97 thoughts on “3 Secrets to Outsmarting a Narcissist (By Not Trying to)

  • May 31, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks for this reminder! I am in my 4th year of therapy trying to work through the damage and self esteem issues of having a narcisstic father. Looking for love and validation in emotionally abusive, narcisstic men. I have to remember- my “father” doesn’t get it. And he doesn’t care. Hard to wrap your mind around that… I have worked hard to build a wall, become bulletproof. It’s a process. I used to think it was me… Nope. It’s him!!!! Thanks 🙂

    • June 1, 2016 at 6:16 am

      You’re welcome, Gina. Thanks for sharing, and kudos for hanging in there to cultivate authentic power to own and heal what is yours–and let go of what is not. Best wishes, and thanks again for the comment.

      • January 29, 2019 at 11:02 pm

        Hi….thanks for a Great article…it has definitely clarified that my 5 year relationship, was sadly, with a classic narcissist…
        He ticks all the boxes, and after giving 100% ,over n over, hoping things would change, I ended it…which is what they hate,as they need to win at all costs..we bought a house together, and living 24/7 ,having to put up with, abuse nearly daily, my family and friends helped me leave very quickly…He was not happy…
        Now I am lawyer to lawyer with him trying to get MY money back!! He has plenty of money as he never shares anything, unless it benefits his happiness…just to keep hurting me he refused all offers to finish this…I am 60 and don’t need more pain in my life, how can this ever be resolved without me losing everything!?!
        People, stay away from relationships with narcissists, no matter how “charming”…

      • January 30, 2019 at 7:47 am

        Kudos for breaking free on a path to healing, sorry to hear of the money “hold” he has. Look for leverage, consult with a professional if needed to support you and your lawyer in getting leverage that speaks his language, keep us posted. Do your best, and at some point, when it comes to choosing between the money and your peace of mind and happiness, choose peace of mind and celebrate your freedom. Best wishes

      • April 23, 2019 at 8:07 am

        I left my wife and family for a woman and we did nothing but fight after the first couple years I kept finding her on dating sites and there was always these men around. I finally broke up with her and she trashed my family said horrible things to my kids and went to all of my friends with lies to try to get them to stay away from me. The day we split up she sent me a text with a screenshot of text with another guy saying they were meeting that night at his place. She is posting all over Facebook that I am a narcissist. I just don’t know what the hell I did. Is she a narcissist

      • April 23, 2019 at 11:14 am

        Thank for writing Clifford. The situation you describe and experienced is no doubt painful. I think the question of “who is the real narcissist” is not helpful, and in any case would likely require a professional with experience in this area to meet with you or ex-girlfriend to assess. The fact is, regardless who started the toxic patterns you describe, hurt people hurt people. At minimum, focus on any takeaway learnings, and taking good care of yourself emotionally and physically at this time. Hope this helps in some way, best wishes.

    • August 26, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      Good job! It’s them!

  • June 2, 2016 at 10:08 am

    This is one of the best articles I’ve read about dealing with narcissism. Unfortunately, I am locked into the relationship because it is my daughter who is now withholding my grandchildren. I am considering telling her I will not participate in her determination to poison their little minds (twin seven-year-olds), so I give up trying to see them or be a grandparent to them. I just don’t know if that is truly best for the children, but I am willing to face that reality if they will be spared that psychological pain. If I’m not there to fight and compete with, maybe they can gain some measure of peace. My son-in-law totally wants my husband and me to be the grandparents we’ve always been to the children. This started with a situation she tried to control and “win” over 15 months ago. Before that, we were close. Thank you for the article.

    • April 8, 2018 at 11:29 pm

      Well its true they prey on your emotions my brother died and my ex narc said oh I’m the blame for your brother too, well there goes the empathy what a wicked thing to say to me. about your grandchildren, you just be you and show them the love they deserve no matter what she thinks, its your journey and the grandkids ALSO!/ you have every right to see them and be there grandmother, DONT FORGET THAT, the little ones will know that in time.

      • November 26, 2018 at 10:21 am

        Actually grandparents have ZERO rights.

        So it is in your best interest to play nice with your daughter, the gatekeeper to your children.

        Sounds like your daughter, the mother of her children, established boundaries and these boundaries are being viewed as acts of Control.

        What did the article state: that narcissists accuse others of being controlling?

        These children are your daughter’s children, not yours. Abide by her rules. See it as control if you will but you had your chance to raise your kids. Now it’s her turn.

      • July 12, 2019 at 1:44 am

        Grandparents do have rights

      • November 22, 2019 at 12:41 pm

        Grandparents DO NOT have legal rights in the U.S.

    • May 28, 2018 at 1:21 pm

      My son is withholding contact with my 5 year old granddaughter who I have looked after since she was a baby. It’s hard but he has been so mean and his wife believes his stories of being failed as a child. He has churned out vile comments and drip fed me horrible text that just keep telling me I am not part of his family. I am told I am nothing to them or my Granddaughter so I have made her a memory box of all our good times for her to look at when she is older with a letter explaining how much she is loved. Hopefully I will see her when she is old enough to make her own choices as I am now going to protect myself and go no contact with my narcissistic son. If he learns to deal with his issues then we might be able to reconnect but until he accepts that his false perception of me is his problem not mine then I refuse to join his pity party and I will concentrate on healing myself.

      • May 29, 2018 at 9:14 am

        Thanks for commenting, Freeatlast. Good to hear that you’ve chosen wisely, to not take the cruel comments or actions of a narcissistic son personally (withholding love not only from you, but also his 5 yr old daughter that you’ve cared for since a baby (!!!) — most likely because he knows how much this means to you etc) and instead to see this as his pathology, and to stay on a path that concentrates on healing yourself, building your own sense of self-love, self-acceptance and value — to protect your mind and heart from narcissistic abuse. You didn’t mention whether you’re also seeking professional help. If not, please consider, and make sure it is with someone that has experience in this area. Best wishes to you …

  • September 6, 2016 at 9:16 am

    Just had a 5 week fling with one, the nano version of the full blown relationship and I’m lucky to have woken up to the fact so quickly thanks to the micro stages of idealise devalue discard.
    Although I have been discarded I am now resisting the Hoover stage, again very quickly after the discard…
    I’m cool but I have realised most of the tears I shed were for him and the hopelessness of his emotional void which I think is a necessary part of grieving and acceptance that he is incapable of changing. Even now, ever the empath I feel sad that he is so damaged he’ll never have a normal attachment. Some tears were for me too, sad that I haven’t valued myself enough to see what he was doing earlier but like I said, the escalated speed of the whole experience has been to my benefit if I am honest. To all you others out there, be strong, you’re not alone… I’m done with him …;-)

    • September 6, 2016 at 12:37 pm

      Hi Dizzy,
      Glad that you realized what was happening in only 5 months. I first figured out my narcissistic man after 8 years. I have broken up with him and back together several times over the entire 8 years. He has torn all time away from me spending time with my daughter and friends. Exhaustion and finally realizing that he needs help will make me strong to let him go. He will never move on with his narcissistic dependency on me. He must be let go to heal on his own or to survive on his own. His father is a narccicist. That has kept me around to help him. But that’s impossible and exhaustion from trying to cope and understand and deal with him has me finished.

      • September 7, 2016 at 7:15 am

        5 weeks not months!!! Still hard to stop the magnetic pull and I work with him too so no real escape but I’ve put the wall up and he will not be climbing over it … I can see what he’s doing … I had a text this morning about a work related issue that finished with, of course I can, especially for you darling.x
        This is from he who never signs off with kisses who told me he doesn’t find me attractive and doesn’t want to see me again etc… A Classic discard manoeuvre, and now he is starting the Hoover process…. It’s ok, I can see it so I won’t fall into it but it never ceases to amaze me how callous they can be…. Narcissistic? Just nasty if you ask me……
        Good luck in your battle….. It’s a crap thing to go through and I can only imagine how much harder it is when it had become more entrenched… They should be rounded up and put on an island away from all normal emotional beings… 🙄
        Be strong…:-)

        “I am in love with you’, I responded.
        He laughed the most beguiling and gentle laugh.
        ‘Of course you are, he replied. ‘I understand perfectly because I’m in love with myself. The fact that I’m not transfixed in front of the nearest mirror takes a great deal of self-control.’
        It was my turn to laugh.”

