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240 Comments to
11 Things NOT To Do With Narcissists

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  1. Excellent piece – Clear concise and to the point without being over emotional.

    Within the last year or so I realised that my wife is very high on the narcissism scale (irretrievably so I think) and so at this stage I am fairly well versed in the standard advice for dealing with narcissists but there are a couple of points in this article that hadn’t sunk in before: In particular the “NO Jade” is very good!

    I am always being caught out by the requirement to justify myself – need to be more alert to not being dragged into that.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience. You are hardly alone in feeling a need to justify yourself!
      Dan

      • I want to thank you for writing the best, most inclusive article I’ve ever read on this subject!
        The hardest part for many people Ithink, is finally realizing that your parent(s), are narcissists.
        My mother was in a class of her own, she was sych a convincing phoney, with the best “front”, that the vast majority of all those who know her, (including family), have no idea what she’s really like, & how she belittled everything I ever said or did well, to the point that she had me fooled too, for many years. She wanted a slender, graceful ballerina for a daughter, while I was a very tough jock type, who could beat most of the boys in the many neighborhoods I grew up in, at baseball, basketball, & even tackle football, until they were 14 or so. She doesn’t acknowledge the fact that since my father had “temper issues”, & fought with every boss he ever had, causing us to have to move 7 times, before I was 12 years old. I had no way of making conncetions with other kids, so playing pick up games & sports was my only way to fit in. I was left home alone every day, starting at age 5, when my parents left for work an hour & a half before school started. I got up, fed the animals, made my breaksst, ironed my clothes, & locked up the house every day. During summers, I was left to my own devices. One summer, my mother allowed her adult sister to stay with us, despite the fact she was a hardcore herion addict. My half brother was there as well, (& also an addict). Every morning as soon as my parents left for work, I was dragged out of bed, & told to “get my ass dressed-now”. My aunts drug dealer boyfriend arrived at 8:15 sharp, & I was locked out of the house all day, no exceptions, until 5:15, right before my mom got home. I wondered even at that age, how she coukdn’t see that I was always filthy, starving, & exausted, but she seemed to not make any connection, (or ask me how things were). I find it ironic how she was so critical of the children & their families, with whom I often stayed most of the day, calling them, “poor white trash”, hillbillies”, & other demeaning names. She is still a very attractive woman, even at 85, but she was beautiful as a younger woman, & she NEVER left the house without full make-up, hair done, etc. I became a tall, lanky girl in junior high school, & she always critiqued my style, lack of enough make-up, participating & doing so well at sports, etc. She’d tell me it wasn’t “ladylike”. (Yeah, mom, well I’m not a “lady” yet). When I did become a woman, due to working out, & having gotten a black belt in Kajukenbo, I was “discovered” in a gym, by a modeling agent, who offered me a good contract, & I did fitness-type modeling, swimwear, lingerie catalogs, etc. I even made a dozen appearances on TV shows. It wasn’t my dream job, but I’d just gone through a nasty divorce, from a man who moved away, & refused to pay child support, so I went with it. I was surprized that she seemed very critical of my work, but I didn’t understand why, at the time. I’d always been a very different type of mother to my three kids, I knew where they were at all times, & I was very protective of them. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties, when my “wonderful” early childhood began to creep back into my head. I began to wonder if all of the people who constantly told me how “lucky” I was, to have such a graceful, beautiful, wonderful mother, had any idea how she’d gotten pregnant by a married man, (my father), who was going back & forth between her, & his wife & their child, when I was “accidentally” conceived? I’m sure they didn’t. She’d even made remarks about me, starting about age 10, wondering out loud “if I was going to grow up to be a gym teacher”. No, I was not a lesbian, but so what if I had been? She always found a way to let ne know that she was “better” than I was, but it finally occured to me that she was jealous! She’s gotten worse the older she hets, so I choose not to have a relationship with her at all. (There were many incidents that finally led up to that moratorium), but when she started mistreating my youngest child, that was it! It feels so freeing to know that there really are other people, & professionals out there, who actually “get it”! Thank you so much for putting it into words…

      • Hi DMac,
        And Thank YOU for putting into words and sharing your journey of awakening, setting limits with your mother, and following your own path despite not being seen for who you were. Your commitment to giving your children a better upbringing than you had is inspiring.
        Dan

      • I had a narcissist mother and father. Lucky for me, my dad did not give two #[email protected]$ about me. But I had all my moms attention. Also my mom made the assumption i was going to be a lesbian (i wish if it would have given me better loving partners in life) but my moms criticism of me plus her change of behavior from loving to extremely violent. Unfortunately, as what happens with abused children I found men who treated me poorly. Since I realized that i need to rid off myself of toxic people. I am glad my ex husband hit his mid life crisis because I realized that I was broken but he crushed and pulverized me, my soul, my being with his lack of empathy, actually compassion because that man only feels empathy for himself only, or other men close to him. A life of abuse can stop with self awareness and action. Leave, just leave, love yourself and run the opposite way. Dont waste you in the hands of a narcissist

      • Dear Alex, Do you ever wonder if you sought out partners, (subconsciously), who had some similar, (but very well-concealed), personality traits, as your narcissist parent(s) had, & tried to prove that you were “good enough” for them? I know I did, & I wasted a lot of time & heartache over it. I found men who needed the “challenge” of a partner who wasn’t a push-over, easily pushed, molded, or manipulated, so two of the first partners I chose were very experienced at the game. There is no “winning”, & you’re so right, move on, as quickly as possible!

      • Demi, I was too young and not versed at all why? I chose the two long term relationships that continued my self imposed abused. My first one besides falling in love with him. I was just running away from my home life as a teenager and everything else seemed like a better option than the one I was in. The second one, I was more cautious but he definitely covered up who he was. He was funny, pretended to be easy going and full of life, But that was not the case. Make no mistake about it that as soon as got off from that relationship that deeply hurt me, and crippled me emotionally and mentally. I committed the mistake to jump in into a relationship from someone in my past. He was so attentive, caring and played a good game of being vulnerable. So giving the circumstances and his pressure to move in with him right away I gave in with sad results. I felt that I knew him and told myself that I deserved to be loved and cared for emotionally. However, he was the same thing and worse than my last two awful experiences because within a few months he became another person with violent tendencies. In that moment I realized that I had fell into a vicious cycle of abuse. I left after 5 months since this one, was on me. I saw the red flags, right away, but I was craving for someone to love me genuinely, talk myself out of my intuition, plus still couldn’t believe that I found another narcissist, whom would cry for himself and ask why me? When things at his work wouldn’t go his way, or his past financial failures. But had absolutely no empathy, nor self awareness of his selfish ways. Blamed me for his outbursts, but his outside persona was based on how people viewed him. And he was good at it. After I left him, I started going to therapy, and I was so mad at myself for my error after going through so much heartache with my last marriage. How could I have fallen again for someone with the same traits as the ones before him. My therapist made me realized that kind of individuals are looking for a trophy that makes them look good to the outside. However, he was so good, since he would tell me how lucky he was, he made me feel he saw me me for me, with all my attributes as a human being. But since he was someone from my past, just like my decision making back then, he should have had stayed back there. I have been single for the last two years. I don’t truly date. I have gone to a lot of first dates,but no one makes it to a second one. Since, this time I wI’ll find someone worthy of me, and vice versa, no more whirlwind romances. I will take my time to peel the layers of whomever will become the lucky one, the one who fits what I am looking for. Someone who knows himself, and shares the same views as I do. However, I am HAPPY for the first time on my own, I don’t need someone to fill the voids within me. I have finally grasped what it means, love of self, and believe it or not I am great full to my last teachers (the awful men in my life). I can only say that my last two long relationships were meant to happen that way. I was not physically abused not by my second husband, but mental and emotional abuse are as bad as it were. However, he has become someone who is there for me since I do not have a family, and in a way I see it as his way to apologize although I know I will never hear those words of apology coming out of his mouth. And hopefully he can make someone else happy, unlike me.
        But Demi, my sweet virtual friend whom I believe, we share the same type of wounds. This is the tome to take care of yourself and if you have not gotten out, please do so.
        You have already opened a window of self awareness within you, by analyzing and comparing your experiences here in the W.W.W and that cannot be shut anymore. Go to therapy please, if you haven’t and love yourself for the wonderful, strong person that you are.

      • I feel your pain. I finally learned mom is a NPD. She is beginning to show signs of Alzheimers, and this is how I found out and connected the dots. I left home at 14, joined the Army at 18, so I was out of the country and home state for over 35 years. I always tried to “connect” with my mom, but she NEVER wrote me or ever called. (wither parents). Now I know it’s my inner child with abandonment issues, and it finally hit me since she moved in 2 years ago: She is JEALOUS of me as well! She hates me, and is a pathological liar and verbally abusive and threatens to kill me in my sleep. Very sad.

      • Dear Metoo,

        Your post highlights one of the most painful aspects of caring about a narcissist: the lack of a true connection. Narcissists’ wounds and limitations show up in their relationships, where instead of offering empathy, reciprocity, collaboration and respect they tend to lead with competitiveness, envy, dismissiveness and/or a win-lose posture.

        Thank you for sharing your experiences and feelings.

        Dan

      • It seems like a no win situation being married to a narcissist. You keep hoping for a change but it never materializes, so do you deny yourself the peace and companionship you desire? or do you sucker up to them a give in to receive affection and physical touch, because certainly there is no emotional support.

        Your article has really enlightened me, thou it brings some harsh realities and on top of all this I struggle with spiritual decisions and biblical principles. It’s hard!

      • I am RIGHT there with you! Have known all along that something was wrong and hoped/prayed for a change. Nada. Have done a bunch of research and my hubby of 23 yrs is undoubtedly a covert NPD. So tired of the lack of emotional support and have been so unhappy for nearly all our marriage. Knowing WHY helps, but certainly doesn’t solve the problem. Sigh.

      • I agree. Thank goodness for this blog. It’s very clear and helps me understand my stance against this disorder.

      • What causes narssisum?
        My X is one and I raised one how does that happen?
        I thank you for your time

      • Hi Irish, i think sometimes it happens because there may be a genetic link. My ex and son both have narcissistic traits and I was (and still am) a loving, caring mother. Don’t beat yourself up over it but do try to love your child (if an adult) from a bit of a distance to protect yourself. It is a sad and stressful situation to be in. Sending love your way!

      • Hello Dr. Dan,
        What’s the best advice you can offer to someone who was married to a narcissist for 25 years has divorced them and is trying to pick up the pieces? and discover who she is after trying to keep the peace for her children and be whatever was demanded at the time burying herself for the sake of the family?
        Dizzy

      • Hi Dizzy,

        After a long-term marriage to a narcissist it can take time to reclaim one’s voice, confidence and sense of self. The critical voice of the narcissist may have become well-entrenched in your mind. However, you are not your past or what you inner critical voices tell you. This is a time for discovering who you really are and who you want to become. While there may be growing pains, finding supportive allies and resources can help. It is also important to be gentle with yourself about what you may have done to survive. If you buried yourself for the sake of the family, you may have paid a price but it may have been the best choice you had at the time among an array of imperfect choices. You may have helped foster growth in your children which would not have happened otherwise.

        Thank you for your question and best wishes on your new journey.

        Dan

      • Dizzy,
        Thank you so much for asking this question. Thirty three years of marriage, only to be taught, in a most brutal way – the definition of Narcissism-

    • I’m married to a narcissist for 32 years. I filed for divorce 3 times and chickened out. Recently I decided that’s it, I’m not living with constant abuse but I rethought my situation; financial and social, and opted to build myself and my life alone, and separate from him which has been a reality for so long. I gained alot of weight through the marriage and I’m fighting for my equilibrium all the time. I have bipolar 2 and go for therapy now which is very supportive. What do you say?
      A healthy new year! ( the jewish new year begins Wednesday night until Friday evening)

      Esther Cohn

      • Hi Esther,
        I say Mazel Tov. It sounds like you’ve wanted to leave an abusive situation and have finally found a way to do so AND to focus on your needs, your challenges, your well-being and your future instead of your past.
        Dan

      • I have been married to a narcissist for 24 years. It has been an emotional, spiritual, mental and physical roller coaster. I nearly lost myself, I feared for a time I was codependent and actually empowering the narcissist. I am still with him but we have begun to separate family activities because our children can barely tolerate being around their father. My strength has been to Control my emotions. If I can do that and stay calm, I can successfully navigate any interaction. But the truth is glaringly evident, I did to get the H… out of here.

  2. I wish someone could have given me this advice as a child when my parent did these things to me. I took everything he said seriously. Unfortunately I had to live with its impact on my life.

    • Jen,
      Thank you for sharing your experience.
      Dan

    • Dear Jen, As much as it sucks, knowing that I wasnt the only one treated that way by my mother does make me feel better, (although I wish no child ever had to live through that)! It was harsh, hurtful, lonely, & very sad at times, but I grew up to be very self-sufficent, & I’d bet you did also. They can really do a number in our heads, but it makes us determined NOT to treat our own children that way. I now choose to have no contact at all with my mother, after she began treating my youngest child badly. I know where the phrase “Mother Tigers” comes from! I hope knowing that you werent the “only one” helped you put some perspective on it, I know it did for me…

      • TIGER MOMS! Yes. Mine was SO vicious. She was also born in the Year of the Tiger. In days gone by in China – and maybe even now – NO ONE would marry a girl born in a Year of the Tiger. I survived – barely. She passed away 5 months ago. I don’t think the scars will ever completely heal. But the day in/day out terror had stopped. God bless you. God bless all of us.

  3. Exactly what I needed, thanks for this checklist!

    I’ve been able to do some powerful emotional recovery based on fully realizing how it’s not personal. Similarly for when dealing with being in a codependent relationship with someone who has a substance abuse disorder.

    Guidance in how to establish boundaries with narcissistic behavior (and substance abusing behavior) is tremendously valuable. I understand why people so often say it’s best to ‘just run’ as far away as you can get (because this stuff is painful, I know, believe me I know) – but that advice is not helpful at all, really, and especially with figuring out how, when, and where to set boundaries.

    This checklist of eleven things will soon become something of a mantra for me. Thanks so much!

    • Ana,
      Thanks for your comment!
      Dan

  4. I wish that I knew all this year’s ago when I had to deal with my business partner’s ruthless attacks and damning behavior. It was extremely painful. I have a question which I sincerely hope will be picked up and replied to…… What is the intrinsic and essential difference between a Sociopath and a Narcissist

    • Hi Rosebud,

      You ask an important question — how to distinguish between sociopathy and narcissism. The central feature of a sociopath, which is termed Antisocial Personality Disorder by the DSM-V, is a pervasive pattern of disregarding and violating the rights of others. The central elements of Narcissistic Personality Disorder are grandiosity, a lack of empathy, and a need for attention and admiration. There is obviously some overlap between the two conditions. However, narcissists generally talk more about themselves because they hunger for an audience, while sociopaths talk more about you, asking questions or giving you attention to get information they need to later betray or manipulate you. Many narcissists often are clueless about how they come across to others. Sociopaths, by contrast, are acutely aware of how others are reacting to them, as they are trying to set you up for manipulation. In addition, some theorists suggest that narcissists can become highly upset, feeling wounded or despairing when they don’t get the attention and approval to which they feel entitled, while sociopaths are less likely to go into such a tailspin as they tend to be more cool and calculating, even emotionless, in their destructive pursuits.

      Some theorists have suggested a category called “malignant narcissism” which is a combination of narcissistic and sociopathic features. This is considered by some to be a particularly destructive form of narcissism because it can include extreme suspiciousness, agressiveness, and even sadistic behavior.

      • Antisocial Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder definitively overlaps with one another… I am a Living Witness to that fact.,,

        thanks for the articles

      • Hi Gail,

        Thank you for sharing your observation with the community.

        Dan

      • Hello and Thank you for your insight (and your ability to stay in school long enough to get qualified, learn it and then share your insight with us! WOW…..I’m exhausted just thinking about how much focused time that would be! Yuck!)
        Ummmmm………
        Ah YES! Thanks for sharing, I have recently been a victim of this very creature in my work place!
        Now I don’t need to tell you I would have empathy for a tree and offer my life story to a Ant, hence I make the BEST VICTIM EVER if you are looking for an emotional reaction………..I’m your MAN……(actually not a man, I’m female) anyhoo…..ahhhhhh…………
        Oh so please excuse my inner genius/super power take over for a moment BUT it did get me thinking………
        Could a possible saloution to dealing with a boss like this be:
        1. Act or be disinterested in his conversation (about himself) or his boastful behavior?

        2. Show him or her this article to make him aware of what his is like in reality. (As you mention it’s unawareness of ones self socially.)

        As I am largely working from my right brain right now, can you fill in the missing logic (left brain) that may bring consequences I can not see yet?

        Thanks sooooo much, pfft who says we can’t focus! 😜
        (FYI – 35yr old – Female- Australia)

      • Withdrawing interest from a narcissist or ignoring narcissists’ boastful behavior can, at least, allow you to detach from an unhealthy connection. Thanks for the suggestion.
        Dan

    • I’m glad you raised that question. Based on the author’s response to you, it has helped me see that my therapist was a sociopath and he hooked up with a narcissistic relative of mine to destroy me for his own pleasure. He used her and she fed his ego. The two working together against me were unstoppable. I’m still here but just barely surviving. It’s like I’ve been cursed knowing both of them. Now I can put a label on their behavior. Not that I will ever understand because I won’t.

      • Beverly, ouch!! The betrayal of trust by a therapist: someone you paid.. Someone whose job is to help you with your deepest fears.. Someone who listened to everything that you’ve opened up and shared with them— ouch!!

      • The “Right Therapist”- I’m happy to see that you pointed out that your therapist was a narcissist, since so many people seem to be conditioned to think that ALL therapists, & other mental health professionals, are like Gods, (& there seems to be a fair number of them who’d agree).
        When seeking therapy, it’s very important to find someone who you feel comfortable with, after taking a bit of initial time to get to know them. Just like anyone else, they are people first, & we don’t always “mesh” well with everyone’s style, or way of speaking. This is crucial to finding the right therapist. After I was injured in a near-fatal car accident 20 years ago, I went to my HMO approved therapist, & since I was dealing with some serious issues, not only severe pain, & multiple surgeries, but also the guilt of not being able to work, or having my own income, being forced to rely on my husband for money, for the first time ever. I hated feeling weak, or like a burden, since I’d always been the person that everyobe in my family relied on for help with everything. Having grown up with an extremely narcissistic mother, I was very unaccustomed to having to rely on others for help. The first therapist & I just weren’t a good fit. When I’d ask him a question that he didn’t have an answer for, he’d always fall back on the “What do YOU feel you should be feeling, doing, saying”, etc., & his replies at those times often sounded very smug, whenever he felt annoyed by a question that he couldn’t answer. It drove me crazy!
        I wanted to yell, “if I knew all the answers, do you think I’d even be here”? I’d finally had it when he suggested that I spend more time “window shopping”, (not exactly the best idea, when you’re struggling with money issues, in my opinion).
        Several years later, I went to another therapist, who I felt very comfortable talking to about anything. He was more down to earth, no hypotheticals or bs, & he didn’t fall back on mirroring my questions he wasn’t able to answer, nor was he afraid to say, “I really don’t know, & I have wonderd about that same thing myself”. I liked the fact that he didn’t pretend to be infallible, or feel like he had to pretend to know everything.
        I always try to encourage people to go to as many professionals as they can, until they find one they really click with. He was a great help to me with many issues, (including being the first to identifying my mothers, & another close family members narcissism). After a few months, I felt more like I was talking to a trusted friend, (within professional boundaries), than being judged, or scoffed at for asking the “wrong questions”. I feel lucky to have found him!

  5. Having had a narcissist as mother I can vouch for this being right on the money. The pain it inflicts is unbelievable and it really takes its toll over time. The tendency is to think there is some way to make them see the light but there is to my knowledge not. If you want them in your life then buckle up and do lots of work on yourself. It may not help with them but will help in dealing with the rest of the world which likely you will need as they do damage to you that if unchecked will bleed over to all of your other interactions. Compassion but with distance is my best guess. Not to sound dramatic but it is as hard as it gets as it’s literally an alternative reality they present and a very unpleasant one at that. Hold on and I send everyone my blessings.

    • Hi Horace,
      Your words “compassion but with distance” offer a helpful mantra for others facing similar dilemmas. Thanks for sharing your experience and observations.
      Dan

      • This is one article that really gave me clarity.As i was reading this article it reminds me of my spouse manipulative,blame others ,lack empathy ,so self-absorbed.The 6 years that i have been married i can honestly say 5 1/2 years was pure misery i started seeing the controlling sneaky cold hearted person that he is ….Over the years due to his behavior i became cold &bitter as well towards him he is not affectionate as far as revealing his feelings or comforting me without me saying something but i am to the point to where his contolling actions and never see no wrong that he does to me has damaged our relationship .Him being narcissist is something he will not acknowledged and it is really hard dealing with someone like this marrying him was the worst mistake in my whole entire
        life he is fake and phony he tries to cover the real person that he is but with me he can’t ….He will not admit that either one of his parents could be a narcissist they think that their son do no wrong and that he is perfect from what i see what they believe….I am hurt disappointed feeling lost and neglected i just want to completely numb my feelings because there is nothing more to give we have a child together and i just want whats best for my child and i …It is hard tolerating a narcissist they never change….What do in this situation

      • Kim,
        You describe very well the painful costs of a marriage to a person who behaves narcissistically. It generally doesn’t help to try to get someone to acknowledge that he or she is a narcissist. It may be better to try to focus on specific behaviors a spouse does and see if they’re willing to work to change them, perhaps with the help of a couples counselor. If a spouse is not willing to make any efforts to change harmful behaviors, then you’re left with the choice of what to do, no matter how difficult, that will be healthiest for you and your children. I would seek professional guidance in making such a choice so that you have clarity and emotional support, whichever way you seek to move forward.
        Dan

      • This resonates with me completely.
        I am having to coparent with my ex who fits the narcissist personal perfectly. Having gone through a significant amount of trauma in his childhood, he feels life has always handed him the wrong deck of cards. He blames everyone and everything for his hardships and rarely takes the time to look introspectively.
        During the 8 years we were together, he manipulated me and made me feel like I was always to blame for our problems. He would never acknowledge that he hurt me and when I would try to express myself, he would simply dismiss me. He never truly listened to me either.
        Coparenting with him is going to be difficult and the thought of having to separate myself from my child when he is older really gives me anxiety. However, this article has given me some clarity and I now understand a little better the type of person I am dealing with and what I can do to protect myself while interacting with such a person.

      • Kim, I have stayed for 50 years with such a man, not knowing what was going on until about 2 years ago. I was not strong enough, too mixed up, with my own pitfalls. I have resigned myself to a zombie-like attitude, existence around the house, not hoping for anything from my husband except complaints about how I do not satisfy him sexually. That is the only thing that he sees as being wrong with his life, not all the other aspects of a relationship that should be existing. He is extremely intelligent, ready to set things straight, back-up with facts and figures, but with no personal interaction or empathy.
        When do we stop the damage, when can we make decisions to help ourselves?
        Kim, please consider seriously what you need to learn, to do for yourself in a healthy way.
        Thank you for listening,

    • I love the comment about compassion.
      I have a step son who is defiantly both of those descriptions.
      My husband doesn’t believe that you can forgive, and then step back to protect yourself. Since I am a Christian, he says I am not forgiving him.
      But I feel I can’t have him in my life. For self preservation.
      Has anyone going through this?

      • In his book Love Must be Tough, James Dobson unpacks Christian forgiveness in the best way I’ve ever encountered. Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend is another good one. Harriet Lerner’s book Why Won’t You Apologize is insightful and sensitive as well, although non-religious.

      • Thanks for suggesting those resources.
        Dan

      • Nancy,
        It can be difficult to balance a desire for compassion and forgiveness with the necessity of self-care and protecting yourself against those who don’t hold your best interests. Ultimately, “To thine own self be true” may be a helpful path.
        Dan

      • Yes! My NPD husband has the same idea. If I truly forgive him, it’s like it never happened and I should never mention or basically even think of his bad behavior again. Poof! All gone! Just because he says “I’m sorry”. Then, being a Christian, I have to forgive him on his terms. If I don’t, then I’m being un-Christian. Ugh!!

  6. Excellent article! Thank you!

    • Thank you, I’m glad you found it helpful.

  7. I always thought my husband must never have gotten the attention he needed as a child. When he talks about something he always has to add more to the story that isn’t true. He has become known in our family as a liar. He is a workaholic and has never enjoyed being with the family. He left me when we found out I was with child.He sits in his office every night until very late. He never went on camping trips with me and the children or anywhere really. He got mad at me the other day because I walked in on him smoking after he was telling me and the doctors that he did not smoke. We have been married 48 miserable years. I am tired of all of this. Now he has not talked to me since August l, 2017, yet he comes in every night, takes a bath and goes to his room. He gets up every morning and leaves after I let my dogs out. I did try to talk to him after the incident, but when I drive up he will drive off. I just go about my life because nothing has really changed. He never really did anything with me anyway.

    • Linda,

      That sounds very painful. I hope you can focus on what will take care of you. You deserve it.

      Dan

    • I am so sorry Linda. I can only say I was miserable for 14 years and I would have not left because I believe in the inner evolution of human beings. I have evolved, why couldnt this happen to him? But wasted those years on him. However he did me thw favor of walking out. Of course he tried to get back with me, but the wheels of my mental self preservation were in motion…those people look better in your rear view mirror. Let go, just let go

      • ‘Let go! ‘ Exceptional advice! Thank you for saying it, Alex!

  8. I have to print this article! Somehow I often manage to work for one or more narcissists. Are there some personality types they seek out, or is there something wrong with me?

    Thank you!

    • Hi

      My nick is ~angelbrite~ given to me by my friends around 15 years ago now online.

      I would dearly like to know why I am a walking contradiction, a hurricance, a wild spirit whom no man will ever truly tame. Why do I believe so strongly in Feminism and yet live my life as a slave? My Master is sadistic, but that suits me fine, because I am masochistic, but once finding out this was due to some terrible traumas I witnessed when I was a little girl, with my sisters, only one can remember too, that my Dad was sadistic in ways you wouldn’t even want to hear about. How much is this impacting my current Lifestyle choice? These past influences all of the domestic violence for years on end top.

      So my Dad was narcissistic, my Mum definitely is, my sisters a little. I feel like I am becoming a heartless, soulful, mess in my mind. I want freedom, by God I value freedom. Yet I chose to live a live of utter slavery?

      Any insights for me with the little info I have given you Sir?

      • Seeking out a therapist who specializes in working with individuals who struggle with “complex trauma” might really help you.

      • B,
        Thank you for the helpful suggestion.
        Dan

      • Hi angelbrite,

        Trauma can affect us profoundly. At the same time, your post and your user name show a desire and commitment to move beyond the limiting roles and worldviews that can result from experiencing trauma. None of us heals alone. Seeking support from a trustworthy professional, trustworthy friends, and a trustworthy community may bring you greater clarity and peace.

        Thank you for sharing your experiences.

        Dan

    • Shebuggs,

      Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am sure many people in this community can relate to what you wrote.

      Perhaps a better question than “Is there something wrong with me?” might be: Is there something that being in relationship with an unhealthy narcissist gives me?

      Perhaps it is an attempt to replay past dysfunctional relationships hoping for a healthier outcome. Perhaps it is a reflection of a worldview or self-image that you adopted in childhood to emotionally survive but may no longer serve you. There can be many reasons we are drawn to unhealthy people. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with us. Rather, it is an opportunity to see what need this is fulfilling and honestly assess whether it is worth it.

      Dan

  9. Great article…

    • Thank you Burgundy

  10. Thanks for a great article. It defines my boyfriend’s son (age 29) so perfectly. I do have a questions about how to best deal with him. My boyfriend and I live together so we share all holidays, celebrations, big events, etc. His son is often present and we see him on weekends now and then. I just don’t want to have anything to do with him because of the behavior you have outlined. Of course, this causes issues in our relationship. Can you give me some ideas on how I can effectively deal with him and keep my feelings in check thereby keeping the peace between my boyfriend and I? Also, he and his girlfriend just had a baby. Is there any indication that the narcissism will lessen as he becomes a father and responsible for the happiness of someone other than himself?

    • Hi Sandy,

      Having a narcissistic family member can put strains on your primary relationship. Ideally, you and your boyfriend can work as a team to put your relationship’s well-being as a priority. Couples counseling can be very helpful with that. It may also help you to realize that your boyfriend’s son’s behavior isn’t personal. If he is a narcissist, he will do narcissistic things to nearly anyone who comes in his path, not just you.

      In terms of whether being a father may soften or change him, it is hard to know. Sometimes that happens; other times becoming a parent can trigger memories and issues from the narcissist’s childhood that can increase narcissistic behavior.

      Dan

      • I just read one of your comments on narassistic behavior increasing/triggered once they become a father. I have a one year old and his father’s behavior has increased significantly since I became pregnant and had his son. We are no longer together. Where can I learn more about the triggers and why this increased his behavior?

      • The simplest way to look at it is as if the narcissist is a child themselves – they never quite developed the ability to self-fulfil their needs and so are constantly in need of attention at any cost. They have to be the most important person to their target (in this case you) and when it was just the two of you, you likely were able to fill this need for him. However, with the pregnancy comes fear for him – will she be still focused on me, or will the baby get all the attention? That fear makes cracks appear in their front and so they try to recover the control by escalating thier manipulative behaviour. Then your child was born and lo and behold, his worst fears seem to have come true. If you as much as smile happily at the baby, he sees that as you preferring the child over him. Every time the baby cries, you go to it and take care it – the way *he* wants you to be treating *him*. Even if you focus on him just as much as before having a child, he will still be seeing anything you do with the child as ignoring him. So more cracks appear in his façade and he’s forced to confront his fears and his weaknesses and he doesn’t like that one bit, no not at all. So he escalates even more because he doesn’t realise how just repeating what failed before isn’t going to work.

        There was absolutely nothing you could have done to prevent the escalation because it was something in his own mind which would have played out at some point in the future anyway. He made the problem by seeing the child as a threat to his importance to you rather than it being something that could have brought you together more.

        I’m so glad to hear that you have already split from him. I grew up with a narcissist for a father and it was frankly awful (I still have PTSD from the abuse today at age 30) so your child not having to experience being with him is fantastic. I hope that everything improves for you and your child now and that you both have a healthy and happy future!

  11. My husband (and others in his family) are high on the Narcissistic scale. I’ve learned some of your suggestions above over our 32-year chaotic marriage. How does one develop a deep emotional connection with a narcissistic person?

    • Hi SBayJJ,

      A reciprocal, deep emotional connection is fostered when both people can empathize, self-reflect and communicate openly. Unfortunately most narcissists are quite limited in those abilities. One goal might be to seek a relationship that has more positives than negatives, however you define those, even if it doesn’t have the depth you might want.

      Dan

  12. Very informative article. My Narc displays most of the tendencies mentioned. She assaulted me in a fit of narcissistic rage, causing injuries serious enough to land her in jail. My “provocation”? I actually had the temerity to tell her I felt used and called her what I felt she was: a freeloader. This attack on her self image set her off and things haven’t been getting better. Against all professional advice I took her at her word and believed her promise to get counseling and change her behavior. It changed minimally but then the Narc behaviors began again. She still blames me for her violence and subsequent conviction. She feels I should have taken the beating and kept quiet like a “man.” The blood on the walls and suspected closed-head injury notwithstanding. I was fooled by the Narc’s initial phase of “love-bombing” and thought I’d found the “one.” As soon as I was completely ensnared the withholding and controlling behavior began. My friends saw it and stopped coming around. I have noticed that I apologize for things that aren’t my fault, just to break the silent treatment. The constant criticism and blaming of everyone else for her woes is exhausting. My weekend activities dropped off because she didn’t enjoy them, therefore I should give them up. I started to do the the things she liked, just because I thought it would bring us closer together. My other hobby of photography has dwindled away because it bugs her if I carry my camera with us when we’re out on a hike or other activity. I worry about the safety of my pets when I’m away. All typical Narc behaviors that I never knew about. I know I am not without blame in this mess, but at least I am working on learning about enabling and trying to repair my sense of self, but there is still that faint hope that she might change and show the warmth and love she displayed at the start. Not very likely.

    • Wow, to your comments, DerryOD. This describes much of my first marriage, and I hope you can realize that some of what you are describing could in some situations also be categorized as abusive (I cannot obviously make this determination). Unfortunately for me, being an enabler (coming from a family with an alcoholic), it was a near “perfect” match…(well, for one of us at least). Then that fated day came, when I decided not to simply climb down from my “pedestal,” but took a flying leap off. I can say this…checking too much of yourself at the door (hobbies, interests, etc) for any relationship is a sure sign, regardless, that things aren’t quite right. I was told to stop going to my therapist, and my recommended reading was removed and hidden (Dance of Anger was one of them, I’d still suggest it). I wish you the best. Don’t give up, even if you decide to stay.

      • Thank you for your supportive post.

    • They never accept blame, they are never wrong. They have enough energy to outwit anyone even on a bad day with manipulative, unkind and cruel acts. Pretending to be your friend, for the sole purpose of destroying you. Why would somebody do that? Please, I am serious. Why?

      I am a kind, loving, generous, old hippie soul who is 43 and living in Australia. I am hurting real bad atm because a narcissist took over my social media accounts to give me a break while I was broken, and all in the guise of friendship. One that had me truly believing we would be loyal to each other for life. And this is just an example with a woman!

      I don’t know why the Law of Attraction is working this way when I am trying so hard to set it into motion the right ways and I don’t know why my karma is so bad. After the online hate I have experienced from other online women I do know I will never be that same person again.

      Kind regards

      ~angelbrite~

    • Hi DerryOD,

      As much as you may care for your partner, physical abuse is never okay. Based on your description, your partner would do well to seek professional help. And it is important for you to protect yourself and stay safe.

      Dan

    • Loved the article and the responses. I have been with my husband for almost three years. He displays every trait of a Narc/psycopath. I get the silent treatment all the time for absolutely no reason, told everything is all my fault, have had severe financial problems due to him, get picked on constantly, get spied on, lied to and cheated on at least 5 times since we have been married. I use to be fun loving, and happy, now I walk on eggshells, can’t sleep and have nightmares that he will kill me. Anytime he feels like it out of nowhere he flips and gets mad, I get the silent treatment and he is happy and laughing and tells anyone who will listen what a horrible person I am. I hope to someday get out of this hell.

    • DerryOD,
      I read your posting and my married life flies in front of me…
      I cannot answer my phone with my wife around… we can go on vacations if she says so, we can by stuff if she chose so, we can laugh or sit silent if she is dictating that… we (me and kids) have to eat in a certain way, this plate, that fork, …you dripping…you chewing loud… you dropping crumbs… you sit here with me , you go away now – your presence here bothers me…why you talk more with the guest than me… why do you love the kids more than you love me… your ignorant.. (mind you I have more university degrees than her)… you do not have personality – why don’t you stand up to your father (mother, sister, friends…)… why did you say (this) on the phone – honey I was talking on the phone – do you want to talk the way you want – no, I just want you to be the man and answer “correctly” – honey what’s “correct” – you know that, you’re not stupid, find the right answer…11:45 PM tired we argued all afternoon just got in bed… have to wake up at 5:15 AM – she comes in playfully – can you give me a massage? — – I don’t dare say “no”!!! If I did she’ll bring up some vile conversation “who I am”…and be mad at me for days… I feel like a marionette no matter how good I spin around her there is no pleasing… and if I ignore her outrage towards me, her insults she would go at length to challenge me me to unbearable words with malicious tone…and challenge me “are you a man” you don’t have a response” to what I am saying… if that doesn’t convince me to start answering she would get physical. Then this is something – I’d let you say whatever to me (because I am that stupid being with you) but you cannot threaten my physical being… so if you rise your hand I’d do the same…than she plays the victim… I am scared she would call the cops… one time I did not return her physical altercation but went for my phone to call 911 – she challenged me…”so are you man enough to call the cops as the wife beat you… she knows she cannot get physical with me, but would do that with objects at home… kicking, smashing…
      I could have dealt better with a drug addict…
      Not sure enough how long I can carry on…

    • DerryOD….your post took my mind straight back to my failed 18 year marriage. It seemed as though there was no possible way to get my wife to agree with me and on anything. She would use any negative thing she could come with about me to defend herself. She always acted as though she was being attacked and went into this Hyper-Defensive mode even if I only asked a simple question like “Have you seen my keys”? Now I’m no angel and I fully own my faults, but she never EVER admitted she had her own issues. The sad thing about all of this is that I had no clue she was a Narcissist. Didn’t even know what it was. I was so intensely determined to make our marriage work that I didn’t want to know what was wrong. I thought I’d be able to fix everything. The things I’ve learned since our divorce in 2008 just astounds me. See if the following things resonate with you…

      Treats family (close family) like crap, but sweet as honey to perfect strangers?
      Agree to forgive and forget your misdeed, but brings it up a year later to gain the upper hand in an argument?
      Uses the “guilt trip” technique as a normal tactic even when she doesn’t need to?
      Shooting down your ideas before you even finish explaining them?
      Making sure if you did anything at all just for yourself you would regret it in some way?

      Yup! I feel ya brother. I just wish I knew then what I know now. But I learned a lot of good positive lessons as well and that’s my message. What good is it if we don’t use our experiences to make positive changes?
      My best to you….

  13. I wish I had learned of this behavior, along with co-dependence, many years ago. I’m 9 years in to widowhood and still have bouts of doubting myself as being worthy. He was mean spirited and alcoholic, and I was a pothead trying to deal with it all by hiding from it in a haze. 4 years before he died I quit the pot and really started to see the damage inflicted. But in spite of it all I loved him. But have to admit my most prevalent feeling when he died was relief. For which I sometimes feel guilt. But I’m better now that I understand some reasons behind the action, can forgive but will never get too close again to anyone. safer. Thank you.

    • Hi Leftovers,

      Thank you for sharing your evolution in your experiences and self care.

      Dan

  14. Thank you for sharing this blog, it has sparked many light bulb moments! I met my now husband 5 years ago and I had no idea that I was walking into an extreme situation between him and his narcissistic ex-wife (and there are 2 kids from the former marriage that ended 4 years before me met). She has caused considerable pain and we have all mechanisms set up now to protect me against her keyboard terrorism and narcissistic behaviours (for the longest time I was left scratching my head trying to understand her appalling behaviour). I became an easy target because I bit back on a couple of occasions. It wasn’t until we went to counselling that the counsellor talked about her behaviour as a disorder that it started making sense, pretty difficult to come to terms with though particularly as there was nothing we could do and just needed to keep her at arms length.
    My biggest concern is for my husband and his severed relationship with his 19 yr old daughter, the narcissistic mother alienated the daughter completely to the point she walked out and there has been no relationship for 3 years. I do think the daughter has however developed narcisstic behaviours from her mother – is this common? Can the behaviours be inherited or mimicked from a parent? The daughter is a typical teen who is self absorbed but she has also been put on a massive pedestal and encouraged to behave as entitled by her mother. I personally found her behaviour in our house pretty revolting and she was happy to use her Dad as a wallet and treat him just like her mother did for years. My husband has repeatedly been told by the kids “Mum said the marriage ended because you had affairs”, but the affairs were hers and she ended up marrying the guy she ended the marriage for – once you look at her as a narcissist and realise she told the kids this because as a narcissist she couldn’t be looked upon as being bad or at fault, but to involve the kids in any such explanation is reprehensible.
    Interested to get your views !

    • Hi Serena,

      One of the most important things in divorcing is to not put children in the middle. Unfortunately, based on your description, your husband’s 19 year old ended up in the middle, likely to her detriment. It must be painful for both you and your husband to see her alienation from her father.

      We can’t know the future but many times an child who has been alienated based on lies will eventually come to see the truth, and the relationship can change and even be healed. She is only 19 and has a lot of growing up ahead of her.

      Thanks for sharing your situation.

      Dan

    • Dear Serena, I’m sure your husband is very happy & grateful to have found a spouse like you!
      Many second (& beyond), marriages, are ruined by an ex-spouse who had these “mentally & emotionally challenging” issues. He is a lucky man to have your help & support, despite his unpleasant ex, & kids. I hope you’re repaid by love & kindness, for supporting him, & being there for him, regardless of the stress his difficult past marriage also causes you. You must be a very strong, caring woman. Good for you!

  15. Having been raised by one,my mother, I was programmed subconsciously into choosing another, my wife.
    Very differing personalities and cultural backgrounds, but the same agenda, and so the cycle of never being right, or good enough continued, until some well hidden abuse in my early childhood presented another piece of the jigsaw, and a different picture for interpretation.
    This proved anathema to my wife as my making changes, some conscious, some rather more subtle, as the effects of therapy began to take hold.
    With the control element slipping away, the abusive behaviour grew until one day, I felled her with some witty repartit, and she stormed off to start divorce proceedings.
    Not quite on my agenda at the time, I was seeking to level the playing field, but in retrospect, I now realise narcs can’t play on those, so it cost me an arm and a leg.
    Reporting 7 years down the line, fiscally bruised but emotionally sound, and not likely to get entangled with a lady of that ilk again.
    I’m also psychologically much sounder, having come to terms with the abuse factor which had actually caused PTSD.
    Oh yeah , that playing field, its level, the protagonists have been forgiven, because I’m not having history interfering with the present.
    A tad more wise then, but definitely not sad, in fact joyful…
    Sheesh what no somersault emoticons on Psych Central??..
    But then I guess the missing limbs are beginning to grow back…lol

    • Hi Bodach,

      Thank you for sharing your journey with the community.

      Dan

  16. A most precise & accurate depiction that scares me silly to know where & how it’s all going to end for my wife of over 20 years, and me. It’s so very complicated & I seem to have lost any sense of right & wrong, good or bad and this article summed up the confusion that I believe, Narcs enjoy in order to stay ‘elusive’ & ‘unaccountable’… I grew up in a ‘battleground’ of a house ruled by my fathers iron fist & sulking episodes, that weirdly had me seeking a partner of similar traits – couldn’t possibly reveal this article to her in fear of her wrath.

    • Hi Entangled,

      “Elusive and unaccountable” is exactly right. That makes setting healthy boundaries all the more important. You may want to seek counseling or other forms of support. You deserve to have allies who are there just for you as you sort out what is best for you in this difficult situation.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Dan

    • You the words from my thoughts…. I don’t dare to show this article to my narcissist wife.
      I’ll try a way to explain the article to my 12 & 10 years old kids…
      I knew that she had some “personality” disorder, sometimes borderline, some times “anti-social” but never new that “narcissist personality disorder” would have such severe symptoms and that it could be so debilitating… I knew she was “selfish” to the core; actually she agrees to say that she is ego-centrist and very-very selfish. She would put herself in front and above everybody else; always. She “warned” me before our first baby was born not to love the baby more than her… That should have sounded the alarm for me… it did (a lot) but I would listen…

      • You stole the words from my thoughts…. I don’t dare to show this article to my narcissist wife.
        I’ll try a way to explain the article to my 12 & 10 years old kids…
        I knew that she had some “personality” disorder, sometimes borderline, some times “anti-social” but never new that “narcissist personality disorder” would have such severe symptoms and that it could be so debilitating… I knew she was “selfish” to the core; actually she agrees to say that she is ego-centrist and very-very selfish. She would put herself in front and above everybody else; always. She “warned” me before our first baby was born not to love the baby more than her… That should have sounded the alarm for me… it did (a lot) but I would NOT (emphasis) listen…

  17. Don’t : marry them. I am lost.

    • if you have been in a relationship with a Narcissists for many years I can’t imagine the damage that has been done to you spiritually and emotionally and mentally and phsically but you have a choice to stay in the relationship and lose the rest of your mind and your life or get help getting out of the marriage make no mistake about it he never loves you because he don’t have the ability to love in fact he is not even human and I know he has treated you like he was not human even if you don’t believe in God now is the time to start and call on Jesus for help to escape this because you are dealing with something that is not a natural human being he is only human if the flash and only God can help you out of it.

      • Wow. I was reading thru the comments looking for encouragement. I’ve been married to one for 13 years and together for 17yrs. I can’t tell you the hurt that I have experienced and if it wasn’t for my relationship I have with Jesus Christ , I would be dead or an alcoholic. We have 3 children … I’ve been praying how much longer can I deal with this. I have problems adrenal fatigue. Pls pray for me I can make a Good choice & strength to listen &obey God direction for my life & my children . Thank you in advance.

  18. How does narcissism fit in with the law?

    • Elsabe,

      One way is that extreme narcissists often find ways to “game” the legal system through their manipulations, making divorce or other legal matters extremely contentious and costly.

      Dan

    • It is the perfect crime. No one ever knows about it, except the victim.

      • Dear Nisey,

        how right you are. Everybody else thinks they are so lovely, helpful, sincere, generous and genuine. We know the real deal behind our closed doors! So hard to be believed which is crushing to our soul and mind. They make award winning actors!

      • Hi Hope,
        Many narcissists are indeed like actors in that they are the stars and everyone in their lives are supposed to play supporting roles. Thanks for your comment.
        Dan

  19. An in-depth study and so VERY true and comprehensive.
    Do you know,one may spend decades with a narcissist before realizing that this is what ails him.It just kills the relationship.Sad.

    • You are right, the costs of being in relationship with a narcissist, especially when realized much later, can be saddening. Those realizations can be opportunities for grieving, moving on, and greater self care going forward — but the pain is very real and must be honored.
      Dan

      • Dr. Neuharth,

        Thank you for this. I have been married for 6 years. I have been isolated from friends and family. Recently, infidelity was discovered. The first time. I was made to feel responsible for her cheating like I had not done enough in our marriage to make her feel special. She always tells me she needs words of affirmation and complains that she does not get enough credit, never feels peace in our home, creates conflict, etc. At work, one of her traits is that she is so positive and her friends love her carefree attitude. At home, she is negative and has admitted being abusive, but says that’s who she is. The second instance of infidelity, she disappeared for 4 days hiding all financial records or whereabouts until the day she returned. She has stated she feels ashamed and wishes she could take it back (mostly because her image has suffered), but has only given marginal apologies to me and still tries to justify her actions. We have been going to counseling, but I do not trust any genuine emotion or empathy from her towards me. The JADE acronym is highly useful.

      • Hi K,

        It can take a long time to heal from infidelity but you are wise to seek couples counseling. If both partners are willing, crises like infidelity can be repaired and a marriage strengthened in the process of counseling. Your trust has to be restored and that will take genuine efforts to change from your partner, as well as a willingness to move forward on your part. I hope things work out for you.

        Dan

  20. My god, you have totally described Donald Trump.

    • Steve,
      Without getting into diagnosing the president, yes, there certainly seem to be similarities in his behavior and much of what I outlined in the article. Thanks for your comment.
      Dan

    • Steve, you’re totally on spot! The good Doctor has definitely given us insight into what we are facing and are about to face in the future. It’ll be a rough ride. I hope we make it. Best, Loren Martin, Ph.D., emeritus, medical physiology

    • Steve: EXACTLY! And it’s time people recognize and admit what we are dealing with, because the consequences could be irreparable!

    • I could say the same thing about Obama. I could also list numerous examples of his as evidence, but will not out of respect for the people here and the general purpose of this forum. Unfortunate that such an informative article/blog decided to delve into the potential quicksand of politics.

  21. Thank you for this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bashed my head against that proverbial wall, hoping that boss, colleague, friend or partner will change. I’ve realized NPD is truly a form of complex, developmental PTSD, not one or two traumatic events, but a amalgamation of inconsistent ignoring and intrusive parenting–hence the insecurity. Truly accessing the vulnerable self, must feel something like physical death to them. It really must be that bad. This is where my compassion comes in. And yet, we can’t be naive, for they will instantly use that to gaslight, guilt-trip or otherwise deflect and blame, emotional vampires that they are. I want to hate them, and yet I don’t have the heart to do that either. But I also don’t want to be forced to accommodate to them, to put extra energy into protecting myself from them. But what other choice is there? Again thanks, makes me feel validated in an often crazy making world.

    • Eric,
      You capture quite clearly the trade-offs and complexities of dealing with a narcissist: having compassion but not being naive; wanting to hate but not having the heart for it. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
      Dan

      • Hi Dan, Thanks for speaking up for this incredibly complex and misunderstood vulnerability, which is often only understood as existing on a relative continuum, based on culture and time period. For example, in some cultures and times the NPD traits are considered healthy and normal, whereas in other cultures and time periods, it is considered pathological. In today’s times narcissism is a highly valued cultural characteristic, but it is confused with confidence, extroversion, leadership for actual and authentic political strength, which in turn makes me…very sad, very sad and helpless. We all know Trump has NPD, at best, Malignant NPD at worst, and yet we stand by as passive observers in the cultural gestalt. We cannot prove to the masses what we know in our heart, that our president is hopelessly mentally ill. God help us all.

  22. I found this a really helpful read. My father is a narcissist with sociopathic tendencies and I repeated the pattern in my marriage and other relationships. I’ve come a long way in just over two years, having a breakdown and being diagnosed with complex PTSD. EMDR was an enormous help.
    The challenges remain depression, a tendency to self-sabatoge and ongoing trauma. My fight, flight, freeze was stuck in freeze for years and this is still my biggest challenge — getting past that and giving myself permission to act in ways that are good and healthy for me. It does happen, but it’s incredibly slow.

    • Cathy,
      Your progress is good to hear. Yes, healing can be slow. But I’m reminded of an eastern proverb: “Be not afraid of going slow. Be afraid of not moving at all.” Congratulations on your healing work to recover and give yourself permission to move beyond the ingrained fight-flight-freeze responses to do what is healthy for you. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
      Dan

  23. I have a brother and sister who are both narcissistic sociopaths. I have always been the object of their controlling and demeaning treatment. Up until about 6 or 7 yrs ago when I decided I had enough( mind you I’m now 60 yrs old). I love them and forgive them but I do not want them in my life anymore because of their caustic actions and the drama they constantly keep going plus the way they have treated my 83 yr old father after my mother passed. May they have great lives but not near or with me!!!

    • Thank you for your helpful post. As you so clearly point out, you can love people but, in loving yourself, you have the right to prevent people who hurt you from being in your life.

      Dan

  24. I have just come to understand narcissism and that my mother is a crafty one. We are not close and have not been for years. She has not shown interest in me or my family and I have shared this with her, but she is not able to understand. She puts this on me and my “unreasonable” expectations and not accepting her for who she is.
    This last weekend, she chose to skip my son’s Boy Scout Eagle ceremony and celebration to go to a dance competition. She blames me and our relationship on her not attending the celebration of her grandson’s significant accomplishment. I am done with the guilt trips and attempted manipulations.
    Most references suggest that the narcissist is really incapable of change and to confront them is futile. I have attempted in the past, but these ended with denial and deflection.
    That said, I would appreciate any input on the following thoughts to leave her with:
    1. I don’t want to cut ties with you, but I don’t believe you have the capability to empathize and see another point of view other than your own.
    2. The fact that you cannot acknowledge and own the behavior that causes us problems is an obstacle that neither of us can overcome to improve our relationship.
    3. Either your heart is not right, or your mind is not right. I am not sure how to move forward in either case.

    Thoughts?
    Probably should not even bother. Sad.

    • Hi Son by blood only,

      I imagine that was disappointing and painful to you and your son to see your mother’s self-absorption at such a key moment in your son’s life. I don’t know your unique situation and can only speak generally but in general, when seeking change in a relationship with narcissists, addressing a specific behavior can be more effective than pointing to their unhealthy traits, capabilities, or shortcomings. Even if what you are pointing to is right — actually, especially if the unhealthy trait you are pointing to is accurate — most narcissists will take those larger issues as attacks and either counter-attack or completely dismiss what you say. If, however, they are motivated enough — often a very big if — they may be willing to work on changing one specific behavior, maybe in only one or more specific circumstance. They may see that it benefits them in getting what they want. Anything more than that is often too much for narcissists to be willing or able to handle.

      Dan

    • I have so often thought about, & wanted to have that exact exchange with my mother, especially since I no longer allow her presence or constant disruptions to intrude in mine & my childrens lives. She is now in her mid-eighties, & I often wonder if I will someday regret not having attempted to communicate my feeling to her, but after all the years spent being on the short end of this relationship, (in my case at least), I realize that it would be very unlikely that it would do anyone any good, unfortunately. Please let us know if you do decide to try the direct approach, & if so, how it works out for you. Thanks for bringing up a very tough subject!

  25. Thanks so much everyone. I can’t add to anything that has already been said.
    I’m just so happy to find it’s not me, I’ve been pushed to doubting my own sanity. It’s just now I’ve realised that my empathy towards people is a weapon to them, so how do you continue to care without losing yourself?
    I’m becoming paranoid, I can’t believe anything I’m told anymore, how do you reconnect with yourself.
    I’ve been caring for others so long I can’t believe people would deliberately hurt others to make themselves look & feel good.
    The best part is it has a name & the article was spot on with description. So sad that the best way to deal with these people is don’t 🙁

    • I’m glad you found the article validating. One characteristic tactic of narcissists is to accuse others of doing the dysfunctional behaviors the narcissistic is in fact doing, thereby sowing self-doubt in others. It’s important to know the truth so that you can respect yourself and cherish the gift of empathy, rather than question yourself and fall victim to narcissistic manipulation.

      Dan

  26. I wrote this a couple of years ago about my husband… does he sound like a narcissist?

    Rules to follow if you want to get along with him:

    Remember:

    I. “He is always right”

    a. Never tell him that he is wrong.
    b. Never expect him to admit being wrong.
    c. Never tell him how to do something.
    d. Never question how he’s doing something.
    e. Never try to teach him anything.
    f. Never try to change his mind.
    g. Never present him with facts when they contradict what he has already decided to believe.

    II. “He is more important than you”

    a. Never try to get him to prioritize differently than he wants to.
    b. Never ask him to explain anything.
    c. Never expect him to notice anything outside his personal realm of interest.
    d. Never expect that he will understand how you feel.
    e. Never expect him to be considerate of your feelings.
    f. Always realize that he will expect you to read his mind and act according to his wishes.
    g. Always expect that he will ask you to drop what you are doing to help him.

    III. “He lives completely in the now; oblivious to past or future”

    a. Never try to get him to plan ahead or organize.
    b. Never expect him to economize.
    c. Never expect that he will consider the consequences of his actions.
    d. Never depend on him to do what he says he will do.
    e. Never remind him that he said he was going to do something but didn’t.
    f. Never remind him of anything he has done that didn’t go well.
    g. Never criticize anything he did in the past
    h. Never expect an apology.

    IV. “He needs constant approval”

    a. Always pat him on the back for every little thing he does.
    b. Never tell him you don’t want what he wants to give you.
    c. Always pretend that he is the smartest person in the room.

    V. “He is a victim”

    a. Never even imply that something bad is the consequence of his own actions.
    b. Never expect that he will take responsibility for his actions.
    c. Always assume he will blame someone else for his problems.
    d. Always sympathize with him that he is a victim of poor circumstances.
    e. Never try to guilt him into anything.

    • Hi Annie, great thoughts, thanks! At the awful gut core the true narcissist’s “sense of self” is like a super painful open wound impulsively protecting itself from all attempts to interact with it. Everything will be taken the wrong way, especially all forms of help, which are interpreted as your assumptions of his stupidity, weakness and ineptitude. Deep within he is like a caged and beaten animal with emotional defenses resembling the hard shell of the armadillo, the quills of the porcupine or the inflation of the puffer fish. This is why he constructed a compensatory “false self” (e.g. grandiose, entitled, arrogant, vicious), as a way to cope with the “true” vulnerable self, that cannot cope in the big terrible world. There is nothing but emptiness there (though surprisingly, this is “something”). It’s sad really. Really, really sad. Because often the insidious process starts as a child, as a way to survive parents that did not love or “see” him. This is we see “nests” of narcissist families, generation to generation. The narcissistic personality I am describing is different from those with a super inflated ego who also exude entitlement and arrogance, due to a different kind of dysfunctional parenting, marked by excessive praise and undisciplined permissiveness. Also, parents are “ambassadors” of the culture and time period we live in…

      • Hi Eric,

        Thank you for sharing your poignant and artfully written thoughts.

        Dan

    • Hi Annie,

      You offer incredibly wise and useful advice. Thank you!

      Dan

    • Dear Annie,
      This is my husband too a tee, it is so hard to live this way. I am getting the silent treatment right now, I use to cry, now I just don’t care anymore. It never ends and it certainly never gets better.

    • Annie,
      You said your husband…
      I am a married man and there is no line there that does not fully apply to my wife …
      I have to admit though, there are a could that would apply to me too..
      Thanks,

    • Thanks for sharing that, Annie! That list could just as easily have been written about my (estranged) husband, word-for-word! I’ve been going over and over in my head “is he, or isn’t he” a narcissist, because I don’t want to label him unfairly, and he is definitely more of a covert narcissist than the out-going, brash and loudly arrogant type. Unfortunately, covert narcissists are the ones that tend to fool most people, and you end up losing not only your husband, but your friends and sometimes even family members, because he manages to convince everyone that you were to blame for everything that went wrong in your marriage, including the fact that he walked out on you!

    • Wow, your lists can be applied to several people in my family and they echo many of the things I’ve said to them over the years. They can also serve as warnings to all of us on monitoring our own behavior to make sure we don’t allow selfishness to take over and become our only motivator and point of reference. Thank you.

  27. I was married to a narcissist for 20 years and am just realizing the damage he has done to me and my family. We have two teenagers together and I have recently recognized some traits in my son. I am terrified that he will become just like my ex. Is there anything I can do to curb these traits from manifesting any further?

    • Hi Maria,

      One of the most important contributions parents make is in modeling healthy behavior. Even if your son has absorbed unhealthy habits or attitudes from his father, as a teenager his brain and personality are still evolving. In addition to letting your son know that he is loved and offering support and resources as appropriate, by modeling healthy outlooks and behaviors in your life you are giving him an alternative model for how to live in contrast to any unhealthy influences from his father. Ultimately he will make his own choices, but don’t underestimate the influence you can have at this point in his life, even if that influence may not fully manifest for years.

      Dan

  28. Its and interesting double edged sword of the internet that so much information is available just a short set of words away i see most of the people here responding are people subjected to the adverse behavior of narcissists. I imagine to some of them there is solace to be found in the idea they can never or rarely change but what about people such as myself aware of the fact we exhibit a lot of these behaviors or more accurately a natural inclination to act in such ways with varying levels of prevention. Obviously there is some sort of bizarre double paradox in admitting the behavior being both very narcissistic creating a different special kind of narcissistic behavior that i posses and also to sabotage my image (behind a degree of anonymity to the forum as a whole) being not very narcissistic. My question is what are we supposed to do i have spent a lot of time in therapy to zero success in fact it seems my general symptoms if you will prevent therapy being effective by virtue of them so how do we find place in a world are psychology only asks to bend or warp and not participate in?

    • Hi Edd,

      A person who cherishes an inflated self-image admitting their self-image is inflated is a highly courageous act. It is also the first stage of the healing process (reducing the unwanted narcissistic traits). You are right, this process does sabotage, to use your word, the extreme parts of the self-image, but if done right it need not create a new kind of narcissism (although one must be vigilant not to “adopt” one dysfunctional personality for another, for example, a person with narcissistic traits deciding to enlighten others with their spiritual rhetoric).

      In my opinion it’s best to see narcissistic traits or personalities on a continuum. A healthy dose of narcissism is needed to properly function in this culture, and sadly, a few degrees up on the continuum, an unhealthy dose is often required to “succeed.” At the very end is the person with NPD, impulsive, without insight, outrageous in every way, highly toxic and basically unteachable (though in a way, not totally hopeless).

      If I’m reading you right, you seem to be saying therapy is designed to prevent the healing of narcissistic traits. Why?

      You seem to feel excluded. You are not. You have my respect.

      Take care, Eric

  29. Hi Edd,

    Thank you for sharing your observations and experience. A high percentage of people with extreme narcissism never seek therapy and are unwilling to acknowledge that they play any part in the dysfunction they leave in their wake. That is not the case you outline for yourself, however.

    You describe a challenge that is not unique to you; many people may notice a tendency in themselves for some narcissistic tendencies including characteristics or behaviors that can make participating in therapy challenging.

    The psychological helping professions do not exist simply to point out problems. Practitioners’ central role is to assist those who are motivated to grow and change in positive ways. If one is disappointed in the results of one’s therapy, voicing that to your therapist can often be a helpful step in tailoring your therapy to be most helpful to you. It also may help, if you have had multiple courses of therapy that you feel haven’t helped you, to identify any patterns in your approach that may have played a part in that.

    If after voicing concerns to your therapist, participating in an honest dialogue, and endeavoring in honest introspection, nothing changes, you may wish to consider consulting a different therapist or helping professional.

    Dan

  30. so then, how am i supposed to actually deal with a person like this? it’s my mother i law and i am realizing most recently my husband too. i am considered an empath personality and feel everyone’s emotions in the room deeply, and when a narcissist gets in one of those angry at everyone- look at me storm- moods, how do i not fall into the cycle and have it affect me?

    • Hi Sylvie,
      If you are strongly empathic, it may be difficult to be around narcissists and others who act in toxic ways. Empathy and sensitivity are gifts, but they have their challenges. Balancing being open to others with staying in touch with yourself and your needs is hard but important work. Thank you for your post.
      Dan

  31. This is the best article on narcissism I have come across. Simple to understand and excellent advice on how to cope with a narcissist who cross your path in life. Thank you so much for the practical tips which I find very useful.

    • Thank you, Nemi

  32. Best article on narcissism I’ve ever read. Wish I could have known this stuff growing up with TWO narcissistic parents and one narcissistic grandparent on each side. My 90 year old mother passed away a few months ago. WHAT a relief! I know that’s politically incorrect with some folks, but there it is. My 95 year old father is still kicking me and my only sibling every step of the way. I live next door to him and try so very hard to be patient, tolerant and kind. But he is just unbelievable! EVERYTHING is about him. EVERY LITTLE THING is all about him. I was also set free from a narcissistic boss a few months ago. I still have to listen to him on his conference calls M-F, 9 to 5. And look at him trying to keep his big noggin’ balanced on his shoulders as he walks the halls checking on everyone. I spent 3 months on stress disability over that little blowhard. My therapist said “does he remind you of your father??” I said HA! He’s a “perfect” blend of both my parents and there’s no way on earth we could possibly be related.

    Thanks again to you for this article, Dan – and to everyone who has commented here. It is such a relief to know that I am not alone. Even though I know it’s not true, some days I do feel like I’ve been singled out. All I have to say is – I’m so very sorry I plucked the wings off those flies in my last life. I was told it’d have karmic consequences, but I just wouldn’t listen. 😉

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences. It sounds like you are making progress in emotionally detaching from unhealthy connections.
      Dan

  33. This comment excludes people with NPD who are dangerous, predatory and violent. Law enforcement and legal resources are needed for this type! The type I’m describing is simply extremely self-absorbed, hyper-sensitive and shame based, with a solid chance to make improvements–maybe they have strong NPD traits and not the full blown disorder itself. You will have to decide that for yourself. “N” = Narcissist (person suffering from narcissistic personality traits/symptoms).

    1. Try not to understand the N’s unhealthy behavior from a logical, rational or normally empathic way (but with the healthy parts of them please do so). This will drive you crazy, and is an invitation for the N to gaslight you or employ any number of emotionally abusive tactics. Because they already believe everything is about them, non-judgmentally asking them what their goals and needs are and what they want to see change is one way to avoid defensive attacks. If what they want is also what you want, then that is a win, something you can work with (but perhaps not give voice to, at least not yet). Because intensely low self-esteem and shame is the root of the problem, finding grains of truth in their perception may reduce this.

    2. Find a support group, get into therapy and always, always, always practice self-care. Don’t tolerate emotional abuse either. Let them know the consequences of their behavior and stick to your guns in a tough love kind of way.

    3. When N’s feel attacked, they often come at you from three basic defensive roles: The Victim, The Rescuer and the Perpetrator. These roles are used to protect the N from shame and pretty much all forms of vulnerability. Knowing this may put you in a better position in regards how to best respond. For example if they come at you with their victim hat on, don’t enable this role by giving it too much attention.

    4. For N’s, “the world is what you make of it” is especially true. It is like they have invisible antennae constantly scanning their environments for signs of their perceived inherent unloveable-ness and defectiveness. This process also involves distorting neutral and positive signs to “fit the mould” of the invisible childhood narrative they are unconsciously recreating. They warp their reality to fit their self-loathing vision of themselves (which they project onto others). You may be able to counter this by using the mantra, “balance is better” or something like that, emphasizing strengths and positives at every turn.

    5. It’s all about shame. Helping them self-validate, self-soothe, challenge the toxic childhood narrative and “become their own parent” is the goal. It would be best if they could do this with a therapist, but if they won’t and if you really and truly want to hang in there with them, tough compassion can’t be emphasized enough. Really, couples therapy in order to achieve “corrective emotional experiences” is probably the best route.

    6. Though narcissism is a complex, developmental trauma (attachment wounds and attunement errors combined with a biologically sensitive temperament), over-analyzing often leads to analysis-paralysis and the inevitable pulling of hair out. Often N’s are simply trying to repair themselves with you, trying to make you be the healthy parent they never had (in this regard, they are doing what we all do much more intensely). They are just going about it in an extremely counterproductive fashion. Perhaps knowing this will yield the much needed, but carefully expressed, compassion.

    7. Externalize the behaviors and teach them to “make the problem the problem” instead of blaming themselves or you. Is it possible for the N to see the two of you collaborating as a team to reduce/eliminate the unwanted behaviors?

    There’s more, much more, but already this post is getting too long, and to be honest I’m starting to feel a bit too proud of myself. Which leads me to:

    8. Try and use humor as much as possible! Humor takes us out of tunnel vision, giving us a new thought-structure, often releasing the dragged around luggage at the airport feeling. Any stand-up or show emphasizing unworkable reactions to anxiety will be helpful (the antics of George on Seinfeld comes to mind).

    Best.

    • Hi Eric,
      Thank you for sharing the many distinctions and suggestions you posted. I suspect many readers can relate to several of the points you make.
      Dan

  34. This is such an eye opener.

    I have always felt that I have been living with one for a very long time. I have experienced the aftermath of a narcissist until I couldn’t deal with it no more. I did not choose to leave instead I choose to stand up for myself first by expressing myself, it was very unwelcome from the perpetrator and very much contested.

    I learnt that I couldn’t change him but I can choose what about his personality affects me. The good thing in me is that I am a very outspoken person and never hold back my opinion as long as I am not breaking any law or stepping on anyone’s foot deliberately with an intention to hurt, I speak my mind.

    This information is just a confirmation of who I have been dealing with, I can see him trying to exercise the same to our children but guess what, I am always there to let him know that it doesn’t have to be his way, either by word of mouth or by conduct. When he plays hard to get, I keep a healthy distance, I stand up for my children and for my kids as well so that they don’t become him or get affected by his behavior as he continues being a narcissist.

    My kids are strong inside out.They believe in fairness and they challenge their father for it. I am doing my job.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Open Mind,
      You share a valuable insight — that you can’t change a narcissist, but you can choose what about his personality affects you. Thank you for your post.
      Dan

    • You stood to him and taught your kids to stand to their father… well, good for you.
      However in my case, “standing up” to my wife leads to a big argument, screaming, yelling; hitting things – sometimes physically attacking me – (this is beyond what I can allow – so she gets back some of that- I am not totally into physical revenge, but that would show her if she hurts me she will get some of that physical pain back – although I have promised myself not to act physically – will restrain her when she gets that wild) The problem is that she is not someone who would give up at no cost – she would fight to the end to win against anybody – including against our young children); of course after all her rage is subdued somehow, she would be crying and calling me names, sobbing and telling our kids what a horrible father and husband I am… silent treatment towards me until I “sincerely” and deeply express my “fault” and ask for forgiveness… I don’t know why I allowed myself to sink that deep into her manipulative manners… Her favorite shaming towards me is calling me LIAR – which I am not, and don’t want to be called one – I know myself. She keeps herself at the “highest” standards – so even when I knew she was somehow not telling the truth I did not dare to challenge her – however yesterday I told her that she was lying – this got her really upset and angry – she did not accept any facts… I told her a few days ago – I have freed myself from her “tantrums” – I asked her if she could go to see a psychologist for her “anger” management… cannot tell her she is NPD…

  35. So spot on. I am 13 years a survivor meaning I’m still in the vortex that is a relationship with a narcissist. He’s 61, an only child, ex-glorified-athlete, ex-record-breaking-powerlifter, ex-law enforcement, never married, no children and inherited lots of money recently….I doubt one could meet more criteria for being a text book narcissist. It’s been quite the roller coaster and I realize now the best way to describe the last 12 years is the slowest blood-letting ever. I’ve begun therapy and literally two weeks ago today, I told him I’m done. But I know that I’m not, not yet. He won’t “let” me be done. He has no other supply lined up right now and being an aging narcissist, he’s losing his “game”. I have to constantly read mantras and quotes and articles like this one (excellent, by the way) to remind myself that detaching is the ONLY choice I have right now if I am to live a reasonably healthy and happy existence.

    • Hi Marti,
      I’m glad you have sought therapy and are using self-help writings in articles for support. The “slowest bloodletting ever” that you described as your 12 year relationship sounds like a painful price to pay. Thank you for sharing and good luck in your journey.
      Dan

    • I am truly sorry for what you are going through. My ex hurt me so much by his sense to feel above me and constantly putting me down. Another thing I have remembered that used to hurt me so bad was, when I we would argue and just asking him, to treat me how I treated him. I would cry by giving him examples of my devotion and dedication to him, his answer always was “that isn’t love, it’s servitud”…until recently finally I have been able to put a name to his callous behavior towards me. I wasted much good love on an undeserving being. This article couldn’t be so much on point, to finally be able to feel closure. Stay strong, and find within you to leave this individual.

      • Hi Alex,
        Thank you for your supportive comment and for sharing your experience.
        Dan

  36. Great article. I will have to remember JADE. It is brilliant and guess what? I do all 4 of them when I get so engrossed with a narcissistic. The Wheel was so helpful because I know it is predominately them but the mind plays tricks on you and over time you start blaming yourself and wondering what is wrong with me? Why did I let it happen again? Why didn’t I just walk away and say “I don’t do drama”. I am so wrapped up by their unjust behavior that when the grande finale comes I want to explain, I want to justify it, I argue with them because I know they are falsely accusing me and of course I have to defend myself. The cycle keeps repeating itself. I have to remember not to tell them specifics about my life because that makes me a target. They know I am vulnerable but they don’t care. They have no empathy. This is the hardest concept for me to accept. How can they not feel for a person? They pick on kind people – go figure?

    • Nisey,
      Your questions are soul-searching and spot-on. It can be hard to accept, let alone understand, narcissists’ lack of empathy.
      Thanks for sharing your post,
      Dan

  37. Will an addictive narcissist become physically abusive if you attempt to divorce him?

    • Depends on the narcissist. The kind that almost appears on the autistic spectrum due to robot-like features and near complete self-absorbtion (and without a history of violence) are perhaps less likely than the ones with a DV history and a more specific reaction to shame and rejection. I wouldn’t do it without professional assistance, including a support group.

    • Lisa,
      If this is your personal situation and you are concerned about physical abuse, it is important that you get support from a qualified professional to help you make the best choice on how to move forward safely.
      Dan

  38. Is it possible I wonder for a 13 year old adopted girl to be a narcissist. She displays all the things described in the article. I thought maybe it was just preteen stuff. Does narcissism have an age guideline?

    • Kris,
      According to the DSM-V, though some personality disorders begin in or can be diagnosed in adolescence, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is defined as beginning “by early adulthood.” In addition, the DSM-V says “Narcissistic traits may be particularly common in adolescents and do not necessarily indicate that the individual will go on to have narcissistic personality disorder.” If there are specific behaviors you are concerned about in the 13-year-old, it might be wise to encourage counseling and possibly a psych assessment so that appropriate treatment can be offered while she is still at a young age.
      Dan

  39. Thank you for posting this article, it is spot-on! It helps to know that as a victim, I am not crazy, or alone.

    I was married to a narcissist for 14 long and painful years. I was the perfect innocent victim who lost all self-confidence, scratch that – lost SELF in the journey, and am still healing from it.

    I left in 2012,and Of course I was replaced within a few months. Actually infidelity on his part was evident, although I refused to see it for a long time, and became emotionally detached that I didn’t care. I did not divorce because of my suspicions; I divorced to save myself. During the course of my marriage 3 doctors told me I needed to leave because the physical and verbal abuse was going to kill me. Even so, it took me several years to actually get the gumption to leave. My health was greatly affected by it, and the more he knew my frailties, he used them as ammunition against me. Since I had never been in that situation before, I was totally confused by it, self doubt slowly crept in and my destruction was a downward spiral from the moment we were married. We had dated for 3 1/2 years prior to getting married, and I can honestly say that my “husband” was a complete stranger to me, his true self immediately unveiled and the emotional torture began.

    • Victoria,
      Thank you for sharing your experiences and telling others about your path to healing. I am sure many readers can relate to your journey.
      Dan

  40. I enjoyed reading an article that is not showing personal emotional involvement. And I did quite some research on covert narcissism especially within the last 4 months. Funnily enough I started the exact day this article was published.
    The affair lasted for nine intense months. Here are some red flags I came across:

    – a sudden and super-intense love-bombing phase (started by him) resulting in very close contact within three weeks. Hints on us being soulmates etc.
    (! I had my gut instinct telling me this is too good to be true…and ignored it.)
    – controlling behaviour, but not in an too obvious way, often disguised as missing me or being concerned about my well-being (and so always triggering my inner caring person and thus explaining myself.)
    – very controlling in terms of sex
    – strong interest in immediately being THE person to talk to about anything. (Since he works in the social sector I confused his interest in my stories and ensured trustworthiness with interest in me and compassion.)
    – never, not once, came up with substantial comments on the issues I presented although being a pro and “interested”…so this was just information gathering.
    – “empty” eyes and a strange feeling when being together in emotional situations (also after sex): couldn’t name it before the research I made, but much of my gut instinct must have been triggered by his face/eyes and gestures that betrayed his text messages and words. There was no empathy and compassion in them. I nearly always got a strange feeling that I couldn’t quite put my finger on when talking to him about anything that needed empathy or compassion.
    – 4x silent treatment simply to check my boundaries, always when I was vulnerable (e.g. sick at home)…
    – …followed by pseudo-excuses (I’m sorry that you didn’t feel properly acknowledged.)
    (!Yes. Instinct was still there. But I rather listened to what he said than to what he did not say and especially not do.)
    – immediately made long-term promises!, planned our future, was totally over the top with everything (especially in how much I was different and how much he loved me and how much we were great minds thinking alike. And how much he hated lies)
    – leaving out information are not lies. Very important! Because he left out that his girlfriend (!) was pregnant with baby no. 2(!) …uuupps…The text message read “My heart, I have a daughter.” (and she was just born) UNBELIEVEABLE.

    I told him my point of view on everything regarding us. Very kind. In a letter, since there was no way talking to him. I kind of tried to explain his behaviour to me (excusing his not telling me about his family because the didn’t want to lose me. Which was obvoiously the case, but for reasons even more wrong.) But it was and still is so out of any orbit of sanity. This was nearly four months ago. He never replied since then. Silent treatment. Got married last weekend. (Not to me ;-))
    So there he went from the closest contact imaginable and being unable to live without me to no contact at all and getting married.

    I cannot even say how much damage this left. I mean it is really not possible.

    (Sorry, I got carried away.)

    • I just went through the exact same thing! The LOVE BOMBING! Wow. I told him I’m done a few days ago. It’s difficult, but this is the best I’ve felt in a long time. God bless you.

      • CarrotFaerie,
        Thanks for contributing your experience.
        Dan

    • How awful. I am so sorry this happened to you. How painful. Sad to say but he used you and played you like a fiddle. Don’t blame yourself because there is no way to see it until afterwards. That is what is so frustrating we live it forwards but see it backwards. However, the best part is you didn’t marry him. Someone else has to deal with him now and for that you are truly blessed. The abuse is over and the healing must now begin.

      • Thank you for your supportive post Nisey.

    • Hi, I’m a guy and still trying to recover from a cycle of narcissistic abuse from a woman who was more Borderline in her strange and harmful ways, but essentially narcissistic none the less (by that I mean extremely manipulative from the victim role). The cycle you describe fits my experience perfectly, about two to three weeks of bliss (“wow, this is it, she’s really going to change! I healed her!), followed by a hellish week of severe irritability, angry outbursts, massive criticism, guilt-tripping, gas-lighting and other tactics, completely robbing me of my basic self-esteem and confidence. The sense of pervasive “relationship failure” I felt as a man also was profoundly damaging. She had such an extensive emotional abuse and abandonment history, and as for my part a Rescuing need, I just felt so sorry, and so in love, with her. I really believed in idealized, romanticized love. But it was nothing more than a Venus Fly Trap. Best to you in your healing and recovery.

      • Eric, I see myself in your story…
        I have gone through those stages…. up and down; there she is a storm that could have killed my and right after that my wife would be the “sunshine” so much needed. I’d feel bad that I entertained bad thoughts on her… I blamed myself for so many years, I tried to “improve”, I “molded” myself to her model that she wanted to make me into… that never worked; desperately I asked God to help me… later on I started asking God to help her… I actually would tel her “my prayers” and she would say that she needs no help… I worked so hard for both our homes we own, but she wants to kick me out… I was lost… I could not comprehend (and still do not have the full comprehension of) all her behavior… at first I thought she could have been on drugs and might be in “withdrawal” stage and needs help… It wasn’t that… after the baby was born I thought it was postpartum depression… it wasn’t that… maybe it aggravated the situation… I chose to stay home to take care of my baby because I thought she could really harm our baby… she might be borderline… but I dread the moments she slips… she snaps… I actually though she would kill me when I was asleep, that’s how enraged she is at times… I agreed she could bring her parents to live with us hoping this would help her and us… it din’t work…probably it made things worse as her mom (and sometimes her father) encourage her… her mom depreciates me and I cannot kick her out of my home (!)… Sometimes I think her mom would stick a knife on me to appease her “suffering” daughter… I would be that in-law to do the unthinkable if I saw my daughter suffering from her husband as my wife “suffers”… If my wife yells her lungs out at my 12 years old daughter… the poor kids cannot find refuge… if she goes upstairs to lock herself in her room, my wife would literally knock down the door… if I try to intervene I am reminded by my wife “she” is the mother and she knows what she is doing… and my mother in-low would get into argument telling me to stop as her daughter is the “mom” she is not the “step-mother”…. I have known step-mothers who are way better than my wife…
        My wife bathes the kids (yelling while helping them bathing) clothes them, prepares meals etc… she clothes the baby… but last night she yanked baby’s leg as the baby was fussing/reluctant when putting the diaper… I tried to get the pamper and place it but was pushed away by my wife… she says that I exaggerate… probably so… I try to be less susceptible to pain… again forget my pain…I can heal easily… I try not to as sensitive to my kids’ suffering, but there is a limit to that… I am the father and I don’t know how to save them from the torment…

      • Desperate Dad,

        Your post clearly touched readers deeply. You have a complicated situation that may be helped by seeking professional counseling. You don’t have to face this alone.

        Thanks for sharing your experiences.

        Dan

      • Hi Eric,

        Thanks for sharing your experience and insights of the “Venus fly trap” relationship. Very helpful.

        Dan

    • HappyToBe,

      Sometimes any of us can be slow to see the full measure of a narcissist’s dysfunction. However, your sharing of your personal experience with the valuable specifics such as love bombing, empty eyes, pseudo-excuses, and selective truths that accompanied how you were betrayed, is invaluable. You do a service to other readers who may now be able to see things coming earlier than they might otherwise have done. Thank you for your post.

      Dan

  41. This piece addressed ‘jade’, I like that. after divorcing a 20 yr marriage, my ex has successfully turned our 3 children to the point they will not speak to me. I do not think a therapist out there has the capability of healing such a nightmare. two of the older children married, it would have been nice to have been there instead of see pictures on facebook. life is a nightmare.

    • I am sorry to hear that you were married to a narcissist that did this to you. I have been surrounded by them all my life and I just had to resign from a job I liked because I worked beside a very evil narcissist who caused all kinds of trouble for me and also turned people against me. I cannot image to have children turn against me. Very painful. There are a few counselors that do have experience with narcissism and you might look up Kaleah LaRoush (check spelling but close you should find it) she’s on line but has many articles, counseling on line, e-books etc. I think you may be able to get some healing through her and our Lord is the most important thing to get healing. These people are being controlled by the devil and no longer have full control of their minds. I apologize if you are not religious but my experience with it there is no other answer for these situations. These people are merciless and unfortunately there is not much you can do except to learn not to be a target for them. This is where I am at right now.

      • Sometimes I think there are truly evil people in this world we all live in. I try to have compassion and empathy for the abuses that made the narcissists this way, and yet for my own self-care I cannot be saintly, for this is the true ingredient of their venom, our kindness to them. They have no compunction about seeing our humanity as as a weakness and an inroad to their manipulations. It’s like, “please bring the mouse to the cheese!” And to these broken, bankrupt, timeworn, unteachable hungry ghosts we must protect ourselves. They are the symbolic emotional vampires of humanity. Even Bram Stoker agreed Dracula was a metaphor for this. It’s sad. We want to help, even save them. But they are beyond saving, most of them. They were the victim of inconsistent intrusive and ignoring parenting (the hallmark of NPD parenting), and now are making the rest of us pay for it. Please, protect yourself. Self-care, all the way, self-care.

      • Yes, I agree. You cannot fix them in any way. You cannot reason with them. There is no cure for it. I, myself think they no longer have full control of their mind. They have at some point turned themselves over to the darkness of the world. I was raised by 2 narcissistic fools basically. My childhood was a joke. I raised myself but God made himself known to me and had mercy on me. I am happy to say I am not a narcissist, very much not, very compassionate and caring. However, I attract narcissists like a fly trap. Everywhere I go there they are. I am so tired of them. I just resigned from a job where there was such an evil malignant narcissist who made my world topsy turvy. She was threatened by me and caused trouble, lied to my boss and yelled at me for nothing. I tried to accommodate her and told her I would do a certain thing she wanted me to do and told her not to worry. Nothing appeased her. She was a nut but everybody believed her. In fact she told me everyone would believe her (she’s had experience) she was nearly 70 years old. An ex-realtor/mortgage broker. I knew I was doomed from the start. She was so believable even though she was so insecure. Very heavy woman and it didn’t make matters any easy that I am slim. She couldn’t take responsibility for anything. She projected everything on to me and blamed me for things she was doing. It was a mind trip in the end. For my own sanitary I had to resign and she turned my boss against me who I had a good relationship with. Very, very painful. I am having nightmares about it. I am broke and very, very scared because every job I get I get tangled with them. I have to remember JADE and not explain anything to them. But, it gets hard. They screw up and think you did it and you have to explain. At least, I do. I just need to be away from these individuals. I do not know how they become this way except they have some very bad character traits from the beginning: perfectionism, pride, they are always right but so wrong, stubborn, no boundaries/no filter, don’t care about other people’s feelings, it’s all about them, selfish, grandiose feelings etc. which all goes to make up this character. I, myself do not think they are human, I think they are part demon.

    • Wow, I’ve gone through the same experiences with my two eldest children that you have!
      When their fathers narcism was aimed primarily at me, & later, towards my eldest daughter, she used to say, “I don’t know how you ever stayed with him”! She married at a young age, picking a spouse she can control, who she’s always treated quite poorly, (much to my surprise & dismay), but together they’ve amassed a sizable fortune. Ironically, (yeah), she’s now become the “favored child” of her N father, & she now treats me with a horrible lack of respect, feelings, empathy, & subjects me to very erratic verbal abuse, in public, (surrounding issues that are always made up, & beyond belief), as she is also a pathological liar. The issues that her once-hated father treated both of us with, (despite my constant support, encouragment & love for her), when I’d left him, even though I’d taken the kids with me, he began to go after her more often, to the point where she quit even visiting him, she now reserves the same behavior for me. She treats her younger 1/2 sister almost as badly, (& has even joined forces with my N mother), so she is also on my “No Fly” list, sadly. I wish there was a way to get her into therapy, but she is actually the worst of the three, & there is nowhere for my youngest & I to go but forward.

      • Hi Denni,

        I can see why you wish your oldest daughter would go to therapy. But even if she is unwilling, therapy may help you and your other daughter to, as you say, move forward. Thanks for sharing.

        Dan

    • Hi Mary Ann,

      That must have been heartbreaking to not see your adult children’s weddings. Thank you for contributing to the dialogue.

      Dan

  42. I read Eric’s comment about being raised by NPD parents causing this condition, well my siblings and myself had a great normal childhood by parents who loved us. We were given the same teaching and instructions for adulthood but my brother and sister came out as narcissistic. It was practiced on me my whole childhood and during most of my adulthood up till 6 or 7 yrs ago when I separated myself from them. My parents loved us all the same and I never saw any difference made. I’m the oldest but they made me miserable for yrs. I don’t think your raising is the root I think some people are just NP and the power trip they get makes them feel like they are superior to everyone. So sorry for everyone who has gone thru this terrible personality abuse for these people are ruthless when it comes to inflating themselves. May God Bless you all.

    • Hi, I have a few more thoughts. But first, props to you for surviving narcissistic abuse and becoming a sane person! That says much about your character. Please take this to heart.

      There is a saying in psychology: “is it nature or nurture,” but the truth is “it’s” most often more one or the other, the synergy of each creating a much more illuminated picture as to the “why.” Clearly if the parents are narcissistic, the odds of raising a narcissistic child increase proportionately, for the child has no other option but to create a falsely inflated self to cope with the rejection/abandonment they correctly, but unconsciously, perceive in the parenting. As an adult, the inflated self is the narcissist we so deeply cannot stand to be around (alternately, a person with the same personality structure can also manipulate others from the victim/deflated self role).

      In developmental psychology problems with the psychological separation from the archetypal mother during the “terrible twos” stage (the rage and fear upon realizing mom is a separate person and not omniscient) can be devastating. In order for the child to “move on” mom must “stand her ground” so to speak, not abdicating her maternal presence (by being too authoritarian) and on the other extreme avoiding being too permissive (not teaching healthy boundaries), that is not basically present enough to help the child mature into the next stage. You probably have noticed that many adult narcissists behave like children throwing temper tantrums, believing they are the center of the universe (no empathy, grandiosity, entitlement) etc. This is because many are stuck in the terrible twos stage. They never moved on! It is very scary to think of all the supposedly adult politicians who are like this. Ahem, one in particular!

      Mental illness or substance abuse in the parent(s) is another culprit. For example, an extremely depressed mother with postpartum cannot provide the basic attachment and attunement necessary for healthy growth following birth, later resulting in very deep rooted mental health issues (see wiki’s article on adult attachment styles). This is why one sibling but not the other(s) can be more or less affected (e.g. conditions and circumstances change and the same mother avoids the postpartum depression with the second child).

      Finally, temperament is very important to consider. It is one thing for a child to have a sensitive personality makeup and quite another for the same child to colicky to the point of unreasonableness, as though their emotional skin is on fire. Add that to parents with an incompatible temperament, and again, the seeds of narcissism are planted (e.g. that parent may shut down, threaten, ignore and get enraged in ways they otherwise would not with temperamentally compatible child). This is why it is so important for a child to be raised in a community of caring and healthy aunts, uncles, grandparents and the like who can take over when parents are too stressed or unavailable to do so (please note it is not my intention to pathologize mothers; indeed, mother is best used metaphorically, especially in modern times, for a stay at home dad, grandparent, same sex partner etc. can equally provide solid “mothering,” as I have described it—however, I must admit, due to the basic biological connection and unity in utero, it seems the biological mother is best suited to provide the maximum attachment response, at least for the first few months or so—I could be wrong about this, some more research is needed).

      In the final analysis, massive education and support for the parents is very important to decrease narcissistic adults in our communities. It is not enough to provide the basics and hope everything will work out in the end. The stigma of mental health must end.

      • Hi Eric,

        Thank you for contributing your many thoughtful observations. While growing up with a narcissistic parent may raise the risk that some children will become narcissistic, that outcome is still not the norm or there would be even more narcissists in the world. Just as a majority of children who are abused do not become child abusers, a majority of children who are raised by narcissists do not become narcissists, even though they may have a costly legacy in other ways.

        Dan

  43. WOW,
    I mean wow! This article is an eye opener.
    I am not a psychologist, but I work in healthcare field; I have been trying to figure out my wife’s behavior in my 12 years being together with her. We have some good times, good memories together, well a few.
    I knew from the beginning that she was selfish (egocentric) and spoiled. She complained a lot of not wanting to be left alone … I laughed it off as “fear of abandonment” on a three year old kid… but soon realized it wasn’t that, as the kid who fears of being abandoned feels safe once she has a loved one around and make her life and the loved one’s life enjoyable – my wife just wants me there, constantly – to make my life (and our kids life) miserable. She wants me to explain anything I do, even for minor stupid bits of time out of her sight within our family home. She doesn’t want my family members around me (or us), she asked me early on before we got married if I loved her more than I loved my mother… It sounded strange to me, but I answered, “honey, I love you as my girlfriend, and my love for my mom has nothing to do with this love; neither of the loves compares or excludes the other – she was bitter at my answer… she did not want my explanation – she wanted to hear me say “I love you, just you and I do not love my mom, as I am a grown up man 30 years old and I do not need my mom”… Not long ago my nephew came to visit us; young kid who I had not seen for ten years, an 18 years old- my sister’s son – the first kid in my family, so I hug him when he gets inside our home after 10 or 11 years – my wife says “why are you hugging him like that” and I say because I love my nephew, I missed him for so long and for me he is still a kid, and I love him like he were to be my son. She was visibly upset, angry…don’t remember what she said at his presence, but when he left, she went on an endless tirade…. can’t describe in words her anger and insults against me because I said “I like my nephew” (almost) like I love my son… she couldn’t get over it for several days… she threatened me not to ever mention that I love any other people’s kids… This is just an episode… we have had this issues since we got together, but it was more subtle in the beginning… she literally says that she should be the only one at the center of my attention and nobody on the lateral attention. When our first child was born she asked me if I liked her (my wife) more than our daughter… our baby was just born, but she was concerned seeing me holding the baby that I would love the baby more than her… She said that “I made the baby” and that I (me, the husband) should love more her (the mother, my wife) than I would love my baby. She did not want to wipe the baby’s poop as it smells, or bathe the baby – she said she is afraid of hurting her as she does not know how to handle the newborn baby, so I bathed the baby with my wife always present – but I dare not tell anybody that I “helped” bathing her…or babysitting her. At 4 months old my wife screamed at the baby because the baby was hurting her when suckling her breasts… I tried to calm my wife down, thinking the baby really hurt her, but excusing the baby as being hungry or just enjoying the breast milk and being close to her mom’s body… my wife response was “she (baby) knows nothing, she just like me as a milking cow”… I was dismayed by her words… I told her to go back to her job – I stayed home babysitting my daughter for about a year.
    Her selfish behavior grew worse despite that our family grew with two other children and our financial situation improved greatly with years (of course she does not see our financial/economic progress – she calls me a loser despite me having more University degrees than her and making more than double of her money.
    I have been so many times close to calling it a quit and divorce… actually I even told her once that I would have left her if it wasn’t for the kids… not only because I love my kids more than my life, but because she is such a horrible mother, that makes our kids life miserable on daily basis. There is not a single instance that our kids can have fun without being yelled at for minor kids’ stuff. The kids cannot have any pets because my wife doesn’t like pets and that according to her “the burden of taking care for them would fall on her”… I actually told her let’s move to Colorado as she could smoke some “herbs” there to make her life better… She holds herself at high standards, proclaims she is a “perfectionist”, and when the rooms are in disarray it’s either my fault or the kids’ fault, never hers… She never sees herself as “problematic”, she doesn’t like any of her jobs she has had, and she doesn’t like any of her co-workers. Strange enough, she does make friends quickly, complains if they don’t help her, but doesn’t like to help them for nothing. I am in a dire situation; I can’t leave…, but I can’t stay any longer like that. I have left all my family aside for her; I stopped calling or keeping connections with my friends because of her… I have changed into a mean person… I kind of self-pity myself. I can change my life around in a bit of time if I am out of her reach… but don’t want to leave my kids with her… They need their mother no matter how she is. I have threatened her several times that I’d call the police if she doesn’t stop yelling and coercing our kids… She doesn’t necessarily physically hurt them, but the psych pressure on them makes me feel helpless. I told her if we were ever to divorce I’ll ask for full custody of the kids and she would have permission to see and check on the kids anytime she wishes – unrestricted visitations. But would the court side with me? Probably not. Plus, what would happen to our kids in the meantime until a custody decision is taken. I am literally scared that she might do something un-reparable to the kids when she snaps. Our bedroom door is still cracked by my wife kicking it so hard trying to get in the room to punish our 11 years old daughter…I picked my cell phone calling 911 that’s when she stopped kicking – she grabbed my phone yelled at me and continued yelling at my daughter to open the door… I went to an office to seek some consultation on the issue but they directed me to some lawyers… I’d have to pay if I go there…. I do not have any money aside – joint bank account – so if I pay my wife would know that I went for help, and that would make things worse. She calls me a liar, she wants me to tell her what I am thinking, why do I worry about other people; she checks my phone and emails… she wants details of my conversation with my mom, my brother… She yells at me to support her in punishing the kids (when they behave badly on her opinion), and she would physically fight with me if I get between her and the kid that she is screaming or tormenting. She has broken and kicked stuff around several times. She coerces kids to say “you are the best mom”… she tells me that I am irresponsible father. Our kids have come to agree that all the psych torment, all the yelling and screaming she does is because it is their fault and that mommy is a responsible parent trying to teach them good. If I leave I can live my life, but she would do anything to keep the kids away from me, and I am scared for their physical safety during the custody battle. When she snaps, her anger outburst doesn’t know any limits – if I could video-record an episode – she might end up losing unsupervised visits with the kids – no kidding, no exaggeration… when she snaps, there is no human senses in her body… I have told her that she needs to see herself how she acts in anger time, when she is in a good mood, so she probably can realize what kind of damage she causes to her family – that’s how another argument starts… We all “walk on eggshells” because of her… but we have to eat… and she starts arguing why you sit at the table like that, why you slurp the soup, why don’t you wipe your lips before you take another bite…why, why, why…!

    • This is an absolutely desperate situation for which you have to remove yourself from and the children (not sure their ages). You are not doing yourself or anyone any favors by staying. Narcissists thrive off of people who are scared and unsure of what to do – you have become an easy target for her. Take back your power. Your personality and her’s do not mesh. You can try to stick it out but it will only get worse. She is abusive, selfish, inconsiderate of anyone’s feelings, has no boundaries or filter. You are going to need a lot of therapy to just heal from this. Think long and hard what she is doing to you. If you had a twin brother would you want this to happen to him if you heard it. It is a severe case. Please get out of it. Do what you have to, just get legal help and do it. I know it is your marriage and all that but this is abuse and narcissists do not recover.

      • Thanks,
        I’d leave in a second, but my concern is my kids – they would suffer more than now. She torments them – almost always she would blame me for her outburst towards the kids. Kids are, 12, 10 and 2 y.o.; she even slap the little one is she is fussy… she would yell at her too; now my son 10 years old would scream at my little one if she takes his toys etc…, I don’t want that to become a pattern with my kids. My wife has anger issues, she is uncontrollable if she is arguing, she loses her mind, there is nothing that can reason her out of her outburst… We (her) even brought her parents (retired) to leave with us so her mom could help us with the kids. I fell for that, just desperately wanting to see my wife get better. Is she grateful that I am living under one roof with them – no, actually she makes sure to tell me what sacrifices she and her parents are doing for me… Prior to that we had my cousin help babysit for free for our kids (for years) – is she grateful for that? – NO, she says that she hated that we had to bring our kids to R*… and that sometimes R* did not go downstairs to pick up the kids or other items my wife brought…my cousin R* lived on the second floor at that time and my wife wanted to have her pick the kids from the outside door up the steps… we went on vacation in Europe for two weeks and this cousin took our kids at her home until we came back… she did not ask for money, food or anything… I asked my wife if we could give R* a small gift… at first she said yes, but when I talked her what to buy or what would it be, my wife went crazy “arguing” yelling that I am so stupid to think more about my cousin than about my family… “why would you (I) spend money on R*?”… I just let it go… We bought a new home a few years back – I had my other cousin help me tremendously with renovations (for free) and R* husband and another friend. They worked many days, whole days, half days, or week-ends at our new home, and I had to argue all the time with my wife every time I bought a case of beer – food was out of discussion – they had to buy their own lunch- no matter how smooth and nicely I would bring the issue up to my wife, she would go mad and tell me how “stupid” I am wanting to spend my money for others…she would “argue” they are your cousins and friends – if they are here to help give them a beer after work, then can go home or at a fast food to eat… Now after the fact…she does not accept that she said that…she says “I did not stop you from buying them lunch”… Her mom would get into arguments – of course siding with her daughter… she would say…”don’t be concerned on others… see your interests”… People help you.. so what” .. you can help them back when you can… but am I allowed to help them – Never!… My wife car did not turn on one day (I was at work) she calls me to ask my nephew to come and give her a ride or check the car… I told her I am not going to call Michael at 6 AM (he worked late at night) – told her – do you remember when Michael did not have a ride at 1 AM in the snow storm and I begged you so I could go give him a ride but you said he is young he can walk through the snow storm for 30-60 minutes that it could take him to get home from his work place… If I went to help him she threatened me “I should not go back home”…
        She tries sometime to be nice… she would “trickle” some “sunshine” once in a while for me and our kids… we all are so dependent on her mood swings… and there is no telling when she’d “snap”… that can happen at any time no matter how good the moment is; she “manages” to “rise” above the circumstances and make a point by yelling, screaming, telling to whomever (mostly me, but to the kids too) how bad we are….what we did wrong… she would tell my 12 y.o. daughter that she is “fat” and “lazy”… that brings me to tears… my little flower sees her mom as she is THE GOD !… but she is “reminded” so many times how “sloppy” and “clumsy” she is… she has been called names…like “wild goat” etc… constantly reminded that she is not capable of not having her hair done correctly…why she eats “like that”, why she sits like that… my son is kind of better adjusted to his mom’s crazy mind…if she yells at him – his answer is “I love you mom”… not that this would stop my wife’s yelling… but it makes it much shorter than her usual ones that continue much longer with my daughter or me… Our kids excel academically, they do good socially at school – they are not permitted by my wife to visit my relatives kids – they are not permitted to have pets… my wife hates pets more than she hates people… – she doesn’t hate people – she just thinks that she is better than everyone…
        For my wife it is not just “winning” against me… her victory is nothing if I just “accept” it – I have to be feeling really miserable for her to enjoy her “victory”… and if that does not satisfy her enough… she would bring into her argument my whole family…sister, brother, mother, father… she has met them for only a few of days… there is no communications between her and my family…she despises them, all of them – she is angry at my father because he did not give me any money… she hates my mom because everybody likes her for her big heart and love for everybody…my wife says that my mom’s love for everybody is at my expense, she (my mom) cannot put everybody on the same level… as I (me) have done so much for them (my family) and they are “disgraceful” and that I (me) do not have “personality” to stand them up and that my family is “abusing” me…
        (My family is not even here in the US – they all but one sister, live in Europe).
        I have not seen my family in four years; it has been a year that I wanted to invite my parents to visit us… but she don’t want them coming here, because if they come they would be staying for about a month… and she argues that she is having enough with her parents…she ”cannot endure to have other people around”… I said that I will invite them and will have my parents come over… she threatened me with divorce… I am OK with that… I will invite them, but looking for the right moment (which eludes me forever)… Divorce is the best solution… of course she will say that I “never loved her enough” etc… that she wants both homes that we own for “the kids” “not for herself”… as I am an irresponsible father… She represent herself as “the victim” even when it is obvious she made somebody else the victim… she has no remorse whatsoever for nothing… her only regret is that she “did not revenge” on somebody…or that “she let someone take advantage of her good nature and generosity” – mind you – she yelled and gave me an hour long “lesson” why I donated to disabled veterans fund… telling me how “irresponsible” I am with our money, and that I should think of our kids first – not others (veterans in this case). She has no compassion (except for fighting to win any “battle”) – she has no empathy for the poor or the needy – she ridicules me if I am to express any feelings towards a homeless person or towards somebody who is suffering… there is this short scholarly story on a little kid during famine years… the kid crying of hunger asking his mother… “mom I need bread” and “mother cried” mom does not have bread… my wife tells the story laughing …”the little kids asked mom for bread… and mommy laughed..” she doesn’t percept other people’s sufferings… but why does she need to give other people sufferings a weird “twist”? We bought a new doormat to replace the old one… she picked one that says “welcome”… I couldn’t stop myself telling her we should by one that says “Nobody is welcomed”… as that’s the reality… she does not want anybody to come to our home… when confronted she says she never said that … she wants visitors… but when they visit they stay too long, and not everyone that we are friends with should visit… she complains that my sister stays too long when (rarely) come to visit… that I should be doing stuff, work on the house when my sister is visiting…”what’s the need for you to sit there when your sister is visiting?”… “why do you talk with low voice when I was in the kitchen?”…
        I knew my wife had some personality disorder… I always thought she has a “strong” character with a quick bad “temper”… she despises others… but I don’t think she is “anti-social” so I could not “fit” her “temper-tantrums” and other craziness in any “personality disorders”… she does not hold “grandiose” beliefs… although she thinks she is the best at everything, that she is a “perfectionist” and what she has achieved is done with so much effort from her, and that any shortcomings is other people’s fault.
        That she wants me to “revere” her… that she hates how her parents favored her brother over her… I thought this was just “regular” sibling rivalry… although I never say that my parents favored any of us… nor does my little brother complain that my mom favors me over him… my mother openly says that she favors me over all other kids, she adds that she loves all of us but she has a “soft spot” for me…… my siblings laugh at that and “remind” my mom that she will “suffer” for that… however it is them who are helping my aging parents and it is all my siblings who go the extra mile to make our parents feel appreciated for what they did for us… I cannot even call them to say happy birthday without being ridiculed by my wife…
        … I know the only way out of this is really “get out”… again my only concern is our kids well-being … I can support them, but they will be “torn” apart during the custody battle… There is no sane mind that would give custody of the kids to father over the mother… and I know that the kids need their mother… I don’t care how bad my wife will talk to them about me… they are growing up and will understand… they are capable of understanding what goes on… sometimes when they are yelled at, humiliated etc., they vent their frustration towards me… I feel I am not doing the father’s job with them… because my wife has the upper hand in the family… if I start to tell my kids they did something wrong she will get in between and start yelling at them… so I quit doing that long time ago… now the kids won’t listen to advises unless they are screamed at very loud… we are a very dysfunctional family, but my wife would not accept that.. the only dysfunctional for her it’s “me”… when I discussed with our kids teacher the origin of my son’s disruptive behavior at school )(bad parenting, dysfunctional family etc.) my wife said that I am stupid to put myself down…blah, blah, blah… her “love” for the kids is the “discipline” she exerts on them… the main problem is that she is not consistent… one day she teaches them to do something… the other day it’s the opposite… one day she would restrict the kids… another she would let them do whatever they want… so they don’t know if the kids’ stuff they do would be “approved” by mom or not…

      • Thanks for sharing a little more about your situation. I am very sorry to hear of your suffering. I know it is very difficult to hear that removing yourself from the situation is the only way you will find peace. I have had much experience with these types of people and situations and when I say separate I do not say it lightly. I am a Christian and would never, ever suggest someone separate from a marriage and one with children if I didn’t think it was merited. I believe in saving the marriage first and keeping the family together. God hates divorce. But having said that, I also would like to say in your situation and any situation where you are involved with a narcissist and possibly a malignant one at that and all the abuse towards you and the children and the manipulation there really is no chance this situation can turn around. The Holy Spirit can heal but when a person such as this is so far gone and even possibly removed now from God’s presence (I will give them up to a depraved mind – Romans 1:24)there is nothing but upheaval and unrestrained behavior. I was raised by two narcissists but for the glory of God and his kindness I was rescued out of it. I just cannot imagine being a narcissist such as this and putting so much pain on to others and having no shame or even any conscience. I struggle every day with other issues but I am so blessed I have empathy and kindness towards others. If I miss the mark, my conscience sounds the alarm and I know in my heart that I should not have done that. With your wife something is very broken (either mental illness, or just something that developed over the years due to selfishness or neglect in childhood – we don’t know all the reasons why something like this happens – even psychiatrists don’t know but there is some trigger, within the nature or nurture of a person that causes it. Obviously, getting to know your mate very well before marriage and having children is the only prevention but for yourself unfortunately you do not have that luxury now. I do agree with you that it is very, very difficult to win a court battle or any argument with a narcissist. Your wife knows how to pull all the right strings. Their minds are so bent on achieving what they want to whether it is right or wrong. If they have to lie to get what they want they will and they are so believable. She sounds extremely greedy along with her selfishness. She no doubt will try to get both houses and custody of the children and turn everybody against you. But, remember you are the nurturer in this situation, you are the sane person, you are the gentle one who cares for the children’s feelings and you know something is not right. She may try to reason her way out of her skewed up philosophy but she is just trying to justify things. She is also projecting a lot of things on to you, at least I am hearing from your text. I don’t know your full situation but could you live in one house and her the other and perhaps visit the children? If you involve the courts she may win and not because of anything you did (you are doing everything you can) but because she will take the role of the poor old wife who is perhaps being ignored or mistreated). The only other thing you could do is stick it out but not have any verbal contact with her. I know it is awfully hard, but you would essentially give your power over to her and let her get on with it, so to speak. I know it is not fair but she wants total control and no input from you anyway so if you say anything it is a total waste of time and will further add to the conflict. There is no reasoning with these people. When the kids become of age then you could separate and move on. A long time but if you stay in it, you are the only one that can change it because she does not want to. The author’s advice about JADE is brilliant, do not justify, argue, defend or explain. Very, very difficult because that is my weakness, I want to explain that that is not right, or that happened because of… and defend myself but I know from experience and dealing with multiple people like this that it does no good. Dr. Neuharth wrote a great article, you may want to go over it again and try not to blame yourself. I know that is what they do, they take away all your self-esteem and put all their shortcomings on to the other person. Narcissistic abuse is hard to heal from too. Your children will be subjected to a lot of abuse too, if they stay with her and possibly may be narcissistic later themselves. I wish you all the best with your decision.

      • Desperate Dad: You need to rescue your poor children from this awful situation or their lives will be ruined, as well as yours!

        I know you are concerned that you may not get custody of your children, but I will pass on to you the advice my lawyer gave to me: you need to start a journal and keep a record of the things that your wife says and does, to you and to your children, along with the date it happened. You will need to find a safe place to hide it, though, so that she won’t find it. A journal like that could make all the difference as to whether you get custody of your children or not. When you write things down soon after they happen, you won’t have to worry about forgetting the details, and you will have evidence of what really happened. I know that in Family Court, here in Australia at least, they take written journals very seriously. It will also help you if you need to write a statement for the court at some point, as you will have all the information you need at hand.

        God bless you and your children and I hope and pray for a speedy resolution, so that you can all begin to heal and look forward to a happier future!

    • Desperate Dad,

      Your instincts to consult a lawyer may be giving you an important message. Many communities offer low or no-cost legal consultations through Legal Aid or other organizations where you could consult a lawyer to explore legal options without having to dip into you and your wife’s joint funds.

      Dan

  44. sorry…don’t know why I see “like” in places I typed (or think I typed) “love”….

  45. I’ve known that my brother, who is 10 years older, is a narcissist since I was a teenager, and what’s most frustrating to me are the people around me- in this case, my family- who defend, excuse and/or simply ignore their obnoxious behavior!
    Let me describe one of the first examples of his behavior, a situation I remember because it clearly identified him as a narcissist, with a classic pattern of behavior that was like a blueprint for how he would behave in any given situation throughout his life:
    At family gatherings, as soon as he entered, it was like he scoped out his targets– anyone he could use to intimidate, to make them feel small, or self-conscious. The goal was to make people feel inferior so that he could feel superior. Every time.
    He had a knack for storing information about what he recognized as each person’s area of vulnerability, the things that they felt ‘shame’ about, and then he would go for the jugular vein anytime there was a group of people to hear his jabs.
    For instance, my mom had a big nose, nothing anyone else thought about, but he knew it was her Achilles heel, and would invariably make a comment about it, smugly laughing as he said it;
    My sister, always chubby and self conscious about it. He would say, “puttin’ on a little weight there, aren’t ya sis?”
    He was always inappropriate, often making vulgar comments or telling dirty jokes that were lewd and offensive in groups of people he didn’t know well, which made the ‘whole group’ feel uncomfortable, thus giving him the upper hand in his mind.
    Years later, He rarely stays in touch, but anytime he does something that exposes the ugly truth about himself, he is quick to be the first to spread his flattering version of what happened. He has to look impressive, or innocent, or like the victim, without ever admitting fault or responsibility.
    He will lie, blame others, make excuses, paint his failures as successes or his despicable behavior as being provoked by someone else.
    His obvious envy of anyone who is respected as decent, hard-working, and self-sufficient reveals his grandiose sense of entitlement to things others have acheived, and he has a “Whats yours is mine” attitude.

    He knows I have always seen right through him, and has gone out of his way to discredit me. We dont live near each other, so it hasn’t been hard to ignore him.
    But what does bother me is the rest of my family, who knows he’s always been a loser, but refuses to acknowledge this whenever they hear something bad or untrue about me, and they are willing to accept it as true! Also, my mom lets him get away with murder, and at age 69, yes still living off of her!

    • Hi Pattiekat,

      It can be frustrating and sad when you see a narcissist’s destructive actions clearly but other family members and loved ones do not. You can offer your viewpoints but ultimately people have to come to a reckoning on their own time and in their own way. Thanks for sharing, I am sure many people can relate to your dilemma.

      Dan

  46. Desperate Dad, and Eric,
    These women are not only Narcissist, THEY ARE CRAZY!!! Your children are being abused in front of the one person that is suppose to be protecting them, Your children will be forever scarred as it is,, but with counseling and a safe loving enviroment they will at least have a chance at happiness..

    • Kris,

      Thankfully, I’m free! I divorced her, no kids, and no contact for over 5 years! In hindsight, the awful part was that she manipulated with just enough good times to make me try to make it work. But I was just a pawn in her game (props, Dylan). It was time to DTMFA (search Dan Savage to know what that means!).

      Best, Eric

    • Kris,
      the problem is that she is charming…
      All people around me tell me and her how lucky I am to have her as my wife.
      My sister once very humbly said that she is lucky too that she married me…
      My wife still has a grudge against my sister for that and would bring it up whenever she can…
      This little stuff does not bother me…
      What bothers me is a safe way out… I want my kids to be safe and they will not be safe with her. She will use the kids to get at me. I don’t know if what she does to the kids now is borderline or if it is “abuse”… I have insisted so many times placing cameras inside our home… so she could see what she does to them… her reaction is “leave, we are better without you – I (she) will keep the kids as they are firstly hers… I went to a training trip to California and she made me feel guilty for leaving her and the kids alone for my own personal gain… Every time I get a raise or promotion she does not congratulate me… but makes me feel guilty that I do not help her enough to find a better job… She wants to start a Master’s Degree but wants me to promise her that I’d help her – nothing wrong with that – but her help means I do her assignments… I said honey that is cheating and illegal – I am not going to do that— and she goes what kind of a husband are you etc… If I am studying, she would get to my study room and be the best wife ever… you see I am here to support you with kisses and hugs… if I don’t leave my stuff aside and be the husband I am supposed to be, I’d be shunned away for days… appointed tasks around the house that I need to complete NOW…many of them, I am assigned tasks that need separate time… but she ask to finish them NOW…there is no job in the house our outside that should be completed by me – the husband…otherwise what kind of a husband am I… and if I am to go to the refrigerator or to the stove to fix something to my 10 years old son that has been asking for an hour for something to eat… she would intervene (including the mother in-law) stop what you doing … this is the mom’s job… you do do something else. She would forcefully take the food from my hands and threw it away to the counter or elsewhere… The kid would be crying for the food and she would intentionally give him something else… most probably something that he does not like to eat… and than yell at both of us… mostly to me what a bad figure of a father I am… like I am raised in the woods… with no etiquette etc….
      Sometimes kids do say stuff that they should not say in her presence… like I live you dad… and she would start arguing with them and me… she would say to me that the kids said that because I let them do whatever they want, because I irresponsibly buy them stuff… by the way I have not been able to overcome myself and buy them the puppy that they have been begging us for years… she hates pets… she is “scared” of cats and she don’t want any dog hair in the house. We have come around my wife’s “fears” to use just one or two rooms for the puppy… but that’s not the solution for her…because the “burden” to take care for the puppy would fall on her, just like she does take care of all of us… despite me or the kids promising her that she does not need to touch the puppy, does not need to care for it etc… I am just one tiny step from pushing myself to go buy the puppy and give my kids some great joy…I don’t think she would dare to kick the puppy out – first the SPCA… and I’d buy it cash so she cannot return it as she has done other times with toys or things that I have bought. Kids have surrender to accept any puppy of any size shape, cute or ugly just a puppy…My daughter said even a porcupine would do… I know my wife would make them feel guilty for pursuing their quest to have their puppy…

  47. DarryOD,
    Do yourself and children a Favor…RUN RUN RUN,,,,,as fast and as far away as you can. Unfortunalty there is no cure,and your life and that of your children will NEVER get better.

  48. Have read most of the comments posted and actually wish I was in the positions of a few where the narcissist left them ( even in the most brutal way) My problem is a maglinant predatory NPD has been pursuing me for the past 15 years and will NOT give up.
    He was my student and was 16 years old and I 39 . Fast forward , he’s 32 years now and appears to be very successful financially with many friends who seem to ‘obey’ his every instructions He knows almost everything that goes on in my life and I , nothing about him except what he wants me to know.
    Lately, his aggressiveness has shot up bcoz another guy has shown interest in me ( by the way, I’m a single mother with three grownup kids) The second guy, however is not in my country at the moment and will only return in a few years’ time and yes, they are both aware of each other existence.
    Anyway, my point is, articles on narcissism like this literary save my life. You see many a times I find myself having feelings for the narcissist but these articles make me ‘wake up to reality. Narcissists are really phonies.
    I have made a police report; told the police that in case I die, please I investigate this young man. Installed cctv in my car, inside and outside my apartment. What else can I do?
    I am also beginning to think the second guy could also be a NPD as he also monitors my movements through his friends, but not certain as I do not know him well enough.
    Worst thing is when I finally confided in a doctor friend, she phoned my son to say that I am ‘sick’ and need help. This is just because I had a nervous breakdown seven years and was warded in the psychiatric ward for three weeks. My breakdown was due to the young man harassing me but at that time I didn’t tell anyone. You see, I’m a Chinese and he was younger. People will say I’m the one lthat lured him.
    The good thing is after being aware of these disorders, his actions are very predictable. So thanks to all the people who share their experiences as it is a kind of support to us facing the stress.

    • Caveat: I don’t know you or your situation, as such please take all advice with a grain of salt.

      I’m assuming when you say, “lured” you don’t mean things got romantic/sexual with the man when he was your student and 16 (however, if that is the case that is something you need to come to terms with–though it absolutely does not excuse his reign of terror).

      Possible options:

      -Compile very detailed evidence of stalking behavior, keep it very well organized, gain your composure and badger every law enforcement, and social service option available until someone with power can help you. Stalking is a very serious crime and is punishable with enough evidence.

      -engage your community. What support groups are available? What therapeutic options are there? Do you have family members that can help? Can you afford a lawyer, and if not, are there free legal services in your area? Are there any Chinese-American community agencies? A domestic survivors support group may also be useful (even though you were not partnered with this person, I’m sure you would find alot of support in a DV women’s group).

      -try not to let him take away your personal power. That’s what it’s all about with stalkers–to crush your soul by making you feel helpless and without options.

      -try not to make the same mistake twice. If the new guy has any of the NPD warning signs, let him off easy, but dump him nonetheless.

      -if you also are a person suffering from mental illness (as your doctor friend seems to believe) accept your condition and get the best treatment available.

      Generally, aggressive recidivist stalkers are something more than garden variety NPD. They are more often obsessive psychopaths (also known, as malignant narcissism), whose very goal is to destroy the essential spirit of others. Other forms include those with huge egos due to excessive praise in childhood, compensatory false selves due to abuse/abandonment/neglect, those who gain narcissistic supply through the victim role (e.g. self-deflation as opposed to self-inflation), extremely self-absorbed–almost autistic spectrum–ramblers with no sense at all of others and many more.

      Please remember, you are not alone.

      Best.

      • Very helpful suggestions, Eric.

      • Dear Eric,
        Thank you for your suggestions. Just to clear a point. I am a mentally balanced and healthy adult ok. Please do not suggest otherwise. The way I look at it, it is my doctor friend who is not well. You see, she has a son who was diagnosed as autistic and the boy is already 17 years old but she told me the psychiatrist misdiagnosed her son. So I don’t why if this makes her eager to say I am sick just because I had a breakdown.
        And already I am feeling much better as I now understand clearer what is happening. Two months ago, I have not heard of the word narcissist. However it was this article that caught my attention as it was so relevant to my problem.
        And no, I never had any physical relationship with the young narc. It was all pure mind games. Now I am able to see through his tactics.
        Thank you.

  49. Desperate Dad
    Your position is exactly as my brothers. Your story could be his. He left his wife 3 years ago. He has 2 children, they now have joint custody. Its been a hellish 3 years, my brother has a massive fight on his hands with her but he got there. The children were dragged through hell but they are fantastic now. Leaving her was the best thing he did for his children. They know their mum has issues, they adapt. They know when they go to their dads to stay life is great. Don’t fear too much about what might happen when you leave. Its already happening and you are there. My brother has so much input in the kids lives and wellbeing now, before he had none. She ran the house with her narcissit mind. Good luck desperate dad.

    • Thanks Sandra,
      I appreciate your input.
      I am aware it is going to be a hellish situation for years.
      I have “suggested” to my wife; we split – she keeps the kids Monday through Friday (as she wants to be in charge of their schooling…) so I can pick them up after school and have them have fun on week-end. We’ll see how that will go, because she wants full custody…
      And she wants all my money; I should pay for the mortgage, all bills and food etc., and put some money aside for kids college; I should be working two jobs as she plans to quit working to be “closer” to the kids… I kind of feel bad now after reading this article I have been seeing my wife as a “mental patient”….

  50. Personally Ive found the best approach has been to keep them at arms length or leave them behind completely. These two methods are the only methods that have worked in my case.

    How someone can knowingly have a clinically diagnosed narcissist as a spouse or parent and choose to continue sticking around is beyond my comprehension.

    I can honestly say that you’re missing out on vital/huge aspects of an emotionally healthy relationship life and will continue to do so.

    Those that are capable of being diagnosed do not resemble your run of the mill ‘difficult personality’. Oh no! the truly diagnosable are quite often unbearable in my opinion.

    There is little to no emotional value involved in living with or dealing with one on a daily basis. At least they’ll do everything in their God given power to prevent it!

    They seem to despise functional behavior. They often loathe those who are making emotional. They are emotionally ,and physically (at times),dangerous.

    If you’re a somewhat emotionally connected human being and you can tolerate your narcissist ‘more often than not’ OR even ‘50% of the time?’ Im hard pressed to believe that youre actually living with a diagnosable narcissist.

    The Ns Ive dealt with on a personal level were truly unbearable
    (understatement!) Even if you possess just a sliver of emotional intelligence spending time with one and/or attempting to connect with one can feel like Hell.

    I believe we tend to label people as having these conditions relatively easily simply because they are difficult to deal with. When you meet a true blue narcissist they are IMPOSSIBLE to deal with the vast majority of the time.

    Unless of course youre doing nearly every single damn thing they request of you without question and especially without questioning THEM even in the most diplomatic of ways (Oh God forbid! Hell hath no fury!)

    You wont forget it if youre dealing with a diagnosable narcissist nor will you want to spend much ,if any, time with them at all. Provided of course you possess some emotionally healthy traits yourself.

    Again this has been my personal experience with them. Im open to other points of view and would love to learn more.

    • Reply to Joe Been There,
      Yes it is incomprehensible living with a (diagnosable) narcissist. I thought she would change after having our first child…then things got worse… after the second child I totally understood she had “personality” issues… they were so severe close to “anti-social” spectrum — she has full disregard for social norms (I haven’t seen her brake the law – she is scared to do that); hates everyone around me, my friends, family…she makes sure that I understand that she “hates them so much”…my family lives thousands of miles away, never said anything on her… I don’t call my family (in her presence anyway) as she would become angry if I say something that would upset her… she wants me to bully them like she does…, she don’t want any of my relatives visiting us… my sister moved nearby a few month ago – but my wife don’t want her to visit with; and when she visits my wife would complain why she stays so long (2 hours)… she don’t want us to go when we are invited over… she defiantly doesn’t go – I have gone a few times alone – she would not let our children go with me. She don’t want my parents visiting us – but has her parents living with us more than 5 years…
      She wants friends and relatives to help us for free, but never let me help anybody…
      She has the un-grown mind of a child if you try to bring sense into what she argues…
      I have try to blame myself for so many years and tried to get “better” in her yes, but the more I tried and “molded” to her liking… the worse it gets…
      NPD doesn’t cover all her spectrum… I find borderline, avoidant and anti-social PN in her behavior. And by posting here I feel like I am cheating on her…

  51. I’m a 62 year old fool. I went thru a divorce in 2010 and was married for 26 yrs. I spent the next 4 yrs of my life without dating. I became lonely and tried online dating. I met a woman 700 miles away and fell in love with her. She was so easy to talk with and her life story was awful (so I thought). We married after a storybook romance and with me spending a lot of money on her. A month after we married I noticed that her concerns were only about her life after I would die. She wanted me to sell everything that I owned and she wanted her name on my business checkbook which always had $100,000.00 in it because I had a transportation business. I noticed that she had strange numbers on her text. I was sat down by my adult children an given some things to look for. She left me and filled for divorce and my Lawyer and the divorce mediator told me that she was one of the most evil people that they had ever met and that I was lucky and that I should stay away from her. I wish I would have listened to the and my kids but she could turn me into putty with her voice it was like a spell of evil. I knew better than to listen to her and she had the ability to command me. I went back to her and she did everything that she could to destroy my life, make my children hate me and ruin my business that took me 22 years to build. My kids and friends all thought that it was the sex because she was 11 years younger than me. The truth is she was a pro at using people even her own children and parents. I made her uncomfortable because I may be a High School drop out and she had 2 degrees in teaching I have an I.Q. of 168 and she Knew that I had started to figure out her evil past. My questions to her about her past made her very uneasy. I’m now back in my home 700 miles from her and she still haunts me in my mind.

    • I am sorry this happened to you. You sound very trusting and were swept off of your feet knowing of nothing that could possibly happen in this situation. It is always easy to see it later and question yourself and beat yourself up but there is no way to tell because these types of people are quite cunning. Remember, they have years of experience and know what to do. They know who to pick because they have a special assignment (in your case to get your money) and you were a target for her. Lucky thing you had help from your children and other perspectives and were able to get out. This woman is what is known as a black widow. She was also predatory and narcissistic/evil. You can rebuild and strengthen yourself. When we are vulnerable we attract these kinds of people. I am a narcissitic magnet, too. I was raised by two narcissistics, everyone I encounter in the workplace tries to have control over me and it is very painful.

  52. i agree with Joe Been There absolutely. If you ever have the misfortune of meeting a full- blown NPD , your life is never the same again. I have met a few narcissists and although extremely unpleasant to deal with, at least you can still get on with your life when you are no longer in contact with them.
    But the full-blown maglinant kind is the scary ones. They have many, many ‘ followers ‘ ( or harems) who are like fake people programmed by the NPD to carry out whatever tasks assigned to them. From what I understand from reading articles, these followers of his are also dysfunctional people.
    Narcissists are just abusive people. They are pretentious and liars; they are simple not what they make themselves out to be- totally fake people. But when they have power over you , they will show you their true colours.
    However I have faith in mankind. Ultimately good will overcome evil.

  53. 12. Don’t miss them when they are
    gone.

  54. I was in a relationship with a someone who described herself as suffering from BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder)and while this may be true (?) she displayed all the characteristics you listed. I distinctly recall the day I became aware of how I seem to constantly be defending myself yet failed to keep it in perspective with all that was transpiring. I fell into the trap of believing if I could point out her behavior she would change = face palm.

  55. OMG! You ve met my ex!

  56. This is brilliant. Just makes it so clear and concise. So many articles I’ve read there’s always something that doesn’t quite fit, but all of this advise makes perfect sense. I think I’m actually going to print this out just so I can have a refresh now and then when I begin to normalize this behavior in my head. It’s not normal, and it’s okay and necessary to protect yourself from narcissists (even family members).

    Thank you so much for putting this together!

  57. This was me “Over time people around narcissists may get fatigued or numb and fail to register how unhealthy narcissistic behavior can be.”

  58. You say never overshare personal information but of course we all did before we realised what they were like. So what should we do about it now? Hope they just forget about us and move onto their next victim?

    • The best thing is to be in a good, healthy place and any possible narcissists may not go there with you and you won’t be attracted to them either. They know who to seek out. I mostly attract them at work. I accidentally shared more than I should have but I also was put in a position where they were asking things about my personal life which I feel is none of their business. I don’t know how to not answer their questions without them thinking I am rude or unfriendly if I don’t want to tell them but I have to find a way around it because it is making me a target. If you have to be in therapy and pray and just learn self-control in the workplace and do not share anything it may help. I am hoping because I have resigned from two jobs where there was extreme narcissism and they were after me. They destroyed me (well nearly, I am still here). I am going to make sure I am really healthy and ready next time. Sharing some info is unadvoidable I think when you are working with others. I just don’t know how to not say anything.

  59. Great article. Great information. I am waiting to find an article/book that explains HOW to co-parent with a narcissistic ex-husband when the courts force you to share the children 50/50. I’ve learned after many, many years, the less I say, the better. I don’t bother explaining myself even when he asks me to. I’m searching for a way to be able to communicate with him when I need information about the children. He will not speak to me. All conversations have to go through an email system through something called Our Family Wizard, or text messages. Even then, when I ask questions, he will only answer what he feels I need to know. I don’t want to waste my money going to court all the time, just to have a judge tell him to answer my questions. I guess the best thing I can say, is my kids are getting older now, and they are starting to see what a butt he really is towards me and towards them. Thanks again for the great reminders.

  60. I was tired of walking on eggshells and afraid to engage in simple conversation. After 6 years I lost it. I did all the don’t do. I stood up for myself not realizing this personality exists. I was called a liar, a bully, and accused of taking advantage of this person. I’m still crying and upset. Doesn’t matter what I say she twists my words and I’m the one to blame. After I read your article I realized everything she called me is precisely who she is. I didn’t win of course, I lost big time. I’m not aloud to see my grandkids or my son now. He is being so manipulated and controlled he is not the kid I raised. I worry about him and I see the exhaustion in his eyes. I know it’s not my fault now but I still cry and pray my son doesn’t hate me. I cry for my grandkids, unsure when I will hug and play with them again.

    • Sounds very painful. I stood up for myself, too at work. There was a lady there that picked on me and was a narcissist except I didn’t realize she was full-blown malignant and sadistic. She cornered me when the boss/supervisor were gone and literally started attacking me for no reason. I tried to appease her but nothing worked and she was actually getting pleasure out of tormenting me. I asked her to stop but she wouldn’t. I kept telling her I would do it but nothing would satisfy her. I asked her what she wanted from me because I didn’t know. She continued to insult me on and on until I ended up saying something that she chose to twist in the end. I resigned from the position when she turned the boss against me. I have had many encounters with these individuals because I am quiet by nature and friendly. I am too trusting. No longer. I am keeping to myself. I do not want any friends (one on one). I will never marry again (had one there). I will not take any more chances. These people are demonic. You cannot do anything with them. You cannot say anything, feel anything, do anything. It is a stalemate situation from the get go. These people are crazy-making non-humans who will get their way and turn others against you. They are devoid of a conscience, have no empathy and then act like they are clueless to whatever just happened. I absolutely cannot stand these people.

      • Thank you for you reply. I don’t know how to cope with this situation. This is the first time I have interacted with a person so vindictive and pure evil. I honestly did not recognize how bad she actually is. But today I look back at certain events and realize it was all fake emotions and concern. She mentally filed away my reactions and my vulnerability so she knew which files to pull at a later date. I’m a quiet person, keep to myself and used to be trusting too. After my divorce, I tend to isolate and I have a difficult time believing in people and whether their intentions are sincere. I Don’t know if my son understands her manipulation or he does and feels damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Like you stated, it’s very painful to observe.

  61. Bravo for such a helpful article. Coping personally with a newly widowed son with two little kids whois striking out in his grief with what looks like narcissistic behaviors. One thing to help others, but I struggle, like everyone else with my own ability to set boundaries.
    He has refused to go for help. Any further suggestions?

    • Linda,
      It can be hard to see an adult child with unhealthy behaviors, particularly after the loss of a spouse. Setting boundaries is essential to protect yourself and it also sets a model for your grandchildren. Setting boundaries also sends the message that unhealthy behaviors are not okay. Not setting healthy boundaries can give tacit permission to a person behaving narcissistically that their behavior is okay. Letting an adult child know that you are willing to help, as long as your boundaries are respected, is important. Sometimes during a period of grief it is difficult for some people to reach out. With time, that may become easier.
      Thank you for sharing about your situation.
      Dan

      • It is amazing to me how much easier it is to teach others what I know to be helpful in light of personal challenge…. and how difficult it is for me to act like I know I must with those I love. Your words are so helpful.
        I’m “rehearsing” for the next altercation!
        I will not be provoked… I will not provoke… and I will be available to help if my son honors my time and my boundaries,
        Thank you Dan for your good work!

      • Hi Love Doc,
        You are not alone in finding it sometimes easier to advise others how to deal with narcissists than dealing with them yourself. But that doesn’t discount the help you offer others, and seeing the problem clearly is the first step in making changes. Rehearsing encounters, and what you will do, is a good strategy. Thanks for your helpful comments.
        Dan

  62. Ohhh my! Thank you so very much for this article. I Really needed to read this today! I met my boyfriend about 7months ago, and Immediately knew there was something very off about him. He finally revealed to me that he has Asbergers, which I think is true. However, for a 52yr old otherwise “kind” and successful man; he Sure does fit the bill of a narcissist MUCH more (from all the info I have read.) I have a couple of friends with Asbergers & Autism, and None of them have ever treated me as cold and callously as he has when trying to talk about My own feelings! EVERYTHING I tell him I am feeling (unless Utterly positive) is taken as a Direct, malicious attack on his character. He doesn’t listen to understand me; only to respond and WIN an argument..and could care less about hurting my feelings. The only way things can even calm down, is if I stroke his ego, basically. I’m a Very empathetic and in tune person. He has most definitely underestimated me. I don’t NEED him, I WANT(ed) him. When I told him that- it literally blew his mind.
    Again, thank you Dr. I now know how to care for myself, for once! ❤

    • Your description of your boyfriend’s unhealthy and difficult behaviors will no doubt resonate among readers. Your distinction between wanting someone and needing them is powerful. Thank you for sharing.
      Dan

  63. Thank you for your words to describe what a narcissist really is. Coming out of a relationship with one, you can not find the right words to describe the hell they put you through. This article explains it all in words I have had a hard time understanding my self…again thank you.

    • Thank you Tanya,
      Dan

  64. I have a friend that started acting like this about a year ago. I had no idea what had gotten into him and nothing he did ever made any sense. I just came across this article and every point on here matches him. The only thing I did not like was that the article says narcissists probably will not change. I really want to change him, I don’t want him to be like this forever. Does anyone have tips on how to change narcissists?

    • Hi Callie,
      My experience is that trying to change narcissists is energy poorly spent. Better to change your own perspective, set healthy boundaries around narcissistic people, and choose what you will and will not allow in your life rather than trying to change people whom you don’t have the power to change.
      Dan

  65. Respected Sir Dan!
    I want to say thank you so much for your great work for me and everyone in our community as well.You have described everything amazingly.
    Stay Happy

    • Thank you Iram.
      Dan

  66. Thank you so much for this article. It is extremely helpful to me dealing with my mother-in-law.
    She is 84 and almost out of money having spent multiple inheritances and lawsuit winnings. We had promised her that she could live with us. But it has become apparent that that is not possible due to her behavior. How can I protect my 16 year old daughter from her grandmother’s manipulative behavior? Would this article be appropriate for her? Everyone, including the grandchildren, consider grandmother to be ‘crazy’. So my daughter does see the behavior as abnormal. Our strategy is to stay away as much as possible but I feel that we’re being uncharitable.
    Could a psychologist help her with her excessive spending, binge eating, her manipulative behavior, and age-related problems?

    • Hi Lee,
      A qualified psychotherapist may be able to help your mother-in-law with her excesses and age-related problems if your mother-in-law sees that she has problems and is motivated to do the work necessary to change.
      Dan

  67. The last sentence is the key for me. I’ve got on with my life and left the drama behind. I’ve had to implement very strong boundaries and in some cases “no contact”. I don’t think you ever forget the hurt and chaos these people created especially if they are from your family of origin but you just have to get on with things and create a better life for yourself.

  68. Once the relationship was over and I got my feet on the ground I sought to have a friendship with my former girlfriend, perhaps to aid in the healing process. She declined. I failed to realize she lacks the capacity and my wanting this relationship says more about me than it does her. How in the world? <–(WTF?)

    John

  69. What about an apparent NPD daughter-in-law of 15 years now who began our new relationship with sweet notes and a memorable Thank You “mouthed” quietly across a restaurant table to me, presumably for the son I had raised. We lived far apart…me in PA and them in Boston. I was on Cloud 9 at my son’s choice: we shared passions ( graphic design and teaching art), and I was hungry for a delightful female closely in my life (lots of good friends but no sisters or daughters.) My son, with whom I was once close, proudly and happily mentioned that he had shared with his love my successes (such as they were) in produced artwork, HS teaching, and the graphic design and communications company I established and ran for 17 years. Then she came to our home in PA for the first time. And things slowly began to change. My first mistake was taking a walk with her in Longwood Gardens (Chadds Ford, PA), and bubble over with joy at our common interests, her talents, how thrilled I was to be adding a female to our family, and would do everything I could to help nurture and maintain a warm, supportive, loving family group. We – son’s family – were lucky enough to live in a lovely contemporary home that we had built in the hillside in a woodsy area. Her family was not as fortunate but did live in a fine older home in Worcester. While showing her around, she commented on an earlier photo of me: “you used to be attractive when you were young”. Soon followed by some mocking of some of our furniture.
    Couldn’t possibly relate all of the escalating, shocking things said and done over the years, including blaming me for the unpleasant and mean things to my son, who loves her, and who along the way began to believe her.
    To sum up, we moved to MA to be near them and our grandchildren and our younger son working in Boston.
    After about a year, they ended any contact and interaction with us (all social media as well), and we are forbidden to see or talk to our grandchildren. There is so much that led to this. My younger son is successful, gay, and is celebrating 16 years with his wonderful partner. His nephews are the only children they can enjoy. He walks a thin line.
    I die inside a little more each day. During that first year in MA, we took the kids on outings, babysat, kept them at our home occasionally, had joyous fun texting with the older grand child, watched games, and more. A real loving relationship grew, and my heart burst with happiness. Now, I die inside a little more each day. What to do?
    Sandy S-j-c

  70. Hello Dr. Dan Neuharth,

    I just finished reading your article “11 Things NOT to do with Narcissists”, and it was very informative, thank you for sharing! However, it did raise another pondering question in my head. How do you manage/raise a child that is VERY narcissistic? I ask this because I have a 15 year old “stepdaughter”; I use this term loosely because her mother,grandmother, and father like to remind me that I am NOT her mother, just a glorified care taker; that has what I believe to be extreme narcissism. But yet she lives with me, I cook for her, clean her clothes, take care of her pets, take her to her band practices, Ect. And yet I can’t trust her. She is a mess, her room is a mess, she barely even washes herself, and recently THEY have allowed her to date! Yes, I know, she is a 15 year old girl. Yes, I know that about 50% of her behavior is just pure adolescence, I have read the books, I work in a women’s mental wellness office. But I am worried that it goes beyond that, and that she will end up getting herself into a lot of trouble if this behavior is not addressed. Not to mention I have 2 children, a 4yr. old son and 9yr. old daughter, and I worry that her behavior will “rub off” on them. Any suggestions? What are your thoughts about this?

    • Hi Tatum
      Oh boy, I saw your comment and concern for you was my first thought, I am a stepmom and if I didn’t have 100% support from my husband towards helping raise his children – particularly given his narcissistic ex-wife – I wouldn’t still be in the relationship. Mostly what concerned me is the “glorified care taker” comment, as my husband has helped me see I am a parent to his children, not their mother of course which I always acknowledged,, however am involved in the nurturing and caring – therefore making me the role of a parent. Exactly the same for you! There’s a whole lot of pain as a step parent and add the complications of narcissism and it’s s battlefield. Hard to know with a 15 yr old what is typical teenage behaviour, what is the consequence of a split family and what is narcissism. I wish you well.

      • Dear Tatum and Serena,
        Tatum, I agree with Serena, that it is hard to know how much of your stepdaughter’s behavior is typical teenage behavior, how much results from the family, and how much is narcissism. It does seem telling to me that her mother, father, and grandmother like to remind you that you are not her mother but a glorified caretaker. Perhaps your stepdaughter is standing on the shoulders of such an attitude and taking her cue from them, both to her own, and to the overall family’s detriment. I suggest concerning behavior on her part might be most successfully addressed by the entire family, perhaps in family therapy if needed. Unless her father, mother, and grandmother get on board in providing good limits and good examples, you alone as only one parent will have quite an uphill battle.
        Dan

  71. I grew up in the abusive hands of a narcissistic mother which, I believe, directly led to my own diagnosis of borderline personality disorder in my early 20’s. This article reaffirms for me that the ways I’ve developed over the years for dealing with her are proper. Following these principles gradually makes it harder for her to hurt or use me even in light of being disowned multiple times.

    • Hi Houseofcats,
      Thank you for sharing with us your journey. I am glad you have found validation.
      Dan

  72. I am currently going through this and not fully aware of how I will approach. I quickly set up google discussions, hoping to someday bring awareness and prevention. I tried all 11 not to’s and only made it worse. It’s even severely worse when there are others involved just as cunning, cold,and calculating with no remorse of doing things illegally, or sneeking sick loopholes.

    • Melinda,
      If all that you have tried has made it worse, I would recommend seeking support from a qualified therapist. Dealing with extreme narcissists by ones self is difficult. You deserve to have a professional in your corner as your ally and support.
      Dan

  73. Dear Dr.

    I was in a relationship with a recovering alcolic (I too am in recovery 30+yrs.) who diagnosed herself to have BPD. She has been in therapy for a number of years. Yet, when I look back upon how events began to unfold as described in the 11 things not to do I tend to believe she is an extreme narcissist above all else. I’d appreciate your thoughts/comments.

    John

    • John,
      Some people do have both narcissistic and borderline characteristics. The 11 Things Not To Do are focused primarily on people with narcissism. Whereas narcissists tend to be driven by attention and approval seeking and a grandiose sense of entitlement, many people with borderline characteristics tend to be driven by fear of abandonment and an unstable sense of self and relationships. People with narcissism lack empathy while people with borderline characteristics may be overly sensitive to others’ actions and feelings. People with narcissism tend to have a rigid sense of self whereas people with borderline characteristics experience a changeable sense of who they are. And whereas people with narcissism tend to defeat others, people with borderline characteristics tend to engage in self-defeating behaviors.
      Given those differences, you can deduce what may be motivating or alarming to those with either narcissistic or borderline issues. If someone has both, it can be more complicated.
      Thank you for your question.
      Dan

  74. This article hit every one of the issues I’ve experienced with my boyfriend. After an 8.5 year relationship (how did I last that long?) HE moved on to a “new supply” just 2-3 weeks ago. I see every aspect of the narsissism in him but my heart still grieves that he’s gone. Why is that? I ache for him to return but know if he did I would again be subject to the blaming, constant criticism, lies and roller-coaster moods which I hated. But the fun, charismatic side of him is so alluring. Naturally he is doing the “hovering” technique which keeps me hoping but I know I must initiate a No Contact policy if I am ever going to move on. I never knew what a narcissist is let alone be wary of how damaging a relationship with one is to one’s feelings of worth and self esteem. I hope I never allow another one like him in my life.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience. As painful as it may be in the short term, a no-contact approach may be the healthiest for you in the long term.
      Dan

  75. Thank you for writing such a wonderful article. I learned a great deal from it

    My father was undeniably a Narcissist. It seems very strange to me that in a family with six children the father could think everything was about him, but my interactions with him were always about his needs and desires. I can’t remember even one occasion where he made an effort to find out what I really thought or felt or where he made a genuine effort to find out if I needed help with a problem or with understanding something. I suppose that’s just as well because I’m glad I don’t see the world the way he saw it at all. He was abusive to his wife and to all his kids in one way or another. Our accomplishments only served to enrich his ego or his wallet and beyond that they were unimportant. Once he found out we were only going to be very good at something he lost interest. He wanted us to excel at something that would bring him either money or pride. We were each forced to work when we weren’t at school from the time we were 11 or 12 with all the money going to him to help support the family. I wasn’t supposed to notice the money he spent at the bar or going out to dinner with his friends, never with my mother, while I was the kid who always worked but never had two nickels to rub together.

    I could go on and on writing about my father’s mistreatment of his children and I think I probably should, but the more I write, the further I get from why I started writing in the first place, which is this: My three brothers and I naturally share many personality traits as well as behavioral traits. We look alike and sound alike and we even move in similar ways. We’ve had terrible arguments and some fights throughout our lives. Right now I’m estranged from two of them and I try to help the third who has too many physical and psychological problems to take care of himself. I consider all three to be narcissists to one degree or another, so I’ve had to keep a close eye on myself to make certain I don’t fall into the same egotistical behavior each of them engages in. It’s not easy because each of them expresses his egotism in a different way. It’s not just a matter of style although that is part of it. They also have different degrees of Narcissism and each of their lives differ in substantial ways from each other’s. I don’t think I’m explaining it well, but the point is that it’s very complicated to decipher, very difficult to keep their behavior separate from the others and, most importantly for the purpose of monitoring myself, it’s confusing to watch them to try to understand the things they say and do to me and to then understand my own behavior. I’m pretty sure someone reading this would by this point tell me that I’m probably just like them, that I simply can’t see it. But I don’t think that’s true. I treat my wife and kids with love that they return to me a hundredfold. I see almost a 180 degree difference in my attitude and behavior toward family and friends compared to my brothers behavior. Two of them have mistreated their children in ways remarkably similar to my father and they seem to have never noticed it. They are incapable of listening, they are short, impatient, rude, dictatorial and openly dismissive of their wives and children and they appear to go out of their way to make them feel stupid. It’s no wonder the kids mostly avoid their fathers and when they see them they are remarkably quiet and nervous. Those two have 8 kids and each and every one acts nervous, quiet and fearful while they’re with their fathers and they can’t wait to get away from them. One of my brothers has asked me a couple of times how I get my kids to treat me like they not only love me, but also act like they like me. I felt very sorry for him when he asked that, but I did all I could to not rub it in, but I did tell him that I’ve always tried to treat them with love and that I do genuinely like them too. His answer was, “Are you trying to say I don’t love my kids?” I had to clam up when he said that or it would have ended in fisticuffs. The other brother complained to me that his kids never come to see him, then he told me that he did all the same things with them that I did and that he always loved them, but they just followed their mother’s lead in hating him. This was coming from a guy who never spent any time with them at all because he spent all his spare time out drinking at bars, rarely even coming home for dinner, and when he did spend time with them he was constantly verbally and sometimes physically abusive. I don’t understand how anyone could be so delusional. My father’s family should have been a case study for a psychologist.

    So, when the youngest of my brothers got angry at me a few years ago, among other very nasty names he called me, he also informed me that I suffered from “NARCISSIST PERSONALITY DISORDER”, written all in caps just as I wrote it here. As Jack Nicholson said in “Cuckoo’s Nest”, maybe I am after all the “Bull Moose Loony” or maybe my narcissistic brother was given this article by one of his kids.

    This is by far the longest comment I’ve ever written on any article and yet it’s obviously unfinished. I certainly don’t expect to take up so much space on this site, so if you delete it, I’ll have no hard feelings. Now, if you could get me to stop typing, I’d be done. Thank you.

    • Dear Being Me,
      Thank you for sharing with the community your difficult experiences of narcissism in your family. It can be painful and unnerving to observe narcissism in siblings (as well as in our parents) and it naturally can spark the question, “Am I narcissistic also?” While only you can answer that question for yourself, it may be comforting to hear that in my experience many of those who wonder if they are narcissists likely are not, for true narcissists never ask themselves that very question.
      Dan

  76. Thank you, Mr Neuharth. This article is frighteningly accurate. I have encountered several individuals with narcissistic traits over the years.

  77. Hello,

    Thank you for writing this article. As with many others I’ve seen in the comments, your article was like box ticking for me with a person I am now convinced is a narcissist within the family. This person is the head of the family and rules absolutely. They don’t see what their actions are doing to their kids and spouse. I can see it clearly but have no power to do anything about it except provide advice where appropriate. If this person’s image is at all questioned in front of others (and I’m guessing behind closed doors too), tempers flair and things get smashed. One of the kids is now at borderline anxiety disorder levels. One is going off of the rails. The other is so angry at the restrictions imposed on their life that I can see a future away from the family for them.

    It’s a hypocrisy there. The narcissist expects a very high and unreasonable/unrealistic standard of behavior from those around them, but then engages in things that they would go ballistic at if one of the others engaged in. There’s more to the story, but this is getting long already.

    The only part of the article that I didn’t like was the part about there being little chance the person will ever change. Despite the truth probably behind that, I am absolutely determined to see this family fulfill it’s potential, rather than grind down to nothing. I do not want to see this family destroyed.

    Are there any support structures for people living with narcissist? Suggesting therapy to the narcissist was an idea we played with, but then concluded that it would just cause problems to suggest help is needed for them.

  78. To the Dr.

    I was in a relationship with someone who described herself as having BPD. Upon reading 11 things not to do with narcissists ALL those behaviors were also displayed. We are both in A.A. for over two decades. One of her BPD behaviors were huge emotional/irrational screaming outbursts…one being her demand that I marry her, I use that only as an example.

    I have a question…I never witnessed these type of outbursts at an A.A. meeting. To me that suggests she does have control at specific times. Yes? Is it ego that provides this restraint?

    • Hi John,

      You raise a complex issue: Why do people with personality disorders seem to have control over their excesses at some times but not others. It may be that a supportive meeting such as AA provides a container for someone with borderline personality disorder where emotional threats are less present. Feeling not threatened and perhaps supported by a group can be calming and make it less likely that someone with BPD will have abandonment fears triggered; that can make it easier to be “in control.” In another setting at another time that control may be elusive or nearly impossible. The challenge for people who care about those with borderline or narcissistic personality disorders is that is difficult to predict what and when might set off that person’s over-the-top reactions. All one can do when faced with an NPD or BPD person who is raging, demanding, blaming, etc., is to set healthy boundaries in the moment when those excesses get triggered.

      Thank you for your question.

      Dan

 

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