Need treatment? Find help or get online counseling right now!

232 Comments to
What It Means When a Narcissist Says “I Love You”

The comments below begin with the oldest comments first. (If there's more than one page, click on the last comments page to jump to the most recent comments.) Jump to reply form.

  1. Do they do these things consciously, deliberately or intentionally? Or can it be that they are unaware of the hurt they cause & think it’s everyone else around them that have issues?

    • I wondered this myself. I would constantly ask him to stop this, or can we discuss that so it won’t happen again because it hurts, and on and on. My best answer is that they don’t care about your feelings and emotions , if you are hurt by their actions or lack thereof. It’s “get over it, move on, you’re in the past, you’re crazy”, etc. they have no accountability, they seem to do what ever they want in the moment and if they do have a flash that it may have some negative effect they quickly dismiss it because it doesn’t really matter. You don’t really matter to them. What matters is what they want and how they feel in the moment.

      • Nicki, sounds EXACTLY like my life…

      • OMG, your comment describes my husband exactly. Those statements, the demanding comments, the actu9ns to make himself look good and grind me into the ground. OMG

      • Yup. That’s what it is.

      • Amen. They do not care. They are devoid of human connections and empathy. I say this as a two time loser with these monsters and the second one is 1,000 times worse than the first. Fortunately, I am divorcing this one. I had to wait for the first one to die to understand this crap.

      • Or if they do mistreat us it’s somehow our fault and we did it to ourselves. They never accept any responsibility for their actions. Always playing the victim too! Most horrific experience of my life. And very hard to get over.

    • It’s definitely deliberate. My ex told me he cares for no one. He admits he lacks empathy and even told me that showing emotions (when a child I knew died) is a weakness. Thankfully he has found a new victim, he snared her during our marriage, telling her his ‘go to’ sob story.

      I feel bad for her, 7 months, a long distance relationship, and he already has her cocooned (he used to call our relationship a cocoon).

      • Your hubby sounds more like a sociopath to me than a narcissist.

      • This is very much what I dealt with for 22.5 years in my marriage. I couldn’t understand what was going on with him and I could never reach him over all those years trying so hard. I believe my now ex husband is a socio-narcissist. Narcissist almost completely fits but he shows some other twisted behaviors as well. I am an empath, healer, fixer and my relationship took almost everything out of me, it was soul sucking. Thank heaven for my beautiful children to raise, love and live for until I could pick myself up and see my own self worth and love my self better. Boundary setting is a big key in healing and detaching myself from the toxicity of him.

    • This is so spot on. Best description I’ve read. Lived 10 years like this with my ex. Never could understand it all till I finally left him for good. About 4 weeks later I read my first piece on narcissistic behaviors and understood what I had let myself live with for so long. I was shocked. I went no contact and after 10 mmonths of self healing and soul searching I’m starting to enjoy life again…met a new guy but am cautious now too.

      • As hard as it is to read this I know now that this is what he really thought about me and our relationship. For 13 years I loved a man that pretended to love me. What haunts me now is that I did not even know he was a narcissist until he abandoned the relationship in a blink of an eye without an explanation for the horrible rage that I witnessed as he threw a flat screen TV at me over and over again until it was in a hundred pieces on the floor, then he went downstairs and went to sleep as if nothing ever happened and walked out the door the following morning without any remorse, concern, or conscience. It was the most bizarre thing that I have ever experienced in my life. As I picked up the pieces of the TV, and my life, it was another 7 months before I googled the word narcissist and found the story of my life for the past 13 years. Out of all the hundreds of articles and blogs that I read on the internet about narsistic relationship, Ive never read anything like this one, written as if they are giving you an explanation for all the things that I knew deep down in my soul that was wrong with the relationship but couldn’t figure out what the fuck was going on. Never in my wildest dreams have I ever known or heard of anyone that could be more evil and horrible as the person this article describes. All I can say is Thank God I know now and he is no longer in my life. Praise God!

      • As hard as it is to read this I now know that this is what he really thought about me and our relationship. For 13 years I loved a man that pretended to love me. What haunts me now is that I did not even know he was a narcissist until he abandoned the relationship in a blink of an eye without an explanation for the horrible rage that I witnessed as he threw a flat screen TV at me over and over again until it was in a hundred pieces on the floor, then he went downstairs and went to sleep as if nothing ever happened and walked out the door the following morning without any remorse, concern, or conscience. It was the most bizarre thing that I have ever experienced in my life. As I picked up the pieces of the TV, and my life, it was another 7 months before I googled the word narcissist and found the story of my life for the past 13 years. Out of all the hundreds of articles and blogs that I read on the internet about narsistic relationship, I never read anything like this one, written as if they are giving us an explanation for all the things that we knew were deep wrong with the relationship but yet couldn’t figure out what the fuck was going on. Never in my wildest dreams have I ever known or heard about anyone who could be more evil and cruel as this article describes. All I can say is Thank God I know now and the man I loved for 13 years really never existed at all. It was ALL fake! He was ALL fake. Through all the bizarre behavior, weird things that he would say, strange looks and smirks on his face, etc., I still thought he was the kindness man I’d ever known until the end. All that kindness that I thought he had turned out to be fake too. Too bad I was blinded by the confusion that he kept me in until a friend pointed out that the things he was doing and saying to me after the break up didn’t sound like kindness at all. that’s what was so bizarre about him. He could make you feel like you were the most important person and the most least important person at the same time. And as weird as it may sound, there were parts of the relationship I loved (like the first seven years together) and other parts I hated. It is mind blowing to me to think someone like this monster exist in this world. Ive never seen or experienced anything like this in my life and pray I never do again. One thing I have learned about myself from this experience is he may have cause a lot of damage to me emotionally, he did not destroy my spirit or my ability to love others and feel compassion toward others no matter how terrible others may be. He may have played games with my mind but he cannot control my mind so that is a win, win for me. In the end I have learned that I don’t need a relationship with a man if they don’t know how to treat a women, and that forgiveness is done not for the other person but for ourselves so that we can be free of all the hurt and resentment we felt for years.

      • Cindy, I too just got out after 13 years. I came across this article today and am floored at how much I saw my ex in the article. It was an exact description of him and what he did to me. I cannot thank God enough for giving me the courage to leave. The best revenge is being happy and that is what I intend on doing.

      • Good for you Terry. I was with my boyfriend for two years before I realized that he was a narcissist. He would always blame me for his mistakes and actions. He would tell me it was my fault that he cheated, that he verbally abused my, that he spent the night somewhere else- And all this when I had done nothing wrong, except ask for clarification or tried to have a decent conversation. Or maybe even because I got mad for something small. It was a total nightmare. A vicious circle of abuse. I finally left him and now I have finally started to heal. I wish you the best.

      • I got my self to a group of CoDA (Codependents Anonymous) and am starting to get a grip on what part I played in permitting this monster to continue his emotional assault.

      • I believe
        Iam in a controlling, narcissistic, manulative
        Relationship.
        We seperqted but got back together.

        His actions were very strange @ first overly loving
        Now iam trapped and scarred.
        He has and shows alll of these definations.
        The one thing is iam a fighter.
        Help Can they get physically dangerous.

        Confused

    • They are aware of some of their behavior and clueless to others. And yes some of it is subconscious and generates the negative behaviors from others then becomes a very sad life cycle. Some of the behavior is generated from childhood then carried through to adulthood and yes they can be very manipulative learning how to manipulate to get what they want. My husband of 20 years was a narcissist with sociopathic qualities. I left him then rebounded to another man with very similar qualities. I’m single now for 5 years to discern my part in all of this. I am completely aware that I gave willingly complete control of my life ?

      • Thanks for comment, “Sad.” Kudos to you for learning from your experience, and understanding how women, in particular, are socialized to “like” to give up power … as something that makes them feel a sense of power, i.e., to heal the “neediness” of narcissist to feel all powerful.

        With regard to a narcissist being in part clueless, in my experience, narcissists totally “understand” how hurtful their behaviors are, they just don’t want to “see” this as a negative, i.e., their iluusion is that “weak” persons take pleasure in getting hurt etc., or that this is the way things “should” be between a “ruler” and his “subjects” to maintain status over another etc… My sense is that not only are they totally aware of how hurtful their behaviors are, they are also proud of them, regard them as evidence of their superiority etc.

        With that said, they are clueless overall, but only thing to the extent they do not realize that, based on how humans are wired (i.e., mirror neurons in brain), one human being cannot harm another, and not harm themselves ultimately. Thus they are hurting themselves. To seek to keep another in pain, is to keep self in pain (it’s why all faiths and traditions teach “forgiveness” for own peace of mind etc.) Constant attempts to prove superiority never work to bring happiness, and will always leave them ever more fragile, needy, scared inside — lonely, as they push others away.

        Also, part of the emotional manipulation is to act clueless, it’s how gaslighting works, to convince their partners to think what they want them to think, in this case, to think of them as “not capable” of understanding, empathy etc. Thanks again!

      • Thank you so much for this article,i feel like I have been to therapy.Now I know why my daughter has treated me like a piece of garbage when I don’t cater to her every need.I haven’t seen her in 2 years.I told her I was done being her doormat,so since she can’t use me,i have been figured like a piece of trash.She sucked the life out of me like a vampire.I am just beginning to feel better about me,and to love me! Thank You and God Bless!

      • What a great explanation, Dr. Athena. I totally agree that they narcissists know what they are doing. My ex boyfriend told me flat out that he “needed more than one woman” because he was a man. He would belittle me by telling me that I was a cougar for having been with younger men, that I was old and that no one would want me, that I was so many other things. I am still healing from that abuse.

      • Wow, this piece is exactly what I’ve been living for the last 5.5 years. I have a wife who admits doing all this and is in therapy for depression and PTSD. I suggested she might have a personality disorder (didn’t mention Narcissistic) and she blew up at me. Later, admitted she thought it meant schizophrenic and then agreed she might have a PD. However, I don’t think she’s mentioned it to her therapist so it goes untreated. She admitted she mistreats me because she knows I won’t leave, and that it’s wrong of her to do that. Is there hope? I’m not holding my breath.

    • I’m a guy and and after reading this the only emotion that I can feel is anger and then tremendous sadness. I understand that after reading some of the comments here that it’s not only a guy’s “problem”, but a woman’s as well. But since I’m a guy I’ll stay with that sex. The tremendous anger I feel is towards any guy that treats a woman like that and the sadness is for the woman who may be trapped in a relationship like that and for one reason or another can’t get out. It honestly breaks my heart to think about those women, who through no fault of their own, find themselves in such an abusive relationship. I’m not trying to be macho here, but God forbid I ever witness a guy abusing the woman he’s with!!

      • Thanks for good intentions, but rescuing never works. It just intensifies fear, and mistrust in self as the real agent of inner change. The only path to breaking free is doing the work, each person, the narcissist and the codependent, feeling and healing and owning their part … to heal their wounded-ego self, and develop and cultivate an authentic wise-self instead.

        You may find article on “7 Ways to Repel (Rather Than Attract) a Narcissist” helpful. Thanks again, for commenting!

      • Thank you foe sharing/pointing out that rescuing does not work. I believe i am in a relationship like this. I am more on the co-dependent side & whenever someone tries to get me to leave him i dig in deeper. (Even tho i can see whats going on–i suppose indont want to believe he is really”that bad”–that maybe there is hope for him)
        I am interested in reading more on thr work one does to free oneself from the situation. I also have a question, is it possible that i am becoming more like him as time goes on? Ive found myself more callous & manipulative (still naiive & easily manipulated as well–seeking to prove my love to him to get the same in return) but im slightly worried that i myself am developing a narcissistic personality. Is this possible?
        (& do any on the deeper end of the narcissistic spectrum agree to therapy & change?)

      • If you lie with dogs, you will get fleas – it’s quite common for people who spend time close to a narcissist to pick up some behaviours. I found myself falling into learned patterns long after leaving the actual relationship, and have at times been abusive towards both the partners I’ve had since, but I am learning and healing.
        You are aware of the problem, which makes all the difference. As you unravel the mindset they have taught you, it will become easier to unlearn those behaviours and replace them with something healthier. It still takes time and hard work, and it’s scary. Finding the right people to learn with and from will help, but that can be hard. Good luck.

      • While this article is spot on and eyeopening, I take extreme offense to the term “co-dependent” (and also to any reference to co-addict). If a narcissist (maybe borderline/sociopath) is so good at his role, you do not know. Mine was never abusive–in words or actions—-that I knew of. I thought I was the most loved, respected, equal partner in our 20 year marriage. The entire time he was lying, gaslighting, cheating and putting my life/our children’s lives in danger with his reckless actions. I am not co-dependent. I am loyal and believed he was a great, upstanding guy–because that is what he chose to show me. That is part of this sickness—you believe what you are told and what you see. There is a lot behind the scenes that you do not know about. Hiding who they really are is a big part of this. Looking like a good guy is too. I was Duped—and chosen because I was honest, loyal, authentic, kind and good—-everything he isn’t really. I am an incredibly independent person, high confidence and strong belief system. I did not cow tow to him, nor beg for his attention. I lived my life as his equal. Apparently he mirrored me and lived his real life in the shadows. That’s where I left him.

      • Dear Duped, I understand why you may be offended by the term co-dependent, but in some cases there are co-dependents. Co-dependents in the sense that one allow another to treat him or her in such a manner. Narcissists are master manipulators, even of those who are loyal and genuinely loves them. My now Ex-husband banked on the love I had for him; thinking that I would never leave his side. He really sought to steal my mind, by trying to make his thoughts become mine.

        The most confusing thing for me was trying to understand how the man who told me that he love me would treat me as he did. I finally told him that since he would not love me; I would love myself. One thing he always told me was that he had never met a woman like me. Looking back, he meant “one” that he could not break-down. When I finally saw his “evil intentions” toward me feel I got out; away from the oppression.

      • 20 years with a man that I had no idea what was happening to me but that I was slowly wanting to die. Then I read a book on verbal and emotional abuse and there was my life and it was with a narcissist. Three months later I separated from him and the hell he unleased during the 18 months it took to get divorced, be diagnosed with ptsd from the drip drip drip of abuse, I thought I could avoid the same mistake and meet the right man.
        Its been 18 years and there is so much more out there books online etc. exposing and explaining a narcissist.
        My next marriage was to this man hurt like me he was understanding loving all I believed a good man to be. For years our marriage was wonderful, then he got hurt and was not able to work and that’s when the real person started to come forth all the words the women who wrote all those words on what it means when a narcissist says I love you means.
        I thought I knew enough to avoid one of these men I took our relationship so slow not trusting my ability to avoid this type of man, to the world he is Mr.Wonderful and to me he has and is becoming worse in his ability to be lovingly cruel beyond anything my first husband did. I am isolated separated lost at my age I have nothing he by way of my trust has everything and the street is where I would end up and he knows it.

      • 20 years with a man that I had no idea what was happening to me but that I was slowly wanting to die. Then I read a book on verbal and emotional abuse and there was my life and it was with a narcissist. Three months later I separated from him and the hell he unleased during the 18 months it took to get divorced, be diagnosed with ptsd from the drip drip drip of abuse, I thought I could avoid the same mistake and meet the right man.
        Its been 18 years and there is so much more out there books online etc. exposing and explaining a narcissist.
        My next marriage was to this man hurt like me he was understanding loving all I believed a good man to be. For years our marriage was wonderful, then he got hurt and was not able to work and that’s when the real person started to come forth all the words the women who wrote all those words on what it means when a narcissist says I love you means.
        I thought I knew enough to avoid one of these men I took our relationship so slow not trusting my ability to avoid this type of man, to the world he is Mr.Wonderful and to me he has and is becoming worse in his ability to be lovingly cruel beyond anything my first husband did. I am isolated separated lost at my age I have nothing he by way of my trust has everything and the street is where I would end up and he knows it.

      • Excellent on many levels.

      • Bert: You are the guy we’re all looking for. I was married for 43 years to one of these guys. He died and I was certain that would never get into a situation like that again. Wrong. I married a monster – far worse than the first guy. It’s been four years of hell but I’m on my way out and looking forward to a healthy and happy life with many men who are loving and giving and protecting, like yourself. Thank you for your honesty. BTW, I know all too well that there are female versions of this monster because I was raised by one.

      • HI Scorpio012,
        I really appreciate your reply, it is very sweet, but I felt compelled to respond. I have been involved with my narcissist for over 16 years. I am working through the issues in my life that have allowed me to accept this bahvior and the fear that has kept here.
        Please realize that no one, except close family and friends, ever witnesses the behavior. WE “present” extremely well in public, or at least we used to — I don’t go out socially all that much since I have started focusing on healing me.
        This article or letter is really spot-on. A very serious issue for me has been accepting that he is aware of his bad behavior because someone may misbehave and not realize it, I think those people should be pitied, i have had to remind myself that although he may act or react subconsciously, he has quite consciously denied, shunned and literally dropped out or refused to participate in MANY options to improve our situation.
        Dr. Stalk, thank you for this article; Scorpio, thank you for your kindness.

      • Well stated points, justjay, you’ve well described what identifies “real” narcissists from those falsely labeled. There is no remorse or flinching, and rather automatically and blatantly deny any reality of others that would lead to them taking any responsibility or owning any part of working together with you to enhance happiness of both, and thus form a “partnership” relationship. To them, it’s inconceivable, there’s no such thing; they view all relationships as between predators/top dogs and preys/underdogs.

