Anxiety is a debilitating disease. It’s those oppressive thoughts and feelings that become so overwhelming that you can barely function, let alone breathe. It is the persistent over examining of every little detail, analyzing then overanalyzing all incoming data, while constantly checking it for slights or wrongs. It’s that tightness in your chest or gut that makes you feel all twisted up inside. It’s the cause of your heart palpitations and your irritability. It’s the voice in your head that fills you with self-deprecating thoughts and feelings that you can’t shake.
People with Anxiety Disorders cognitively know that their thoughts aren’t rational at times, much like someone with OCD knows that the constant repetition of a behavior impairs their day to day functioning, but they still feel powerless to stop it.
While there is no evidence that I could find to support this theory – I would hazard a guess that most Narcissists suffer from an anxiety disorder in varying degrees. The Narcissists I council all match the DSM 4 criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder, while at the same time match the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Comorbidity, which is the existence of one or more additional disorders, that occur concurrently with a primary disorder, is common in the mental health community.
Listening and trying to make sense of the Narcissist’s inner workings led me down this path and I thought it would be helpful to post a few sessions to give some insight into how irrational and out of control the thought process can be for a narcissist.
James is in his early 30’s. He has struggled with relationships all his life. While he claims to want a relationship and a family, his thoughts and behaviors tell a very different story. In a recent therapy session, James discussed a woman he had met on-line. He says he’s been having an awful dry spell of late and hasn’t been able to get a second date from anyone, which has been making him feel very frustrated, lonely and insecure. He claims his sexual kill count is in the three digits and the lack of sexual gratification he’s experienced lately makes him feel worthless. This new woman has gone out with him now on three dates, he won’t however, allow himself to feel optimistic about it. He is preoccupied with the fact that she doesn’t give him enough attention. He complains that she doesn’t text him enough, compliment him enough, or initiate anything. All of this has led him to feel a great deal of anxiety and he wants to break it off, because he’s having difficulty coping with not knowing how she really feels. He seems to be in a rush to get her to admit that she has feelings for him and only then will he be able to relax.
James: I texted her that I had a really good time after our date and then I said goodnight and she only texts me back ‘night.’ Like what the ‘f’ is that? She never gives me compliments and it takes her forever to get back to me when I text her.
Sav: You have only known her for ten days. She doesn’t even know you. She is still making up her mind about you as she should. Anyone that is throwing themselves at you and declaring to have feelings this early should be a red flag to you. She doesn’t owe you a front row seat in her life yet. It’s healthy for her to take her time to get to know you before investing emotionally in a relationship with you.
James: I don’t know. She’s probably talking to other guys and not interested in me.
Sav: That’s possible, but that’s dating right? Especially on-line dating – there’s a high turnover. Or maybe she just wants to get to know you first and she’s taking her time.
James: We have a date tomorrow, but I don’t know how much more of her indifference I can stand. She’s the first girl I’ve gotten a second date from in months and she’s probably thinking of ditching me.
Sav: She wouldn’t keep making plans with you if she wasn’t at least interested. When you date someone this ‘not knowing’ how the other person feels is part of the process. Allow yourself to enjoy it. Enjoy the moment, enjoy the uncertainty. It’s part of the dating experience. And stop trying to rush everything. You should be concerned with how you are feeling about her and stop being so focused on whether or not she likes you.
James went on his date. I received the following text message at 10:00pm that night:
James: It’s over Sav I blew it. She liked me and I blew it.
Sav: What happened?
James: I’m too ashamed really…I’m too embarrassed. I want to hide in a hole.
Sav: What happened?
James: I did my stupid creeper thing and she caught me. Don’t be mad. I’m too sad right now.
Sav: I’m not mad at you. What creeper thing?
James: After the date I text her from a fake phone number.
Sav: You text her pretending to be someone else?
James: Yeah. I feel sick. I want to die.
Sav: What did you say?
James: It doesn’t matter.
Sav: Come on. Let’s hear it.
James: I pretended to be looking for somebody else. A wrong number and I asked her if she was single and she knew it was me. She called me right away and told me she was done.
Sav: From the time I told you to let this unfold naturally to the time you came up with this plan – what was the thought process that led you to think this was a good idea?
James: I don’t know Sav. I’m f**ked. I really am. I feel so shitty right now it’s unbelievable.
Sav: Don’t you notice your pattern here. You always get these compulsive thoughts that keep telling you that they’re not interested and then you become a detective always looking for proof. You’ll cyber stalk them, create phony social media accounts or fake text accounts to spy on them. This isn’t healthy James.
James: I feel sick right now. My head is literally spinning right now.
Sav: What you don’t seem to get is that you never really know what a person thinks of you – even when they say I love you – you still never really know for sure. Your ego is so fragile that you can’t handle not knowing. It is way too important to you. You have to learn that what other people think of you doesn’t matter – who cares. They either are going to like you, or not like you and there is no sense wrapping yourself up in knots about it. It’s out of your control.
James: It consumes me. I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m a sicko.
Sav: There’s no need for that. You need to find a way to control these compulsive thoughts and you seem to have very weak impulse control too. Tell me did you think that what you were doing was wrong or unhealthy? Did you think about the consequences at all before you did it?
James: No I didn’t. I really didn’t think she’d know it was me. I feel sick right now. My head is literally spinning from anxiety and shame. I feel like throwing up.
Sav: I want to understand better what drove you to do this?
James: I’m insecure.
Sav: Granted, but lots of insecure people don’t do that. Why did you need proof? Why couldn’t you just wait it out?
James: I don’t know why Sav. I don’t. I just got it in my head that I had to know and I couldn’t stop myself. I had to figure it out.
The next day James called in sick to work because of his anxiety and left several messages on my voicemail and continued to text me:
Sav: Let’s not get over dramatic James and let’s put this into perspective. You went out on 3 dates in 11 days. This was someone you just met. Sure it was embarrassing and a good learning experience, but don’t blow it out of proportion. This wasn’t a 25 year marriage it was 11 days, 10 of which you spent complaining about how you wanted to break up with her. Chalk it up to a learning experience and move on.
James: I did like her. It was my brain that tricked me. She was fine in retrospect. I have to find a way to fix this.
Sav: I think you should leave it alone, learn from it and spend your time figuring out why you do things like this.
A few hours later:
James: I got her to message me. She said unless you’re going to explain yourself I don’t want to hear from you. So I told her everything and now she said she needs her space and time. I told her I was better than this and that I hope she’ll give me another chance. So that’s where I stand. Who cares it’s over. Maybe I should send her a basket full of goodies as an apology.
Sav: (Does face palm) James she asked you to give her time and to give her space. You have to respect her request. Stop trying to control everything.
I have known James for many years. I am fortunate enough to get to see this side of him. With everyone else he wears his mask of bravado, his armor. I thought it was important to witness a Narcissist’s inner turmoil, the fear and the anxiety that goes on inside of them. With me, James doesn’t fear exposing his true self like he does with others, but I have seen and tasted his Narcissism in all its dark glory. Not many people get to witness a Narcissist’s truth, their obsessions, their weaknesses and their hopelessness. This is the reality they live in. All of the sensory information that comes in seems to go through an extensive processing filter, where it’s scanned for anything that might be considered harmful to their fragile sense of self. They are over-sensitive, their nerves are over-taxed and while all of this is going on on the inside, they spend every last ounce of energy trying to present a perfect, confident picture to the outside world.
People are always asking me how I know their Narcissist isn’t happier with someone else – here is your answer – their brain doesn’t shut off just because someone else has entered the picture. They have extreme difficulty controlling their thoughts and their emotions. They are constantly on edge, irritable and always fighting their demons.
When we get hurt by a Narcissist we want to believe that they are monsters. It helps us to get through it if we can dehumanize them and make them out to be some kind of evil. The truth is that these are highly sensitive individuals, whose anger and irritability are caused by constantly feeling on edge. They desperately seek to control others, because they have no control over their own lives.
James, along with the other’s I counsel, are constantly asking me to interpret someone else’s behavior, because they honestly don’t know how to perceive it correctly. They get through life by faking it. That is the best they can do.
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If you’re constantly checking for incoming slights and wrongs, then this is edginess. But the edginess is smoothed over with the facade. I may be wrong measured by any number of others’ frames of reference, but I take “normal” life as a process in which meaning unfolds. In the common vernacular one recognizes “interesting thoughts.” But the “edginess” of the subject really makes for his/her “inner normal person”…a tedium (which blocks out “meaning”). In truth, usually “bored.” I think I’ve picked up on such. I was stuck in a car with someone, why I won’t say. But it was as if our whole attempt-at-normal “positive” relationship was something suddenly she didn’t know about (probably it was far from normal, but at that moment even that was out the window). It was totally absent, and I got the feeling she thought it was my fault we were stuck. Anyway, the facade can embrace a career, or just a…”job.” Either it seems can become a sort of “science,” and replace truck’n along toward meaning in life. A real talent developed over time I suppose could “war” against the disorder, and make “a little” improvement possible? Do you agree?
I don’t know if it was your method, or that “James” was just spectacularly insightful regarding his own inner state. He had an obsessive impatience, like maybe a “relationship addict” on top of romance addiction, or maybe he viewed these phases as achievements simply to be picked up without much intimacy or empathy (maybe he was seeking the experience OF INTIMACY by this route?!). But with you he saw fairly far into his control mechanisms…it seems. My thinking has led me to believe [and I’m not credentialled in this] that narcissists rarely “think” consciously “I’m a sicko.” My perspective on it is…according to my experience…that the insecurity is mostly unconscious, but that mentally and feeling-wise for them…because of the unconscious insecurity there is experienced consciously a certain restlessness [not that manifests totally, say, like akasthisia, but that might be experienced mentally like said condition?]. If the unconscious insecurity contents do surface somewhat, then the tedium/restlessness experienced is more intense? But usually only as a sense of restlessness or edginess without a cause? Or perhaps they may feel this always, but have never looked at the feeling for what it is…grown accustomed to it and not given it a name? That’s as far as I’m able to make generalizations/theories about the condition, given what I’ve observed (if I’ve really observed narcissism in the first place). But the companion may not see this AT ALL. The companion may only catch resentment over some slight that was never really a “slight” at all. Sound right?
How do you know if your would be narc is not really just another codependent?
Chancy5 look at the DSM criteria for NPD.
They blow up the relationships because they need the shame, add their lack of insight and there you have it: a total mess of crazy behaviour.
They want to feel the shame- it is (besides impersonal sex and the high they receive from the abuse circle, manipulation, gaslighting et cetera…) their drug of choice.
This is why they repeat this cicle over and over again.
The more valued a target (whatever this means to them- often they value physically beautiful women more) is the harder they will try blow the relationship up.
It is axiety, yes, but also some kind of entitlement and disrespect they feel towards women in gerneral.
This goes for female narcissists as well. This same process just happened to me.
I just found this site and read about anxiety and narcissism, which is the topic I was seeking on the internet this evening. I have a friend of 13 years who is 69 and I am 74 female. He is what I call a classic narcissist and has done some cruel things to me (nothing physical)but after 2-1/2 years we are still friends, but it is not easy. At any time he could walk out of the friendship again in nearly an instant. For the past five years (beginning before we didn’t see each other for 2-1/2 years) he has had anxiety to the point where he is on Xanax. It apparently started with some kind of physical happening while he was out of town, and instead of going to a hospital he drove home four hours. He had physical signs he refers to as “buzzing” in parts of his body. I thought perhaps he had a stroke, but doctors said no sign of that. He feels sick a lot, other days feels fine. He says it is some kind of anxiety but he could live with it better if he knew what it was. He is a “car guy” and keeps busy when he feels OK, but since this episode he is afraid to leave town driving alone although he gets around fine locally. Tried to drive a two-day trip to see his kids at Christmas, headed out three times and came home very sick. In my searches about Narcissism, which he has almost all traits, I am now wondering if his physical problems and/or anxiety are part and parcel of his narcissism. We see each other about four times a month as he lives in a town 25 mountain miles from me and we email daily for the most part and talk on the phone every so often. I also want to know why he is sick. Everything has been ruled out medically and he saw a psychiatrist at the beginning of his illness. Our conversations are about him most of the time, he might ask me how things are going but it goes right back to him and his sickness. Is his anxiety (which he says he has) a tie-in with his narcissism and does it have a “name?”
I have very nearly every one of your posts, Savannah, and have found them to be the most helpful information I have found online as I wade through a separation from my husband.
I fairly quickly identified him as a narcissist, but after reading this post, I feel like it describes me in many ways. How likely is it that we are two clashing narcissists? I married him 8 months ago after a previous break-up over a woman he was obsessed with (constant emails, texts, phone calls, messaging) yet had never met. He promised to give all that up if I would marry him so I did.
After we were married my libido tanked and I didn’t even want him to touch me. He resumed his relationship with “the other woman” and I grew even more distant. Finally, one afternoon I approached him and basically told him I was ready to have sex with him again (after a two-month hiatus). He told me that she was actually coming to our city the next week and he would be meeting her. He said they were just friends. I left immediately.
I emailed him last week and asked him if we could work on our marriage. I told him I would come back if he agreed to give up this woman. He said that he would not and that, in fact, she had put down a deposit on an apartment and was moving to our city.
Yesterday, he flew to her state (I learned through his family) and I can only assume he is helping her to move.
Even though I was miserable in this marriage, I am devastated by the break up. I have been researching answers trying to figure out why this has happened to me two times in my life with marriages and even more times in relationships that didn’t lead to marriage. I definitely believe I have been involved with narcissists from what your posts explain and I even believe my dad was a narcissist.
It’s easy to see my role as a codependent, but after reading this post, I see myself in James’ story because I have the very same anxieties that nearly cripple me.
I am in my third day of “no contact” and I have visited my doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist. I have struggled with depression my entire life and am being formally evaluated for bipolar disorder. While I do not abuse drugs as both of my cheating husbands did, I do abuse food. I desperately want to be loved and yet I’m scared to death of it. In addition, my one and only child has Asperger’s Syndrome so there is no love coming from that relationship either, at least no visible signs of love.
Am I a narcissist? Or are my problems stemming from other mental problems? I know this isn’t enough to show you a complete picture, but I would love to have your gut instinct because your insightfulness resonates with me.
Thank you for your help!
My guess Connie is that you are codependent. I would bring that up with your therapist.
Thank you Savannah so much for sharing all this information with the world. I have only recently found your blog and it is so very helpful in my situation. I must admit that after reading some of these, I sometimes feel like I might be a narcissist, but I know that I am not, however, I am co-dependent, I have horrible anxiety, and can be extremely impulsive and obsessive like James. My N in question has shown lots of the traits as all the N’s mentioned throughout these blog posts but then there are some he does not seem to have. I have been kept hanging on for about 6 years now and he only recently revealed that he has a girlfriend now and seems very happy with her, as if to say ‘Ok, I am done with you now so please let go.’ I was heartbroken of course but thanks to you I am learning how to let go and move on. This has truly been a rough roller coaster ride and I have been totally and completely unable to shake him out of my head and heart until now, although I do have weak moments and bad days. When that happens though, I come right here to read more about these freaks and it helps tremendously. Thanks again Savannah!
I just want to say thank you for this post. The narc in my life was a mental health professional who very much plotted and schemed to get me hooked. I was a patient.
However, if you look at the scenario that Savanah spoke about above, notice how it was all about his feelings and his perceptions. What I know of NPD is that they can’t do empathy unless they first realize how THEY themselves feel. And, they are very divorced from those feelings as a way to cope.
Get them in touch with their feelings, help them to find a better coping mechanism, help them to see how their disorder impacts their own life, and then they might be able to change their actions towards others. I doubt they will ever feel much empathy.
It is using what they are concerned about- how they feel and what image they portray to motivate them to stop doing behavior that self-sabotages their relational efforts.
I personally don’t care what demons they have to wrestle to get to right action or even if right action stems from selfish motivation such as relieving their anxiety. If they figure out how to actually do right action, does it really matter if they stop harming another person?
One thing this narc brought to my life is a spotlight on my own narcissism, albeit it isn’t pathological. I had to think about why his grooming worked. It worked out of my own narcissistic injuries in the past. Much more aware of my wounds, I am able to make better decisions for myself in my relationships because I am not getting the majority of my ego needs from somebody else. In that respect what is labeled co-dependency and what is labeled narcissism have a lot in common. Neither difficulty results in a healthy self or a healthy relationship.
This is good picture of what goes on internally with the narc. I also had to set aside that he is a “monster”. That doesn’t mean what he did wasn’t monstrous. But it is giving a narcissist way too much power to put them up there on the power scale by saying they are inverted gods (evil) with magical powers. They are pathetic and to be pitied or even “loved” from a distance. I say love, because love ultimately holds them to reality and no the unreality of what they have been allowed to get away with all along.
I wish each and everyone of you best on your journey to recovery.
Savannah, You say here that we are wrong to perceive the narcissists who have hurt us as monsters. That they are sensitive anxious souls. I disagree. The narcissist in my past went out of his way to destroy me while he was cheating on me and leaving me for her. He was verbally abusive, demeaning, and terribly cruel. The end was premeditated, to be as cruel as possible to me with words, actions, and public humility.TO say he had no remorse by crushing me is minimizing,because he enjoyed it thoroughly. How can you describe them as sensitive and anxious, and deny the cruel monster within that has zero remorse , empathy, or compassion for their victim? By the way, I’m a therapist too.
Lisa I’m pretty sure I didn’t use the phrase sensitive anxious souls. This blog post is entitled Anxiety Kings a Narcissist’s Inner Battle. This blog post is about what goes on inside of them – it isn’t about what they do to their victims – this is part of why they do what they do – not what they do and how it hurts other people. I have about 100 other blog posts for you to read if you want to look at the effects of their behavior on others.
Just to follow up on Sav’s point: one can be sensitive to one’s own needs yet insensitive to those of others. Hence the entire NPD trait. My narc ‘friend’ was extremely sensitive, in that, things used to bother him easily or his reactions would be way out of proportion to whatever incident. Yet when it came to my feelings, he had no sensitivity at all, or at least, not with regards to anything relating to him and the hurt he caused. He simply had a blind spot for how his own actions could affect someone else.
The other somatic narc I knew came from a troubled childhood and claimed to have a horrible mother. I have no doubt that underneath all his bravado he is unhappy and feels incomplete but he manages to get by living in a happy-go-lucky bliss by gaining new supply with all the women he uses.
I fully agree that narcs are extremely sensitive–but like with anything, this sensitivity has limits only unto themselves and they simply lack it when it comes to anyone else due to their impaired empathy.
And having to rely on others for their self worth would make me anxiety riddled, so I can’t even imagine their own inner hell, which is what they project onto others. Hence, the hurt.
I just last night found these web sites about narcissists and I can’t believe that this is what has been happening to me. To a T!!The harem of unattractive, lonely women that worship him, that he calls “his friends”. The insults and name calling and all of this after he totally adored me in the first phase and I thought I had found my soulmate. I lost my job because of this monster and he has everyone fooled into thinking he is such a sweet guy. Thats what I get to here and I want to puke. I dont even know where to go from here. Since I have been with him I have lost weight and don’t even know who I am looking at in the mirror. I have to get out of here and I am stuck until I can get enough money to leave. I told him last night that he was a narcissist and read to him what he was. Of course he laughed at me and said to get the eff out. he does this and then when i am packing he asks me not to go and that he just wants me to get a job. I have been cleaning houses which is not what I had prevously done , but I am 51 years old and it’s hard to find a job doing what I used to do. How the hell do you go on after this? I am so mad at myself for letting him do this to me.
I don’t know we’re to start, my wife of 16 years finally ask for a devorce in Nov 2013. Her word” I can’t deal with you any more, you insult me talk down to me mentally abused me and all . I ever did was try to love you” her last words to me. Xxxxxx told me I needed help I should get checked, i denied it nothing wrong with me.This is what I believed then, after several affairs, lies, about money well list goes on. Enter 2014xxxxxxx love of my life yes life I say we grew up as neighbors. A chance phone call and that’s what. She moved to Jacksonville Florida. We’re I lived leaving her family and children behind. The children moved with their father 2 months later. Now for the record Michelle is bipolar, press,and cod. I am not even going to tell what happened in the next 5 months. Xxxxxxxx’s last word to me “you murdered me in this apartment, i wanted to kill myself , i feel empty inside, Xxx I want you to promis me something , get help and please , please don’t do what you have done to me to another soul” I couldn’t even cry when she was moving out. Yes i was haveing an affier with my ex wife. I left her alone for days with no car or money, and I didn’t even care she fought for me tooth and nail battling with me against me. We are now friends and Xxxxxxx told me what was the turning point. Me ,my word ” why the fuck would I want a crazy bitch like you .” I loved this woman from the time I was 16 till the end I will be 42 this year. she also told me of , narcissistic abuse, of witch she was diagnosed . This all in the past week. The one person I thought I would never hear from again. Has agree to help me in this. I haven’t been officially diagnosed with anything but soon will be getting tested, checked. Yes I’m scared, most of my adult hood I have acted this way not even noticing ,the wake of destruction behind me.
I’m am not going to lie, i do feel like a monster , i am very ashamed of my past, and what lies there. But as xxxxxxx said to me, ” i don’t know if I can ever let you near me again, Xxx u our past is just that in the past. You know now, and what to do and look for.” We talk and text on are phones. But for now it’s all she can do c maybe one day we can meet and have lunch. So I can hug her and thank her in person for giving me a fighting chance at a future. I am human I am not a monster, devil,nor evil. I am sick but this is still no excuse for me. I have a long road ahead of me as this journey has just started. In closing
WE ARE HUMAN NOT MONSTERS.
where do I start, I am so glad I am reading all of this, I fell for the same person 21 yrs ago, its been an abusive emotional roller coaster ever since, at first I was his world, his every move, his every thought (or so it seemed) we were both second marriages, my first marriage was also abusive, his first wife left him after only one yr, to mix with his narc disorder he also has a drug addiction, which I have dismissed for all of these yrs as well, I have ignored his rages, because the next hour he would be fine, once our first son was born I was relieved in a sense, but as he got older the abuse my husband put on him was terrible and then he required more of my attention that became more aware to me that it was jealousy of our own flesh and blood, and I struggled with trying to juggle with coping with his rage every night and walking on eggshells of what lied ahead when he would walk in the door from work, our second son was born, but he still abuses our first born, he screams he yells he makes severe threats to us he draws his fist at us tells us we are no good, tells us he is not going to pay the bills, but yet I am not allowed to work, he lies about everything and anything, my oldest son I have always felt so sorry for him, his emotions were all over the place all the time, him asking why his father didn’t love or even like him, and why our youngest child never had to go thru any of this, I never have answers, I have always stepped into the quarrel and made him put it on me to take it away from my son, I remember the first word out of my sons mouth to me at around 1 was whore, I have been called so many names its etched in me forever. my husband requires so much attention and pitty from people I cant even understand it, he takes my illness and turns it into my dying fighting to live, but comes home and tells me nothing is wrong with me. Sorry if I am jumping from one thing to another but my mind is just all over the place with things he has done over all of these years. His addiction is so out of control that it magnifies his disorder in my opinion, he had a terrible work accident last year, fell off his scaffolding cut his head, broke his neck, had surgery, they found 3 drugs in his system to this day he denies it, but they withdrew him we were in ICU 2 weeks due to the withdraw, they put him on antipsychotic meds, Ativan, and other meds of that nature while in the hosp, because they noticed his behavior and asked me if he had issues, he was somewhat calmer. This man can take the smallest thing and turn it into something huge and go into a rage that is so scary to me, its taken years to know how to do things at home, he kept me sheltered for so long. I was shocked when I read about the porn, wow I have always heard stories about him and prostitutes well I now its true, I also found tons of porn downloaded on his phone, yes he also had affairs, I also think he has been with transvestites. I just don’t know who he is, but I always feel like I can help him or he will change, he never spends time with his family we have never came first in his life, he uses people beyond the word use, if he needs them they are his friend, he can talk about you so bad one day but the next day if he needs you for something you are his friend. if he does something for you , well you will never ever live that one down, I am his wife and I have yet to live anything down, even the fact that he buys the groceries. I am threatened daily that he is taking the bank card and trust me he does. I am threatened weekly that we are divorcing. he reminds me daily that he works so hard for this family and gets no respect for no one all we do is laugh behind his back and make fun of him and mock him, I don’t even know where he comes up with this stuff. he also talks to himself all the time, I mean he can carry a conversation, sometimes I feel like a married Lucifer, I honestly do. I am so afraid one of my children are going to be like this, my oldest son has started to treat me with the disrespect his father does with words when he hears the word NO or when he is angry, I thought I was doing everything right by protecting him from his father growing up, when the whole time I should have left, but I gave my life to the Lord and I have to believe that God is protecting us and has a better life for us. My boys and I did go to counseling but the boys thought it was useless to them, I have been in a depressive state for about 2 years now. our marriage has turned into a living arrangement more or less, I don’t believe a word he says, I catch him in so many lies , I beg him to just tell the truth, he manipulates like u wouldn’t believe, he tells people I am crazy and that I abuse him, I mean I just don’t get it. why do they do this, why………I could continue with so much more and so much more that I haven’t said that would surely shock you, but that is the just of it
Thank you. Savannah, I will check out your other posts. I did not intend to repeat myself but the first post i wrote didnt come up until i had submitted the second, shorter version. Great information and I am glad to have found your site. It has been very difficult for me to realize my family never cared, i never knew this until i had a relationship with a narcissist ten years ago…I was 48 yrs. old. My life feels like a waste. I believed all the insults.
Gaslighting, lying to a person, talking behind a person’s back; a person who has cared. creating purposeful rifts to isolate a person. etc., etc….these are done because a person is edgy and irritable? I get irritable and edgy now that I never feel well due to a chronic illness i probably have from being scapegoated by a narcissistic family and yet this doesnt make me want to try to ruin someone else……I think narcissists are monsters. And very dangerous ones.
This post is one of about 110 posts – one perspective. Look at my blogs entitled Interview with a Narcissist and Tools of the Trade: A Narcissist’s Guide to Crazy Making if you want my perspective.
My parents are borh narcissists. I was the scapegoat in the family. Honestly, I was a nice person. My intentions were good, toward others. I was an encourager. I felt this way about my family. I wouldn’t describe myself as a pleaser because I truly wanted goodness for others and myself. U
I wasnt being good just to be liked. Ten years ago, I got sick with Lyme disease. My family treated me terribly as did people I thought were my friends. I am alone now with a terrible illness. My mother talks behind my back and tells everyone I am “mental.” She has caused rifts between me and everyone i loved by doing this. I cannot see how this would be due to her being on edge and being highly sensitive. I believe, instead that she is indeed a monster. It is when i got sick, and after a terrible relationship with a narcissist, by the way, that i learned about narcissism. My parents are elderly and could use my help, too, but a year ago, i decided it best for me to have no contact. They are critical of my every move i make to help them and my abilities are limited with my chronic illness. All of this leaves me feeling very angry. I do not think they are nice peiple. I feel i never knew them and, worse, i no longer know myself. I have lost trust in people. I lost the joy i used to feel toward others. I am edgy because i don’t feel well anymore. But this doesn’t make me want to hurt others.
I would argue that you were groomed to be a pleaser. It is a hazard of growing up in that kind of environment and like I mentioned in your other comment this blog is but one perspective – some Narcissists experience and show more anxiety than others and not being close to them – never knowing them it might be a quality they never showed you. I don’t doubt that your parents were cold and unkind. I experienced the same thing myself. Now that they are both gone I can look back at their lives with an insightful and objective eye and see them for what they were.
I would say being angry is good for you right now. It is how you need to protect yourself. The next step would be to create and enforce boundaries, and after that you need to start cutting toxic people from your life. Please read my blog entitled Leaving Codependency I think it might help.
I couldn’t help but notice how quickly James made the leap in his mind to conclude that the woman he went on a few dates with had “been talking to other guys” and therefore was not interested in him, because I am seeing a lot of similarities between James and my Narc.
I would not be surprised if James comes to that conclusion any time and EVERY time things don’t work out with a woman he is dating, or in any of his relationships (if he’s able to have any longer-term ones).
He probably also makes that leap in his mind when the person he is dating is not being attentive enough/praising him enough/doing whatever enough.
My Narc did similar things like this when we first began dating (and I of course, being the codependent that I was and so starved for attention that I ignored all these red flags).
While we were still in the dating/courting phase, he always tried to a get a sense of how many other men were available to me or interested in me, in roundabout ways. And like James, my Narc had CONVINCED himself that I was dating other men, when there was no evidence at all to support this idea, and especially when the relationship was no where near the exclusive phase.
One morning he asked me to hang out and I said I had brunch plans and suggested we see each other later in the week. He then made an off-hand comment about me going to brunch with another guy. I recall saying, “So what if I was? We’re not exclusive,” somehow I managed to not take his bait and coddle him by saying that I was hanging out with two female friends (which was the truth). He then defended himself by saying that he was only kidding.(Now I know better, I should have ran, REAL fast after he did this).
Since this tactic angered me and wouldn’t work, my Narc found other ones to use.
I later found out (much, much later after it happened) that during this time, he had called a mutual male friend of ours and asked him how many other men I was dating! When my male friend finally confessed that his happened, he said that although he found it a bit strange, my Narc used the pretense “that he didn’t want to get hurt again” and that he was simply trying to get some gossip about me. My friend made the mistake of thinking that my Narc was just “head over heels for me” and was really smitten, because he does not know that my Narc, is well, a Narc. So he bought into it and obliged.
My Narc then moved on to casually asking me about men who were on my Facebook page, such as platonic friends who commented often, especially if they were physically attractive or had a high-paying career. It didn’t matter if these were friends who live thousands of miles away from me or that I had not seen in years. If they looked good or had money, they were a threat.
But these silly, seemingly dumb and immature little insecure things that he did, and what James is clearly doing, can and WILL snowball into behavior that is EXTREMELY controlling and toxic.
I’d bet money that any time a woman leaves James for his narcissistic, abusive behavior, he will accuse them of cheating or shout “You met someone else!” because he has no ability to hold himself accountable for anything that he does wrong.
This is the leap that my Narc always made. Always. Like clockwork.
When I would kick my Narc out of the house for some separation time after he committed some offense, (because I still didn’t have the balls and confidence to leave him yet, really) during the separation period my Narc never understood why we were separated and what HE DID to cause it.
Instead, he would call and text my phone and work himself into a FRENZY that I had “met someone else” during his absence or was GOING to meet someone else during his absence, and thus was going to get rid of him — not that I was going to get rid of him because of his terrible behavior.
He would have full-blown anxiety attacks and melt downs during our separations. He would even text me that he
“felt sick,” much like what James does in this article.
In his mind, it was ALWAYS because of some other guy or the possible threat of some other guy, a phantom man that never existed.
You will not believe how many times my Narc pulled this. He even did it when I finally ended the relationship for good. After he moved out (and right before I went No Contact) he would randomly call or text me with messages that said “You met someone else! That’s why you left me!”
No, I left your sorry ass on the curb because you fail at being a decent human being on any level and I finally woke up to what you are.
While I have witnessed first-hand how irrational a Narc’s mind is, I find behavior like James’ and my ex’s insulting as hell.
What they are believing and saying is that the ONLY reason a woman wold want to leave them is because we met another man. That has tones of misogyny, and also reeks of not recognizing us as sentient, human beings that have agency and a mind of our own.
So, I have some questions as to why James and other Narcs like my ex do this: Make that leap in their mind and then OBSESS over it and believe it as an ultimate truth.
Is it because they have a harem, and think everyone else does, too? It is because they’re already ready for the discard phase before the third date? Or is it because their self-esteem is so shot and fragile that they don’t know why anyone would want them, so they feel that any other man/woman who exists in this world is a threat to their relationship?
Earlier today I read your comment on the violent narc post and wow, what am ordeal he put you through. That whole micromanaging of why didn’t you text would get so annoying.
In my narc experiences, I’ve actually never had any obsess over me like that–they were more cold and indifferent. Like my ‘friend’ N always had one foot on the dock and then one foot on the boat as far as what our friendship was. When I would pull away, he would be on the dock. Then when I would come back, he’d have his foot on the boat again.
Did your Narc have a harem? I remember you mentioning that other woman who wrote him bad poems that he used to triangulate you.
I think your narc probably did this b/c he craved all your attention and throwing little pissy fits is at least some way of getting you to think about him, even if negative.
But here’s another side: if you’re involved with a somatic boomerang narc, it’s easy as well to start getting paranoid over every female interaction. Yet with us, that is, the non-narcs, we question our behavior over and over–(am I being possessive? etc.) where as the narcs don’t care.
Your narc sounded very insecure and again, it’s just a way to gain control.
My ‘friend’ N was so good and powerful with his words, and with me being the one who questions myself, what he used to say used to rip me apart. It’s another reason I can’t have any contact with him. He was so strong in what he said and knowing how to twist things that I used to question if I even had the right to feel hurt.
He used a lot of gaslighting, mostly. He’d tell me I was lonely, I needed to see a shrink, I was emotionally immature, the list goes on. Granted, by the time I discovered his web of lies, I was freaking out and probably DID need a shrink, but he never once let the notion cross his mind that perhaps his actions played a part in the reasons for WHY I became so upset.
Yes, I let him erode my self-esteem and I let it go on for way too long, but the lies are just inexcusable. It took me a while for me to even admit they were lies/deceits. That’s how warped my mind was.
He was so good at manipulating circumstances that he would come up with ways to justify it. I remember he told me that the reason he didn’t want me to know any of his friends was b/c I was ‘jealous’ of them. That wasn’t true at all! What I was ‘jealous’ about was not that he had friends but that he didn’t treat me with the respect he did them. He would criticize every little remark/comment/act I did yet his friends could rob a bank and he’d find an excuse for it. That’s what upset me. And it just went on and on and on.
I don’t know why he targeted me, honestly, and what appears to be only me. It doesn’t make sense.
And as for that narc quiz, I didn’t take it too seriously, as most the ques were hyperbolic all or none. About 1/3 I couldn’t answer just on a whim but would need a situation. I tend to over think things to death where as narcs only think about how someone or some situation pertains to them. It didn’t seem to cross James’ mind that he might appear creepy/stalker-like to do such a thing, esp. so early in a relationship.
Narcs are just so very exhausting.
@Lola — It was really bad. One thing that I find problematic is how in the beginning of the relationship, when my ex showed all these red flags about his controlling behavior (but before things escalated) many of my female friends, who are of all ages and cultural/ethnic backgrounds, told me that I “should be flattered” by his behavior and that “he was just really into me.” Talk about drinking the patriarchy’s Kool-Aid!
I think you’re right. My ex wanted me to think about him at all times and demanded all of my attention. He could not handle the idea of me enjoying/experiencing anything without him, giving attention to anyone else (even family or platonic friends). When he was out of town for work, I think he honestly expected me to stay home, cry and pine for him (and be available for all of his calls and texts!) instead of going about my day and life.
I never caved in, I always went about my day and fought back. But by engaging in the fight and staying in the relationship, I allowed his controlling behavior to continue.
And yes, he did have a harem, and that bad-poem writer was its ringleader. He had a cache of women (I later discovered), on Facebook and on his phone, that he sought attention from. He would contact them when he and I were fighting and when it seemed like he was going to lose me, and they would reach out to him, as well. I’ve seen the texts/FB messages written by these women, who were all either exes, friends with benefits or women who wanted to be his girlfriend, and the content of the messages were beyond saccharine and pathetic. They all worshipped the ground he walked on.
I feel like my ex Narc easily fits into one of the textbook narcissist categories, but your ex friend. … I’m having a hard time making sense of him, so I can only imagine what hell he put you through.
I do however, want to say that I bet you’re not the only one. And don’t blame yourself for attracting this person. Psychic vampires like Narcs pick the nicest, kindest people to exploit.
Honestly, I really think that the whole text/FB thing is really shitty for relationships. This idea of needing to be in CONSTANT CONTACT just blows. I like a little distance and mystery. Let me think for a while! I don’t remember bickering so much in the 90s pre text and pre FB.
Then on FB you actually get to witness 1st hand the person in front of you, gauge your competition, have them annoy you and then see your man of interest say things to her to piss you off, etc. It all sucks.
Personally, I do not text. I don’t like it and am not hooked to my phone. I wait till I am at home at my laptop. It’s just too much.
I know of a somatic boomerang narc my friend was discarded from who is in some “relationship” with a bimbo and I can only imagine that with him being away from work most the time, that 90% of their “relationship” is texting/sexting. Yawn.
And I use no sexist terms as he is just as much a bimbo as she. 😛
NarcRepellant – wow – thank you for sharing – I went through this with my narc..For me it was insane because I am a truly loyal person – I made that clear to him, especially if we were going to be physical – he never said he was going to be monogamous or get off match, and was on match for the entire 2.5 years we were together and gave me every excuse as to why. If I did not pick up the phone when he called and called him back, I was on the phone with another man, if I said I was out with a friend – he commanded me to use a “name” not say friend. I even had to call my Air conditioner guy when he was over and I had him in my contacts, like I do with every other service person, and he accused me of having a relationship with him. I would tell him you are insane – he would even tell me I said something about being with a guy when I didn’t and insist I did – then I was like maybe I did say that???? I would wake up in he middle of the night and realize he totally manipulated me, he was even angry. I Know now it was because he was doing this and dumped it on me. Oh the hundreds of emails I sent him pointing out everything – yes I had a million red flags, and he came back with a hundred lies – if only I would have researched this early I would have known there was no changing or believing him.
Yes, of course they do this because they are doing it. Which, when I finally realized that, then why the jealousy? If they are living this open life with other people, why in the world are they jealous? And me being codependant mistook jealousy as love, as did I this abusive relationship.
I’m on my longest NC and sticking to keeping him blocked. I’m sure he is waiting for a text, email or call – because of how he had me conditioned. What he does not know that since we last saw each other I have called his ex and she gave me a lot of insight and clarity. And he does not know I found out he has NPD.
Interesting the x who is still best friends with him (long story) called me about 2 weeks ago about a month after I called her. She asked if I have seen him I said “no” she said well he’s been very quiet and distance maybe that is why. Now I’m just doing the Nc still in “love” and thinking he misses me, but wait, we don’t even have a relationship. I thought maybe she was concerned I told him we talked, but then after reading all I have I realized he was “quite” because he didn’t have me his regular and apparently had run out of supply. SICK
This man is 54 yrs old retired and is boring – he lives to drink and have sex – yeah real attraction. But now I know his full time job is his addiction. Reading the above the amount of work these narcs put into getting to meet someone, get a 2nd date, all for the purpose of rotating or discarding – yet claiming love to some – yes who who wouldn’t have constant anxiety. My narc is a chain smoker, God knows what else he does, he is a self pleasing narc.
As every site says, we can’t try to figure them out. Now that I know he is the one with the diesease – I’m starting to heal me. I’m sick of talking about him, but this is a safe place. Today I missed him terribly. Why? HE has nothing to talk about – is shallow, I am not. I read, I think I love to debate and challenge myself and others. So now that the day is over – I am so thankful that God is finally allowing this nightmare to end.
I recently read Anger is better than depression – I am not good at being angry but my list of reasons to be must keep me from being depressed over a person who has been totally brutally hurtful to me – if i even think for a minute I offended someone I am so sorry – I just don’t get it.
Great article! I lived with that turmoil for years and never put it together why he couldn’t be happy? The self sabatage and all. Of course it was projected that I was those things and more.
Mine text me from another number after years of marriage pretending to be someone else and thought it was funny, I knew instantly it was him, this was pretty close to when I was finally leaving him. He had and has multiple accounts everywhere it is really sad they need the external validation no matter how they get it and that they can’t look to themselves and really heal. I guess 1% can get close through real serious work and want to.
From my experience what you posted Savannah shows what was really going on, thanks!
I was wondering if anyone has ever taken any quizzes regarding if you are a narcissist or not. I just took one, 40 ques, and scored a 24. It claims that over 20 and you are a Narc. Except I’m not. I don’t manipulate and I do feel compassion and I would never lose interest in a guy overnight or be a compulsive liar like my ‘friend’ N was to me, so hmm. I am puzzled.
A lot of the questions were ‘well, it depends’. Do I crave power? In what way? I am an artist, so I do crave to have an influence, which is a sort of power, but as for the workplace? Eh. Who cares? I’m also a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) as I scored all 20/20 for that quiz. And I’ve always seemed to attract manipulators/abusers given my desire to ‘nurture’. Perhaps the nurturing itself can be a kind of power? In feeling needed?
I guess the only way to really be certain is in your interactions. I have narcissistic traits (I do like attention and have some vanity) but I’m nothing like those described in these articles. Maybe the difference lies in narcissists’ desire for ‘power for the sake of power’ where as I’d rather have an impact via a specific task or accomplishment. Anyway, just some thoughts.
@Lola — I think there is a big difference between having narcissistic traits (like being a bit vain) and having full-blown NPD.
Sorry to use a pop culture reference, but take Kanye West for example, who is often called a narcissist. He loves the limelight and is known for his obtuse statements about his talent and public outbursts. He definitely has narcissistic qualities, yet it is clear that he very much loves and respects his wife and daughter, and he’s also apologized for some of his antics. It doesn’t seem like he lacks empathy, and empathy is what is key, here: Being able to feel it and hold yourself accountable when you do something wrong.
Being vain, wanting recognition (when it is warranted, I might add) or even being arrogant doesn’t make one a Narc.
True Narcissists, whom we are all victims of here on this blog, don’t have the capacity for experiencing empathy.
This guy sounds more like someone with borderline personality disorder than a true narcissist, although bpd personalities have many npd traits. My experiences with narcissists in counseling and outside of it is that they never see themselves as sick, or admit any wrong-doing on their part. Not ever. They justify every action they take, and accuse the other of doing what they have done themselves. The minute a counselor or target starts recognizing their maneuvers, that person becomes another enemy. I agree that they have high anxiety, but it is more related to fear of anyone seeing behind their mask, of being found out, and losing control over another. which they so desperately hold tight to. That’s what makes them such classic abusers: the power and control they exert unashamedly over others. Of course, I do recognize that their is more to the story of James than is revealed here, but that’s the impression I get from this description.
Chris the two have so many overlapping traits it can be difficult to differentiate between them, but given his history as a whole he fits the DSM criteria for NPD and not BPD. You are 100% right about how Narcissists behave when they’ve been ‘discovered,’ especially about how once you’ve got them pegged you then become the enemy. I’ve been the enemy for James, but I think deep down he knew and was looking for some answers himself, which explains the dynamic we have.
I’m amazed. I could be sure my ex is your patient, what James says looks so much like my ex narcissist story with me…. Except for the “anonymous” text message part.
The more I read your blog, the more I’m sure he is a narcissist…
Tell me, are your patients really aware they’re narcissists? Do they actually seek your help wanting to change and knowing something is wrong with them?
From what you say, I understand it’s hard for them to really acknowledge (and keep in mind) how and why they fail… They may agree but after an hour they forget yes.
My ex seemed to be aware that he was quiete weird and had some issues, but couldn’t help himself. He didn’t care enough to want to change.
Afterall he is very handsome, charming, has good social skills and he has a lot of friends. Why would he want to change if he always have attention supplies in one way or another?
I love reading your blog!
Mary I think they cognitively understand, but still lack the ability to have insight, if that makes any sense. Their ability to control their emotions, and their behavior is impaired, because of the compulsive thoughts they have. So they often act out inappropriately. You could have a conversation and they say I’m going to do x,y,z and you believe it – hell even they believe it, but 4 hours later they’re doing a,b,c instead. I think they know there is something wrong, but just like we have a hard time imagining what it would be like in their shoes, they can’t imagine that they are any different than anyone else. Someone who is color blind doesn’t know they’re color blind, just like a Narcissist believes that everyone else is just like them. James at one point said he was glad he understood that he lacked empathy so that he could compensate for it, this was 6 months ago. I doubt he even remembers the conversation.
So what if someone for the second time creates (two) fake accounts to talk to you after 3 months NC? Are they just commonly out of supply, or should I be seriously alarmed that this online stalking will escalate to real life as well? I don’t know if to ignore them, as to cause any drama/hope that might feed them, or if to report it, but then I’m afraid he’ll get vindictive. What do you think, Sav?
(Sorry for my poor English, not my first language.) Anyway, I should add we’ve never met in real life, but talked very intensely for about 10 weeks, 3 months ago. Like you, I have a way of making people open up, and he shared a lot of these insecurities with me. Also I explained I had fallen for him, so he felt secure about that, which of course led to indifference towards me, and then abuse when confronted with it. To be able to get out, I went cold turkey NC. But I know he didn’t see it coming, which of course would make my discard of him worse for him. He has had opportunities to ask me what was wrong, like a normal person would, but he just does this creepy things instead. I don’t know what to do. If I explain more in detail to him, will it help him to let me go? But that means breaking NC, and I don’t want to spend another second of my life thinking about him.
HN like I just said in my previous comment do nothing, no contact and stay no contact regardless of what he does. It’s the only way you’ll get rid of him.
Hopelessly Naive I would ignore, ignore, ignore – he wants some kind of reaction from you – good or bad it doesn’t matter. The only way you get rid of this guy is to give him nothing. When there is no pay off for his actions he’ll stop – it’s the only way.
I’ve wondered about this fake acct thing as well. My ‘friendship’ N that I am in NC with also made a fake acct a while back, though he didn’t use it to try to contact me, I just got the notice that his ‘fake name’ had been used to make an acct.
He also checks my blog and public pages daily. I know I will never hear from him, which is fine with me, but if someone cut me from their lives as I did him, I would surely never be looking them up since for me it would hurt too much. I don’t get what he/they are trying to accomplish. I just think to myself, “Really? A year and a half later and you’re still doing this? Yet I’m supposedly the obsessed one? Really?”
To Hopelessly Naïve, let me just say that you should not break no contact to explain your position to him in the hope that he will understand. HE WILL NOT. I know because I tried and tried and tried and I finally realized that he would not. Ever. So I finally realized that wanting to have him understand was my problem and it went way back and I finally am very content with my understanding myself and not having to explain it to anyone. Thank goodness.
Thanks Sav, I can’t believe you posted this just when I needed it! Lola, I think losing control is much worse than losing a relationship for them, that way they can fool themselves they’ve got some. Free at Last, thanks for the advice, and I know you’re right. Just imagine the delusion he’s already living under – when I called his bluff asking him to go on Skype, he actually requested to re-add me under his own username. What – he seriously thinks I want to talk to him after this?
Is that two other fake FACEBOOK accounts? I ask because I wonder if we are sharing the same narcissist.
Thank you for sharing this perspective! I too wonder about my ex narc’s new relationship, which so far has been on/off & now back on. My daughter notices dad is much nicer when the girlfriend is present. When he drove her to school the other day (sans gf) he was a horrible tyrant. He lashed out at our daughter with all his frustrations, yelling, cursing and ending with “I’m not mad, I just want you to know that you don’t care about me or respect my time”. She was blindsided.
It sounds like his anxiety about keeping up appearances as the sweet, charming good guy to his gf is building up and he had to release it on our daughter. I’m trying to instill healthy boundaries with both kids regarding their dad and that his behavior is NOT ok. Unfortunately they’ve grown up with his behavior and my codependency….first trying to make it work at all costs, then doing whatever I could to protect them from his wrath. As I’m healing I’m slowly getting better at seeing things for what they are…and being a better example to my kids.
Having been separated from my narc husband for eight months now, I’m starting to be able to put it in perspective. I was told that *I* was controlling, unbalanced, overly-emotional, yada, yada, when, in fact, it was HE who had constructed a world where he never had to acknowledge those characteristics in himself. It was impossible to talk to him because he could never let down his guard — always had to protect that self-image that he had created.
In a clinical way, I feel sorry for him — but he had no compunction about sucking the life out of me for 29 years, so there’s that. Done and done.
That is really some serious food for thought and in the case of the narc that ran me into the ditch, it makes perfect sense. Thanks for a very helpful and healthy new perspective.
I’ve observed the anxiety and low feelings you have described, to a lesser extent, in some of the narcs and borderlines I’ve known well. It can be confusing because we may assume they are experiencing a softening, potential growth, empathy, internal change- because this is what we or non pds experience when we struggle and it’s also what we want in them- but narcs do not experience these things in any sort of permanent or deep way (if at all) and when the switch is flipped and they are back on their high or in a different mode, the past experience of brokenness is forgotten and non existent. It’s like there’s no real emotional imprint, no insight gained from past experience, no growth or change in character- no healing of their brain’s rigidity and dysfunction. The problem is that we forget they are not like us, we gain hope for their change but the cycle of hot & cold- abuse- the roller coaster, continues. This is also why it’s infuriating to bring up a past offense with them- they often forget it or have no sense of its significance or their guilt. Upholding good boundaries and learning to spot manipulative tactics is a good starting point in protecting ourselves as we grow our fragile self esteem and rebuild our lives. I also think it’s really helpful, when we are ready, to dig into our childhood trauma and see how it still impacts our points of sensitivity and difficulty now. Somehow knowing the origin of my pain helps to shine light and awareness on it and dilute its power -as if the mystery no longer is without edges- it can be understood and overcome.
SU you make some excellent points. I should have mentioned that they do lack any substantial insight into what they’re doing, or why they’re doing it. When I ask them to give me answers for their behaviors they usually say, “I don’t know,” or they give me a one word answer, then everything we discuss is forgotten an hour later. I can’t tell you how often they will ask me my opinion – I’ll give it – then they’ll do the complete opposite. They learn the buzz words – I mean they really know what to say and they will sound sincere, but I know the message never reaches them. The connection I was trying to make is that the anxiety they feel gets in the way of that. The message might resonate with them momentarily until their brain starts making mince meat out of it and they end up disregarding it completely.
Again a wonderful post. You hit the description perfectly of my ex-husband. Yes, I totally knew that he was insecure before I had a clue that he was a narcissist. Actually it was a relief to me to know that he has a personality disorder because it freed me from the responsibility to making the relationship work. Yes, that was codependence, but the world all says that we each have the responsibility to make the relationship work, but I tell you that one partner cannot do it if the other is a narcissist. That is why it is also dangerous to me to discuss the breakup with inexperienced people–they all have all kinds of advice to give, most of it in my sphere is that I should give more, love more, forgive more–and I just learned to talk very little about it except to say when they say they are sorry that I am divorced, “It’s really OK.” This is NOT your average breakup.
And, by the way, those who know me, I have finally completed my daughter’s graduation from high school and open house where she wanted him present and I sailed through it very well and I thanked him for coming through for our daughter and have not seen or obsessed about him since. Ahh.
I have learned so much about myself, at age 60, dealing with unresolved grief and hurt from my childhood. That will not be changed, but recognizing it frees me and allows me to move on. I as an adult have now comforted myself as a hurting, scared child, something no one significant to me had done. I was seeking for that soothing and never found it, but what I had found was that if I helped people they would “like me,” and I give that credit to the birth of my codependence. I am breaking free.
Savannah, I have read over half of “Dance of the Wounded Souls” and it speaks to me. Even the title spoke to me, as a wounded soul is what I have come to know that I was. I am healing slowly. The scars will remain, but the healing is well on its way–and my issues I am dealing with are the ones from childhood. The narcissist has become non-important–something that happened, but not the real issue at all.
F.A.L. I am so glad you are enjoying the book. It resonated with me more than any other book on Codependency. It is so empowering once you get to the place where you can look back on your experience as a lesson instead of holding on to anger and fear and repeating the same pattern over and over again. You’re on the right path – keep going. 🙂
I meant to say that I have a verbally abusive dad. But my husband had a cold and angry mother and very detached father. My husband would often say “I’m not happy” and then I would wonder what I was supposed to do about that. I am not responsible for his inner peace and happiness. He kept leading a dual life and said he was constantly arguing in his own head. Any insight? Your posts seems to be dead on a lot, except for our age and the fact that this woman is 60 (from high school ) and not much younger. I know I am healthier without him but I no longer have my dreams of being a grandparent with him and spending the rest of my life with him.
Thank you for your comments. I go to CODA but I know why I did it- had a verbally abusive dad so it’s a pattern. Also, he made me feel that I was the one who was crazy. I didn’t want my son and my family to know because I felt like a failure because I couldn’t repair the marriage, no matter how hard I tried. I would feel better knowing that this was some sort of pathology- narcissism- or whatever- other than just being rejected and dumped by my life partner.
My husband of almost 35 years left in May, after I caught him with a secret cell phone with the same woman he has left me for three times before. We are now gong through divorce. I am a professional person (lawyer) and had no idea that what was going on for so many years was emotional abuse. Being told over and over again “It’s not all about you.” Being told I’m fat. I’m a nag. Life with him was chaos and I was always putting out fires. When I caught him with the phone (he called me from it) and got home from work, he was gone. Other than hearing that same thing: “I love this other woman. I am moving to FL to live with her. I am selling my business.” he has stopped talking to me. He has stopped texting me, even about money. I have seen this guy through major illness, detox (yes, alcohol, that was a surprise) and many other disasters. And he’s not talking to me! He has made one weak effort to text our son but there has been no communication otherwise. Now he is rushing to divorce me even though he wouldn’t hire a lawyer last year when I begged him to. We went to marital therapy just a few weeks ago and he said he loved me and wanted to work on the marriage. Then we each returned to the therapist separately, and she later told me that he said he loved me and wanted to work on the marriage. She asked if he was still in contact with that woman and he said absolutely not. On Mother’s Day this year, he gave me three dozen roses and a beautiful card, saying he would love me “forever”. I am reeling from the lying and deceit that has gone on for years. My own fault for thinking that this person I have loved since I was 19 would straighten out. And now he’s not talking to me!!! He blamed me for money and business problems when he ran his business so haphazardly that the accountant couldn’t figure it out. He used to get angry when I was ill: “You want to be sick.” My friends aaid that it was because he loved me so much, but I know that it was deep anger. instead of leaving for good when I first found out five years ago (he’s been cheating for 8 years), he kept coming back and I kept hoping I would have my family back together. Now i am emotionally and financially devastated (he was the main earner). He has tortured me and I don’t understand why. I am 60 and to be left at this point to start over again is frightening and depressing. Savannah, I would appreciate some insight. Is this narcissism? He just keeps saying that he fell in love with someone else. (S: I emailed you about talking with you privately and I was wondering if we could do that: I am just heartbroken and confused. And even though I know it’s his issues, I feel like why is this other woman so great and what is wrong with me. I am up all night worrying about my future and trying to figure things out. A response will be greatly appreciated.)
EBK I am so sorry for everything that you are going through. I get a lot of requests for phone interviews and it’s just not something I can do cost wise or time wise. In the future maybe I can set up a Skype kind of thing. A lot of people ask me to diagnose their partner and I can’t do an email or telephone diagnosis it’s just not possible. The thing I like to remind people that are hurting because of a break up, is to look back at the relationship and realize that you weren’t happy either. He was calling you names, cheating, belittling you. None of this could have made you feel good. He very well could be someone that constantly needs external validation and is always searching for it. If that’s the case, it won’t be long before he starts looking for some other source once the newness of being with her wears off.
I think it’s important for you to examine why you stayed in this abusive relationship. You used words like torture and said he’s been cheating for years, so why did you allow this? Why did you continue in a relationship that felt like you were being tortured? This is a really important question. I would suggest that you start to research the term co-dependency. I’ve written quite a lot about this and there are many great books on the subject.
I get emails from readers who are in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s who are still trying to figure themselves out. Your age isn’t what’s important. What’s important is getting to a place of self-love where you realize that you have value regardless of who you are, how you’ve been treated or what you look like. You have to realize that you are responsible for your own happiness. Being with someone isn’t the be all end all. This isn’t starting all over again – this is simply a new chapter – one in which you get to take the time to get comfortable in your own skin and comfortable with being alone. When you like who you are you are never lacking for good company. I know it’s hard but you need to look at this as an opportunity to finally put yourself first.
Sav, I understand what you Said but My Narc would NEVER do somenthing like the fake message. like James . what I want to say is he was in total control of his anxiety with me, at least.
I have come to understand that narcissist did not ask to be the way they are and suffer a great deal. However I do believe that their behavior on others is very debilitating and they are responsible for their own behaviors. They need to be held accountable. My own ex-Narc said to me “some times I feel like I am the devil” and often times would make references like “I am human” as if he was trying to convince me he was human like.
ok but My narcisist was in total control apparently of his emotions. He never called me back and never apologizes never a paux faux
He was and is in total control of his anxiety expecially with women. And he gets what he wants. And after a year of NC he’s still the winner.
ortensia if you met James you would probably think the same thing. He sounds like a very weak, very broken man in this post, if you met him physically he is intimidating by his size and the picture he presents to you would be one of indifference and aloofness. The point of this exercise is to show that although they present this picture they are truly anything but.
Another interesting helpful article, and such a useful insight into the way the narcissistic mind works – so much ‘wasted’ time (from the point of view of my own energy, needs and priorities at the time) went into trying to understand what made him tick – it’s such a natural human response to wonder “why would someone do that?” and to find oneself appealing to their assumed human reasonableness – that basic trusting assumption which for most of us results in asking someone we’ve invested in to reflect on the possible outcomes of their destructive impulses – in effect, to “have a heart”.
In understanding the force and craven conviction behind their drives, it becomes easier to see how nothing we could offer could make an impact – that they are most likely in the grip of something unassuageable and unsalvageable.
You may want to edit this, as it refers to another online resource – but this month on her narcissistic abuse site, Melanie Tonia Evans has elaborated on the theme of ‘why would someone NOT want peace, happiness and harmony?’ – and she writes lengthily but to the point and I think helpfully on her understanding of the way the N mind works and sabotages things.
Another resource which I found useful was the short novel ‘Falling’ by Elizabeth Jane Howard, who died in recent years, aged 90 or thereabouts, but who had written this after her own experience of being swept along, in her sixties, by a charming suitor (the label ‘narcissist’ is not used in the book, but the thought processes are all there for us to recognise with our hindsight) – it is presented as a fictional work, with the two main characters, Daisy and Henry, recounting the relationship from their own perspectives in alternating chapters, illustrating chillingly the narcissistic / sociopathic processes at work.
At the time of reading, I was mildly (and selfishly I now see!) consoled to realise that if a celebrated, successful and socially adept novelist could be tricked and charmed almost to the point of marriage by a serial narcissistic predator, then perhaps I didn’t need to spend the rest of my life beating myself up for my lack of judgement and my disregarding of red flags at a vulnerable time in my life.
All of these proffered explanations strengthen the realisation of, and gratitude for, a lucky escape – the N with whom I was involved with is about to marry his latest victim. I pray that unless she too is N, she looks into the psychological mirror before it is too late – I understand the pull of the fun and excitement but I would not wish her an extended version of my own recent experience with this man.
We all have our own journey. I hope that his association with you eventually makes James’s more insightful. It is possible, through the sort of understanding that you and other writers offer, to find compassion and empathy for the anxiety driven mindset, especially if it was projected onto you at the time and you remember the intensity of the anxious emotional state. But there are still in my mind only two choices for the victim of James’s red flag call whose instinct in online dating is for damage limitation – she can walk away, or she can run. Compassion comes later, from a place of safety.
WOW! Their confidence seems so unshakeable, I had no idea this was going on in their head. I thought that I was the one going in circles in my mind if I was pleasing him or not…Great article!
We do need to dehumanize them into vampiric, evil monsters. That was valuable first step for me in erasing the image I held of him . As I grow in my recovery, I can see see the suffering that a narcissist endures in his mind, and the inner pain that causes him to do what he does. But in the total recovery picture, both views have their time and place for me.