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Why Unloved Daughters Fall for Narcissists


At some level, it’s a lot like an Animal Planet kind of thing—all about predators and prey. Just imagine the voice-over with a British accent: “Here we are on the veldt and the gazelle leaps gracefully, not knowing, not sensing that the lion lies in wait.” We steel ourselves for the inevitable outcome.

39 Comments to
Why Unloved Daughters Fall for Narcissists

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  1. Why couldn’t I have found this back in 1992??? I wouldn’t have believed it anyways…and I also wouldn’t have my two beautiful daughter’s either. One is married already, to a really great guy…but he’s got other issues that trouble me greatly.

    My youngest longs for “daddy’s love”. She’s my girl that I fear is going to “marry her father”. She’s my girl that needs to see this…but won’t listen to Mom.

  2. Here I am 57 years old. I have been through many a narcissist, sad to say. And now it is very hard to imagine a comfortable life with any man. I still want that though. This is such a good article. My mother was already tired and unloved by the time I came into the family. However, my father was the worst of all, no affection to anyone in the family, no kindness. I have always blamed my poor / lack of relationship with my father for my neediness. does your article only apply to mothers?

    • Dear Christina, I’m 61 and just realizing all of this. But I’ve been through so many soft term relationships like that. My mother was very jealous and hateful to me. My father molested me at 15 there was no relationship there. I have been mostly single for 23 years. Yet I still have faith that sometime in my life I will have a healthy one.

    • Christina, your comment about your mother being already tired and unloved when you came along hit close to home. I was born 7 years after my three siblings were, and my mother had already been through hell with their father. She married my dad and had me, but I’ve always had the feeling that I was born an intruder into my own family. My dad, to make things worse, was also abusive, not only to my mother, but to my brother and sisters. I was the new baby, resented and in the way. When my parents divorced I was 7, and after that I was pretty much left to myself, expected to clean house, get good grades, get into no trouble whatsoever, all without knowing what the hell I was doing. My mom was exhausted and unavailable. She controlled my every move by keeping me under her thumb, and I had no real friends because I always had to be home, where my mother knew where I was. She was strict to the point of smothering, but I never really felt that she even liked me as a person. So when a tall handsome guitar playing wild man seduced me at fourteen, I thought I’d found love, finally. I’m sure you can guess how that story ended: me pregant at 17, choking on the dust he made when he fled to another city, leaving me behind. I was the perfect target for my next true love, who after an eight year courtship finally married me. 9 years later, after putting my child and I though everything Peg wrote about, he threw us out, filed for divorce, forged my name on the papers, and is married again. I was shell shocked for years after that, and the only way I’ve been able to move on is to learn about why all this happened. It’s been illuminating. It’s saved me. Too bad I had to learn this at forty, but I have to believe that there are reasons for what I went through, and that it will make me a better person. Stay strong.

  3. Thank for you pay Peg. I am 61 been single for 10 Yates because I like you said I always chose narcissistic men. In fact I just left a relationship after a month with a man like that. He was my best friend for 15 years, but never imagined I’d find him a narcissit after becoming intimate. I could only take for 2 weeks and I dumped him. Tells me the whole story. My mother hated me and was jealous. She never took care of me as a baby, my great grandma did. My dad molested me at 15 we had no relationship. My mother found out a you can imagine what I went thru. I married 3 men like that. I went into therapy and learned as much as possible. I’m in the process of wiring my life story. Thank you for you wisdom it has helped me greatly.

  4. Switch out mother for father. My mother was always there for me, but I still feel the need at 50 to gain my father’s attention and love.
    Trying to break the mold.

    • I agree, switch out mother for father and at almost 47 I am still seeking love and trying to gain my fathers approval. And divorcing a narc is even worse then being in a committed relationship with one.