    • They do it intentionally. Makes them feel important. I was very naïve and let myself get sucked into the lies. When I got smart, less than a year later, he broke my nose. I had to leave town So he’d stop harassing me. A few months later he’d moved on to the next naive girl. He molested her daughter and went to prison for 20 years. Got out , raped and assaulted his sister , tried to put a hit on her to keep her from testifying. Finally, thankfully, he was found hanged in his jail cell. Supposed to be a suicide. He was such a narcissist, I’m thinking he either tried to fake it so he could go to the hospital or maybe his co inhabitants got tired of his lies too. His entire family was weird, I’ve always wondered if it was his upbringing or what? He wanted me to have children with him. I am so grateful I didn’t do it. I’d never have been away from him or his family. I’m grateful he’s gone and can’t hurt anyone else. Hope it was a terrifying last few moments of consciousness

    • Is the behavior pattern of the narcissist intentional? Definitely. Not only intentional, this is their drug, what they view as “proof” of their superiority and their partners inferiority. They look down on others who are kind and forgiving as weak and inferior, and they take pride in not expressing these “weak” emotions — unless they need them to deceive and ensnare a victim. Keeping their partner feeling small, confused, spinning their wheels, second guessing themselves, and so on, is what feeds their sense of false self. It also explains why they have such a fragile and very wounded ego. Hating and feeling threatened, rather appreciating the strengths and giving of others, keeps them insure, self-loathing, etc. Their false self is a house of cards.

      • Looking back I realize I got into this marriage for security. I was tired of dating men that were irresponsible. He provides me security but I’m never happy. I dear friend has turned me on to these articles because of what she went through. I never even knew such a person could exist. It seems like there’s always a reason in the family that I cannot leave. We have just lost my step son to cancer. I don’t want to lose my family but I fear I may be losing my life. I have acquired many I don’t mean deceases recently I believe due to stress. Now I feel even more reliant on him. Will he ever change?

      • My ex-wife has phases of extreme behavior that last several weeks to several months, where she has seemed crazy even to her own family and most of those who knew her, but those phases are interspersed between long periods, which last many years, of much quieter behavior, where she seems “normal”, even charming and delightful.

        I do not know if that bi-modal patter is common to all narcissists, but I have read the opinion elsewhere that when narcissists are in that extreme phase, that that is when they are most closely their true self. That is scary to think about. Does that jibe with your experience?

        Since reading that, when I closely examine my ex-wife now (she is remarried to my ex-friend and is in a “normal” period, where she behaves almost as though she does not remember how awful she was to me and how shocking her behavior was to society) I can think, or perhaps only imagine, that she is exerting effort to maintain her self-control. to maintain behavior that society will think of as “normal”. So, realizing that I was severely gaslit for 16 years, and am just shy of 3 years since my “a-ha, she’s a narcissist” moment, it seems to jibe with my experience: her ‘true self’ is the extreme one, and her years in ‘normal’ mode require a great effort of self-control to maintain.

      • Max, that all sound very familiar to me. I have no psychological backround and I am about to generalize a lot (all professionals please forgive me) but it seems what you are experiencing is a borderline. From what I understand the cause of being a borderline and a narcissist are the same, or at least very similar(trauma or absence of caring/nurturing during childhood, raised by one, emptiness, lack of empathy…). Narcissists tend to be more males, borderline more female.
        When she has one of these episodes, does you GF/wife/ex tend to see everything in all black or all white? Thinks no one likes her? She is the victim of every situation? You are either with her or against her?
        Just throwing something out there, I wish someone had told me about it a long time ago.
        Good luck

      • Dear Dr Athena~
        I recently found an article entitled Silent Abuse that I thought described what I’ve been living with for 31 years. Then I stumbled across a site on Personality Disorders and found one that described my husband exactly. He exhibits all 7 of the characteristics. It’s called Schizoid Personality Disorder. Are you familiar with this? I have experienced many of the same things a Narcissist would do, gaslighting, inability to discuss issues, cannot access his feelings, etc… But when I found this Personality Disorder, it broke my heart and gave me so much compassion for my husband…that whatever abandonment issues he had from his childhood could so destroy his ability to have intimate relationships with people was a devastating revelation. He needs help but he will probably never get it for the same reasons you stated above. Thank God, that through the emotional healing that I have received in the last few years, that I am no longer capable of living in this prison. And I refuse to do it any longer. So I am getting out. I deserve better than this and ultimately my mind will be healed when I am no longer in this environment that constantly makes you question and doubt yourself. No more.

      • I’ve been doing a lot of research on personality disorder since my daughter was diagnosed with borderline personality.when I read this I realized her father has a lot of the symptoms of a narcissist and maybe even a borderline personality also I feel helpless and guilty for wanting to leave him why?

    • It doesn’t matter. They do it because they can.

  2. Wow… incredible written!

  3. This article was definitely right on. I live in a 27year marriage to a man like that. Been divorced almost a month and truly am glad i made a choice to go be where i could be happy. It was a nightmare to live through. Like they say one chapter begins and one chapter ends.

  4. I put it this way when I got married there were two people in love. I was in love with my husband to be and he was in love with himself. I think that says it all.

    • this made me laugh out loud. thank you!!!

    • How succinct – and true!

  5. It is truly an amazingly accurate post. As I read it, it just made my anxiety skyrocket! Its even more discomforting when its your wife who is the narcissist. My divorce will be over soon…just not soon enough..

    • I am also a male who married a narcissist. It’s now 12 years since I left her. I met someone else & remarried 8 years ago.

      It is possible to heal & love again.

  6. amazing… so well written. gave me goose bumps and the neck hairs stand up!

  7. Stunned by this…but it is as real as it gets.

  8. All the counselling, all the self help books, all the well meaning friends.

    All the nights spent trying to figure out what was wrong with me.
    This article has done what all this things can’t.

    Finally explained. I need to walk away

    • Me too, this literally hurts so bad but feels so good to finally see that it’s not all me

    • Right there with you. I have spent the last several days crying over the fact that he isn’t attracted to me anymore and I think I should walk away. He treats us like we don’t even exist most of the time. This article was a wake up for me. He needs help as well… I told think he will seek it out though.

    • Yes,you do. Nothing helps but walking away. These people suck life out of us. Stop it! They have no love to give, they are good at taking only. I am five months free & getting better, slowly.

  9. A wonderful article! Hits every possible note.

    I was married over 20 years to a man who did most of these things. After we split, he started dating a psychiatric nurse, who is the one who diagnosed him an “infantile narcissist,” and walked out on him after a few months.

    When I looked it up and saw what it meant, it was like a bucket of cold water had been splashed in my face. He was still calling me every day and the reactions I had always given him, which I usually supplied.

    I realized two things: 1. It was not my fault that I wasn’t “giving him what he needed” — those needs were never going to end; and 2. Because of the circumstances of my job — we both worked at the same place, where he had a position of authority over me — I was never going to get completely away from this if I stayed where I was. So I moved 1,000 miles away and did not get a phone.

    Even though he was happily remarried, he eventually tracked me down through friends with whom I remained in touch, and showed up at my place of business completely unannounced. By divine intervention, I was out of town, and my employees, God bless ’em, told him I would be gone for two weeks and they had no way of getting ahold of me. He departed, pissed off no doubt.

    Since I actually returned the next day, I asked my manager why he had told my ex that I was going to be gone two weeks. His answer? “He was just here to piss on your porch. I figured, let him mark his territory and get back to where he came from.”

  10. I know someone exactly like this! He is also wildly handsome and charismatic but I know better than to try and hook up with someone like that. I and everyone else deserve better!

  11. There are 43 comments on the facebook post – most if not all from women and only 1 post here from a man so I’m going to step up as well as a small voice for the men who have to deal with narcissist wives. Society tells us just to “suck it up and be a man” and that’s what we do. I always read these things and try to determine if I’m actually the one who is the narcissist because I’m always the one who is at fault. I know I have problems with displaying emotion but a couple years in therapy showed me that I cannot be the entire problem. Its hard to remember that sometimes when you are the person who is trying and trying and trying to do everything right – and you consistently fail at it. Oh sure, you might do well for awhile but eventually, you’ll mess up again and be the problem. I actually have to post this here because I don’t know if I could hide the post on facebook from my wife. Its so very tiring and stressful to live in conditions of constantly trying to please and keep up the facade. When the stress from that is combined with stress from a job you hate and the stress from trying to take some time to learn to love yourself, it gets to be too much. One of the tricks is making me feel bad for the feeling that I have – I’m doing it now while writing this. I’m the problem because I have these feelings – how could someone who loves me so much and just wants me to love her be a narcissist? My children (college-ish age) mean far too much to me to kill myself or even to leave this situation so I just try to do what I can and its been a few years now since there was a big blowup and I’ve been trying to do things to try to like myself but I just started to go back to college to finish my degree and I can start to see signs that too much time is being taken away from her so I have to walk on more eggshells. Maybe I’m just imaging a problem where there really isn’t one. Maybe I just need to start believing there is no problem. and if she is a narcissist, I probably drove her to that because of my inability to be romantic or overly affectionate

    • You are not the only man out there suffering under the imprisonment of a narcissistic woman. I will soon be marrying the man of my dreams, he spent 15 years with a woman like this and gave her a child to destroy as well, which she did. She almost destroyed him but he finally drew the line and left. He saved his life and had to refuels his daughter. Unfortunately his ex still has that hold on his daughter and she left our safe, secure loving home to go live with her lunatic mother again. There is no living with these people, save yourself and get out. You will never fix her. This article is the most accurate description I’ve ever read of this awful disorder. Save your own life, get out but keep that living soul of yours because someone like you is looking for you too!

      • Amen, Wendy! Divorced and in therapy for 5 years now after 20 plus years of hellish ‘marriage’ to a man who fits the description. I had no idea, until I read this article, exactly what the problem was. I am thoroughly grateful that I have recently met a man who is loving and actually understands and cares to know how I feel, wants to hear what I have to say and is appreciative of who I am! I’m turning 60 this summer, he is my miracle!

      • Bless you, Tess. I am 69 and starting over as well. Looking to date many men, none of whom will have any of those traits. I’m older, wiser and sadder now.

      • Scary and spot on. Narcissism destroys lives. Is it physical or behavioral. Can we correct it as a society? Maybe teach a class on relationships during high school and start educating young people of warning signs. It breaks down the fabric of life. So sad. Protect yourself and your loved ones by sharing knowledge and educate.

    • Just read your post sir. I imagine you have read the article. Read it again carefully. If you are being offended against by your wife in this manner over years you need to get out. NOW. That’s if you ever valued who you really are. She will probably by now have sucked the living daylight a from you. Leaving you as a subservient wreck. Unsure if you even deserve to have any pastimes or thought for your self. It has taken me 6 years to psychologically come to terms with this and I left her four years ago so two of those were whilst I was still there. I believed I could heal with love and doing things her way. More fool me. She just turned up the heat. Egg shells is the most accurate description. My girls and me spent the last 3 months camped in our bedrooms. Safer there than risking abuse and criticism and blame. I wish you strength and the ability to save your own soul. No meagre words my friend

    • I feel your pain. As I read your comments, I was reflective on my own situation. Trying so very hard to “man-up” is exactly what a narcissist wife wants. The beatings finally become insurmountable. I realized over the years that something was “not right” with our relationship. I promised myself that as soon as the benefit of being married tipped 51% in the negative, I would bail out. Sadly enough, my forgiving heart accepted 55% bad, then 75% bad, then 90% bad…and I just kept forgiving and processing that one day we could get BACK to 60% bad. Well, the final straw was when she tried to sever the relationship between my son and I (her step-son) through her psychotic creation of drama while blaming the incident on him. It took her attacking my son to make me realize there was nothing she would not destroy in order to have me in total control (a cocoon as someone mentioned earlier). She managed over the years to isolate me from family, all my friends, and started with a sibling who is very close to me and my son. Had she been successful at doing that, I would have been in the funnel of her total control. Another item that exacerbates the dram in my saga is that we are in an interracial relationship…….

    • I feel you man, as a man you are required to **** up and support your familly. Nobody will pity you and nobody will come to rescue you.
      I’ve 7 years with a narcissic who turned violent, psychologically and physically. as a man, there is not escape… worse; I went to various only websites to seek for help and all I could find was tales of female victims I could not identify to. I even wrote a few times to tell them my story, they didn’t bother publishing it. when I started fighting back and showing my ex that I could understand what was going on, the physical abuse started and there again, I could not get out of it. I felt like I had wasted 7 years of my life, I even felt like I could still make it work… I always forgave her. I was living a living hell and I was scared she would start spreading lies about us and about me. I was even secretly recording our fights because I wanted to be able to prove that I was not the abuser.
      She could have destroyed me, but lucky me, she found another guy and left. Now I live again but most of all I realize how men are not helped/raised to overcome those situations. We keep it inside, until we burst out (I broke my wrist hitting the wall one day :S )

      We need to start explaining our sons that they have as many chances as our girls to be victims of narcissic people and to be victims of violent relationships. It’s not fair to our boys to always ask them to treat women well, giving them no perspective of what life can be while considering girls as helpless creatures.
      In the case of my ex, she had been told so many times that any man should DESERVE her, that she should never compromise, that she was special, that she should live HER life HER way… that if she had the seed of narcisim in her, it totally made it grow to what she is now. Somebody who cannot be in a relationship, somebody who just uses and destroys people.
      At the end, I cloned everything she told: she loves bue EVENIF I’m not successful enough, EVEN if I’m fat, EVEN if she could find somebody else who deserves her…
      She destroyed me.

    • When you find the support groups and you ask.. you should be told your ok.. your actually looking for help so it isn’t you..

    • the notion that men should not display emotion and are considered “unmanly” is just another socio-pathological rationalization that promotes unhealthy relationships. The problem is that men who have experienced any pathology that causes negative emotions who refuse to confront and deal with them bring baggage to relationships that will cause problems. If men want authentic relationships, they need to be authentically functioning people as do women. When we share our feelings and these are automatically discounted as a “female problem” we are degraded and no communication is possible except that which helps men feel safe. Narcissists can’t confront their feelings so they act out in order to protect themselves. Being vulnerable is the same as being assaulted.

    • I am remarried and both my husband and I came from prior marriages with narcissists. I cannot tell you how similar your description sounds to what I went through. My head was so badly turned around then. Everything was my fault. Everything everything everything. And he took my feelings as personal attacks and criticisms of him. My *feelings* for —‘s sake. If I wasn’t always smiling and happy, then I was “attacking” him so he was licensed to return it in kind. I never told our friends how he treated me b/c that also would have been a “betrayal” of our marriage. I paid a very high price for my freedom from him, but I’m fairly certain I would not have survived elsewise, and would likely have paid the same high price, or higher, if I’d stayed. My current husband’s first wife was very similar. We are so, so grateful to have each other now. We discuss differences like rational adults. We are on each other’s side, always, even when we are in disagreement about something. I have my life back, and my joy (most of the time). When I left, he told lies about me to our friends, and they shunned me. He was a master at making others see him exactly the way he wanted to be seen. I lost several close friends, but I saw sides of them that I never would have guessed they had. Now years later, I have quit volunteering to allow people in my life who treat me disrespectfully or unkindly. I’m a little surprised, although I guess I shouldn’t be, at the ripple effect it has had–good ripples. Life is short. Your life is yours and no one else’s. You have a right to be only with people who are your friends–your real friends. Best wishes to you.

      • Was with my husband 5 years article fits most of him I believe he is borderline amd he is also dx bipolar but didn’t take meds till after he left. He has had a gf for 8 years 3 mos after leaving me he met her she moved in with him 8 mos later. I Lile a fool wanted him back still loved him . We are now gettong divorvef 8 yrs srperated I beliebe he filed to keep his gf. I want to find a real true mam to love and love me bit am hopeleds afraid tp chance it geel I will be to old by the time things feel safe again I am 52 now.

    • Trust yourself. It’s not you. I just past 18 years of marriage. Hoping all is finalized by the next anniversary. I too kept thinking maybe it was just me. That I wasn’t being kind and caring enough. I admit I did get angry at him, but I kept thinking something just wasn’t right. Often I felt like disappearing or wished I’d never been born. Sometimes I wished I could be Jeannie and blink myself and all my things away so he wouldn’t have a reason to be mad at me. We went to counseling. I thought that maybe if a third party could tell him that he didn’t get to call me those names or order me around that things would get better. I figured that a psychologist would be able to ask the right questions and figure out what was going on. I didn’t know anything about narcissism. The psychologist never figured it out. He only told us not to blame each other for issues. I just thought that maybe my husband didn’t understand how much it hurt. He said he loved me but I didn’t feel cared for. Which is different than being taken care of. Interestingly, I met my husband at church. He is very good at using scripture to try to convict me of my sins. Somehow, scripture doesn’t apply to his actions. Looking back I realize, I and our children were living around him. I could never do enough to prove to him that I was a kind and caring person. Which was completely a different message than I had gotten from people over my entire life. It’s been a little over a year since I left him and the “layers” have been coming off of my mind and my eyes. Hardest thing I’ve ever done. As I prepared for my exit I was going through so much emotion. I can’t explain how badly I felt and how badly I thought he was going to feel. That was when I still thought he had those kinds of feelings. Come to find out he had no such thing. I’ve read several books about verbal and emotional abuse. Some of them I’ve read more than once and I sometimes understand passages differently upon a second or third read. This hasn’t been easy. Once in a while I wish it didn’t have to get divorced, but there is no other way. He won’t change. He can’t. I’m healing little by little. It’s a long road. I’m so glad I never caved and went back. I relied on my family and friends to see things as they really were and help me through. I’m truly blessed. I won’t say I don’t get depressed sometimes, but I wait for another day and I usually feel better. I’m worried that at my age I’ll never find a job that pays well enough so that I can take care of myself and my children. I’m working through those fears too. This article was so good. I’ve read about narcissists, but this was quite different. Again, trust yourself it’s not you.

  12. Very well done, Dr. Staik!
    (applause)

  13. Scary and therapeutic at same time. Nothing sinks in as much as this letter when it comes to understand how they tick.
    When every paragraph hits home so much, there is not much room left to doubt yourself.
    You constantly question yourself, wonder if it is you, your domineering attitude etc etc.
    It kills you little by little.
    Makes you want to change yourself to such an extreme level. Yet knowing it probably get thrown back to you.
    You have to make a list as you go along, to help you make the jump. To severe all links.
    Remember you have been called needy, mentally unstable, desperate, horny, domineering etc etc… Then it makes it a little easier to leave for good. So helpful. Thank you.

  14. Thank you so much for this article. I was married for 26 years to a man just like this and for the life of me i could not understand how and why those 3 little words could roll off his tongue so easy without any guilt to his behavior and actions.
    Thank you for finally understanding

  15. Enjoyed first 1/3 of this pro and the concept however, drug on far to long and far to redundant. Cut down to 1/3 length or less be far more effective. And likely lot more people will finish it.

    Keep up the effort to educate!
    Blessings~

    • I think that anyone who has been through the pain of dealing with this type of person, would relish being able to read the full content….as some things cannot be fully explained/communicated through simpler, shorter versions. She relayed enough rich, well thought out information in this ‘too lengthy’ article, that many would spend hours pouring through on a book written on this subject. Succinct, she is, for most who needily read this. This of course, in my humble opinion. Blessings.

      • I agree with you, because I am one who hate reading articles that are too long. However after ending a 7 year marriage that was increasingly on the decline, I find this article refreshing and informative. I suppose one have to have been deeply affected by a narcissist to continue to read.

  16. I have more than a few issues with this post, and the general harassment that narcissists seem to be getting of late! Firstly, it wasn’t so long ago that those suffering the varying types of depression were painted with a less than helpful brush, medicine and psychology has seemed to embrace the flaws that lead to these illnesses, indeed medicine is making huge strides in assisting these folk in leading a solid, contributing life, one where their illness does not dictate their day!!
    So if narcicism is a personality flaw – as defined by social norms – heaping negatives upon those suffering from it is surely less than helpful, and as a practitioner you should surely KNOW this?
    I have been fortunate enough to have had relationships with both – a manic depressant and a narcissist – in the past decade both take special consideration to make things work, both were extremely satisfying as human beings.

    • Thank you. Finally some objectivity here.

    • Mcsixtyfive,

      I believe narcissist are totally functional in society! I don’t believe the article suggests otherwise. When my narcissist and I are in public, we look and feel the role of an exceptional couple for which everyone is floored when they see the divorce happening. As an individual, my wife is totally loved and embraced by he associates. They never have to deal with the demons inside because they are constantly supplying that admiration drug to her. Its when she comes home do I feel the wrath when she hasn’t received her full vampire dosage for the day, or for the hour, or in the last 5 minutes. She has done a great job of ridding me of all my close friends and replacing them with her friends. This helps her maintain the facade of beautiful marriage and give her a great supply of narcissistic juice. But I as the “host” of her narcissism can feel her sharpening her talons as she socializes with other men just below the level where the “witnesses” would see it as sexual and disrespectful, but enough for ME to know she treats others better than she does me. No one’s radar is pinged who witness the act, but my system is on red alert wondering how I could get her to treat me that way. Trust me, they are embraced in society. They have the charisma, charm, and beauty to ensure their true self is never seen in public.

      • Thanks for commenting “cowboy”; it’s perhaps more likely your wife has codependency, and perhaps a love addiction, seeking attention and affirmation from others who seem kind, easy to please, friendly, etc. Attention seeking is not exclusive to narcissism.

    • This is meant to be a joke, right? Poor narcissists? They are monsters and need to be kept away from good and normal people, just like any other abuser.

  17. Just wanted to say, what an excellent article this is, as someone who was involved with a female narcissist I kept reading the article saying “is this article written by my ex” For me, the overwhelming trait if a narcissist is how utterly self absorbed they are. When I think back to my ex I now see that 99.9% of what came out of her mouth was about her life, her continuing self created crises, always the relationship was about her, her, her! I would encourage anyone dating with a view to settling down to educate themselves about how to leave a narcissist, it’s actually quite easy, because you absolutely do not want to get involved with one. Thanks again for a great article.

  18. Your article was relief for my soul! I raised a son to be a relentless narcissist in his relating to me especially after through therapy, I learned how to disengage my co-dependency and begin to form healthy boundaries. It is still heartbreaking after all of my hopes and prayers for him from birth. I so regret contributing to his condition through my ignorant behavior. Therapy helped me and I am grateful. I doubt he can afford it, even if he felt the need. I have severed all ties with him. It is difficult with his children, my grands whom I love. He attempts to
    diminish our relating by speaking negatively about me. So far, I am able to work around it knowing they will eventually know the truth.
    Thank you.

  19. Thank you sooo much!! 9 years wondering WHAT??? WHAT and WHY? I finally said “I love you enough to say, you can’t hurt me any more.”

    For the person “Judi” who said on this “drug on too long”, you obviously have not been in this situation. FOR ME, I will read this daily to help me heal…

    For the few MEN who wrote in… IT IS NOT YOU…there ARE WOMEN who are “this” as well. Love “yourself” enough to “love them” to say good=bye. When I say that I mean ….here was a KEY PIECE to this article”

    “(Nothing makes me feel more fragile and vulnerable than not having control over something that would tarnish my image and superior status, such as when you question “how” I treat you, as if you still don’t understand that getting you to accept yourself as an object for my pleasure, happy regardless of how I treat you, or the children — is key proof of my superiority, to the world. You’re my possession, remember? It’s my job to teach you to hate and act calloused toward those “crazy” things that only “weak” people need, such as “closeness” and “emotional stuff;” and by the way, I know this “works” because my childhood taught me to do this to myself inside.)’

    We can’t change what was already instilled in someone from their childhood. We only seem to love them too much and make ourselves so sad loving them to death. Love them enough let them go. Again, I will read this every day and get stronger each and every day. Thank you and I agree…TEMPORARILY WEAKENED….PERMANENTLY STRONGER.

    P.S. I sent the article to him stating…Now I get it…

  20. My mother in law taught my narc to be exactly what he is. There are two choices: Accept them for who they are and live with a morally bankrupt creature or leave. That’s it. The therapy surrounding it is incidental to the equation. Stay or go. Accept your choice, stand on your choice and survive.

    • This is rich. I showed this article to my malignant narcissist and he asked for a copy so he could read it over and over. After all, it’s about him and how successful he’s been in his crusade to destroy all the women in his life. He’s a 3 time loser in the marriage territory and has a string of failed relationships before me. I am out, but I will not be the last. God help the next one.

  21. Thank you!! This is THE MOST comprehensive article I’ve read to date that concisely explains exactly what they do and how they think.

    Can you please direct me to an article that advises how to deal with these people when you’re divorced and share custody and can’t go no contact?

    Or even an article that explains how to address them in court for the continued neglect of our children?

    I’m really at wits end with having to continue to deal with this man on a weekly basis. Every month comprises at least TWO incidents of disparity that he creates, and it’s sickening and absorbing so much of my time in terms of documentation, trying to heal the children, trying to contact people involved as innocent bystanders (therapists, physicians, specialists, teachers, counsellors) in the crazy-making. I know I need to focus on my life, and the health of our children, but he keeps creating so much drama that involves them, that it’s hard to engage in self-care, which I know is such a huge step in beginning to heal from this type of abuse.

    • Thank you for posting a comment and your support. In answer to your question on how to “handle” interactions with a narcissistic ex, here is a link to an article with some really good guidelines that can help you avoid reacting to them in ways that unwittingly feed the drama (on Huffpost_:

      If You’re Dealing With A Narcissistic Ex, Read This

      Best wishes to you!
      Dr S

      • Just thank you! thank you, thank you. That made my day, and year really! (far too many years trying to make heads or tails, to really move on). We need to hear this, to be reminded that this is the behaviour at the core of it, of what drives them. To stop hoping that there is real love underlying, which holds us back, causes us to question our genuine distress, those assumptions that our confusion is something we need to work through. There is not too much to be confused about once this is revealed. These are the sorts of writings that break the cycle, that validate and help us to move on. And with humour to boot, well done! Thank you again for sharing this!

      • How do you ensure that your narcissistic ex-husband does not turn your children into people like him? I have four young kids (ages 1-7), and I just left my husband. I have to stay in close contact with him due to the small children, and I want my kids to lead normal, happy lives. Is this even possible??

      • Thanks for commenting momoffour, this is a very good question, and though easier said than done, the best chance of narcissism having as little negative impact as possible is focusing on you, your life, taking pleasure from other areas of your life, and letting his “stuff” affect your life as little as possible. How you respond to him (and how the children see/feel you respond), i.e., being careful to give brief responses to him (see link below for more tips) can make a big difference.

        Here’s a read that offers some good tips: If You’re Dealing With a Narcissist Ex

        Best wishes!
        Dr S

      • Dear Doctor,

        Thank you for your comprehensive article regarding narcissistic men. Unfortunatley, I stil live with my husband of more than 45 years; he now has dementia and is now worse now than ever. My chances of escape have evaporated forever.

        I hope that those of you who live with these sad people, become educated about their condition, and move on as quickly as possible to regain some sanity and self-esteem. I know only too well that you deserve to enjoy life ‘with meaning’ once more.

        My very best wishes.

      • Annabelle,

        Sorry you have been through the pain and destruction of living with a narcissist. May I ask, how did your husband get worse with dementia?

      • Dear Dr. Staik,

        Thank you for the link; however, as my husband will never be an EX in divorce terms, is there a link that you can provide for those of us who can never walk away?

        Many thanks

  22. This is one of the most brilliant things I have ever read in my life. I feel like I can put a name to what I suffered, and begin the process of healing for the first time in way too long I am so glad that I found this article. My life will never be the same. I have time now to live in the light, out from under the spell, and I am going to make it count!

  23. i will never marry again.

  24. Very clever, interesting and dead on. Well done! Sadly, most of the victims of this disease never see the light of day. Remember narcissists choose those they can dominate and manipulate.

    • Dear Doctor Drew,

      They certainly do know precisely what they’re doing…all of the time. The awareness, in itself, is frightening!

      Thank you..

      Too late for me; hopefully other folk will read this accurate article and the replies to same and learn that nothing is possible unless they move on….far, far away from the perpetual abuse.

  25. When I read this for the first time, it almost brought tears to my eyes. I could swear that my ex husband wrote all of it, because this was how he treated me day in and day out. The constant mind games, the way I felt trapped and helpless at all times… And when I finally put my foot down and stopped reacting to his mind games, the tantrums ensued. Incredible piece of writing. I’m not alone, others have suffered this. Thank you for sharing.

  26. Wow! Very good.
    I confrontesd my ex girlfriend after finding out that besides going to church, praying with me she had some clients as a prostitute) she got so enraged and I told her that she had come to this world only to cheat, lie, take advantage of others and destroy and that she had left a trail of destruction behind her. (by text message (she did not answer).
    She took all the money from her first and second husband and destroyed them emotionally. But there is one thing I would like to know. Do they do that because they are evil or because they suffred a trauma during their childhood and so we should feel sorry for them and consider themm as “nuts” and not very much responsible for their actions?

    • Thanks for commenting Henrique. Not all persons who lie, cheat, steal are narcissists. Those with addictions (love, sex, spending etc) also lie and cheat, and destroy everything in their way of getting their next fix. To be honest, the pattern you describe above for your ex sounds more like borderline personality disorder, or a case of multiple addictions to sex, love, spending, etc.

      Whatever the case, it is also my belief, that babies are not born with addictions (with exception perhaps of those exposed to substances in the womb) … and babies are not born with narcissism and NPD.

      In all cases, however, those with addictions and npd (often co-occurring…) have a fragile sense of self-worth, self-loathing, and mistrust and disdain for others. Taking a judgmental approach with an addict only entangles the co-adicted person more into co-creating drama.

      You can’t fix them (addicts or npds)… and that’s a vital first step to accept. And attempts to “fix” someone with an addiction (or NPD)– poses risks for getting ensnared in a co-addiction trap for the “fixer,” often known as enabler or codependent.

      An addict or npd must want to do so so much so that they make it their life long task to embark on their own healing journey … and a healing journey always has to do with expanding their heart to have compassion for both themselves … their partners, and in general ALL those who do meet their standards or give them what they want, etc.

      Interestingly, the co-addict or codependent, in similar yet unique ways as the npd, must learn to let go, and to do so out of love and highest interest for both self and the other.

      Thanks again for commenting!

      • In other words you are sayng that it is impossible to have a relationship with them. Or if we try to it would be like living in hell.

      • What never works is “relationship” focused on “fixing” another person … it “feeds” the others addiction, and the game starts of let-me-fix-you-no-never, etc. …

        In most cases, a relationship becomes a “living hell” not only from what the other person does, but also our reaction, what we’re not willing to let go.

        Another person is never ours to fix, and this can cause much suffering ( all human beings hate to be treated like fix-it projects, regardless how bad off … even children) … and their strong reactions to attempts to fix them make matters worse for all.

        It’s a law … “for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.

      • Thank you! Ok then. We cannot fix them and we cannot live with them as they are. What is the solution? (leave them alone?)
        2) I do not think I was wrong in confronting her. She has to como to her senses. She has to look back and see how many lives she has already destroeyd.
        Maybe what I said will help her because I think I am the first person to do that.
        She is already 47. She is not a child anymore.

      • Unfortunately, it sounds to me like you’re still in the “I can Fix Him/Her” phase of narcissistic control. HERE’s THE RUB: You can’t fix someone who’s not willing to listen, be fixed, or otherwise admit that they ever did or will ever do wrong. I tried. For WAY too long. It took three attempts at divorce, and two lawyers to finally break my cycle. I STILL try to think of ways to help him, but I can’t because that would put me square back into his path. And in the end, I am now caring for three children who will likely have to suffer the same fate as me due to him being their father — not only for the next couple decades, but potentially for their whole life! I can at least console myself with being free of him after they come of age. They will never be allowed to move on from him unless THEY chose to. This is where my heart will break, daily, for years…. Knowing that he will NEVER CHANGE, and he could do harm to my angels that I am mostly powerless to stop, but that I can perhaps stem by teaching them what REAL love feels like. No words will ever FIX someone who is completely and irrevocably incapable of feeling EMPATHY and devoid of emotion.

      • Dear Dr. Staik,
        Exactly. Sadly our son is now married to a narcissistic woman. I wonder if I am responsible for he being so vulnerable as a child, and young adult, that his first and only relationship was with a female who resembles his own father in alomost every way.

        I know that he is so unhappy. At one stage, after being married for more than 10 years to this woman he told me that he felt ‘incomplete’. My heart sank. However, I will say that due to his wife’s personality he was aware enough, in the beginning, to let her know that he would not have children with he.

        I’m not aware of her response to that edict; I had hoped that she would walk away and find another poor man with whom to procreate; she didn’t!!
        My son is as doomed as me…his mother…

      • this June we will be married for 42 years!!! For most of our marriage he seem to always win no matter what it took. Harsh words lies decent sneaky etc classic textbook case. We have 2 grown children and 2 gra skids. My husband had several affairs but this last one hues in love with . She’s young enough to be his daughter. Anyway, he says it’s over but he said that several times o ly to learn it was t.
        I have given him many chances and he threw them away. I’ve learned there’s no point trying any longer. Amd after ready this I love you article I now know to give up offering g him things that may help him. It’s so true, they don’t to know a d deal with it
        So he’d rather throw away 42 years away than deal! That’s ok too because you cant change a leapords spots. And if he did change it would t last because they do t know how to tell the truth.
        At this stage in my life I should be retiring, I work PT looking forFT have little money even though he makes a handsome salery I’m concerned about finances.
        I can’t live in a cheating relationship with lies etc. I need to remove myself from this toxic place and move on.
        I have filed for divorce and he doesn’t want a divorce because he loves me. Ha!!
        We’ve lives a middle class life a d after divorce it’s going to be financially hard for me. but I’m willg to have to struggle rather abused. I have to believe God must have a better pan for me. Going to therapy but feel I need intensive therapy as I’m. Or getting any younger and I need to move on to a fresh healthy start.
        Would love to have a support group to go to. Kind of like this but in a room face to face. We all need each other Any of these groups exist anywhere?

      • Dear Tearstoyou,

        I too would like to join a self-help group.

        I hear you loud and clear! You are not alone at all.

        I’m so sorry that you have suffered so terribly.

        If you ever find a blog or whatever, I would like to know where we can share and care for ourself and for others. However, I live in Sydney, Australia…..maybe only a ‘post’ away. In the meantime…I will think of you and I understand and comiserate with you.

        Try to keep smiling, and, if you have a religion – pray..(it may help your heart a little). If you and I are alike, there are no friends or relatives around to help, for these men are adept at isolating we women forever; snuffing our spiritual and psychological life out, long before our physical life is over!

  27. I swear that I wrote this . This is my husband of 20 see years. And it took me 2 solid years to leave. I wanted to die and decided to leave instead…3 weeks ago. He’s a ranting maniac because he lost control of me. I on the other hand have been the freest I have ever been in my entire adult life. I am 65 and my first husband was a clone of this one….I won’t repeat the same mistake. This letter was 1000% on target. But I am FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • @BetsyBetsy I could have written this! Only I left 6 months ago and still get emails from him: one says I’m a selfish, cruel, liar and the next one, I’m a fragile, troubled thing who needs him to look after me. He’s trying all his tricks but I’ve seen them before. He has slammed me to our friends and much to his dismay, they see right through him; his enraged emails to them have literally scared them from seeing him anymore–and reinforced their opinion. Like you it took me many years to leave and there were times I looked to taking my life because I felt that worthless. And like you, this was not my first go round with this kind of person (same age as you). I’ve come to realize this is my mother also and perhaps as a child learned this weird yoyo love was the way things were supposed to be. Not anymore. I’m recognizing my part in this as an empathetic enabler, a people pleaser, and avoider of conflict (my parents had a bitter marriage). If I ever look to another relationship, it will be *after* fully healing and embracing inner peace. Right now I’m so fricking happy, it’s wonderfully delicious. Every single day: awesome!

    • Hi and Thank you Dr. Staik!!

      You wrote an excellent letter. I am no longer a codependent, but I know how BetsyBetsy feels.
      Like her, I left a marriage to a Narcissist, only to become a lover or another (which I ended),but repeated once again by becoming engaged to yet another!! (I fell into my pattern 3 rounds before I could break it.) It is so easy to “see” what one does…but that does not mean one stops the insanity. Breaking habits, cycles, and addictive behaviours takes years. In my case, anyway. (Indeed, I found and lost one true “Mr. Awesome”…and yet, I then had what one might call a 9 month relapse–but it was of the scariest kind, and police needed to become involved.)
      Today, however, at 53 years of age, I am 38 months into the most sincerely loving, caring, fun and kind relationship–one with all the best of reciprocity!!
      IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE FREE OF NARCISSISM AND CODEPENDENCY> I AM AN EXAMPLE.

      …i have a book coming out later this year: “ImPerfukt…and never happier”. It is a memoir of my experiences.

    • Good for you !!!!! It takes incredible inner strength and courage to stand up to these people and demand respectful and compassionate behavioir !

      I know, because it only took me 35 years to be strong enough to tell my husband that he to stop his emotional and verbal abuse towards me; and to treat me as an equal to himself human being. He still resents me for making that ultimatum to him last August. Be nice; or leave this farm and I will file for a divorce. And all your siblings will make statements in my behalf at the divorce hearing.

      He still has not forgiven me for what I did. And yes, he brings up the things I demanded of him up at least once a week; major “drama queen” events where I am the “one” who ruined his comfortable, stable life; where he was the only one who mattered. When he has these temper tantrums, I remind him that he should talk about these feelings with his therapist, not me. I can’t fix you; this only serves to enrage him further. But it is THE ONLY answer that absolves me of guilt for his unhappiness.

      I am happy now; I demand the respect that I deserve; the same respect that any stranger would expect from him; no butt kissing needed, just respect and compassion ! But he blames me constantly for rocking his boat. Too bad; I tell him if he is not happy with the manner I behave now, he can feel free to leave.

    • Kl
      Good for you that’s great! It’s a Huge step to take at our age and after being married all your life. Part of me is scared the other part excited to move to a new chapter where I will be free from lies and other women. Who needs that. I know fi a cully it will be a real struggle but I will at least find peace.

  28. I must take issue that the voice of this writer (as narcissist) is so extreme, so very obviously toxic, that I fear that the more typical, much less obvious presentation of a narcissist is un-represented.

    • Until you have lived with one for 30 some years, you really can’t understand the extent of their controlling and me first always attitude. You are the one who is always wrong; if only you would behave “normally”, their life would be perfect.

      The article is realistic in its portrayal of a true person who suffers from NPD. Been married to one for 35 years; the author nailed it very realistically and truthfully. Sometimes the truth is hard to accept !

    • I hate to tell you this Anne, but it is an extremely realistic article. I had no idea people like this existed and fell head over heels for my knight in shining armour just six weeks after my husband of 23 years had a midlife crisis and walked out. The narcissit appeared to be the answer to all my prayers … but gradually he destroyed everything we had. He simply could not be fixed. I thought I could make him feel loved and safe and secure (I did recognise the problem) but it simply wasn’t – and isn’t – possible. I will love him forever, and treasure the ‘highs’ that as Cowboy said became a lower and lower percentage, but I cannot ever be with him. He will never be ‘fixed’ – he will never admit to needing to be fixed. Just rest assured, everything in that article was absolutely 100% dead accurate – and then some.

  29. Very interesting article as well as some comments. When I say some, it is because when I click on the page two button following the page one comments, sadly page two keeps coming up blank. Can it be fixed? I’d like to read the other comments since 43 comments makes it look like it is a hot topic.

  30. This is my mother! Exactly!
    Really, excellent article.

  31. I am physically sick to my stomach reading this. I was married to a narcissist (although I didn’t figure that out until later), and the attempt at separation and divorce was a full-on nightmare, most completely horrific experience of my life, ending in his suicide. A year later I was diagnosed and treated for PTSD. My head was so turned around from our marriage, it took me months of intensive counseling to get my bearings again. I disagree with the comment that this is too extreme to be recognized. It is obviously toxic to an outsider, but not to the person in the “relationship” who has bought in to the narrative. The narcissist loves to point out how love means being self-sacrificing, but somehow it’s always you who’s supposed to do the sacrificing. And pointing that out leads to a discussion of how selfish you are, and how x, y, and z are entirely your fault. Want marital counseling? Well, that’s just evidence of how little faith you have in the marriage, so even bringing it up is treated as a personal attack. Crying in front of the narcissist? Oh yeah, that’s a hostile attack, too, equivalent to emotional blackmail, and is responded to accordingly.

    A helpful follow-up article would be how to safely free oneself from a narcissist.

    • Hey Liz. Just some sympathy. Your comment resonates with me. I’ve BTDT too. Asking for marriage counseling was a sign that I was lazy, and if I’d work harder I would have less time to be discontented. Crying was a sign that I was too emotional and proved that his “logic” should prevail (even when he’s screaming his logic with his face red).
      Oh, yeah, good times, LOL.

  32. It took a while to figure out that I am – most likely – involved with a narcissist. I say “likely” because poorly controlled diabetes mellitis is a big factor, and at times I think there have been cognitive changes that may be causing behavior that mimicks narcissism. Depression is also a factor. In any case, I am sympathetic and care a great deal, but stand ready to cut the cord when the big red flag flies. I know I try to lend support, that is ignored or otherwise not appreciate and it’s getting OLD OLD OLD! I must say, this is an interesting disorder, and a potentially frightening one. Thanks for a super letter… I can see it being applied to my friend, as well.

  33. I have seen genetics play a big role for some. Remember the old saying, ”The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree?” It’s true. There must be intertwining of Narcissism and other addictions for many of the nutz out there. One comment I remember is, ”I think highly of myself”…This from an addict of women and girls, and one who is a compulsive and habitual liar, who slams you to his children, and anyone else, one who calls you a drama queen if you try to have a conversation with them. This man is charming to the unkown victim, but soon to show some of his flaws, if he gains access by luring the innocent into his toxic web. He cares not about your feelings, but only of his, and he definitely loves only himself. You cannot fix him, regardless of which mental flaw he has, or if he has several. A sociopath can be included in the group. He does not have to possess all of the qualities listed, but if you are living with one, you will know it sooner or later. Deceit is the name of their game. When you live with one for many years, you really are living by yourself, and wondering how you can change them, that you must not be nice enough, or sweet enough. The truth is, they will disregard anything you say, and continue with knowing you will put up with them. Break it off before you get too old. You deserve to be loved and treated with respect.

  34. My husband seemed to be a loving and supportive partner…..until 2.5 years ago when I discovered he was cheating on me with same sex partners for 8 years. He stopped the cheating immediately. He looked into his own issues of self esteem and self loathing, etc.

    But he was not there for me even a little bit. He kept lying, even in Marriage Counseling, wasting money. The MC actually said to him, “I don’t know if IC will help since you can’t tell yourself the truth, let alone another person.”

    AFTER my discovering his maybe infidelity, he started behaving like this article. Then he kept lying, I’d sleuth out the truth, he’d be even more defensive! And aggressively nasty. It was as if his shame was so overwhelming, he had to push it onto me. I saw it happen. I fought it. I pointed out that now he fit the description of a narcissist. At one point, he told me, “You talk to me like I’m a psychopath!”

    I always balk at the “codependent” label because I KNEW he was the one with behavior and choice issues. I refused to accept him trying to put me down. This was NOT the behavior he’d had for the 30 years I knew him before I discovered his horrific infidelity.

    I tried to point out his behavior to him (teacher). That didn’t go well. I’d try to discuss something, which was stupid, or wrong, but months later, he’d hear the same information from a counselor, and suddenly it made sense. I tried to get him to deal with it with friends, but he refuses because one of the two friends he told said, “bro, you’re gay. just accept it”. Finally I had enough of his continued selfishness. Every conversation was taken off the rails by his self-preservation. It became really ugly. I wouldn’t accept his ridiculousness. He wouldn’t be rational, all the time claiming I was the irrational one.

    Ugh. Is it possible for someone to become a “situational” narcissist?

    • Thanks for the comment, BethE. Regarding your question, I tend to think there are two basic types of narcissism for husbands, one category of narcissism that is blatantly-proud to let wife & world know they’re in control, ever ready to display their higher status in relation to wife, etc., and another form of narcissism that is low-key and secretly-proud to maintain control — indirectly — by proving their superiority and dominance primarily through passive aggressive methods, i.e., lies, deception, gaslighting.

      The latter tends to be overall laid back, hate confrontation and judge those that go around trying to change others (which they interpret as overly demanding). They typically only attack when they feel cornered (i.e., your husband “changed” after you confronted him with your discovery), and they much prefer to be seen as “nice guys with emasculating wives” who wont let husband wear the pants, etc. They remain primarily “in control” of the relationship by resisting their wives, rigidly holding back from giving her the emotional support and closeness she seeks, doing the opposite of what they ask, etc. In many ways, this latter type can be more daunting, confusing, as it is silent and no one sees it coming, or where it’s coming from.

      From what you describe, as long as your husband felt in control through deception tactics, he felt he was on top of the world. Once the cat was out of the bag, he resorted to “other” methods, though not his first choice, perhaps out of necessity (and friendly advice from other narcisissts?).

      • Thanks for clarifying the 2 types. As I read the article/letter I saw many similarities but questioned it because my spouse is more passive aggressive and definitely used gas lighting. I struggle because I’m a therapist and I should know better. I’ve seen the traits for a while but keep second guessing myself. I don’t really know where to go from here. I have 2 kids in college and 2 more still at home. I keep trying to make it work but am getting really tired. My faith background makes it hard for me to justify walking away so I keep suffering in silence.

      • Dear ‘should know better’
        Oh, you sweet lady. You do know that you should make arrangements to ‘go’.

        I beg you NOT to be like me, thinking this will go away and he’ll change if you hang in there for longer; he won’t!!
        They are tarred with the same brush. There is no changing unless it’s you. Please, please read your books, remember the advice you’ve given your clients/patients and reflect on your marriage.
        Do me a favour and think of the years you have wasted and project that image into the future, (you/re now 70 years old – yes, it does happen – have grandchildren etc), can you see yourself at that age, another 20-30-40 years living the nightmare?
        You are worth so much more than the sum of those terrible decades.

        Believe in yourself; tell your relatives, friends and others who may give you the support that I think you need to take the next step. Remember the challenges of gaining an education? Examinations, testing you each year…YOU were Successful!!! You can do this…..

        Good luck…my heartfelt wishes for your next step…into a new dimension where you are able to realise your wonderful potential.
        Cheers……be courageous, you’re not alone in this ‘crazy’ world.

      • Thank you Annabelle. Being in this relationship for 43 years, yes to getting out before it is too late.

  35. I would like to propose that narcissists and those who enter into relationships with them are both seeking external approval in order to feel worthy and real but come at it from opposite ends of the pendulum swing. Co-dependents want love but feel they don’t deserve it so they often find the most unavailable people(narcissists) trying to obtain what doesn’t exist. In doing so, they can act out their ego wounds indefinitely and ask what else they should have done that would’ve have made a difference. In choosing such a partner, they have found the ultimate proof that they are NOT worthy. Narcissists find the partner who is likely to give unremittingly which blocks up the big hole in their egos so that they never have to prove their worth. It comes in a constant rush of eggshell dancing and frantic efforts to appease them. They are terrified that if the adoration ends, there will nothing inside to replace it. Co-dependents will kill their relationships and themselves with giving too much and narcissists will kill their relationships and themselves with giving too little. I speak from experience as the co-dependent who was married to a classic, emotionally abusive, covert narcissist for 10 years. I was willing to do anything to get it and he was willing to do anything to avoid giving it. We both have terrible childhood wounds so it was a foregone conclusion that things would end badly. But I learned a lot, even though it was a costly lesson. I think all he learned was that he should never marry a woman older than him with a great therapist and a will to survive. My advice to those who read this and struggle with what to do? Accept that you will not fix or change this person no matter how far you bend for them. Only they can take steps to effectively deal with who they are and how they perceive themselves and others. If you can’t accept it, leave it. If you do accept it, it is yours to hold. There is no middle ground.

    • Dear CJ,
      Gosh, are you angry that it took you some time to leave your situation and so, having the insight, the massive amount of fortitude, support, the personality and maybe the necessary financial ability you’re presenting as smug? Or are you so engrossed in your current happiness that you feel that we women, and some men, are taking too long to do as you have?

      I wonder what your reply really means? We are each a product of our childhood and environment. Nature/Nuture. Some of us don’t have the confidence, financial means or people support to make the break; some of us just need validation that what is in our heart and head is viable. We are unsure and frightened.(I was).

      I am simply of a generation where one stayed for ‘the sake of the kids’, initially financially bereft, totally unsupported by relatives and most friends. When the opportunity arrived to make another life for myself and children, I was batterd and bruised…hospitalised etc.
      I, for one, called in a lawyer and was told my husband would never batter me, his wife. Why? you may well ask. Answer, because we are both of the medical profession, had a business and social status to uphold……that’s why…No support from a Legal entity…(who knows, one of the people in that relationship may have displayed narcissistic tendencies and my story was too close for comfort)!!
      What I do know CJ is that the longer I live I find compassion for most…wise in age; you bet…been there, done that. And, now situated with this terrible man for the rest of his,or my own, life due to the diagnosis of the Narcissist’s Dementia (FTD)…a new paradigm for both of us. I can’t move away now and he was sooo very, very successful in isolating use over decades there are no relatives or friends who care enough to contact, not even our own progeny!

      So, may I ask that you become a little more compassionate regarding the codependent person living in an abhorrent marriage/partnership. I admire your courage to leave that situation; however, for some, walking away is simply not achievable! We are not necesssarly weak you see CJ.

      • Dear Annabelle,

        Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I apologize if I came across as judgmental. That was not my intent but I understand how I sounded that way. I recognize that many people married to narcissists have no wherewithal to leave because they lack the funds, have no friends or family to support them or may be ill or too aged to manage an escape. I know there are people who haven’t the fortitude to risk so much by leaving. I feel for them. The thought that they are captives in an untenable situation makes me want to gather them all up and take them away to safety. I understand the soul-crushing nature of living that life. I was lucky- no children at home, a profession that afforded me the opportunity for gainful employment(even though I was 60 at the time, which was frightening) and my own retirement funds of which I could liquidate some to move and stay afloat until my first paycheck. My lawyer was a badass with no patience for men like my ex. I had some friends back home who let me stay with them while I interviewed for jobs. I was lucky enough to get one right away, in my field. I had a marvelous therapist who listened to me vent about my ex for two years until I was strong enough to take steps to move on. So relatively speaking, it was easy for me. I’m not so pleased with my own happiness that I feel superior. I’m only now dealing with the residual fallout of two failed marriages to men who used me for their own comfort. I have no desire for another relationship but the idea of being alone for the rest of my life makes me sad. I am only just learning to live on my own after a lifetime of being co-dependent. I lost a great deal financially which means I will never own another house and will struggle to make ends meet while he enjoys a massive salary and all the comforts of success he has by bullshitting everyone around him. What I guess I was trying to convey in the end of my post is that if someone is wobbling between staying and going and they have the means to leave, it is wisest to get out because the future is going to be the same as the past and the present. It means letting go of hope for change and grieving the loss. It means trying to understand how and why you got hooked up with such people which can be painful to acknowledge. It means losses left and right. It means believing those losses are worth it in order not to become the walking dead. It means stepping into the unknown, sometimes alone. I spent my life surviving so I guess I’m tougher than the average bear, but I don’t know that I’m thriving. It took a lot out of me to leave. Anyway, I appreciate your direction and wisdom. Thanks. I hope you find some ease in your situation with good things on your horizon.

      • Dear CJ,

        After reading your pretty comprehensive reply to my post it is I who should apoligise to you!

        I think that you are very brave after two, (2), marriages to Narcissitic men you actually knowlingly walked away bereft of money and some of your spirit & self-respect to start afresh. I hope that you meet a kind companion who will hold your heart and give you the affection and respect that you are due.

        I’m inspired by your post, your truthfullness, your terrible pain, you do seem to understand that, “it ain’t easy”…and, it’s true; I am the walking dead.

        It is also true that we codependents must recognise our past and reasons for marrying a narcissist… I did years ago but didn’t take the step needed to actually leave at that time. I thought I was in love and believed him every time he apologised…Dr.S. said that there are 2 types of Narcissts; my husband is the owner of both!
        He mocks me for attending a therapist, mock everything with to do with the MIND. I do understand that that is his problem. There is no conversation, I live in the study – he lives in the dining room…alll day..every day.

        As I stated, he has DEMENTIA; until he goes into care I’m dead. When the miracle of getting ‘rid’ of him happens, I remain psychologically & spiritually dead. I will eventually be ‘rid’ of, not only this terrible human being, but his rantings, his verbal & physical abuse et al.

        CJ you have helped me enormously and I thank you. I wish you a futute where there is light at the end of tunnel, a loving person to nuture you and the health to enjoy everything without fear. Again, thank you.

  36. I wonder if I’d read this as a young woman, would I have spared myself (and 3 children) 23 years of hell.

    • Good question Deb. How do you think you would have responded then? What’s your response now?

  37. I’ve been married to a narcissist for almost 20 years. I did not realize that is what was going on until our daughter tried to kill herself almost 2 years ago. His response? “She just wanted to get your attention.” I remember thinking then, “What is wrong with you?” Somehow, he resented the fact that my attention wasn’t completely on him.

    I won’t go into detail, but starting about a year prior to that, he made my life and that of our children hell. I remember telling him over the years, “Being married to you is exhausting!” There were times I would go into the shower, turn it on and just sit in the floor of the shower and sob. I had no understanding of what was going on with him. How he could be so cold and hurtful to his own family. We were (and for the most part still are) ignored.

    Then, our daughter went to a new psychiatrist who diagnosed her as having bipolar. He mentioned that it was usually hereditary and since he knew me and didn’t think it was me, he asked if it could be my husband. My daughter said, “Yes. It’s Daddy.” I started researching bipolar and ran across an article that said, “If you’re married to someone with bipolar, they may also have this.” Narcissistic Personality Disorder was listed. The more I read about it, the more the scales fell from my eyes. So much of our life made sense to me now.

    I cried. Deep, penetrating sobs racked my body, because I realized he never loved me and I mourned loss of the marriage and relationship I thought I had. Then I confronted him. I told him it didn’t matter whether or not he believed he was bipolar and a narcissist, I knew he was and that was all that mattered. I told him things were going to change now that I realized he does not love me. There would be no more of me chasing him when he ran out of the room, or trying to get him to talk to me when he gives me the silent treatment.

    I told him I didn’t care anymore. The tactics would no longer work. I would stay married to him for the sake of our children and our family, but now that I knew “the rules,” I didn’t want to play by them anymore and I would not be.

    My daughter’s doctor told me the best thing for someone who wants to stay in their marriage is to build a life outside of the marriage. Have hobbies, make new friends and get the emotional support from them that you will never get from your narcissistic spouse. That is what I am doing.

    I used to think getting divorced would be one of the worst things that could happen. I don’t plan on getting divorced, but if it happened, I would not be as devastated as I would have been 5 years ago when I didn’t know the reality of my situation.

    Sorry this was so long.

    • Anne, what you said “Being married to you is exhausting!” is exactly how I would sum-up my marriage if I could only use one word.

    • Wow. What a story. Hope you are doing well.
      How is it goimg?

  38. I could not finish reading this. It so powerfully resonated with me. I recognised my husband, and cried.

    • We all understand…

  39. My husband was nine years older than me, I thought he was my knight in shining armor…He fits this description, & our relationship perfectly in every way.
    It took me 4 kids, & 20 years of mental abuse before I had the courage to leave.
    He couldn’t understand why?…He said,” I knew you were unhappy, but I didn’t think you were “that” unhappy”.
    I am told he fell apart when I left, and promptly turned around and married a woman 9 years older than him…go figure.
    Glad to finally know 50 years later a label on can put on him…Thank you.

  40. Please note this is NOT a gender specific thing. Been there with a woman and it was terrible. Besides studies have shown that women are just as if not more controlling than men so lets be realistic about relationships and who can be difficult to be with.

    Women more likely to control partners with physical abuse

    • Thanks for commenting, “been there.” Sorry to say, research today can no longer be trusted — ever since 1998, when it was officially deregulated, today, any industry or political organization can “hire a researcher” to “produce results” that support their own agenda.

      As a result of deregulation, there is now confusion in several sectors of society, due to misleading “bought” and “manufactured” studies. In most cases, the results are intentionally designed to confuse, hide the truth, and block social advocacy efforts for change to status quo, for example, studies that claim there is no global warming or research (paid for by alcohol industry) claiming “wine” is like medicine for the heart, etc.

      The use of statistics to promote the status quo for women is not a new. Before research was regulated (around the time women got the vote, and Eleanor Roosevelt promoted higher education for women), researchers publishished actual studies (which is available in archives) that claimed “findings” showed that women who went for higher education studies lost their fertility, ability to have children.

      When a report defies logic, we all need to question it. These studies were politically motivated — to limit and control women economically. Inhumanely, this llimited the choices of countless of women. Just plain wrong.

      In “new” studies of domestic violence, there are additional factors that can skew the results. For example, the current policy of police arresting “both” — even when the call was placed by a woman afraid for her life — when they get to the scene and there are mutual accusations is common. In my opinion, any data from this common practice is rendered meaningless.

      Another practice official today is to count assaults by transgender women as women.

      Finally, if you look closely at the report inked in your comment above, in particular, it also makes the following telling statements:

      “In the 1990s a US sociologist from the University of Michigan, Professor Michael P Johnson, coined the term “intimate terrorism” to define an extreme form of controlling relationship behaviour involving threats, intimidation and violence. Prof Johnson found that intimate terrorists were almost always men, a view that has become widely accepted. But the new research, based on anonymous questionnaire answers, found that women were equally likely to display such behaviour.”

      This “view” came to be “widely accepted” at the time due to decades of studies and more studies of domestic violence couples — from the 1960s to the 1990s — which substantiated these findings again and again. This produced a consensus. (Keep in mind, this was also at a time when research was appropriately regulated so as to not compromise the results.)

      At the time, there was also consensus in domestic violence research (this was the topic of my doctoral research) showed that:

      —Assaults by men, due to their physical strength, were incomparably more dangerous than those by women. In most cases, assaults by women were in form of hitting, throwing things, scratching etc.

      —Even in cases where a woman who is the batterer, rarely is there a phenomenon where he fears for his life to leave.

      —Most all male batterers think of themselves as “victims” much like parents with unruly children, they say things like, she “deserved” it or “didn’t’ listen, do what she was told, stop bothering me etc.

      –Women did hit first in roughly equal numbers, and by doing so, they put themselves in greater danger, due widespread belief of men that, when another strikes first, masculinity is in question if you don’t strike back, etc.

      –There were numerous studies that also studied gender differences in what men and women report about their partners, from which came consensus, that indicated more than 2/3 women “underreport” negative behaviors of their partner, whereas more than 3/4 men “over report” their partner’s. (Researchers discovered “this” phenomenon by first obtaining partner reports individually, then conducting follow up couple sessions to obtain more accurate data.)

      In the “new” report, one should question the use of term “intimate terrorism” to paint women with a term that professor Johnson coined in his 1990 study of the aggression of male partners in couples that fit serious “domestic violence” profile, serious and high risk patterns). The data collected was general population, in which the majority of couples report having experienced an occasional conflict that escalated into back and forth hitting, pushing, throwing things etc.

      While all hitting is wrong and unhealthy, these couples do not fit the profile of a couple with “domestic violence,” and neither would likely be labeled with “intimate terrorism” much less the female partner.

      That men are battered is not in question here. And all violence, emotional and physical is wrong. The concern for all of us should be that this research is designed to (1) excuse violence and common practice of silencing women partner, and (2) inflame and put men on the alert that women are challenging their status, emasculating them, etc.

      There have been similar reports against children that instill fear and put parents on the alert. Movies and entertainment showing violent, aggressive women (and children) further fuel men’s fears.

      Simply put, the reports operate the way hate propaganda works. It starts will subtle “hints” that the status quo hierarchical order is being threatened by some group. It invites a “get them before they get you” fear reaction.

      Overall, due to socialized beliefs in “violence” is necessary to protect hierarchical relations, only solution to keep “lower” status persons in line (women and children), and a “right” only “authority figures” (husbands, parents), etc., should have, this type of “evidence” that “women” (and “children”) are using violence to “take control,” etc., puts the vulnerable in danger of assaults, and men in danger of assaulting.

      In effect, this does a disservice to both men and women, who really don’t understand the real reasons they can’t get the love and support they both need from their relationship.

      Until a law is passed that once again regulates research, I will stand by old data, that approximately 9 in 10 battered partners, in couples with domestic violence profile, are women.

      The real discussion should not be a debate on “who” is more the victim.

      It would be more helpful to question the practices and social values that promote dominance and violence as norms in families by parents, thus, normalizing the use of shaming, gaslighting and violence associated with it.

      Violence is wrong period, and that we live in a society that condones violence from “authority” figures, would be a more useful topic of our discussion .. in the direction of promoting healthier couple and family relationships.

      What children learn in their family of origin, they later take into their adult relationship (that was my dissertation research).

      Thanks again for commenting.

  41. The most amazing description ever! You would have had to have lived it to be this accurate!

  42. Looking through this quickly I feel sorry for all your suffering, confusion and lost life time dealing with these type of people. I also feel bad for the narcissist. I left one of these type of people when I was younger after only 3 months of marriage before he either killed me or permanently hurt me. My worst narcissistic experience thouvh was growing up with my parents which now are both deceased and now dealing with an adult female child. It breaks my heart to know there is nothing I can do to help her even if I were to continue to have a relationship with her. Where can I turn to find support from people with children that are this way?

    • Narcissism is demonic and it is caused by an evil spirit. The Spirit of Jezebel.

      • Thanks but no thanks Henrique. Socrates says it best in his quote, “The only good is knowledge, and the only evil is ignorance.”

        Demonizing persons is never the answer. Blaming poor behaviors on a spirit does just that. For Christians, indisputably, this would not pass the “WWJD” test.

        Knowledge and wisdom tells us no child is born with narcissism. Whereas these “tendencies” are due to socialization, especially for men to prove status and masculinity (which is why more than 85% of those identified with narcissism officially are men), more extreme cases that warrant an official diagnosis for narcissistic personality disorder have to do with early trauma and neglect.

        If we knew the rest of Jezebel’s story from birth, for example, we’d likely learn that she reenacted what she witnessed or experienced as a child between her parents, which traumatized and impacted her ability to form healthy relationships.

  43. I want to personally thank the author of this article. It’s my only sense of validation. My whole life I’ve been a self destructive empath, bipolar, always seeking attention, affection, love, always giving everything I had to everyone who would give me that. When I met my partner, I thought they were my angel. The reward for all my struggles. At first, it was heaven. Our relationship was everything I could ever ask for and more. That is actually what makes my situation in the last year all the more painful. I HAD everything I wanted, I was for once happy, with THIS person. and now they are the source of my absolute misery. It’s like they gave the most addictive drug just to take it away. I can’t fully describe my own personal situation and devastation, but this article is the closest thing.

  44. I am blown away by how many things my narc does from this article, things I’ve been complaining about for years. I’ve read a lot about narcs, but this is the most accurate and on point I’ve found. I’m in disbelief over this, thanks

  45. What a tortured life… the ones who attract narcissists are the ones that can offer help and healing… except narcissists (supposedly) aren’t able to heal, since they can’t self-reflect. I am 54 years old, and am amazed at how rampant this is in our society today.

    My dad was a narc (Puer Aeternus type) and was emotionally unavailable to me during my formitive years. This caused me to seek men for my emotional needs… but girls always gravitate toward men like their dads… so this was a no-win dangerous situation for me.

    My best friend is a narc (Histrionic type) and I’ve known her since childhood. It is progressively getting worse. She cannot see any fault in herself. It’s always someone else. She sucks attention from everyone in the room, and it’s so sad to watch her. My former boss was also a narc/bully. Manipulative, cold, fake… I had to quit even though I loved the job. And my last bf of 4 years is a narc… I’ve tried to end the relationship sooo many times, but I always go back! When the narc is female, I can leave no problem. But when they are male?… it’s almost impossible for me. I’m always trying to fix my daddy daughter relationship thru them. Even being consciously aware of this doesn’t help me stop!

    I go into denial, thinking ‘he can’t be a narc… it’s just me because I’m hyper aware of narcissism because of all my life experiences.’ It’s like heroin I guess. I know he’s toxic for me, but I WANT him so awful bad. There’s a gut wrenching ache when I go no contact, and it always feels better when we reconnect… but just for a while. Then the roller coaster starts again. I feel helpless, and yet, I know as a co-dependent, I CAN get help for my part in this. I am feeding myself positive affirmations, loving myself as best I can… oh it’s SO difficult to get over them! And it shouldn’t be!!!

    Everyone who sees a picture of him is repulsed… they say he looks ‘dark’ but all I see is handsome. Even his little boy pictures repel people… so I’m learning to trust others’ reactions now. They think he looks like a vampire, even as a kid.

    The hardest part of all is learning to accept that their opinions and feelings regarding us – does not DEFINE us. What we can learn from them though, is to stay helpful, healing, empathetic, vulnerable and kind… but… with a guard up. Monsters still roam the earth. Once called dinosaurs… now called narcissists and sociopaths!!

  46. I’ve come across it. After my ex I decided there are enough people in the world so there is no need to be in a relationship and now from my friends modern family life seems to be never ending drama. I think people get addicted to other people to prop up their self worth . The reality is people can exist without being in relationships and there is no need for a constant cycle. Personally it’s been 4 years now and my addiction is long gone. I work hard, enjoy myself, don’t have to listen to constant criticism and have really done some cool things! There are bigger problems in life, like surviving and if your going to say “but who will care when when you die” the truth is no one because it didn’t matter anyway. Sounds a little negative but we are not kids anymore and everyone can make their own choices so why put up with it?

    • To Suffering~

      You are spot-on about every point you made! I don’t see anything negative, only realistic – and this world could use a lot more realism. Kudos to you for getting it together. I wish you much, much happiness!

  47. This article is so spot on! I had a brief relationship with a man exhibiting this exact behavior a year after my husband passed. I was a target because of my vulnerability and sadness. It’s a miracle I got away before he bled me dry monetarily, and emotionally.

  48. This was helpful, not so much in putting down the narcissist but in understanding they way I feel and how my defenses and developed over time. When I read this, I wasn’t sure sometimes if it was him or me in the description. I have, over the past year, decided to stick up for myself more, not sit back and take it. I matter. But in doing so, he gets more smug, says I am crazy or not letting go of the past, that I should wake up each day and be happy and grateful for him. But I am angry with each day that passes and his complete disregard of me no matter how hard I try. So I stopped trying. He is not getting the praise he so desperately needs, nor the physical closeness. He gets my loyalty and work, but he also sees my anger, and he definitely knows how to trigger it. He sits back and watches it with a mix of contempt and pleasure. He tells others i am crazy, and has made up stories about me to make him look better. So I pull away because of these betrayals, and he comes back harder and more aggressive. It’s like emotional abuse. And his needs are never satisfied, ever. I often refer to him as a “sucking vortex of need” that pulls me in and won’t let me go. I seriously have to do everything for him so he can function in life. There is no gratitude, no regard, no respect. I am a shattered version of my previous self. I am finally leaving, ashamed I stated so long and ashamed of the things he did to humiliate me. I let it happen. I should have left long ago. Without introspection and a willingness to seek meaningful help, there is no hope.

    • It is never too late to leave. But do make it happen a.s.a.p.

  49. I would very much like to address my narcissistic behavior and seek professional help so that I can escape the revolving door of emotional guilt, deceit, and fantasy. I’m aware of my shortcomings and blame no one but myself for my failures and inability to be a loving and caring husband, father, and son. I’ve committed adultery on numerous occasions, have been physically and verbally abusive, I anger easily, and take risks without the thought of consequences and the impact it has on myself and those who love me. I believe myself to be a decent and caring person, however, I do not always behave in that manner. My selfishness has blinded me to the needs of my wife and others. I take, but do not give. I believe I know how to love, however, I believe I chose not due to the fear of normalcy. I have thrived in dysfunction for so many years that everything else seems foreign. It is the fear of the unknown that continues to hinder my development as a loving individual. Meeting my wife is the best thing that has ever happened to me. She is loving, generous, and a genuinely good human being. I have taken her good nature for granted. I feel so badly for all of the hurt and pain I have caused my wife and family members as a result of my infidelity, abuse and anger issues. As the abuser, I see the Codependent letter as a wake-up call for all who’ve been emotionally scarred and my wife can certainly testify to that fact. I will do whatever is humanly possible to change what I’ve become and attempt to make amends for all of the pain I have caused. I refuse to hurt those who love me. I love my wife and my pending transformation is the least I can do to mend the wounds and live life as it was intended.

    • I hope for your sake and your family that you can work through your issues. It seems that facing any problem is half of the solution to solving it, and from your post, it does sound like you completely see the picture, own the responsibility, and seek change. My very best wishes for you to see your transformation to fruition.

      And please understand this: if the past has precluded others from being able to live with things as they were and damage done, then don’t stay and beat yourself or them up – make a new life and do it like it should be done “this time around”.

      No one owes you to stay where they are no longer comfortable. Everyone owes you their forgiveness and good wishes moving forward.

    • Hi Il
      Good thoughts. Are you in therapy? What do you plan to do to change your behaviors?

    • Gotta love the narc who writes a “feeling” letter, demonstrating his “empathy” and thereby gaining the sympathy and vulnerability of co-dependents! Hilarious!

  50. Thank You. Wish I had read this years ago…. and actually realize that it pertained to me…. twice over.

  51. Best article I have ever read on this subject. The comments are also amazing and heartbreaking. The level of suffering these malignant individuals cause to so many is unfathomable. Yes, it is a male and female problem, but I do believe that most research points to it being a much greater number of male to female personality disorder. Usually, NPD seems to be manifested in a cluster of other negative traits, such as addiction, BPD, and Bi-Polar Disorder. It is nearly impossible to treat. And that is why we must leave these toxic relationships and move on. These people are indeed toxic and they are parasitic and can drain those who love them to the point of exhaustion or even death. Get out, and stay out. For some of us, it takes years. Sometimes, we become attached to several narcissists in our lives, until we figure it out. It will never be easy, but it must be done. This is a plague of our society, and even authorities such as court systems and law enforcement should and need to be educated about this disorder and the horrible effects it has on individuals and families. Family law in particular needs reform and education concerning dealing with narcissistic parents and abusive parents/partners. And we desperately need more and better support systems for victims. I am humbly grateful for all those who shared their stories here, and for the wonderful article. Thank you. And many blessings to all. <3

    • I agree with you Susan this is the best scientific article on the subject. Impressive

  52. So spot on. This is the story of my 20 year marriage. I thought I loved him so deeply that I would be there until “Death do us part”. I would have been too except he called it quits for another woman. I still longed for him to come back and say he’d made a mistake but he never did. Three women later he passed away. While I was sad for this I suddenly realized I was free. I feel badly that he could not see how rich his life was with a wife that loved him and two beautiful children. He missed out. I can see now that I was a fool. My regret is that I lived the best years of my life not knowing what it is to be loved by someone. Still, my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are my joy. Life is short but filled with lessons.

    • i like your realization that you were a fool. That takes humility to admit that…and also that its good you finally realized the truth. What a waste those years were not being loved by this man…but also there was much you likely gained too that can be focused on. Anyway nice comment…It was heartfelt…and helped me.

      • JoJo I guess I can’t agree with your appreciation for this commenter’s admission that she was a “fool.” That kind of name-calling, whether it’s self-directed or comes from someone else, isn’t kind or helpful. The writer chose her partner for legitimate reasons even if she made an unhealthy or misguided choice. She suffered negative consequences, but learned from her experiences. Instead of relishing her mistake and applauding her for downing herself, I would hope you could be glad for her growth and congratulate her strength. None of us who get involved with narcissists are fools – we are people with our own pathology who are simply trying to make our way in life, vulnerable to that sort of person.

  53. Thank you. I was married to this exact description for 33 years, now divorced for 6 years. This article helped me understand the progression of the “love”. The words said still occupy my brain unfortunately and he knew that when he said them. He now can not face me, hiding or sneaking out when we run into each other.

  54. Wow what an eye opener I’m Blown Away I understand that narcissistic people sometimes you know what they’re doing and sometimes they’re Clueless you can tell them all the symptoms of it and they’ll agree with you but they won’t agree that it’s them being the narcissistic patient I call him patient because it’s an illness I hope in the end these people understand that how they treat people is very harmful and either they find some pushover doormat person that they can do that or they’re just going to be filled with a lot of resentment and anger towards the other person that challenges them which I’ve been doing that for going to two years now.

  55. I’ve never read a more factual, truthful article than this one. Believe me, I have read more than my share. None more perfectly accurate.

  56. Wow! After reading your most descriptive article concerning narcissists, I wanted to break down and cry as I completely see the relationship my 21 yr old (single/childless) grandson is currently involved in with a 20 yr. old female who is a mother of a two children ages 3 (female) 2 (male). Their daddy is uninvolved, allegedly, however I have done some research about him and she is lying about this as well. I have named he The Devil in Disguise, for obvious reasons. She fits the descriptive words in your article, sadly he is blind to all of it. I have seen this woman demoralize my grandson in every way imaginable, sadly he refuses to acknowledge this. This is his first sexual experience in life, so, that attributes to his blindness. I have e-mailed your article to him and will pm it to him as well, but, at this time I don’t think he’s ready to accept the truth. Please encourage others to be aware and if at all possible get out of such devastating situations. I pray that my grandson opens his eyes soon before she completely destroys him.

  57. Wow, you captured my 24 year marriage exactly. I racked my brains for years, trying to make things better. I wish this kind of abuse was more widely known.

  58. Add developing Multiple Scoliosis to this dynamic and it takes it to a much higher level. He said he liked me better on the fast tracked drugs that destoyed my legs, verbal skills,memory and teeth until it got to the point of physically throwing me out, losing my daughters cat and convincing her it was my fault and making me have to send her back to live in our former state just to get her away from him.
    I am off the drugs that caused so much more harm than having MS ever has. My memory is back and I completely remember how he managed to remove my lifetime of processions and blame me for just not knowing where I put them.
    I will be working on repairing the relationship between me and my daughter for years to come. I also know enough to have no direct contact with him other than messaging as this gives me a written record to prove that I know what I am talking about.
    There is so much more that I will need to do but I am at the point of knowing what I am dealing with and using this knowledge for helping me figure out how best to put my efforts towards what will help me as opposed to waisted any more time playing his game.

  59. Were you living with me when I was married to him? Your description is EXACTLY how I lived while we were together. I was in my mid 20’s and he was 15 years older. He was an executive in a large company and we met on an airplane. We moved in together 6 weeks later which was a week after his wife moved out. This was the man in shining armor. He immediately gave me very expensive jewelry and bought me a new wardrobe. When his teen aged son tore up the house and messed up my car while we were on vacation, he bought me a Mercedes telling me that I was too sensitive. The story goes on and on of predictable examples. Bill always got his way. If he told me that he works so hard to give me things, I responded that he would be working hard anyway because that is who he was. Then all hell would break loose. But I was a kid without much worldly experience. It took years of therapy to finally see what was glaringly obvious now. But I am 65 now. Finally I divorced him after bankruptcy and addiction and failed businesses and a suicide attempt on his part. I rescued him from that too…was going to give the relationship one last chance when things spiraled so low that there was no recovery. I was afraid that he would physically assault me. That was the invisible line that I had drawn as if the emotional abuse didn’t count. I didn’t have the confidence to live by myself yet I was a critical care nurse fixing damaged bodies with a great degree of knowledge and skill. I had never even balanced a check book until after my divorce in my mid 30’s. He successfully killed himself 11 months after our divorce. He was also facing jail time for money laundering. There was a whole part of his life that I didn’t know. But that man gutted me emotionally. I still have no desire to be in a relationship and it is almost 30 years later. Although I trust myself to judge character and have the knowledge to seek a man that won’t destroy me, I am not interested. After losing everything, I gave myself permission to take some time to heal and learn how to live without fear. I saved on my 401k, invested dispassionately, and retired early…and I collect social security on the dead man’s social security.. This is the happiest time of my life minus the fancy house and cars. Oh yes…I always drove a nice car to reflect HIM. Thank you so much for your brilliant, insightful article. It couldn’t be more perfect.

  60. What if the narcissist, is your child…? Is it possible? My beautiful 27 year old son was everything to me, I would have laid down my life for him, as a single mom. We had a great relationship since day one, all the way up until about high school and then things started to change. He started staying in his room, always wanting to be alone, never eating with us (my now husband). He was a runner and would run for hours everyday.

    As his mom, I thought, ok he’s going through his “awkward” stage… and thought he’d outgrow it…he never did. He graduated HS in 2007 with straight A’s and got into Brandeis U. He graduated in 2011 with two bachelors degrees, one in Physics & one in Mathmatics…a very smart boy.

    I visited with him every week through college, bringing him whatever he needed and taking him food shopping. He was always quiet, but he always was quiet so it didn’t raise any red flags to me. He’d come home on holidays, and always, up to his room – to be alone. Still, I thought, ok, he’s “different”, and doesn’t feel like small talk, etc. Anytime I’d ask him how school or life was going, he’d only give one word answers and act like we were putting him out by trying to communicate. Strange.

    Then, I noticed his voice was now very “monotone”, with no emotion at all. It was rare to see him laugh….at anything. After college he moved to an apartment about 2 min away and we saw him every now and then, always for birthdays and holidays but he always seemed distant, always. This went on for a few years and in 2013, he got a great job in Manhattan, NY as a Physics quantitative analyst.

    His last visit home was Christmas 2013 and his last text to me was June 25, 2014. Our entire family has been cut off from him. He won’t respond to anyone, ever. No reason, no explanation, just gone. In October of 2014, my husband and I went to NY to find him. We did, and he walked around NY for 4 hours with us not saying a word and looking down to the ground. I asked him if he was upset with something or someone (obviously), he said yes, so I said “you need to tell us what’s wrong, so we can try to help you”, he said “please don’t ask me that….” And I didn’t want to push him, thinking it would push him further away. We made dinner plans that night, he never showed up or responded to us, he wasn’t at his apartment, and we were in the middle of NY with no way to find him.

    To this day, my mom (who raised him and my 2 nephews while I worked & went to college) has had a stroke, two heart attacks, lymphoma and triple bypass surgery, and he still won’t respond to any of us. We don’t know what happened or why he just cut us all off, we were always and still are a close family…my parents are still married after 50 years and were like 2nd parents to those boys. My nephews are the most loving caring young men, but my son…continues to rip all of us apart by no contact with anyone. It’s like he’s died but we know he’s still alive. Total devastation.

    His two best friends keep contact with us, they think he’s sick and needs help. He’s cut off all of his other friends and family members from my ex’s side as wel. They think he’s a sociopath…. But how can you go from being a bright, caring young man, to being so hurtful and uncaring? His father was not in the picture since my son was about 4 yrs old. It never seemed to bother him or he just never asked about him, however, I made sure his relationship with my ex’s parents remained strong.

    Sorry for the Novel, but I think my son also has the qualities in the letter…it’s almost scary.

    • Sharyn,

      It sounds like your son is experiencing symptoms of serious mental illness, not narcissism. His withdrawal from the world and refusal to talk about what’s bothering him make me wonder if he is traumatized and/or seriously depressed. If he won’t talk to you, maybe he will see a therapist or a psychiatrist. I’m sure it hurts to think he has cut himself off from you after what seemed like such a great relationship, but something is going on inside him that makes it too hard for him to connect. The best thing you can do is be there for him and if he is willing to hear you, encourage him to seek professional support. His rejection doesn’t mean he’s being selfish.

      • CJ,

        Yes, his best friend from NY spoke to a psychiatrist that teaches at his college (Columbia U), and told him all about my son, trying to get some advice to help him. The psychiatrist said he obviously couldn’t diagnose him without seeing him, however, he said it sounded like some sot of delusional disorder or beginning of schitztophrenia.

        I thought narcissist because of the way he “used” to be so caring and he “had” emotions, but now, doesn’t seem to have “any emotions” at all.

        The “only” changes in his life at the time of this all happening, is his job change, moving from MA to NY by himself, (he moved himself) and texted me a week later telling us so. And also, I sold the house he grew up in and bought another house… No other big changes in our life…none.

        Anyways, it seems as though there’s definately something “mental” going on with him, and I appreciate your input.

        His friend has already spoken to him and told him straight out that he thought he should speak to someone, but my son doesn’t agree and won’t talk to anyone. I don’t know what we do in a situation like this. Leaving him alone is so scary, and trying to reach out to him without getting a response is so heart breaking.

        Thank you for your response.

      • I agree that it could be the beginnings of schizophrenia. His age is right and his behavior would lead one to look in that direction. It could be a variety of other things too. I feel your pain. The helplessness and fear is overwhelming. Even if your son is unwilling or unable to seek help and isn’t accepting your offers of support, it might be a good thing for you to get some counseling about how to cope with your own anxiety, so that you can remain healthy and strong both for yourself and your family. Suffering in fear is only going to mess with your imagination and break you down. No reliable doctor or clinician is going to tell you what’s going on with your son without being able to actually meet with him. They can only make a guess but shouldn’t pronounce on his situation. But seeking help for yourself can give you the support you need in managing your own mental health and offer suggestions about how to help a family member in his situation. I do hope your situation and his work out in the best way possible.

    • this boy needs love. …and it conveyed in the love language he speaks. Sadly us parents don’t know how to show love to our kids…I mean we do, but mostly in a language that they don’t speak…so they never feel it. Try the Love Languages book…it helped me help my adult children feel my love for them…I learned to show love in my late 50’s. Its so abstract love is… We really are clueless

  61. This article really hit home for me. It was a snap shot of the past 8 months. Everything, right down to the detail. I have read it twice so far; since the first time it scared me so and tears wouldn’t stop. It has been (1) week since I have heard from him and began my No Contact. You can imagine my grief, pain, and every 3 minutes looking at my phone wishing to see a message from him; which I am so glad I haven’t or I would know how strong I would be.

    No words can explain the emptiness, the shock, the pain. Everything in this article I did….. I’m getting strong day by day;surrounded by support groups, friends, & family. I will say my affirmations that I am beautiful, smart, intelligent woman deserving much better that what I have endured.

    Thanks so much for this article. I read over and over, each time getting stronger and stronger.

  62. It’s so spot-on accurate, that I had to take a break. It literally made me want to vomit. Why can’t I get the judge to see this? To get an attorney to defend me? To get ANYONE TO PROTECT ME FROM HIM??? Because of the children, there will never be NC. I die inside every single day. I truly think this will kill me. 25 years of this BS is more than anyone can undo in therapy the entire rest of their life! Why won’t God answer our prayers???

    • God answer prayers and show show us what need to be done, but He won’t do for us what we need to do for ourselves. We must take on His strength to follow through on a course of action. If He opens the door, we must have courage to walk through it and not let fear or other emotions to stand in our way.

  63. I got feed-up with the ever increasing abuse endured from the man I genuinely loved. True to the song, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”, but my survival to being whole meant the dissolution of my marriage. The day I file for divorce I knew in my heart that I still loved the man, but since he showed me that he wasn’t going to change; I decided to love myself. Anyone who can be so selfish as to hurt another with no regards of how that person feels, don’t deserve you sticking around. I understand that being in love makes one vulnerable and love also, let you know when it is time to walk away. I refused to allow an abusive person to turn me into a bitter monster. I was never physically abused, nevertheless, whether it be physical or emotional, it is still abuse. I will never allow myself to be disrespected in such a manner ever again.
    And due to the fact that I am a strong person, I thank my God, I am not broken nor am I bitter at life.

  64. sadistic personality disorder–

    aka demonized

  65. Reading this made me sick to my stomach. It is the best description I have ever read.

    • Definitely!!!!! She was spot on….

  66. The behavior of a narcissist is largely unintentional. Narcissists are incredibly hurt people. They have the same desires as all other humans, to be loved and accepted. They have incredibly maladaptive and unconventional ways of trying to feel loved and accepted. They have been damaged and harmed by their experinces. Hurt people do hurt people. This does NOT mean we need to fix them or to tolerate it but they are not monsters.

    • Heidi, I agree with what you’ve said here. If you break it down, narcissists are interacting with the world the way they’ve been conditioned to do so. The same can be said for all of us. It’s awfully hard to hold that thought when you’re married to a person who uses you so badly to cope with their pain. “Monster” is a descriptor that comes to mind when you’ve feel like you’ve been emotionally flayed for years by someone who doesn’t seem to care that they are skinning you alive to get their needs met. It was only after I left my husband that I was able to see more clearly how massively damaged he was by his family. Two years later, it still takes effort to shed the residual feelings of living with him and remember his humanity. It helps to avoid placing myself above him just because I didn’t behave the way he did. I did behave in ways I didn’t like in my responses to his maladaptive behaviors and accept my responsibility for that and for marrying him to begin with, out of my own baggage. I think we, as a species, use words like “monster” to separate ourselves from such damaged people. If we were other animals, we might kill them or at least run them out of the pack.

  67. Great article. I was in this marriage for 15yrs. Gaslit by a Narcissist and had no clue. It was like the Manchurian candidate. I finally got sober and after a few years began to realize that I was being gaslit. She could no longer say, “no you dont remember, you actually did this”, because I was stone cold sober. I remembered everything. Even my friends at that point could realize that they could now talk to me and said, “you know it didn’t happen that way”. During my escape from this gaslighting, she would assert her control. It was so strong that in light of all that I would occasionally succumb to old patterns. Even though I knew 100% that she was reinventing something that didn’t happen. It was like I was now watching myself in a hypnotic daze. I would have to shake myself free from the control.

    During the divorce process she was extremely angry that her possession was leaving. That her robot had stop taking commands. She decided to burn through all my money, my life savings, run up frivolous legal bill until there was nothing. Over a Million dollars gone. I dont care. I have my life back.

  68. Thank you for this article. It was spot on, a needed cup of strong coffee, a needed bucket of cold water on the head.

    Count me among the men who married a woman with undiagnosed NPD. We lasted nearly 16 years, and had two beautiful daughters, by the time it was over and she had moved on to one of my friends.

    Lots of reading, and friendship, and great professional advice have enormously, and I am in a much better space.

    One lingering issue remains though. Since “zero contact” is the standard advice for the victims of a narcissist, what do we do when we have children together??? There is much less information available on parenting children when the ex is a narcissist. Does anyone have any links?

    My ex continues to be charming and affectionate with me, after having cruelly dumped me in the way only a narcissist could. She took me to the cleaners in the divorce, so I cooperate with her to an extent, in order to have access and parenting rights to my kids. It is a tough line to draw, lest I get drawn into her games of manipulation again.

  69. Sounds like almost every relationship I have been in,smh…. I thank God that I know longer feel the need to be involved in these types of relationships where I am the miserable, needy, co dependent, shell of a woman I used to be… Took a lot of self awareness and self esteem building, but I am glad to say that the woman I am today wouldn’t even look twice at the jerks I used to deal with!!!! Amen!!!

  70. I LOVED this by the way…. 🙂 you definitely nailed it!!!!

  71. Wow! This describes my husband’s ex wife exactly! She stayed with us for a while because we were trying to help her get on her feet and build a relationship with her kids… But after about 6 months I started to notice things were out of place. She’d treat me one way and tried to act like she cared etc.. Then she’d start on tearing my husband down then when I tried to stand up for him or he tried to stand up for me when she started on me she would go berserk and tried to make us feel crazy.. Even though we seen it we still ended up feeling like we were nuts! Then I seen how she’s done the kids. We finally put a stop to it and got custody of the kids but it took us 3 years before we realized what was happening. We even tried to get her help from a therapist but then we got calls looking for her because she wouldn’t show up. Don’t know where she was going with our car. Then she tried to snare my husband’s cousin. He figured out faster than we did what she was up to. I guess he’s seen it before and knew what to look for.

  72. I forgot to ask.. How do you keep it from affecting the kids? I noticed every time they go over there for visitation they come back acting up and speaking real whiny like babies and much more. It’s taken my husband and I 3 years or so to undo a lot of the maladaptive behavior they had and when they visit her the maladaptive behavior returns a little bit. We’ve had to teach them a lot of stuff they should have known by their ages.. She never did anything with them if she couldn’t get something out of it. Wouldn’t even build a relationship with them and we had to go through courts just to force her to spend time with them. I don’t know what to do for the kids to keep her from affecting them that way… But I’m not going to keep them from her because she is their biological mother. I love them as my own and it kills me to see the affect she has on them.

  73. 25 years I lived with this abuse, and didn’t know I was being abused.
    I cannot describe the he-double I went thru, the scars it has left upon my soul.
    He destroyed the family (we have 3 adult children). His evil has affected each child and myself in such destructive ways……
    I was searching for “what was wrong with me” when I stumbled across an outreach program for abused women. I went, because it was free, hoping to ‘change me’ because I was convinced everything was my fault.
    Praise God on High for leading me there……..
    I am still healing today……the kids are healing today.

    What he did is nothing but pure evil.

    • I wanted to add I am 100% no contact.
      I have not seen him since July 2014.
      I have not spoken to him on the phone since Feb 2015.
      I have emailed with him once since July 2015.

      Once I went ZERO contact, I began to heal…….

  74. This post will be very useful in Spanish and other languages for sure. I would be forever grateful if you allow me to translate and repost on your page of course.

  75. This dialogue could have been written by my ex husband. When our marriage was near the end after 25 years I researched his behaviour and came across terms such as narcissist, sociopath and gas lighting (he came across the hidden photocopies of my research and agreed that was him!). He formed an attachment with a young woman and told me I was jealous and unreasonable. When I had a one night stand subsequently after being faithful in my marriage it unleashed his symptoms. My only earlier clues during my marriage was his dislike of me visiting my family and friends. How he told me we didn’t need others. Sadly our eldest son seems to have inherited the same. My ex now has another narcissistic supply whom he is now manipulating (according to our younger normal son who lives with him). I am now in a very happy relationship with a non controlling man.

  76. It seems to me like there are two different versions here, and perhaps there are important similarities within each group, though there will also be many similarities among them.

    In one scenario, the victim summons the wisdom and strength and leaves. The narcissist may then make the divorce long and horrible. Kudos to all of you.

    In the other scenario, my version, the narcissist ends the relationship. My experience and subsequent reading is that in these versions the narcissist makes the split as horrible as possible, as if to show to the world that the victim is such a vile subhuman that he/she deserves a break up that is this humiliating.

    • Thanks for commenting Max … there are many different versions, not two … but rarely does the narcissist leave even in cases where they are cheaters … to them people are objects and personal possessions. And in all cases they regard others with scorn, and seek to build up their own/tear down the others, particularly those that attempt to leave/not cooperate, unleashing punitive tactics … again the make the “split” horrible in all cases… their ego is much too fragile and wounded to be able to “accept” that anyone would want to leave and not put up with inhumane treats …. but they’re a house of cards, act strong but are weaklings living with self-loathing, needing serious help, as unhealthy, sick persons and “misery loves company” is one of the principles they operate by. Thanks again for commenting.

      • Thanks for your explanation. In my three (known) experiences with a narcissist, the narcissist divorced the victim after a long painful marriage and did so in a way meant to humiliate the victim.

      • Not sure if all the persons you describe warrant the label of narcissism with such certainty, and both narcissists and codependents feel like victims of the other. Yes a main source of pleasure for narcissists is inflicting pain to “downsize
        others (it’s part of their sickness), however, narcissism is aligned with social values associated with masculinity, so more than 90% of cases are men.

        Codependency and narcissism fall predominantly along socialized gender norms in my experience …

        After all, many of the traits of narcissism, such as displaying dominance, callous disregard for “weakness,” emotional detachment, lack of empathy, intolerance for any demands or criticism or being “questioned” by those with lesser status, etc., for example, are all highly valued, socially “expected” and idealized “boys will be boys” norms for men. To constantly be on guard to enforce status, prove “worth,” masculinity, superiority, and so on, are all behaviors that men are expected to display as “proof” that they are “real” men.

  77. This article is the best one that I have read on narcissism. Like many readers here, I have read a lot. We (kids and I) left 15 months ago after 25 years of marriage. There were so many red flags that I ignored. Well, I didn’t ignore them. I asked him about things, but you know, how unloving of me to assume such horrible things about him. As time goes on and I have therapy and read and talk and live and heal, I realize JUST HOW PERVASIVE was the manipulation. Mind-boggling. He played me like a fiddle. He is the most tuned in person I have ever known in that he used all my fears and weaknesses against me, while I thought we were connecting and being raw and honest and, um, married. Really, he was using me in every way possible. When I left, he did the whole narcissistic smear campaign and turned two of my children against me. Thankfully, I am not even a whisper’s breath tempted to contact him or see him ever again. I could go on. Thank you for this article. It’s amazingly accurate.

  78. Wow! That’s it! You’ve nailed it. Thanks, that’s so accurate it’s scary….. God I wish I could help him but I wholly accept that I can’t which is why I’m done. Every empath needs to see this, honestly it is empowering to see what they’ll never admit…. Wake up all you guys & gals still in their pockets… Time to run away…. Be strong …. It’s SO good to know they’ve lost their hold because you can look back and be thankful you’ve crossed the threshold towards normality. 🙂

  79. I have been in my relationship for 12 yrs now and the last few years have been very hard on me. We have 2 small children 3&5 yo. This article pretty much describes my relationship down to the T. So much it really scares me and after reading some of this comments really really scares me. This last year I discovered that I struggle with CEN (Childhood Emotional Neglect), when reading a book “Running On empty, how to overcome CEN” I read a section about the Narcissistic Parent, which described my husband. So I have been doing a lot of research on this when stumbling upon this article which describes every single emotion I feel are going through now, it basically solidifies what I’m dealing with and what I know I need to do. I’m having a hard time writing this because I’m crying and these tears won’t stop pouring. I’ve known for a while that I need to leave and that maybe this is the only solution, but what’s weighing on my heart is that I’ve been neglected from both parents in my childhood and always wish that I had both parents and had a family and I was hoping to provide that to my kids. Reading these blogs with some of you married 20+ yrs scares the hell out of me. Now I have to find the strength to take myself and my kids away from their father and THIS F****** HURTS and I know it will only hurt worse if I stay. I’m 34 now and I’ve already gave 12yrs and all that I can give with very little given back. I’m emotionally drained and not sure I have any resources to move and get away. I only pray that God gives me the strength and guidance through all of this.

    • Rosebud Love, It will get better. Do you have a battered women’s shelter in your area where you can get counseling? I went for several months and then I took a 12 step program they offered about setting boundaries and learning to love yourself. In that class they used the analogy of a yard. You take care of your yard and have the kinds of flowers you like (even if your mother tells you that only good yards have daisies and you don’t like daisies.) If you don’t like the poison ivy fence your neighbor keeps then pick up your yard and move else where. You don’t have to take care of their yard even if they come knocking on your door to tell you otherwise. We also journaled to our inner child about how it wasn’t her fault the way she was treated as a child. I wasn’t as good about doing that part as maybe I could have been, but it is really helpful for some people. All of this is hard and it will take time. Be kind to yourself. Don’t expect yourself to “get it” all at once. It’s taken me months and I don’t think I’m totally out of the woods. You are beautiful and worthy just because you are here and YOU ARE. Not for anything you have or haven’t done. Please don’t give up on yourself. You have your whole life ahead of you. It’s either too long or too short to live that way. How ever you look at it. I wish I could just give you a hug.

  80. Well, I’m up to almost $20,000 in attorney fees trying to make the final touches on a divorce from my narcissist. This was a 10-year marriage that involved no children and she fighting to extort the majority of my community property and not share hers. Its truly amazing how these people get ideas in their heads and they give life to the madness by bullying everyone around them. It takes so much energy to fight with these people for everybody involved. She moved out of my house in April and I thought that would be closure. Well these people have a way of torturing you periodically just because they can. The closure will happen when I can sign the final divorce papers and not ever have to deal with HER ever again! My heart goes out to those victims that have attachments back to the narcissist.

    One of the first things she did when she moved out was to block me on social media. After having a car wreck, she sent me a text stating “you obviously don’t give a shit about me because I almost died in a car wreck and you didn’t check on me! I had to spend the night in the hospital!” I said that I figured you didn’t want me to know anything about you because you blocked me on social media. She said: “I didn’t block you from social media, YOU BLOCKED ME!”. I just shook my head as she almost had me convinced for a brief second that I WAS WRONG ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE…..
    Tex

  81. YES
    YES
    YES
    Its all there.
    now going on cycle 2 in a six relationship that will always be considered the worst six years of my life, its good to hear I’m not crazy.

  82. This sounds more like a sadistic sociopath.

    When a narcissist says “I love you,” he means he loves the idealized fantasy that he’s projected onto you — until reality hits that you’re a human being with flaws, and then he resents you.

    • Thanks for the comment, nonasoumy. If narcissism sounds like sociopathy, it’s because sociopathy (or psychopathy, diagnosed in DSM as “antisocial personality disorder” or APD) is a much more serious condition that is on the same continuum as narcissism (or NPD, “narcissistic personality disorder).

      What separates the sociopath from the narcissist, in my opinion, is that the sociopaths have a “criminal mindset,” that is, whereas an NPDs maintain a low profile keeping “sadism” to emotional cruelty/abuse, APDs take abuse to criminal levels — that NPDs do not cross (and if they do, they’re no longer NPDs, they’re APDs) —
      and compulsively engage in criminal exploitation of others for their own gain, thus, feeling entitled with “rights” to steal, rape, mutilate, take lives, destroy others i.e. financially or taking their lives, etc.

      In my experience, both have a “fantasy” that they project onto to others … however it’s not a “normal human” type of fantasy, rather a master/slave way of relating as “idealized self as master” … thus compulsively look for evidence that their victims regard/treat them as infallible, beyond reproach, rather entitled to treat/mistreat others however they want, and no complaints warranted ever — even if they have to bribe them into silence!

      The narcissist loses interest in a victim who heals and becomes their own source of love, validation, affirmation, and emotionally detach in authentic ways from the “problems/wounds” that only the narcissist can heal.

      NPDs and APDs refuse to accept this is the way this universe works for all humans, and that they are human! (They find that disgusting, which is why theyre rarely interested in real change.)

      I hope this helps, thanks for writing!

  83. This is how my parents think/act. I found myself in most of these phrases, so eerie. N parents live for their image and always through their children. They will never live for themselves because they cannot, they don’t have a self or if they do, they hate this self too much to even consider its existence.
    But do you think that they can be helped? I’m not in contact with them but if they ever wonder to seek help, will that bring change in their lives?
    They’re quite old, in their 60’s but it’s never too late.
    Thanks for this article!

    • Thanks for commenting, Manna. The label of narcissist is thrown around a lot. Your parents may not be narcissists. They may just be like a lot parents, who were socialized to be punitive and to see it as their job for their children to obey above all. They may just be well meaning strict parents who were raised that way, and do not tolerate differences etc.

      All parents, for example, face the developmental stage of having to let their children go, to separate their ideals for themselves from those they have for their children, and to see their children as capable of taking care of themselves, making their own decisions, learning from their own mistakes, etc.

      Unless there is some extreme behavior where a parent compulsively tears child down, refuses to tolerate anything but to live to idolize the parent, this is not narcissist.

      It’s also healthy for parents to feel proud to see and want children to become good citizens or excel in some way or another, to be happy and healthy, etc., and also to want to feel that their efforts made a contribution (it’s a lot of work to be a parent, perhaps the most difficult job of all).

      Can a narcissist be helped? Only if they would really want to change, and see benefits. And they rarely want to change.

      By the way, the only person a narcissist lives for is themselves, not their children … this is why they cannot see the uniqueness and beauty of each child.
      But the real question may be your feelings and healing. How you feel about your parents inside translates to how you feel about you.

      Too often “no contact” does not permit the adult child to heal and grow.

      As a human being, you are wired for compassion. (Remember what hurts a narcissist most is that they cannot feel compassion for others, instead have a “neediness” to judge and look down on others.) Take care to not fall in that trap …

      Regardless whether one or both of your parents is a narcissist or not (usually one is a narcissist, the other a codependent), take care to not let resentment turn to bitterness; and if you’re not in therapy, seek therapy to let go, and forgive and see yourself and parents through the eyes of compassion.

      Learning to see parents as “human beings with lives of their own” — is an essential step adult children must make to let go and really, really live life for themselves. Otherwise, emotions of resentment, anger, judgments can keep you “stuck” to your parents like velcro. And in this case, you’re the one who may be letting them have “power” over how you feel about yourself and life. Best wishes, and thanks again for commenting.

  84. I’ve been no contact with my narc for a little over a year. Dealing with the CPTSD/dissociative stuff has been difficult, but I am so glad I walked away and refused to look back. I’m actually married to him, but I let my attorney take care of everything. Lately, I’ve been trying to get a bit of my memory back, so I can start dealing with it with my counselor. Your “letter” above described it better than anything else I’ve read, and I was able to actually access a bit of the past instead of just logically knowing what happened. Thank you for putting words to what happens with the narc to help others who need to know they are not alone, and that other people can validate them. <3

  85. You’ve written this in terms of a Narcissit being a man; which I understand as my father was a classic example of everything you’ve written here. And I see that you responded to one commentor that narcissists are in more than 90% of cases men. I’m no psychologist, but I grew up with a Narcissist father and I would definitely argue that there are plenty of female ones as well; sadly my older brother married one. My brother, rather than growing up a narcissit like his father, grew up low self-esteem and the strong tendency to codependency. This made him very vulnerable to the allure of the narcissist female, it was an emotionally familiar place, terrain he new; he married 2 of them. Female narcissists are just as seductive, cruel, addictive and emotionally dangerous/damaging as their male counterparts. I have had to deal with narcissistic tendencies in myself, not an easy thing to admit that there are parts of you that resemble a father who was cruel and heartless. As well, it’s not just males who gaslight…I have been pretty adept at doing this to my husband in the past. Something I’ve worked very hard at being constantly self-aware of and self-correcting.

    • Thanks for commenting Racquelle. In response, I’d like to share a couple of considerations.

      1. Remember there is a difference between “narcissistic tendencies” versus actual NPD (narcissistic personality disorder). Additionally, female narcissists are different from male narcissists; likely because it’s not a biological disorder, rather socialized/learned behavior pattern rooted in rigid expectations for men to prove their “worth” as “real” men by conforming to arbitrary standards for “masculinity” (i.e., male dominance, superiority, and certain perceived entitlements and rights).

      2. The label of narcissism is often misapplied, and there’s a lot of misinformation on the internet. Women in particular are mislabeled narcissists because of certain social expectations we have for women, i.e., that it’s their “job” to make their partners “feel like men” by “taking their place” (not making demands, never complaining about mistreatment, putting others/partner’s feelings and needs first, and so on). These expectations socialize women to “codependency” — leaving them vulnerable and frequently anxious about being labeled controlling, selfish and narcissist.

      3. Some narcissists exhibit “covert” patterns. There is at least a chance that your brother, for example, may have “covert” narcissistic “tendencies,” in this case, a man drives his wife “crazy” with passive aggressive actions, isolating her by inviting others to side with him against wife, playing a game, himself in the role of “poor guy” and his wife as “emasculating” (no one is more scorned than a woman who is perceived as emasculating, controlling, selfish, etc.). In this case, there is much more to this dynamic than meets the eye. In particular, women with type “A” personalities, who tend to be doers, action oriented, get things done, want to feel heard, want to talk honestly, want husband to partner, get upset when partner withdraws, etc.

      3. Finally, your comments (the last two sentences) speak loudly that you are not a narcissist. Not even tendencies. If you were, you’d never even note that you were gaslighting, and certainly never worry or reflect or feel bad that one or more actions of yours were cruel or heartless to another! From a narcissists worldview, heartless actions are proof of superiority … and your willingness to judge yourself supplies them “food” or energy; it tells them they’re in your head getting you to doubt, question yourself, think of yourself as the narcissist…

      Narcissists look for women who are empaths and good listeners, reflect on how they can grow and become “better” persons. They regard this as proof of another’s weakness/inferiority. Be careful.

      Also gaslighting is identified by the intent to keep another silent, voiceless. It’s not just an occasional time we were dismissive because we didn’t want to hear what another said. In other words, if you own a behavior as hurtful to another … you’re not even on the radar screen to being a narcissist. And that’s a good thing! : )

      Hope this helps … let me know if I’ve answered your questions. Thanks again for commenting.

  86. This article describes my daughter almost perfectly if not perfectly. My daughter is 28 years old and I have discontinued conversation with her for the last 4 years. Can you recommend anything that I can do or anyone can do to improve her behavior and condition? Because she is an adult, I cannot make her do anything. I would greatly appreciate any advice.

    • Thank you for the comment, Concerned Father. You ask for recommendations for what you “or anyone can do to improve” your daughter’s “behavior and condition,” but didn’t mention specific reasons you chose to discontinue conversation with her 4 years ago.

      Please keep in mind that there’s a good chance your daughter is not a narcissist. Most persons that are labeled narcissists in online conversations are not, and many traits attributed to narcissism are associated with a host of other emotional disturbances. Persons without training need to approach their suspicions with care. Before an official diagnosis can be made of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), or any mental health disorder, a trained therapist first must determine whether the behavior pattern is extreme to the degree that it impairs the person’s normal functioning in one or more key areas of their life, i.e., family or social relationships, work etc.

      Another thing to consider, especially for a parent, is that children are human beings, and all humans react to being treated as if they are broken and need to be fixed with increasing resentment, though some express their anger openly while others stew inside and express it in more hidden, passive ways. And yet this is a common approach persons take in both parent-child and even couple relationships. Later on children grow up and they turn around and think it’s their job to fix their parents. Both approaches, treating another like a “fix-it project” and getting defensive, increasingly resentful, result in tearing down a relationship from both ends.

      I’d like to suggest you seek to build a new relationship with your daughter, one that starts fresh, based on mutual understanding. From what you say, you’ve learned one vital lessons in forming healthy relationships, and that’s the understanding that, as an adult, you “cannot make her do anything.” (Actually, that parents ever “make” their children do anything is one big illusion. Did your parents really control you? Likely not. The only one who’s ever been in control of your choices is you, to include any choices to “go along” with what you were asked to do.) You will need the support of a trained therapist to help you express painful feelings in ways that do not shut down communication between you. Best wishes to you… and thanks again for commenting.

      • Thanks for commenting, tormented. In this situation you need to validate, empathize and give yourself the understanding you need. Support yourself by shifting away to focusing what you lack, and what’s not going right in your life. The only love and acceptance and respect you need is your own. And you need hope and belief in yourself and life. Seek professional help if possible. You need to know how to “protect your mind and heart” and develop habits to “put on a happiness mindset.”

        I hope you find helpful my articles on “Protect Your Heart and Mind” and . Best wishes and thanks again…

  87. I cried reading this letter. It was like looking at a movie of my life for the past 4 years. I have just started the journey to realizing and recovering from this type of abuse and seeing this has really helped me realize I am not crazy. I am still raw and sad and angry at myself but each day I find something new and incredible, like this letter, to help me understand, accept and move on.
    I sincerely thank you.

  88. This article is unbelievable! It describes the women I am in a relationship with to a tee! Thought I was going crazy, losing my mind. Hardly any emotion or vulnerability (sex the exception at times)and prone to outburst and arguments for unnecessary reasons which I now understand are to keep me subservient. She told me 3 days ago she is not happy and is moving back home closer to kids in another state. I believe God is looking out for me. More than not, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster / nightmare. Always concerned with self adoration and superiority. We have been engaged. Glad I read this before jumping into the deep end. THANK YOU ALL for opening my eyes.

  89. Oh dear GOD! It’s like it was Written BY HIM!!! :'(

    I’ve read article after article that “explains” things like gaslighting and about the emotional manipulation that narcissistic
    people do, but this one isn’t as extreme in the descriptions, and more closely mirrors a “pro” manipulator. My soon-to-be-ex did exactly EVERYTHING in this letter, to the letter! He slowly started pushing my parents away, towards the end. When I finally started pushing back and realizing what was going on, he then decided that pushing buttons with my boss and co-workers was the next step, trying to get them to “admit” to him that I was cheating and leaving work early to “sell myself” because I was “so desperate for attention and money” to provide for our three children – one of whom he “knew wasn’t his” though I’ve never been around any other people besides the three times last year I was “allowed” to leave the house to have a few drinks with my female cousin. And of course, those events, though he knew that I would be staying the night at her house two of the times, he would call at 4am, force me to come home even though I was impaired, because I “never said anything about being gone all night” and “how could I cheat on him”…..

    I’m sorry, my anger and hatred for this betrayal is still too fresh! Good writing, though. You really struck a chord, and I will be making a copy of this to save so that if I ever have another moment of “maybe it would be different if…” I can read this “love letter” again and remind myself why I left in the first place, after a second attempt to divorce someone so good at the bread crumb manipulation!!!

  90. I seldom if ever write comments online but I felt compelled to thank you for this article. I understand it all too well and live in it everyday. I am so tired but because I allowed myself to be lured into a situation where I am dependent on the very person who is destroying me, I cannot simply leave. I am 54 years old and feel completely isolated from everyone else in the world.

    • Anna, Can you find an abuse counseling center and possibly a shelter near you? It can take a long time to heal from verbal abuse, but counseling can help. I’ve compared the healing to layers of an onion. You deserve better treatment. You are never too old to leave, I’m only a little bit younger than you. There are many good books out there to help you sort out your mind.

  91. THANK YOU a million times over. I read this yesterday and it woke me up so much I only slept about 2 hours last night. Now the work begins to get out of this hell on wheels!!

  92. From my experience, we are all selfish because we have needs and when we are in a relationship, it is because we want those needs to be met. Reading this, I found some narcissistic traits in my self. I want to feel like I am the one and only for my partner, I want to feel admired, appreciated, loved.
    I think is wrong putting a terrible diagnosis such as NPD or call somebody psychopath just because their needs are not met. Yes, I completely agree that sometimes these people use manipulation, lying, gaslighting, crazy making techniques that can make you doubt yourself and I am not saying you should stay in such a relationship. In my awful experience with a narcissistic/selfish man, I sometimes did the same things. Not saying I am proud of that and I am working hard to change, while he thinks he is perfect. My point is we shouldn’t hurry up in labelling somebody as being narcissistic and an awful person because sometimes they are genuinly kind. Everybody makes mistakes.It is only when they lie and manipulate and make you doubt your own sanity that you should worry and take action. Don’t confuse a selfish person with a psychopath. Also, take into consideration the reason why they are like this: lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, maybe deprivation of love and affection. I truly believe that love can fix everything. Any relationship is hard-work so maybe you should play your part better instead of judging. Again, I am not saying stay in that relationship and be abused, but also look at yourself and see what is wrong with you because there is a reason why this is happening to you. For example, I realised I was jealous and possesive and acting all crazy in some situations when i didn’t get what i wanted, but that doesn’t mean it is the guy’s fault, but my responsability. Lots of love 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting, Alexandra. It’s not easy to make heads or tails with so much misinformation on narcissism on the internet.

      The label of narcissism is often misapplied, and there’s a lot of misinformation on the internet. Women in particular are mislabeled narcissists because of certain social expectations we have for women, i.e., that it’s their “job” to make their partners “feel like men” by “taking their place” (not making demands, never complaining about mistreatment, putting others/partner’s feelings and needs first, and so on). These expectations socialize women to “codependency” — leaving them vulnerable and frequently anxious about being labeled controlling, selfish and narcissist.

      Also, there are narcissist-trolls all over the internet whose purpose it is to confuse, hide narcissism, and blame-shift the label of narcissism onto women or female partners. Remember the narcissist presents themselves as the “real victim,” and totally denies, ignores, minimizes their female partners pain, concerns with gaslighting and other tactics.

      So one needs to be careful and not casually label self or another as a narcissist. It is absolutely not narcissistic to want to be heard, understood, feel valued, admired, appreciated and loved!!! These are human core emotion-drives (and please do not refer to these core human drives as “healthy narcissism” as a few well meaning authors suggest…)

      It is only narcissism when a person — simultaneously and methodically — hoards this for themselves, and systematically seeks to deprive their partner or others around them of any such fulfillment not only from them, but also to isolate them away from those who love and provide such nourishment… .

  93. This is wonderful! All the essence of it all, put in such a great written form. Just great!
    I love the humor in it! Humor sets one free! Thank You!

  94. I think I have a bigger problem. I’m a guy and I see this is almost all and only females on here and this article describes my wife perfectly. I’m super loving, emotionally connected to others, and loyal to a fault. We have 4 awesome children and as a Christian dude I simply don’t believe in divorce. I gave my word to love her unconditionally and this has been tested the last couple years. I believe I’m a very strong and kind person for staying true to her and I only want to work thru this. I’m not ready to quit on my marriage but I can’t be treated like this anymore and need to draw a line in the sand. Where is the hope how do I fix this?

    • Thanks for commenting UhOhwhatNow. Not sure the label of narcissism fits in situation you describe, however, if you have not already, seek marriage counseling to get the support of a professional.

      More often couples get into relationship problems because each is focused mostly on what the other needs to do, or not do,etc., to change, and make the relationship better. This causes a communication breakdown eventually in which neither is listening to the other. Both feel not loved or valued by the other.

      Therapy invites both to participate 100% in healing themselves so they have the core skills they need to form a healthy mutually fulfilling partnership. It is a key way marriage therapy helps. That’s because, in most cases, at the start, both partners come convinced the issues are mostly caused by “the other” and this is never true.)

      This is never true, even by the way when one partner in the relationship has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Each partner, the narcissist and codependent must be 100% invested to do their part (50% only works in divorce).

      You will know your wife has NPD in my opinion, if you start therapy, and you notice that, whereas you’re doing 100% to participate in therapeutic processes, she refuses to do so, insteads continues to blame you, make excuses for how she mistreats you, ignores therapy guidelines, complains about therapy, says therapist is siding against her, etc., mostly to get out of a situation that invites her to look at her self, and make genuine, healthy change.

      This is a key way in which a person with NPD, male or female, “identifies themselves” in couples therapy. A healthy marriage is formed when both are willing to change, to own their part and do whatever is in their power, so to speak, to do their part — the only “part” each has the power to change — and that is their own behaviors, thoughts, beliefs etc.

      A narcissist however will refuse to change or participate in therapy processes and guidelines, and expects to be treated by the therapist as entitled to say/identify what the problem is, what the focus of therapy should be (on “fixing” the “crazy” partner), etc. They send clear signals that expect therapist to go along with their plan to regard them as blameless and collude with them to focus on fixing their partner, otherwise they quit or threaten to quit therapy in subtle or not so subtle ways.

      If you do not have a marriage therapist at present, I highly recommend couples therapy, and looking for a therapist that has “IMAGO” or Emotion Focused Therapy. If both of you are willing to change, and I’m guessing your Christian values increase chances that you do, then seeking professional help from a marriage therapist can do wonders to bring out the best in each of you, and heal your relationship. Best wishes to you… and thanks again for commenting.

  95. I have read this piece many times since it was first published, looking for answers.

    Many years ago my sister sent me a book titled “Children of the Self Absorbed.” She thought it might be helpful in dealing with some of the stuff we experienced, as children at the hands of our mother. It was helpful, but I also saw my wife when I read this book. I had been married to her for about 20 years. I loved her deeply. I spent most of our marriage feeling beaten and broken by her.

    I kept trying to figure out how to get her to love me back, to show me any sign of love. Ultimately, it made me a crazy person. My efforts to both avoid being “punished” and to get her to see that I was starved for affection caused me to go from one extreme to another, trying to do all kinds of things to please her, writing letters pouring my heart out, throwing temper tantrums.

    Then, after 25 years of marriage and being with her for over 30 years, she announced she was divorcing me. I went insane.

    When I stopped to take a breath, I started to ruminate over what a crappy husband I had been. I remembered all the things I’d done wrong. I started to believe, even know, that I was the narcissist, and I sought help. The thing is, no therapist was willing to acknowledge me as a narcissist. They said she was dangerous. That I needed to protect myself from her.

    We have children, so I can’t go no contact. More than anything in the world I want to go no contact. But I refuse to abandon my children.

    She os actively alienating me from them and she has succeeded with our adult child. No one believes it could have happened, because our oldest and I were so close.

    In any event, I started reading about how to interact with a narcissist and I started recognizing some of the new ways she was interacting with me to be exactly what I’d read. She was dealing with me as though I was a narcissist. So I figure I am.

    We were young when we met and I was exceptionally immature when we married. From the beginning, she showed a mot of attention to other men. She would say things like, So & So said she thinks I could do much better than you. She would tell me about attention she was getting from other men. She would withhold affection for extended periods. There were times she wouldn’t touch even my hand for months.

    I think I was a pretty lousy husband for the first few years. I don’t know if I was lousy because of the way I was treated or the other way around. Almost everyone we knew disliked her. She said that was my fault. I didn’t see that. I spent a lot of time being embarrassed by the way she treated me. I made up lies that she was just kidding around. I made excuses.

    When she said she was leaving, she said I was a great guy, but she just wasn’t happy. Then I found out she was planning to leave the state and take the children with her.

    I told her I would not allow her to take the kids. That’s when things got ugly.

    From my side, it seems like she has been (and is) on a campaign to destroy me, dismantle my support system, take my children. She disparages me in front of them. They are bot safe expressing any affection for me around her or in her home.

    I know I have narcissistic qualities. I don’t feel like I could have written that article, but I cam relate to certain parts. I was with a therapist shortly after she told me she was divorcing me and I told the therapist, “I just wanted her to tell me ‘I love you’ one time. I mean offer it up without being prompted.

    The therapist empathized, saying, “Or how about, ‘I adore you.'”

    I immediately broke down, sobbing. I was inconsolable. So, I guess I wanted to be adored, bit that kind of thing seemed normal, your lover says something like that. My parents adored each other. We all knew it.

    When we were young, I wrote her sings and poetry and love letters. She loved to be adored. Later, during the divorce, she told the CFI that I had an idealized idea of romantic love. I recognized that as a “textbook” symptom of narcissism. So, I went deep down again. I’m the narcissist.

    I have never looked down on vulnerable people or people who have strong emotions, or reveal themselves. I’ve always seen those things as strengths. At the same time, I can see how I came across as being critical of her and sometimes still do.

    I have always been the one to be more emotional, more transparent, more needy, more empathic. ???I think???

    In the end, I will likely screw everything up. But I can be a pompous jerk too.

    So I don’t know. She is super confident and her confidence causes me to believe that she’s right and I’m just a piece of garbage. Objectively, I can look at things she does and has done, and think, “Only a monster would do those things.” But she just says she has to do them because of me.

    IDK

    • Thanks for commenting, Self Doubt. The present situation sounds painful for all. While the past cannot be changed, however, it helps for each to focus less on “what” you cannot control (other people, yes, even children), and more on what you can control (your own self, actions, thoughts, beliefs, i.e., replacing unhelpful ones with helpful ones). And it’s especially important thatboth you and your ex focus on prioritizing the children’s peace of mind and sense of security. This will help all heal.

      Regarding the label of narcissism, whether it fits you or your ex, etc., it’s not possible to make this determination in a comment section. There’s also a lot of misinformation on the internet on this topic, and few therapists are trained to identify and work with narcissism and codependency patters in a couple relationship. And family and friends can be unhelpful as they tend to side with one or the other. Please consider seeing a therapist trained in dealing with narcissism and codependency patterns if you want to address and get more clarity on your concerns.

      What I say, is what I invite clients who feel compelled/justified to “be critical” and “get through” to the other by criticism, demands, throwing “temper tantrums” to consider, and it’s that … well, it’s like “shooting self in foot.”

      In all cases, it tends to cause the other partner to shut down, withdraw, feel unloved … thus making it increasingly less likely for them to give the “needy” partner the affection they want. Therapists refer to this as a pursue-withdraw pattern, a vicious cycle. The more one withdraws, the more desperate the other acts to reach them. The more critical and angry the actions, the more unloved and shut down the other’s love feels.

      The line is that … the expression of love cannot be forced via punitive tactics, demands, shaming, guilting …

      Also, focusing on the faults of the other, or any type of blame-pattern of thinking, tends to leave us feeling more and more powerless.

      Ideally the two of you would have gotten help from a professional therapist to increase your chances. You didn’t, and there were no guarantees either way. It’s not easy. Sometimes people don’t change or think about change until they’ve lost the relationship. And the only change we have 100% control of is our own. Because of the punitive way most of us were socialized in, very few people realize that.

      This could be a good opportunity for you to heal and learn and be better prepared for a future relationship. Best wishes to you …

  96. I was directed to this by my girlfriend of 8 years…i read it… and I don’t see myself as a narcissist. I am an extrovert, and she’s an introvert. We did attend couples counseling due to my infidelity and my feeling of her treating me like a roommate instead of a loving partner. Unfortunately, she felt that I forced her to go, even though her own work told her to go to individual consulting, which she refuses. She calls me a narcissist, even though I am the one seeking help to fix a broken relationship. Does that sound like a narcissist?

    • Thanks for commenting, Brian. While it’s impossible to say whether this is narcissism from reading a comment, there are some concerns. in that, whereas in a healthy relationship both partners feelings, needs, wants and concerns receive attention, you appear mostly focused on your feelings, and blaming your girlfriend, even for your infidelity.

      From what you say, for example, the infidelity was justified because she treated you “like a roommate instead of a loving partner.” In my experience working with infidelity, this blame-thinking pattern is most often the real cause for acts of infidelity (justifies the infidelity in wrongdoer’s mind).

      I’d also wonder whether the couples counselor you went to made this clear? If they did not, this likely left a bad taste for counseling for your girlfriend. If she felt blamed for your wrongdoing, for example, it makes sense that she would not want to continue any counseling, even individual counseling (due to the anxiety-producing experience). One seeks individual counseling to heal and get emotional support, not to be accused/blamed for causing the wrongdoing of another.

      Also does “loving” to you mean sex? Did you explore what you each need to feel loved and valued and safe? It’s not unusual for men to equate sex with love, and overemphasize sex on demand. In contrast, many women equate love with an emotional connection stemming communication, affection. Hope this helps in some way, thanks for commenting.

    • I was married to a guy like you for 10 years. In his mind, he was a great husband and I was the problem. In every counseling venue we went to together, he denied or minimized his contributions to our difficulties and described me as being a “very sick, injured person.” Ironically, he was right- I was injured by his lies, his porn addiction, his constant scanning of other women, his insults, his emotional abuse and neglect, his self-centered egomania and his constant demands that despite all that, I adore and worship him and keep his secrets safe. It did make me sick….sick at heart, sick in my soul and physically ill. A man who makes demands of his wife and betrays his marriage vows because he thinks he has rights his wife instead of looking as his own behavior is a narcissist. A self-absorbed, entitled pseudo-victim who believes his bad behavior has been caused by someone else. If I was your wife, I would leave you for what you did and how you are portraying it.

  97. I been married to my wife for 21years in that time shes had 4 affairs with 5 man , it was always my fault, If you can stop talk about it’s never going to get better, I’m called a joy killer, im grow up with family valves and i worked harder to proof i was worth something. In an email she wrote to one of her lovers ,she said he’ll never be anything, i let that stupid man get me pregnant. I did all the house choruses and worked a full time job and paid the bills. I finally realized this is unhealthy and filled for divorce and Still feel guilt thats the way they train you.

 

Join the Conversation!

We invite you to share your thoughts and tell us what you think in this public forum. Before posting, please read our blog moderation guidelines. A first name or pseudonym is required and will be displayed with your comment. Your email address is also required, but will be kept private. (Please note that we use gravatars here, which are tied to your email address.) A website/blog/twitter address is optional.

Post a Comment: