327 thoughts on “11 Things NOT To Do With Narcissists

  • August 6, 2017 at 1:15 am

    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.

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    • August 9, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      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.

      Reply
  • August 6, 2017 at 10:01 am

    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.

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  • August 9, 2017 at 9:01 am

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

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  • August 10, 2017 at 7:46 am

    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.

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  • August 10, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    OMG! You ve met my ex!

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  • August 11, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    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!

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  • August 12, 2017 at 10:08 am

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

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  • August 12, 2017 at 11:27 am

    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?

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    • August 12, 2017 at 3:43 pm

      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.

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  • August 12, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    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.

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  • August 19, 2017 at 5:27 am

    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.

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    • August 19, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      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.

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      • August 20, 2017 at 1:15 am

        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.

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  • August 20, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    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?

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    • August 21, 2017 at 12:01 am

      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

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      • August 21, 2017 at 2:10 pm

        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!

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      • August 27, 2017 at 2:46 pm

        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

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  • August 21, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    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! ❤

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    • August 27, 2017 at 2:43 pm

      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

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    • May 29, 2018 at 5:45 pm

      @ Hissweetgirl, I go through much the same thing. The man you are with is definitely a narcissist, probably with other overlapping disorders, and his behavior won’t get better. If anything it will become more pronounced as he gets older. If you have the option at all, get rid of him!

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  • August 21, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    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.

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  • August 24, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    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?

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    • August 27, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      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

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  • August 25, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    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

    Reply
  • August 27, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    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?

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    • August 27, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      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

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  • August 27, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    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.

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  • August 31, 2017 at 8:24 am

    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

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  • September 1, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    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

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  • September 15, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    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?

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    • September 15, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      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.

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      • September 17, 2017 at 1:02 pm

        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

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  • September 19, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    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.

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    • September 22, 2017 at 1:28 pm

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

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  • October 12, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    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.

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    • October 12, 2017 at 11:47 pm

      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

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  • October 13, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    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

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    • October 13, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      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

      Reply
  • October 17, 2017 at 8:22 am

    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.

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    • October 21, 2017 at 12:15 am

      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

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  • October 18, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    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.

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    • October 21, 2017 at 12:20 am

      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

      Reply
  • October 26, 2017 at 10:25 am

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

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  • November 16, 2017 at 9:20 am

    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.

    Reply
  • November 29, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    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?

    Reply
    • November 30, 2017 at 6:16 pm

      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

      Reply
  • December 12, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Hi Dr. Thanks so much for all the articles about NPD. I’ve been married for 18 years to what I thought was my soulmate, the nicest man I have ever met, nicest father, etc. Looking back, the only trait I can think about was that he would lie a lot, in order to get me to do something. For example, if we would go to spend a weekend at a friend’s beach house, he would say only our friends would be there to get me to go, whenever I arrived there, I would see there were only people I didn’t know. Instead of owning it, he would get mad at me because I would get mad. This would make me feel terrible, like I was the problem and that I was overreacting and a troublemaker. Later, he would lie about his salary to keep me always on the edge financially, I was always unsure of how much I could spend. But, still, I was always sure that his love for me was unconditionally. He would always praise me, tell me I was the love of his life, etc. Then, 3 years ago, he got a very important position at a Bank and his trips started slowly but surely became almost 85% of the time. About 1.5 years ago, it became unbearable: we have 3 kids, younger than 10 and it was a lot for me to be all the time by myself with them, after a while, not only he would travel but when he was at home he was super distant. This caused a lot of strain in our marriage and I became super mad at him. One day, I told him that he should either change or we should part ways, but knowing that this was just something I was saying to make him change. He immediately got his things and said: “Ok, I’ll leave then”. I was desperate! I never thought he wanted out and it would be this easy for him to leave. SO, for the last 8 months he has been descending into a Narcissistic Behavior that scares me. He became the opposite of what he always was. He feels me the most horrible things, using the issues I had with my family against me. I found out that he had an escape plan, he was devaluing me to finally discard me. It’s amazing how he behaves EXACTLY like all the other NPDs I read about. It’s almost like they’re all the same. He’s mean and vicious, he belittles me. He emotionally abuses me and leaves me days without any money so I have to use his credit card and he can see everything I spend. Now, we are in the process of separation and I just learned that there’s something called Late on set Narcissism. DO you think it’s more likely he’s that? His father and grandfather were Narcissists but they were like that their whole life. He just changed for the last year. Is there any hope for him?He tells me and acts like he despises me and I am a very attractive and nice woman. I wonder if he could change or realize what he did one day….

    Reply
  • December 13, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Dear Dr.,

    Your “11 things not to do with a narcissist” provides the greatest understanding one can have of this personality disorder. Much has been written about the narcissist some of which I have read but nothing “nailed it” the way you have. I feel it is a must read for everyone regardless. My gratitude.

    best regards,
    John

    Reply
  • December 26, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    My brother’s dysfunction arose from family tragedy and was compounded by the family dynamic – I was the yin to his yan, the empath to his narcissism. I had loving parents, but the death of my two brothers rendered my mother a virtual zombie at a critical time in my brother’s youth.
    Fast forward a few decades. My father has died and left my brother in charge of the family estate, meant to care for my mother for the rest of her life; after that I was to inherit one farm, and my brother the other. My mother lived for 20 years in the nursing home and died at the age of 102. In all that time, my brother never exactly had a job. He lived on the farm he was to inherit and “managed” the two properties. Although I tried to get information about what exactly was happening, he had … “complex” methods of accounting. I saw that he had problems, both with managing and in his personal life, but I never imagined it could go so awry.
    My relationship with him had been extremely close. Of course, that was because I was an important supply for him. Here, anyone with experience of the NPD can fill in the blanks, envisioning all the manipulations and lies – and my difficult road of discovery. Long story short, my brother sold all the property except the farmstead where his family has resided for 25 years. He invested in other properties and named himself C.E.O. He set his son up with his own company at 22.
    Next month, there is the third court hearing since Mother’s death 2+ years ago. He still refuses to give up records, bank accounts, keys… and is facing contempt and jail. The extent of his delusion is spectacular; he doesn’t understand that he has to obey the court order. He can’t accept that all that property is not HIS. It’s not just that the court appointed representative is requesting 25 years of rental payments on the property. His son has not paid rental for trucks that belonged to the estate, nor for occupying land and buildings that belong to the estate. Essentially, my brother has been money laundering, taking the income from the estate and paying the expenses on his son’s business.
    It’s a sad story, but I have hope that there may yet be redemption for the “children.” If they can come to understand what their father is, they may be able to work through the damage he has done to them. Just like I am working through what I carried into my own family. All will be well.
    Meanwhile, his children dote on him and I am an evil greedy witch in our hometown.

    Reply
    • December 26, 2017 at 9:38 pm

      Ohio Grandma,

      That sounds like such a painful, tragic family legacy. Thank you for sharing that with the community.

      Dan

      Reply
  • January 23, 2018 at 2:28 am

    I am so confused about whether my soon to be ex-husband is a narcissist, sociopath or whether I am the one with the problem. Together for 26 years, his many deceitful betrayals in the form of affairs, half truths and blaming me for his lack of success professionally and personally have led me to become bitter and nasty with my language towards him. I am so entwined with him and still feel like I need his approval and seek out his opinions –even after his unilateral decision to end our marriage after I discovered his secret email account which confirmed my suspicions about the last affair he was having. It was my fault because I am a “snoop” and had I not read the emails he would not have left me. Over a short period of time this changed into how miserable we were and how untenable our marriage was to him. He doesn’t believe in therapy and constantly baited me by telling me that therapy didn’t work as I was still unhappy and had all the same issues I always had after being in therapy on and off for many years. I came to believe that I never really found the right therapist because I still felt so bad about myself.
    I did always assume he would do the right thing and have my back, and that I knew him better than anyone else and even though he was abrasive and constantly telling me to shut up I came to believe his claims that I didn’t know what I was talking about — but the constant cheating and cowardly and reckless behavior in our marriage has caused me so much pain that I have also become a yeller who lacks impulse control around him, wanting to hurt him with words or myself by breaking things. Crazy behavior. And I am left feeling sad, frightened and angry. He is very controlling as am I –but we exhibit it differently. He is withholding, I am overly generous, but like order to the point of obsessiveness at times.
    I am not sure this comment even makes perfect sense, as it is less than 2 months since he decided our marriage is over though he hasn’t moved out yet (will beginning of next month) and has been living at home with us (2 kids who also seek the approval and opinions of their dad and have grown up loving someone so much who they see mistreating someone else they love so much) while moving forward with his new girlfriend–who also happens to be 23 years younger and married.
    Thank you for your clearly written article and in advance for reading this.

    Reply
    • January 23, 2018 at 4:22 pm

      Awful situation to be in. I’m no expert but can you find some supportive friends or a group such as church or whatever for some support? You need space between you and him now that it’s over. Start planning your new life for YOU and your children. Good luck.

      Reply
    • January 23, 2018 at 7:10 pm

      Dazed and confused,
      It can be difficult to know what’s true or accurate in a situation like yours, but I wonder if your post contains the answer to your question about whether your ex is a narcissist or sociopath. That your soon to be ex-husband blamed you for reading emails of his betrayal of you is classic narcissistic behavior. Narcissists rarely accept blame or fault but are quick to dish it out to justify their entitled actions.
      Your experience sounds painful. While there may be things you have done or not done in the relationship that you would do differently or that reflect past wounds or blind spots, we all have those. But that doesn’t negate a partner’s actions in keeping secrets or violating trust. I hope you reach out for support from trusted friends and therapy as needed. You deserve support and affirmation.
      Thank you for sharing with the community.
      Dan

      Reply
  • February 2, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Hi Dr Dan and all..
    I’m completely confused and need help understanding my feelings ..
    I’ve been with my Narc for over 4 years.. I’ve only realised what he was a few months ago. I have read close to a hundred articles since trying to understand this better. I’ve almost had myself convinced that I’m this terrible paranoid irrational being, so reading this had me so relieved to know that I’m not ..
    He left his girlfriend and 2 kids for me.. He did paint her in the worst colours as partner and mother ( which was actually confirm

    Reply
    • February 2, 2018 at 7:32 pm

      Sorry pressed send too early …

      ( was confirmed by his family) first few months I thought I was the luckiest woman alive to have met him .. charming, smart, loving, caring, thoughtful …
      Then drama for no apparent reason started.. taking every single thing as criticism, gaslighting, withdrawal, always has to win, always right, never accepting faults.. other things like strange laugh at inappropriate times ..
      I’m 40 and I’ve never seen myself behave the way I have with him with anyone .. I’m in a caring profession, I hate arguments, confrontation and I’ve been known to be good at conflict resolution .. but not with this guy .. oh my god .. I’ve become someone I don’t recognise, I question my sanity … mind you, since reading many good articles I have change my behaviour and was able to detach, stay cool and calm and it has helped inormausly! I’ve been able to carry on during his withdrawal and lead a normal life where before I’d be crushed .. i Even developed cardiac problems. What I need is advise though, please! Many of narc characteristics fit him exactly but some don’t .. he has lovely qualities too … apart from 2/3 episodes a month ( which I can control better now ) he’s sweet, caring, helpful , never puts me down or insults me , even during argument ..I’m sure he’s faithful and he is a fantastic step dad to my kids … we are about to move in .. I’m scared in case he gets worse after that and I’ll have no way out .. shall I stick it out ( I love him) or run? Thank you all xx

      Reply
      • February 2, 2018 at 10:26 pm

        Having been through psychological abuse [and this is what it is] I never ever want to go into that dark pit ever again. It’s taken me a decade to actually feel normal again. These people never change. You have said yourself that you have been having “cardiac problems” since being with this guy. I would be running like the wind from people like this. They are everywhere. I think you know deep in your gut what the answer is to your final question. Follow it.

        Reply
  • February 4, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    Great article!
    I’m struggling with a narcissistic mother’s triangulation…my siblings don’t see what I see. Extended family and friends definitely don’t see the real woman she is. My siblings agree that she is not quite normal, but they assume the best way to cope is to look the other way/ not provoke her rage. Even my dad has turned into such a puppet to her controlling ways.
    About a year ago, I was made aware that my dad is not my biological father. My half sister found me through social media. My mother’s reactions to my confrontations regarding the issue were classic text book narcissism! She tried to maintain her lie (dad is my father), she swore and yelled at me (even though I was calm and quite), she even insisted I get a DNA test because there was NO WAY dad was not my father. I tried multiple times to speak to her about it but she always got super defensive and refused to comment (would say things like, let’s talk about something else). I started asking other family members about my birth and potential real dad and that made her livid. So I did complete a DNA test and of course the results showed that she was lying. I decided to confront my mom face to face with a few family members in the room for support. Big mistake! There was lots of yelling and swearing…she even questioned the DNA authenticity. She absolutely refused to admit that she lied to me (and my dad) for 40 years…she did not apologize….all she would say is that her life was hard back then and she just wanted to forget about it. My dad did apologize to me, though he actually didn’t know the truth either (he thought he was my father). That was September 2016….she hasn’t spoken to me since then. My father died 5 months before my sister found me, so ill never know his side of the story.
    There’s so much more I could share- but my point is, how do I get everyone else to see her true colors?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • February 5, 2018 at 1:18 am

      Dear JennyLynn,

      Based on your description, some other people may already see your mother’s true colors. Whether they will acknowledge what they see is another question. Some people go into denial about a narcissist’s destructive behaviors. Others may be reluctant to speak up as you did for fear of retribution. The most important thing is that you see your mother clearly and that you make choices that are true for you based on how you assess the situation. It sounds like you have already done much of that.

      Thank you for your contribution,

      Dan

      Reply
  • February 16, 2018 at 6:19 am

    I think this article is great and gives very helpful advice, but the problem for many of us is when we form a new friendship or relationship it takes time to realize something is wrong. Most narcs appear to be so sweet and kind when you meet them. By the time we figure out some is not right and the person is a narcissist or cluster B personality we have already done many of these behaviors. Since that I have experienced being in a relationship with a covert narcissist and have educated myself, I can now pick up the red flags very early on in a relationship. This article is quite helpful when you know from the start what you are dealing with.

    Reply
  • February 21, 2018 at 9:01 am

    A narcissist will never be able to defeat a person who’s a spiritually minded visionary leader. Even if they pose as a virtual Donald Trump in a dress with black leggings and cow boots. Money is only temporary.

    Reply
  • February 24, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Hello – very good article. I have to ask your thoughts on how you would handle a very difficult situation. I am not stupid or uneducated. I hold a graduate degree. However, the world, as well as some of my own bad decisions, have put me in a situation where I am stuck in extreme poverty, and left living with an elderly, energy sucking, narcissistic, parent for almost a decade now, who loves me being in her control, and not succeeding in life. She seems to be using me to almost transfer her life into mine, if that makes sense? Because we have lived in the same 1 bed condo, her home, for so long, she is using this strange situation to change how the world sees her and me too. Almost flipping my life, eating habits, etc into her life, and her life into mine . . if that makes sense?
    My mother wants to be me, and wants me to be her, an 83 year old “couch-potato” body! She has tortured me all my life to be exercise, eat veggies, diet, diet, diet diet etc . . to the point of me finally having weight loss surgery and fat removal procedures and, as well, I have been a gym addict for over 25 years, and she is the EXACT OPPOSITE now, a food addict. So now narcissistic and controlling mom wants to turn herself into me!

    What about me ?? I have a medical condition that seems to be just about resolved, however, the world has already deemed me useless from an employment standpoint. I am now middle aged and of color, so that does not help my situation. I am a new private finance broker for Small Business, franchises, SBA Loans, and Commercial Real Estate Investments. It takes time to build commissions, so if you need capital please visit: https://frontstglobal.com
    Thank you.

    I haven’t had a sustainable income in over a decade. I am bagging groceries and make less than $200/mo.

    Reply
    • February 24, 2018 at 3:00 pm

      Hi Natrene,

      Thank you for sharing about your difficult situation. I can only imagine how complex your feelings must be about your relationship with your mother. It does seem to me based on what you wrote that despite the challenges you describe, you have much going for you — intelligence, credentials in the financial world, self-discipline in taking care of your health and fitness, and great insight.

      In my experience, making major changes in one’s life can be aided by support from others. None of us is alone and growth and change can be richer and easier with the support of others. Perhaps trusted friends can help emotionally support you. Perhaps a support groups such as Alanon might be helpful. Anything that will help you get a bit of breathing room and greater perspective from your intrusive mother could be helpful.

      Thank you for sharing with the community. Keep us posted as you like.

      Dan

      Reply
  • February 26, 2018 at 9:48 am

    Hi Dr, I posted this some time ago and did not get a comment from you, I know that you’re very busy but when you have the time would you mind reading this? Thanks a nmillion!!
    Hi Dr. Thanks so much for all the articles about NPD. I’ve been married for 18 years to what I thought was my soulmate, the nicest man I have ever met, nicest father, etc. Looking back, the only trait I can think about was that he would lie a lot, in order to get me to do something. For example, if we would go to spend a weekend at a friend’s beach house, he would say only our friends would be there to get me to go, whenever I arrived there, I would see there were only people I didn’t know. Instead of owning it, he would get mad at me because I would get mad. This would make me feel terrible, like I was the problem and that I was overreacting and a troublemaker. Later, he would lie about his salary to keep me always on the edge financially, I was always unsure of how much I could spend. But, still, I was always sure that his love for me was unconditionally. He would always praise me, tell me I was the love of his life, etc. Then, 3 years ago, he got a very important position at a Bank and his trips started slowly but surely became almost 85% of the time. About 1.5 years ago, it became unbearable: we have 3 kids, younger than 10 and it was a lot for me to be all the time by myself with them, after a while, not only he would travel but when he was at home he was super distant. This caused a lot of strain in our marriage and I became super mad at him. One day, I told him that he should either change or we should part ways, but knowing that this was just something I was saying to make him change. He immediately got his things and said: “Ok, I’ll leave then”. I was desperate! I never thought he wanted out and it would be this easy for him to leave. SO, for the last 8 months he has been descending into a Narcissistic Behavior that scares me. He became the opposite of what he always was. He feels me the most horrible things, using the issues I had with my family against me. I found out that he had an escape plan, he was devaluing me to finally discard me. It’s amazing how he behaves EXACTLY like all the other NPDs I read about. It’s almost like they’re all the same. He’s mean and vicious, he belittles me. He emotionally abuses me and leaves me days without any money so I have to use his credit card and he can see everything I spend. Now, we are in the process of separation and I just learned that there’s something called Late on set Narcissism. DO you think it’s more likely he’s that? His father and grandfather were Narcissists but they were like that their whole life. He just changed for the last year. Is there any hope for him?He tells me and acts like he despises me and I am a very attractive and nice woman. I wonder if he could change or realize what he did one day….

    Reply
    • February 26, 2018 at 10:40 am

      Luli,
      I imagine that your husband knows very well what he has done — which, based on your description, is to do whatever suits him no matter what it costs you and others. For all his good qualities, he descends from a three-generation tradition of unhealthy narcissism. Although his narcissistic behavior may have become more obvious in the last couple years, the roots to it likely are several years old. Have you ever asked him to go to psychotherapy? Without help, change in such a long tradition of unhealthy behavior may be quite unlikely.
      Best wishes, Dan.

      Reply
    • February 26, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      I was married to a guy like this for 7 years. He told he that he was in the war in Vietnam and received some huge medal. When I asked to see it he told me he had given it to the local school. He also told me he drove in the Indianapolis 500. His only connection to this race was that he had met Mel Kenyon and kept in contact. I finally left but it took me a while to trust again. People like him don’t change. They don’t see that they have a problem. After we split up some of my female friends said that they never trusted to be alone with him, they found him to be a bit sleazy. He always had his eye on other women.

      Reply
  • March 17, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    What are the dynamics when narcissists engage with one another? Do they ever surrender to one another?

    Reply
  • April 4, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Blah don’t argue with them.

    Reply
  • April 15, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Eye opener. Thank you so much.

    Reply
  • April 23, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Should I apply for fully custody of my child?

    I am getting divorced from a narcissist. She is probably not a high level narcissist, maybe 5.5 or 6 out of 10. When we split we agreed to share 50% care of him (this was without a fixed schedule so obviously I did way more than %50 as this is a narcissists I am dealing with). We now have a set %50 schedule and it feels like a holiday to me compared to what it was. I know I take excellent care of him and keep him safe but I cannot be his mother. I have a lot of family support close by and she does not. Is it better for him to see his mother %50 even though she is a narcissist or every second weekend?

    Reply
    • April 23, 2018 at 11:36 am

      Toby,
      That’s a complicated question. Important factors include the age of your child, her/his sensitivities and coping style around narcissistic behavior, how the other parent treats the child, and the child’s other relationships and social resources. You might consult a family counsellor for help and assessment. There are also challenges and risks involved, including time, money and lack of control of outcome, when determining custody through the legal system. Of course, if there is abusive behavior on the part of the parent, every effort should be made to protect the child and get that parent into therapy for help and education about child abuse.
      Dan

      Reply
  • April 27, 2018 at 12:00 am

    Does a narcissist type personality manipulate everything around you, but never attack you personally? I’m completely controlled, afraid to file for Divorce, waiting for son to graduate high school and get him settled.

    Reply
  • May 10, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Thanks for sharing this info!
    I’m just now realizing my 47 yr old sister has a narcissistic personality disorder. My mother was the “buffer” in our family. Of course we didn’t realize that until she died of Cancer in ‘09. We’ve (older sister, younger brother, and father) all had to adjust and get to know new aspects each other.
    With my sister, there were many new parts of her I didn’t not enjoy seeing:
    1.) She thinks she’s intricate, gifted, and or special
    2.) Because of #1, she dismisses anything that doesn’t focus on her.
    3.) Quick to give unsolicited advice
    4.) I learned she has been jealous of me for a verry long time. My parents doted on her when she was the only child and I don’t think she ever got over the sudden split of attention once I was born.
    5.) Any experience people bring up, she’s done it too, but on some fabulous or spectacular level. I mean ANY. Ex. If you had a great burger at a particular place, she’ll interrupt and say she’s had the world’s BEST burger with special Ketchup that was imported from Dubai.
    6.) When I confront her about her ill behavior she explains why instead of apologizing.
    7.) She always calls me to complain about something Dad did in HIS house where she also lives.
    8.) She sees herself as the “Spiritual Leader” of the family (Messiah Complex)

    My friends know this, but I will never forget her behavior during that “Summer of 2011”. The recession got the best of me and I had to make the cross country drive from CA to AL and move back in with my Dad until I got back on my feet again.

    My sister’s behavior during that time was jarringly appalling. She was so cold to me and was not welcoming in any way. On Day 1, She was running down the list of chores to me like she was the woman of the house. She tried to give me unsolicited advice on my finances, which she knows nothing about. She was intentionally rude to my boyfriend (ex.- coming downstairs early in the morning and turning the radio all the way up, knowing he’s sleeping in the living room.) who accompanied me on the cross country drive. He stayed for a couple of nights before flying back to NY where he lives. So glad my dad was supportive of me and I was blessed to find a job after 2mos and move out.

    Other family members hesitate to confront her on particular things out of fear she may take it out of proportion and commit suicide or spiral out of control. I did too at first, but after I noticed no change in her behavior over the past 7-8 yrs, I’ve told her about herself in the moment on different occasions. That’s when I realized she never apologizes. My brother, my uncle, my father, and a few family friends have shared the same thoughts with me. My father only tolerates her b/c it would break his heart to kick her out.

    I hung up on her the other day and I don’t feel bad about it one bit. She was exhibiting item #7 and I merely brought up how she has done the same thing to me at some point. She got irritated and didn’t understand what that had to do with her and said she can’t talk to me any longer when I was trying to explain, so I hung up right after she said that—no good bye

    I’m not upset about it. I’m not completely cutting her off. I’m just done tolerating her “Me Phi Me” attitude. In another way it saddens me. I know this sounds horrible, but if she wasn’t my sister I wouldn’t want to know her.

    I WILL say, that she is not conniving and isn’t into stepping on peoples’ backs to get what she wants. But even when she does acts of kindness, it’s on her terms and is done without ANY consideration of what you like.
    (For ex. If she is making a burger, she will make one for you too with all the toppings having no idea what you even want on your burger.)

    All I can do is live my life, pray for her, and remind myself that I am not accountable for her actions.

    …Aaaaaaand scene. I’m going to fix a burger now.

    Reply
    • May 13, 2018 at 10:37 am

      RC,
      Thank you for sharing your family experience. The details you share paint a vivid picture of narcissistic behavior to which many of us can relate.
      Dan

      Reply
  • May 11, 2018 at 1:22 am

    Excellent, spot on and thorough. It is so difficult not to attempt or desire to get revenge on a narcissist. I tell people that ask me how to do so to first, go to a gym and work on a heavy bag. Get to the point you can punch the bag for a total three minutes without stopping and at that point have total breath control. Now, go fight Mike Tyson in his prime. The end result is going to be the exact same. You cannot prepare yourself for a war with a narcissist because you do not have the tools or the ability to shed your self awareness. You cannot match thier ruthless natural ability to simply no longer care about someone. You will enter the ring prepared and sweaty, one or two seconds later you will be on the floor wondering what happened – and you will be hurt once again, deeply. The only way to defeat a narcissist is to forgive them, be grateful for who you are and lose all emotional responses to them. It’s hard, you are human and want to make things right one way or another. In their mind it is only right when they say it is, and if that way satisfies you both they will change things until it does not.
    Thank you for the excellent article and a chance to say some things i needed to remind myself of as i skip the gym and go read a book instead.

    Reply
    • May 13, 2018 at 10:34 am

      Jeff,
      You voice sentiments that many people feel. Thank you for capturing, with such passion, the dilemma of being around narcissists.
      Dan

      Reply
  • May 29, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    I was raised by a narcissistic mother. Am almost 52 and still struggling. To describe her behavior would take days!!!! She has to be the center of attention always. The abuse started as far back as I can remember and the damage was so deep. I truly believe the manipulation was so hard-wired into my psyche at such a young age and at such a relentless pace that I grew into a person with deep self-loathing and very little self-esteem. Of course I was always too fat and she had me dieting when I was nine. She said I was too picky of an eater so I ended up being malnourished and hypoglycemic. Now I’m diabetic. After a great deal of online research, it has become glaringly obvious what has been going on. She’s so sneaky about it and very few people saw it.

    My father is a wonderful, brilliant man. Was an LCSW for most of his career. I have one sibling, a younger sister, who learned at the lap of her mother how to treat me exactly the same way. My sister had outrageous behavior that I got blamed for like Grand theft auto at 14 and an endless list of other horrible things. I called her the Ungroundable! She is Bipolar I. My sister and I have resolved our issues. She is dying of cancer now. My father has bladder cancer. My mom had breast cancer for a brief time, but got through it very quickly with nothing more than a few radiation burns. Obviously that’s not a good thing, but she survived and is thriving. She said to me the other day, I’m just a bloody caretaker for my entire family and, you know, no one seems to remember that I had cancer too. When I was a child I had some health problems that the medical world was not equipped to handle at the time. I do know that she tried to get me help. Turns out I have PCOS which led to me having diabetes, severe depression, Bipolar II Disorder, severe social anxiety and a plethora of other health issues that just come with the territory.

    If I’d had a different mother, some of those things may have been manageable. Binge eating and a lot of pot use are my coping mechanisms. Hate alcohol. Have not smoked cigarettes for years. Mom told me when I was very young that I was a late bloomer and was probably one of those people who wouldn’t find a partner and be single the rest my life. She said she hated me because I was smarter than her and then laughed hysterically. She sent me to school with impetigo on my face. In fifth grade I was so developed that all the kids called me Universe. She didn’t offer me sufficient support regarding that. She always had the best clothes, the best hairstyles. My sister and I lived in an upper-middle-class family yet we were neglected.

    Once we were teenagers she couldn’t stand to be around us at all so they went away every weekend. Left us very little food and no money. I did some cleaning houses and yardwork and such so I used that to buy clothes as early as 13. Many kids had to do that though. She told me that she didn’t really want to have kids, but that’s just what you did in the early 60s. There is a side to her that is kind and she does very nice things for people, however, the rub is she needs affirmation for her good deeds. She has several “adopted” daughters in her life that she treats as if they were the daughters she wished she could have. Then she thrusts them down my throat and wants me to have relationships with them.

    Is it possible there are different levels of narcissism that vary in severity? I believe she feels she didn’t get enough attention as a child and that’s what really triggered it. So I’ve spent my whole life feeling sorry for her, telling her what a great mother she is because she can’t get enough affirmation. She tells my personal business to everyone after she’s bombarded me with probing questions. If I don’t give her some information, she will make assumptions about what she thinks is going on and tell people that. As a young child, I simply learned to shut down rather than fight anything because there was no winning. When she starts her relentless questioning, I still shut down. There is no arguing with her.

    My weakness lies in the fact that I will do anything and say anything just to get her to shut up. She tells me I’m mean spirited and cruel when I stand up for myself and that my coping skills are insufficient. “No Jade” is brilliant and I put a sticky note with that on the dash of my car. I don’t care how old I am I’m going to heal from this! It’s really difficult when your abuser is still in your life. In order to have a relationship with my father, I have no choice but to have her in my life because that is the way it is. I have 138IQ for crying out loud and should be able to outwit her right? No dice! She loves to tell people that she has disabled daughters. I do have my own little pet sitting business which keeps me afloat and makes me very happy. She tries to get involved in that too of course. Tells me what I need to tell customers to do with their lives and all this BS! She’s traveled the world. She’s gotten everything she could possibly hope for. It’s never enough.

    The reason I’ve been sympathetic is because deep down I know she must loathe herself. So that’s why I continue taking the abuse. Reading your article made me cry from relief. There’s no excuse for her behavior. I’ve had some real sick thoughts over the years like I wish Dad would divorce her so I didn’t have to live with her and I don’t think I’ll ever be free till she’s dead. And her death would be a relief. In fact, I still think it would be a relief. Pretty sick thoughts. When my sister and my father are gone, she says she needs me to move in with her. If it’s the last thing I do in this world it will be refusing her in that. Only now are people starting to believe me as to what I’ve gone through. My dad loves her so blindly that one time she was having a fit and she pulled a knife on him and said she hated him and he told me there’s nothing she can do to make him leave her. She turned my nephew against me and the lack of respect he felt was palpable. That is changing.

    As she gets older, and continues to drink up to a bottle of wine a day, some of her sneakiness is not as easy to contain so other people are getting a glimpse: What prompted me to start researching was that last week I spent some time with my cousin. Mom was so jealous that she called me and asked if I’d had a chance to tell my cousin all the trauma she has been through lately. I told her no so she texted him until she got the response of sympathy she desired. She texted him again after that and he wrote back saying, “I’m sorry Auntie, but Jen and I are doing heroin right now and don’t have time for this.” We were crying from laughter! She was livid. Thank goodness for humor huh?

    The only things that continue to bring me joy everyday are humor and nature. As a result of this upbringing, I need an extreme amount of alone time and don’t want to be in a partnership with anyone. The relationships I have had were all with narcissists! I honestly don’t know if I prefer being single due to her shoving it down my throat or if that’s really how I feel. I can’t stand to be around a lot talking for more than a few minutes. It’s very easy to see why so many people write you and write long comments. Clearly no one has been listening to us and you put into words what so many victims of narcissists have been through. Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • May 30, 2018 at 12:23 pm

      Hi Jennifer,
      Many of the members of this community can no doubt relate to your experience of never being enough for a critical, narcissistic parent. Despite how one-sided the relationship has been, you have the insight and compassion to recognize how much self-loathing your mother may have. That is to your credit. But it makes sense that you want relief from this difficult relationship and prefer to spend alone time where at least you aren’t feeling used or criticized.
      Thank you for sharing your story so poignantly.
      Dan

      Reply
  • May 30, 2018 at 10:59 am

    This is a very well written piece.
    Something struck me when I was reading the last point:
    “A narcissist’s life is endlessly about gaining “narcissistic supply:” attention, success, wealth, power, control, sexual conquest, and more. They seek to be fed; nothing is more important. This drive is so powerful that narcissists will betray those closest to them when it suits them.”

    It sounds similar to people with a drug addiction. Perhaps there are already studies and pieces written about this, but it sounds like narcissism is an addiction to approval.
    “Narcissists… are trapped in an endless quest for attention and approval.”

    This certainly doesn’t matter much to survivors of narcissistic abuse, but as an academic study, would it be worthwhile viewing narcissistic personality disorder along similar lines to drug addicts?
    I am not a professional nor do I have any familiarity with addiction or addicts. I do unfortunately have a lot of familiarity with narcissistic abuse. Wanted to start a conversation and see if anyone has any thoughts on the matter.

    Reply
  • June 19, 2018 at 3:00 am

    My question is: does the narcissist know that they are acting this way? Do they know they’re being evil? I’m in awe of how far this person takes his/her behavior. When they grab my face, look into my eyes and say “You know I love you more than anything and I wouldn’t dream of hurting you, I only have good intentions and want what’s best for you.” Should I believe them? They seem so genuine but the games are just disgusting, mind-blowing and something is so off. So, are they deliberately lying and saying inside “Let’s see if she buys my lies”. Or do they really not know that they’re the problem? I pray someone responds because I’m so interested to know.

    Reply
    • June 19, 2018 at 10:07 am

      I think it’s possible for a person to drift in and out of narcissistic behavior. I’ve seen it happen, though maybe not all of them do. You don’t get into specifics about what this person does, but you probably shouldn’t believe anything he says. He may believe it himself one second but not the next.

      I think people with NPD do know what they are doing, but the “knowing” is distorted. When the mind is screwed up people don’t think or reason like normal people. Surely they can see when they hurt other people, but they often (maybe not always) lack the ability to understand or to care.

      I don’t consider their behavior evil. It’s a form of mental illness and more a case of being emotionally stunted to an extreme. You’ve no doubt seen how small children behave with each other. They can be friends one minute and screaming at each other, throwing things, or crying the next. I’ve read that a narcissist is anywhere from 3 to 6 years old emotionally, so this is kind of how it is with them. The casual acquaintance doesn’t usually see this emotionally messed-up side of the narcissist, so they don’t see anything wrong with them.

      It’s confusing for the rest of us because in other respects the narcissist can exhibit perfectly normal behavior. It’s as if they have an area of the brain that’s short-circuiting. BUT… Many narcissists are highly intelligent and hold responsible jobs. Obviously they are able to close off or otherwise control the abnormal behavior because they are smart enough to know they would get fired otherwise.

      Reply
    • June 19, 2018 at 6:26 pm

      Does it matter if they know or not. Their behaviour and its impact on you is all you need to know. If it feels wrong to you then it is wrong. I’ve spent a long time trying to read these people but at the end of the day I’m just not going to put my energy onto THEM but onto ME. These people are malicious, vindictive liars who only want to WIN at all costs. So much informative reading material out there on these issues. I have got to the stage where if I even feel a hint of this behaviour I run for the hills. Spend your life on your healing not trying to figure out if this person is doing it on purpose or not. Sometimes we rationalise other’s behaviour so we don’t have to deal with the bigger issues.

      Reply
  • July 9, 2018 at 6:07 am

    Thank you for this very clear and helpful article. I had PTSD symptom for the last few weeks, after I decided to stand up for myself in an abusive situation (a flatmate let her boyfriend invade my personal space and be inconsiderate and even disrespectful hoping that would make me feel like I should move out – luckily they both moved out when I made him realize I was home and wasn’t the one who needed to go). Looking back on it I wonder how I could let it happen for months but these things are sometimes very subtle and come little by little, hidden under large smiles and a helpful attitude. Ironically, we feel we’d be the horrible person for setting more boundaries. We must forgive ourselves for letting things happen to us for a while out of excessive generosity or politeness and congratulate ourselves for learning and taking action when we felt confident enough to do so; as M. Angelou said “you did then what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better”!

    Reply
  • July 16, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Is narcissism a mental health issue?
    If yes, then why vilify every person who has this disorder? What happened to our society that is trying to de-stigmatize mental health issues?
    I agree there are many good reasons to dislike a person with narcissist tendencies but at some point don’t they deserve compassion, empathy and understanding like the person with depression, childhood emotional neglect, and/or anxiety etc? just to name a few…?

    Reply
    • July 16, 2018 at 11:12 am

      Personality disorder or not, there is no excuse for abuse.
      A narcissist’s behavior towards his/her victims is terrible abuse. I’ve come to see is almost impossible for people who haven’t experienced it to understand this abuse.

      The approach that you write about is actually quite detrimental to victims of narcissistic abuse and adds to the “victim shaming” that is already prevalent and, among other things, contributes to making transitioning from ‘victim’ to ‘surviror’ a monumentally difficult task.

      Reply
      • July 16, 2018 at 1:07 pm

        Hi Mor,
        Thank you for your contribution. Narcissistic abuse is a real problem and, as you poignantly wrote, there are no excuses for abuse.
        Dan

        Reply
    • July 16, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      Hi Mel,
      Thank you for your comment and sharing your viewpoint.
      Yes, people with narcissism, like all humans, deserve compassion, empathy and understanding. Yes, vilifying any person or group, mentally healthy or not, is counterproductive.
      However, the primary challenge in dealing with narcissists is their behavior. We can have compassion for their wounds but when their behavior is abusive, we should have zero tolerance for such behavior.
      Dan

      Reply
    • July 16, 2018 at 7:30 pm

      Mel—I agree with your perspective pertaining to compassion. My sister struggles with this personality disorder, but it’s mild and doesn’t manifest in a very ugly way as I’ve seen with others.

      However, my best friend (at the time) had this disorder, coupled with BPD and I didn’t find out until I let her crash with me rent free until she got back on her feet. What a mess. To make the long story short, I had to formally evict her and get locks on my bedroom door in the meantime. I missed work having to go back and forth to the court house (cause she sued me for evicting her too). I was scared and shocked as hell. My father’s first time to visit me was consumed with this mess. I didn’t know what I would come home to. I was concerned she might flip and kill me. I lost about 15lbs in the process.

      During that time, I admit I did vilify her as I had found out she had done this before with family and friends and used me all along. She went out of her way to make the simplest things difficult. I felt like a victim in my own home when I was just doing what I would hope a friend would do for me in a time of need. I was so upset and scared to have been taken advantage of like that. I had thought of her as my best friend.

      2 years later, I learned she jumped from a building and killed herself. To this day I have mixed feelings about it. While I was relieved to have made it out on the other side dealing with this nightmare, I was heartbroken to know she felt hopeless.

      I agree that people with mental disorders shouldn’t be vilified. But it’s hard not to when I find myself in a threatening position with anyone. I think that’s why it’s so important to have open dialogue about mental illness. Had I known of her condition, this incident probably wouldn’t have happened. Sometimes it’s best to love people from afar.

      Only in retrospect do I realize how many red flags I ignored out of compassion—assuming her versions of the stories she told were accurate. I should’ve drawn up a formal lease etc. I made foolish decisions in that respect. All I can do now is move forward and try not to make the same mistakes.

      Reply
 

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