      • June 13, 2017 at 3:30 pm

        I read something so great once, something like they don’t love you, they love seeing YOU love THEM and how you look while loving them, and how THEY look, sickening but humorous and pathetic once you’re out of it.

      • August 15, 2019 at 12:00 am

        Enlightening, accurate quote, thank you.

      • June 13, 2017 at 3:28 pm

        Don’t let him steal one more moment of your time away from your precious daughter. He deserves nothing, she deserves everything.

  • October 6, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Athena, I so wish I lived closer to you… you sound exactly like what my husband and I need. We have been married for 6 years, and he’s insisted on telling me for the past 2 that I am the narcissist; The gaslighting, the refusal to validate his feelings, being holier-than-thou, always needing to be right… he says that’s all on me. I’ve tried to think about it and I can see how it looks like that at times, and I have sat and tried to read about it… but I’m certain that is NOT who I am. Honestly, I think we have both expressed narcissistic behaviors, I think me moreso in defense to his. We have always had a rocky relationship and the way I am now (distant, etc) is due to the way he’s treated me & things I’ve had to deal with the entire time we’ve been together. The other thing is HE’S the one who’s been “crazy”.. PTSD, paranoia, delusions, a rather scary psychotic break at one point. Those things HAVE gotten better, but are still there… mainly lying in wait to be triggered by the smallest thing. For instance, there was an assault a year ago. I (regrettably?) let him stay because I could see he was so devastated and his sense of self destroyed. Though charges were filed, we got a lawyer and took care of it. He decided he needed to make changes in himself, and went through a LOT of self-help working on his anger. And he did, he made huge improvements on that front. But since then, things have been difficult in other ways, some of them not his fault. I still have not been able to be the comforting, loving, affectionate wife I should be… and then here comes the next escalation, so out of the blue, almost a year later. There’s that same anger I saw from the assault… though he NEVER touched me again- he at least learned that much. No, this time he is making flat out false accusations, hearing things in the house that aren’t there, claiming I am doing things in the house (while he is home, mind you) that are not even happening. Flat out paranoid delusions! Or paranoid stretching, since he insists he hears SOMETHING and at one point admitted he just didn’t know what it was. There is literally no other way I can describe it other than borderline psychotic… OR he is just searching THAT hard for something to attack me with, and gaslighting ME into thinking I’m the horrible person. And god forbid I try to defend myself- I am instantly made out to be a narcissistic liar. I feel so hopeless and helpless. Also I am trying to make HIM out to be the horrible person, or the only one who did anything wrong, etc… I know he can’t help a lot of things.

    Well, long story short, he has left now due to that recent outburst (3 of them to be exact)… it got pretty scary, the yelling and screaming, the demands for me to tell a truth that does not exist, it got as bad as it could possibly get without him putting hands on me. But now according to him, it’s all my fault because of “how I treated him” this past year when he was “working so hard” to improve himself. Sure, like I said, I was not the best person I could have been. Basically we needed help, a lot more than either of us could do on our own. And, well, help is hard to find. :/ (and afford)

    • June 13, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      the fact that you are even questioning your own actions proves you are NOT the narcissist in this situation. Narcissists never question themselves, they don’t go that deep.

      • October 19, 2017 at 1:47 pm

        There’s always two sides to the story, and you’re only getting one… But you side with a poster with a really long story.

        It’s a dance, and it’s not pleasant to leave. Although it can be done, very few people suddenly assault someone out of the blue for no reason.

        Consider those facts before you jump to offend someone on the behalf of someone else without both people present.

        Meier and Charlebois have a great book on the topic: You Might Be a Narcissist if…”

      • October 25, 2017 at 9:35 am

        A narcissist feels entitled to mistreat, abuse, punish, and does so with no remorse, and feels entitled to be treated as infallible.
        In truth, there is no action that would justify assault or violence.

        I’m familiar with the book, although it has a lot of good information, it is misleading in that it falls for narcissist schemes to blame-shift their every wrongdoing, to include the label of narcissist, onto their victims.

        I absolutely agree with the assessment that a person who worries about being a narcissist automatically disqualifies themselves.

      • December 2, 2019 at 4:39 am

        I have a brother that is always trying to talk about our pass with our hurt and pain with mentally ill parents. I closed those doors, but he wants to keep me there. I always wondered why he never wanted to be close to me. He is always trying to break me down and now I understand. Most of the time I have to keep my distance no matter how much I love him. he wants to come over tomorrow and get a Thanksgiving plate of food, so I know I have to continue to be strong in my Lord Jesus The Christ and move forward in my journey.

      • July 3, 2019 at 12:52 am

        How very judgmental we are. You assume because the story is “long” that it is untrue or made-up. The level of detail would be fairly difficult to conjure AND keep in a lateral time line, but that’s just my opinion.

        Where are you getting your information about who assaults whom and for what reason? Are you a Domestic Violence (D.V.) expert? There may be a reason, but there’s never an excuse. The “reason” is often some convoluted, imagined “slight” in the offender’s mind, but there is NO EXCUSE FOR ASSAULT. The “She made me do it/He provoked me into doing it” argument is NONSENSE. One is ALWAYS responsible for one’s own actions. Period.

        Because the AUTHOR does not know her partner’s (apparently delusional or half-cocked) reason for assaulting her, she automatically labeled it “for no reason”, as most people do. I’m sure he had a “reason”, but he has NO EXCUSE, and furthermore, NO RIGHT to assault her. None. People go to jail for that sort of sh*t, these days.

        You are correct in your assertion that both people involved should be able to give their stories, but not in the same room, nor at the same time to the same person. That is a no-no in any potential D.V. situation. Way too dangerous.

        The length of the story has nothing to do with whether it is truthful or not. It seems perfectly plausible, from my long experience in the mental health field. The author may not be a fantastic writer, but she’s definitely getting the basics of the situation, the relationship, and the danger involved across.

        This in no way implies that the problems are all one person’s fault. It always takes two to “Tango”. However, the statistics will back this up: Most physical and sexual abusers are male (by quite a large margin), and many abused women are financially or otherwise beholden to their abusers in some way. That’s been part of the dynamic in most human societies for thousands of years. Do with that what you will. Those are facts you can take to the bank, as they say.

      • July 10, 2019 at 10:52 am

        Excellent points, thank you for sharing your knowledge and understanding of this dynamic and distinction between abuser and victim. Thanks for commenting.

      • October 25, 2017 at 9:42 am

        Totally agree with Juanita’s assessment. The fact that you are filled with self-doubts, questioning your sanity, tells you that you need to heal from codependency, and protect yourself, sanity and mind from the mind games of a narcissist.

        Look for books and articles with strategies, if you cannot afford therapy with someone that works with narcissism and codependency. For starters, remember to “never argue” the points they make. Learn how to speak truth, use radio talk, then disengage. It’s not worth the energy … as Juanita has learned. It’s worth the effort to get out of time and energy wasting interactions…

      • August 15, 2019 at 12:03 am

        Amazing article. To the woman who is with a narc husband…Divorce Him! Focus on rebuilding a better life.

    • October 18, 2020 at 10:50 pm

      My ex narc by yelled at me too said I cheated all the time truth that didn’t exist too he still tries to control me after I left him thru texts but it isn’t working

  • October 12, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Athena, I write this after a terrible fight with my mother. People like my mother: she is a people’s person and is confident, charming and kind around others. But she is also something of an actor: she is screaming angrily at me and the next minute picking up the phone sounding very polished and cheerful. Of course, she would never admit she is screaming; when confronted she is highly offended and says she was “maybe raising her voice”. If I suggest otherwise it’s because I “exaggerate”/am “too sensitive” etc. This is a part of what people call gaslighting; she always tells me I remember/percieve things wrong. If I had not had a younger sister as a witness, I would have actually believed I’d gone crazy years ago because she always doubt me. When I tell her about a conflict with someone else, as an example,she always seems alarmed and wants me to assure her that it is really not I who have wronged the other party in any way (even as a child I found this odd because I’ve heard parents usually take sides with their children).

