Five Powerful Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head

Five Powerful Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head by Shahida Arabi

In popular culture, the term “narcissistic” is thrown about quite loosely, usually referring to vanity and self-absorption. This reduces narcissism to a common quality that everyone possesses and downplays the symptoms demonstrated by people with the actual disorder. While narcissism does exist on a spectrum, narcissism as a full-fledged personality disorder is quite different.

People who meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder or those who have traits of Antisocial Personality Disorder  can operate in extremely manipulative ways within the context of intimate relationships due to their deceitfulness, lack of empathy and their tendency to be interpersonally exploitative. Although I will be focusing on narcissistic abusers in this post, due to the overlap of symptoms in these two disorders, this post can potentially apply to interactions with those who have ASPD to an extent.

It’s important in any kind of relationship that we learn to identify the red flags when interacting with people who display malignant narcissism and/or antisocial traits, so we can better protect ourselves from exploitation and abuse, set boundaries, and make informed decisions about who we keep in our lives. Understanding the nature of these toxic interactions and how they affect us has an enormous impact on our ability to engage in self-care.

Watch out for the following covert manipulation tactics when you’re dating someone or in a relationship.

1. The Idealization-Devaluation-Discard Phase

Narcissists and those with antisocial traits tend to subject romantic partners through three phases within a relationship. The idealization phase (which often happens most strongly during the early stages of dating or a relationship) consists of putting you on a pedestal, making you the center of his/her world, being in contact with you frequently, and showering you with flattery and praise. You are convinced that the narcissist can’t live without you and that you’ve met your soulmate. Be wary of: constant texting, shallow flattery and wanting to be around you at all times. This is a technique known as “lovebombing” and it is how most victims get sucked in: they are tired of the “games” people play with each other in communication and are flattered by the constant attention they get from the narcissist. You may be fooled into thinking that this means a narcissist is truly interested in you, when in fact, he or she is interested in making you dependent on their constant praise and attention.

The devaluation phase is subsequent to this idealization phase, and this is when you’re left wondering why you were so abruptly thrust off the pedestal. The narcissist will suddenly start to blow hot and cold, criticizing you, covertly and overtly putting you down, comparing you to others, emotionally withdrawing from you and giving you the silent treatment when you’ve failed to meet their “standards.” Since the “hot” aspect of this phase relies on intermittent reinforcement in which the narcissist gives you inconsistent spurts of the idealization phase throughout, you become convinced that perhaps you are at fault and you can “control” the narcissist’s reactions.

Even though the narcissist can be quite possessive and jealous over you, since he or she views you as an object and a source of narcissistic supply, the narcissist is prone to projecting this same behavior onto you. The narcissist makes you seem like the needy one as you react to his or her withdrawal and withholding patterns even though the expectations of frequent contact were established early on in the relationship by the narcissist himself.

You are mislead into thinking that if you just learn not to be so “needy,” “clingy,” or “jealous,”  the narcissist will reward you with the loving behavior he or she demonstrated in the beginning. The narcissist may use these and other similar words to gaslight victims when they react normally to being provoked. It’s a way to maintain control over your legitimate emotional reactions to their stonewalling, emotional withdrawal and inconsistency.

Unfortunately, it is during the devaluation phase that a narcissist’s true self shows itself. You have to understand that the man or woman in the beginning of the relationship never truly existed. The true colors are only now beginning to show, so it will be a struggle as you attempt to reconcile the image that the narcissist presented to you with his or her current behavior.

During the discard phase, the narcissist abandons his or her victim in the most horrific, demeaning way possible to convince the victim that he or she is worthless. This could range from: leaving the victim for another lover, humiliating the victim in public, being physically aggressive and a whole range of other demeaning behaviors to communicate to the victim that he or she is no longer important.

2. Gaslighting.

Most abusive relationships contain a certain amount of gaslighting, a technique narcissists use to convince you that your perception of the abuse is inaccurate. During the devaluation and discard phases, the narcissist will often remark upon your emotional instability, your “issues,” and displace blame of his/her abuse as your fault. Frequent use of phrases such as “You provoked me,” “You’re too sensitive,” “I never said that,” or “You’re taking things too seriously” after the narcissists’ abusive outbursts are common and are used to gaslight you into thinking that the abuse is indeed your fault or that it never even took place.

Narcissists are masters of making you doubt yourself and the abuse. This is why victims so often suffer from ruminations after the ending of a relationship with a narcissist, because the emotional invalidation they received from the narcissist made them feel powerless in their agency and perceptions. This self-doubt enables them to stay within abusive relationships even when it’s clear that the relationship is a toxic one, because they are led to mistrust their own instincts and interpretations of events.

3. Smear campaigns.

Narcissists keep harems because they love to have their egos stroked and they need constant validation from the outside world to feed their need for excessive admiration and confirm their grandiose sense of self-importance. They are clever chameleons who are also people-pleasers, morphing into whatever personality suits them in situations with different types of people. It is no surprise, then, that the narcissist begins a smear campaign against you not too long after the discard phase, in order to paint you as the unstable one, and that this is usually successful with the narcissist’s support network which also tends to consist of other narcissists, people-pleasers, empaths, as well as people who are easily charmed.

This smear campaign accomplishes three things: 1) it depicts you as the abuser or unstable person and deflects your accusations of abuse, 2) it provokes you, thus proving your instability to others when trying to argue his or her depiction of you, and 3) serves as a hoovering technique in which the narcissist seeks to pull you back into the trauma of the relationship as you struggle to reconcile the rumors about you with who you actually are by speaking out against the accusations. The only way to not get pulled into this tactic is by going full No Contact with both the narcissist and his or her harem.

4. Triangulation.

Healthy relationships thrive on security; unhealthy ones are filled with provocation, uncertainty and infidelity. Narcissists like to manufacture love triangles and bring in the opinions of others to validate their point of view. They do this to an excessive extent in order to play puppeteer to your emotions. In the book Psychopath Free by Peace, the method of triangulation is discussed as a popular way the narcissist maintains control over your emotions. Triangulation consists of bringing the presence of another person into the dynamic of the relationship, whether it be an ex-lover, a current mistress, a relative, or a complete stranger.

This triangulation can take place over social media, in person, or even through the narcissist’s own verbal accounts of the other woman or man. The narcissist relies on jealousy as a powerful emotion that can cause you to compete for his or her affections, so provocative statements like “I wish you’d be more like her,” or “He wants me back into his life, I don’t know what to do” are designed to trigger the abuse victim into competing and feeling insecure about his or her position in the narcissist’s life.

Unlike healthy relationships where jealousy is communicated and dealt with in a productive manner, the narcissist will belittle your feelings and continue inappropriate flirtations and affairs without a second thought. Triangulation is the way the narcissist maintains control and keeps you in check – you’re so busy competing for his or her attention that you’re less likely to be focusing on the red flags within the relationship or looking for ways to get out of the relationship.

5. The false self and the true self.

The narcissist hides behind the armor of a “false self,” a construct of qualities and traits that he or she usually presents to the outside world. Due to this armor, you are unlikely to comprehend the full extent of a narcissist’s inhumanity and lack of empathy until you are in the discard phase. This can make it difficult to pinpoint who the narcissistic abuser truly is – the sweet, charming and seemingly remorseful person that appears shortly after the abuse, or the abusive partner who ridicules, invalidates and belittles you on a daily basis? You suffer a great deal of cognitive dissonance trying to reconcile the illusion the narcissist first presented to you with the tormenting behaviors he or she subjects you to. In order to cope with this cognitive dissonance, you might blame yourself for his or her abusive behavior and attempt to “improve” yourself when you have done nothing wrong, just to uphold your belief in the narcissist’s false self during the devaluation phase.

During the discard phase, the narcissist reveals the true self – the genuinely abusive and abrasive personality beneath the shallow veneer rears its ugly head and you get a glimpse of the cruelty that was lurking within all along. You bear witness to his or her cold, callous indifference as you are discarded. You might think this is only a momentary lapse into inhumanity, but actually, it is as close you will ever get to seeing the narcissist’s true self.

The manipulative, conniving charm that existed in the beginning is no more – instead, it is replaced by the genuine contempt that the narcissist felt for you all along. See, narcissists don’t truly feel empathy or love for others – so during the discard phase, they feel absolutely nothing for you except the excitement of having exhausted another source of supply. You were just another source of supply, so do not fool yourself into thinking that the magical connection that existed in the beginning was in any way real. It was an illusion, much like the identity of the narcissist was an illusion.

It is time to pick up the pieces, go No Contact, heal, and move forward. You were not only a victim of narcissistic abuse, but a survivor.  Owning this dual status as both victim and survivor permits you to own your agency after the abuse and to live the life you were meant to lead – one filled with self-care, self-love, respect, and compassion.

Interested in learning more about narcissistic abuse? Order my #1 Amazon bestselling book on narcissistic abuse, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself.

Available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, NOOK, and other major online retailers. It is available in paperback, as an e-book and as an Audible book.

Copyright © 2014, 2015, 2016 by Shahida Arabi. 

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About the Author

UntitledShahida Arabi is a graduate of Columbia University graduate school and the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself, which has been a #1 Amazon Bestseller for 12 consecutive months since its release. She is also the author of The Highly Sensitive Person’s Guide to Dealing with Toxic People: Reclaiming Your Power from Narcissists and Other Manipulators, published by New Harbinger Publications and available in all major bookstores. Currently, she is a graduate student at Harvard University. Her interests include psychology, sociology, education, gender studies and mental health advocacy. You can check out her blog, Self-Care Haven, for topics related to mindfulness, mental health, narcissistic abuse and recovery from emotional trauma, like her page on Facebook, follow her on Instagram and subscribe to her YouTube Channel.

This blog entry is an excerpt from a chapter of this book and is copyrighted by law. Please ask permission before using any part of this entry on another website and always provide proper credit in the form of my name and a link back to this blog.

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340 thoughts on “Five Powerful Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head

      1. I know this seems weird, but I have always wondered why I have a hard time staying happy in relationships. When I read this, I realized this is me. This article makes “the narcissist” out to be a predator, but reality is, I don’t do this on purpose, and am very unhappy in life as a result.

        Do you think there is any way to rid myself of this and enjoy a normal loving relationship?

      2. Re: straightup686

        It doesn’t seem weird to me as this behaviour can be rooted in many things, such as going from a childhood with overly doting parents out into a reality where life treats you very differently – or for example, your traits being trained by the amount of narcissistic attitudes on display in the media, and also on social media where people are often bold and snarky.

        I can tell you what helped for me in getting rid of a narcissistic attitude:

        Meditation + exercise!

        Meditation connects you with the part of yourself above and beyond thought, and taps in to that sense of oneness between us all. It also creates a healthy space between our thoughts and us – as the listener of them – so that we can view them more objectively and evaluate them in the moments before they begin to sway us or have some pull over us. (I have found myself laughing at places my mind wants me to go to get upset, BEFORE it starts the snowballing effect, whereas before I would have totally gone there and taken it out on others). Meditation also gives you this divine satisfaction with the simple sensation of “being” — no need to complicate things further and assign to others the burden of your self-satisfaction.

        Exercise, on the other hand, I have found to be a means for me to give to myself what makes me feel good about me – rather than needing to waste time and energy in “extracting” it from other people (with unreliable results anyway). It doesn’t matter how I feel before I do exercise (or meditation!), I’m guaranteed to feel better afterwards – and so will the people around me in turn.

        After heavy exercise, in the recovery period as your body heals and strengthens, you feel very satisfied and light, and there’s no tension left remaining inside to be taken out on others. You also feel a little weak the next day as the muscles heal and strengthen, and in this period I notice I am more aware of my own mortality, as my body has worked quite hard. This satisfying fatigue and awareness of my body is something that connects me more to a sense of empathy for others that I simply didn’t have before — I’m more aware of the bigger picture and I just let go of the little things. But before long you will just begin to feel so good from the exercise itself that you will only want to give that feeling to others, not the opposite end of the spectrum. Exercise changes the brain chemistry… good feeling stuff gets produced more and more!

        I hope these suggestions can help you. I truly believe that the answer to this kind of mental behaviour lies in giving to ourselves what we used to, in the past, try to take from others.
        You gotta take them out of the equation, and feel good first, before you can be good to them… or good for them. I’m certainly a different person today to who I used to be, and couldn’t even imagine being controlling again… my happiness relies on me!

        …lastly, self-awareness is the first step to healing so well done on that important first step! Not liking who we have been can really help us to change… Cheers and gl!!!

      3. I think it’s important to note that this is something men and women both do. After reading this I feel like it described my current relationship perfect. I thought it was her being bi polar and I thought that was why I felt like there was no way to do anything right. I know I should leave this relationship but after 4 years it is hard.

      1. Thanks for taking the time to read, comment and share your experience Terri! I am so sorry to hear about the pain you have gone through. I hope the links on this blog help in some way. Yes, I agree that we need to start educating people about narcissism as a disorder as opposed to just a term for vanity or self-absorption. The former is very much real and quite destructive.

      2. I agree, Terry Madore ,I was in a marriage for 32 years I have never seen anything as spot on as this article , It totally describe the personality he had . The Hot and cold feelings ,Making me feel like I wasn’t pretty enough , All the going and coming , the praises ( when it made him feel better ) the tearing down , comparing of woman,Having his own little harem , when things weren’t going the way he wanted them to .Making them feel sorry for him . This made me realize he is a world of hurt ,and I am finally free , He will be living this life until he dies .

      3. It is my proposal that we teach especially young girls this and begin a movement of information tailored to the young mind. It can be done and be part of education in a graduated way to make it part of healthy culture. Boys will be informed too. It is just natural that that would be a result

    1. I agree this should be taught in school. Would of saved me the heartbreak. Fortunately I’m a smart girl and know I deserve better than what the abuser was showing me. I really thought we were in love now I know this was just a illusion. I’m still getting over this just been healing myself and looking forward.

  1. Thanks for this post. This is spot on! Unfortunately, sometimes you don’t have the option to go “No Contact” when there are children involved. I divorced an abusive narcissist many years ago, desperately hoping for the freedom I needed and deserved. But thanks to father’s rights custody laws, I have been forced to share custody with my abuser. He has spent years trying to force contact with me, insisting we have to communicate “for the children.” I have done my best to ignore him, block him out, pretend he doesn’t exist. But when you have children, it gets messy. He has a glowing reputation in this town. He’s such a “nice guy” ya know? He has built quite a harem around him and most people do not know the truth of who he really is. It’s a very frustrating place to be, but I remind myself that at least I am no longer married to him and under his control. My kids are almost grown now. We have all survived. But looking back, I wish I had fought harder and exposed him for the monster he is. I felt powerless then… But not anymore!!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Michelle! I wholeheartedly agree that there are situations where you must maintain low/minimal contact rather than No Contact especially in the case of children. This is such a painful situation to be in, and the fact that no one else knows the “true” self of the narcissist besides yourself makes it so much more difficult to feel like you have support during this process. Doing your best to control your emotions (which is quite a struggle around a narcissist) through what is called the Grey Rock Method is essential in situations like this. You can read more about it and other techniques on my blog post on No Contact under “How to Do No Contact Effectively” – please adapt accordingly to your situation:

      That being said, give yourself a huge pat on the back. You and your kids have survived and are on a better path. That is incredibly empowering given that the effects of narcissistic abuse are felt by the entire family and that some victims never leave. You have done the best thing for yourself and while the narcissist may have a glowing reputation, it is just that – a reputation without substance. You, on the other hand, have a better life and future ahead of you. I wish you the best in your journey to healing, victory and self-care! 🙂

    2. i filed a restraining order, which i unfortunately let expire, but we’ve been nearly free for 3 years. His only contact is once a week phone contact. i REFUSE to make my kids talk to him, and each probably talk to him 2-4 times a month. Seems happy here, but i’m honestly pretty afraid of what will happen when he files for a change in custody.

    3. Michelle, I’m currently going through the same thing! My son is only 5, so we have 13 years left with him. The beauty of my situation is that while he is narcissistic, he’s not particularly bright and he’s a habitual liar! He’s constantly getting caught in his own lies, and the court is getting fed up with it.

      Not to mention that he is unable to have empathy, even for his own child. So while my main focus is the best for my son, his is “how can I hurt her this time”. And it’s very evident to EVERYONE but his family (who are also narcissistic).

      Let’s hope that in the coming years, there is less tolerance for “men” like this to have unsupervised rights and access to these children :/

    4. I know this is an old comment but I’m in the exact same situation as you. I escaped the narcissist prison’s wife role 3 years ago and I still have to parent with him. Fortunately my oldest son chooses not to have a relationship with him and my oldest daughter is grown and in college. I have one son that i still share custody with. I have set rules and boundaries that will not be amended. I know what to look for when he starts to try to pull me into his emotional game so I can quickly severe the rope he’s winding. No contact for me means no emotional contact. I Use no words that have any emotional meaning at all. I don’t use the words “I feel” or “upset” or “I like”. Instead I use “it’s best…” Or “I plan to…” That way I’m not feeding or rekindling his emotional dependency. Hope this helps other people on our situation.

  2. Exactly…I was married to that once. One day the light switch finally came on. I loaded my clothes into the car, scratched grass over him like he was a hot mess and left. I thank God I only wasted three years of my life on this POS. Six years later, I met and married a wonderful, loving, kind and emotionally supportive man. We’ve been together for 13 years. <3

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting! I am so glad to hear that you left and that you also met the love of your life afterwards – someone who is kind, treats you well and supports you. Someone who treats you the way you deserve to be treated. It is inspiring to hear such a happy ending 🙂 When we have the courage to leave and never look back, we inevitably open ourselves up to incredible opportunities we would have never had otherwise. Thanks for reminding readers of this.

  3. I am in complete shock and desbelief. I have been in NC terms with my husband for 10 days now, and I still don’t know how I can get rid of this constant and unbearable pain inside, and the knot on my stomach/chest that never goes away.

    A friend of mine shared this page with me and I cannot believe how it describes in so much detail and depth my husband, me and our relationship. I cannot believe this…, how did I let myself get to this point?

    Can a narcissist be cured?

    1. I am so sorry to hear you are going through this pain. Congratulations on achieving 10 days NC! It takes hard work to not fall off the wagon so be proud of yourself and keep moving forward with your life. No Contact can be quite the struggle and it’s important that we practice self-compassion and radical acceptance during this time to break the addictive patterns we form while in a relationship with the narcissist. You can find out more tips for No Contact here:

      There’s still a debate on whether NPD can be fully cured. I personally believe narcissists can become more aware of their own narcissism, but due to their lack of empathy, I am not sure to what extent they benefit from treatment if there isn’t an intrinsic motivation to change their behaviors. Perhaps successful treatment would need to address how becoming less narcissistic would benefit them in other ways that appeal to their self-interest?

      There is a risk that therapy could also provide a site where narcissists actually learn to sharpen or practice their manipulation tactics. I’ve heard this can happen especially in couples’ therapy, where the narcissist uses triangulation and the false self to gain control. Since they are clever wolves in sheep’s clothing, it can be hard even as a mental health practitioner to assess the true motivations of the narcissist unless he or she has already been diagnosed. They may simply tell their therapists what they want to hear rather than having a genuine interest in improvement, and this can further invalidate the abuse victim’s experience.

      I believe that instead of focusing on trying to cure the narcissist, we must practice enough self-love and awareness to assess how to detach from one and move forward with our lives. Focusing on our own healing brings us to a healthier and more positive place and enables us to see that we do deserve better. Happy healing and best of luck to you on your journey!

      1. It is so hard for me to believe any of this because he is even a physician and works at helping and curing people every day. And when he is good to me he is great and so sweet and giving…

        But I have been on a roallercoaster of emotions for months now even after I found out that a month ago that he had cheated on me with a nurse and confessed. But then told me that I should get over it because it was in the past. Told me he would do anything to fix it and make it up, and then got mad at me because I felt bad about it. Actually, told me I was weak and that I was supposed to be working on being stronger than that.

        Then just snapped at me for no reason and left me saying that he wanted me out of his life because I had forgotten who he was apparently and I was acting like I was superior (have no idea how bc I have been just crying and trying to fix the meas with him), and just completely deleted me and blocked me from everything 5 mins after.

        It’s like a vicious cycle he goes through (has done it before), but usually ends up with me calling to talk and ask for forgiveness. That hasn’t happened this time but he is still acting out like I never mattered and everything hurts so much.

        How can I still feel that I love him even after all the humilliation and mistreatments i have received from him, and when on my mind I’m convinced that I’m better off?

        Every day I wake up crying and feeling so alone and defeated, with no idea of how I’m gonna go through this. Sometimes I just want to disappear so that I can’t feel this pain anymore.

        So many plans, dreams broken, so much energy and time and love invested… This is just too hard…

      2. You are correct about narcissists learning to sharpen their tactics in therapy. Mine went to court ordered anger management, and learned some interesting moves there. His mistake? Suggesting that I, too, could benefit from the class (which I did). That put me in touch with the instructor – a therapist whom he would not see outside of the class (although it was suggested), but that I was smart enough to see myself. There I learned lots. And found my way to self-care and acceptance.

        My issue now is that I insulated myself too much during my ‘survival’. Makes it hard for me to truly interact with the outside world… But I did manage to find an amazing, caring man to be by my side going forward.

    2. In response to your second comment, what you describe is the devastating cycle of abuse inflicted by the narcissist. It will always be a rollercoaster and the “sweet” phase of the abusive cycle will never last. When we enter this sweet phase, we are prone to abuse amnesia, almost forgetting the harsh words and actions that happened prior. This cycle is so difficult to break precisely because of intermittent reinforcement and the ways in which narcissists gaslight their victims.

      What makes it even worse is that to the outside world, narcissists carry a false self and usually possess a stellar reputation as being charming, generous and loveable to others. Thus they almost always have a harem from which to gather a steady stream of supply because the harem is unlikely to believe the accusations of their victims. Some of them may even be involved in public service, charity work, and appear to love helping others. This is the way they receive the gratification, attention and admiration they so desperately desire and need.

      That being said, I am so sorry for the pain you are going through. Please know that no matter how much you feel you love your husband, he is unlikely to change his behavior. Also note that the love you felt was probably transformed into something more like dependence and Stockholm syndrome over the course of your marriage. It isn’t healthy, it isn’t safe, and as deeply painful as it will be now to maintain No Contact, it is absolutely necessary that you stay away from what will continue to be a tortuous cycle of abuse, mistreatment and neglect.

      You deserve so much better for yourself. There are people out there thriving in healthy relationships without abuse, relationships where there is mutual respect, love and compassion. You have to believe this is possible for yourself, and before that, establish that loving, compassionate attitude towards yourself. <3 Sending hugs and blessings your way.

  4. I know of Men who have fallen victim to this. It should not be a gender specific problem. Your article did not make it gender specific, but your source is. It is harder for men to speak out about this happening to them because of the stereo typical notion that women are the abused. People think a man is weak if he fall victim to abuse.

    1. Danene, yes, this is why I made sure in my blog post to not make it specific to either gender because I know survivors can be of any gender and background. In terms of my sources, I did not select them because they were specific to either gender, but moreso because they provided useful information on the specific topic I talked about. Psychopath Free by Peace, for example, is an excellent book on the topic written from a male perspective.

      1. actually in #1: 2nd paragraph, last line you used the phrase “himself” ergo stating a male. However, great post. very informative, and the whole of it can be seen in some, both male and female.

      2. Hello David, thanks for stopping by and commenting! Appreciate your feedback. 🙂 Please note that I used himself at the end of that paragraph only because it would seem awkward to put himself/herself, not because I intended the post to be gender specific. The beginning of that same paragraph uses “he or she” and I make sure to be gender neutral throughout my entire post otherwise.

    2. Thank you for this! I didn’t want to turn into a man vs. woman issue, since it truly isn’t. I was a victim of this kind of behavior and even though I saw the red flags pretty early on, my own insecurity and reluctance to try to get back into the dating game prevented me from getting out earlier. I wasted nearly 3 years of my life with someone who so clearly fits the mold of a sociopath. And even though I’ve been NC for many years, she STILL uses her harem (which she attained through MY connections) to try to keep a tabs on me. It’s cool, though. She was a first-time divorcee when we got together and now she’s on her third husband. Poetic justice? Indeed.

      1. I think it is even harder for men. When the woman throws the “abused card” ( I know that for some it is truth but as this article states a narcissist will use it for control) A man is automatically labeled. Whether he is or not, and to stand up for himself, it will be twisted into abusive behavior. The Law favors the woman.

      1. This is so true! My son was in a relationship with a narcissist for 15 years and they have 4 children. This situation has become a nightmare. My son had a breakdown which was brought on by this evil person – bled him dry, emotionally, financially and in every way possible. He has now left and has no contact with her only short e-mails regarding the children. She now emotionally abuses the children because she cant get at my son and when they come to stay they are in bits – one already has been got at and blames his dad. He has been everywhere to try and get help but no one listens – social services, gp, pshychologist, schools etc. This can be so frustrating when you can see your children suffering but because they are fed, clothed and have a roof over their heads no one takes in the emotional games she plays with their heads and are too young to handle the situation. I would be grateful for any advice from anyone who has gone through something similar.

      2. Hi Glenys, so sorry to hear about your son’s situation. Unfortunately, psychological and emotional abuse, especially covert manipulation tactics, are often not taken as seriously as physical abuse. I sympathize with your situation, especially in terms of the children. It is so heartwrenching and damaging to grow up in a household with a narcissistic abuser. There is a forum you/your son may want to visit to gain some support regarding parenting with narcissistic abusers:

        I hope this helps. Best of luck to you and your son. <3

    3. Young , you hit it dead on. People think only women suffer narcissistic abuse, but just as many men suffer too. Like you said a man is considered weak I he talks about it. He is suppose to be able to handle it. But the fact is no one should stay with an abuser. I am a guy, I was in a relationship with a narcissist women.

    4. This article describes my ex-wife perfectly! I was shocked when I read it because it was so accurate. She even had an online affair and abducted my 9 year old son and moved across the country (from British Columbia to Quebec) to be with her boyfriend. Everything worked out well . I moved to where they were as even though I was granted full custody, I refused to take my son away from his mom. We lived in Quebec for 3 years till my son was old enough to decide he wanted to move back to BC. That was 4 years ago, and my son is happy and well adjusted.

      My ex-wife and her boyfriend were together for 6 years but they recently split up after she had multiple affairs while with him. Believe it or not, her ex-boyfriend and I have become good friends as she managed to destroy his life and he needed someone to talk to that understood what was happening to him. I sent him this article. He is even going to come out to BC to visit us soon, which really makes my ex-wife mad! After when she did to me and now to her ex-boyfriend, my son decided he had enough of her and has cut her out of his life completely.

      1. No contact. Several people came forward to tell me what he’d done to them, and so I assembled that information and made sure people kne about it. Men think we don’t talk.

  5. I tend to attract this type and I hate to say it, but these men are always very, very good in bed. Being able to please you sexually is an extra level of security for them to keep you interested. If they weren’t so great in bed there is more of a chance that you could break up with them as soon as you sense something negative about them. And then, just as they begin to withdraw emotionally from you, they start to withhold sex. They make you feel like you don’t ‘deserve’ an orgasm or make you feel like you’re not doing enough to entice them. Same exact stuff that’s discussed here only with sex. Thankfully I never dated any of these creeps for too long. I can’t imagine what it’s like living with or marrying someone like this.

    1. Thanks for your comment Luxe. Yes, sexual withholding can definitely be one of the techniques a narcissist uses, and I’ve heard a similar tale about sexual prowess from survivors of narcissistic abuse across forums. Since narcissists do enjoy building harems, it’s very possible that they’ve built up those skills over time precisely because they do have the knowledge of what works and what makes their victims addicted to them.

      An interesting theory I’ve heard questions whether it is all about the skill of the narcissist, or our own body’s reactions to the narcissist – the chemicals in our body responding to the lovebombing and subsequent inconsistency/intermittent reinforcement, for example, which may be making the narcissist seem irresistible to us. During the idealization phase, narcissists can reel in their victims so convincingly that they feel quite the high and this can then translate into very powerful sexual interactions with them. I believe it’s a combination of a lot of factors at work, but it’s a fascinating topic to explore and something to look out for as well. Thank you for bringing this up.

      1. The chemical reaction theory is spot on. My XN had a micropenis and was objectively terrible in bed. However, I was convinced that he was an adonis with the lovemaking skills of Casanova.

      2. It must be chemical. LOL When I was dating my now ex-husband, he knew how to get what he needed sexually. He knew where to touch me, how and we were so in love that our love life was excellent, I thought. Just being with him made me happy. Our “first time” he commented that he knew he “wasn’t very big down there” but he hoped I was satisfied. Me being very inexperienced and not wanting to hurt his feelings, replied with “that’s ok, I’m not complaining”. However, I had to fake it A LOT and for some reason I didn’t mind.

        When we got married….literally the day we got married…it ended. Our wedding night, nothing happened. He was too tired. Our honeymoon in Bali…nothing happened. Well nothing except while we were on a romantic walk on the beach, he stopped to call his mother on the phone. Not even kidding. Our conversations about our lack of a sex life ended up with him telling me that if I wanted him “up” then I was going to have to do something to get it there. Meaning, he wasn’t going to initiate anything. He told me things like “You have always initiated the sex between us. Whether you realized it or not, you did something that day that turned me on. So you need to keep initiating, not me”. Of course this put all the responsibility of a good sex life on me and removed him from any responsibility. Everything from then on would be my fault.

        He too had a micropenis (as Settie described it) and was horrible in bed. What I thought was good in the beginning turned out to be nothing more than mediocre at best. Now that we’re divorced, I’ve come to realize how bad he really was.

    1. Hi Melissa, if you have children with the narcissist you have to keep Low Contact (contact only when necessary and strict boundaries) and use techniques like the Gray Rock method in interacting with them. To learn more about the Gray Rock method, please see here:

      I addressed this in my blog post about No Contact and other techniques under “How to Do No Contact Effectively” – please adapt these techniques accordingly to your particular situation:

      You can also find support/tips/advice from other survivors who also share children with their narcissistic abusers here:

      Hope this helps! Best of luck to you on your journey to healing. <3

  6. Excellent article, Shahida! I’d like to add another dimension to #4 (Triangulation). The Narcissist’s use of internet porn. Not only do they justify its use by blaming their partner for being undesirable, etc., even trying to introduce their unsuspecting partner into watching with them, but after they develop porn-induced ED, they blame their partner for that, too.

  7. A fantastic article. It is deeply insightful and from what I can tell it was from the point of view of someone who experienced a great deal of abuse.

    I can completely relate to just about everything you described. The person who did this to me was my best friend, we’re both gay but he was in the closet. I loved him very much and he was indifferent to me, but he made me want to impress him all the time to work so hard for his attention. Eventually he confided in me about his sexual orientation and after a long while decided he ‘wasn’t gay’. Afterwards he did weird things like insist I date certain people, or that I have sex with someone, or that I go to the bar and pick up guys. He did a lot of other weird things, for instance he would just get me drunk on random occasion. One time he got me so drunk I blacked out and I cannot recall a lot of the evening’s events. All I know is that he brought me home and treated me as though I was the one who insisted on drinking. He enjoyed making me look stupid and made fun of the way I felt about certain things. He would often set me up for some kind of success and then sabotage me and act as though I had done something to mess it up. Sometimes I thought of how I could escape from him but I always felt obligated to stay because he made me feel like I was the only person who cared about him. Truth was everyone cared about him, but he always felt like people were plotting against him and that everyone owed him something, myself included. He never really had anything nice to say about anyone including his own mother and I’m sure he didn’t have anything nice to say about me.

    Eventually he couldn’t handle the thought of my knowing his secret and he told all of our friends that I was some sort of unstable, that I had been going around lying to people and them about how he was gay. I had told no one. He inadvertently told all of our friends he was gay, he inadvertently told everyone his deepest secret thinking that no-one would ever suspect him of being gay. I lost a lot of friends and eventually some came back and apologized for not believing me, they quickly realized that he was working very hard to discredit me and very hard to bring me down, why would someone do that if there wasn’t some measure of truth?

    I think of him constantly, how much better I am without him now, and how sad and pathetic he is, I pity him. He will never understand simple emotions like love or empathy. Sometimes I often wonder what he tells his family about me, I met his entire family and I even spent some holidays with them, I’m sure they have questions and he must have bullshit answers.

    The way he treated me I can never really say that he was an old friend because he was more than that, it was a relationship, albeit a terribly abusive and unforgiving one but it was a relationship. We spent so much time together and talked to one another constantly sometimes I refer to him as an ex-boyfriend because it was so much more than just a friendship.

    It’s been almost 4 years since we split, I moved away from my hometown 2 years ago and my life has been exceedingly better since. We attempted to reconcile a couple years back but he wanted me to accept the blame for everything. He wanted me to believe that everything that had happened was just a lie I made up and that I had a lot to make up for. He told me that I had not and will not ever change. Well the fact of the matter was that I had changed and that I would not be putting him back up on his pedestal or much less put up with his behavior. I would not be the same person I was when he knew me.

    In the end I got my closure, I said everything I wanted to say to him I gave him the opportunity to make amends and he would rather play the victim then admit his wrong doings. I had done everything I could do to fix it and I know I can say at the end of the day its not my fault anymore. This will only ever be his problem now.

    When you look at these people, you will soon realize you will never be as important as their ‘False Self’, the image that particular person puts out for everyone, you can’t rationalize it or sort out why they’ve done this to you. It’s just a simple defense mechanism, we all have them, its just these abusive narcissist have skewed values which to you or I are super messed up. They only defend their image rather than the people around them or the people they love, because they do not understand love or empathy.

    1. Zachary, thanks for your feedback and for sharing your story. I am so sorry to hear you went through this and I am happy to hear that your life has improved since this experience. Your story relates a lot to the elements discussed in the article, especially the smear campaign, the false self and the covert sabotage/power games. Not all survivors get the sense of closure you received from such an experience, and I think you’re taking a very productive approach in recognizing that this closure comes from within.

      I also love your concluding paragraph, which states “When you look at these people, you will soon realize you will never be as important as their ‘False Self’, the image that particular person puts out for everyone, you can’t rationalize it or sort out why they’ve done this to you. It’s just a simple defense mechanism, we all have them, its just these abusive narcissist have skewed values which to you or I are super messed up. They only defend their image rather than the people around them or the people they love, because they do not understand love or empathy.”

      It’s true that many of us may have a “false self” that we present to the world in certain circumstances, and you are right that the narcissist will defend his or her false self to an excessive extent. Rarely do people get to witness the true self of the narcissist unless they are in an intimate relationship with one or if they do get a glimpse, it’s accidental and usually “smoothed over” by the narcissist via gaslighting. I think the fact that narcissists don’t feel empathy for others should show us the importance of the beautiful human qualities they lack, which include compassion, love and respect. Moving forward and healing from abusive relationships require that we use all of these with ourselves and continue doing so with those who treat us well. Happy healing and best of luck to you on your journey! 🙂

      1. Thank you for your kind words, it has been a journey. I’m glad that someone was able to study all the signs and share them the way you have. After reading this article I felt a lot better, Thank you for putting this out there.

    2. geesh. even tho my story has certain difference (me being a girl, and my partner a guy)… it’s just basically the SAME thing. I’m getting goosebumps realizing that my ex was a narcissist. Like seriously… just too similar of a story. Wow.
      So saddening. And here I am still feeling lesser. Why wasn’t I that magic that made him snap out of his personality disorder? Like, doesn’t love cure it all? =/

  8. Awesome article. Very articulate and very well thought out. I think you hit bulls eye with all the manipulation tactics you just named. My Mother in Law is currently the source of narcissistic abuse in our family. You always hear stories about romantic partners, but I’d like to know if anyone has ever experienced this type of abuse from a parent or parent-in-law? In our family the abuse is specifically geared toward the sister-in-laws and for 5 years I had the whool pulled over my head thinking my sis. in Law was the crazy one, when in fact the source of contention has been coming from my MIL. The contempt she has for us is always masked or disguised by the “good deeds” she has done for us, she likes to play the victim card and has created a big harem of family members who are on her side. She has accused my 2 sister in laws of tapping her phone line and many in the family are convinced of this even though it is impossible and there is no evidence other than an “email” that my one sister in law sent that supposedly catches them in the act….things that were talked about on the phone that “no one could know unless they were listening to the phone conversation.” Upon reading the email we all realize it’s stuff we all knew, and that this is a complete exaggeration (NOTHING more than a SMEAR CAMPAIGN). She even threatened to call the cops. I got involved upon investigating and since my husband and I have experienced the full wrath and fury of the “discard phase” you mentioned. They complain that we are being unfair for “keeping our husbands and our children from seeing their Mom and Grandma” (as if we are the abusers) and the smear campaign against me now has commenced. It’s so sad when it involves the ENTIRE family, a good family with some rotten eggs…. they have even changed their numbers and refuse to respond to us when we try to talk things out – and yet they make us look like the bad ones?? It’s amazing the power that these people can have over our minds…truly amazing and scary. Thank you for getting the word out there. Narcissistic abuse in my opinion is MUCH more common than people realize.

    1. Yup, it took me 40 years to realise that my mother saw me as nothing more than than an article of clothing, to be paraded about when I did something she could impress others with. It still hurts that the majority of the family, including my father still believe her and have shunned me, 2 years after her death. Fortunately, I am now surrounded by wonderful people and have my own family who love me unconditionally – and the best part was that I finally had the guts to call her out and shut her out of my life, so she never got the opportunity to spread her vileness to any of the people I love. But it took her to say ‘It’s just a shame you are never going to be truly special’ for me to realise and step away.
      But the scars are still there, and I still have to deal with them. However, I am capable of loving others, and I know I am a good person, so she will never win!

      1. aramanthea, that’s the spirit. Abusers never win. Survivors do, even despite the scars, because they have the power to love and receive love. More power to you <3!

      2. I can definatly relate. both of my parents have some sort of narcissistic disorder, although i can’t prove it. i cut out my father as soon as i turned 16 and got a job. i then graduated high school and escaped from my mother as well. however, my emotional stability i fear, will never be intact. I have a hard time deserning what is or isn’t a healthy relationship. I read a lot of books on dealing with things like this, but it is a long and weary road.

      3. Hearing these stories of cruel emotional abuse and the offer of consistent support without judging, really makes a difference as we all seek healing. Hugs…

    2. Thank you for your feedback and taking the time to share your story, Rachel. I think you’ll find that many people have similar experiences with narcissistic family members as abusers (I certainly have) and in that context, it can be even more difficult to extricate ourselves from the trauma depending on the circumstances. What’s important is that you hand back the blame to your abuser and recognize that you cannot control his or her pathology. You can only control how much contact you maintain (to an extent) and your own healing from the abuse. It’s a terrible situation to be in but one where you cannot change the other person, only yourself. I wish you the best of luck to you on your journey! 🙂

    1. Thank you for sharing your blog entry and spreading the word about narcissistic abuse! I really appreciate you taking the time to read, share and comment on my entry. 🙂 Congratulations on going No Contact and best of luck to you on your journey to healing!

      1. Thanks so much. Your post is so helpful, and it is evident that I am not the only one who finds it so!

  9. This could also apply to other relationships in a Narcissist life.
    Reading through it was like reading my life with my mother. Whilst it’s hit a little close to home in respect to the abuse, and realisation that it wasn’t all in my head – because that was all I was ever told, it is some comfort to read something like this and know that I wasn’t always to blame 🙂

    1. Absolutely, aramanthea. Being raised by a narcissistic parent is more damaging and traumatic than many people can fathom. Please know that you are not alone in that and yes, it was never your fault. The pathology of another person cannot ever determine our self-worth. It’s something that can traumatize and affect us for years even after No Contact/Low Contact. Thank you for sharing your story and I wish you the best on your journey to healing and recovery. Sending blessings your way. <3

      1. Hi Monica, I am so sorry to hear this. I can deeply sympathize with your situation. I don’t believe it would accomplish much to send this article to her, since true narcissists will defend themselves adamantly and become triggered when confronted with the truth, i.e. via a narcissistic injury. When narcissists suffer a narcissistic injury from a perceived criticism, they will often respond with rage and aggression.

        You can read more about narcissistic injury from a diagnosed narcissist himself, Sam Vankin, here: or if you prefer a source that’s not a narcissist, here:

        Many people with NPD don’t wish to accept accountability for their abuse (see gaslighting in article) and many rarely will. They would rather project and blame others than accept that they have a false self. Attempting to “shed light” on their condition often proves fruitless and only strengthens their defense mechanisms.

        That being said, I always recommend that survivors focus less on what they can do to change their abusers, who probably can’t be changed, and refocus on their own self-care. A fundamental aspect of healing is remaining No or at least Low Contact, as it will help you to heal from the abuse. I wish you the best of luck to you on your journey. Take care <3

  10. I was in this type of relationship in high school with the exact person this article describes. For a whole year I put up with the manipulation and jealousy. Before him I was never jealous of any interaction my previous boyfriend had with girls. When he finally broke it off with me after passing me a note in school and making a big display of it in the halls I told him I was done. I completely cut contact and even to this day he harasses my friends about talking to me and wanting to be with me.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to share your story, Hailie. Narcissistic abusers have a way of manipulating and provoking us to act/behave/feel in ways we wouldn’t normally feel. It’s their intention to make us feel terribly about ourselves so that they can maintain control. The public humiliation you described is not uncommon in the discard phase – it’s an attempt to completely diminish the victim so that he/she feels powerless. I am happy to hear that you are out of this relationship and sorry to hear that he is still on your case. Many abusers stalk their victims months, even years after, especially if the victims left them first or if they see that victims are moving forward with their lives. Also known as “hoovering,” this is a way to manipulate you into going back to the trauma of the relationship. It’s actually a good sign because it means he knows he no longer has the power he once held over you. Congratulations for staying strong and I wish you the best of luck on your journey. 🙂

    1. Jeanne, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Knowledge is power, no matter how “late” we might find it comes to us. I hope you found the article helpful in some way. Best of luck to you on your journey. <3

  11. I lived with a father until I was17. I moved out and struggled.. At age 20 i met a wonderful 19 year odl woman that was in her first year of college. She was also a narcissist. I lived with her 15 years 1q8 yers i invested and even after our divorce she continued to behave this way.. This article explained my life in detail .. i just wish my counselor had explained it this well 6 years ago .. i survived …

    1. Hi Gregory, thanks for sharing your story. I am sorry to hear that you had this experience and that it lasted for so long. Congratulations on being free from this relationship and surviving! Best of luck to you on your journey. 🙂

  12. I’m in a new relationship with a man who has endured this for years and currently has children with this psycho. He can be saved I hope, but what about his children? She is using them and abusing them to her own means. How can I help him and them?

    1. Hi Debra, in my opinion (and feel free to disagree), the best way you can help them is ironically to take care of yourself and protect yourself. Without knowing too many details about the particular situation, I sense that you truly care for this person and want to help, but it’s important to prioritize your own well-being as you don’t wish to get too involved in what could be a very toxic situation.

      You can of course be a valuable source of support – share resources with him, tell him what you have learned, be a listening ear if he needs it, but always maintain boundaries and acknowledge that there are things you cannot control – like the behavior of the ex-spouse. Since this is a new relationship, you shouldn’t take it upon yourself to attempt to “fix” the situation or interact with the ex-spouse in any way unless you have to. Be a great source of support for both him and his kids, and you have already done your part.

      If you want to talk more about your particular situation, I recommend visiting this forum for parents who have children with their narcissistic partners. It may lend some insight:

    2. Debra – most abusers convince their new partners their ex’s are abusers. (You know how all abusers falsely accuse their victims of the very things they themselves do?)

      When the new partner is duped, he or she becomes a flying monkey and is used by the abuser to pile on more abuse.

      Suzanne Shaw (Peter Cook’s wife right after Christie Brinkley left him for cheating with an 18 year old…among his other lies and abuses), recently wrote a public apology to Christie Brinkley for falsely (she knows now) stating Brinkley’s and Cook’s problems were all rooted in Brinkley’s hate.

      Shaw woke up and realized she too had been duped by Cook.

      There’s no way for me to know if your man is like Cook or if the mother of his children is the actual pathological liar and abuser.

      However, my point is to give you something to think about. There are so many women duped by NPD men into aiding and abetting him to hurt other women and children.

      These men are more often than not talented, charming, and brilliant actors, while they omit, twist, and mischaracterize key events in the timeline.

      One event, omitted or switched in chronology, can change a (true) story entirely, because that which occurs earlier, influences that which unfolds later.

      Some litmus tests:
      1. Is it true?

      (Trust but verify from sources outside his own family – very often their family members are their chief flying monkeys. The family of origin has a vested interest in protecting their secrets….including the fact they contributed heavily to creating a narc. However, it can be useful to get their version of events in order to verify them with others. If the family members are found to be less than truthful, that’s a clue in itself.)

      2. Is it ethical?

      (A rapist follows his or her own heart – the rapist’s heart’s desire is to rape. Rape is unethical. Therefore following one’s heart and one’s “true” self is invalid if the desires are outside of decent ethical standards.)

      (Related to #1: Do the versions the family members are telling you align with ethical standards?)

      3. Who follows court orders and who does not?

      4. Who lies in statements to the court?

      5. Who pays their lawyer tens of thousands of dollars while simultaneously is the same amount in arrears on child support?

      6. Who states he or she ascribes to certain spiritual beliefs, yet that person either enacts or condones behavior specifically identified as wrong in that spiritual belief?

      Again, your man’s ex could be the actual liar and hypocrite. I have no way of knowing.

      Just trying to help you not be duped into being a flying monkey if he’s the actual narc.

  13. Hi friends,
    just going through the whole article and reading all the feedback makes me feel better from the second “bad trip” i had just last week. Very interesting the comparison made between NPD and cult-leader manipulation, as i had the “bad luck” of witnessing both at the same time, in the very day it all dawned me. Fortunately it was only three months, though it already feels like a long time ago. One very important tip- as soon as you spot “something fishy”, start keeping record. I personaly don´t condone “Big Brother Behavior” but with NPD all care is little. Sms, filming, audiotaping, even hand notes are very powerful tools for the sake of “making sure”. And once you understand the mechanism, don´t ever leave yourself down low. I know it´s hard ( btw i´m a man, and one of her associates low blows was to insinuate that i was not a man), but believe me friends, YOU´RE BETTER THAN THAT!! Be Blessed, Be Wise, Be Safe…Be Aware!!

    1. Thank you for your comment Markus. Very good advice about keeping records of the abuse. Documentation is incredibly important if you want to report harrassment, cyberbullying or any other form of stalking. I urge all survivors to keep documentation such as texts and phone call records should their abusers stalk or harass them online or through the phone, should they ever need to file evidence.

  14. Not many people share their stories but surviving an encounter with someone like this is a milestone, i almost lost myself and my way when i fell for every thing written above. I believed i was crazy. Im glad i made it and i have learned so much. People like that exist in all shapes, forms, and genders. They are not just men.

    1. Thanks for your comment Mario. Yes, abusers come in all shapes, sizes, genders and backgrounds. Survival from an abusive relationship is indeed a milestone. Congratulations on your journey to healing and best of luck. 🙂

  15. I was with an abusive narcissist for a little over 9 years and we have two children together.
    It’s scary how accurate this article is, as it describes my ex perfectly.

    I had many chances to leave, but didn’t. I still don’t completely understand why I didn’t, as he treated my daughter (from a previous relationship) in a completely different way to the other kids (he also had 3 children from a previous relationship) and she was always the first to be blamed for something. Many of our fights were over my daughter – and I kick myself each and every day for not leaving him earlier.
    This article helps me understand it a bit better.
    I know I wasn’t my true self after being in the relationship for a while as he had changed me without me even realising. And when I did have moments of realisation “I don’t feel like myself anymore”, I would fob them off and tell myself I was being silly.

    He too kept a harem. There was barely a time when he wasn’t off with someone else – usually his ex, but he somehow managed to reel new people in all the time.

    He ended our relationship via text message while I was away for the week. Everything was my fault and he told me not to come home.
    I went back there the following day, grabbed all my belongings and left.
    It hurt for a long time but I also felt relieved and like I could breathe again.
    Although the abuse didn’t end there, but I could separate it from myself – I wasn’t “living” it anymore.

    Not even 3 months later, he had a new girlfriend (who was his best mate’s ex wife), and she moved into “our” home several months later.

    But I knew he wasn’t happy. Every few weeks he would text me asking for photos of my boobs, or if I can find something out about his girlfriend etc.
    In the end, I decided enough was enough.
    I sent screen shots of the messages to his girlfriend and have since learnt that she moved away from him a few weeks ago.

    I did message her one other time trying to warn her – but I believe she had already been filled in on what a psycho ex I was (yeah, totally… :/ ).

    Thank you for sharing this article. It has made a few things make more sense. I believe I was in a constant cycle of worship and discard. But, I survived and almost 2 years later am doing wonderfully! Not quite where I’d like to be yet, butit’s so much better being on the other side (and seeing him suffer because he was caught off guard when his girlfriend left him and he had no “back-up” plan to move onto) 😀

    1. Congratulations Jodie on becoming free from your abuser and thank you for sharing your story here. You are on the journey to healing and you should be very proud of all you have accomplished. Many survivors of abuse find it difficult to leave these toxic relationships precisely because of the gaslighting they endured, the cognitive dissonance they experience as a result of the abuser questioning their perceptions as well as Stockholm syndrome which psychologically tethers them to their abusers. You are not alone in that.

      Be compassionate to yourself – you left, and this is the ultimate victory. You have a new life ahead of you that no longer contains the cycle of devaluation and discard. You get to create a whole new life free from the abuse you and your precious children did not deserve. Narcissists are truly the weak ones because they need other people in their harems to survive. Survivors of abuse, fortunately, get to move onto bigger and better things should they choose to do so.

      Sending blessings and hugs your way. <3

  16. I am in the middle of the discard phase in my relationship of 12 years with a man who has NPD as well as Bi-Polar Disorder II. I am stuck & paralyzed with trying to make him understand what he is doing to me & all the women in his past. He has told me over & over he doesn’t see this pattern, he tells me he doesn’t feel emotions except hurt & sadness when he is hurt, he doesn’t feel empathy, he just wants to do what he wants to do without me spoiling his fun. His fun is his hypersexuality. He just doesn’t get it & he is somewhat aware of this. He is 53 years old, exceedingly intelligent, funny, quick, charming, suave, very good looking & up for almost anything. He is The Perfect Man. I’ve never seen a woman not swayed by him. But he is so broken and too scared to get help. He will go into therapy & in a short time will quit saying it wasn’t helping. Whenever I engage him in any kind of a deep psychological conversation he literally gets up & runs away. I know the end of this relationship is much much harder on me than him. After 12 years if I walked away tomorrow he’d be looking for a replacement in a day or two. I’ve seen him do this time & again with people. He tries to convince me I’m the one with psychological problems not him. I just cannot let him go. We breakup & I am always the one who gets back in contact with him. It feels like an addiction. I can’t see a life without him in it although I know he is sick & he treats me like an object, he flaunts his inappropriate & risky sexual conquests to my face, and simply does not care about me. I have been in therapy for over a year because of this man. I would like to know if other people have experienced this “I know he’s unhealthy for me but I don’t want a life without him” thought.

    1. Lynda, you’d be surprised to learn how many abuse survivors have gone through this exact predicament with their toxic partners. You’re not alone and you ARE stronger than you think you are. This feeling that you have an inability to leave could be due to many factors, including but not limited to the abuser’s gaslighting techniques which make you doubt yourself, trauma bonds which tether you to the abuser through shared intense emotional experiences, Stockholm syndrome, and the addictive patterns which can arise in the highs and lows of the abuse cycle.

      We feel unable to leave because we develop a sense of learned helplessness as we’re unable to change the abuser’s mistreatment of us, so we become conditioned to stop trying to change things. I recommend sharing your experience on an abuse survivor forum like this one: Writing about this experience and getting feedback from others in your situation can be extremely validating. Should you make the decision to leave, you can use this forum to also stick to No Contact with your abuser.

      You have more agency than you think you do. The challenge will be to take the small steps to exercise that agency. If you can’t quit cold turkey, I recommend trying slowly detaching by spending less time with this person and refocusing on your own self-care, hobbies, interests, and dreams. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you bring the focus back to you. I wish you the best of luck and hope you are able to part ways with your abuser. You deserve so much better! <3

  17. I have done a lot of research on this. It was this article that listed out exactly what I had just lived through over the past 4 years. I will be recovering for a long time. It means so much to understand and know that I am not alone. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read this article and your feedback, texe5. You’re definitely not alone. Congratulations on being free from your abuser. I wish you the best on this journey to recovery and healing 🙂

  18. Hello! Thanks so much for your post. Are there different degrees of this behavior? I have seen these traits in someone, and it is so sad because I feel like he would have a lot of potential and does have a decent heart sometimes. What is the cause of this kind of disorder? I feel like he likes the idea of having a girlfriend and wants marriage and children. He wants this life and is shallow in moving quickly and manipulative etc. But if I were to fully give in to everything and say I loved him and wanted marriage, I feel like he wouldn’t posses these qualities and everything would be good. Despite him having these characteristics and putting me through all the phases/abuse, while we were together he would never and did not cheat or want to cheat. He has also tried to control his anger and is aware of his very physical abuse but he does deny that he is that kind of bad person. Just looking for some more insight and think he shoukd get help if it is possible.

    1. Hello x3juls33, there are many theories about how narcissism arises in the individual – from a “narcissistic wound” in childhood, to a pattern of idealization and devaluation by the parent or even a neurological standpoint that focuses mainly on how a narcissist’s brain has structural abnormalities related to compassion. As for whether a narcissist can benefit from treatment, that’s still a debate and I’ve heard from survivors that narcissistic/sociopathic abusers actually learn more manipulative tactics within therapy, thus exacerbating the abuse.

      What worries me about your comment is that you state your abuser is “aware of his very physical abuse.” Any type of abuse, whether psychological or physical, is unhealthy and unacceptable, regardless of what disorder a person may have. If you are in physical danger and suffering mistreatment, there is no spectrum. If you choose to commit to an abuser, you will be choosing a life of pain, struggle and self-harm.

      Abusers may have levels of self-awareness and they come from all different types of backgrounds. However, that does not change the fact that they are abusers and it doesn’t change the fact that there is someone healthier out there who will NOT subject you to this type of abuse. You deserve SO MUCH BETTER than this. My advice would be to pull the focus off of him and refocus on you and your self-care.

      You do not deserve to be emotionally, mentally, physically battered. You deserve to be loved, cared for and respected. I sincerely hope you make your own safety and mental health a priority by detaching from this person. Feel free to keep us updated on your journey. Sending blessings and prayers your way <3

  19. thank you for this. I found this via Reddit and shared it on facebook, which led to a few shares and several revelations. Before I got too warm and fuzzy feeling good that I shared something that made an impact, I wish to give thanks to the author that made that possible.

  20. I’m wondering if you’ve followed me around for the past several years as you’ve just described my life since I’ve been with my STBE (soon to be ex). He’s now cycling in our divorce process and is going through the really nice stage (like when we were dating) and it scares me to death. I cannot go the route of “No Contact” because we share a child. But you’re post here has been an amazing help in deterring me from falling for his tricks again. Thanks!

    1. Hi Shannon, thank you for your comment! Many survivors are shocked to find that abusers use very similar tactics. Congratulations on staging your freedom and I hope you’ll stick to Low Contact (minimal contact only when necessary, and if necessary, only talking about legal matters) in your journey to recovery. You may want to check out the Gray Rock Method in dealing with your ex-husband:

      You can also find a helpful forum for parents who share children with their abusers here:

      Best of luck on your journey to healing. Sending blessings your way. <3

  21. I had a friend like this. I don’t hate this person and I love their family and friends. I moved alot and the place I met this person was the place we stayed the longest It became the norm for me to treat people this way. The friendship broke off a few weeks ago and I realised how much it had actually affected me. Now I need to heal my scars and learn how to treat people the right way.

    1. Zee, thank you for his comment, I appreciate you sharing your story. It takes a lot of introspection to also look at ourselves and move towards the path of self-improvement. We forget how much toxic influences shape our lives and our own behavior. Learning to heal ourselves also requires looking within so congratulations on your journey to healing. <3

  22. Not many people understand that whole part about gathering the high opinion of the masses, so that you appear like the failure and “he” appears the poor soul who had to deal with your extremely ’emotional’ behavior. Ugh…unfortunately, I’m still in it….riding one of the highs at the moment – sadly we know it won’t last, but at least I know how to get out of it. Would you believe that I just did the “no contact” thing with my ex-narcissist? If you have been or are in one of these awful relationships then you probably do believe me…

    1. Mcbrown1130, indeed, the opinions of others are extremely important to upholding the narcissist’s false self. Smear campaigns, shallow flattery and a charming exterior of little substance – all of these describe the narcissistic abuser perfectly. Congrats on going No Contact – it is a challenging process but an extremely rewarding one as well. You can do this! 🙂

  23. This is not just happening to women, but BY them as well. This has made so many things come to light, when it is concerning my last girl friend, as it describes her ‘to a tee’ I loved her very much but it became such a dramatic nightmare that I ‘separated’ from her by 1000 miles. It took 2yrs 4 her to leave me alone AND for me to say what had to be said. I am an s.o.b in her mind and nothing was or is her fault. To all the people who have these individuals in their lives, I say to you” Yes it hurts. Yes you will miss them. Yes you will get mad when it all said and over, BUT you will have YOUR life back and THEY will no longer be YOUR problem. Be strong. Be you, And don’t doubt. It will serve you no good.

    1. Hi Pete, thanks for your comment and for sharing your story. Yes, abusers come from all backgrounds and be of any gender. They do indeed project blame onto others and are prone to black-and-white thinking, as in, “it’s them, not me.” You are right in saying that the ending of the relationship also marks the beginning of a new life – one without abuse and one more aligned with self-love and self-care. Wishing you the best of luck on your journey to healing. 🙂

  24. Incredible! Are narcissist, then, unable to love? Like, truly love anyone?
    I recently got out of a relationship of sorts like this. He made me so happy and yet so miserable, at the same time. Emotional roller coaster. It’s been 4 months now of little to no contact (he hits me up, I never do. typical) but my heart still beats strong for him. The thing that kills me the most is: why did I not inspire the power of love in him enough to change that evil in him? haha And still to this day I defend him, saying he’s just a bit immature and that he puts a front to protect himself cuz he’s actually just a big softie. But a part of me knows that he’s just that: a narcissist.
    This was so on point that it actually took me to the next level in healing. THANK YOU for this. Ah!
    All of you here that are getting over a relationship like this, stay strong! You’re not alone. Sending love and light to you all and may a good woman/man come into your life, as it has come to mine. So grateful I’ve now met and am with a man that is stable and loves me. Yay! 🙂
    Crazy how I’m still healing over my past when I have a wonderful present and future ahead. That’s how damaging those ppl are. Oh and the whole them being amazing in bed… So true. They ensnare you with that too. Just nuts.

    1. Ginel, thanks for sharing your story and congratulations on being free from your abuser and FOUR MONTHS NC! I am very grateful to hear that this article has helped you on your journey to healing. It’s also wonderful to hear that you’ve found someone who treats you with the love and respect that you deserve, a great sign of hope for the survivors out there. 🙂

      Narcissists demonstrate a lack of empathy and have been shown to have structural differences in their brain related to the processing of compassion ( I believe they experience love quite differently as a result – they may love people as sources of supply and objects, but not as human beings with their own free will.

      While we may doubt ourselves quite a great deal after abuse, thinking we could’ve inspired them to change with our love and devotion, the truth is, there was nothing we could’ve done to change them or their behavior towards us. In fact, giving our love and devotion to abusers only gives them the ability continue their mistreatment without consequences.

      Going No Contact is honestly the best thing you can do for yourself and the only way to move forward with your life. You’re not only a victim of abuse but a survivor with agency and freedom. It takes a lot of strength to exercise that agency so you should be very proud of yourself. Wishing you the best of luck on your journey to healing and an incredible future ahead <3

    2. I’ve read a couple of posts from you and I have to say something to you… because I had to say it to myself in the last few days. You Deserve Better! He may be cute and charming and Hot in bed, but he’s just using you. He’s not into you and he can’t be cured.

      Mine travels for work; he’s a carnival worker. He comes into town for the winter and leaves in the Spring each year. He’s put me through this cycle twice and nearly cost me everything… my car, my home, my self-respect. This last time, he used the harem tactic on me, hitting on every woman in sight in front of me, yet withholding sex from me because I “couldn’t get it straight”. His words, not mine.

      I can’t count the number of times he humiliated me publically and privately, yet I still let him stay in my life. Finally, something in my snapped and I made him leave, yet I kept telling myself that he’d eventually “grow up” and be a “real man”. He cut contact with me again, yet sends me text messages occasionally to let me know he’s “thinking about” me. @@

      I cut contact about two weeks ago, removing him from my FB, deleting his number from my phone (actually, I changed the name to Don’t Answer), and I’m tossing the things he left here for storage a little at a time. Today, I officially made the decision to go completely No Contact. It’s amazing how much better I feel having taken back MY power in this relationship.

      The killer of it all is that he told me when he left that he was looking for a woman who could and would give him marriage and kids but that if he didn’t find that woman, he’d be back because I am “everything he ever wanted in a woman”. Um, NO, I’m not sitting here waiting for him to come back. It’s time for me to move on with my life and regain my self-respect.

      You need to put this man in your past and move on with your life. He will never grow up and he will never be the man you need and deserve. Take back your own power and see how amazing your life can be!

      1. Melissa, thank you for supporting another survivor and also for sharing your story! I love what you’ve written, especially this: “It’s time for me to move on with my life and regain my self-respect.”

        Wonderful! I am so happy you’ve gone No Contact and are already benefiting from it. The chronic humiliation and the disrespect abusers inflict on their victims is not worth any “crumb” or morsel of interest they might show in their post-breakup hoovering tactics. Stay strong and best of luck to you on your journey to healing. <3

      2. I had a huge, long comment updating my earlier post, but suffice it to say that going No Contact is the best thing I ever did for ME. I’m now with a man who treats me the way I’ve always wished to be treated and in a healthy, loving relationship. It was tough, especially when the ex came back to town this winter. I had a small “head crisis” when ex started love-bombing me again to try to get me back, but it’s all good. Every time I let the thought of him in my head now, the universe lets me know that Ex was not worthy of my time or my love.

  25. Spot on! My former husband must have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I appreciate the recommendation for no contact, as I feel much more grounded, stable, and happy when I do not communicate with him at all. Makes co-parenting tricky, but thank god for the courts! They have been a lifesaver in providing a neutral ground where the facts, and not emotional manipulation, prevail. Cheers and thank you!

    1. Kathy, I am glad you are benefiting from initiating No Contact. For more tips, please visit my post on No Contact here:

      You may also wish to check out a forum for abuse survivors who co-parent with their abusers here:

      Blessings to you on your journey to healing! <3

  26. Reblogged this on Journeys and commented:
    This is what I have survived recently. As a result of reading this, and realizing it was what I was dealing with, I finally cut this guy out of my life for good. Time to start healing now!

    1. Wow! It is incredible to hear that this entry had such an impact. I am so happy to hear that you are free from the mind games and manipulation for good. Thank you for sharing your story with me and many blessings to you on your healing journey! <3

  27. I could have written this article; thank you for putting it out there. I am separated from a man I was married to less than 1 year. He pursued me hot & heavy, giving me all of his time, attention & affection. Quite simply, I became addicted to it. We married, I moved in and I swear, the VERY DAY I moved my money into a joint account was the day I he pushed me off the pedestal. Within months, the money was heavily depleted and the day he discovered I had taken what was left was the day he said “I’m done”.
    On a positive note, I’m writing about my experience and it’s become therapeutic because I’m seeing it in the 3rd person. I’m better able to understand how it happened and to learn from it so that it never happens again. Thank you!

    1. Hi Tina, thanks for sharing your story with us. I am sorry that this exploitation happened to you but happy to hear you are moving on with your life. He’s not “done” – you are done with him! Writing about your experience can be incredibly cathartic and healing. Blessings to you on your journey <3

  28. Just wanted to update. I posted that I had gone No Contact with my abuser a few weeks ago. That seems to have restarted HIS cycle, so he’s now showing interest again. I’ve stuck to my guns and done a ton of soul-searching in the last few months since I made him leave in June.

    I recently started seeing a very nice man who, unknown to me, had been waiting in the wings for me to get my head straight. Smart, funny, treats me very well, but knows my faults and foibles yet still loves me. 🙂 We’ve discussed my relationship with the abuser in detail and my new boyfriend is doing all he can to help me heal and move past that situation.

    My only fear now is that I may not be able to recognize a “normal” level of affection and care after being love-bombed three times by the abuser. I’m praying for guidance daily and trying to just accept that this new man is sincere rather than seeing everything he does for me through the filter of that old relationship.

    1. Melissa, thanks for the update. I am glad you have maintained No Contact with your abuser. I am also happy to hear you’ve met someone who treats you well and wish you all the best in your new relationship.

      As for trust issues, I would caution you to not reveal too much about your past relationship unless you’ve spent more time together, getting to know one another (I wasn’t clear on how long you have known each other). If this man is sincere, he will understand your need to take things slowly. Someone who is lovebombing you WOULD want to know about your past relationship patterns because they are trying to understand what you will accept/what makes you tick so keep that in mind.

      That being said, I also don’t advise approaching everyone and everything with suspicion either. Always be open to whatever comes – whether it’s red flags or true love. Take what you’ve learned to establish appropriate boundaries with others and honor your instincts. Wishing you all the best. <3

  29. This describes the relationship I had with a former girlfriend perfectly. Luckily I was able to leave town after she discarded me for one of my friends (and set about turning almost all of my other friends by telling them that I had abused her), and rebuilt my life. Been married to a wonderful woman for over 20 years now, that I would not have gotten together with had it not been for that one ex-girlfriend dumping me when she did, so I try to see that at least some good came from the relationship, in the end.

    1. scormus, thank you for your comment. I am very happy to hear that you have survived and thrived after this experience. Congratulations to you on your marriage of 20 years – I know it will give other readers hope to read this. There are always lessons that can be learned from every experience and I truly believe that even the most painful of experiences can serve as a portal to triumph if we allow it. Blessings to you on your journey <3

  30. Reading this made me realize I’m in the devaluation phase. Man, was that first phase intoxicating! Trying to get up the guts to end it before I get crushed in the discard phase. I’m almost certain it will happen by her casting me aside when someone else gets her attention.

    1. Hi Scott, thanks for your comment. It can be very difficult extracting ourselves from the toxic dynamics of such a relationship even when we are in the devaluation phase and we know we are. The first phase is indeed intoxicating and convincing; it leaves us in the purgatory of cognitive dissonance and doubt. I hope that with this new information that you will find a way to empower yourself to make the choice that is best for you. Blessings to you on your journey to healing. <3

  31. I tend to be suspicious of flatterers anyway because I can feel that they are trying to manipulate me and I’m not in the mood to be manipulated. I met a guy like this once and it was painful. It was brief, thank God. This was a great read. Thanks for posting

  32. All the ways you mention are what my adopted now-teenager has been doing to me. These behaviors exist beyond romantic relationships…. sadly. I have removed her and she is in a therapeutic home/school where she is held accountable for her actions. Costing me an arm and both legs, but my sanity is back! I know it isn’t me! And while I have no credibility in the town we lived in, as a parent (she did a great job destroying that and making herself look the victim), I know I did everything possible for her…. still doing my best to support her emotionally too, but it is exhausting!

    Thanks for this article — it is concise, spot on and your advice is also very good! ♥

  33. This is exactly what happened to me with my older sister. First, she made me feel safe and that everything was gonna be ok and how much she loved her little sister and would do everything in her power to help me get back on my feet.
    Then, once she got me a job, everything I did wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t make food to her specifications, I didn’t take good enough care of her (spoiled) pets, I didn’t clean the house well enough for her, I wasn’t paying her enough for rent (it was $500 every month and I didn’t have enough left over to pay my cellphone let alone eat anything other than ramen noodles).
    Then she threw me out and blamed it all on me. It was my fault I got thrown out, it was my fault I didn’t do enough, it was my fault I didn’t communicate enough, I was too negative, I was too antisocial, I was too quiet. The reality was that once I figured out what kind of person she was I, literally, barricaded myself in my room in an effort to keep her toxicity out of my life while still renting a room from her.
    There was always a boyfriend or the roommate to help reinforce her opinion (triangulation), she had (still does) an army of followers, friends, and exes that help reinforce her every thought, opinion, and move. After she threw me out and I was forced to live in a homeless shelter she did the smearing of my name to all my friends and relatives, made them believe I was at the homeless shelter for drugs and hooking; I did neither.
    I’m in therapy to this day over all of it, and she wants to be back in my life like nothing happened. I cut her off completely. I want nothing further to do with a person like her. Let her keep to her lies and followers and fakes, I want no part of it anymore.

  34. Excellent article! I have lived through this and survived. I’ve been out of that marriage for 8 years now and still cannot believe that I succumbed to such cruelty and meanness during that time. Divorcing him was the best thing I ever did for myself. My advice? Get out. Stay out. Don’t look back. EVER!

  35. I hope you are still reading these?
    In the beginning, it was a love bomb.
    He was still married and assured me that they were in the middle of a divorce.
    He had been living in his vehicle with a mattress in the back and at a friends house in a neighboring town for four months.
    I let him stay at my place so he could be closer to town and me.
    Our first argument happened the night that he invited me down to the local hangout bar to meet her.
    I was furious and put his stuff on the porch.
    The next morning I felt bad for getting angry ( my biggest mistake)
    And took him breakfast.
    I walked in on him in the act in bed with his wife’s best friend.
    I said wtf!
    He told me to get out of his house and a rammed his bedroom door.
    I was on my way to work and they both came out him exclaiming I wasn’t effing her.
    He was adament. Kept coming toward me trying to convince me.
    I got super emotional and punched him.
    That was my second mistake.

    He’s apparently been cheating on his wife with her for two years.
    He blamed staying with her in her that apparently she’d tell his wife if he stopped.
    Then there was me.

    So two women he’s cheating on his wife with.
    He cheated on his mistress with me and then me with his mistress.
    I forgave him though and said ok no more lies. Let’s have a fresh start.
    He insisted that he and his mistress stay friends.
    I let it go in for a couple weeks while they both tried to guilt trip me about their long lasting friendship.
    Finally I said no. No contact if you are to be with me.
    His divorce was finalized three months into our relationship..

    Our relationship was degrading as it was growing and I felt like I was losing my mind.
    I felt unstable and mistrustful.
    I started taking anti anxiety meds to control my emotions and went to see a therapist.
    My own anger issues popped up and is scream a lot and spill my drinks on the floor and walks.
    I was losing it.
    Apologizing constantly and losing it again for not honoring my own emotions.
    I blew up and was flailing one day and ended up hitting him in the process.
    I was devastated confused and felt like it was all my fault.
    He stared at me blankly and encouraged therapy, and meds.
    He told me he was terrified of me but he stayed with me anyway.
    This was over the winter.
    He even spent Christmas with his ex wife and demanded I go spend it with my parents.
    Spring finally came and he decided to move out of state.
    He left without a hug because I was crying and walked off.
    I called him and he said if was wrong.
    We stayed in contact for three months over FaceTime and I stabilized.
    Started art classes, was making progress in therapy, made new friends and stopped going out as much.
    He brought me out to his state and we went in a very nice hotsprings your. It was super romantic and I feel like he spent way too much on it.
    We opened up to each other like we never had and “we” felt like things had changed.
    One day on the phone with him at work I lost it and was overheard cussing in the break room.
    I was put in probation at work.
    I had back slid emotionally that day and called him to explain.
    He said ok move out here.
    I thought about it for a couple weeks and decided ok I’m going to do this.
    I sold everything. Packed my little compact car withy animals and left.
    Upon arrival it was great.
    Our relationship was fine of course for a while but then he started being very secretive about his work.
    Said it was his line of work as we live in a legalized state.
    I was still dealing with trust issues and wanted to communicate.
    He wanted it to just be okay and not communicate.
    My only outlet was to psychoanalyze him and ask if it was true. He’d get pissed and finally he’d just leave. He’d come back and I’d ask him about it and he’d refuse to talk or listen.
    I’d try to talk about my work frustrations and he’d get even more upset.
    He’d just sit and drink and smoke his cigarettes.
    I cleaned the house constantly and mowed and kept the place up for us so he’d be happy.
    I felt like I was going nuts again and would start screaming and crying.
    He started leaving me dear jane letters and wads of cash in the table, which I would receive getting home from work.
    Finally it was the end.
    He said that I could blame everyone else and see how far that would get me.
    I had to move out.
    I had no connections in the five months staying with him. Finally I found work in my field and moved out to a mountain town.
    He paid for the first months rent and deposit, bought me a used 4 by 4 and blocked me completely out if his life.
    I’m completely isolated now and have noone out here.
    I feel like I was emotionally spent.
    I was hurting so badly for being cheated on and abandoned over and over, via text or dear jane letters.
    Now I feel like upon reading thus article that he could be 1 or 4.
    What I’m wondering is can victims ( I hate that label) be provoked into taking in on the blame?
    My anger issues were serious. I felt horrible and live with the guilt of not con titling my pain and also not honoring it and apologizing for it.
    Then blowing my top, repeatedly.
    I still do but I can’t help but feel like I was being used up the way you’ve described.
    Can you point me to any clarity?

  36. Like a lot of people said, it is amazing to read this and know that this WASN’T written by someone who saw my relationship. And really scary to realise there are so many others like him out there. I needed a wake up call to stop carrying the torch, and this worked a treat! Thanks so much!

    1. Hello Amanda, you’re very welcome and thank you for your feedback. We all need wake-up calls from time to time to empower us towards healing and recovery and to know that we are never truly alone. Blessings to you on your journey <3

  37. Hi, After looking at this post I’ve recognised a fair few traits that I see in my self.
    I used to think the way I treated people in relationships was good but after reading this I can see it was borderline abusive and definitely narcissistic.
    I’m glad I’ve seen this post even though it was really hard to read so thank you for putting it up.
    I’m going to do my best to eradicate my narcissistic behaviours.

  38. Wow. Going through something very similar. My wife and I were together for 4.5 years (1+ year married). She was unhappy at her job and I supported her leaving–moving to another city for her and this relationship. I began having severe panic attacks as I had anxiety with the adjustment. I took time with my family so I could recover and right myself and not inflict any further pain on the relationship. She pulled away from me at this time and when I finally saw her, she told me she wanted a divorce and began telling me all of these things she had never told me before. She indicated that she had never shared these feelings because “I can’t accept criticism” and that I’m “all take and no give.” She told me that best part about this was that she didn’t have to process with me and that she was completely done.

    Awfully heartbreaking and I am still very much reeling. She was always disconnected with her emotions and constantly tried to manipulate her behavior into blaming me. I told her to seek therapy and offered to do couple’s therapy when she told me this. She was completely shut down and wouldn’t hear any of this. She also began having an inappropriately close relationship with another man (going to his house very late at night, hanging out several times a week). I don’t know if she cheated on me, but it was terrible. I was having anxiety and she clearly couldn’t get what she needed from home–instead choosing to go elsewhere.

    I know psychoanalyzing her will not help me, but I suppose it’s good that I can kind of put a label/disorder on how she is. I love her very much and our relationship was magical and wonderful–I am still very much in love with her. I would still work on this with her, if she was willing to change.

  39. Thx to my daughter for this …OMG ….its so hard to explain to people how a weak person can control you….a name for this bastard that got to me” Narcissist..”I can now show this to my close friends who will now understand…..I was on the floor when we met ….easy target 20 years of abuse ….I hate myself for that ……. I am free…took some doing my children suffered …but I fought hard ….loved them …my son had councelling .I have two children from a pervious marriage my ex had debts house repossessed and an afare …we regrouped talked and buried………OUR daughter is well aware of this now and am sure my genes will over ride lol…..I am now with the lovelist of men ever who has read this ….hes nothing like it …..its made me cry ..feeling of self worthlessness coming back ,.,, but its all in the past … break free people ….just break free …….hugs to you all xx

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  41. This blog post is amazing, thank you so much for writing it. Such great explanation of the issue, which everyone reading can take strong advice from. It breaks my heart that people are victim to this and worse, but articles like this can really help.
    I’d also like to say a special thank you to the person who shared this with me, it was overwhelmingly appreciated.

  42. I’m in shock. This describes my ex-boyfriend and current fuck buddy incredibly well. The one thing that’s different is that when he does or says something hurtful–and I always call him on it–he doesn’t go through that apologetic phase that other abusers do. Instead, he simply pretends it never happened and just moves on. When we first met, we had a heady few weeks of constant contact, him saying he loved me, etc. Out of nowhere, he disappeared for a week, didn’t answer any texts or calls. Then he sent me an email that told me I was lazy, that I needed to get in shape (I’m a size 6), that my fibromyalgia is all in my head and just an excuse to get Social Security Disability and not have to work, and that I should get a job. After no contact for six months, he appeared on my Facebook and wanted to get back together. I tried dating him again but this time, he started immediately with the lack of response. The one and only thing I missed about him was the amazing sex, so I told him I’d be his fuck buddy or nothing at all. Of course he agreed to that. Two years later, we’re still at it. And he is a total asshole. I was able to get past that for the most part until recently. I thought I was using him, that I had control of the situation, but I’ve hit a point at which this is no longer enough. I’m sick of the manipulation and the complete lack of empathy. He still thinks my fibromyalgia is made up. I’ve had it for 9 years and it has totally ruined my life, but he thinks it’s imaginary. Nothing has changed. And nothing WILL change.

    1. Poetleslie, it’s kind of amusing (in a twisted sort of way) how they get out of any form of responsibility. My ex-husband said to me, “every single problem in our marriage is your fault! I’ve told you what the problems are and you’ve done nothing to fix them”. And he seriously believed that. His affair was my fault…after all, what choice did he have? I wasn’t fixing all the problems in our marriage so he had no choice but to cheat to get his needs met.

      Every time he postures these days, I find myself just giggling because it’s truly like dealing with a Jr. High kid…with every bit of the “You did it first!” and “Did not” or “Did too”. The other day he stood in the street and flipped me off, called me a string of obscenities and threatened to take me back to court because I didn’t take my daughter to her swim lessons. He had changed her schedule without discussing it with me (a no-no in our divorce agreement) and just expected me to take her anyway. When I wouldn’t do things his way, he blew!

      I”m not a professional, I’ve just lived through this, but I’m going to suggest you cut him off. Dump the drama and go get a massage. Pamper yourself a bit and then find someone who’s going to respect you. My best friend has fibro. Anyone with the least bit of compassion or empathy will not let a disorder such as that get in the way of a truly fantastic relationship. Best wishes!

  43. This article is fantastic. Thanks for all the link out as well to double check on meanings and definitions. I’m experiencing similar abuse from my father. I hesitate to diagnose but it’s a very similar type of treatment. I also divorced someone who treated me that was as well. Always devaluing my skills and blaming me for things that weren’t going his way. The comments are also full of great stuff, too. Nice to meet you and find your site. A friend sent me the link! 🙂

    1. Hello Lisa, thanks for your feedback and comment. Nice to meet you as well and thank you for stopping by! I am so sorry to hear you had this experience but happy to hear you are moving forward. It can be very difficult having both a narcissistic parent as well as toxic partners who mirror their behaviors, but the road to healing is a rewarding one. Blessings to you <3

  44. So, my question is, how can I tell the difference between the normal ups and downs in a relationship compared to narcissistic abuse? I don’t want to throw away my marriage for selfish reasons (I’m just not getting what I want/need) as is so popular in today’s culture. I want better for my kids.

    1. Also, any known statistics on NPD and addictions (alcohol, drugs, sex, etc). Many of these comments refer to sex drive and manipulation; and my experience includes a person who was unfaithful to me via porn, chat sites, meeting people online to hook up, etc, etc. We’re still married but I (internally) question everything he does and says. I was so duped for the 1st 4 years of our marriage.

    2. sealebacon, thanks for your comment. Normal ups and downs in a relationship don’t have abusive aspects to the extent that I’ve described. A non-narcissist, for example, would not need to stonewall/invalidate/smear campaign/gaslight/triangulate you constantly. Normal partners may have their flaws, may have different moods from time to time, but they don’t persistently carry on affairs, deny they’ve said/done something they know they did, shut down every time you bring up a legitimate complaint, provoke you with belittling and insulting comments, attempt to stage a smear campaign against you or displace blame onto you. Normal partners have the ability to empathize and see your point of view – even if they disagree with it. They have the ability to feel remorse when they hurt you. They don’t gain sadistic pleasure from constantly provoking you and making you feel badly about yourself.

      That being said, you are the only one who knows the answer to what you’re asking. You are the one who knows what your partner has done and said, and how that has affected you. If you’re not getting what you want/need from a normal partner who is not abusive, that’s a compatibility issue that needs to be addressed via communication.

      If you’re not getting what you need/want from a toxic partner, that’s a whole other ball game because you’re dealing with someone whose behaviors are unlikely to change. Not every partner is a narcissist, but not every partner is compatible with you either. That is something only you can answer. I wish you all the best in your journey <3

  45. Don’t Punish Love (time to move on)
    You told me you loved me, I believed that you might – my bliss gave me wings, and I fell from great height. When I gave you my love I expected no harm, I wanted our hearts to remain safe and warm. I so loved the man that you wished me to see, but there were many things you were hiding from me – a man of many faces with roles for each one, created for the purpose of you having fun.
    Don’t hurt a heart that wants what is true, don’t punish love that is offered to you.
    In your arms it was easy to ignore the lies, but as I found you deceived me my aching heart cried. I gave to you freely and you shared of my cup, then cast it aside for me to clean up. Our life here you hid when you walked out my door, you don’t want to stop yourself hunting for more. I was willing to share and I wanted to trust but your artless pursuits have left love in the dust. I wanted to live a life open and true, but you opt for the path that most benefits you.
    Don’t hurt a heart that wants what is true, don’t punish love that is offered to you.
    You build with your words and draw up grand plans, but the life that’s constructed is built upon sand. You blame your hurt lovers and deny what you’ve done – how can you be untouched by pain you won’t own? When you nurture a garden on a bed of cast waste, the fruit will be toxic to all who will taste. While you remained here, it was hard to move on. I guarded my numb heart until you were gone.
    Don’t hurt a heart that wants what is true, don’t punish love that is offered to you.
    For a short while, you set my heart free; you gave me a taste of how sweet love could be. How I wish it were real… but there is the catch; It seems that’s an itch that you cannot scratch.
    I will honour my heart that wants what is true. Why punish love for what’s happened with you?

  46. Thanks. I just went “No Contact” with my narcissistic mother 6 months ago. You forgot one of the narcissist’s favorite sayings, “You have a very vivid imagination.” Oh, the gaslighting. I don’t miss that.

  47. Wow! Not only an informative and validating article, but it’s great to see the support and feedback from others. I’ll share on my blog as well, because the more people are aware of this type of abuse, hopefully it may help others.

    tronconesdoopdedoo – Yes, you make sense as a man, and it’s so unfortunate that you’ve been suffering through such a horrific experience. Of course you’re not ranting, simply venting feelings that we’re sure have been pent up for some time. The way you feel is based on what you’ve been going through, and that’s the attempt of the abuser to you control you. Continue to hold on and hang in there, knowing that there are people here who are willing to listen and offer support. Be blessed

    Thank you all so very much! Hugs…

  48. WHAT A GREAT READ! This is the best most accurate depiction of a narcissist I have read. Self care haven, GREAT JOB! This is helpful and I am sure it has helped others. All of these are difficult things to deal with. The most important thing is to take this knowledge and TAKE ACTION! Life is too short to be in an uncomfortable situation and life is toooo long to be in an uncomfortable situation. Good luck to everyone that was brought to this article for whatever reason. We can do it. Best of luck to everyone!

  49. Wonderful article and completely spot on. I feel like I have been on a roller coaster ride for the past 7 years. He would love bomb me to death and tell me how bad he wants us to work then within 24 hours he would say he changed his mind and met someone else. He would also tell me that if I loved him then I would need to fight for him!!??? Really??? Is that what love is all about?? I am so hurt, I feel damaged. I feel like I will never be a whole person again. I just have no idea how I let this happen to me. I have always been a strong and confident woman who didn’t take any bull at all. For some reason I let this psycho rip me to shreds and destroy my soul. I spent hours on the internet trying to figure out what I was dealing with. Thank God I found this site and it gave me the insight to understand what was happening to me. I pray that I will heal and be able to have a “normal” relationship one day. For now, I just need to understand what the hell just happened and why. My dogs being scared of him and hating him should have clued me in that he is pure evil. Why did I do this to myself?? Why can’t I move forward?? I feel like I am drowning in quicksand.

    1. been there… first is to remember it was not you, he has an illness. If you let this control you, you are allowing his illness to continue. Once it just becomes a story when you tell it, with no emotion you are on your way. Just count it as a bad experience and fear the next person who walks into their life. You have your life and journey to follow and look forward to ..start developing it and make it completely new and different. And yes same as me.. i blame myself for allowing it, we feel stupid. But we are not alone, if so there would not be articles like this. Thank God you know what is and is not normal. You do, just get the conditioning they did out of your body.

  50. All I can say is WOW, this article is the best I’ve read. Not just for describing narcissistic behaviour but also the effects it has during the relationship as well as the after effects the abuse has on the abused person. You describe each phase in such a way it was like you had been watching him.

    People keep telling me I should be over it by now and I was doing a good job with that, but then he and the woman he dumped me for decided to try and adopt just before Christmas and as his ex I got asked for a reference! He isn’t able to have his own kids, but when I’d tried to talk to him about adopting all he kept saying to me was he wanted his own child. Then when I eventually had to have a hysterectomy I was unceremoniously cheated on with a prostitute, then he begged forgiveness only for him to start cheating on me with this woman and eventually to end up dumped for her because he said ‘I no longer adored him the way I used to’.

    I’ve suffered the verbal, psychological and financial abuse, the gaslighting, the smear campaign everything that is listed here. My GP said I was suffering not just from depression but also from PTSD.

    When the smear campaign phase started I had so called friends also join in the abuse. One came round after my ex cheated with the prostitute and told me to ‘stop playing the victim, it was my fault he cheated because I was overweight’. I’d just had my hysterectomy 6 weeks before and during that op they also found I had a stomach tumour which was also removed. I lost 18 pounds during that op, the tumour was so large it was pushing all my internal organs up to my heart and lungs squashing them.

    I don’t trust people anymore, I question everybody’s motives. I hate being this way, but I don’t ever want to get hurt like that again.

  51. You are talking to an independent mom who has been strong through many bad things, went years without dating at times and others come first that actually got caught up in this. They usually are longer type relationships because the beginning they are doing the priming of being this perfect person. So all the conditioning can take a few years. At that point you have engraved it into your head who and what they are so when things do change, there is doubt and there is confusion but easy to think it might be you since you because since the beginning the image is placed. I think I spent the last couple years defending myself to things that never happened or could happen which is crazy on my part. Was there red flags…YES.. many times would stop think “ahhh this is not normal” I have worked with the public my whole life and many people, the action and responses were not normal. For me, to be honest, there is more of a compassion to prove yourself, defend and won’t let go of the relationship until you feel they see you to who you are and these things do not exist. I love the article, first one that is to the point, actions down to the tee and clear. I have said this before, I only blame myself because I allowed it, it was clear I should not have allowed a number of things over and over.
    Yes their behavior will get worse and more often, the control and accusations came later but it goes in steps like you posted. And yes there was the affair (they deny but her and I are friends now, we both went through the trauma) and now with internet they will feed ego on dating sites fulfilling the superior side of them with words (while you are in a relationship) Is there damage.. you sometimes do not think so but there is. I do see the difference in me where trust can be an issue and the fear of the ball dropping at the dumpiest things..but it fades and reading things like this help one understand and get past that knowing…NO this was not normal and to relearn what normal is again. During recovery I wrote a book about children living with mental ill parents, designed for children…it is a good way to reflect, understand and recover. It has been a couple years and glad to say there is no emotion behind it, it is just a story when I tell it.. Thanks for your article.

  52. So, how do we break the cycle of living a lifetime of attracting and having relationships with narcissists? How do we recover, permanently change our behavior and attract healthy people instead? Your article is fantastic, and it makes me realize just how deeply ingrained narcissists have been in my life…I am 47 years old.

    It all started with my father, who is a narcissist and functioning alcoholic. I am the oldest girl of four children, and I was the one put on the pedestal. What I always thought was alcoholic behavior, I now believe is narcissist instead. There was all sorts of punishment, manipulation, and reward. Nice Dad, Angry Dad, Mean Dad, Cruel Dad, Belligerent Dad. Rinse and repeat. He would do or say cruel things to me, and then buy me an expensive gift. I got a new car twice from high school into my sophomore year of college. Neither my mom nor my siblings got new cars (yes, they held this against me…..but I was the child; I did not force my father to purchase vehicles or write checks.).

    After college came the 3 year relationship with what ended up being the liar/cheater/manipulator guy. Turns out, he lead a double life with a girlfriend who lived out of state, looked a lot like me, and whom he took to his father’s retirement dinner, introducing her as his “girlfriend” (even thought we’d been dating for about 2.5 years at that point). He made me feel like I was losing my mind. When I finally grew the balls to quit him cold turkey, I walked away, he threatened me, stalked me, and so I moved out of state without telling him. He then harassed my ex roommate until she caved and gave him my new phone number, just so that he would stop calling ten times a day. Yes, he stalked me by phone in my new state. All-in-all, this drug on about 4 years of my life.

    When I was about 30, I met my now ex husband. We dated 1.5 years, and were married for almost 7. We have the exact same birth date: same day, same month, and same year. He told me we were “soul mates”. I was his “princess” for awhile. Then he put me down, said things were all in my head, had zero conflict resolution with me so would punish me for three days of silence (we’d pass in the hallway like strangers) and then magically on day three it was as if nothing had ever gone wrong. And then he’d buy me elaborate gifts (of gee, a new car at Christmas). I always told him I just wanted respect, good communication, and conflict resolution. His response? “You should just be a happy little princess.”. Meaning: I should just shut up, put up with the abuse, and be happy for all of the material goods that he provided. He walked out on me on Christmas Eve, didn’t tell me where he was going, and drove 8 hours home to Canada, back to Mommy Dearest. He had our office manager call me to tell me where he was. So I was abandoned by my husband at Christmas. I was also alone for New Years because he stayed in Canada (found out from someone else). Shortly there after he moved out and into an America Stay Hotel, where his Mommy came to comfort him. We went to two weekly counseling meetings, one male and one female. In the end, he told me what he needed from me to make it all work: He needed me to be more of a housewife! Well, I told him before we got married that I would never be a housewife, I am a multi-faceted business person. I felt like after all of that time (over 7 years), he had absolutely no idea who I was, and that he did not know me at all. He wanted to be legally separated for two years, so that we could “work on things”. I knew there was no point, so I turned it into divorce. Now, 7.5 years later, sadly we still have a major shared asset, the property where I live. Things have been better than amicable since we divorced in 2007. He remarried this past spring 2014, and the shit hit the fan. Jekyll and Hyde! He has treated me horribly ever since. I realized just a few weeks ago that he is still punishing me for filing for divorce, when he sent me the following email: “Filing for divorce was probably not the best choice.”. What? For whom? I wonder if his new wife knows he feels this way. Filing for divorce was the best choice FOR ME!! So I could get away from him. Unfortunately, like I said, we share an large asset.

    It took me 2.5 years post divorce to be able to date. I ended up in a relationship that lasted almost 3 years. This guy had narcissistic tendencies, too. Of course.

    So I took 1 year 8 months off from dating to work on myself. This past fall I finally started dating again. Looking back, I can see that both of these guys had lots of issues and both are definitely narcissists. I quite each one of them cold turkey, walked away, and did not look back. I feel like the last one really used me for sex and what I could provide. He is definitely a taker. I have never felt used quite like that in my life.

    Can you help me? I am 47 and I would really like to have a healthy relationship with someone who is not a narcissist. I would like to attract a healthy man and have the kind of relationship that I have dreamed about.

    1. Ash, thank you for sharing your story. I resonate with a lot of it – the narcissistic parent, encountering a great deal of narcissists, and even knowing a narcissist who used alcohol as an excuse to engage in verbal and psychological abuse. There are people with legitimate addictions to alcohol and they need help, support and compassion. However, I believe there is a difference between an alcoholic who has become dependent on his or her addiction and a narcissistic abuser who uses alcohol as a means to abuse and escape accountability. The difference lies in whether the abuser carries out their manipulative behavior and self-centeredness outside of his/her addiction, and narcissists most certainly do. I found your comment about your father very powerful in drawing out that distinction, as it is not a distinction that’s often discussed. I also resonated with your stories about your abusers – how they would gaslight you once you asked for basic respect, how they would engage in blaming and shaming, as well as your Christmas story. Narcissists are notorious for ruining celebrations – they feel so dead inside that the only way they can feel alive is through witnessing and provoking intense emotional reactions in others, and days carved out for joy are a perfect time to destroy and discard their victims. I just want to tell you that you’re definitely not alone in what you’ve experienced…sending hugs your way.

      As for your question, how do we stop the cycle? It’s an excellent question and one I think all survivors ask. I want to tell you that you’ve already taken the first crucial steps and should be very proud of yourself. You’ve learned about narcissism, you’ve ended relationships with narcissistic partners, and you’ve even taken a break from dating to work on yourself. You’re on the healing journey. Everyone’s journey to healing will be different, and unfortunately, there is no magic pill or a due date as to when you’ll be fully ready to engage in a healthy relationship with a non-narcissistic partner. Having a narcissistic parent, as well as a series of narcissistic partner traumatizes us deeply – it shapes the way we look and interact within the world, the extent to which we trust others, and can have an impact on the way we look at ourselves in ways we’re not even fully conscious of.

      Healing does not have a time limit when it comes to that type of situation – we are always evolving and finding different ways to heal ourselves spiritually, emotionally, physically and psychologically. Survivors engage in different healing modalities – different types of therapy such as CBT or EDMR, acupuncture, aromatherapy, prayer, Reiki healing, meditation, abuse survivor groups, writing about their experiences – all of which can be helpful to them on their journey. Some survivors use Narcissistic Recovery Programs such as the popular one by Melanie Tonia Evans; others prefer more traditional methods. Only you can decide which combination of methods will be most useful for you, as each survivor has his or her own unique needs, beliefs and values that will need to be addressed. I highly recommend seeing a counselor who specializes in abusive relationships, if you haven’t already, because that can be an incredibly validating and helpful experience as well in breaking the pattern for good.

      I believe the moment we are actually ready for healthy, nourishing love is the moment when we stop looking for that healthy relationship with another person and start looking for a healthy relationship with ourselves. That takes a commitment to multifaceted healing on all levels of our being and deep engagement with self-care and self-love practices. For some resources that I know survivors have used, I will share some links below. I hope they help in some way. Sending blessings to you on your healing journey. Be gentle with yourself and have faith that a better partner is out there for you when you are truly ready.<3 <3 <3

      Some potentially helpful links:

  53. Every time I read this new memories flood in, things that were so out of norm and to the point CRAZY, there are two sides to the crazy. The actions that they do, or the things that they say. (to the most part, blaming you for things you are totally clueless of, projecting, or the twisted manipulation that in reality their words made no common sense). The second part of crazy is you built this image during the love bombing which was set in stone,you feel like your are going crazy.. one side of you is fixed on the lovebomb image while the other side is realistic of ‘you know better’. That is what spins you into circles and not able to make
    right choices.. the right choice is ‘omg you’re nuts and walk out the door’, but the type of manipulation before hand blocks proper thinking. They make you feel you were the cause so you doubt yourself. The worst is when you step up for yourself and make the boundary; somehow they find a way to do the shut down and blame shift, next thing you know you are crying and asking for forgiveness for something THEY did.. serious I am so ashamed when I think about that and mad at the same time I allowed him to do that to me .. many times over and over.
    We are not talking about a needy person here, more of a giver I am, you are not talking about a person out there just looking for a man. You are talking about hard working through good and bad times, care taking children, went years without dating because no time for that and can hold my own type of person that fell for this.
    In short it is an emotional roller coaster, then it reaches a time you are scared in everything you say or do (waiting for the ball to drop or a time you have to defend yourself of something they created, sometimes it is normal and normal reactions happen and other times yep the ball drops it is like walking on glass emotionally. Remember they are not like this all the time that is what throws you). The punishments.. they are mental punishments for things that have no merit. Sudden shut downs, decides to just not show, disciplining you like a child, it was crazy!!
    I remember at one point it was so bad each and every time I was going over there I was shaking in the car the complete drive to his house worried what I was going to expect when I opened the door… good day or bad day…then when leaving I would conduct every word he said and I said in my mind to see if there was anything he could twist and change that maybe tomorrow I would be defending myself or being punished mentally for.. and remember these are normal dates, just hanging out and YES you have to worry like that.

    I remember at the beginning they are at,what i call “the do all stage” they like everything you like, agree to everything etc… but that changes. it was all made up

    You have no idea how many times things that would come out of my mouth (not knowing about this disorder) saying.. “what am I? something you keep as a prize in the closet and use me when needed.. or am I your girlfriend.. or what… I do not know my position” I would say, “stop talking to me like I am a child” so on, so the red flag was there, somewhere inside me I did stand up to reality but he would manipulate the position. OR the next day (or few days) he acted like nothing happened.. remember I came from a home you let sleep dogs lie with my father, the next day we all act like nothing happened and moved on.. so I was a victim to that conditioning already.

    There was never a fair communication, he was educated in all mental disorders and reactions and behaviors so when you were trying to explain something he would jump before you and shout “you’re just blame shifting” or he would use PROJECTING all the time, I would not confront him on it and letting sleepy dogs lie, which did not work in my favor because soon after he would blame me for what he was doing all the time.. so put you in a no win position.
    Yep there was an affair, one that I know of, and denies it. The affair started on line chatting in May, then turned into psychical not till Nov. He got caught and denied it.. they are good at doing the.. “lets take a break” out of no where, during the relationship he would shut down next thing you know he wants to break from the relationship ??? you walk away totally confused with not logical answers. You wait, sleepless nights.. main reason is because they leave you clueless.. if normal and two people are having problems and it leads to this.. that is norm and easier to take, these are out of the blue.. and it almost becomes a Mommy Dearest life style. The breaks were to make them feel they were not cheating, he was talking to women on line, feeding them his charm, or seeing them (even though it was done way before any break up for a week or two, it makes they FEEL they were not cheating, yet they are doing it before and after any break up) They return like nothing happened or tell you they want you so bad and can not live with out you..

    You do not want to know the final of it all and end it all after 4 years.. yes slowly it became more controlling of what you can and cannot do but the ending of this was the most CRAZY accusation that was totally impossible or realistic… at first you can not stand someone believing this or saying it so you do spend a bit of time trying to prove a case that is impossible to even happen *which is nuts for me to even do. But the saving of my mental life was it to become so crazy you have to walk away.. is it easy… no, crazy as it sounds no it is not because EVEN if you come to reality with this.. NOW you feel there is unfinished business…. yep, you want to now stand up for yourself, and do what was to be done on day one.. but that is the worst.. the best is to walk and allow this part of your life to just become a story.. believe or not that is the hardest part..There is a part of you that wants to have your fair trial, let the world know.. HA it was not me all these years and prove it.. So remember when dealing with someone like this they leave your life confusing and so unrealistic it feels like there is unfinished business on your part.. And there sort of is but that is part of their game. It is like smoking, you have to go cold turkey because if you do not leave that unfinished business aura ,you will stay trapped. There is no unfinished business is what you have to tell yourself, the unfinished business you so have is to let the world take care of, they will be alone, yes they will end up with another victim quickly. they will be back on the internet fishing with their charm.. nothing you can do about that but it will back fire. YOU have the choice to run and create a wonderful life, they do not unless they get help so look at it as you got the good end of the stick.
    The way I look at life now, is God places me in bad situations not for punishment but to become wise and then someday I can help someone else falling into the same thing. I am able to relate to them and they listen better.. we do need to help each other

  54. Hi I was wondering if people with this condition team up with one another. I was involved in a situation a few years ago.It has taken me a long time to understand and overcome with the help of therapy and self help the effects of a relationship I was involved in. In short I started on a work based program and fell for a guy who seemed genuinely interested in me. I was going through a hard time at home and was receiving therapy for it. I had a very controlling mother who hoards. Anyway, he helped me through it and was very supportive. After about 3 months of talking he told me that his friend and work colleague was a great person to talk to and being a woman maybe better suited to talk things through with. At first this woman was very friendly and wanted to know everything about me. I confided in her about how I felt about the guy and how much I liked him at first she was very disparaging about him and told me that although she was good friends with this guy she could not see in him what I did,she asked what I saw in him etc. and I told her. A few months passed and she started to imply that there was more than a friendship between them and when ever we were all together she would act overtly flirtatious with him which he played to she being a gym instructor and fit and pretty, I would have a conversation with him privately and then a while later she would make some comment on it, when I asked both denied anything more than a friendship, there were other things said and done by her that seriously injured my self esteem and confidence which after being advised by my therapist and others to read about personality disorders, I think she might have one, a lot of the things she said and did do fit, I was wondering though if he was a willing participant or someone caught up in the games. The whole thing ended after a night out where due to her behaviour I realized I couldn’t go on being friendly towards her. I got a lot of abuse in text from her and a lot of rumours started to circulate about me. He told me that he didn’t want to see me for a long time. I still don’t know what was said or happened between them. I changed my job, I have often felt like I am having to prove that I am not the loon with the issues she portrayed me as and have even had people tell me I am not the person they had been led to believe, tho when I ask who has said this no one can remember who has said it! I have started a new hobby in which there are people who know him and I have been in touch with him via text messages. His and my relationship never went any further than a platonic one although i would have. This is why I am asking my original question, do manipulative people team up.

  55. This is VERY important to teach people!
    It’s not just about love relationships–it’s also in parent/child; teacher/student; Boss/Worker; politician/constituent, etc. relationships.
    IMHO, it’s far more prevalent than mentioned.
    SO many people with life-imparing mental problems are skipping through life, leaving destruction of human beings in their wakes, while avoiding getting help, sometimes for decades.
    Practitioners only see them briefly, if that–and so many are really really good at “show-timing”. They can pull alternate personalities out of their hats at moment’s notice, when it suits them.

    NOPE…they will not say they’re sorry—unless and until they totally break down and have some a-ha moments, with counselors fit to guide them. Good luck.
    My favorite Narcissist Abuser, used to confess to a 3rd person, about how horrible she felt for hurting someone….WOE to that 3rd person/confessor, if they thought it was their job to let the harmed person know how contrite the abuser was!
    Next, the abuser might switch to some other tactic to avoid apologizing to their target.
    Finally, they might try actually apologizing to the target, in a last-ditch attempt to get them to return to their control, still rattling on about how abused they were as a child, and had such hard times, EVEN telling the target how they missed them, can’t live without them, or how cruel the target has been for distancing themselves…..they’ll say just about anything to entrap their target yet again…and keep repeating the abuse.

    1. You are so right chimonger. they will never see any wrong in anything they have done. They cannot, it is too hard for them due to the illness. They are masters at twisting things all around to the point they are making YOU say sorry for what they did. It is amazing!
      My ex would start out the relationship with how bad his childhood was, his mom was mentally ill (yet he had many family members that were good to him in his life). But this hits a cord on empathic people, they use it all excuses. I found out about his affair and she too stated that was the first thing he did is made her feel for him with his past. Always an excuse why the past women left.
      Since his mom was mentally ill he read many medical books. WHICH in return he mastered reading behaviors and reactions. He could go to counseling and have the person fooled in a moments notice. I see how it can happen. It took months to years of conditioning to complete their game, they will win them over just like they did you at the early start.

  56. It’s all fake isn’t it? All of his compassion doesn’t come from being genuine-and I feel it. It feels fake. I have to ask for a hug, have to fight for his attention. I’m the one to blame for everything- doesn’t matter what it is. He lied again to me because of me, he didn’t tell me about the texts and phone numbers because I’m a misunderstanding bitch. He’s left me standing in the grocery store embarrassed and holding all the bags after telling me again I could just get out of his house. Scared to take any trips with him because he is constantly threatening to leave me there. No money to even make a phone call. Yes he buys me things but I feel that’s really all he does for affection. Gotta go in debt for the new truck and the house. No we cannot use logic at any time. No you cannot ask me to be honest, about her, where the money went or all hell will break loose. His way. All his way. God forbid I try to stand up for myself – then I’m a c word, a b word and subject to days of isolation. Almost 6 years of waiting for any sign of awareness, of true genuine understanding. Nada. Feel sad, defeated and disillusioned and throughly sick to think of what I else I don’t know, what next surprise is coming. It’s just going to keep happening isn’t it?

  57. Reblogged this on What's the Point? and commented:
    If you have ever been in a “relationship” with a malignant narcissist, you’ll appreciate what this writer has described in this article. And I speak from personal experience. So why did I stay after I realized who and what I was dealing with? At first I was in DENIAL. I kept telling myself that this person couldn’t possibly be that evil and manipulative.

    Secondly, I realized that I had attracted individuals like him before even just as platonic friends. In those cases, it was easier to walk away. So I realized there was a lesson I needed to learn from such an encounter and I had to deal with it once and for all. I knew I was in a karmic relationship and that energy needed to be transmuted so I could set myself free. So I stayed, armed with a focused mind, a tenacious spirit and a loving heart. My friend MJ was also a big help. Often we’d just sit there in silence and observe the madness around us. Going to graduate school full-time also kept me busy and distracted most of the time. By the time of my graduation, it dawned on me that I was living in some kinda hell. This person was literally at war with me because given what he had put me through I was supposed to have failed. By the time I walked away, I was mentally and emotionally exhausted however, I walked away with a stronger sense of self. During this experience, I meditated daily just to stay calm. I threw myself into my spiritual practice, which helped me reconnect with my deeper self. I also learned to love myself unconditionally and to trust my intuition again. In the end, what seemed like an experience from hell forced me to rediscover the love that I AM. And that is the ultimate lesson I learned from my last relationship.

    1. Wow–spot-on!

      Not sure about Karmic, but probably [for those who believe in reincarnation–as I do, but there’s more to it than that]
      But even looking at it as “this life only”….it starts in childhood with early childhood development–when that gets done poorly, everything later, which must be built upon those foundations, will also be wonky.
      Therefore, my mom, who had an abusive childhood, did her best to prevent her kids getting exposed to her abuser….
      But she was unable to prevent carrying many of the behaviors forward, and imprinted those into early childhood development of her kids….
      Each of us have some degrees of those behaviors, and/or, have fallen victim to getting involved with others with narcissistic abusive behaviors.

      I had the privilege of being the only one from the 1st marriage–so I had to spend part time in another household, exposed to other ways of doing things.
      The other kids didn’t–they were mostly with Mom….and got pretty much the full brunt of it…unless they were at our Uncle’s , who also imprinted some of those behaviors on them.

      I have been repeatedly involved at one level or another, with this kind of person, because [it took many years though], I recognized that this had been imprinted on me as “normal” behavior, and that I should “love everyone”….that I should be seen and not heard; don’t bother the adults with your problems; among other things.
      That formed a package of dysfunction, that set me up to be easy-target for more of same from others.

      Trying to get quit of that rut, has been very hard. It took more than 60 years to “get it” that Mom is how she is, and the other sibs, though they have encountered her stuff, still don’t acknowledge it…..any who speak out against it, are targets to be destroyed…they are helping her keep doing it, and don’t realize why their hearts are breaking.

      Mom, OTH, cycles thru periods of feeling abject contrition for her behaviors. She has only just now actually sent an apology for hurting me [more than 3.5 yrs after the last episode].
      I know she will cycle into other personalities and start spewing again–she can’t help it.
      I have managed to pretty much maintain No Contact not only with her, but with sibs, because they supported her behaviors…..since she left our place over 3 yrs ago…and it’s been wicked hard to do.
      I’m still a child who mourns not having a Mum who is ‘there for me”, who I can trust with anything, talk WITH, who will be understanding, compassionate, and who actually cares about me….but that person never really existed.
      I cannot change her; only myself.
      The only person I can rely on to “parent” me, is me, which is also something most kids are not taught…but eventually is all anyone has to rely on.

      Mum actually made something that was 100% nice [in past, she’s always included “nasty bits” on her works].
      And, the letter included is the 1st and only actual sincere-sounding apology for hurting me…ever.
      But that was one page out of several pages of her talking about how she was messed up as a kid, how hard her life has been, and the “book” she’s been trying to write for almost 40 years to teach others what they need to know spiritually [?!?]

      I feel that needs acknowledgement…but am still chewing on what/how to do that, and “be impeccable in my words” while doing it.

      Just praying anyone dealing with AN’s, doesn’t wait as long as it took me, to get untangled. It’s probably common that concurrent mental issues exist With AN.
      I am still not completely untangled, but have managed to reduce the impact of several of them in my life.
      It’s still hard to “see the train coming” before it hits.

  58. I have dated this person. It was the most awful and self-deprecating act I have ever done.

    I am in awe that you have accurately depicted the persona of the true narcissist. You are an incredibly insightful person and I hope others can be spared by reading this.

  59. Talking about how some use FaceB**k to manipulate their “harem” of supporters…is on-the-button. Narcissism is rampant in every direction!
    It’s not restricted to men or women, age, race, social strata, job or rank; it’s pervasive everywhere, at every level.

    A family I know, has had been targeted by their respective mothers [the children’s grandparents] and by other family members and friends, who dislike the pairing of this couple, dislike how they are feeding or raising their children, dislike not being able to force the family to come to their homes, dislike that….well, you get the picture? They have been invited to come visit at the kid’s own home, where no chemicals, no junk food, and a peaceful atmosphere are…but both grandmothers refuse to visit, but maybe once in a few years time, for a very brief time [an hour or two?]

    The instigating mothers used FB pages for a few years, as well as private messaging, since the last child was born, to whip-up sentiments against the couple, using half-truths and whole lies to get others to side with them in their attempts to tear the family unit apart.
    One of this couple’s mothers literally threatened, on her FB page, to report the family to CPS for endangering the children…her posts and language was ALL about stirring up numerous others, against this family, to get people on-board with her program to destroy this marriage and family…..and to try taking the children….
    …..even though it also came off as making it sound as though the guy’s mother hated/thot her son was really stupid [he’s far from it!]

    His mother cared nothing of who or what she trashed or harmed; cared nothing for the consequences–it was her sole goal to force them to allow her to have the children in her home—-which was, per Doc’s orders, off-limits for those children, due to smoking, alcohol use, as well as junk food and chemicals used in her home.
    Both of the mothers chose to disbelieve what they were told about the kids allergies, need for special dietary intake, nor that the kids actually had Docs caring for them; they both instead chose to endanger the kids by insisting on feeding the kids junk foods and allergy causing foods, then sending them home sick from that, then blaming the parents for making their kids sick!
    No matter.
    These 2 mothers have been whipping up a “harem” of supporters for a few years now, until it blew up as an actual report to CPS, in which the family had it’s food stamps drastically reduced, police came to investigate, then CPS came to investigate.
    This family had asked DSHS for help, then was told “you are being reported because you’ve contacted DSHS too many times in a month, for help”.
    [actually, trying to straighten out errors in benefits, and update financial information]

    It became clear BOTH this couples’ mothers were doing this, based upon:
    1. the policeman who came to the house is a personal friend of the wife’s mother;
    2. the wife’s mother is good friends with the DSHS social worker;
    3. the wife’s sister worked in that same DSHS office.; AND,
    4. the CPS worker is the mother of the DSHS Social worker !
    5. the “CPS major reporter” was the oldest child of the wife in this couple, who’d been heavily manipulated to report for the grandmothers, to throw-off suspicion…
    NO WAY a mentally /emotionally impaired, illiterate 10? y.o.? child can make the kinds of statements she did !
    Breaking DSHS and CPS Policy and Procedure?!?

    We figured they maneuvered to put a red flag on this family’s DSHS file, which started the cascade of events rolling.
    The Mothers using the older child, who has not resided in this household but for brief visits? The child is unstable, unable to read, unable to form coherent sentences, much less in a row, had been heavily manipulated and abused by her father [not the current spouse], for years; the child was programmed and coached into reporting to CPS for her grandparents, and others, to bolster the supposed case.
    CPS said they “never take a report seriously unless there is a close family member doing a detailed reporting”….. Right.

    It took a several months to get it cleared up; it’s far from “over”; once something like that is on the files, it STAYS on the files…even though NOTHING out-of-order was discovered.
    Narcissistic, alcohol using mothers on both sides, confabulated this.
    Then they wonder why this couple has nearly severed all contact with their mothers, out of self-protection.
    The couple have done everything as properly as possible, far better than most, yet continue to be baited and entrapped into more trouble, by these women and their foolish supporters, who are so easily manipulated into taking their side.
    That’s what Facebook has become a tool for, as has every other Social Media.
    In a narcissist’s hands, Social Media is pernicious tool.
    Heck, our Government, and industries, have been doing that.
    Yet still, this couple try to be nice to their respective mothers….they are pretty new to recognizing this, and it’s hard for them to “see it coming” before it hits.
    Kids programmed to “not recognize it” are vulnerable to being hit repeatedly by it.

    Seems like law and agencies should DO something to prevent Systems getting clogged by specious cases like this, yet, the systems are drowning in them, just about everywhere.
    Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Docs …have a very hard time diagnosing this, much less doing anything about it.
    Maybe it’s because there’s no drugs/real treatments to prescribe for it.
    Police tend to remain suspicious of the target persons, even after they’ve seen for themselves that everything is well-in-order.
    NEXT time, this couple ends up dealing with yet another game played by their mothers, they might not be as lucky.
    I can see those mothers are already trying to lay more traps–it might take them months, even years…but they’ve shown clearly that they are very willing to do that.

  60. This pretty much describes my ex-gf in a nutshell. She would cycle through idealizing me by telling me she loved me and how cute I am(lookswise) but then would attack my personality and hurl insults designed to strike at my weaknesses. She actually wanted to marry me but then whenever I would express dissatisfaction with her selfish attitude and her unreasonable demands she would try to tell me that our relationship doesn’t even exist.
    She constantly would call me a psychic vampire when being around her made me feel physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted(I guess psychic vampires always accuse their prey of being such). But as the article points out, the connection between you and a narcissist is entirely an illusion they fabricate. I actually needed to change a lot of things in my life and get my shit together and at first I was happy to go along with her….But then when she started blaming me for everything that was wrong in her life and expecting me to make her happy despite me telling her that nobody else(not even her own damn son) could do that for her she would berate me and blow up at me over the most trivial things.
    But what infuriated her the most was the fact that despite being introverted, socially awkward(I’m an autist mmk?)I refused to apologize for being who I am because I still feel intrinsic pride that she could never take away from me. She is very extroverted, flamboyant, and makes friends easily but despite all her status, her beauty, and her social endeavors she still feels ashamed and afraid. She doesn’t love herself and was incapable of loving me back. I did love her dearly at one point but I realized this after having moved in with her and live in her apartment for two straight months I started to spend nights away from her and even broke it off with her temporarily after which she begged me to come back. But when she demanded that I take out a huge loan that was far greater than my net worth to support her and the child from her previous ex she was carrying I decided I’d had enough and I refused. Shortly thereafter when she finally gave up and told me it was okay for me to date other people I gathered my stuff and then officially DUMPED her sorry ass via e-mail.
    Now I’ve never been lucky at love, but something is NOT better than nothing. A person who makes you so unhappy and miserable that you can’t stand being around them is worse than being alone. Now that she’s gone I’ve come to realize the huge burden that has been lifted off of my shoulders. She probably would say that I’m the narcissistic one as she blames everyone but herself(she has Borderline Personality Disorder FYI). Another drama queen out of sight and out of mind.

    1. Wow, many of us can relate.. yes there will be some differences here and there because each one of them have their own game. But the big picture is all the same. Life becomes confusing, you find yourself defending yourself to things that never happened.. or believe me defending myself to things that we so stupid, such as the silent treatment, or treating you bad, till finally days later they tell you what the problem is… they did not like the way you talk… what? (serious, i think they make it up as they go lol) no one should be defending themselves to something so silly. But we do. That is just a small piece of it. You find it an emotional roller coaster, not knowing what lurks behind the corner THEN they have that stretch of normalcy. Thinking it is over with, everything is good, once your defense is down bam! Something crazy out of the blue. You say the sky is blue and they fight with you it is green is the way discussion work so there is no working it out by communication. It is a brick wall. They are masters in manipulation and projecting (projecting is they blame you for the faults they have) Break ups and taking breaks, they call it, for reasons that make no sense.. the day before was perfect. (found out he was fishing for other women on line all the time, just to use his fancy words so his ego can be feed) He got caught by a few and the wrong ones. One time a friend of mine said love is not this way, love is a soft place to fall. At the time you do not understand what they are saying or you go on some crazy mission you will fix this or you will be the one to make it all better, they feed off of good people who nurture. It does not get better. And the way the article put it, they will drop you in the most craziest, meanest way in the end is so true. LOL.. you have no idea.. and yea…. it is you not them, they will do whatever it takes to make it you even if there is no reasoning behind it what so ever. One time he was going through a bad period.. not sure why, to me there really was no reason that i knew of so thought it was a family matter, drinking more, not shaving etc.. he sat me down telling me how he is falling apart and in the conversation it was leaning to it was because of me.. WHAT… all I wanted to ask was, what does this have to do with me? but they will make it you. You get to the point you can not make choices anymore.. NORMAL choices, in the way you do things or how you do them because they have you so confused of what it right or wrong.. there is NO NORMAL that is for sure. I am trying to learn normal again and worry more than i ever have even with friends.. are they mad at me? did i do the wrong thing? when there is no it is damaging but repairable.. once it just becomes nothing but a story to you.

  61. I just want to thank you so much for this article. (most seem to agree) I have been NO CONTACT for sometime and it has finally reached to a point of “just a story” when I tell it, nothing more. (is there damage of knowing what is normal? yes, but time will take care of that)
    BUT during the time of the relationship as it got worse.. and people do not understand the worse is mental, more confusing to the point you do not know if the sky is blue or purple. You have no idea if this is going to be a good day and life just floats or you will be accused of craziness you have to defend for days, then the silent treatment of not knowing what the heck is going on. Of course they work hard (even if makes no sense) at making you feel it was all your fault and you are a bad person, because their esteem is so low. The projecting UGHHH! Were there red flags to the point you start going through the internet to see if there is a disorder here? YEP many times. But the bad thing most NPD articles is the way they word it, it is not clear, they lean so much one words like, “see themselves as the greatest”, “higher power over others” so on,. In that note, of course you have their lovebombing moments stuck within you (the damaging part that is engraved). Since the charming part was so intense at the beginning you sort of push aside that is what they have. (plus you witness low esteem within them, so again you push it aside) You explained it to the tee and the phases that you can jump up with no doubt “that is it!”. If more articles were written up the way you put it, more people would know this is what they were getting into, and diagnosis it at an early stage. It sure would have helped 4 years of mental abuse. I have shared this to others the best I can.

  62. Reblogged this on Diary of a Disenchanted Diva and commented:
    Reading this, it’s clear my ‘relationship with the narc was textbook. I feel very stupid. I’ve always been a good judge of character – or so I thought – and spent a lot of my adult life single rather than to be in a relationship with the wrong person, so why on earth I wound up with the narc and had my first and only child with him…I have no clue where my head was at. Or where it is now. But every day I give thanks for this beautiful little girl whom I love more than I ever thought was possible for my heart.

  63. Thank you so much for this article. Lots of good info and things to be able to teach my daughters when they reach dating age. Just ended a relationship with an abusive narcissist today. His narcissistic behavior was coupled with a sex addiction…and although his symptoms of narcissism and sexual addiction had truly improved since the day I met him, he still displayed too many narcissistic symptoms and attitudes to continue any kind of healthy relationship. You see, I was recently diagnosed with cancer and had a subsequent emergency surgery. And THIS is the time he picks to tell me he’s not getting enough attention and dumps me. He displayed no empathy or even sympathy when I was diagnosed, yet it was my fault for not telling him how to act to make me feel better. Worst 4 years of my life. I know better now and will not/cannot except the abuse any more. Thanks again for the article and for the opportunity to vent a bit. Hoping to be able to stay strong for a no contact break up. 🙂

    1. Valkyrievixen14, thank you for sharing your story with us. I am deeply sorry you had to go through this at such a vulnerable time. You are very brave and strong. Sometimes it takes a great amount of pain to reach the threshold of “no more” after we have seen an abuser’s true colors. Through all the hardship, it is a hidden blessing to finally accept that our abuser is unlikely to change and to move forward in search of a partner who can give you the empathy, compassion and love you truly deserve. Stay strong, take care of yourself and stay No Contact. The most important person in your life right now is you. Wishing you the best of healing and blessings on your journey to recovery. May you heal physically, spiritually and psychologically from this. <3 <3 <3

  64. I have been in a relationship for 2 1/2 years. A friend told me recently that she thought my boyfriend was a narcissist. Not knowing truly what that all entailed, I googled it and came across your posts. I am blown away with how this describes the man I have been involved with to a “t”!
    4 days ago I made the mistake (again), of trying to express how something he did made me feel. Of course, as always, his response felt unnecessarily mean and hurtful. And in the end, he disregarded my feelings in a claim that they were unwarranted. From that moment on he became cold and distant. Which of course made the hurt even worse. I tried again the next day to make him understand how his reaction to me was affecting me. It only made things worse. This scenario wasn’t new to me. It has been played out many times before. But this time he hung up the phone and immediately sent a text asking me to leave him alone for one day (typed out in all caps, followed by !!). Trying not to make it any worse, I did exactly that. I have not contacted him in any way and have not heard from him since that message. It has been 2 1/2 days of hell in my head. He doesn’t typically go this long without atleast making some type of contact, unless we are in one of our “break up” places, which we have done often over the past year.
    My question is….do you think this sounds like I have finally been discarded? Or is it still just part of the devaluation phase? My intent is to not reply should I hear from him. But my curiosity is peaked in wondering whether I will or not. To say that I am amazed and bewildered at the ease in which he is doing this would be an understatement. It feels so abrupt, he’s there one minute and then gone for good without even letting me know that it is over? With not even the tiniest bit of closure? Is this how it is typically done? I’m sure I don’t have to say how painful this is.

    1. Hi, thanks for visiting my blog and for leaving a comment. Unfortunately, I think your friend may be right about your boyfriend. Reading your story is like reading my own – and those of many emotional abuse survivors. What you just described to me seems to be classic stonewalling/silent treatment, emotional invalidation and devaluation over the course of your relationship. Stonewalling and the silent treatment are a couple of the main tactics narcissistic abusers use in order to “shut down” any conversation about your feelings. Essentially, these tactics work by 1) making it clear that your feelings about their inconsiderate/rude/toxic/abusive behavior does not matter, thus training you not to speak out against your abuser again, 2) threatening the security of the relationship, thus making you fearful and more willing to “make things work” during what you call your “break-up” moments and 3) gaslighting you into believing that your emotional experience is not valid and that it is your fault that you feel the way you do – thus dismissing/displacing/projecting any blame of his cruel behavior back to you.

      Basically, you are being manipulated into catering to his wants and needs while ignoring your own instincts. I’ve been there many times, and I can tell you with certainty that this type of behavior is unacceptable and abusive. It will ONLY get worse, not better. My recommendation right now is to distance yourself and detach from him as much as possible. I understand you are worried about the state of the relationship (this is what the abuser has trained you to do) and there is considerable investment in it, but someday you will look back at a discard as the best thing that’s ever happened to you.

      I know I did, and so have many abuse survivors. They left the relationship (or were left) in shambles, yet then grew so much stronger over time. They fought hard to heal themselves, take better care of themselves, and no longer accept abuse. They now live the lives they dreamed of – with healthier relationships, better self-care and better boundaries. You CAN do this and achieve this, I have faith in that. It takes time and it’s not going to be easy, but it’ll be the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do. You were not put on this earth to be abused, mistreated or cruelly invalidated. You are here to be cherished, loved and appreciated. Do not ever let anyone convince you otherwise!

      A book I would recommend if you’re still in a relationship with a narcissist is Breaking Up With the Narcissist: The Little Book of No Contact by Zari Ballard, which suggests implementing No Contact during your abuser’s silent treatments in order for you to start to detach from him. It has many great tips for you to make the steps forward towards your healing and recovery.

      Best of luck to you and feel free to write anytime to us on your progress. Take care and be well…blessings. <3

    2. It was not till after the first year, the out of the blue “take a break” which really comes out the blue for sure. That is what keeps you holding on, there is not clear reason, no logic to make a clean break.. they work hard at leaving you clueless and during their so called break or shut down at the time you are on an emotional roller coaster. You find yourself sitting at home waiting for them.. STOP… do not wait.. did that over and over for 4 years. They return and you will find yourself going to them.. they miss you and act like nothing ever happened AND the issue that all went on never gets discussed.. it is like you are on pins and needles to let sleepy dogs lie.. it goes over and over ..get out

      1. I have been on this emotional roller coaster for about 2 years. And am very familiar with those pins and needles. And always trying to be careful not to upset the apple cart. He blames my needs and concerns on my insecurities. And admittedly, I feel like the most insecure person in the world at this minute. I am not the person I was before I let him into my life for sure. I only pray now for strength and peace in my heart as I go through the struggle of letting him go.

  65. Reblogged this on Sophia's Children and commented:
    I linked to Shahida Arabi’s excellent ‘Five Powerful Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head’ in the recent Sophia’s Children post on ‘Withholding’ (part of the Resources for Empaths & Sensitives Series).

    But since it’s so relevant on a number of levels, particularly to some of the less savory interpersonal dynamics that are in play in our interpersonal experiences at home, at work, in the community — particularly with research showing a disconcerting leap in Narcissistic behavior — I wanted to share Shahida’s article in full, on its own.

    She spotlights some of the specific toxic-tactics that, while normalized in a ‘tough love’, bully-centric culture, are actually abusive and harmful.

    So it’s wise to have a look and be better able to recognize them as they come up, which gives us the option of practicing into more healthy, self-and-other respecting ways of relating (or choosing to disentangle from chronically disrespectful relationships).

    I particularly appreciate that Shahida includes ‘triangulation’ in her list of toxic-tactics to recognize, as it’s a common ploy and yet not as frequently noted.

    Thanks to Shahida, and you my very dear and much-appreciated readers and fellow empaths and Sophian Children!

    Big Love,

  66. Reblogged this on Laura Bruno's Blog and commented:
    This is another excellent resource for anyone who suspects or knows they’re entangled in a sticky narcissistic web. Thanks to Shahida Arabi for this valuable post, and thanks to Jamie at Sophia’s Children for bringing it to my attention.

    In terms of Triangulation, it gets realllly interesting when you find yourself in the middle of two narcissists working their own, mutually exclusive agendas. The agendas may share nothing in common on the surface, but they nevertheless leave you feeling confused and disempowered. Hmmmm!

    That’s what most people (unbeknowst to them) experience on the world stage, too, with “opposing” political party leaders, warring agendas and all too convenient “solutions.” These Five Powerful Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head are powerful and confusing enough when they come at you from a single narcissist, but they get even more (un)Fun House mirrored when multiple relationships snag you coming, going and spinning.

    Gaining clarity is difficult but necessary, and going inside yourself or –especially — outside in Nature helps to remind you who you are and what feels natural, healing and real. I’m sending everyone healing and love as we unwind the ties that bind — replacing them with a *natural* ebb and flow.

  67. I posted yesterday about my “boyfriend” and how I had disappeared. Well I finally got the text at 6:00 am this morning. I did not respond. Now he has sent me the cruelest email. Noting how horrible I am and what a complainer I am, how vindictive I am. He thought that I had him blocked on my phone. I have to admit that the email got me and I tried to respond. I called, but now I AM THE ONE BLOCKED. I emailed, blocked there too. I tried facebook, blocked. Finally and desperately, I called from my office phone and got thru. He didn’t pick up so I left a message. I told him that if he didn’t unblock me by noon, I would not try contacting again. Well, he didn’t. All he did was block my work number.
    My world is spinning and I feel horribly desperate right now. I feel like the ground is slipping out from under me. Oh I know…….it’s wrong, it’s pathetic, it’s embarrassing to even post here. But as I said, I am desperate. And I am hoping there are people here that will understand my feelings, as wrong as they are. Any words of help and encouragement would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi there, my gut is telling me that this is exactly how he hoped you would react. Narcissists do not take well to being ignored or discarded first – it creates what we call a narcissistic injury to their ego and evokes their rage. Many of them who were discarded first resort to stalking and provoking their victims through other means. This is because when they see that they are losing control over their victims, they will “hoover” and attempt to bring you back to pleading for the toxic relationship in order to regain their sense of control. This is the reason he blocked you, to upset you and be the one to discard you first. Narcissists need to have the last word and maintain this pathetic illusion of control. The best thing to do right now is to follow through with your word and no longer attempt to contact him. I repeat: do not contact him, even if he should reach out. This is how you get your power back and refocus on you and your self-care.

      1. Also, no need to be embarrassed. You are among people who have been there and who have been in the same addictive cycle. I know it is incredibly painful right now but if you stick to No Contact, this is going to be a blessing. Props to you for standing your ground. Be proud of yourself and know that you are not alone! <3

    2. smccoy…Let me share my awakening moment. After HE…my Husband (at the time) had had an affair and after HE filed for divorce on the grounds of “gross neglect of duty” and “extreme cruelty” and after HE lied to a judge to get emergency custody of our daughter (accusing me of abuse and neglect) ….I still offered him a way back in. I asked him to give our family a chance at being normal because nothing had been normal since our wedding. I asked him back. Let me rephrase that … “I” asked HIM. His response to me… “The only way we can make it is if we go ahead and get a divorce. You would then have to get a job and take care of yourself, pay your own bills. Then I would have enough respect for you to give you a second chance”. A fire alarm went off and I realized then that it would never end. His need to control, me always giving in to try and make it work…him always blaming me and especially him blaming me for exactly what he was doing. Sweetie, it won’t end until you end it. And if this swell guy one day unblocks you from every social media outlet…I can assure you that he’s not doing it for you. No matter what he says or how sincere it sounds, he’s not thinking of you. He’s satisfying himself and his “needs”. You’re just a tool for him to do it. But unfortunately, until you realize that you need to be desperate for other things…like peace of mind, no stress, respect etc…he will continue to use you just like a tool. It will never end until YOU end it.

      1. Thanks for sharing your story kingsguinevere. It is beautiful to see survivors supporting other survivors. So very true – the vicious cycle will never end until we choose to end it. Until then, we remain a chess piece in the narcissist’s mind games – games that we will never win because we think, feel and react very differently from the narcissist. Best not to play at all. Blessings <3

    3. omg girl … were we dating the same person? LOL… i feel for you and went through the same thing 2 years ago. It is the most difficult phase you are going through right now. The answers why we respond nicely or want them back or even the need to connect with them what so ever.. I have no idea. there has to be a conditioning before hand they do to us that causes this. (the sweetness, the loving, put you on a pedestal ..the sad, feel sorry for me stories of their childhood etc.) I wish I had a camera to view my complete 4 years with him to try to understand how weak and poor judgement i was during that time.. flat out.. i never make boundaries for myself. Boundaries of what you deserve, they cling to women who are sweet, forgiving, understanding, nurturers and ones who try to find the best in everyone. Yea good people in short, sad thing is good people should not be treated or deserve these sort of mates. Funny in life we are very strong people and will move mountains for others but for ourselves we come last emotionally.
      It takes a long time of first accepting this behavior in small portions. Once i got past his spell and had open eyes (later) it was unreal looking back at some of the events I actually ACCEPTED .. omg.. i was the nut case, it is embarrassing to ever admit I would go right back or WANT to go back to someone that did such crazy things not only that condition you to believe you are the cause of whatever the subject matter is at the time.. Honey he is making you believe you are these things he is saying first of all, then second..I know you have slight flashes where your strong side creeps in and POP that it is clear you need to escaped.. but they are short lived, their spell comes back. Remember, they slowly conditioned you of your self worth and what you deserve…plus there is a hidden part of you that you know better and it is human nature to want to defend yourself.. in that process you cannot, he shut you down and out.. Sooooooo, you really are fighting with your emotions to defend yourself and prove to them you are not..even if you do not think so.. in short, for you, this is unfinished business..
      If he does call and unblock.. what happens next? you will fall to your knees (in strange ways) and beg for forgiveness in the most humiliating ways. You actually will start out being logical and standing up for yourself which will switch real fast by the way they work THEN you will be doing the begging for forgiveness.. crazy..yes.. THEN, he will have this aura of like a father who just disciplined his child and he is the keeper. Later the real issue will NEVER be addressed (his issues) that need to be.. it will be like it never happened nor will they change because he is the ruler and in the right.. then he will turn on the charm.. so you are happy HE is happy (not you).. that you just do not touch the subject either. BUT it will happen again and again.. it is your choice.. this is why this article is so true to fact and ;you just have to run with NO turning back ..ever.. it is the type of spell they have on you they created from day one… you want this forever? you think you can fix it and he will change? NO.. by far..he will do it to the next one and the one after that… I was even punished for the affair he had. They do a lot of projecting (look it up projecting as mental illness)…And; they never want to be a fault so they wait till things are good and just make something up out of the blue and they do all the dumping, making crazy accusations.. i mean crazy.. that is what you’re trying to defend.. he is not worth it…. They block you from having your day in court as they would say.. and it drives you crazy.. that is what he is doing.. he can say it all and not hear your side back.. they do not care.. they are heartless and people who love you do NOT act this way..think about it… it is not is a soft safe place to fall.. not this. He is just doing things this way to have the upper hand.. I did get peace sending him a cert letter, it was kind and to the point of all the hell the four years he did .. laid it out flat and examples.. plus told him i know who i am and i have good friends and people in my life because i treat them well.. told he will die a lonely person.. so i got my last word and made sure everything was blocked by ME. or you can just walk but you can NEVER answer any messages what so ever. Get back in your circle of friends, start doing for yourself.. i have found I love traveling alone and never thought i would.. even during that time of getting through what you are going through now, which was wonderful me going through wrote a book for kids dealing with a parent with mental illness, it kept me focused on doing better things in life and helped the healing… get your life back sweetie.. you have lost yourself and your self worth.
      You know what he did to me in the end? accused ME of having an affair or a special app on my phone called a Cheaters App????? what the hell is that? yet a few years back he got caught cheating big time not me.. i guess the way they deal with it in life is they have to make you look bad also (projecting again).. it was hell with him about this.. even my phone service called him to tell him it was impossible for my phone to even do such a thing..i had the basic does not even go on line phone…BUT it is a brick wall they will stick to it and it will drive you not do that to yourself please.. i did and it was hell… they will never admit they were wrong or did wrong.. they can not.. it was the dumbest thing i ever tried to defend myself to.. esp something that was impossible to happen and yes they do all the makes them feel they were right and the upper hand.
      I do wish just one time in the relationship when things were good I would just out of the blue accuse the of something and shut them wonder how they would react?.. my guess in their minds I was the nut case.
      If you ever need to talk because i know what you are going through.. someway i need to post my email or link to you private

      1. Thank you Vickie. I can’t think of any private way to pass out email addresses or contact info. Would love to have support handy though.

        And thank you Kingsguinevere too. It does help to finally have others that understand and don’t just stand there blinking at you as if you are INSANE for even bothering with this man for this long. Though I can’t tell you how many times I have sat alone analyzing my relationship in my mind….and repeatedly telling myself that I MUST BE INSANE for doing this too.

  68. This article was tough to get through but SO helpful. I am woven throughout this story and recently divorced a Narcissist after one year of marriage. I used to think a Narcissist was someone who was self-centered or “cocky” but it wasn’t until I lived through the storm and came out the other side that I saw the true affliction. A lack of empathy is a warning sign but void of any empathy at all is down-right dangerous! I cut all ties when I made my move and left. NO contact is the best way as stated here. You are not speaking the same language so to attempt to make your point known or ease the confusion with some clarity is pointless. You will only dig the whole deeper trying to reason with a Narcissist. YOU CAN’T FIX THIS PERSON. It won’t happen with guilt, barging, begging or bullying. It won’t happen without intensive psychotherapy and I’m guessing you are not a therapist…. Please head this article’s advice and take care of yourself, detach and heal!

  69. I was married for 33 years to a man who had a lot of these traits but I did not realize it until I started working at a battered women’s shelter. I saw the red flags clearly in my own marriage as I counseled women who were leaving abusive situations. I wasn’t aware that his behavior was considered verbal or emotional abuse.We had both good times and bad times through out our marriage. I did notice that I had to be the one who was apologizing after fights and trying to make him happy and keep him appeased. It wasn’t until I started counseling for Childhood sexual abuse that I saw the mask come off and I was completely horrified. I was trying to address my own codependency issues and assert myself more. He became more and more controlling and abusive to me. He actually went to my relatives and children behind my back telling them I was acting crazy and he was worried about me ~ This was a year before I left !! I had no idea. He was setting the stage to make it look like it was my fault.
    It became a war zone quickly and I was being interrogated on a daily basis regarding everything I did. He checked my cell phone records, accused me of cheating, went through my journals, followed me to friends houses and restaurants, called me and text messaged me at work, watched me constantly, woke me up at night with accusations that I was text messaging people while I was in bed asleep. He would rage at me. I didn’t know what would set him off or if I would find the nice husband or the mean one. Total Jekyll and Hyde experience. It was the worst thing I have ever been through.
    He kept in contact with my grown children and my relative through out this time without my knowledge telling them how crazy I was. I still do not KNOW who this man is and how I could not see this for so long. It was just small things throughout our marriage that I saw as normal at the time but now I can see that I was punished by the silent treatment, being devalued, compared to other women, put down and made to feel small, shamed, controlled by his outbursts and trying to keep him happy….
    The list could go on and on and on. He always had women friends but I was not allowed to have male friends. I was called jealous and possessive. He would blatantly flirt in front of me with women and then deny that he did anything wrong. I always felt bad about myself for letting it affect me.
    After I left ~ He stalked me for months. I had to leave my job.He took away my cell phone and cleared out the bank account. Changed the locks on the doors and refused to let me get my things.
    My grown children have taken his side and I am left with nothing. This is so heartbreaking. The relatives he spoke to also think this is all my fault for asserting myself. I should have been the GOOD WIFE and allowed him to tell me what to do. I did that for years…..
    I was numb by the time I left and had PTSD.
    I have gone No Contact and the fog is beginning to lift…. There is hope !! I will survive this too. I am still in disbelief. How in the world did I not see this in him ? I guess I spend my life trying to appease and change him or myself to make the marriage work. He always got his way in the end and I took the blame. I was a good source and faithful no matter what evidence I found or suspicions I had. I kept quiet about a lot of things and ignored the red flags. I think that is part of the reason I lasted so long ?

    Thank you for getting this information out. Education is key.

    1. Your story is heart breaking but so full of new hope!! Thank you for sharing. My second husband was a narcissist and I am a co-dependent. It wasn’t until it all imploded that I was able to do the work and find the answers that gave me some clarity. I still don’t know how it happened or why I allowed his bad behavior to consume me…but I am understanding why I felt like I needed him. I too went NO contact even before reading what to do. It seemed liked the only logical option, he twisted everything! It was like we were speaking two different languages. The Language of Letting Go will help you daily. Now it’s about healing YOU. Stay on that course no matter what is said and you will come out ahead. Good luck!

  70. Great blog! And it is spot on to everything I experienced with my abusive ex. I can’t believe it can be categorized so well. It is somehow validating as I don’t think I’ll ever get closure over our relationship. I was totally blindsided as he is a big community leader and small eNRG business owner and professional kayaker, and was so sweet and gentle with me at first. I still really love him, and he wormed his way there before he became emotionally, verbally, and then physically abusive in October. I feel like my spirit is destroyed. Wish there was karma. I can’t imagine ever recovering from his abuse, and he had already had his harem lined up with new girls so it is not like he’ll go to counseling over his abuse. How do people get through this?

    1. I think all of can relate here on this blog BJames. And we understand. Been there. Why do we still love something that can be so bad for us? I asked that also. The beginning stages are hard, real hard. But the longer you stay away far away, no calls no connection it will get better. See it is there charm that is a con, they are actors in perfection. You fell for that person, the fake person and they con others too..not just you. So, if you connect with them you will fall into their spell, and will be hurt again, they do not care!!! no matter how you want to see it ..they do not care!..
      I tried to come up with reasons and a few that i have had is one, you remember and hold on to what they played on you at the beginning. Two, all the bad things they said somewhere you are human to try to prove them wrong. They try to make you believe you are the cause, or are nuts, or this or that.. to the point you are not sure who you are anymore, you did before the relationship but now.. well I think we have this drive to walk back into their lives so we can prove ourselves. Why? not sure but it is something deep inside of us. But get this, it won’t happen.. you could be an angel sent down and they will degrade it within time. Remember it is them not you.. but they have you conditioned to think so.. stay strong my friend and be confident who you are. When the hurt part happens then there is a part of you that you want them to pay for this, to prove to them what they have done.. but believe me no matter how hard and logical you are, they will find you wrong and twist it al around. Most does not make any sense either that comes out of their mouths. They are manipulators in perfect form. In short we want to return to clean this all up it is not love. Love is a soft comfortable place to be, the person you can count on and will defend you no matter what.. honey it is NOT love, you are holding on to prove yourself and the hope he will see the light.. but in reality you could say the sky is blue and he will fight with you it is green..believe me. Slowly move on, for you and find new interest for you. The other women..he will do the same to them.. and it is hard to see those women look at him as a God la la la… remember you were there also one time.

  71. after 30 yrs of marriage what is my first steps of leaving a NPD? I goofed up royally and he gave me the ultimatum of divorce or counseling. I wanted divorce initially, but decided on counseling as i need the help. He is a doctor and is trying to prove that I have Borderline Personality disorder….. the weeping and crying after being put down from me, the lack of empathy on his part, and he has had multiple ‘affairs of the mind” — porn0graphy. All I can think is that I need to go through the testing to prove that I do not have BPD from someone who is qualified. the first counselor told him 3 times that I do not have BPD, and that he was more concerned over my husbands issues than mine….. My husband says he will not go back to that counselor as he is not qualified to treat someone with BPD

    So what do I do? I am having a hard time also, as a Christian we are told not to divorce, and I haven’t worked for years, I couldn’t get back into my career without a 1 yr plus worth of lots of work and money. I believe I could do it….. i have taken steps to leave, like learning all I can about our finances, getting copies of our taxes, financial statements, net worth, having a little cash nest egg. I am concerned about leaving the house and him telling people how ‘crazy” I am, plus all our valuables are here in the house. I know the safes combinations….. I’m just not sure what to do next….

  72. I rode this roller coaster from hell for 4 years and it’s not something I would wish on anyone. All the lies and the cheating were too much to take, but the lies he told his friends and family about me were the hardest. They all believe now I’m some screaming psycho bit– who abused HIM, just like I believed him when he told me the same things about his ‘abusive alcoholic cheating psycho’ ex wife. Narcissists are evil and they don’t (won’t) discard you until they’ve used you up, destroyed your life, and turned your brain into scrambled eggs…When you smarten up and try to leave, they turn on the tears, say they’re sorry and swear they’ll change, but they never do. If you continue to call them out on all their obvious lies and continued deceit, it’s into the trash can for you and they’re on to the next newer fresher victim/target just to start the whole abusive cycle all over again. I feel sorry for anyone who gets tangled up in these traps because once you’re in one of these hell on earth relationshits it’s harder than hell to get out of it. Keep your eyes open and know who you’re ‘really’ with before giving to much of yourself to someone. If the person you’re with seems ‘off’ but you can’t put your finger on why you feel that way, just trust your gut and run away as fast as you can. Just trust me on that…You’ll thank yourself later!

    1. I posted this article freely on my FB, reason is to help others see the signs and not go through what I did. Mine was 4 years also and yes always heard the ex’s were nuts la la la… i could only imagine what he tells the new women in his life.. funny he had an affair while we were together, her and I are friends now (she did not know we were together, he lied to her also). but the funny thing is you get to find out what they say about you LOL.. and yep I was a crazy woman .. remember even with his family .. in time the truth will come out, you just have to let it go and create a wonderful life for yourself

    2. Doreen thank you for your post. My hell on earth last 3 years, married for one. You hit the nail on the head with something being “off” but you just couldn’t put your finger on it. My ex was out going, confident and cocky and wanted to be around me ALL the time. I thought wow I’ve hit the jackpot but there was something off…a dark place. I never felt like I knew everything about him. He had a troubled past he spoke about and as a codependent I saw the “potential” in the relationship. After I was sucked in everything changed, SO negative and judgmental toward everyone including my family and my children. He could do nothing wrong but found fault in everyone else. He was also abusing drugs and alcohol and it was getting worse by the second. I felt trapped! I spent most of my marriage confused….how did I get here, it isn’t suppose to be like this! I told him I was miserable and he assured me I was crazy and that we had a perfect relationship. I prayed for God to take it all ….I was literally out of options and HE did. Next month marks a year since I was plucked out of that storm and set on a new course. He gave me the strength to sever the relationship with zero contact. I locked the door and told him “today it changes for me” and I meant it. If anyone who is still struggling and reading this…….the ONLY thing you can do is save yourself. When someone treats you with this level of disrespect it is unfathomable for them to change. Stop waiting ….you aren’t speaking the same language. Their language is deceit, manipulation and control. Stop talking, create a barrier and change your course, today!

  73. This is fantastic. So succinct – everything is here on this page.
    I am male, and was in a year-long relationship with a covert female narc, reached about 100+ days No Contact today. She did all of these things to me.

    Horrendously humiliating, frightening, feels like my soul has been torn apart. I cannot tell my story in any way that gives me relief yet. No one wants to listen anyway. My life has been turned upside down – I have lost my home, my life partner, my friend, my future life, and the person I was ready to marry never even existed. And people just think I’m not very good at getting over a break-up.

    I have purchased dozens of books & ebooks, seen 2 therapists but this page contains the Aleph, the alpha and the omega of what they do.

    Thank you
    my love goes out to all who have suffered.
    I have subscribed – hope this is ok.

    1. Good for you my friend.. and the first step to moving forward is understanding they have an illness and it was not you, like they make you think. Not only think but start to truly believe! You are not giving yourself credit on this, by addressing it and coming to realize what it was all about, a victim, and you took the bait.. and most that do take the bait are good people. They prey on good people. It takes time so take your time. It took me slowly at least a year or so to heal from it.. do we completely heal?.. i do not think anyone does from any form of trauma but we move on and get a life back. Remember they want you to live wanting them and begging for them and to miss them the rest of your life.. do not let them win at this horrible game. Find happiness at your own speed

    2. I fell the exact same way – I can’t stop referring to this article! When you have been in this relationship and so confused on what went wrong and why can’t you fix it….this article puts all the pieces together. The peace is that there is nothing you did or can do to make it ok. For me that helped in letting go. I went through the break up with no contact before I found this article…not sure how I knew but it was the only option. We weren’t speaking the same language. The day I locked the door I told him “today it stops for me” and I meant it. It will be a year on Sunday and even though I’m still haunted with questions time to time…I’m a new person. This article is power – not to let it happen again. Good luck to you!!

  74. The vicious cycle:
    1. He says or does something disrespectful or hurtful.
    2. I get upset, cry and then get angry and pull away from him.
    3.he gets scared of being abandoned and comes back in contact with me. try’s to sweet talk me back. Saying all sorts of nice things. Asking me about my feelings toward him. Seems insecure.
    4. Makes it look like it was all my fault and he did nothing wrong.
    5. I think he’s being so nice and sweet and he’s the person I remember falling in love with again. I blame myself and I give him another chance.
    6. He is reassured I’m not going anywhere.
    7. Repeat.
    I lost track of how many times it went on.

  75. Reblogged this on Chin.Deep.In.Life. and commented:
    I was in a relationship with someone like this. He was clever, or thought he was. It didnt take me long to figure out what was happening. Things went downhill soon after. Think you might be in a relationship with a Narcissist? You’re not crazy! Read this article. Shahida Arabi writes in a way that I couldn’t.

    Until the next post,


    1. There is more than hope! So glad it’s helping and know that there is a life of freedom, joy and healing ahead of you. Use your experiences to fuel success and positive change. Blessings to you on your journey to healing ♡

    1. That is so true, read this some time ago, someone posted it on their FB. It was like a light blub finally went off. After 4 years in a relationship (which it finally ended a couple years ago) it is a life of emotional roller coaster, highs, lows and above all confusion manipulation .. all which leaves you not even knowing what norm is anymore. All which becomes easy to be sucked right back in, falling into the fantasy trance (and I have always been a strong independent woman). Do not get me wrong, there were times I went through medical books to see if there was some type of mental illness here.. but they do not put things in the terms there we need. This was one of the most clear and right on articles I have seen and gave me closure.

  76. Thank you for this article. I recently ended a relationship with a clear-cut narcissist when I found out he had 2 other full blown girlfriends and slept with any woman who so much as blinked his way throughout the year we were together. It took me a while to figure out his manipulative ways were more than just that. He was mentally abusive for the past few months and really had a way of making me feel worthless. It’s been a rude awakening but reading about it is helping me understand that it was in no way my fault nor should I take it personally. He needs help, not I. I hope I can let go of this completely and move on but right now I’m still just so incredibly angry.

    I really do believe this should be taught so people don’t have to continuously learn these lessons the hard way.

  77. Thanks,I wonder if I might ask you a question about by female narcissist ex?Is it possible that she could have gotten narcissistic supply from being totally obsessed over professional sports teams?I mean it was literally her life.That’s all she cared about and when they were on and I was in the room. it was like I wasn’t even there,Thank you self care haven.

  78. I haven’t been able to read all your comments but I’m so proud of all of you for writing your stories.

    Yay! to those of you who got out and I’m rooting for those of you who are trying. Hang in there and listen to your inner voice not theirs. I know its so hard but you can do this! You are NOT the person your abuser says you are! You are strong! Try to remember who you were before you met this monster. You

    One thing I would like to add that wasn’t mentioned in the article is how they will isolate you from your friends and family. By the time I left my ex after 22 years, I had no one to talk to or to turn to for help. I realized I had zero friends of my own, all my “friends” were his friends and he always make it clear they are his friends and I am not to contact them personally unless its on his behalf.

    If it wasn’t for my sister, I would have been 100% alone. My sis saw him for who he was but never made any judgments or negative comments about him to me. She just made sure I knew she was there for me, and she was.

    I didn’t want my family to hate him so I always made excuses for his absence or why I had to cut our visits short. I was constantly looking at my watch. If I was gone too long, I was risking coming home to an angry husband. Even if I was on time, I always held my breath when opening the door. If it was a good day, he was indifferent or just dismissed me. More and more, I found myself making excuses to my parents and sister that I couldn’t join them because it was easier to stay home.

    Most of my current friends knows I was in a bad marriage but they really don’t understand what we went or are going through. I hear people say things like “why doesn’t she just leave?” and I try to explain but they just don’t get it.

    Although time has passed, I still find myself reliving some specific incidences that brings me to tears. Just lately, he started contacting me again. My response? Call my lawyer. But obviously it bothers me enough that I’m here and writing this.

    It breaks my heart to see I’m not alone. I can’t imagine all the tears each of you shed, but I’m also glad I found you all too, the support is wonderful.

    I do believe because of the abusive marriage I had, I have a much deeper appreciation and love for my fiancee and for the first time in my adult life, I’m truly happy. I hope you have or will soon find your own happiness too.

  79. Just feel like crying right now. This has helped me so much, all the articles I have read have and all the people who have rallied behind me in the last couple days have been such a support.

    Cant go into detail right now,but wow what an over coming emotion. Shit. Not only loosing a best friend of MANY years but someone who I have been conditioned to believe was the one for me or rather what id want in a man.

    This is going to be a hard life experience…………..

  80. Pingback: The Invitation
  81. Wow. After 11 yrs (and 3yrs of marriage) I finally came across this article. First of all, thanks so much for it – I believe it has saved my sanity. The very next day after reading this, my husband used the “other woman” tactic on me. Normally this would have sent me into a rage or depression, but today I have a deeper understanding of his games and decided not to give in. I am working on the no contact phase today and hopefully some day I will recover from too many years of verbal and sometimes physical abuse. I did post this article to my FB, in hopes it will help some one else.

  82. Reblogged this on bookstaves and commented:
    This is a little off topic (okay a lot off topic), but I have something to say. No snark. Just honesty.

    In June, I quietly ended a toxic friendship. I went full No Contact: social media block, new E-mail address, new cellphone number, new address (though my reason for moving was unrelated), and I threw away most everything relating to this person.

    I gave no warning or explanation and I haven’t looked back. I ghosted out because I didn’t want to be persuaded back into the abuse cycle.

    And that’s exactly what it was. Abuse. You do not have to be in a romantic relationship in order for emotional abuse to occur.

    I ask that you take a moment to read this article. It is an accurate picture of what I experienced in that former friendship.

    Six months after walking away, I see the components of abuse so clearly: the initial lovebombing, devaluation and discarding, gaslighting, the (still ongoing) smear campaign, the secrecy, the harem, the triangulation (pitting friends against each other), and repeated hoovering.

    I experienced all of it. Looking back, I can’t believe how blind I was to the red flags. Each time I was about to throw my hands up and walk away, things would suddenly improve (like clockwork) and I would stick around for more, thus allowing the trauma cycle to begin again.

    My hope is that none of this is familiar to you, my reader.

    If, however, you recognize these patterns, then please do not let someone convince you that their abusive behavior is “normal” and that you’re the one with “unrealistic expectations” or “issues.” Normal people have feelings and that’s okay. The abuser’s goal here is to make you doubt yourself. Don’t do that.

    I found that a quick, unannounced exit was the best way to remove myself without further drama.

    Continued association with someone who treats you as a source of narcissistic supply will only cause you pain. It’s a one-way street with people like that. You are there for their comfort and happiness only and your feelings–no matter how valid they may be–are irrelevant. It is exhausting to live in a constant pattern of emotional upheaval.

    My only regret is that I didn’t walk away sooner. Time is precious and I wasted too much of it.

    I hope you’ll read on. Ms. Arabi offers a brief introduction that will help you think about things in a new light. If you have a friend or partner who exhibits this type of behavior, my only advice is to distance yourself and you’ll be able to see your relationship for what it is: impossible.

    1. Yep that is exactly how it works, been there for four years. They all have their own thing, their own ticks of how they do it, but end result is this exact pattern. Crazy thing, is even when you make that first walk, you may doubt yourself for days or even weeks if you did the right thing.. it is insane how much they have conditioned you to what is normal, they have such highs and lows that when you leave, you then only remember the highs. I did not notice it until many months later and met up with an old romantic friend that i forgot what normal was! I had to re-learn, re-lean you do not have to walk on glass, nor worry what you said or did in fear you just may be blamed for something you did not do..defending yourself is huge in this sort of relationship. Good point, it does not need to be a romantic relationship to get caught up in this.. they need their supply and will get it anyway they can. If you have left a NPD and are doubting yourself, keep moving forward, do not fall off the wagon, it will soon come clear to you. You are only addicted to the addiction they created.. that is right it is just like a drug addition you are trying to over come.

  83. This is my ex husband to a T. This article was totally spot on about him. I had to go full no contact with him or his family, or any mutual friends. I changed my phone number too. Because of his abuse, I have suffered non epileptic seizures, and PTSD. I had a nervous breakdown from his abuse in July, and divorced since October. Unfortunately I still suffer from the uncontrolled non epileptic seizures. I’m finally free after spending almost 5 years with this monster.

    1. I am so sorry to hear about your health problems and PTSD, Lisa. I hope you are exploring both traditional and alternative methods for healing to heal body, mind and soul. Congratulations on your freedom and blessings to you on your healing journey <3

  84. Wow. This fits spot on with a former friend of mine. Every single thing. He was/is super manipulative, often plays the victim, and denies everything he does (and he does it so subtly, that no-one would ever realize or believe it). Thank god I realized what was going on.

  85. I wonder if this is what happened in my current marriage? I met him at work. He was always so quiet and depressed. We got together and he actually did the bombing thing. I felt like a queen. After we married everything changed. No more attention, nothing! He is a very private person and doesn’t have a harem per say, except at one time his close family, so he didn’t have extramarital affairs, but he began porn surfing and developed an obsession with a certain slutty type television star. He would keep pics and things where he knew I would find them and then blow me off if I questioned him. Some days he just won’t say a word and this can go on for days at a time. It leaves me in a constant state of agitation wondering what I have done. He will not sit down and talk with me about anything. He will also use his anger at others against me as if I were the person he is in disagreement with. It never occurs to him that he is in the wrong about anything! He always blames everyone else for his trouble. If I know I’ve done something wrong to him I apologize, but he won’t. The only thing he shows love to anymore are our dogs. He’s got no problem there! I am just someone there to keep him from being alone, I think. Not saying I’m perfect by no means, but this has really got me wondering.

  86. Pingback: Edu | Pearltrees
  87. Hello:

    Thank you for this article, it describes perfectly what is happening to me.
    Now I see things clearer. My NPD wife went through these 3 phases precisely, wow!!!
    I am at the discard phase right now, with a little hoovering.
    I understand many techniques that a narcissist uses since I’ve suffered some of them.
    I haven’t ended this toxic relationship yer as I cannot afford to rent a place to live, and don’t know yet how to avoid more damage to my kids. I am going Grey-Rock right now and seems to be working for the moment. She even hugged me the other day and was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt.
    I am afraid that if she eventually tries to have intimacy with me again and I reject her (and I will) she might go crazy at that moment and say that I tried to rape her!!!
    How is that a narc develops all these behaviors? Who or what teaches them to follow exactly these patterns? To recognize our weaknesses.
    How is that the victims cannot do the same to them?

  88. It seems to be rare that victims of a N/psychopath ever connect or know who each other are. Well there is a group that beat the odds and they have all helped each other heal and move on so much faster. Always a lesson learned but you will regain your life, do not give up. They are very good at destroying lives and for some reason either they do not care or take pride in that, but we do go on and with better wisdom.

  89. “Narcissists are masters of making you doubt yourself and the abuse… This self-doubt enables them to stay within abusive relationships even when it’s clear that the relationship is a toxic one, because they are led to mistrust their own instincts and interpretations of events.”

    This is the tragedy of narcissists. So many people say things like “but we’ve been together for 4 years” or “but we have kids” and when you combine that with the self-doubt it makes it almost impossible for some people to leave a toxic relationship.

  90. I’ve been in this for nearly 3 years. First year was fab. Second year we started to live together and he started critisizing on day 1. After the first year of living together he started to estrange me from friends and family and friends started to warn me from his behaviour as he also isolated them and tried to manipulate them (against me) and offend them.
    In the end of year 3 i caught him in his office with another lady. Very embarassing, but for me that was the light switch: this was never going to work and I kicked him out. What followed was 6 months of NC apart from very short emailing (I had to try to get rid of our mutual mortgage) but I had a really fab coach: a befriended lawyer who -every single day- told me what was going to happen. He told me he knew these bokes from his practice, and he could easly predict the emotional stages of this NP on every step I would take to get out.

    After every email my ex and I exchanged, bringing me back in doubt and feelings of guild, the lawyer told me “I told you, first he’s going to yell, then he’s going to cry, next time he wants you back and if you don’t respond to that he’s going to name and shame you”

    It all happened, but because of the lawyer’s warnings, every single day in that process, I managed to react calm and strictly business.
    After 6 months I was officially released from the mortgage, just by doing my homework, which he obviously didn’t, his vanity made him want it, but he ended up in a too expensive mortgage on his own, with an unsellable home in economic crisis years, with some new girlfriend who had to be the new queen. It lasted one more year, his texts, emails, visiting me, but I continued to completely ignore. I visualized the mime “can’t talk” and it worked. He stopped.
    It’s been 7 years now, ever since I heard 3 more ladies lived with him in the house, I’m not in the position to warn them but I am very happy I got out. People, seek help and esp. coaching if you step out! It’s possible!

    Only now I found a wonderdul new love, whom I already knew for 18 years. He was married for 23 years with a bit of a NP too but divorced 3 years ago and he’s been recovering since. Doing great.
    But it still scares me, I keep wondering if it’s true when he tells me he loves me.
    I know I have to accept that I’ve been hurt. My new love is def. not a NP. He’s not around all the time, and only when he really feels it, he’s telling me how fond he is. It’s wonderful as it is.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s inspiring and comforting to hear success stories like yours. I can relate to all your feelings and situations that you describe and I honestly am worried for you in your current relationship to not be hurt again. I wonder if I will ever be able to feel like I fully love someone without reserve or worrying about being hurt again… hope it works out for you!

  91. I think its very important that it’s been pointed out in this that both Men and Women do this. It seems as though maybe I tend to drift towards these types of women (3 in my lifetime as a matter of fact).
    It’s scary how accurate their traits have been portrayed but trying to point something like this out to them would only further fuel the “gaslighting” or I would be accused of that and called the narcissist. Which is actually how i stumbled upon this article, I had never heard the term gaslighting before so after a quick couple of google searches and reading more and more (while mostly are based on men abusing women)
    It is something that definitely happens on both sides of the relationship spectrum.
    Hopefully after a little introspection and finding some selfworth again I can get out of this current 3yr game I’ve been in and somehow brake the chain that keeps leading me back into these types of relationships.
    Thank you for taking the time to write this out for everyone to read and learn from

  92. I was married to a narcissist for 22 yrs and exactly as mentioned in the article. Divorced now for 10 years. I have a son that is now 27 yrs old and I am convinced that he is married to woman with narcissistic personality disorder. Even though he understood the reasons why I left the relationship (he was 16 when we got divorced) it is not possible to for him to see what it happening now? Of course I tried to warn him but that just made her isolate him more and faster from his family and friends.

    1. I was married to a narcissist for 11 years. Morally I would not recommend that my kids leave their spouse. I would just encourage him to be strong and steadfast in what he knows is right. Narcissists prey on those that they can manipulate and control but if you stand up for what you believe in and do not roll over to their manipulative ways then the narcissist will have resort to more extreme tactics or be powerless. My ex messed up my life in many ways because I didnt stand up for myself and what I knew was right. My ex pushed me away from my family and friends and put us into all kinds of debt that I didnt know about until it was too late. Having good people around that you can talk to helps you to have strength to stand up for yourself and they will encourage you and advise you in ways that look after yourself because they care about you. Narcissist don’t like those kinds of friends because it undermines their ability to control and manipulate.

  93. This explains my step-shite-father. He and my mum dated, on and off. Once she introduced me, her *special needs child* to him, he was smitten. I mean, it must have been like gold falling into his lap. A way to look honourable and knightly in shining armour. Well, growing up and developing I had to have multiple reconstructive sur

  94. One here as well – one who is on the verge of realizing that her fiancé may be a narcissist. It all started amazingly – he was so in love, proud of me, “addicted to me” (his own words) and the sex was amazing (he knew I had a very high drive) – and he kept it up even during our 3 months of long-distance in the beginning. Then our lifestyle changed and we left my home. We are of two different nationalities as well (doesn’t help as I often think if this is just cultural differences), and I have been abroad with him pretty much ever since, visiting home only sometimes. He was supportive, very much generous, and planning the future with me. He proposed after 2 years, and I was the happiest girl. After this I found out some red flags (dating site profile, which he brushed off with excuses and didn’t apologize, and he has had it also later on – I can’t bring it up because “I’m crazy”, so he does not know that I know), and after this I have been the crazy, the one with trust issues, the one that doesn’t give him enough space.

    I cannot disagree with him most of the time or have an opinion different to his, even if it’s just me bringing up a hypothetical, different view of looking at a certain issue as I can easily see things from others’ perspective and usually try to see the good. He just tells me I’m doing it only for the sake of disagreeing (disclamer- I avoid conflict and and hate arguing, so I don’t really think I’m doing this). He lacks empathy almost entirely, he constantly says he is almost always right, gaslights me and never apologizes for hurting my feelings. Withholding sex is also an issue, which comes and goes – as soon as I’m about to break down, he comes back and I feel like we are back to normal.

    At the same time I wonder how someone with such a normal family, normal friends (his friends are all very nice and stable people with good relationships), and even a good relationship to his ex-girlfriend could be someone with NPD. That maybe after all I changed too much during this time abroad and that he has a point. That he did try to help me for a long time and I didn’t listen, and now it’s all difficult because he got so fed up with me not taking his advise. It’s always me who needs to change – he does say that if I don’t want to then that’s also fine, but that maybe we need to reassess our compatibility then and not be together as a romantic couple.

    It is really hard to tell apart if it is actually NPD, or if it is just “normal”, hard relationship. He wants me in his life, plans for the future and talks nicely about me to his friends and family.

    I’m just so scared of the “what if I was wrong about him” that I don’t know what to do.

  95. Hi Shahida,
    Thanks for your long and descriping thoughts about the narcissist. This is exactly spot on the woman that I dated in 8 month for 9 months ago. She was so sweet, so beautiful, so intelligent, so smart, she had so many “perfect” characteristica that just suited me so well. But like she said: Her selfesteem was so bad, and she was right, but the way she manipulated me was terrible. In the beguinning she was so so sweet, but then after a chrisis in her life because of her job and everything was pointing at her and her problems, suddenly out of nowhere, the problem was gone, and I was the problem. Then it became worse and worse and my selfimage became so bad so I lost my job because of that. But I realize when she was in what she called “workmode”, that was what you called “You bear witness to his or her cold, callous indifference as you are discarded” And that what was she did after she was finish using me. She used me sexualy, mentally and physically and economically to get all of her needs met. That was the end of that relationship. Thank God I’m out of it. Though it took me a long time to dismiss all of the lies within me, because I was so brainwashed with all of her mindsets what was “right” (her opinion) and what wasn’t right (to me it sounded like the devils opinion). She even made me believe in the lie that my four lovely children was so terrible because of their special needs, that I began hating to be with my lovely children. But I soon discovered something totally different. That they was truely lovely caring children. 🙂

    -Peter Jepsen

  96. The book sounds good. Great article also. I am sad for those that deal with this. Took me a lot of years to figure out why our relationship was not “normal.” I had no clue about this stuff until a few years back.

  97. The woman who is mother to my grandson has been withholding him from us for months. Its the most incredibly painful situation that my son, my husband and I have ever gone through. My son fell in love with this woman when she was pregnant (and single) and he was so completely hooked so quickly which was very unlike him. After reading this article i can see why. This is so her, to the point where I had to look at the date of the article because I am so amazed at how perfectly it describes her behavior. I am looking for anything to help us climb out of the pit of pain she keeps us in. Giving her up would be so easy, but giving up that precious little boy who loves us and misses us so much. We just cannot do that. I await the universe to help us ♥

  98. This was the most powerful, eye opening and validating article that helped me take responsibility for getting out and away finally. It wasn’t easy and took years. This was nearly a word for word account of what I had experienced and I became stuck until I understood what was really happening. It can be hard when you are in the middle of it to see clearly. I just couldn’t understand what was happening and kept trying harder and harder. Now it is as clear as ever and there is hope for everyone. Just keep going and healing and time will get you there if you do your work and take care of yourself. No contact is the only way as they know exactly how to hook you and pull heart strings over and over. But you are just a toy to them until you are not. Get away and don’t give up on life.

  99. Hi. I’ve just been reading “Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare”. I’m french and my English isn’t that fluent but I must say I ain’t got no difficulty to read that book. Very nice and clean writing.
    So, I wanted to share this french sentence I heard from too different girlfriends I had (one after the other, of course). Let’s just start by taking a look at the french version of this sentence : “Je t’aime, mais je ne suis plus amoureuse !” . Just notice the beginning of the word “Amoureuse” which is slightly different from “Aimer” (to love). “Amoureuse” means “being in love”. There is no subtle English translation to this sentence, the only way to say it in English is “I love you, but I’m no longer in love with you !”, which is something nobody will ever say. This subtle difference between “aime” (loving) and “Amoureuse” (in love) makes it possible in french to suggest that this sentence is correct and is not a nonsense.
    You surely guess that when I heard it (twice), my only thought was “this is a nonsense, it’s paradoxical ! But guess what again … ? The narcissist (she) will tell me that I’m not smart enough to understand what she says…
    (Time to run away!)

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