  5. Some of us never recover when you find yourself with a covert malignant narcissist. You can’t recover because the abuse goes on long after you split if you have children. Actually–you won’t know the true person until you divorce them–then you will see all their evil in its full glory. They will smear your name, destroy your credibility, damage your children, take your homes, money, health, and life. They will leave you with NOTHING and nobody will help you. Most won’t believe you. Few will understand the PTSD and you will be left alone to deal with your destruction and all the hell that your children endure. They don’t stop until they destroy all you hold dear–and that includes your children. They will take them from you with false accusations and destroy their little hearts and minds or they will do that while you share custody. If your children aren’t grounded–they will fall prey to the money and gaslighting that happens to them. These men are not just annoying–they are extremely dangerous. For some who also are sadists–their number one goal is to destroy you so much that they push you to suicide. THAT is their real objective. Laws need to be enacted and therapsits need much better skills in dealing with this.

    • Ronnie, I couldn’t agree with you more. I have written about this elsewhere since I went through a divorce from a narcissist and, no, I did not know he was a narcissist until the divorce. Lawyers especially have to be able to recognize these people for who they are because the normal process of negotiation will not happen. Narcissists adopt what I call a “scorched earth policy.” They do not care about any outcome other than winning, believe their own lies, will smear you, and, alas, may convince others to buy into their so-called “truths.” Your lawyer must understand this going in or it will be a mess of the first order. Judges too buy into it. I am sorry you and your children went through this; in my case, it was only money… Best, Peg

      • Peg, I am in the process of trying to divorce my husband who blindsided me by walking out on me 12/26/15 @ 930am & told me he could not come back because he was afraid of me?.. BS, I didn’t even get wished a Merry Christmas or a card…He refused to open my presents until 5 minutes before he left & stated “Why would you buy me this crap”?? I started to cry, & he ran out of temporary home due to him remodeling our marital home. He refused to answer cell,texts, & took my Jeep. The bum took a Restraining Order on me accused me of everything but animal & child cruelty!! Served me 22 days later with divorce papers!! I had a hard time finding an attorney for just family court, I finally found 1 & called him hysterical about being served divorce papers that He would email me stating that I better find a divorce attorney. I found out that the bum tried to have his 2 high $$ lawyers were trying to have me declared mentally incompetent until I showed up with my attorney. We were going to be married 20 yrs on 3/4/16… Now He is dragging out the process, I went to Marital Court on 9/28/16, his 2 attorneys are stalling even having it brought to a judge…I was 27, working as an RN until 5 months before marriage due to Comp injury-back. He is a prominent physician who was 42 when we married. He has legally & publicly slandered my name-alienated me from my family & friends!! Lies constantly & keeps telling all + his 2 high $$ lawyers that “He cares about me”??? The bum is so controlling of me, makes it impossible for me to contact him with legit issues!!! I want to leave Long Island,NY to live in Florida to get away from him & the bum is making this impossible & actually said but I will not see you until January??? He is the most passive aggressive narcissistic person & being away from him for 10 months- woke me up to the emotional abuse I endured & I can’t even get away from him!!! You know what I mean by their selfish, self absorbed ways & they love to start drama, LIE constantly, and get off by playing with your life & always try to make you feel How everything is “your fault”??!! They play the perpetual VICTIM when convient, but They are bullies!!! I am so sorry for this long post- I have been holding this in for 10 months & longer than this as You very well know everyday is emotionally draining with their manipulating ways & emotional mind games….. I wish you luck & hope that you are free of “your vampire”….Just from your post, I knew you were in a relationship with a narcissist. Thanks for listening:)

      • I have a mother who is a Covert Narc to the max. She plays the perpetual victim like the violin, but is a highly skilled manipulator/bully.

        She has turned everyone I care about into her personal “flying monkey”, and they are blind to the reality of the situation.

        Their poisonous venom infects those closest which only magnifies their grandiosity and feeds their maliciousness.

        I used to be her pivotal flying monkey for most of my adult life until I realized what was really going on.

        Wow, quite the Awakening!

        Today is Thanksgiving in Canada, and I Am Sooo incredibly grateful not to be her flying monkey.

        Truly a Liberation!

        One battle won over a lifetime battle with “Mommie Fearest”

      • Good for you Casper! May you continue to grow and thrive. Best, Peg

      • Hi.

        I sympathize with you. My stbx is a surgeon we were married 24 years. he left us 6 months ago because I wouldn’t put up with his sh1t anymore. He had been having an affair for 5 years and I covered his dirty little secret for him. This was until I had had enough of his abuse and called him out on it. We now in the process of getting divorced. He is also staling. I am happier than I have ever been. So just hang in there there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel.

    • Ronnie I am truly sorry for all of the pain I hear and feel from you. If it’s any consolation I understand much of what you re feeling, have experienced, I validate your pain and feeling you will never recover. I am lucky not to have had children with the Narcissist who ‘was’ in my life being that I was older 47 when he zeroed in on me. I wish I had anger or resentment to draw on to help in my recovery but I don’t, there was enough of that during the course of the relationship, whilst I was always trying anyway to allow my self to be myself, the compassion, the understanding we try to give, thinking it can be turned around…but it can’t. I was the Daughter of a Mean Mum…Narcissist, Sister to a Narcissist the Monster, Mum created in the youngest child, step daughter when younger and victim other abuses. All the abuses.. I was also scapegoat child who copped the emotional tortures, blame, Gaslighting, explosive temper and abuses. Everything Peg has written makes sense puts into context…I worked out a lot of things just by being in the situations…as like so many am gifted now with many say being an Empath and I could fit that title but am not sure to…certainly my instincts and 6th sense are honed because of the hypervigilance. I heard myself say to ‘him’ the only other person to do this to me was my Mother, the lightbulb went on. I just want you to know you aren’t alone, I think it’s just that we all need to connect in real time to feel supported in the futility and isolation and PTSD we suffer, I was diagnsoed at the beginning of the relationship with C PTSD and he nabbed me whilst I was in unresolved grief and 2years into complicated grief. I missed every red flag even whlst being bashed over the head with them…I am doing an online course which is run by Elisabeth Corey, ‘Beating Trauma’ is her website…perhaps you could go there and read up. Hers is other abuse moreso but her course is designed to help with all trauma and it’s the best thing I am doing for myself. May I send you gentle hugs and <3

    • Ronnie
      you just described my last 3 years exactly . i am still trying to get divorced and even got to the suicide part . I wonder when will it ever stop i am hoping when i finally get my divorce

    • Omg…..just leaving a narssasit sociopath & reading your comment it’s so true..ts not even fair that therapist are not educated for this & that courts don’t notice this behavior..ve just lived through 12 years of hell to learn from the Internet what was happening to me…narrsasit need the therapy but instead leave everyone they tough needing therapy while they feel there is nothing wrong..

    • THAT is so true!

    • Amen and amen! I got away from mine, finally, after 12+ years of marriage… My kids (3) and I are just now getting together with each other, talking, crying, and attempting to heal from the MEGA-DAMAGE this man inflicted on us… (I’m 53) I have a lot of resentment I still need to work on letting go of, for my own sake, but thank God we all made it out alive! Please pray for us! Thanks for sharing your story/this article!

    • You just told my story. Thank you. I could have never said it that well. Now my son married a narcissist. They were married 2 yrs max. Wow, she is the worst i have seen. Went to a women’s shelter and lied. Almost ruined my son. He is still messed up and hates women. Hopefully time will help him. Unreal

  6. Im soooo glad my recent round of narcissist predators are across the pond. I have both parents who were narcissistic and i am now aware who i am better. Im 56, been in the music industry for the past few years but i have to end it. I don’t trust anyone anymore. I am just now learning to trust ME. I see myself as a line wolf now rather than a gazelle but I admit to that term for the okd me!! Great blog!

  7. My daughter was married to a narcissist person. He abused her even after a terrible auto accident that left her disabled. She past away last year from complications from medicines. When she was growing up I was I loving mom, I cared so much for her to make choices in life whereas I couldn’t when I was younger. I allowed her to speak her mind and opinions as long as it wasn’t intensionally harmful to others. I wanted her to find her purpose in life and to love herself. If I was a loving mom., why did she attach to a narcissist husband? She was smart articulate and stood up for herself when something was fair to her. She was a giving person with so much love. To think I denied love to her is very hurtful to me. She was my only child and I gave her unconditional love and attention.

    • Doris, I fear you misunderstood the piece which is about why narcissists are often attracted to the insecurely attached. It’s true that secure people are less likely to be taken in by a narcissist but that doesn’t mean they never are. Your daughter’s marriage to a narcissist doesn’t make her unloved by you; it just points to a woman who misunderstood who her spouse really was. Covert narcissists, additionally, are very hard to spot at the outset. Please accept my sincere condolences and understand that unloved daughters aren’t the only ones who get caught in a narcissist’s snare. Best, Peg

  8. its not only unloved daughters its in attended children ….some men go thru this too

    • meant to put unattended children

    • Doreen, That’s true but this post was written for a blog about mothers and daughters. That said, there are twice as men as women on the far end of the narcissistic spectrum. Peg

  9. Have you written any books on the subject of being ‘a unloved daughter’. I’m in need of guidance. Thank you. Antoinette.

    • Hi Antoinette, Yes, I have: it’s called MEAN MOTHERS. I am currently writing a new one which will be out at the beginning of 2017. For more information, visit me on Facebook:. There’s lots of discussion that might be of use. Best, Peg

  10. OMG, I never really had an aha moment recently until reading the topic & posts. Sadly I never have had a good relationship with my Mother & she has Alzheimer’s now, but she still plays head games when I talk to her & still puts me down verbally, freezes me out & shuts down. I also really related to how much this made me accept & think that is normal with my 24 years with my narcissistic husband and how I feel @ times that I was completely @tfault for him for him to abandon me & our 23 marriage & separated x 10 months. I wish this process would move faster & He is still stalling the process….He controls everything & me still…..I am not accepting the verbal abuse, but it’s hard to not let Him not make me feel like I am at fault for all when I am alone….I am trying to take it 1 day @ a time & only speak to my Mother every 1-2 weeks for my own sanity…I really appreciate the topic & how many of us keep quiet about it & sadly think that this is normal…

  11. Thank you Peg, I read mean mothers, my parents were hoarders. I grew up in extreme neglect 3 of 4 children. I left my spouse last year, as I intend to break the chain. Went straight into a friendship w a female narcissist. Got out. But the chain is not broken.it keeps happening. My brother has some of these qualities,I love who I am, but why do I magnetize these people? I learned as a child to be happy daily, with nature and I made a family of my own. Two girls. I am determined my daughters will not feel my pain. I am grateful for your perspective Peg, I need it. Thank you. Perhaps you have a paper on how to discontinue the pattern of toxic relationships for people who have toxic, from the very start. Toxic parental relationships. Yes, I cut them out. Please respond you are helping this soul! -K

    • Hi Kathryn, My new book will be out in 2017 with lots of explanations and strategies. For more, visit my Facebook page. Best, Peg

  12. What a profound piece!! Sadly, like many other women who have read/commented, I too have attracted nothing but a string of narcissistic “bad boys” & ultimately engaged in “relationships” with these men. When you spoke about the anxiety/preoccupied daughter, one so desperately seeking love & attention, yet on high alert of deception &/or abandonment; it fit me, personally, to the T!! My mother gave me up for adoption & my father wanted nothing to do with me, so I’ve always seemed to fear abandonment the most, but because most of my adult relationships with these narcissistic individuals have me leaving first, My last breakup was especially difficult, because he was the one who left me, before I was able to leave him & my attachment was an illusion I created, thinking that he truly loved me, & I him. Up until the last individual, I have left my relationships & never again thought of returning, but this one really seemed to almost have me addicted to him & it wasn’t until the last few weeks, I have felt “normal”. How can a woman of 37 begin to build herself up & start seeing her worth as something to be valued & not used up & discarded like yesterday’s trash??

    • Hi JuJu B – I just wanted to say thank you for sharing, you basically described the same patterns I’ve had in my life. I wasn’t adopted, I grew up with a narcissistic father and a mother who I think is a covert narcissist. I am 48 and also working on developing self worth. Even just recognizing your own patterns, and being open to understanding the origins, will help you develop boundaries for relationships, and a sense of self. My childhood had a lot of codependent habits that I continued. Discovering who I am, separate from responding to others, is a big deal. It’s also disturbing to realize I am lacking the basic foundation of being a healthy functioning human. But I am working on it. When you see the ages of other people who’ve commented on this article, it might help you feel like you are not alone, it helped me to see that others are going through the same thing. Congratulations on being fearless enough to look at yourself, your patterns and choices in life! That is a big step, and it shows that at a deep level, you have a sense of self worth, that you deserve better in life. I find that gives me comfort, that a part of me that I didn’t know existed had the strength to pursue this topic, no matter how painful it might be, so that I can lead a healthier more fulfilling life. Good luck on your journey. -Val

  13. Peg, thank you for this article. It explains patterns in my multiple relationships with narcissists. I don’t know that I’ve dated anyone who wasn’t one, and every longterm relationship and marriage was with one. It’s a harsh reality to look at but it explains so much. Ironically, at one point I recognized the push-pull of my game-playing narcissist was not healthy…and ended up in a marriage that had no passion, no connection, with a covert narcissist. And both of them had addiction issues. Realizing that what you thought was a normal family was actually highly dysfunctional…it’s the path to healing, but it’s trippy. -Val

  14. Thank you. The last 15 years of my life now make some sort of sense!

  15. I was married to a narcissist until 15 years into marriage and 2 small children later he dropped me and moved on to his next victim…I am fine now.

    But how do I protect my 6 and 3 year old daughters?

  16. I could have written some of these posts myself they are so similar.
    I was married to a BPD/ narcissist for 22 years. We had 3 wonderful children. What that man put me through AFTER we separated was like hell on earth. He manipulated the children, alienated my ‘friends’ and dragged me so low in his attempts to destroy me. He was a vexatious litigator, serving writ after writ on me for contempt of court, being an incompetent mother (I was a professional and a University lecturer) claimed I was going to shoot him, fought viciously to get the Domestic Violence Orders removed and on and on. He went bankrupt so that I would get nothing and of course I was left with enormous legal debts trying to defend myself. PTSD meant I couldn’t work for months. He stalked me for years and the police tried to get him convicted but being a lawyer himself he manipulated the system with his influencial cronies. Fast forward to now and we are strong together as a family. The kids are all in their 30s now and although we are all still medicated for depression/ anxiety we have come through. I am a grandmother which is so special 💜💚💙. Sadly I have had relationships since then with narcissists wearing different hats – who would have believed they could present in so many ways? I am single now and very happy after ending the last one after 5 years. True, I never felt loved and valued by my parents. I thought each time that I had found someone who was going to love me forever. Wish I had known back in my early years what I know now.

  17. Yep that’s me. My ex-husband and mother are covert narcissists. My mother has made me pay for her father’s actions everyday of my life. He discarded her and her family when she was a child by faking a milk run. He left town without a word.

  18. So it hit me how weird it is when people write about narc parents they refer mostly to the mothers. When they write about (romantic) relationships, it’s the man who’s the narc, usually.

    How is it that if it’s men who make up the majority of narcissists why is it so common for people to have a narcissist mother?

    In this article, in one breath you write about narcs being mostly men and in the next you write about mother narcs specifically. Daughters who weren’t loved enough by their narcissist mothers fall for narcissist men.

    If the majority of narcs are men, where are all these narc mothers coming from?

    I guess I just find it frustrating when it was my father that was the primary narc. When i was a child, my mother was very codependent I think. But she became more narcissistic when she got older and then it only really shows when under stress among family.

    When the family needs a scapegoat. Guess who gets that role?

    • I actually don’t believe that all unloving mothers are narcissists; some are highly self-involved but others are unloving for other reasons. You’re brining in a terminology that I as a layperson don’t use in my work. It’s estimated that 1-6% of the population has NPD but since there’s a spectrum, there are more people who are high in narcissistic traits. But 40-50% of all children are insecurely attached. The mothers can’t all be narcissists; the math doesn’t work. There are other behaviors just as poisonous.

 

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