    I try not to confide in her, because I have come to realize she is looking for signs of me being weak. Illness, being in need of support and such is all an excuse for seeing me as inferior and might be used against me as a weapon. As a result, I can only talk to her on a very shallow basis without getting in trouble later on. The problem is, she wants to know everything, accusing me of “not being able to discuss things properly” or “shutting doors”. Such conversations often stops with her screaming angrily at me or being upset reapeating the same questions/opinions over and over again. I do not always handle this well, if this happens while speaking on the phone I hang up because she doesn’t really respond to what I am saying, holding a monologue sounding like a broken record. I have tried to tell her this behaviour is very controlling but she totally denies it saying ‘I am not a controlling person”. At the same time, she is sometimes behaving like a dictator saying things like ‘how dare you question/go against me” when we disagree on something.
    She also wants me to call her about once a day assuring her all is well (yes even on Sundays when I’m home all day.) This should not be confused with caring about me, because when I at few occasions have asked her for a ride home in the middle of the night getting home from work/a party she seems completely unconcerned about my well being, turning me down. I am not a teenager but in my late 30’s and the situation is really bad, affecting the whole family (including my young nephews). Do you please have any advice on how to handle this? (I hope I made myself clear; English is not my native language!)

    • October 12, 2016 at 3:57 pm

      Thanks for the comment, unhappy. Not sure the behavior responses of your mom fall in the category of narcissism. Parents do what they learned from their parents, that is, use shame, guilt and fear to “socialize” their children, and their told by society that it’s their job to have a hierarchical relationship, in which the authority figures, in this case the parents, are not supposed to be criticized. It’s not easy for parents to let go and see their children as adults who must make decisions for themselves and take responsibility — and it’s not easy for children to see their parents as not only parents but also persons who have challenges and other concerns apart from their children. Sounds like you both care about your relationship. Perhaps a therapy session or two to help both of you learn how to communicate your feelings and thoughts may help. Thanks again for writing. Best wishes,

  • November 22, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    I’ve been married to my narcissistic husband for 36yrs. I watched a program on tv about 5 yrs ago called ‘Insight’ and the topic was Narcissism. I couldn’t believe my ears. They were talking about my husband. The glare, the rage, the gaslighting. Always seeming to upset me on birthdays and special occasions. The penny finally dropped. I cried buckets because I realised for the first time that my husband doesn’t actually love me. He’s like an alien being, and I’m just a prop really to get him through his life. Weeks would go by and life would seem normal, happy & loving then out of the blue, bang, something would happen that would send me reeling and questioning, ‘what the hell just happened?’ So shortly after seeing the program on tv I went to a phsycologist on a friends insistance. Best thing I ever did. She explained that he was treating me like a parent and I was the naughty child. I’d always felt like I never did anything right and I was stupid . She gave me my self worth and I left there feeling empowered . His glares and rage didnt upset me and leave me crying anymore. They were actually laughable. This enraged him even more. His silent treatment is still sooo frustrating but I have to just let it go and it actually gives me some peace to do my own thing, I ignore it instead of continually asking what’s wrong what have I done? I’ve learnt to play him to get what I want. Not the life I wish I had but at least I feel one up. His good points are that he is a hard worker and has always been an exceptional provider. My husband wont fly in an aeroplane ever. I am 60 yrs old and my daughters husbands and grandchildren all wanted me to go with them on a holiday to Palm Cove Queensland. Somewhere Id always dreamed of going but wouldn’t dare without him. I told him that I was going to go this time. He said ‘you please yourself’ in a nasty way and hasnt spoken to me, didn’t say goodbye , have a great time nothing. So here I am in beautiful Palm Cove doing my own thing having a ball with my girls and grandkids. No arguments no silent treatments no feeling like an idiot. Seeing my son in law and daughter in the most loving supportive relationship together and seeing normal for a while. God knows what I’ll come home to! But at least with some strategies to empower yourself you can get through. Not that I would encourage this to anyone. I just wish we had the internet 40 yrs ago and maybe I would have realised earlier the type of person I was dealing with. (And got out!)

    • February 25, 2017 at 9:14 pm

      Too Late,
      When I read your blog, I realized that you and I have a lot in common. I have been married to my husband for 35 long miserable years. He was in the ministry the first 6 years of our marriage and we lived a long way from both of our families. We were so poor, simply couldn’t afford to communicate regularly with my parents. Plus he always blamed everything on me. I was very naive and unfortunately he used that to control me. I actually do have good self esteem now, but still how could I have been so stupid. We have 4 grown children and 7 grandchildren. I wish I had had the courage to get out a long time ago. But I am now at the age of 55 considering divorce….although it is scary. But I believe my peace of mind is more important to me than continuing to live this way. His income is 3 times more than mine. So finances plays a big part in why I have stayed. My walk with God is excellent. He has been my strength. I wish I had found this information years ago while I still had my Dad and my children were small. I hope it is not too late to get my life back. He recently stopped the screaming and yelling in my face bullying phase. Now we are going through the silence…I call it the invisible phase. I plan to learn all I can to stop being a target, and pray for wisdom and discernment. Life is too short to spend it this way. I wish you all the best.

      • October 20, 2018 at 2:12 pm

        So, I thought I was the only one trapped with a narcissist for 35+ years. My situation has been tough as we have an adult son with developmental disabilities (functioning at the pre-school level) and have not been able to find a residential program that will work for him, but I am continuing to try. Getting away will be difficult as every time I change my plans of where I will be, he changes his to match. He has had little interest in our child although I believe once I move out with our child, he will fake interest rather than sit alone bitter and angry. We are in our mid-60s now, if only I would have been educated about narcissism decades ago…………..but all is not lost, there is still time to salvage some time for myself. I don’t mind so much having my son with me if that ends up being the case. I am in “Whatever it takes to get the job done.” mode. It is just so sad as I meet younger women who are striving to be “good enough” (the maybe if I worked harder, looked better, met his every need better) with a boyfriend/spouse when I am pretty sure that will never happen having been there and done that myself. Thank you for the article and comments.

    • November 30, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Be happy if your kids are grown if you are setting out to leave a narcissist. I divorced a narc shortly after having children with him. I realized very quickly he was sleeping with several women he’d meet online through the various “hook up” sites. Even after showing him what I found – he denied ever cheating. I got a job and moved myself and our kids out – by law he kept 50% custody and would tell the kids “mom didn’t love us enough to stay here [at the house]” and “mom wants to go have a new life without us”….
      Then, the real torture began. Telling everyone whose ear he could find that I CHEATED and left him, as a victim.
      Teachers, neighbors, his and even MY family – he was not successful with his attempt with my family…. thank God.
      Torture continues with the bad-mouthing but, even worse, the “chaos-causing tactics” to destroy me, as the author of this blog said.
      Just last week, he heisted my birthday party for my 12 year old… literally asked my son all the details of the party we had planned to visit a certain amusement business and he sent out the EXACT same party invite to the EXACT same people for a week prior to go to the exact same place.
      The parents of my son’s friends (all well aware of my ex’s egregious behavior over the past 5 years) texted, emailed, called to ask – should we have our son go to both parties?? As I am learning what the author here says (about competing) – instead of throwing a protest, I said, well, if your son can go to his party on the earlier date – great – and I cancelled mine. Send ex a note and said, “You win – you also win the bill AND the scorn of onlookers who continue to watch you behave this way! Have fun”
      I have my own personal terrorist for the rest of my life, as my youngest son is only 8 — but both kids have caught on to “how dad is” versus “how mom is” … smart kids, although it doesn’t take much to see. My heart breaks for them!!!

      My heart also breaks for his newest minion girlfriend (he has two girls who don’t know about each other) who participates in his games to try to hurt me. He took my son from his elementary school on a day he was supposed to come to me then handed him off to her – she kept his location concealed and refused to let me talk to him until the police were called. It’s unbelievable the match they make – Now I refuse to drop my kids to her when she’s the one to pick them up for my ex’s custodial time and it has completely started WWXII. It never ends.

      • July 7, 2018 at 12:01 am

        You’re right to refuse to leave your children with your corner husband’s new girlfriend. Your custody agreement, I’m sure, does not require you to drop off your children with her. And since she is as pernicious as you describe, just don’t give in. Don’t argue with either of them. Just don’t play. If need be, talk to your attorney. You did not enter into a custody agreement with his girlfriend, period.

        My ex did things like you’re describing too. The competition over birthdays, holidays, Christmas, it was all exhausting and really, insane. It always felt like a competition to me. I knew it was wrong, but I did not know how to respond.

