and cared for me. Then I was excluded from birthdays and holidays. He wanted his freedom to be single. After I would state my hurt from this exclusion, he would buy me gifts such as diamond earrings. Send me roses on Valentine’s Day. Then he would tell everyone he did those things just to be friendly to me. He would continue to be intimate with me and flirt with other women. Ask an ex what it would take to make things work with her. We would stop speaking for months. Then he would call me to say he missed me and still loved me. He regretted losing my love. He would talk about not wanting to miss out on a chance of us working things out. I would ask about that. Are we working this out or not? I was then told I was being pushy. I would then be sited the one going to fast and not taking the baby steps. We would get on each other’s nerves and stop speaking. Then during a hard time in his life he would contact me saying that he wanted to call but was scared I’d hang up. He missed me because I made his life better the year before. He would flirt with me and make sexual innuendos. I discovered that a woman I confided with about my feelings for him and the frustration of not understanding what was going on, became involved with him after she told me to give him some space to think. His charm had worked on her too. He manipulated her to gain attention and boost his ego. She beleives there is something special. So while he is telling me all these lines of missing me and about how he never stopped loving me, he is building this bond with a woman I confided in. I confronted him on that issue and he said I took his words the wrong way. He only meant them to be friendly. We would not speak for weeks again and then he would become flirty with me again. I stated that if he flirts with me, then the other women go. He again found me pushy and demanding. Would get irate that he has made his stand of being single and can flirt with whomever he wants. He borrowed money from me, and for almost a year he has not even tried to pay it back. He goes out to dinner frequently and to concerts, but incapable of paying people back. He overextends him self financially. Uses his charm and self pity to gain empathy from people to loan him money. My point is. I’m still just recently discovering that this was a completely abusive narcissistic relationship. It was all about him. His needs. His desires. The thrill of the chase for him. I would ask him if all our years of friendship meant anything. If all the talk of marriage and a future meant anything. Ask if any of it was real. He would become so annoyed with my questions that he would continue to say that he didn’t owe me anything. Today, I am discovering it was all about him boosting his self esteem by getting someone to want him. Once that goal was accomplished, he would move on to the next person. What I thought was real from a man I knew for half my life, became nothing but a broken fantasy that nearly destroyed every peice of who I was. I thought I had found the love of my life in my best friend. I was completely wrong and that hurt worse than the divorce with my ex husband. Bottom line, I am aware now what type of relationship we really had. I am aware I was only a toy for him. I am aware that I wasn’t as special as he made me beleive to him. He is an almost 40 year old man that refuses to commit. He refuses to go to counseling, even if it means bettering himself for his own children. He is so self indulged and addicted to the other women that he is capable of getting with his extreme charm. He is a highly intelligent man. But refuses to acknowledge he could be an extreme narcissist. His world is about what brings him instant gratification. Nothing else.

  • Andrea Schneider August 11th, 2013 at 5:12 PM #12

    Wow, Janelle– good for you for leaving such an emotionally abusive situation… To validate your journey, all narcissists are commitment-phobic…when they get “too close”, they fear engulfment…a healthy person evolves the relationship to a deeper level…sounds like you are very capable of a healthy love relationship– may the silver living in this dark cloud be that of wisdom, peace, safety, and the path of true love with healthy folks…best to you, Andrea

  • Janelle August 12th, 2013 at 10:13 AM #13

    Thank you so much for you wisdom and this site!! More people need to be aware of the pathological reasons behind these actions!!

  • Andrea Schneider August 21st, 2013 at 11:42 AM #14

    You are most welcome, Janelle…I am happy to provide some information on a subject that few know about. Knowledge is power, freedom, and safety!!!

  • Sue August 24th, 2013 at 3:44 AM #15

    Janelle- these words you wrote:
    ….he said, “that he didn’t owe me anything.”
    - my ex used that same phrase, one time I said to him he could make it up to me, mine replied, “I don’t want to own anyone anything”,…. there lies the difference in core thinking.

    Another thing I noticed in discussion when I said to him you were my man, i.e. a loving thing, his reply was annoyingly saying, “no I am my own man”…. I was then immediately put on edge and had to pacify him saying no I dont mean it like ownership but loving, its a good thing. He didn’t grasp it. I think their brains are wired differently, which is why it’s near impossible to cure.

    And you said, “What I thought was real from a man I knew for half my life, became nothing but a broken fantasy that nearly destroyed every piece of who I was. I thought I had found the love of my life in my best friend.”
    - yes I thought I had found that man who I would live many happy future years with. No, I was wrong.

    I think the main issue is there is a fundamental lack of empathy and without that there is a lack of core bonding. And where they feel no pain for hurting you or considering your feelings there is nothing stopping them hurting you, because they simply dont feel it, or realise it, such is the emotional deadness and emotional immaturity.

    It’s taken me a long long time, almost 3.5 years to recover from being in a relationship with a narcissist, mainly because for the initial 1.5 years I had no idea what this was.

    There is Jekyll & Hyde, and no guilt remorse, etc, for me personally it’s the total and complete abandonment that has been the hardest to take while he rebounded to another.

  • Morse P August 24th, 2013 at 4:34 AM #16

    Great post! Thank you!
    I am reading as much as I can on this and talking to close friends about it, because things just aren’t made real until you share. Ultimately though, one has to make oneself the focus, to discover what made us vulnerable to such abuse in the first place. That’s when the real healing began for me, and I’m still at it.

    One thing though: I strongly contest the “statistics” on NPD. First off, nearly all the information I’ve come across even admits that the statistics are far from certain. And I had contact with one authority on NPD who put the number of Narcissist males at 75%. I challenged her on this and she said that it’s true that “many, many Narcissist men had Narcissist mothers.”
    I asked how many and she confessed she didn’t know, but assured me that it was a lot. To which I simply replied with, “Well, there goes your 75% number for males.”
    I never heard from her again.
    Still, the information is very relevant and useful and can be applied to ones personal situation without paying much attention to the statistics.
    Thanks again for this post!

  • lulu August 25th, 2013 at 6:16 PM #17

    This is a very good analysis. I have a financial advisor friend who I trusted with my family but after some time getting to see how they behaved, I grew to recognise the signs of narcissism behind their kindly mask.

    Red flags were evident very early on as i got to know them but I fell for the trap and in someways still feel trapped. It is very hard to get this person out of my head although I feel heartbroken by their deception and see it for what it is. The hardest thing is realizing they will never change.

  • Janelle August 31st, 2013 at 2:12 PM #18

    The more knowledge i gain about this disorder, the more I become shocked how many people go thru this type of abuse. They only pretend to be remorseful. It’s an act. It’s to try and convince people they are still “good”. It’s been weeks since i had context with him now. I always was walking on eggshells talking to him at the end. He always made me fell bad for my hurt. He even told me several times that my pain was my own fault for sticking around. It’s a true fact, but completely lacking in empathy or responsibility. He’s already moved on to his next target. He’s already in love with someone else. I’ve been replaced so quickly, but I’ve learned the cycle. I know about his exes and what happened. I even have spoken to one of them. So while none of our “mutual” friends believe i was abused, and he has managed to convince everyone that i was obsessed and crazy, he is unfortunately some other woman’s problem. I’ve recognized what he did to me so recently was the same thing he did to the others so many years ago. Funny thing is he knows he needs help. But refuses to go. So i become less hurt each day for me, and more sad for the current woman and his children. They have no idea what is in store for them.

  • Janelle August 31st, 2013 at 2:37 PM #19

    Sue,

    The thing we have to remember is that we were not the ones that lied or manipulated. It’s exactly like you said about their brains being wired differently…but the wires are misfiring when it comes to the empathy of other people. They can see injustice done to other people, and can sometimes see the injustice they cause to other people, but instead of correcting their mistakes and making themselves a better person, they just move on to the next victim. Their hope is someone will accept them for who they are…no matter how awful they treat people. They see their behavior traits wrong in other people, but not in themselves. Those of us with a conscience learn from our mistakes. They don’t. Because then they would actually have to feel the Rath of guilt. They don’t want or don’t know how to cope with guilt in healthy ways. They’re actually afraid if they try to redeem themselves it will all blow up again anyways, so they don’t even try…it’s a misfiring and self doubting brain that sabotages their own happiness. And it’s sad really. It’s not us. Yes we were abandoned, and yes I’m lonely…but I’m sleeping better without a thousand questions running through my head. Yes i lost a whole group of friends and there are many who think I’m crazy. So what. If they don’t believe what i went thru or if they don’t want to hear my hurt, they were never really my friend. Only his. I’m stronger with the knowledge I’ve found. And I’m glad that you’re on the right road of recovery. :-)

  • Andrea September 1st, 2013 at 6:48 PM #20

    Janelle, you sound really empowered and right on…keep on learning about this disorder…and you now have the tools to stay away from such disordered folks…you sound very clear about what direction to take in your healing…sounds like great perspective…

  • TwistedX September 5th, 2013 at 9:09 PM #21

    Although I did find your article accurate, you cannot possibly imagine what it is like to be in a relationship, or have a child with a malignant narcissist.
    As a therapist myself, I can honestly say that watching someone else go through it is nothing in comparison to living it.

  • Andrea September 6th, 2013 at 9:28 AM #22

    @TwistedX–never make assumptions…sometimes the best therapists have had their own prior life experience with such topics they now help people heal through ;)

  • Laura September 24th, 2013 at 1:46 PM #23

    I am just coming out of a relationship with a man who I suspect has borderline personality disorder or strong traits, rather than narcissistic personality disorder. Yet this article was so so helpful for me, and described my experience in a way I hadn’t yet been able to consciously articulate to myself. This devaluing and being discarded after being idealized really speaks to my experience especially.

    In my case, the trigger for his rage and pathological lying would often be me pulling away or being assertive, even though he had already broken up with me quite definitively. The last ploy used to get my attention, post breakup, was to tell me his mother died. She didn’t. I don’t understand why he would tell lies like this that would so obviously be found out. Anyway, I digress.

    My question is really how similar are the issues that are faced by those leaving/having been left by, a partner with BPD compared to those with NPD? Is no contact the best approach in that circumstance also? Insights greatly appreciated. And thanks again Andrea for a great article that has started to help me make sense of this experience and the real nature of the losses I am grieving.