        I learned the bit about not dropping off my child with his girlfriend while we were in the hell of domestic court fighting out custody. He had been insisting I drop off my six-year-old with his lover, and I was not going to do that, just no. His lover? Ready? My oldest child from a prior marriage of mine. Yes, you read that right. The other woman was, and still is, my own daughter. It’s been a soul crushing existence with this guy. My own child has been turned into a perverted step-mother for my younger children. I am powerless to stop this insanity.

        I went to a lawyer over him demanding that I drop of off my young daughter with my older one. The lawyer told me to refuse based on the fact that the custody agreement, a court order, does not require me to leave my child with anyone but him.

        My younger daughter now spends her summers and school breaks, including Christmas, with my ex and my older daughter. This has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever faced. It’s been going on for years now, and I don’t think I can ever get over it. I’m a wreck. My children have been so damaged.

      • July 9, 2018 at 8:17 am

        Thanks for posting a comment, K. You need to take care of yourself, do whatever it is you need to do, to keep your hope, belief and esteem and love for yourself and life strong. For your self, and especially the children you love, make sure you do not describe yourself as a “wreck” or your children as “damaged” (except for a moment, learn to shift out of despair patterns of thinking … see a therapist if not already). You are a loving, concerned and caring woman and mother, and in order to continue to do your best to promote your own and your children’s healing, remain strong, hopeful, believing in your self and your children — admiring human capacity for resiliency — and never underestimate the power of your love, prayers or wishes, own growth and confidence and self-love on healing and empowering your children to live full and happy lives. Thanks for writing.

      • July 10, 2018 at 7:27 pm

        I do see a therapist. I just started with someone new who specializes in narcissistic abuse, so he gets it.

        I’m not wrong to describe my children as damaged. They certainly have been damaged by this ongoing dysfunction. That’s why it is so important–because real human beings get damaged.

        Maybe calling myself a wreck isn’t such a great description, but I am messed up from this. I have PTSD after years of dealing with such an oppressive, horrifying situation.

        The truth is that real human beings get hurt, damaged by people with this personality disorder. There is no way to sugar coat it.

        The therapist I am seeing likened it to being held hostage, after I described just another one of the many scenes my ex had caused. I think the hostage scenario fits. it certainly was terrifying. I absolutely do feel damaged. It’s all I can do to keep on going every day, but i do.

        Thank you for your supportive words.

      • July 10, 2019 at 6:46 am

        Fantastic advice. Same my therapist keeps reminding me. The best mothers we can be means being our best, healthiest, authentic selves.
        Thank you for the reminder and the great articles Dr.

      • July 10, 2019 at 11:09 am

        Appreciate your feedback and supportive comment Jessica, all the best!

      • July 10, 2019 at 6:40 am

        I’m in the divorce process with mine and your story terrifies me. My state also ruled 5050 (gotta be NPD law makers who came up with that Gem of an idea). I have been working with a therapist who is amazing. But the one thing they did recomend was a parallel, all contact through Family Wizard. Wondering if that might help? My son is 3,

      • July 10, 2019 at 11:08 am

        Thanks for commenting, not sure how Family Wizard works, but what a great idea to support a service (ideally one that is legally recognized) that protects family members (typically wife and children) from abuse tactics of narcissists in custody and divorce cases, and where the care of children is concerned.

  • February 21, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    My mother in law is a narcissist. She is the most mean spirited human being alive. If you are nice to her, she will tear you apart. She takes pure pleasure in making fun of people behind their backs. I can tell her worst fear is to be ridiculed the way she does to others. She and my father in law are wealthy. They love to look down on others. My mother in law is always fishing for my vulnerabilities. Pretending in that fake high pitched voice- How does it make me feel. No way lady. I would never tell her anything personal. Never trust a narcissist. This article is spot on. Another thing to notice is a narcissist always holds their cards close and is very secretive. These people are super toxic. There is no cure for them and one should always remember who they are dealing with when you may feel guilty. That is what nice people do, feel bad, etc. but trust me, there is no winning with a narcissist.

    • February 22, 2017 at 7:57 am

      Thanks for the comment Lee. Be careful of feeling too comfortable in a judging mode, however. The behaviors you describe are not likely narcissism.

      Most persons labeled narcissists in online conversations are not. Keep in mind that for a diagnosis of any disorder (to include narcissistic personal disorder or npd) to be made, there must be evidence that criteria behavior are so extreme that they are impairing the normal functioning of the person in one or more areas of their life, I.e., relationships, work etc.

      Our most important concern must be to ensure we remain genuinely feeling, caring, thinking, reflecting, compassionate human beings … in a world that is now using high tech methods to dehumanize, orchestrate lies and illusions that perpetuate their “might makes right” philosophical view as a norm that is endorsed by biology and god, whereas the human impulse to partner, collaborate, form caring democratic institutions and relationships is childish, weak, assoicated with ungodliness etc.

      People are not toxic; behaviors and the beliefs that drive them are toxic. In either case, it does not help us to label persons. This merely promotes the ideals narcissism desperately seeks to entice us to belive is the only way to win. You know, get others before they get you, etc.

      This is why narcissists look for the weak to prey on them. They view self and others from a might-makes-right philosophy. This philosophy of course holds no water. It’s a house of cards. Collaboration is nature’s key to growth; nature is not merely interest in physical survival, rather spiritual growth and thriving in meaningful exchanges, giving and receiving, that form strong, lasting, mutually fulfilling relationships — not to mention the powerful impact of synergy.

      • December 29, 2017 at 4:47 pm

        Dr. Staik,

        Thank you for your insightful words and all the hard work you accomplished to be able
        get to the point of being able to write and explain a long neglected area in mental health. Thank you for the validation. I believe that every step toward understanding people’s suffering and why we do the things we do brings us a bit closer to the peace that I believe we all want.
        Warm regards,
        Judy Bradford

      • December 30, 2017 at 5:31 am

        Much appreciate the thoughtful message, Judy, and the optimal outlook you’re mindfully taking to protect and cultivate a presence of peace of mind and happiness you, as a miracle making being, are wired nonstop to continually seek to realize. Sending best wishes your way … thanks again for commenting.

  • April 3, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    In hindsight I see my ex husband is a narcissist . Briefly this is my story. Married 28 years. I had an accident that left me unable to function for a year. He professed complete support. When our daughter was 10 we moved to NC and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder …again…he professed complete support. I was behind him when he left IBM and bought a business. Fast forward four years and he announced he lost our daughter’s college fun, our house and our retirement fund. still we bound together to handle this crisis. the house took two years to sell ..the day the sold sign was put up on our yard he announced he was leaving. Found out he had been secretly seeing his employee and they were starting a new life together… I was shocked.. His level of deceit astounded me. He blamed me for having an accident..calling it sheer stupidity and blamed all our financial issues on my medical bills. he continued with horrible insults and I had to sue him for alimony paying a lawyer money I didn’t have. He actually told me he was trying to make me miserable in the marriage so I would leave and he wouldn’t be required to pay alimony. I have grown in personal strength and work at putting him in a box called “narcissist”. I feel sorry for him..who would want to have a narcissistic personality???

  • June 6, 2017 at 10:44 am

    My son in law told me 13 yrs ago at my daughter’s 30th bday party, that he could take my daughter and gr daughters away from me and I would never see them again. I scoffed because my daughter and I were very close. Well, 2 yrs ago, it happened. It took awhile but he succeeded and I am broken hearted. Now she nor their girls will even answer a text, wishing them happy birthday. My older group daughter just graduated from h s and I wasn’t there. She and I were very close when she was growing up. I’m broken and don’t know what to do…😢. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!!

  • July 22, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Great article! Hits the point! It is extremely hard, if one is in the position, being (co)dependant of a narcissist. It does build an extremely complicated system. But it is a wonderful opportunity to grow and build awareness, of oneself, as well as of the interpersonal dynamics in this world. It’s easy to run away (although, it is actually very hard to get out of that cage) – it’s much harder to stay and see that constellation as a chance to work on your own self. Rewards can be amazingly fulfilling. I have had glimpses of these rewards. I have had many relapses, too. But I do continue down that road – or should i say “up” that road. Thank you for this reminder!

  • October 7, 2017 at 6:15 am

    I think i am married to a narcassist. Very controlling behaviour. Childlike attitude when upset. Has no close realtionships with his siblings or with his adult children. Will hold grudges for life. Never wrong, i have never won an argument with him in the past 30 years. Still manipulates my mind. He just recently disconnected himself from his married son and his wife and 6 month old granddaughter due to a financial situation which did not run on his terms. He keeps poisoning my mind about my son, he is just waiting for me to do the same. We recently have been arguing daily for the past few weeks and i am going crazy. His mother has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and sometimes continuous to argue with me in front of her, i know she is very upset with him and his behaviour towards her grandchild.
    I am afraid he will force me to disconnect myself from my son, i will never do this. I feel if this day comes i may end up leaving him. Do not know how to win him over.

    • December 30, 2017 at 2:02 am

      Pamela, I suggest you say you refuse to discuss it and if he wants to communicate his displasure, he must write it out. Just stay silent when he starts to argue, tut, start taking to your MiL or someone else and ignore him. They hate this. You will need to stay cool.

      Leave if he tries further to disrupt your relationship with your son. Go and see your son’s family without him. You don’t need to tell him if you tell your son to be discreet and only say if he asks (non-comitally – yes, mum’s been here a few times to see us, can’t remember dates).

      Keep your independence. Leave if he gets very nasty.

      I am leaving after 32 years. Unfortunately, they get worse, not better.

      • December 30, 2017 at 5:37 am

        Solid advice A. Margaret, thank you for sharing what works from your experience. Supporting and empowering one another to keep reaching to cultivate the happiness and meaningful connections we are wired to yearn to create with ourselves and one another … is one of the best qualities of being a human being. (This is what narcissists miss out on … ) Sending best wishes your way, and thanks again

  • March 27, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    My issue with my narcissist (It took me 4 years, a lot of counselling and finally a phenomenal psychologist) to get me out, in fact, our closing session she pointed out how when I had first come to her, I didn’t know which way was up, or down, and leaving I had taken my power back, I had regained my self-esteem etc.

    However, I have a small child with him, I was successful in court and got full custody so I didn’t have to worry about the endless arguments when it came to school, medical, daycare etc. I ensured I had final say so as not to have to go down that rabbit hole.

    But I’m still somewhat stuck in in this mentality of asserting myself, while also trying to ensure that my daughter can have a relationship with her dad and then second guessing. I’ve found that in order to actually make parenting decisions, I’ve had to almost treat his narcissistic outburst akin to a toddlers tantrum.

    i.e Set clear boundaries (consequences) when certain behaviour is made. So We have a schedule of Mondays, Wednesday and Alternating Fridays where he sees her for 2 hours. Of course, he keeps cancelling Monday because of his other son’s soccer; says Tuesdays (Really, I have no issues with switching, but have repeatedly requested that I have more than same day notice) Doesn’t happen, so finally I said I’m done negotiating, when he can be respectful, then we can talk (he’s very much a name caller) (Also, this then translates into ME not letting him have time with his daughter.. lol I just keep repeating that I do not take responsibility for the decisions he makes) Anyways, I’m dragging, the point is after a little while he’ll kindly ask if he can switch days or something, and because I want to “reward” the good behaviour I think to myself, well I should agree, because 1) maybe he’ll learn (he won’t) and 2) I like to stay true to MY word.

    Anyways, this seems to be my constant battle/struggle, I feel after having written this, I’m still struggling with boundaries with him, I guess a part of me believes/agrees that I’m doing a disservice to my daughter when she misses out on time with him. bah. Parenting is hard, parenting while separated is harder, parenting with a narcissist is impossible.

  • May 13, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Good article. I was hoping to see more in the way of actually putting an end to stopping the narcissist from their attacks. The only thing I see that upsets the narcissist is when you expose them. Exposing a narcissist to the people who mean the most to them, even if it’s just a superficial meaning, does have an effect. Narcissists are very concerned about how others perceive them. I may not have “won” anything but I have taken a stand against manipulative behavior. I have proven narcissistic ways are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Society needs to take a stand as a whole.

    • January 29, 2019 at 11:14 pm

      I totally agree with you…I have just ended a 5 year relationship with a narcissist and it’s pretty ugly right now…I had to surprise him and move out quickly, but we own a house together, so he is trying to steal my money , by dragging things out with lawyers I can’t afford but he can…it’s so stressful, but I do feel relief and freedom being away from the daily verbal abuse…so yes I am working on revealing his hidden persona to his family n friends hoping they may catch a glimpse and try and help the guy…who knows, but it’s worth a try….I’m done trying!

      • January 30, 2019 at 7:52 am

        Yes, Jenny, it’s a waste of energy to “try” to change a person with narcissistic personality disorder. Keep in mind, they regard the harm, chaos, suffering they cause as proof of their superiority, entitlements, it’s their turf. You may be interested in reading perhaps also sharing the following post, titled “3 Romanticized Fantasies That Make Women Easy Prey for Narcissists” All the best, Dr S

  • June 11, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    I don’t agree with the conclusions of this article.

    “Perhaps, but only if you’re willing to downgrade your standards to act like one.”

    This isn’t true, you don’t have to stoop to their level to outsmart them. You can outsmart them by not playing their game and creating your own “game” on top of theirs, i.e. being 2 steps (or more) ahead of them. I’ve done this, and I didn’t “become a narcissist” (and am not one) in the process.

    I didn’t have to get revenge on them or do the petty things they do, but yes, I enjoyed the HELL out of seeing their downfall. Why? Because it’s not really a downfall I was seeing. Here’s a simple picture: the narcissist takes what’s not theirs. They colonize your space and energy. They try to “get” power from others because they don’t have any themselves. They’re externally oriented. Basically, they are energy and emotional vampires.

    This is a lopsided dynamic, toxic and abusive. So when you set boundaries, respect yourself, express your needs and feelings, speak the truth, not feed their ego, pretend at times to be a ‘good supply’, expose their lies nonchalantly, etc…. you are outsmarting them without being a narcissist because you’re not taking anything that’s not yours. You are doing exactly the opposite: you are just not allowing them to take what’s not theirs.


    “Secret number 1: Only a narcissist finds sheer pleasure in competing to outsmart another in the use of cruel- or chaos-causing tactics.”

    Not true, because you don’t have to use “cruel or chaos causing tactics”. And if chaos does ensue, that’s all on the narcissist and his/her responses to real or perceived injury.

    And so:

    “Secret number 2: From a narcissist’s vantage point, like it or not, you are viewed as a fierce competitor — and your relationship is an ongoing competition.”

    It doesn’t matter because I view their bullshit as fuel to stop them in their tracks and stop poisoning my life with their cancer.


    “Secret number 3: The means they use to to crush another’s esteem or plans .. are the end game.”

    That means I use my knowledge to stay ahead by predicting their behavior and not allowing it to have any effect on me or work as planned as the end game.

    I’ve done this to 3 narcs already. They’re simple minded and not creative, they’re like 3 year old children perpetually stuck in a tantrum. It works. They get confused, they start stuttering and making excuses, they try to figure you out and pin you down etc etc etc until they just give up and fuck right off like they should’ve from the start.

  • July 11, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    This is the first time I have written on a blog. But after rewriting this article and the other comments, I felt maybe it would help for me to share.
    I have been with my boyfriend/ fiancé ( not sure which as he just gave me a ring saying.. “here you go” this past year) for 15 years.
    He shows all the signs of narcissistic behavior. Yet I’m still with him. For some reason, I still need his approval and I continuously try to show him how much he hurts me with his words. Is it stubbornness? Is it because I met him when I was 25 and he was 35 and I basically grew up with him?
    I feel stuck and don’t know what to do. Anyone have suggestions?

    • August 10, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      Leave because if you don’t, you’ll turn around and be 60+ and nothing will have changed. I am in that situation now. I’ve been married to my husband for 19 years and dated him for 4-1/2 before we married. I’m nearly 63 now and although I can financially afford to be on my own, the prospect of that at 63 makes it a very hard decision to make. Had I known at 40 what I know now, I would not have gotten involved with him! Leave, run for your life!

  • July 15, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    This article is so what I needed right at this particular time in my life.

    Today I have finally found the strength and motivation to start packing my things up and getting my freedom back again.
    I’ve only been married for just about 3 yrs now ( August )
    Things were pretty good up until a few months into our marriage.

    I began seeing things I couldn’t for the life of me understand, That inturn got me looking at myself and what I could do to improve in my Marriage.

    As soon as I started to want to communicate and encourage my husband to join with me on working on things together as a couple. All Hell broke loose. There began the beginning of seeing a monster, who started emotionally, mentally and physically abusing me.

    I still had no understanding why, so I began some therapy of my own and learnt about Narcissist abuse.

    It was spot on, and after all the assaults and numerous family calling police on him having him arrested and him breaching AVOs. I left once which was last yr but a couple of months later I was back. Then it got worse to where I now have more understanding I was trauma bonded to him.

    So I’m now after being discarded finding the strength and motivation to begin packing my life up here and leaving.
    I have reached the stage of full realisation this man my husband will never change and I need to move out, and get myself fully well again and I can only do that by moving out asap.

    Your article has given me so much encouragement to begin this big life change. And I realise when I’m fully out his hovering will begin. So I’m going to take the no contact rule and block all to do with him including any of family and all associates of his.

    Thankyou from the bottom of my heart. U have given me a strength and determination to put my own happiness first and to find myself again. As I have been through the most horrific time in my whole life, much I’ve not shared Due to time restraints I have.

    On to BRand New life for me.

    Thankyou once again.

  • August 19, 2018 at 6:41 am

    Hi dear
    Great article.
    My concern when there kids involved and they get in the middle and the N want to move to freedom.and separate but spous trying his best.

    N wife shows no emapathy for kids how could it be.
    Also N wife has been intomfinancial difficultues that has stressed her ou. Is that one of resons she is blaming all.on me as she is the main income.

  • September 28, 2018 at 12:37 am

    Okay, but here in lies my Selena. I know my husband’s vulnerable side. There was a point wetter I was gone for good and he freaked out, showing me, and actually starting conversations that were both real, self realized, compassionate, and concerned. Genuinely. In fact this went on for almost a year. Then it started to flicker out. To the point of physical violence being another manipulation tactic, not or or angry but demand for me to realize I am nothing compared to him. Send he is not to be bothered with my sick emotions. Okay. Now I know how wrong this it’s. I know he is hurting me, I know how he is. Im smart. And I have taken him out low like that, easy to outsmart. Who is so predictable. But I couldn’t stand to hurry him, or anybody for that matter. I let it come to this because I told myself love is more powerful. So much more. And that I could be resealiant to his ways, and guide him through. He asked me to. He ment it when he asked. Yes he did. I know his love is so true. OMG so true and beautiful when he trusts it. But somewhere somehow, we got back into the game is his. Where he seems to forget how great he could feel. Flickered out until no sign he intended to want to remember. Okay to my point! I am certain that I did all of the above over and over, but he would show no mercy. Continually night and day non stop until I would engage. And when I engage I cannot be cruel the way he is. And I will sacrifice myself. Now I am so lost and hard up. The minutes a away I feel like a normal rational person. But as soon as I get around him, I lost all self worth, care, love. OMG it’s hell. I have some serious issues alone. I never doubt that I can never get away because he has become so good at taking me down, I’ll never get or the front door on those days I have the resources to do so. So what do I do? What can I do.? Besides tell myself what a fool. Because humans don’t have pure love, we have healthy or unhealthy attachments. Love is the goal. But this is going to shut down my soul. I need to find the secret passage or just completely give in? Oh no. That hurts to much to do that.and there is no precious soul that I can destroy for my own.

    • September 30, 2018 at 8:35 am

      Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your story and your observation of key patterns in his behavior and its effects on you. Noting how you feel when he’s not around is also an important insight. If you are not already seeing a professional with experience in this area, please consider doing so. You may have symptoms of narcissistic abuse syndrome; you may find my article on this topic helpful. Most importantly, a therapist can support you to build and discover your core strengths and authenticity, and take the reins as choice maker and agent of your life and happiness. Thanks again, and best wishes.

  • September 29, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    This was a very good article.
    I have just left hopefully for the last time and on again off again relationship with a Narcissist which lasted for 36 years.
    I arrived to see him from thousands of miles away – he had no food in the house – nothing – then accused me of being crazy and having multiple personalities. I noticed that everytime he accused me of having a mood swing – it was in fact he who suddenly changed, got angry and then made it look like I had changed. He would provoke me, criticize me, call me demeaning names – and then say I was too sensitive – then suddenly be all over me. I couldn’t believe how verbally abusive he was. If I made the slightest joke about him he would say :Don’t criticize me I am very vulnerable…. His wife of 12 years had left him 5 years ago – and accused him of abusive narcissistic behavior – Now I know what she meant.
    I do not want to debase myself to act like him.
    He also drank a lot.
    IN between all this scary behavior he bought me roses and a coat…………. I finally left. I hope this time for good. Fortunately we are thousands of miles apart….. but my self esteem has gone for a dive. I am slowly building my life back together again.

    • September 30, 2018 at 8:29 am

      Thank you for commenting Charslight, and sharing your story and insights. If you are not seeing a professional with experience in this area to support you to build and discover your core strengths and authenticity, and take the reins as choice maker and agent of your life and happiness, please consider doing so. Thanks again, and best wishes.

  • October 9, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    I am in the middle of a custody battle for the sanity of our 10 year old daughter. How do I convince the courts that he is a narcissist and that the damage he did to me after 17 years is a drop in the ocean to the damage he will do to her? I am the child of a narcissist and the wife of one. I know first hand the damage that a narcissist can do to a child and I would not wish that on anyone. I am nearly 50 and after many years of therapy, I walked into my therapist’s rooms and told her that I had suddenly in that moment realised that I had married my mother. How could I ever stand idly by and let my own child suffer the same fate? During his access visits he has already begun gaslighting her; telling her that the bad behaviour that she had witnessed was not what she saw, that he was provoked, that they were yelling at him too and first. Victim mode is his preferred method of ending an argument, when, “what you saw is not what you saw”, “someone else did it”, “you did it”, “you do it too”, “you did it to me”, “you are worse than me” don’t work. At night I do not sleep, I am not even tempted to sleep with the worry over what he will do that he should not or what he won’t do that any decent person would, to and for her. Being awake and worrying through the day. Provability is the difficulty because most of what he did was behind closed doors or people saw but did not register what was really happening or he has convinced others that he is the victim. He says I have made unrelenting accusations that he is the victim of. Why can the courts not see that if I am not dropping my assertions about his behaviour then surely I must be serious and truly believe that he is a threat? I am not a vicious vengeful woman who is determined to bring him down. I am not even particularly angry. I am enjoying my new life although we are in hiding and discovering that what he had me believe about myself is just not true. I do not have memory problems, I do not lose things, I am organised, I am tidy, I can cook, I can drive very well, I am a good mother, I am not lazy, he was never under my thumb. I look back now and can almost laugh that I ever bought into this fantasy of myself that he convinced me I was. For all the joy I have now in never hearing his car pull up outside the house and feeling instant terror or stress, nothing takes away from the fact that he still has power over me through our child. She is the perfect button to push; hurt her and you hurt me. It is a lesson he learnt and exploited in the days leading up to my leaving him; it is why I left him. A man like him will absolutely take advantage of this information. He would not be what he is if he didn’t. From his perspective he would be a fool to pass up an opportunity like this. I know he does not love her just as I know he did not love me. The fact that I married him at all is proof that he can fake it as long as he needs to in order to get what he wants. With me it was my wage, with her it is a fast track to eviscerate me. What has taken time is to come to terms with is why he is bothering. I am no one special, I am not beautiful, I am not a catch except for the money he siphoned from me. Surely he should see that there are other women out there who would not fight him, who would give him all he deserves without him really needing to put himself out. Why can he not just chalk this up to experience and walk away? He won. He left me destitute and I have been fighting to get anything from the marriage that I put into it. It took many letters and phone calls to my lawyer just to get my winter clothing back from him. The ultimate victory for him would be to take our daughter away from me. If that happens she will not become the psychologically healthy young person or adult that she has every right to be. She should not have to spend her life fighting to regain a healthy outlook in her relationships with potential partners. She should never have to learn to second guess herself. She should learn that self reflection is healthy but based around reality and have a clear idea about what reality really is. If anyone has any input or advice at all I would be very appreciative.