  • Andrea Schneider September 24th, 2013 at 4:24 PM #24

    @laura–I am so glad the article resonated with you…honestly, yes, BPD and NPD are very similar in many ways in that they are considered “Cluster B Personality Disorders” in all DSMs (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals) before the DSM 5– I believe now the clinical consensus is that there is so much overlap between the two diagnoses, as well as that of Histrionic Personality Disorder, that they are often looked as a cluster/umbrella term…there is great overlap…and those is=n the abuse recovery world would definitely agree that No Contact is the best policy…because the behavior from the abusive person is toxic…So reading up on BPD and NPD is a great idea…often a person can have elements of both…either traits or full blown disorder…I would also read Emotional Vampires for further validation on these issue of these abusive folks… and yes, NO CONTACT, for your own protection and healing…. Andrea

  • David Caton October 3rd, 2013 at 4:43 PM #25

    Good article. I think the only weakness is that it sets the bar rather high to make a determination that a partner is narcissistic. One need not have the full blown, substantial traits described to be able to shatter one’s sense of self, worth, etc. As a therapist and as the son of a pathological narcissist, I can attest to the fact that they can function quite well and carry on in society without undue notice for years. You may never know you are around one until you begin to stand up to them- this they take great exception to and you may rapidly become secondary supply at best. Really hard stuff to deal with. Once this happens, I too agree the only way to be safe is to stay away.

  • Stephanie October 3rd, 2013 at 11:23 PM #26

    Andrea, thank you so much for coaching Allison (and me) up on relating to such individuals as Rebecca in a manor that does not play into their dysfunctional dynamic and power struggle. That was a cool learning experience. I would greatly appreciIate any vignettes with guidance of how to respond or not respond. I know it might be a bit much to ask but if possible, I’d love some tangible approaches I can be cognisant of in future dealings with individuals with narcissistic traits. Thanks and keep up the great work!!

  • Stephanie October 3rd, 2013 at 11:23 PM #27

    Andrea, thank you so much for coaching Allison (and me) up on relating to such individuals as Rebecca in a manor that does not play into their dysfunctional dynamic and power struggle. That was a cool learning experience. I would greatly appreciIate any vignettes with guidance of how to respond or not respond. I know it might be a bit much to ask but if possible, I’d love some tangible approaches I can be cognisant of in future dealings with individuals with narcissistic traits. Thanks and keep up the great work!!

  • Andrei October 4th, 2013 at 1:51 PM #28

    The accuracy of this article is almost frightening, it perfectly describes the relationship I just got out of.

  • Andrea Schneider October 4th, 2013 at 5:02 PM #29

    @David–thanks for the feedback…I totally agree with you that people can have “narcissistic traits” and possess tremendous toxicity that causes emotional harm…you don’t need to have an official diagnosis to lack empathy/be self-absorbed/etc…and you bring up a good point…narcissistic abuse people sustain is so subtle that at times one may not even be aware of the manipulation until after the fact…thus, education is the best medicine in order to avoid these types from the beginning…

  • Andrea Schneider October 4th, 2013 at 5:07 PM #30

    @Stephanie…thanks for your feedback…what I would say is keep reading up on narcissistic abuse…see the list of resources at the end of the article and read, read, read. Information is power. As you are armed with knowledge, you will learn how to discern who is a “safe” person and who is not. In dating relationships, beware of the individual who swoops in and promises you the moon and back again, proposing to you in 2 days…a healthy relationship gradually builds, with mutual respect and empathy and self-disclosure. If you have already been entangled in a relationship with a narcissistic type person, then the best policy is absolutely No Contact…unless you share children, in which case you legally might have to do Limited Contact…I would highly encourage you to seek a psychotherapist who can provide you support in recovery from narcissistic abuse, and to also join an online support forum (like Lisa E. Scott’s The Path Forward). Here’s to your healing and recovery! Andrea

  • Sally October 4th, 2013 at 10:23 PM #31

    When I read this i think these are many of the qualities of my ex, but then, when i left him he told me i was a narcissist, and i have been so confused as to which one of us is the narcissist! if i am it terrifies me and if he is, that’s sad too cause he would never admit to that and he is clueless and would not get help. if i am how does one get help? can a narcissist get healed? i have no idea if i was the n or the traumatized one.. confusing!

  • Andrea Schneider October 5th, 2013 at 5:51 PM #32

    @Sally–the fact you have the capability to reflect is really a good sign of insight…which many narcissists are sorely lacking…I would recommend, as with anyone who is pulling through an abusive relationship, that they seek psychotherapy with a highly skilled psychotherapist who can provide a detailed, comprehensive assessment and work with you to answer your questions. best of luck, Andrea

  • Darlene Lancer, MFT October 18th, 2013 at 9:28 PM #33

    Very often codependents fall in love with a narcissist – they may have had a narcissistic parent, also, so the connection feels familiar. They are easily charmed by the attention of narcissists and attracted to their self-directedness and power, which most codependents don’t exhibit. In the beginning the they’re comfortable deferring to the narcissist for love, but when that soon disappears and they’re met with abuse, they absorb blame and criticism, and try even harder to please. These abusive relationships further undermine the codependents little self-esteem. Underneath both suffer from shame.
    Darlene Lancer, MFT
    Author of “Codependency for Dummies”

  • michelle October 19th, 2013 at 3:38 PM #34

    “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” …
    What you wrote in both of your articles on narcissism, describes, practically word for word what I just experienced in a romantic relationship. My jaw dropped the first time I read your writing on this subject which was a couple of weeks ago. I have printed out both articles and read them daily to remind myself to avoid ever dating another man with this affliction as well as sent copies to all my single girlfriends. I am happily dating a man who is completely the opposite and I’m really enjoying letting things unfold slowly and build at a healthy pace. It was so easy to get swept away in all the drama, the ups and downs, highs and lows with the narcissist, but now know what an incredible sham the whole thing was. You truly could not have described in more accurate detail what I went through. And sadly, but better late than never, I don’t believe he was the first narcissistic man in my life, but hopefully the last. I can’t thank you enough for opening my eyes and educating me about this. My mother is without a doubt a narcissist, and I have dealt with treating my co-depency all my life. Now at 59, the puzzle is finally coming together! THANK YOU!!!!!!!

  • Phil S October 20th, 2013 at 6:00 PM #35

    The impact of my relationship with my partner led me to almost commit suicide. I was always wrong, my friends weren’t good enough, she was extremely jealous of my relationship with my daughter, she told people she didn’t trust me around her daughters, my clothes weren’t good enough, I was always wrong in an argument or discussion (if we ever had one – in 9 years I was the one who started our relationship discussions, never her, and I was always wrong or there was a reason for her behaving the way she did).

    We had the most incredible physical relationship and enjoyed doing so many things together, so long as it didn’t involve my family or friends.

    I broke it off with her and within a week she had met someone and within a month he’d moved in with her. I’d been broke twice in the last 6 years but worked hard and saved enough for a house in a lovely area. But she had to tell me how great this new man was, how intelligent and talented, how they are going to keep his apartment in the city and his country property, how he has motorbikes etc.

    For anyone who is in a relationship with a person with strong narcissistic traits I warn you to be careful. I was never good enough and got to the most tragic point. Thank God for my children who saved me from doing it.

  • Taralynn October 21st, 2013 at 12:27 PM #36

    In Recovery,I was in a 4 year nightmare with my now Ex finance is NBPD.and was an Alcoholic as well.and to this day Still doesn’t admit any fault,as a result I have PTSD from the abusive control ,As I put that No Contact down..it seems to get better..and for my recovery I put up Boundaries.Trying to stay Near Positive People..One Day at a Time.Trying to stay Near Positive People..One Day at a Time..

  • Michelle Mallon October 30th, 2013 at 2:29 AM #37

    I truly wish more was written and openly discussd about this type of abuse. I am grateful to this author for helping to increase awareness of something that has the very real potential to completely destroy lives. Before March of this year, I did not know that this type of abuse had a name. If someone would have asked me if I had heard of Narcissistic Abuse, I would have simply equated it with abuse by a Narcissistic person and that is very misleading. What I have found is that a lot of people don’t know what this this type of abuse is- in particular- the mental health professionals who see victims in their offices after the abuse occurrs. After enduring the most horrific emotional abuse I have ever experienced at the hands of a psychologist I had taken my two small children to for counseling, I endured even more trauma in the aftermath trying to understand what actually happened in the abusive relationship. Narcissistic Abusers are quite skilled at leaving the victim with all of the guilt and blame for the abuse. After I refused to see this therapist any longer, I spent 9 months trying to understand if he was trying to help me (like he insisted) or literally trying to kill me. The therapist I saw after the abusive one (and it took me a long time to get up the courage to see a new one) really wasn’t sure what happened in the relationship at first either. That made it even harder to heal from the abuse. I spent every waking minute thinking about what happened searchign for somehting I had missed that could make all if make sense. It wasn’t until I found TELL (therapyabuse.org) and found books that explained what I went through and experienced that I was finally able to stop searching for some thing I might have missed that would explain what I went through. What I have found in my own journey is that there are a lot of people who have experienced this type of abuse and they don’t know what Narcissistic Abuse is. They are still searching for answers and carrying the guilt and blame with them for not having done enough to prevent the destruction of the relationship. It shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did to find answers. Even the licensing board that my current therapist and I reported the abusive one to didn’t seem to have a clue about what this type of abuse is. Why aren’t more people talking about this?

  • Andrea Schneider November 1st, 2013 at 1:22 PM #38

    Glad the article was of help and put a name to very covert, insidious abuse. Just because there may be no bruises doesn’t mean it’s not abuse. It is not discussed often because many do not understand it. However, with more awareness, more people are armed with information and can protect themselves from dangerous relationships.

  • Jade November 1st, 2013 at 7:33 PM #39

    I have read so many of these websites, desperately trying to find words that will bring me peace or closure or…something to just stop it hurting. It has been over for a few months now, although it didn’t help that I was still involved trying to get him to feel some sort of guilt and remorse for all the pain he caused. The new girl that came swooping in minutes after I left with my heart in pieces didn’t think twice about what pain she was causing even though I tried to make her see why I was so devastated, why he was causing so many problems with her too. I was the love of his life, but I abandoned him so what was he supposed to do when this girl came and saved him where I had dropped him. Feelings of guilt transferred to me…I am so terribly insecure now, after being so independent and strong growing up! How do I get back to normal? How do I leave him behind where he belongs and stop shedding a single tear for him? I wish there was a quick fix button…

  • Jay November 3rd, 2013 at 9:32 AM #40

    I have a friend who has been married 20 years to a very successful physician. Here are some details of her relationship with him:

    1. Her father is a physician as well. Her parents were very strict and controlling, enforced with verbal and physical abuse on occasion, forbidding her to go out with friends, while driving her to do well in school and other activities.

    2. When she met her future husband, they had both been recently divorced. She was about to go away for a few months for a nursing job, when he literally swept her off her feet and took her to Las Vegas to be married before she left to go on this job. After they were married, she quit the job rather than going away.

    3. She was filled with great admiration and love for him for roughly the first half of their marriage. She thought of him glowingly as her rock, white knight and the love of her life. She did everything and anything he wanted her to do. She changed who she was to be who he wanted her to be. He didn’t want her to go out without him, so she stayed home and declined all invitations to go out- for the better part of two decades. Instead she focused on being the best home-maker she could be. She loved to cook and perfected meals. She kept the house very clean all the time. She did everything for their two boys. She was always very driven, so that was how she used her energy. She also worked part-time as a nurse, against her husband’s wishes, which he questioned and belittled.

    4. He always had the last word on any subject related to them and their family. She spoke that often their was fear- both from her and her sons- shortly he would come home from work that everything was not done- dinner, clean house, etc. and that he/Dad would be angry. Her boys would express this as well and tell her to hurry and get things done or Dad would be angry.

    5. Roughly 10 years ago, she had the first desire to divorce him. She was upset when he flirted with other women at parties. It was also around this time that he no longer satisfied her sexually. Still, she went on as before, but now more unhappily, mostly for the sake of their boys.

    6. A little over a year ago, she found out he was having an affair. This was devastating to her on so many levels. Apparently he had known the woman for 6 years. She felt she had lost her best friend, husband, her rock, her everything in one blow. It challenged everything she thought about love, marriage, everything. In the months after the discovery, she would often go stay in a hotel by herself with a candle and drink by herself rather than be in the house with him. She stopped having sex with him.

    7. Since she discovered his infidelity, he has become increasingly hostile toward her verbally. They have been in counseling for over a year now. She is increasingly stressed and unhappy with her marriage and does not want to spend any time with him because it is so unpleasant. She doesn’t really want to work on their marriage anymore.

    Their counselor is trying to help them preserve their marriage.

    It is this last point that is most concerning to me. I’m not a psychologist, but her relationship with her husband seems to have all the hallmarks of one with a narcissist, which now seems increasingly abusive verbally/emotionally.

    My thought is that the counselor has not identified the husband as a narcissist, otherwise he would not be trying to preserve the marriage through counseling.

    I would love to hear feedback from those who know / have experienced more on this issue than I do regarding the above situation. Thank you.

  • Andrea Schneider November 3rd, 2013 at 12:17 PM #41

    @Jade– I would suggest seeing a psychotherapist who specializes in this area as well as joining the aforementioned support forums online– with time, you will recover and move on to love someone who loves you back in a healthy way…@Jay– sounds like you have a lot of concern for your friend…have you addressed your worries with her directly ? If she and her significant other are in couples therapy, then it sounds like they are working on their issues… You can always share this article with her and see what she has to say…obviously, this is not a forum to actually diagnose people…she is lucky he has such a caring and concerned friend looking out for her interests…

  • Jay November 5th, 2013 at 12:17 PM #42

    Andrea- thank you for the feedback and advice. I met her the other day and asked her if she thought her husband was a narcissist. Her reply: “of course he is.” I showed her both your articles, which she glanced at but said she had already read a lot on the subject and knows about it. This did not surprise me entirely, and yet she seems stuck in what to do. She does not see an immediate need to end the relationship, primarily for the sake of her 14 and 16 year old sons it seems. She says he demonstrates bi-polar behavior toward her – sometimes verbally abusing/degrading/demeaning her, other times trying to court her again. When she first discovered his infidelity, he was very verbally abusive and degrading/demeaning toward her, where I think a normal person may feel remorseful or guilty. Anyway, it appears his relationship with the other woman may have ended against his will, so now he seems more focused (in a bi-polar way) on her again. Their couple counseling is on an individual basis (she ended the couple sessions after he repeatedly lied to the counselor). Very sad and troubling situation. And yet the counselor is trying to preserve their marriage. Apparently she asked him for a separation a year ago, but he refused, and he said he will not divorce her either. She has said that if he asked, she would divorce him, but she is afraid of her kids reaction if she were to ask for a divorce.

  • Andrea Schneider November 5th, 2013 at 8:09 PM #43

    @Jay– again, your friend is very fortunate to have your support…all you can do is continue to be a reality-tester and help her to know of resources that might assist her (see bibliography) — she may need a different therapist who understands narcissism more completely — it is, ultimately, your friends choice how she proceeds with her life…but, armed with information, hopefully she will choose her own self-preservation and mental health– a happy mom is a happy family, whether or not there are two parents in the picture…best wishes !

  • Jay November 6th, 2013 at 2:47 PM #44

    Andrea-
    Thanks again for your feedback. I think I have done what I can while at the same time trying to respect her privacy and independence. I get the feeling she knows what she wants to do, but is preparing for the right time for her. Thanks again.

  • Andrea Schneider November 6th, 2013 at 4:56 PM #45

    Jay- yes, it sure does sound like you have done everything you can to support your friend. Sounds like she has a good-sounding board in you. I would focus on your own self-care and release the issue at this time. It’s really on her to determine what she needs for her life. Best wishes in your journey, Andrea

  • Jay November 7th, 2013 at 10:15 AM #46

    Andrea- thanks again for the feedback. Good advice.

  • Lorenz November 13th, 2013 at 12:59 PM #47

    This is so classic – frightening really because I can identify so strongly. I have been in a relationship much like this for 5 years. Always wondering what I have done (I have tried so hard) and it’s not until I begin to leave that I am valued/chased again. I even went to counseling and they never saw it which made me feel even more isolated and confused. They told me he “had a right to have a life away from me as well” although repeatedly I said I was not given that same right. It’s really confusing because half the time you think you are with your price charming forever and the other half of the time you feel like the rug was just pulled out from under you and you can’t understand why. Worse yet, we spend endless hours trying to figure out what we did wrong.

  • Leslie November 17th, 2013 at 1:33 PM #48

    I was in a relationship with a narc for 3 years, after realizing what he was after “come here, get away” he has embarrassed me publicly and in private. We were not married and have no children together, thank goodness. I gave up my job to work with him, gave away most of my belongs (my bad decisions) and gave it my all in the relationship. He was very charismatic in the beginning but soon I realized he was shallow and unfeeling towards other people pain. He hates his ex’s and I know I am in that group now as well. Him and I bought a house together which is down the street from my daughter and her family. When I left, I also signed this house over to him because I did not want any ties. The narc hated my son in law and never had anything nice to say about him. Now the narc and my son in law are best friends, but I know my son in law needs the money his is making off of him at this moment. He thinks he has the narc under control….I know he is wrong and the hatchet will fall with him as soon as the narc no longer needs him. We live in small community and the narc decided to remodel this house (the one we bought together) on a grand scale and so it is being noticed by everyone in this community. Originally he was going to sell it and I was all for that, just to get him away from me and family. But now it seems he wants to keep rubbing my nose in it for breaking it off with him. He is even trying to get his family to move here???? He is taking my family to nice places to eat and giving them money (which they need) but it is making me feel sick to my stomach. When I first discussed some of the narc’s behavior with my kids, they didn’t believe me but after they saw him in action, they were believers. My son and his family has broken ties with him but my son in law has not. When I broke it off with the narc, I did the no contact rule, went back to work and even starting taking some college classes. I have accepted that he is a narc and uses people, is shallow and hurts people without a conscious. I have always been a forgiving person and I want to move on without his baggage cluttering my life. I do not want to move from this area, my family lives here, children and grandchildren,they are my family and not his, although he has a strained relationship with his kids and almost no contact with his grandchildren. The narc always told me how wonderful my kids and grandkids were, and how they always treated him with respect. I tried to raise my children to treat others the same way they treat themselves, with dignity and respect. My children are raising their children the same way. But I am at my wits ends on how to get him to move on. I do not discuss this with people in my community because I don’t like to talk bad about people but some times I feel like taking a ad out in the local paper warning people about the narc. I have also been told he bad mouths every chance he gets. I don’t want to stoop to his level. I don’t wish him bad just wish him away from my family and myself. Any advice would be appreciated on how to handle this.

  • Leslie November 17th, 2013 at 3:23 PM #49

    I am adding to my original comment, I almost feel like I am venting. Before I met the narc, I had been divorced for almost 10 years and had dated some but had not found someone I wanted to have a long term relationship with. I had a job with people I liked, a decent place to live, was close to my family, had close friends and volunteered to help our troops. My life was good by my standards. The narc swept me off my feet; I thought he was the one. He put me on a pedestal and would call and text me. We talked of building a future together so when he suggested I quit my job and work together (we are flood adjusters) it seemed like the right thing to do. We would save our money and buy a place together and grow old together. I gave up my place and gave away most of my material things; I thought I was doing the right thing. I know realize I should have seen the signs, both of his ex’s, who were in long term relationships with him, left the relationship with depression and anxiety disorders. He always thought it was odd that I get along with my ex’s, but we never felt the need to throw rocks at each other just because our relationship did not work out like we planned. He admired how I was so close to my children and grandchildren as he was not close to his. What turned out to be the “one” turned into a nightmare. It was slow but soon I was realized I had not seen my friends or volunteered anymore. And everything I did, wore or said was wrong, He would say mean things and hurt my feelings, but when I would say something about it, he would say I was wrong and he did not say or do those things. I started recording some of our conversations and would play them back just to check my own memory. I really thought I was losing my mind. I was right, he was saying and doing mean things. He would call me a piece of worthless s*#t and then say he did not say it, but he did. I thought maybe his mind was not clear because he would drink almost daily and usually too much. I cannot drink because I have ulcerative colitis, I can’t even drink socially but he would always try to make me feel bad about not drinking. A few months ago, he told me that he did not trust me and doubted I loved him. It was like a light bulb went off, that was way our relationship was not in good shape. He also told me that when we met I did not have a place to live, a job, furniture or clothes. He said everything I have is because he gave it to me. He also told me that I was a drunk (?) and my kids loved him more than me because he can do more for them. I told him that was wrong and he knew it, but he continued to try to convince me of this “story”. I left, I signed the house we bought together over to him and did the no contact rule. I just wanted him out of my life. Instead he has inserted his self into my children’s lives. I almost feel he wanted my life, he wanted to be me. I have always prided myself on being close to my family, friends and community. My motto has been “celebrate life and smile”, this motto has helped me weather a few storms in life and try to live it every day. After we split I realized I needed to get “me” back, I went back to work, got my own place (without furniture), reconnected with friends, decided to go back to college, started mediating on loving kindness and forgiveness of myself for making bad choices and him for hurting me. My family has told me I have been a great mom and nana, and they want me in their lives forever but their relationship with the narc is optional and right now they need his money (the money I helped to put in our account that he withdrew down to the last penny when I told him it was over). I just want my life back free from his drama and bad mouthing of me and others (including my kids who he adores now). I have at times thought about calling him and telling him what I think of him. I would like tell him to move on and get out of our lives, but I know that will only fuel his feelings that he is special. I do not feel I should have to move away from my family, friends and community, they were mine long before they were his (now I sound narcissistic). Even my kids have told me it like he wants to torture me for breaking it off. I believe they are now his narc supply and he will hurt them like he did me but they need the money right now. I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place. I would go to counseling but I can’t afford it right now, starting over has been challenging. I just want him gone out of my life, any suggestions would be appreciated.

  • Maya November 18th, 2013 at 9:30 AM #50

    I am trying to recover from a relationship in which I believe my ex is a narcissist. There were lots of red flags at the beginning e.g. an overlapping ex, coming on so strong etc but I sidelined them because I was, ultimately, vulnerable – I’d lost my job and I thought this could be entertaining and pressure-free whilst I find something new – it was a long-distance relationship. I became aware that he had a commitment issue, but I did have all the concerns that relate to narcissim – he wanted constant praise, but it felt insatiable; he blew hot and cold, but every time I tried to leave the relationship he’d step up his attention; he gave very little back, withheld affection; he had a harem it seemed of female exes and admirers and so on. I ditched him at one point, as it became clear that the r/ship wasn’t going anywhere, but by this point I was in love with him so it was so hard, and he seemed to take it just as hard. But after a space of a week, he came back and we basically continued as normal. Over a period of time I began to live in a state of uncertainty, confusion and what I find most deplorable, is he made me question my own judgment. I tried to go no-contact so we could have a proper break but he wouldn’t let me go, and I became exhausted by having to erect and maintain boundaries all the time and actually thought ‘oh god, this is going to have to be on his terms’. He then later down the line replaced me (by this point I wasn’t really feeding his ego anymore) – I immediately cut contact – and at first it seemed he was trying to placate me, but then he was really mean and quite cruel. Thinking this was just him acting out (given I already knew, as does he, that he’s immature/emotionally immature)I just accepted it as that and didn’t take it personally. After just under a couple of months of no contact, and based on that logic, I texted to say hi, as a kind of, it’s fine, you have a new (very pretty and very young-looking) girlfriend who can meet your needs better than mine (for one she’s in the same country), but he then said something that reminded me of the confusion and self-doubt, so I made a comment, which was not supposed to be about us, but he was immediately very mean again. Anyway, this last bit of meanness, and learning about narcissism, has knocked me for six, and I’m now feeling a bit stunned and lost. The worst is that friends think I’m being the jilted lover – so in effect, making me question my judgment just like he did!! It’s so frustrating and unhelpful when you really need someone to believe you and that you are not insane!

  • Craig November 18th, 2013 at 1:01 PM #51

    As Laura pointed out (above… #23), the partners of BPD’s are also left in tatters. I’ve been divorced 13 years now (23 year marriage to BPD) and I’m still suffering PTSD. But getting out meant I could live again. Life is good.

  • janeen herskovitz November 18th, 2013 at 3:17 PM #52

    Andrea, thank you for writing this article. It’s well-written and right on. I will be sharing it with clients for sure.

  • Bethy November 20th, 2013 at 11:17 PM #53

    Hi. I could have written your piece, nearly word for word. I spent so much time confused & the second I made resolve to leave he seemed to read my mind & say exactly the right thing to keep me engaged. I doubted myself, felt bad about me, & fortunately he devalued me & discarded me. So grateful he did. I had noticed that he seemed to maintain contact with every female who’d rejected him. I also have worn out my friends as I’ve tried to figure out what the heck was going on. You aren’t crazy! Just dealing with the fall out of crazy making. It gets better! Helps to remind ourselves to quit thinking healthy responses can come from an unhealthy mind.
    Also helped to read about the cognitive dissonance NPD’s have. I found myself baffled with his bizarre thinking.

  • Joanne December 3rd, 2013 at 11:03 PM #54

    I called it “Roller Coaster Merry-Go-Round”
    You either have to Jump Off this lunatic circus ride,
    get flung off or keep riding it till it kills you.
    I jumped off with a whole lot of injuries, but
    I still am walking away, healing as I go. You can and will too. Only you can decide when Enough is Enough. Going ROUND and ROUND in continual Highs and Lows..constant drama and trauma. After awhile…well, one day, you just jump off. Better it be YOUR decision than getting Flung off or Stuck in a Prison of Madness.

  • Mia B December 6th, 2013 at 1:05 PM #55

    I really appreciated this article. I feel so empowered and could relate to many of the comments. Where is part two???

  • Bee neely December 15th, 2013 at 12:51 PM #56

    I’m not in a relationship with a NPD but I know a young man who is very much brain washed by his mother which only started a year ago. Will he ever come out of this disaster. He hated her an seen her nasty ways before the brainwashing began. He is now 18 graduating in 6 months and hoping to join the military. I’m so heart broken because even I can’t reach him he won’t even look me in the face. NM started this when she found out he told the law about sisters abuse. Should I just let go….

  • jennifer December 31st, 2013 at 8:02 PM #57

    Wow…. I have read so much trying to make sense of what has happened to me. Your description is by far the best I have seen yet. It is so hard to have lived thru something that i thought i would never live thru only to come out into a world that I have no idea how to relate to anymore. It is truly like learning to live again. I am out but I still feel crazy and find myself most comfortable when I am alone. I think it is because I have become so accustomed to the feeling. I don’t know. Anyway I usually just read the stories but I had to respond to your perfect description of the hell they so perfectly manipulate u into willingly putting yourself into.

  • Toni January 30th, 2014 at 11:38 PM #58

    How can I actually find a therapist trained in treating the victims of narcissistic abuse? Is there a specific “term” I can google or a website?

  • admin2 January 31st, 2014 at 11:54 AM #59

    Hi Toni,
    Thanks for your question. If you use the Advanced Search function on GoodTherapy.org, you can select either “Abuse / Survivors of Abuse” or “Relationships & Marriage” in the drop-down list of concerns, and specify the geographic region you want to search. After selecting a therapist (or several) to email, you may want to specify that you are looking for some help in recovery from narcissistic abuse. The vast majority who specialize in abuse or relationship problems will have experience and expertise with concerns about narcissism.
    Our search page is here: http://www.goodtherapy.org/advanced-search.html

    We hope that helps! Best wishes,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team
    :)

  • STM February 5th, 2014 at 12:09 PM #60

    I’m trying to figure out if my partner of 4 years was indeed a narcissist, maybe some of you can give me insight.

    He constantly showered me with gifts, we did everything together & we always said we loved each other throughout the whole day.

    His personality traits include but not limited to – self critical about weight, getting older, name dropping, always talking about his past achievements, loved to get new things all the time, he helped me get my first car and credit card, he was often critical of celebrities but always loved the lifestyle of the rich and famous, he would always compare himself to his sibling who made great money.

    He then decided to end the relationship, calling me unmotivated, complacent, that I didn’t support him and that we just had different goals in life. I felt some tension in the weeks leading up but thought he was having issues with his anxiety (which was almost every night that he couldn’t fall asleep unless he had a couple glasses of wine)

    After the break up, he treated me cold. He proceeded to say “I guess I just fell out of love with you”… But he also said “it’s not just you, it’s me, I need to figure out what I want to do with my life”

    So a lot of the traits point to narcissism but the part about him being loving and emotionally involved for 4 years is what throws me off considering it’s been said narcissist are emotionally unavailable.

    I just feel blindsided and hurt by all of this… Especially considering he’s basically told me to fuck off and go my own way… Not what I expected considering how good our relationship was.

    The one thing that still holds me to believe he had some sort of heart was how big of a mess he was breaking up with me, he was sobbing, and kept apologizing and said he still loved me. It was a big cluster fuck of emotions.

    In hindsight, he had left what he claimed to be his best friend since high school to start a relationship with me. According to him, his best friend had been in love with him a long time and was jealous of him dating me. I sometimes wonder if there was another side to the story, that his friend wasn’t 100% in the wrong? Ugh this is so confusing, it hurts and I’m trying to hold onto any type of hope that he did indeed have a place for me in his heart, that he loved me for 4 years straight and just fell out or love due to his own demons rather then have never really loved me at all.

    Advice anyone? Was this a sign of a narcissist?

  • Andrea Schneider February 5th, 2014 at 3:59 PM #61

    STM- individuals with narcissism can have traits or a full blown “disorder” — a person can fall any where on that spectrum of narcissism with some variation in strengths and areas of growth… Bottom line is that your man was not available to you in the way you needed him to be, so it doesn’t really matter “what” he is — except he wasn’t the right person for you…

  • dramafree February 9th, 2014 at 10:59 AM #62

    Put on your Nike sneakers and run! He’s toying with your emotions. Anyone who loves you doesn’t act that way. Don’t waste anymore of your time. If he was right for you you never would have to ask that question.

  • Paul February 12th, 2014 at 11:27 AM #63

    I have just got out of a relationship with a person who has all the characteristics. I feel hurt, angry and empty. I tried so hard and it was draining.

  • Scott March 4th, 2014 at 11:21 PM #64

    I met this girl about 6 years ago and liked her. About a year ago she got fired from her job. So I called her and we started seeing each other. She was smart, beautiful, passionate, and she didn’t take my crap. Her sense of humor was sarcastic like mine. She was maninpulative, but in a very attractive way; a real turn on. She was like a dream girl.

    She was having financial problems so I started helping her out with her groceries, gas, utilities, insurance, student loan, etc… It all added up to about 15000 over 10 months. Despite all this her house was going into foreclosure in January. So I loaned her another 1800. Ever since that loan her attitude has changed dramatically. We had some arguments before, but not like these. The verbal abuse is shocking. She would make threats all the time. For example after about a month of this verbal abuse and being stood up multiple times, she calls me and wants me to help her out with her utility payment or they are shutting off her power. Well I tried but I wasn’t able to get the money to her in time. So for about 3 days she gave me non stop verbal abuse over the phone. So when I said that I felt like I had let her down, she texted me back that I was a f****** d****** and that she needed the money now moron. Well I snapped and I finally let into her about the way she had been treating me since I loaned her that money. Her response was not that she was sorry, but that she would never forgive me. I stated that she had abused me 10 times the amount I had been mean to her. I don’t think she even heard me.

    So I ended up loaning her another 400 so that her account wouldn’t over draft. She then stated that I was a compulsive liar and that she did not trust me and she threatened to never see me again. When I asked what I had lied about she couldn’t come up with anything so she just started making stuff up. I disagreed with that to no avail. I said that the more I did what she wanted, the worse she treated me and I apologized for the nasty things I had said that she wouldn’t forgive. I just wanted things to go back to the way they were before I loaned her that money. When she was like a dream girl.

    So she calls me up and she wants a new bike. So I said I am not going to get her anything because the more I do for her the worse she treats me. She lit into me like I have never heard. She said that I never give her anything out of the kindness of my heart, that she hates me, and I am an idiot. She accused me of lying again about something that wasn’t true. I didn’t think that all this impacted me but I have lost a lot of sleep and I got ill this last weekend as a result of all this. I called her on Monday and stated that it was a good idea not to talk for the next 2 weeks. I think perhaps she has a new victim because she has only texted me a couple of times over the last 4 days. Anyway, I just didn’t know how much of an impact this was having on me. I am disinterested in everything now and I feel like I have no purpose, i.e. worthless. So many times I knew here texts were going to be nasty, but I just had to read them. It was like I was addicted to the pain. It comes on slowly but then escalates and you don’t even notice how you are affected.

  • Ansel March 17th, 2014 at 1:51 PM #65

    No Andrea Schneider, you are wrong about NPD and BPD being very close or similar.

    I cant overemphasize this enough.

    BPD people are at the mercy of their over reaching and over active emotions, with a large touch of seeing the world as a cynical and untrustable place thrown in. Our largest problem is an exisistential fear of abandonement. we are stuck in that spiritual development of not feeling lovable and with thenfatlistic view that whatever love we do feel that we will lose it. BPD hurt others only secondary to intense fear of abandonement and the pain that it evokes. They often feel extreme guilt and empathy days, weeks or even months later for the hurt they cause over reacting to this fear.

    Narcissists are in fact the exact opposite. They hurt people because they are not in touch with themselves and their feeling. They don not have a “heart” or a conscience. Narcissists have decided early in their life not to value love “at this time”.

    What this says about the human condition is that healthy people fall somewhere between these two extremes.

  • Andrea Schneider March 20th, 2014 at 8:40 PM #66

    @Ansel…you are certainly entitled to your opinion. However, I respectfully disagree. Best wishes to you.

  • Stacy W March 21st, 2014 at 6:37 AM #67

    It’s been almost 2 years since I left my Narc/BPD relationship. One of the most painful parts was having to physically leave the place that I loved, my home because I knew after many years that if I stayed physically in the same place as him I would always be manipulated back into the same b*******. I’m reading and writing because though I am in a healthy relationship with a wonderful, kind person now I still feel haunted and often have dreams that make me relive the pain over and over again. I have been perplexed because it’s been so long. I should be over it, right? Well, I’m not and I feel guilty and weak that I’m not over it. Right after I left Brett Gyllenskog swooped up one of my good friends, she was moved in with him within a month of me leaving. I thought that she was one of my best friends. I just have to remind myself that I also fell victim to his manipulation so many times. I thought it was my fault that I wasn’t good enough and that perhaps she is but I know now, from lots of therapy, that there is NO good match for a narcissist!! She is now in the same pain I was and although my hurt and anger are still here ultimately I feel pity on her.
    I just wanted to thank all of you that have commented and to those who wrote the article. Especially all the parts about, sleep, reactive depression, nightmares, etc.. I thought I was crazy and totally lame that I still carry the pain around and dream of him and her so often still.
    All of this has helped me feel okay about where I’m at and helped me to see how damaging these people and relationships can really be. I don’t have to feel so crazy and weak anymore about still reeling from this experience.

    Research characteristics of “REAL” Narcissistic/Borderline/Anti-social… Personality Disorder!!! It’s not just someone who think’s they’re pretty awesome and likes to look at themselves in the mirror. It’s so much more.

    Our society’s casual idea of what Narcissism is NOT the reality! They will manipulate you every time you try to leave. You feel like you can’t go on without them because they have groomed you to feel that way. That’s not real! – even though you feel physically ill and overly fearful at the thought of leaving. I promise that It will never end! It is impossible for them to change because of the type disorder they have does not allow them to look at themselves the way that we can and they NEVER will be able to.

    So ultimately please hear my advice…(I do realize that kids and marriage make this even more complex and difficult)…

    BUY YOURSELF A PLANE TICKET TO SOMEWHERE SAFE AND AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT….BECAUSE IT DOES!!!….even if it means leaving everything you love and where you want to be.

    ….and STOP BELIEVING THAT YOU’RE NOT BEAUTIFUL ENOUGH, STRONG ENOUGH, SMART ENOUGH, SKINNY ENOUGH, ETC…

    IT’S A LIE!

    THEY NEED YOU TO FEEL THAT WAY SO THEY CAN KEEP YOU THERE TO KEEP SUPPLYING THEM WITH WHAT THEIR DISORDER NEEDS TO SURVIVE.

    REMEMBER THEY ARE NOT WELL – THEY ARE MENTALLY ILL….you cant expect “normal” behavior from them. So STOP TRYING!

    Love yourself and don’t look back.

    Lots of love and kind regards to all of you xoxo

  • Barbara March 22nd, 2014 at 11:38 AM #68

    All of this is true. I think the point at which you start to feel confused like maybe YOU are the one who is narcissistic is a big red flag that it is time to go. At that point the NARC has gotten to you! One thing I have discovered is that a NARC is often generous to you and your friends and family This may also confuse you. However, being generous isn’t about how much they love and care about you and yours. It is about their reflection ie how their being generous reflects on them and makes them look good as well as being a disguise! In other word it is all about THEM. This was a major realization for me. I got into this situation and it took six months to realize he was a narcissist. The way I got in it and got stuck was my codependency issues.

  • James Cullen March 23rd, 2014 at 2:06 PM #69

    There is a more subtle form of this abuse, which can be found in the high functioning and covert narcissist, often found in women, who are astute enough not to blow there cover.
    Be prepared for no one to believe you, after all aren’t the abusers such lovely people, often church goers and outwardly successful people. Be prepared for your efforts to confront the abuser to be met with lies and denials, having your history changed and distorted ever so discreetly, (See the tim Gaslight) and you be made to look like the abuser. get out with a plan, and be aware that your emotions might well be in turmoil so much that your attempts to handle the situation seem to backfire. You may all end up looking foolish and loosing friends, but those that leave were captivated by the abuser and in a way victims also. It hurts, and the mess after hurts too, but the most profound disturbance comes from knowing that it was all a lie. That the person you thought you had dated/married, is not the real person at all, in fact there is no real person, they are like chameleons, very sad, but you cannot change them, change yourself. Look at your boundaries.

  • Lori March 23rd, 2014 at 6:39 PM #70

    Sounds like u have really been taken advantage of. At this point I think u need to cut your losses and run away; no looking back.

  • TzuZen March 24th, 2014 at 10:13 PM #71

    Leslie, many colleges have counseling services that are available at low or no cost to current students. Check with your university health service. There are therapists who do low or no cost counseling, too.

  • cris March 25th, 2014 at 9:55 AM #72

    Reading your story is just like you put my thoughts into words! Its not easy.. I’ve felt like its a spiritual battle like no other!! God has been revealing to me painful reality’s. Ive lied to myself for bout 5 years…… its painful!! Be blessed..

  • Lorraine April 8th, 2014 at 4:57 PM #73

    My relationship lasted 7 years. Or should I say I stayed to be humiliated, lied to, abused and romanced. I changed so much I felt dead inside, when driving to his home I would feel sick and never knew what to expect. I in all honesty cannot remember the worst abuse, but do remember sitting in the fetal position for days knowing I was bad and till the last 2 years rang up and begged forgiveness. I was told he was not sure if I were a suitable person for him to have a relationship with. I was too serious to casual, I was never right. Then he would give me cars, trips overseas. So I always thought how could he be bad, he was generous. My work peers thought I had the best man on earth. I made every meal he ate but that was nothing because when he took me to dinner it was much more expensive than anything I did. In the end I began to forget how o cook, afraid to tell him my children had come to dinner without him knowing. If he knew they had been to dinner it was always you cook for them and get too tired. No it was cooking for others that annoyed him. The last time I was badly behaved he said it is over and why I did it I dont know I said thank you good bye. Blocked his phone number after many hang up calls from him. I am still shell shocked but I will never make contact again. I would rather be alone than be frightened to be myself and be controlled to the stage I had died.

  • Sally Ann J April 14th, 2014 at 4:15 AM #74

    After reading all of your comments it’s like a lightbulb went off.
    I have been on a merry go round for 6 years with a man who displays all year traits. Overly generous to those around him, never thankless about it though. One minute loved me next minute was cold and mean. When I would receive a text or call I was never sure who I would get. Sometimes i would monitor myself as I knew certain things would set him off and I wanted to keep the peace. One comment I read really resonated with me, and that was about putting up boundaries and then removing them. I’ve constantly done this. I moved in, I moved out. I got pregnant he made my life difficult, while celebrating it with his friends. It was a confusing hell. You question your own sanity, and it destroys your self esteem. As you are constantly having to pump up their esteem. Another trait I noticed is when something bad happens in their life they want you to rally about them, if the tables are turned though they can’t be found. Almost creating a fight to avoid to be there for you. I’m out of this now thankfully.

  • Michelle Mallon, MSW, LSW April 18th, 2014 at 2:51 AM #75

    Andrea, I am currently trying to raiser awareness about this type of abuse here in Ohio. It has not been easy. In fact, worldwide, it seems as if the United States is lagging significantly behind Ireland, England and Australia when it comes to any sort of acknowledgement about this type of abuse. I have found everything you have described in your article above to be on target with what victims of this type of abuse endure in trying to remove themselves from these toxic relationships but also in regaining their sense of identity once they are free from the abuse. Without the awareness and insight into the reality of what they went through, victims are significantly at risk for being preyed upon by other Narcissists. However, it’s the ability to find insight and awareness that is sorely lacking. I am finding that currently, victims are relying on social media sites to get an understanding of what happened. That is fraught with complications of its own. In addition, there seem to be far too many victims who still have no idea that they are being manipulated so they haven’t found their ways to any of these sites yet. Promoting awareness about this heinous form of abuse seems to be tricky. It sometimes feels like I am telling people I just saw a UFO when I speak of it (based on the reactions I get from people when I talk about this). I would be very interested to hear how your journey to help promote awareness of this type of abuse for your client’s sake has been going for you. Could you comment? Thank you very much for your time. Michelle Mallon, MSW, LSW

  • Michelle Mallon, MSW, LSW April 18th, 2014 at 3:11 AM #76

    Also, I would like to comment on the reply posted by admin2 January 31st, 2014 at 11:54 AM in response to the question by Toni. Toni’s question had to do with how to find a therapist who specializes in this type of abuse. The part of the admin reply that worries me is this “The vast majority who specialize in abuse or relationship problems will have experience and expertise with concerns about narcissism.”

    This is simply not true. One of the reasons why Andrea wrote this article is because of the fact that this type of abuse is so poorly understood by mental health professionals. She explains early on in the article that she primarily learned about the aftermath of this type of abuse from her clients. Like most of us in the mental health profession, she did not come to understand this type of abuse or the devastating effects it can have on the people around the Narcissists during her graduate training. The ability to understand and help victims of Narcissistic abuse is not something currently being addressed in most graduate programs for mental health professionals. And that should frighten all of us.

    I feel it necessary to say something about this because Toni is asking a very important question and I feel like the reply you gave runs completely contrary to what this entire article is about. How many of the people posting comments about this article sought out professional help during and after abusive relationships endured at the hands of a malignant Narcissist only to be told they needed to try harder to work things out with them? The damage that can be done by well intentioned mental health professionals who have no real understanding of what this type of abuse is is very real.

    So I would respectfully ask that her question be readdressed. And perhaps I would add to this question- what can victims of this type of abuse do to help prevent victimization from mental health professionals who don’t “get it”? Until more people like Andrea stand up and speak out about the effects this type of abuse has on everyone around the abuser, it will continue to be something where victims must search social media trying to find the currently hidden path to recovery. Thank you for your time. Michelle Mallon, MSW, LSW

  • Andrea Schneider April 18th, 2014 at 10:51 AM #77

    Michelle — thank you for your comment — I agree, awareness is really limited and many therapists are not trained in this area — it’s great you are out there spreading the word — I hope that with more people like you out discussing the issue that more individuals will realize they are not alone and recovery is very possible with a trained therapist

  • Jami April 27th, 2014 at 10:09 AM #78

    Janelle
    So well stated . I totally deal with these exact issues daily ! And the lack of empathy is unbelievable! He doesn’t even have empathy for our 10 year old son ! I’m so grateful to know at least what I am dealing with now . It has given me the ability to know that he is not going to change and we have to get away ASAP ! Thank you for your comments !

  • anonymous person May 21st, 2014 at 2:22 PM #79

    Finally, there is a name to this type of emotional and verbal abuse. I couldn’t explain to anyone how I am/was made to feel. I’ve finally came to the realization that its not me and I’m not going crazy.

  • Emily May 24th, 2014 at 2:45 PM #80

    Death of the Imaginary Person: Narcissistic Abuse and the Aftermath

    I am mourning the loss of some one who never existed. What do you do when when the wool has been pulled from over your eyes and your heart is broken, specifically when you miss and love some one who literally does, and never did, exist. You have to mourn the death of an invisible man. You have to start your entire life over, and deal with feelings of rage, injustice, heart-breaking sadness (sadness so cruel and bitter that it physically hurts), and the most ugly, evil betrayal and social slander (smear campaigns worthy of a politician) you can ever experience.
    The master manipulator had you in his claws, you truly loved him (or the “him” as it was presented, who does not exist), and he has a network of family and friends who are supporting his social agenda by remaining ignorant to this. He still has them fooled, and you are now the villain because (god forbid) you had enough respect for yourself and your safety to stand up and walk out (run like your hair was on fire). You finally saw through his web of bullshit, you saw who this “person” truly was, and for that you must now be punished, be “destroyed.” You are public enemy and threat #1.
    You have to let go of a life, a reality, a future that you have been robbed of; you have to let go of a soul mate and a kindred spirit who in reality was only a façade used to manipulate you. You have to mourn the death of the imaginary love of your life, the future that you were building with them, the life you had created with them. You feel like an idiot. You feel empty, used, and discarded. You are left with nothing and you have to accept the fact that some one who led you to believe you were each other’s everything, does and never did care for you one bit. You mean nothing to him, and you never did. Human beings are nothing but pawns to him, used to maintain his false image, feed his ego, and be manipulated according to his various agendas. You were idealized, and then de-valued. You were adored and then destroyed. You were “loved” and then ripped apart… and then judged for its affects on you by the responsible party themselves. You were everything, and then you were nothing. Now you are dead to them; now you are yesterday’s trash.
    You have to recognize how much the emotional abuse has changed you so that you can heal from it. You have to fight with everything you have in order to stay strong and not let what devastating forms of psychological abuse can do to destroy one’s self-esteem, sense of reality, and sense of self-worth. The gas-lighting, the manipulation, the stone-walling. The brutal words that echo in your head have to be fought off constantly. You feel like you are haunted, there are nightmares, constant shock, and confusion.
    You cannot apologize to loved-ones enough, because you also have to deal with the fact that there was (and likely still is) collateral damage. You didn’t just get your heart ripped from your chest, the ones you love and care about the most had to sit by in utter confusion as they watched you change, and had no idea why. They got hurt too. You were sucked dry by an emotional vampire, a disordered individual who “loved you,” and then projected all of their own deficiencies onto you, in such an insidious and manipulative matter that it worked wonders even against a woman who was highly intelligent, strong, and kind.
    In every way they were able to get under your skin and damage you, and then they judged you for it. You lost your value to them; they parasitically attacked everything they “loved” about you (and that you loved about yourself), and then devalued you as a human and judged your self-worth based on the very things they were responsible for doing. They wanted you to lose value of yourself; they had you open up to them and share your every vulnerability and life experience, and then deliberately used it against you. They are proud that they know how to “hit people where it really hurts.”
    By the time you move on (if you haven’t already been discarded and left alone in a state of total shock and confusion), you have already been replaced. There is a new target; you left this person for the sake of both of you, and after doing everything in their power to destroy you, they re-focused their attention immediately to the new one(s). You never really meant anything to this person. They had their “back-ups,” the alternate sources of ego supply (women being objects, toys, new victims to feed their pathology) in the background ready to give them what they want. You were “the love of their life, they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with you, wanted you to move in and be with them all the time,” you were building a future together… absolutely sick. In retrospect, god knows what previous target was nursing their wounds in the background while the narcissist was sweeping you off your feet, even if there wasn’t “overlap.” To the victims of past, present, and future, my heart truly goes out to you.
    You will never know if you were ever the only one at any point, if you ever had received one true iota of humane treatment. You will never have the full truth or the closure that you deserve. All you really ever were: A source of Narcissistic Supply. You were being fed on by a parasite, a misogynist who is literally incapable of love and has no real interest or respect for other people other than what role they can play in maintaining a false image and an ego. They are sick. They are cruel. This awful “human” is incredibly intelligent – they only fooled you for months and they’ve had others in their life fooled for years, possibly forever; family members and close friends, pawns in part of their game. This is the same person that you shared everything, your life with, the same person who you dedicated yourself to, to whom you gave your heart and would do anything for. You are nothing to them, you never were. The man you wanted to spend the rest of your life with isn’t just gone, he didn’t die; he never even existed. How do you mourn that?
    You now know that you were being betrayed and manipulated the whole time. They are cereal cheaters and liars; you were “the one” but you had no human value. The person you slept next to every night, thinking they loved you: They were your worse enemy and you didn’t even know it.
    They don’t deserve human relationships; they deserve no one. They deserve for everyone to know who they really are, but you know that will never happen. They’ve had their whole lives to focus on how to build a fake persona, and manipulate everyone around them to use at their own will. This is not human behavior; this is beyond sick. Something in them is broken, and it can never be fixed.
    Evil does exist. And it lies in the shadows of some of the most charming people you will ever meet.

  • Matt May 29th, 2014 at 9:07 AM #81

    Thank you! I have felt so alone the last 4 years and as I cry writing this, I finally am thinking it want my fault. I just started counselling but I feel my entire life was sucked from me. I just hope one day I’ll be able to have a normal relationship again. Everything I meet or start talking to a girl I can’t stop thinking about how my ex was like and if I see one spec of similarity I run for the hills. I hope in the end I’ll get past this, but idk how I will

  • Victoria June 2nd, 2014 at 10:42 AM #82

    I joined this thread today because of a break up I went through in January. It was three months long, ended terribly. And I’ve never been so heartbroken in my life….A few days ago someone sent me an email suggesting that I look into narcissistic abuse. I thought I would share my story again here and see if I could bring myself any closure or find others who could relate to my situation or bring me any advice on the topic. This is my story….

    After the breakup I felt devastated and literally could not understand how I could live without him. He had a lot of baggage but I accepted him anyway because I could feel how much pain he was in. He had a four year old child, apparently according to him, his ex got pregnant on purpose and then after seven years of being together she told him she didn’t love him anymore and left him. On top of that his dad came out recently, his parents had to get divorced after having been married for over thirty years, and his grandpa was a convicted child molester. And after his breakup with his “ex”, which I later found out was a divorce with his EX WIFE, my ex tried to kill himself by drinking himself to death (when his son was around two years old), and ended up in rehab.

    I met my ex online in November and we were only together for three months. He told me and did a lot of things that I didn’t want to see as red flags. I fell in love with him the moment we first spoke and I just wanted so desperately to make him happy and help his pain go away. He told me about his family issues, how his ex “girlfriend” came up to him one day and told him she didn’t love him anymore and left him…and I felt his pain. I wondered why such an amazing, special person deserved to feel any of that pain. I only wanted to see the beauty in him. He didn’t actually tell me about his child until we met in person, about three weeks after talking almost every day online…..I slept with him on the first date, out of lust..and out of already having fallen for him. It was a very special, intimate night for me…but only after we slept together did he tell me about his kid. Not when we first spoke online, not before we met in person, AFTER we slept together, during which he started begging me to not leave him. I stayed….despite my confusion and shock…because I had already fallen for him, and realized he had been through a lot and that everyone deserved to be loved despite their pasts. This is something I probably should have taken as a red flag…not his child, but his dishonesty about his child.

    It seemed like in the beginning of our relationship he had treated me like a queen. He told me he would do anything for me, that he would never want to argue with me or hurt me, that I was his angel, that he couldn’t imagine his life without me, that he wanted to marry me, wanted me to meet his kid and move in right away. He told me that I had saved him and had transformed his life from one that was black and white to one that was full of color. He told me I looked at him in a way that no one else ever had and that now he finally understood what real love felt like and that it was a kind of love that his ex was never able to give him.

    Needless to say he broke up with me suddenly after three months and painfully told me he never meant a word he said to me. He tried to convince me I was bipolar and insane and that I was just like his ex who had a severe personality disorder, according to him. I told him after a month of us being together that I was in love with him and he used that as a weapon against me in the end. It was extremely difficult for me to be so open with him and I had a flat out panic attack when I told him. I came from a two year relationship, during which my ex never told me he loved me. I told him I loved him after six months and suffered for another year and a half until we finally fell apart. When I told Andrew I loved him, I had a panic attack and blurted it out, but he said it back and I literally just cried out of happiness. I was overjoyed.

    I admit, I got extremely vulnerable and insecure after I told him I loved him. I constantly questioned if he felt the same way, I would get upset and fight with him if he didn’t respond to my texts for an entire day or if I wanted to talk about our relationship and he didn’t want to. Or if we fought and he went to bed instead of making sure I was okay. I got paranoid that I cared too much for him and that he didn’t care for me enough.
    I know my insecurities irritated him and pushed him away in some ways. Right before we broke up I could sense something was wrong and I rushed over to his place with a gift I bought him, wanting to hold him…. and he threw my arms off of him, cussing under his breath, and put a pillow him between us so that I wouldn’t touch him. I stayed the night, hoping that he would crawl back to me and hold me, but he never did. He just yelled at me anytime I tried to kiss him or touch him. The next morning I wrote him a letter apologizing, I sent him loving messages telling him I wanted to change and didn’t want to lose him, conveying how much I cared about him….

    And two days later we were over. And he told me all of these terrible things….telling me I was a complete nutcase for ever saying I love you to him, especially after a month. He said, “What kind of crazy person says I love you after a month in a full blown panic attack?” When I asked him why he even said “I love you” back or why he would tell me he loved me multiple times, almost every time we hung out, without me even instigating it, he said he was just happy and “felt like saying it” at the moment but didn’t mean it…and that goes for everything he said….marriage, meeting the kid, everything. He said he never meant it. And that I WAS THE ONE who changed, and that’s why he took back everything.

    And I believed him. For four months now I have been telling myself that I deserved how he treated me, that I am actually insane and that I lost the best person I had ever met. I have cried every day from the pain. I tried to see him about a month ago after many many many attempts at trying to get him back and trying to convince him I cared about him and wasn’t crazy. Finally after ditching me and leaving me waiting at a bar for him or waiting by the phone for him to let me know if he could hang out, and him ignoring my texts, he finally asked me to come over. I tried to act as though nothing had happened, I tried to act cool and calm. And we ended up drinking and sleeping together……after which he told me he had so much fun with me and asked me to start staying the night at his place again and that he wanted to see me the following week. Neither of those things happened. I tried texting him multiple times to hang out, he would ignore my texts and give me excuses that he locked his phone in his car, “maybe tomorrow”. And tomorrow never came. I ended up texting him when I was falling apart, begging to see him and wanting him back and he never responded…..and about a week later I found out from his friend that Andrew came up to him and asked him to date me so that I would stop texting him and get off his back…….I was devastated. He acted so friendly and caring and loving when I saw him again..he barely let me climb out of the bed and walk out of his door. He started telling me how pretty I looked. And then he completely ignored me once again and made me out to be this crazy person. I felt as though he had broken up with me twice.
    It was a complete stab to the heart. After sleeping with him I somehow believed things would come back to normal and that he would want to see me…but he completely used me and left me and tried to sell me to his friends…..

    Since then I have been making a list of all of the red flags that I saw during our short relationship, but chose to ignore because of my codependency and my inability to let go of the original picture of himself he painted for me….the perfect “family man” who impressed my parents and was romantic and was a southern gentleman and loved animals and children.

    - He lied to me about being married. He blurted it out accidentally when he started to tell me he went to rehab. He started telling me he went to rehab a MONTH into our relationship during a conversation I brought up about my brother who went to rehab. I don’t even know if he would have told me if I hadn’t brought up my brother. During our conversation he goes…yeah I ended up in rehab because of my ex wife…uhhh I mean ex girlfriend. I said, wait…what? Andrew…you told me she was your ex girlfriend. (I asked him earlier, right when we started dating, why he chose not to marry his ex girlfriend after having a child with her and he said, “I wouldn’t marry someone just for that reason….I would want to be sure they were the love of my life first.”)
    In response to my confusion he said, what are you talking about? I thought it was obvious that we were married? My son has my last name doesnt he?
    And I sat there, completely confused, wondering if I IMAGINED the conversation I had with him earlier about why he didn’t marry his ex girlfriend. And he gave me this explanation of how his marriage to her was just a piece of paper that he wanted to get in order for his son to have his last name…and that they never had an actual wedding ceremony. He started putting the focus on his son and how “important” it was for him to have his last name. Why did I stay at that point? Confusion, maybe not wanting to believe that he flat out lied to me about being married…and I continued to feel sorry for him. About a month after we broke up I found out from his friend that Andrew actually DID have a wedding ceremony, with flowers and family and friends and everything. And that his ex wife had a ring as well.

    - I found out from his friend after our breakup that he had a bad argument with his mom over the phone and he took her dog which was staying with him and threw it out of the window….This guy, who claimed that he wouldn’t hurt a fly and cried when animals were hurt in movies.

    - He wouldn’t stop talking about his ex and all she had done to him…I feel as though she was brought up almost every time we saw each other…how crazy she was, how if I met her she would seem so perfect but that in fact she was a manipulative, insane woman. How when he met her he thought she was a gift from god but that she had changed and ruined his life. He would compare me to her which made me so uncomfortable, not only in matters of love, but how I was “prettier” than her and so forth. I let him talk because I felt sad for him..but I should have recognized this as a sign that he wasn’t over his past relationship and that he just enjoyed demonizing people so that he could play the victim.

    - He told me after his divorce that he started texting his wife hate messages telling her he wished she was dead. And he kept telling me that she was fighting for full custody and that she had his son for five days out of the week and he only had him for two…I should have questioned why…but he always filled my head with stories about how crazy she was and how much she ruined his life and how she took his son away from him… so I always took his side…and always focused on his pain and victimization instead of actually taking his aggression and anger as a red flag.

    - He told me he never celebrated anything and that he spent his birthdays alone…that he didnt have any friends..Whenever we argued he always said, Victoria, please don’t be mad at me…You’re the only one who is nice to me.

    - He told me he would go to bars all of the time alone and get so wasted that he would pass out on the street. Every time I came over, he always had a drink in his hand..ALWAYS. He wouldn’t leave his apartment without drinking a full glass of whiskey or smoking a joint, even if he knew I was waiting for him or that we would be late.

    - He told me after his dad came out he yelled at him calling him all of these derogatory names. I often heard his phone conversations with his mom and he would yell at her and showed constant annoyance when talking about his family. One time he had to talk to her with the shower running so that I wasn’t able to hear the way he was speaking to her.

    - Almost every time we went out he would want to leave the place we went to, despite me wanting to stay. He always complained about how crowded it was, how it wasn’t his scene…even though I wanted to stay.

    - The first night he met my whole family which was on my birthday in January my twin brother asked us to all go out to a club or a bar after dinner. Instead of agreeing to come he said, “Party at my place, I’m going to sleep,”…in front of my whole family who he had just met that night and on MY birthday. I had a conversation with my sister after she had met him and she said..I really didn’t like how Andrew said that. And it was our first time meeting him. Couldn’t he be more polite? He also complained the entire time during dinner about his stomach hurting. The ENTIRE time. To my whole family.

    - He would tell me how all of these people would wrongfully accuse him of being a bad father. I always wondered why anyone would accuse him of such a thing. Now I know that it wasn’t an accident.

    - I told him I wanted him to use condoms and start using protection because I didn’t want to be on birth control anymore and it gave me adverse reactions. I told him that it was important for me and I didn’t want to take any risks, especially because of what happened in his previous relationship. He agreed and told me he would buy them immediately and then never did. When I asked him why, he lied to me saying “I had one in my apartment and tried to put it on and I hated it. I’ll never use them”….I knew that he didnt have any condoms in his apartment because I had asked him the first time we slept together and he said no….He flat out lied to me.

    - He only saw his son twice a week but would always complain to me about how annoying his son was, how hard it was to be a single father and how hard it was to spend all of this time constantly watching his son. This was his SON he was talking about..this beautiful four year old boy. And he would always say, “Dont worry it’ll be easier when you’re around…I felt as though he almost expected me to alleviate him from his own SON. And then he would come up to me later telling me he wanted to fight his ex wife in court to get his son for more than two days out of the week…none of it made any sense.

    - He seemed materialistic, telling me I needed to clean my earrings or he would text me that some girl at the bar he was at was so ugly out of nowhere. His Instagram was filled with pictures he took of people that didn’t know their pictures were being taken. It upset me seeing how he paraded and made fun of these innocent people.

    - There were times when he snapped at me. I remember the night of my birthday I got really sick and he took care of me. And in the middle of the night I rolled over and wanted to put my arms around him and he yelled at me saying “C’mon Victoria I just spent all night taking care of you and I have a four year old that wakes me up all the time, get off me and stop asking me to cuddle”

    - On a personal note, I had a physical issue when we were intimate. It was painful for me to have sex with him. But I still wanted to sleep with him to feel close to him. I remember one morning I tried to sleep with him and in the middle of everything he got up and started getting dressed. I was confused and I ran out of his apartment, feeling completely embarrassed and self conscious. He walked up to me and told me that he doesn’t “enjoy having sex with someone when it hurts for them”. He was so insensitive, knowing that I had that problem.

    I feel as though there were SO many issues and red flags that I ignored. Because one, I had no respect for myself and two, I was too focused on him and his happiness and I was truly codependent and so in love with him and the fairytale picture he first created in my head that I didn’t want to see anything else….Anytime anything was off, he would counter his strange behaviors and negative comments with something sweet and romantic, telling me I was the best thing that ever happened to him.
    And all I did was blame myself whenever anything was off. All I wanted to do was take his pain away and love him. All I saw was the good person that charmed me and seemed so perfect in the beginning…………

    I’ve realized from this relationship that my codependency made me blind to a lot of things and that I do need to work on myself, but I also have realized that I was a victim of a narcissist and psychopath.
    Now I understand what a con artist he was. He truly fooled me and my family. All the promises, love, marriage, moving in….were things I latched onto and fantasized about. But for a man to say things like that so early on and then take them back and throw me away like a piece or garbage, telling me I was insane and just like his ex and to make a joke of me to his friends telling them to date me so that I would never try to contact him again…..its just unforgivable and terrible.

    If any of you have had similar experiences I would really appreciate any advice on how to move on from this situation and overcome the narcissistic abuse I endured. If you would ever like to talk, please feel free to message me as well. I’m here for you. Lots of hugs and love,

    V.

  • RM June 10th, 2014 at 12:15 PM #83

    Excellent article but it seems to be slanted towards the narcissistic behaviors found in some males. Many of these are common among many men not just narcissists.

    Has anyone had any experience with women that are narcissists?

    From what I have seen, one of the common threads between male and female narcissists seems to be rage and abuse. A need to demean those around them to maintain inflated sense of self worth.

  • Annette H. June 12th, 2014 at 4:36 PM #84

    I have not read this thread. I only want to say that my mother was a malignant narcissist and I struggled every day to justify my own existence because she brought me up to be no more than an extension/clone of herself, on this earth for no other reason than to fulfill her insatiable needs. She tortured me every day and When I was 17 she came after me with a carving knife because I disappointed her–but no one at school would help me or believe me because she was so charming and attractive. For twenty years I slept with a baseball bat under my bed and to this day I cannot sleep without drugs.

    Finally at forty years old I found a highly trained psychiatrist who spent years wiping my hard drive clean of my mothers influence and then reprogramming me. Psychologists I tried before him just looked at me, puzzled with no idea at all of just how damaging a person like that can be. Thank god I was delivered from my misery. My mother passed away three years ago and for the first time in my life I felt like I could breathe clean air. I hope she is rotting in hell.

  • Sophie June 18th, 2014 at 4:15 PM #85

    You wrote, very eloquently, what I have dealt with for five years. Thank you for verbalizing my own special hell.

  • Ashleigh June 24th, 2014 at 4:49 PM #86

    Omg a lot of what you said sounds similar to what I just went through. The part where he says he only felt love with me blah blah and not with his exes. And degrades women saying they don’t satisfy him. He was jealous and abused me for SMILING at a guy. Wouldn’t let me express myself or criticize me if I try to … I could go on and on. I’m glad I read this and realizing in what I was dealing with. Now and in the future I’ll recognize the red flags. And I won’t settle for less just cuz oh I get lonely. Nope. I hope all the narcissistic dirtbags rot in hell. Im sure they will there’s no worry there. I truly feel this planet is a battle of good and evil and in the end good will prevail. So he can enjoy his fake temporary grandeur writing on his Jack Frost Journals on Facebook. And I’m moving on SMARTER than I was before. The jerk got me pregnant too – but he’s not invited into my life. No megalomaniacs allowed.

  • Rebekah June 25th, 2014 at 10:52 PM #87

    A little late to the to discussion but I saw you mentioned Ohio. I’m struggling with a relationship right now that is literally unbelievable and unheard of in my opinion. Even I’ve been struggling with disbelief on this being the reality defining my life lately. Anyways I’m struggling to find qualified help in Ohio as well as a way out of the relationship that actually doesn’t add to the already existing worries and problems. You seem very knowledgeable about these issues and I was just wondering if you had any resources or references of anyone or any place that has the awareness and knowledge to help. Anything is better than nothing.

  • Michelle Mallon, MSW, LSW July 4th, 2014 at 5:21 AM #88

    Hi there Rebekah. I am sorry I did not see your message sooner. Luckily I just happened to go back and look at the comments here this morning. To be perfectly honest with you, it is very difficult to really get a grasp of which mental health professionals might possess enough of an understanding about Narcissist Victim Syndrome to even make any suggestions. In my experience, it is not uncommon for mental health professionals to “think” they understand when the reality is that they don’t get it at all.

    My own experience with healing from Narcissistic abuse was that fraught with difficulties. After I finally fled the relationship with the emotionally abusive psychologist I had initially taken my two small children to see, it took me about a month of falling apart to finally get up the courage to see a new psychologist. While she was very supportive and helped me file a 15 point ethical complaint with the Ohio Board of Psychology, she did not understand Narcissistic abuse. That resulted in me suffering from C-PTSD for almost a full year after the abuse trying desperately to make sense out of what had happened to me. What was even more disturbing was that when I finally found a website (TELL- therapyabuse.org) that began to explain what I had been through and unravel the mystery of the devastation I had endured, I took what I was learning to the new therapist. I remember taking the book that had really opened my eyes to what had happened to me (“Stalking the Soul: Emotional Abuse and the Erosion of Identity” to my therapist to show her what I found. I remember my hands were trembling, my voice was shaky as I read excerpts from the book that explained the incredible difficulty I had had with recovering only to hear her say, “But why would anyone do that? What would be the motive?” I offered to lend her my book and she said she could get her own copy of she wanted to read it. I actually stopped seeing this therapist for several months while I read all I could about Narcissistic abuse and come to some conclusion myself about whether or not this was what happened to me. I knew that if I continued to speak with her about it, I was going to become even more confused. All I knew was that this was the first time I had found anything that made the whole terrifying ordeal make sense. And I was hoping to stop reliving everything that happened again and again trying to make sense out of it. When I went back to see the therapist, I was quite sure of myself and what I had been through and I had enough confidence to confront her with her own lack of understanding about the problem. It turns out she thought she knew what Narcissistic abuse was. The reality was that she did not. I am finding that my story is far too common.

    Because of the immense difficulties I have had with finding the path to healing from this abuse- despite doing all of the things a person should do to get better- I have since become a very vocal advocate of changes in the mental health system. If you would like to read more about the work I am currently doing, you can find it here: naswoh.org/?page=mallon My hope is that very soon we will see major changes to the ways in which mental health professionals are presented with these types of concerns while they are still in their graduate programs. Currently, this is not a topic that is given any credence whatsoever in the graduate programs of many mental health professions. And that should enrage all of us who are struggling to overcome the devastating effects of this type of abuse.

    I do know that Andrea just created a new professional website andreaschneiderlcsw.com/narcissistic-abuse-recovery.html On it she clearly identifies that she is competent in helping victims of Narcissistic abuse. My hope is that as more mental health professionals become aware of this type of abuse, more will be in a position to help survivors and clearly state that on their list of competencies. I know Andrea does teletherapy but I believe she may only be working with clients in California. Hopefully she will clarify on this forum.

    My hope is that through the CEU course I am creating for the Ohio Chapter of the NASW, there will soon be competent social workers ready to help the countless victims of this type of abuse. Until then, you might be able to locate competent providers by asking other survivors. One place that may be able to get you to a large enough audience to actually find someone would be facebook.com/pages/After-Narcissistic-Abuse-There-is-Light-Life-Love/114835348601442

    One site that has been instrumental to me in my own journey to heal from this abuse is narcissisticbehavior.net/narcissistic-victim-syndrome-what-the-heck-is-that/. This site was created by a psychotherapist in Ireland who is committed to trying to educate mental health professionals all over the world about this type of abuse. She is truly an inspiration to me.

    I hope this has been helpful to you.

    Sincerely,
    Michelle Mallon, MSW, LSW

  • Michelle Mallon, MSW, LSW July 4th, 2014 at 5:27 AM #89

    RM, I have absolutely encountered female Narcissists. It is worrisome that the public perception seems to be that Narcissists are primarily male. This can really leave innocent people vulnerable to being horrifically emotionally abused. I think that because this type of abuse is such a tightly held “secret” there is a lot of misinformation floating around about it. My hope is that as more people, like Andrea, write about this to expose this abuse for what it is, we will see much more being written on the many facets of Narcissistic abuse.

    But I can tell you first hand there are female Narcissists out there and they are capable of causing just as much destruction as male Narcissists. And perhaps because public perception is that most Narcissists are male, female Narcissists are in a position to do an incredible amount of damage to the people they harm. Many just don’t see it coming because they don’t think it is possible…

    And that is frightening!
    Michelle Mallon, MSW, LSW

  • Kara July 9th, 2014 at 6:31 PM #90

    I have been on and off with a narc for 3 years. It has been the worst experience of my life. So many ups and downs… The verbal abuse and lies. He has lied to me so many times about him seeing other woman. But I finally think that he is really having sex with someone. I think he just keeps me around for a fix. I thing he realizes I see him for who he is and he is not getting the supply he wants from me. He has called and left me so many nasty voicemails. Those are his attempts of him trying to control me and my emotions. I think I am co-dependent but have been doing a lot to change that. I never want to let someone like this in my life again. I am just happy to know I am not alone in this. Thank you everyone for sharing! I am doing my best to keep boundaries between me and the narc. How could I of fallen in love with someone sooo hateful? Well he was not hateful at first he was really nice.

  • Santy July 9th, 2014 at 9:01 PM #91

    Oh yes! She exists… she left 4 years ago without even apologizing for her actions after screwing my future supervisor at the time and til this day Im still left wondering if it was my fault. I loved her and she dissapeared without ever looking back all she left was a letter saying “I hope you find what you’re looking for”. I felt just as the writer explained “high” from her supposed love but I now know that I was just another casualty. Then I found out she was married. Yes! She does exist!

  • Lynne July 10th, 2014 at 9:39 PM #92

    Wow. Thank you for putting into words exactly what I needed to see right now. That is what I have been through for the last two years. The love of my life passed away suddenly and unexpectedly two years ago and his “friend” took advantage of my vulnerability and grief to put his narcissistic hooks into me. And a successful, strong and educated woman was slowly made to think I was unworthy and insane by an alcoholic unemployed narcissist. It’s so easy now to look back and see how he manipulated me. Silent treatments, discards and then he would pull me back in to tell me he loved me and was so glad I was in his life.
    Just trying to be strong now, to accept and process it all and to let go of a love that never really existed while still grieving a love that actually was real.

  • Katie July 18th, 2014 at 11:09 AM #93

    Hello Kara…. I myself know what your going through. I have been on and off with a narc for 5 years I love his family and thought I loved him and always think it’s going to get better!!! One day he was trying to get me pregnant and want to move in with me and wanting to be with be me and the very next day he turned around and met someone else with a quickness he dropped me and wanted to be friends! It broke my heart and still hurts this was just recent and I’m still coping with it!! I have my life together with a good job and I own my own home and etc..after 5 years this is what he does and it’s happened alot on the past he always manages to contact me someway or another!! Hang in there it will get easier!! I have no contact with him for a whole week now but reading these blogs really helps!!!

  • mary July 19th, 2014 at 1:05 PM #94

    Time and distance. ..thats it

  • melissa July 19th, 2014 at 4:16 PM #95

    also read Out of The Fog online.

  • sue July 20th, 2014 at 8:23 AM #96

    I have recently separated from my NPD husband of 30 years. It’s been a nightmare.He comes from a narcissistic family.I wish I new then what I know now.I’ve always had problems with his mother.He told me the other day, how when he’s done something that he thinks will upset or anger his mother, he tells her something to make her mad at me.He has deliberately thrown me under the bus with her! All the crap I’ve been through. Wondering why she was upset.Talk about feeling confused.Even having her yell at me over things I didn’t do.Now things make sense.

  • JC July 22nd, 2014 at 10:11 PM #97

    Not all Narcissists have the obvious characteristics that have been listed, or at least they are not so obvious, in my experience they can be very carefully hidden and only “leak out” under pressure or slip ups when they get confident and feel secure (they have a sense of entitlement) . Not all swagger around showing arrogance, some are smart enough to have tamed this after learning that their Narc mothers arrogance is seen as a negative trait which gives the game away.
    Another thing to be aware of, is the effect on others, Ive seen some of my closest friends “seduced” by the “Golden Light” as I call it, where they can see no wrong in the Narcissist, and the “real victim” will most likely experience a loss of friendships and other important people in your life, such as church members, when your character is trashed. Yet the Narcissist will not always have had to do hardly anything, it is like they are experts and non verbal communication and can find a weakness in a persons boundaries (of those who may have slight vulnerbiity/ dependancy issues)
    Expect it to take time to heal, and to regain your life back, it is very distressing for you and those around you, the wake of consequences/destruction reaches far beyond the “victim”.
    Finally, you will be angry with yourself for being a victim, for loving a fantasy and lie, it hurts, seriously hurts, so build yourself up, look to find what has made you vulnerable and what need(and didn’t get as a child) you have that caused your boundaries to be vulnerable.

  • otilia July 23rd, 2014 at 5:44 AM #98

    I just got out of such a relationship. This person eventually became my husband… I wasted 4 precious years alongside this man, and I will need as much to recover.

  • otilia July 23rd, 2014 at 5:46 AM #99

    Sue, I had the same problems with my ex mother in law. The same. And talk about inflated egoes to mask extremely low self esteem!! OMG! they were textbook cases.

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