    • February 3, 2019 at 4:06 pm

      Hi Jenny,

      Sorry to read about your plight.

      Just the two cents,
      First, this is not about you or your daughter. It is all about power and control.
      The more control he has over the child, similar control he will exhibit on you. Narcassists look at people as things, which they can use as they please.

      Alot of good souls, don’t want a situation where any child should face such defaced characters.

      However, speak with an attorney for psychological assessment of your ex from the courts. The psychological assessment shows the NPD personalities.
      Perhaps, such assessments can help reduce access, as it interferes with the emotional and psychological well being of the child.
      As many courts, do realise that emotional and psychological well being are equally important to physical well being.
      The above statements should not be taken as legal advice of any sort, and consulting a proper attorney is encouraged.

      And the most important aspect of such a relationship is, neither can control any one, which means, unfortunately no one can control how a child feels, so one has to deal with the things as they are but you can always increase your probabilities.

      Hope, the good souls get good environments for the developing good souls.


      • February 4, 2019 at 10:46 am

        Excellent recommendations and insights, JckSpw, thank you for your contribution. Best wishes

  • January 28, 2019 at 3:18 am

    Being married to a narcissistic man for 34 years takes a toll mentally + physically on your body+ soul. Very controlling we had 3 daughters our middle daughter was born with spina bifida+ hydrocephalus. She was fragile after 3 months she passes. Meantime my husband still living at home was having a full blown affair witha co-worker he knew..our family was broken after 1 month after the death of our daughter he told me he was leaving for another woman. But for some reason that woman did not leave her husband +we continued in this spider Webb of lies + decite.. Left him took him back several times.finally 2 days befor xmass I told him to get out another new girlfriend in the picture. Finally after much convincing he left.. My life is so good no drama ,stress or hurt .but every 2-3 years have post tramatic episode.

    • January 28, 2019 at 9:40 am

      Appreciating hearing from you Patricia Sassone, and learning you broke free from the drama, and working to restore sense of self, body and mind. Thanks for commenting and best wishes for continued healing and sense of authentic love for yourself and life and all you love.

  • February 21, 2019 at 4:48 am

    Hi Athena, One of the best articles I have read. I didn’t know what/who I was living with or why he is the way he is until quite recently I listened to a video interview. The professional was talking about narcissistic people and their traits. That day I had sigh of relief as I had a name and finally realised it wasn’t me. I was always blamed and it was always my fault, I was told I was stupid, dumb, no money, no education etc etc. Your article mentions about simple things as holding hands, I almost choked as it is my life when we first married and wanted to hold hands he made sure it didn’t happen. Anyway 36 years now with him with no end in sight. He made sure I had no money and totally depended on him. I am hoping for a miracle.

  • March 9, 2019 at 2:51 am

    This was just what I needed to read!
    Thank you, it was so crystal clear and refreshing to read about the turbulence the narrassist causes and the reasoning in their minds!
    You allowed ME to turn the page with seeing how pathetic one can be in life the carries such a defect!
    Not for me, it must keep one up all night with evil thoughts on how to inflict pain to others while living in a bubble of righteousness!
    Great Reading and clarification!

    Thank you

  • March 14, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    Amazing. Thank you for this. I have recently realized that my mother is a narcissist and it had been such an eye-opening experience for me, figuring this out in my 30s. I was lucky to have an amazing, loving father and I think that has helped with my development a lot. I believe that, as the oldest, I got the worst of it from my mother, but I also feel I got the “best” of my dad. I always felt I needed to gain her approval but what she wanted me to do and what she approved of was so arbitrary that it was impossible, and when I would make decisions based off of what I believed she “wanted” me to do–going so far as marrying a guy who was a professional victim–because she approved of him, they have almost always, proved to be disastrous decisions. Now I am focusing 100% of my energy on making myself happy and fulfilled and, thanks to your advice I’m going to keep trying to not let it effect me and protect myself without being degraded to her level. I am also listening to the Audible “Will I Ever Be Good Enough” by Karyl McBride and I highly recommend it to any women out there who feel they have a narcissistic mother.

  • March 15, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    Thank you so much for a great article ,it has clarified ALOT to me…I was in a relationship for 5 years, and I worked really hard to try and make it work, but in the end, the constant verbal abuse and assaults on my family and friends caused me to end it…the hard part for me now is that I own half of a property with him, and he is making it VERY hard to get my money back…
    Ive had to go to lawyers, which I cant afford and he knows this and loves dragging it out ..I just cant go to court, but his letters denying my offers, have all been denied..How do I make him think he is winning without losing my lifes savings that I have given into this relationship?? I dont think my lawyer or his for that matter, realises who they are dealing with …
    Is there ways to appeal to his ego ??? Im at a dead end with this situation…

  • March 28, 2019 at 5:08 am

    Thanks so much.

    My daugter in law has learned how to suvive with my son by bringing me or the rest of the family in trouble with him. Every word that I will say to her she will turn to suit her and wil tell him her version. He would believe her lie and never the true story. He admire her for telling him everything and that make her feel save. She will also shower him with love and affection. I stayed with them now for three months being a bipolar person. I am in such a state because I can neverdo anything right and lies abour everything and hates his wife and never loved him and so on it will go on and on. I however realised that I need to get out of there or I will land in an institution. But the insults I get about that make me feel so guilty. I will have to see things for what they are or the guilt will push me further into very deep depresion. I am actually very scared. I have a set of rules and not allowed to see friends because I will just talked out of the house.

    • March 28, 2019 at 7:18 am

      Thank you for sharing Salome. If you have not already, seek professional counseling with someone that has worked with narcissistic abuse. Best wishes.

  • April 12, 2019 at 9:50 am

    Here I am 80 years old just discovering through your website and other recent research..why I experienced a sort of addiction to bonding with narcissists throughout my life. Several Male relationships, two broken marriages..one of which was physically abusive, and a sister who to this day will not relinquish her attempts at control. Can you imagine this at our age ?? She is in her late 70s and single..having driven away many eligible men. I have been her favorite victim since we were teenagers. I grew up thinking I was an ugly duckling, and very insecure due to her bullying. Much later when we had distance between us, I became a fashion model and a creative writer..so there..! BUT..then in later years we were in contact once again..and she is still trying to work her spell over me , even today. Amazing. They never stop !! Until I began research and more recently your website..I had self doubt and moments of despair..thinking “what is wrong with me..I must be doing something to deserve this abuse. ” Thanks to the internet and people like you who are self giving and truly want to help the unnecessary suffering we can experience, at the hands of twisted people..we can heal ourselves even late in life. I have experienced many wonderful healthy relationships along with the dangerously sick ones. ..but even as I write this I am married to a man , in his 70s, who is not a full blown narcissist, but has his moments. Now I can take control of myself and deal with it. Thank goodness he is not violent and it’s not an every day event. Still he has the tendencies having been raised by a narcissistic father. This is such an eye opener. I can truly say..I am so relieved. You have given strength to so many. And now.. I even can recognize narcissim in people who are not directly affecting my life. Hallelujah.

    • April 13, 2019 at 6:05 am

      Thank you for sharing your experience of coming out of the fog, now aware and celebrating that you can recognize, and deal with the challenges of being in a relationship with a narcissist in ways that protect your own sense of self and happiness and wellbeing. Best wishes to you…

  • June 22, 2019 at 12:09 am

    But in your entire article you completely avoid the obvious and common situations one finds oneself in when confronted with a narcissist on a particularly foul path, which is when they do something inexcusable and must be stopped from doing you or others harm, physically, psychologically, emotionally, sexually, you name it, narcissists are fucking pieces of shit. You shouldn’t let the narcissist get away with causing further suffering of yourself or others. Walking away from them is not an option, and as for forgiveness, that is meaningless. Narcissists can’t repent, it isn’t in their psyche to do so. So your forgiveness means nothing to them because they continue on their paths of destruction regardless, often on you as the target of it.

  • July 27, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    Excellent article…the key take away being that if you are dealing with a Narc … which I am … then to dig in your inner strength to deal with her stuff. Make your self strong and immune to her nefarious ways.

    It’s not easy, in fact it’s bloody hard, but I am working on it.

    • August 15, 2019 at 12:21 am

      Nice comment..you can do it!

  • August 12, 2019 at 11:54 pm

    Beautiful article. I can’t explain how valuable this article is. I used the message for a narcissistic person who I was a friend with, who never treated me well and was always hell bent on either competing with or belittling me.

    I used your words here to understand their false image—> “Your real need is not to outsmart a narcissist. It is to awaken so that you no longer are impacted or hooked by the narcissist’s false self.”
    Beautiful words 🙂

  • August 20, 2019 at 11:52 am

    This article was truly an eye-opener and helped to make sense of what a “partner” goes through with a narc. Now it makes sense as to why they treat us like the enemy !
    I found this very helpful and thank you for writing it as I have been with a narc for 13 years and daughter of one who destroyed my entire family. There most definitely is a way to outsmart the narcissist but not in the traditional sense . I will continue to protect myself as you have suggested and allow
    My husband to believe he is Superior .
    We all know better . Life is only a game to a narcissist , One of winners and losers .
    Thank you for bringing such clarity to my life .

  • September 11, 2019 at 10:18 am

    I just need input. This article is AMAZING!
    My son lives lives almost 2 hours away. His family drives within 4 miles of my home several times a year. He now has children and allows me to see them if i come down there or skype on their phones. The kids are under 2… He has not been here for over 10 months. The kids are too little to enjoy the skype.. I am at a lost. If I say anything he will say ” dont play a victim mom”.. I am not allowed to say anything at all…

    • September 12, 2019 at 7:35 am

      Thanks for commenting, teri. The dynamics of adult children using narcissistic abuse tactics of “deprivation of contact,” among other things, to intentionally hurt/isolate parents from grandchildren (or in other cases, to isolate their spouse and deprive spouse’s parents from having contact their child and grandchildren etc) is a topic that has received little attention by authors and practitioners. For now, the best steps a parent can take in these cases is to, first, realize it can take years to have a breakthrough if any, and thus second, to zealously focus on caring for your own self care and life, that is, to take excellent care of yourself physically (eat healthy, exercising, meditation, etc.) and socially (expand network and contact with friends, family members, etc.), as well as to seek emotional support from a professional, ideally with experience in this area, to process the pain and fear and convert it to healthy sense of growth and understanding.

      There is perhaps nothing more cruel than the acts of lost persons who link their sense of self and value to feel “superior” by making their “targets” feel/believe lies — certain lies, and that’s all they are is lies — that specifically attack another’s sense of self, presence, value, connection and so on.

      In other words, the best antidote to narcissistic abuse, when this is appears to be the case, is to work zealously on so unconditionally loving and respecting and valuing your self, and the love you bring, that you gradually grow to see all toxic actions of another person as something for them to heal, their problem so to speak, not something you can control or solve in other words. So in this case, your son’s inability to feel and welcome and appreciate your love and the value of your presence in your grandchildren’s lives is truly his loss, his problem. A narcissist is lost, disconnected from what is truly valuable in life, and misses out. The hardest part for a parent is “accepting” that they cannot change that, and thus, the more they try to “change” or “heal” the narcissist, the more they open themselves to needless suffering.

      For now, teri, if possible, know that the love you gave throughout the years to nourish and raise and love your children and family can never be taken away by anyone’s cruel acts. After all it nourished and connected you to life — actions of love and kindness are never for naught. Let it nourish, strengthen and encourage you now, to never give up your hope, belief and love for self and life, belief and hope. And if you cannot “feel” this now, at least, grow you “want” to do so. It’s the healthiest thing you can do for yourself, and thus ultimately, it is the healthiest thing you can do for your son, that is, disallow him from taking away your love for yourself and life. Feel compassion for the lost child who misses out. Take good care and feel free to share any progress in future. All the best to you, Dr S

  • September 12, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    Thank you for your detailed response. It seems to be a widespread issue. I was a stay at home mom that spent every afternoon spending time with him in hopes he grew up happy and confident, now I believe I am responsible. I put him way too high on a pedestal and he lacked for nothing. Now, I don’t’ recognize this person… Thanks again for your wise words or wisdom and encouragement.

  • November 17, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    This is one of the best articles I’ve read about dealing with narcissism. Unfortunately, I am locked into the relationship because it is my daughter who is now withholding my grandchildren. I am considering telling her I will not participate in her determination to poison their little minds (twin seven-year-olds), so I give up trying to see them or be a grandparent to them. I just don’t know if that is truly best for the children, but I am willing to face that reality if they will be spared that psychological pain. If I’m not there to fight and compete with, maybe they can gain some measure of peace. My son-in-law totally wants my husband and me to be the grandparents we’ve always been to the children. This started with a situation she tried to control and “win” over 15 months ago. Before that, we were close. Thank you for the article.

  • December 9, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Dear Athena,

    FANTASTIC!!! The most insightful and helpful advice I have read on narcissists and crazymakers (and I have done A LOT of research on this subject). You hit the nail on the head(s). I will not spend another second draining my energy, self-worth and self-esteem with my narcissistic mother, and her reflection, my crazy-making sister. I am prepared for the fallout of my decision as I am stronger, worthier and more knowledgeable. Thank you, thank you.

    A kindred spirit,
    Lynn Christine

  • April 29, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    This is a very good article with regard to both a romantic and non-romantic narcissistic relationship. My daughter and her best friend (the narcissist) went through an episode; and until I figured out the friend was a narc my daughter initially wanted revenge. I counseled her that this would make her look like the bad guy and this is what her ex-friend was looking for (because we all know attention is attention – good or bad). I encouraged and enabled my daughter to move on with her life and enjoying those around her who appreciated her gifts. Moving forward as if her ex-friend no longer existed was the key. This was the best course of action. The people around her saw through the ruse of the narc and my daughter, although cautious, is very happy and no longer falls into relationships with narcissists.

  • June 7, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    Excellent description. I lived with that for almost 20 years. It took Alanon and good counseling, and a lot of thought to quit reacting and understand this power play so that I could stop participating. I knew that if I did not react, for him it was no longer fun. Thank God for divorces.

    We need more education about things like this. Mental health should be the number one priority in our country.

  • June 12, 2020 at 7:58 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this article. It saved me from making a mistake. It has immensely empowered me and reinforced everything I already knew but was starting to doubt about my mother’s narcissism. Facts are hard to accept, but knowing real truth and knowledge, and feeling confident and positive about the future helps reduce worries of ambiguity and authenticity of the past.

  • August 15, 2020 at 5:48 pm

    When you are in a coparenting relationship and have shared custody you cannot ignore the narcissist because you need to “coparent” with your abuser or be seen as the bad parent. That leaves the door open for them to use the coparenting arrangement as away to access and abuse you. Everything gets turned into a fight. They keep right on gaslighting and trying to paint you as the villain in the eyes of the law. It never ends. I did not find this article helpful.

    • August 16, 2020 at 8:40 am

      Thanks for commenting Sarah. The coparenting relationship with a narcissist is one of the most challenging because the narcissist knows how much you care about the children’s wellbeing and what specific standards you’ve set, and will play these to the max for leverage. To them, it’s a competition of who “wins” and makes the other lose. It can help to firmly remind them that focusing on children’s health and highest interests (not yours and his) is in their highest benefit. In other words, appeal to a part of them that yearns to be a good, caring father, or be the father they yearned to have, and so on. If you have not already, seek a professional with experience in dealing with narcissistic disorder. They can support you to identify what language patterns they use and what patterns you need to use to avoid or neutralize “conversations from hell” (as one of my clients described it). This may not change them, however it can really help you take the reins to protect your sense of self, sanity and not waste good emotional energy you need to live your best life and realize your goals for self and children. All the best,

  • October 16, 2020 at 4:03 am

    I can’t believe people can be so cold and hurtful. Im a bit naive. I believe in peace and harmony. Ive known my boyfriend for 25yrs and dated for the past 4. Hes mentally and physically abusive. He has put a knife to my cats throat. Hes threatened to kill my family. Im constantly accused of cheating. I very rarely get to go to the bathroom without him coming in on me. Im very head strong person so ive fought back for yrs. Im 42 im tired i have cptsd and he plays on that. Now i try to ignore or agree. Would therapy help him at all? Thank 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.

Leave a Reply to Yes Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *