There were two things that kept me stuck in the relationship with my boomerang Narcissist. One was the feelings it evoked in me. I would be so confused, why he would pull away, when being together felt so good. The other was that when he wasn’t being a jerk, he was really a great guy.
The feelings I had were incredibly strong, I was convinced I was in love with him. Once I was free of him and our relationship I realized that he was feeling something completely different than I was. In the moment he’d behaved like someone who cared, who was content, affectionate and happy. I was completely oblivious to what he was really feeling. It didn’t make a lick of sense to me and I felt compelled to figure it out, to help and to fix in any way that I could, because the good times, I thought, were just so damn good and how could he not be feeling what I was feeling.
The realization, that we weren’t sharing the same feelings, hit me like a ton of bricks. I wanted to spend every minute with him and it never even occurred to me that he didn’t feel the same way. When he was with me he sure didn’t act like that. We laughed, we talked, we cuddled, we held hands, for the most part, it was really wonderful and I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want that all the time. Figuring out that he didn’t and/or couldn’t feel the same way about me was a game changer. I had figured out part of the riddle. But that was only part of it.
The next was – why couldn’t he be that great guy I got glimpses of all the time? That was the guy I was in love with. I really didn’t care much for the angry, neurotic, insecure man/child that I got the rest of the time.
No one is 100% all good or 100% all bad. People are all different shades of grey. I’m sure even serial killers have some great qualities, but they’re certainly not someone I would want to date. When we are evaluating whether or not a person is good for us, we have to look at the whole picture of who that person is and not just on the bits that we like.
Even married couples have a few things they don’t particularly like about their partner…he leaves toothpaste in the sink…she hangs her bras in the bathroom to dry…she makes grinding noises when she sleeps…he snores… ect. These kinds of things are typical in all relationships, but when you’re talking about major issues like cheating, porn addiction, compulsive lying, fear of commitment, disappearing acts, irresponsibility, dishonesty, emotional abuse… these are deal breakers and they have to be. If your mate is exhibiting any of these behaviors any one of them is a good enough reason to walk away and if you’re still wanting to stay, then somebody better signal Houston, cuz there’s a problem.
I’ve had readers tell me that they felt like their partners were their soulmates and if it wasn’t for this pesky bad behavior things would be perfect. The thing is these pesky behaviors do exist. They’re real and they are likely not going to go away, at the very least not without being acknowledged, a strong desire to change and the appropriate amount of commitment to the therapy and to doing the work. Even after all that, the odds for a positive outcome still aren’t in your favor.
Another realization I had, was that that great guy that my boomerang Narcissist was, when he was with me, didn’t exist. He was a great guy, charming, funny, an attentive lover… because he wanted something from me. He liked to waltz into my life and weave this fantasy web for me. He was a damn good actor, because I bought his performance every time. He played sincere really well. When I would question his motives, he played hurt and dismayed to perfection. He was an expert at getting what he wanted out of people. It was very hard for me to accept that I really meant nothing to this guy that meant so much to me. Even his friends tried to warn me, but I was in la-la land.
I’ve had readers desperately try to hang on to their partners. They’ve been through counseling once – didn’t work, twice – didn’t work, three times, still didn’t work. They’ve given in and given up everything to make their partner happy and you guessed it – it still didn’t work. I think you only reach the truth when you have nothing left to give – and that is that you can’t make someone else happy if they’re not happy within themselves. Your partner can’t truly give something or receive something that they don’t have. Sometimes bad behavior is what it is. Sometimes dishonesty is what it is. Sometimes a lack of integrity is what it is and you can’t sweep it under the rug, it’s like dust, it keeps coming back and it just keeps piling up.
When you can’t trust your partner you aren’t in a real relationship. Part of feeling secure in a relationship is being able to relatively predict your partner’s behavior. If your guy or girl doesn’t show up when you expect them to, you’re not in a relationship. You can feed yourself all the excuses you want to, but if you don’t know what to expect tomorrow from your mate, you’re in a whole heap of trouble and you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. There’s no relationship in the world that’s worth all that uncertainty and self-doubt.
The only way to measure whether or not someone fits into your life is to consider the person as a whole. Sometimes bad behavior is just too bad to be in a relationship with. No one is so extraordinary that they get a free pass to mistreat you. No one needs a relationship more than they need peace of mind and self-respect. Holding out hope that their good qualities will resurface and permanently replace the bad is a fool’s hope and just not realistic.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the only real test of a person’s true feelings is measured by their consistent everyday actions. If you don’t know where your partner is half the time, you’re not in a relationship. If you can’t trust them, you’re not in a relationship. If they treat you in an abusive fashion you’re not in a relationship. It’s time to step out of the land of make-believe and come back to reality. Just because you may have invested a lot of time and effort isn’t reason enough to stay. That’s just continuing to throw good money at a bad investment. If someone loves and respects you and wants you in their life, they will show up for you every day. They will prove it every day – not by what they say, or by what they promise, but by what they do – anything else is fantasy and just not worth the trouble.
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Such helpful info. Thank you. Once you understand and realize your narc is not like most loving caring humans it all makes sense. I struggled for all those years confused how someone could be so charming and the next minute a monster. They are actors. They have no real emotions. None!!! And when you realize this you will understand why you felt hurt. They do not know what kindness and compassion are, they pretend to know. Big difference. The more I think back on the relationship I know my narc was/ is an empty shell of a human pretending his entire life and it’s pretty sad how he will never experience true joy, love, and the beauty of being a loving caring person. Sad, but not my problem ever again. There were no REAl ” good times” . It was all a performance.
I’ll add….he says he has little to no sexual appetite, however he gets online daily, on live websites, to masturbate; leaving me out. When we have sex, he’d rather not look, touch, or bother with pleasing me. It’s all for him, when he uses me. Of course, the one time I approached this subject, I degraded and made to feel like I was a horrible person.
I am CURRENTLY married to my N!!! Help!! 8 yrs together….3 yrs married. He has full custody of his daughter, now 18 yrs old and can’t wait to get away from him. He’s like Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I never know from moment to moment what will trigger his outrage. My stepdaughter and I aren’t even allowed to have a conversation in the family room if my husband is on his computer, phone, both, or watching his tv shows. We’re not allowed to go to another room in the house so as not to disturb him. I cater to his every whim and treat him like a king trying to keep his temper tantrums at bay. I can’t even have MY children and grandchildren over without getting permission first. If I do, there’s always a consequence to pay. He yells, curses, and rants at me and the moment I try to say anything or defend myself he stops me by saying “this conversation is over” or he “doesn’t want to talk about it anymore”!
He has full ability/passwords to my phone, computer, etc….I don’t care. I’ve nothing to hide. But I’m not granted the same for him. I’m not allowed to touch his phone, don’t have his password to the computer in our bedroom, or laptop. I know nothing about his finances or anything he doesn’t deem necessary. However, I must give full access to him!
I’m sick and tired of being the “whipping child”! I want out but am afraid to tell him to leave! I rented the house and pay the rent and all the bills. How do I go about telling him I want a divorce and he has to move out? Btw….we also work together and I will see him daily. When the subject has been brought up before, he threatened to kill himself if “we” don’t work things out. So, I feel like a prisoner of sorts……
Mine was always on time..never changed a date..was polit, tender, sweet and also a man that would disagree with me if he thought different..he was in love, i was in love…he wanted to spend time with me..he introduced me to his family only after 2 months dating (no sex involved till that point)…BUT he had lied that he had broken up with his 11 year girlfriend..one day he picked a fight and disapeared for the whole weekend..and when i messaged her and told her what he had told me and what was going on he started calling me a whore, c**t, shitsoul etc…all because he was insisting he had indeed broken up with her BUT with my message i made her hurt of their break up even more…i found out that she left their appartment..so he lost both of us at the same time..and he chose to go after her..he completely deteled me (left me having second thoughts of whether indeed he was the greatest man and i screwd everything up..maybe he saw that i wasnt worthy as a person and regreted and that’s why they got back together)..
I know that he hadnt broken up with her..but i dont know what were his intentions..maybe he wanted first to be sure of what of a person i was and then move on breaking up with her???Maybe i was wrong to react this way???If i had given him more time??
But how can he be so pissed with me if he were true to me because i messaged his “ex”-girlfiend ..he had told me that he had told her he was with me..was my action so much of a deal breaker?? If he had been true wouldnt he take blame for all the misunderstanding???
A year later and they r still together..he hasnt botherme at all since then..maybe he just truly believed that i was a bad investment and was relived to find oout soon so that he can be back to her (he was wrong at first place to ever thinking of letting her go???)
I have spent all last night and all this morning reading every article and every post. Just like the past 3 years of trying to figure out why and how my man is designed the way he is, i am still asking the same questions after this read. He is this part, and he isnt that part. But what i do know is that i am emotionally and physically at my breaking point.
The thing is, with my man, he did acknowledge that he was ‘different’, that he was verbally cruel, that he had insecurities and control issues and trust issues. He would say he wanted help. He wanted to be better for himself and me and our relationship. Doctors, sbrinks, even mental hospitals he attended without an argument. We pretty much came down to with his abusive past as a child, his previous cheating relationships, and lack of a father were all the contributing factors to his ‘personality disorder’, his anxiety and depression. I unconditionally and relentlessly have hung in there through stage after stage of trying to get to a point where the abusive behaviors would stop…..counciling and meds seemed to be working to tone it down but the jelousy, accusations, name calling were always back when he would have what i would call an episode. An episode would be caused by me talking to my ex (we have 2 children together and a very good friend relationship, nothing more), or being late, or not answering my phone fast enough, always something to do with that kind of thing. During an episode im a whore, a c÷=%, a liar, a bar girl……his temper would escalate fast. No control. No empathy. Crazy i would call it. Wont listen, doesnt see or hear me or my pain. My retaliation is all just defense. Im not what you say. Im not lying. The hurt of being made out to be what youre not and after being unconditionally at his side all the time is a devastating hurt. But i kept trying. Its not his fault hes this way. His past his life. Id say….he needs to be
understood. He deserves love.
3 years later….im still defending myself. Im unheard. Im broken. I really thought we would get beyond this and heres the difference in him from what ive been reading. He has never left me. He has never cheated. He wants me with him all the time. He praises me. Hes not sexually inapropriate in any way. He isnt angry all the time.
When its good. Its so good.
But the bad is just destroying me and he just doesnt seem to care…….
Confused girl does it really matter what label you put on it? If it’s not a healthy relationship and he acts like he doesn’t care and you feel like it’s destroying you – then what are you still doing there? This really isn’t about him – it’s about you.
I am a little confused about one thing this article addresses. The times the N seems to be engaged, seems to be having fun, enjoying the conversation, etc is this all an act, as wel? I understand my N didi not feel the same way as i did, yet. I have often wondered if he.really had fun, like he said he did….if he really liked the parts of me he repeatedly said he liked, like my sense of humor. I guess not, since everything was about him. And my N experience was a long time ago and it doesnt matter to me too much. It is just a part of it all that confuses me.
Your articles help me out so much. I’m currently sticking out my 22 year marriage with my narcissistic husband. It is nice to know there are people out there who know what I am dealing with and I am not the crazy one in the relationship! You always give me a lot to think about and have helped me get some of me back! Thank you!
Wow this is spot on! I have a question. Is it possible, after realizing the (friendship only) relationship is a farce, and nonchalantly cooling things off (because you now know better), to co-exist when this person is part of your group of friends? Or do I have to completely remove myself? I would love to call him out, but I’ve read too many times how that can go badly. I’m afraid my conscious pulling back will become obvious and that might not work.
My major Narc experience was with a so-called ‘friend’ whom was a compulsive liar and user and would only contact me at his convenience.
I was forced to end the ‘friendship’ b/c of how little regard he had for my feelings and he wasn’t someone I wanted in my life.
As for you, that depends on you. If you’re not uncomfortable having him around but can just keep your distance then go with that. I couldn’t b/c he was such a jerk and went to great lengths to keep me out of his life, so I was getting no rewards from it, only bullying, unfulfilled promises and justifications for his lies. If you’re able to manage to keep your distance and it doesn’t bother you, then so be it.
Perhaps talk to one of your other friends about this person. I know that with my narc, our ‘friendship’ was so insular and isolated that I was left alone w/o anyone knowing what a bastard he was and hence no one else to back me up, which is exactly what he wanted.
The only thing I miss is what he was in the idealization phase, which was a farce. I spent too many years trying to get that back, which never came.
It wasn’t till reading about narcissism that I finally understood what I was dealing with. A lying, manipulative, unempathetic, secretive, bullying individual was not someone I wanted as a friend, and hence I ended it.
I just noticed this particular post and comments. All of your stories and comments are so close to my own experience. I know you understand what people who have never been involved with a narcissist can’t wrap their heads around. The reality that was most difficult for me to accept was that his behavior, before, during, or after my 25 year marriage to him, had nothing to do with me. If he hurt me it wasn’t because he was trying to hurt me. It was because he simply didn’t think about me. It was only about him. If he treated me like a princess, it wasn’t because he wanted to make me happy. It was because doing so served a purpose. They are never ‘nice guys’ or ‘good guys.’ EVERYTHING they do has only one reason, one function, one cause – it is in their own best interest. Everything else is irrelevant, completely irrelevant. It is easier to think that they are somehow trying to hurt you because that implies that they have some feeling for you. The truth is they feel nothing for you. They feel nothing for anyone but themselves. All their behavior is just doing what they believe is ultimately best for them. Being nothing to them is the hardest part to accept!
Thank you for this fantastic article, I am 3 weeks out of my nearly 2 year relationship with an N, 1 week No Contact and it is HARD. It feels like drug withdrawal, which in a way I guess it is.
Your article has reminded me that his behaviour was so out of line and I was blinded by my unconditional love for him to do anything about it for so long. One thing that really stands out is your point on unshared feelings. I could never get enough of him, honestly I could spend 24/7 with him and never get sick of him. But he would not reciprocate this, and would often make me feel like it was a chore for him to talk to/hang out with me. He said it’s his personality that he needs “a lot of alone time”. But if he loved me as much as I loved him, surely he would want that all the time?
By about 15months into the relationship I was starting to doubt our future together because of so many red flags and his bad behaviours simply would not change, but I was hooked in by his good qualities and felt trapped because he cycles through severe suicidal depression and didn’t want to leave him when he was down incase he did something drastic. I was miserable in the relationship but knew I would be miserable without him and I couldn’t find a way out.
Until reading your article I also hadn’t identified the complete lack of trust I had in him, I was constantly checking his phone looking for incriminating evidence – which on several occasions I found – but it never occurred to me that this isn’t what a real relationship is about.
I know it’s going to take me a long time to recover from but your amazing articles are sincerely helping me!
This is really helpful, I am in a redo with my exN n reading the article and comments remind me that I have to get back out. Im plagued with knowing it wont work n wondering if it could be different this time, an oxymoron I know… I just cant seem to accept I was duped and that my love which was real wont win in the end..it is like a addiction but it feels like a noble one… I know thats crazy n I know I have to get away and I did for 1yr but when he came begging I came running. We talk about the condition n he says he wants help n to change but as the article said even with help the relationship will still likely fail. I just dont know why I want it when I know what it is and what the end hold…me hurt…him “free”. Im trying but please can someone who broke away from a long term relationship in the overvalue phase tell me how u did it?? I dont want to wait to be devalued or discarded to wake up n make a move. I have a child with him so some contact is needed but I know I can find ways to create distance n get past him with ur help… Im trying and I have counseling set up, he is a liar and a manipulator but I need help…
Just remember, the longer you stay, the more time you’re wasting that you can meet & be with someone healthy. Realize: Id rather be alone than be with someone who will cause such choas in my life … not having it!
Thank you so much for the thoughtful articles. Reading through a number of these today has helped me to begin to turn the corner. I feel the hold my N has had on me beginning to loosen. This is SUCH a relief!!
Yeah my guy has a lot of great qualities that makes it hard for me to walk away. He’s recently been testing me great every since he got back from Texas from being out there for work for a week and a half but got all defensive when I questioned him about face time and where he was. Then I found a pic of s girl laying on a couch on his phone and the pic was dated for the day he was supposed to come home but flight got screwed up so had to stay another night. His sunburn story doesn’t even add up. Lies about the stupidest things. I don’t know what kind of game he’s playing but I’m mentally exhausted. I’m hoping to find the courage to go through his phone and hope to find some evidence so I can say “this isn’t working”. I don’t know. I’m lost for actions and lost for words.
Yvonne why do you need to catch him in the act or find definitive proof? – You don’t need his permission or evidence to present. You’re not happy, you don’t trust him, he lies to you, doesn’t treat you with the kindness, love or respect that you deserve – end it. Period.
Mine is first day no contact . The bad part is I just delivered our son 6/20/15 3 days before our 4 yr wedding anniversary . Our son was born with some respiratory issues and I am with him going through it alone . I’m so done I have nothing to give our relationship any longer the cheating lies verbal mental abuse the neediness the smears against me when I have tried to leave but he sweetalked me back into the madness has left me a person I don’t want to be and never was prior to him !! The best thing i can say in my situation is my lil guy keeps me too busy to deal with him and too exhausted to even take time to listen to his cruel manipulations right now I never intended to have a lil baby at my age 44 but his lie of having a vasectomy before we we married cause me to not worry about birth control when mine expired . once removed u guessed it preggo in 5 mins I knee I hadn’t cheated he actually did too even though being accused and had to come clean regarding the baby on the way to also inform you is I believe #16 but only boy !! I believe this lil boy was his end to our marriage not because he is letting it yet but because I refuse to let him think that I wiol let my son think its OK to treat women as his dad does ever. Plus it scares me to death that it’s a lot if hereditary with sons . the one thing I kept intact is that I love my babies more than him and I would not expose my child to his ways cause he will not change . so for his deceit the one time of giving me my son I thank him it made it more important to leave than stay. Now to just convince him he doesn’t want to be in his sons life. Filing for child support monday that should do it!! 😉
A snake was dying out in the cold. A woman came along and took the snake home. She feed the snake and kept it warm by the fire. She nursed the snake back to good health. One day the snake bit her. As she lay dying from his venomous bite, the woman asked the snake, why did you bite after I took you out of the cold, gave you food and shelter? The snake replied, but you knew I was a snake.
A snake will always be a snake.
This message couldn’t have come at a better time for me…I am trying SOOO hard to end a 12 year, roller coaster ride relationship with my N. I have finally had enough and have been systemically cutting ties with him. The cheating and lies that I uncovered has finally taken its toll and made me walk away-I am in “the no contact” stage-and hope I can be strong…He has begged and cried and gave me promises that he doesn’t follow through with, over and over…I blame myself for allowing and teaching him how to treat me. I have gone to many hours of counseling over that man-and him none…Hopefully this time he knows I have his “number” and he can’t hide from what he is anymore…
It’s been almost a year since my breakup from my delusional crazy making narcissist ex. We were together for 6 years with constant drama. Cheating, porn addiction, addiction to S&M, constant anger, blow ups, retaliation for real or imagined mistakes, gaslighting, lying, begging, pleading, sometimes physical but mostly verbal abuse. I’ve been having the time of my life with my girlfriends and meeting lots of men, none of them who interest more than a short time. Recently started seeing someone kind, sweet, is willing to give and take, doesn’t need to show off.. Has proportional reactions to things, doesn’t brag.. So many good qualities but I keep comparing him to my ex psycho in my head.. And even tho all logic tells me that this man is far superior in every way… I think about the addiction..will it always be this way? Like with drugs or alcohol?
Your posts help me so much. I thought I was going nuts when all the similar things in your article were happening. So many contradictions ~ like buying a house for me in another state, furnishing it, saying it was for our future when he retires, calling me many times during the day/night then immediately posting love messages to another on FB. As maddening as it seems and I totally agree with all that is written above, it is so hard to break away. So many good traits but the bad ones stink! Thank you for your posts, they clarify and help me.
Savannah, I really like reading your posts.
I can relate with a lot of things you describe about the boomerang narcissist and how hard it is to realize he’s really not feeling the same. Something hit me like bricks… I met his closest friends, they didn’t try to warn me but I felt something wrong in their reactions. I remember seeing concern in one of his friends eyes. That look he gave me meant a thousand words and I don’t know why but at the moment it kept me thinking about it. Gave me a bad gut feeling, like there was something he knew that I didn’t.
Another of his friends acted kind of weird too, she was acting in a fake way when my ex N complimented me for being such an intelligent person. She tried to show great approval to my intelligent joking skills in front of the N, like “yeah you’re right she’s really bright and so funny! Good catch!, here’s the prove I like her so much!” Her reaction was so fake. I got uncomfortable, I wasn’t trying to show off, I just said something silly tbh… No big deal.
If I wasn’t in la la land too, I would have taken more seriously this signs. Well… They kept in my mind like a red flag but my obsession for him was stronger at that stage.
Where on earth do I get the strength to leave! Omg! He cheats whenever he cans and lies and lies, but, does everything under the sun for me and my kid. I have no where else to go but can’t stand living like this!
Savannah, I’d swear you wrote this about my ex-N-husband! Kudos to pointing out that while nobody is 100% good or evil, a person can be bad/broken/deceitful/misleading/damaging “enough” to warrant not just walking away from them, but running like Hell. And when they are on their best behavior, it is because they want something from you, even if it’s positive word-of-mouth to other people.
I feel like you wrote this piece specifically for me. I could relate to every word, every sentence, every thought. The two sentences below especially –
“No one is so extraordinary that they get a free pass to mistreat you. No one needs a relationship more than they need peace of mind and self-respect.”
I have left friendships and other relationships for less than the misdeeds and words he put me through. All because I thought he was the one.! But I was only the one when he needed something from me. It’s amazing how good I feel since I broke up with him almost 2 months now. But only 3 weeks no contact b/c he wouldn’t leave me alone.
I feel so relaxed now that I had a dream last night where he was trying to talk to me. And I kept wishing he would be quiet. Some women in the dream (no one I know in waking life) said to me, “You look so much better without him.” And I replied, “yes..Yes I do.” And then I woke up and felt phenomenal.
Thank you for this piece today. it was super timely 🙂
Here’s a great quote I saw: “I’ll always cherish my original illusions of who you were.” You are so right, Savannah, the good qualities of the N can blind us so badly.
Why is this? Two reasons. The good looks very, very good — because they hone this and perfect this and work on this, literally every day. They obsess about their appearance, study people’s reactions to them like the most diligent student. (This makes sense: it is literally in their twisted minds a mater of life and death to be approved of and admired.) They are masters of presentation, bright, shiny objects that are impossible not to notice. In a word, they are *good* at what they do. Very, very good. Never underestimate this!
And when it comes to the bad? The two-timing, the intriguing, the devaluing? Then they are expert at minimizing, denying, distorting, deflecting. They make us doubt what we see with our own eyes. Anyone who is captivated by the “good” will buy their deflections about the “bad” — for a time. And that is all they care about, that time interval when they can milk us and sap us of attention, interest, and love.
I saw my own xN on a business trip recently. She was as charming and disarming as ever. She takes most excellent care of herself and it shows. But in the span of a medium length conversation I caught her in inconsistencies and lies; this person who was telling me she was willing to move across an ocean to be with me again was making eyes at other men and lying about the names on her contact list. One she said was “just a friend from church,” but I clearly saw a text from him that said “Want to get together tonight for some wine?”. Another was “just some guy who had a crush on me,” and when I pressed her she pretended (in a transparent way) to have trouble remembering his name; then she changed course and triangulated saying he wanted her to move close by etc. — he knew her well enough to ask her to move but she didn’t remember his name?! This is the kind of BS I would have swallowed before. Then there was the lies about pining for me all year during NC. And not being intimate with anyone. More BS. We all have egos and I want to believe I am special but no way can someone put on hold a sex drive like she has.
My point: I had clarity about my xN. I could see past the beauty and the charm. Straight to the lies. Her “good qualities” paled in comparison to the ugliness of her lies and manipulations. When we are out from under their spell, we can see them clearly for what they are. And their “good qualities” no longer tempt us. They are the sugar on top of the poison, and we have lost our taste for poison. We are *done* with them. No matter how enticing they may look.
Not to go all analogy crazy here but I think of them as a scone. Looks big, fluffy and enticing but you bite into it and all you get is air. You find that you can ingest several in a short period of time b/c they are so fluffy and lite, there is nothing to them. But in the basket they seem like there is a lot there.
It’s like the somatic boomerang N I mentioned in my earlier comment–his philosopher quotes (very pretentious!) tattooed on his body, everything was directed at his body and getting it noticed. That’s why he liked naive, uneducated women with no real goals who would think he was ‘deep’ for doing such a thing.
I recently saw a forward on FB that made fun of “20 quotes that young men with angst cling to” –mostly just angsty, cliched stuff and one of the quotes was the one he had tattooed. I laughed.
@Cowboy — I found Savannah’s stock photo choice for this week’s article to be an interesting one.
After reading about your ex N, what Savannah has shared about her ex, the experiences that others in this community have shared and drawing from my own past, I’ve come to the conclusion that many Narcs (if not most of them) have above-average good looks and know it, and that it is a huge part of their toolkit.
I suspect that they’re either just born with model-good looks and learn early on in their lives how to use it and manipulate to get what they want (many attractive people naturally do this, since it’s the privilege of beauty that affects all societies and cultures) or their physique is the one thing in their lives that they can control so they work hard to maintain it.
These people are either easily considered conventionally good looking or are someone’s ideal. Sometimes their looks might be the only thing going for them.
This was the case with my ex N. He is not a somatic Narc, he is lazy as hell. His looks are natural and not earned. He was extremely tall and managed to have an athletic build, despite not ever wanting to do much of anything. Men and women always deferred to him and were overly nice to him. Other women “congratulated” me for “nabbing” a man that was tall, dark and handsome.
I guess my question is, how much of a factor did our ex’s looks play in us being entangled by them?
For me, it was sadly a HUGE factor.
Aside from the emotional issues caused by my childhood (co-dependency and abuse and neglect feeling “normal” to me), I felt SO flattered when my ex chased me. The guy before him was also very good looking. A part of me felt that these men were out of my league, because of self-esteem issues that I carry that are rooted in my past, and the unhealthy part of me was validated by their presence.
If they are good looking and they want me, than that must mean that I’m good looking, right? If I get the guy that everyone wants, what does that say about me? I carried this way of thinking for a long time. I’m also not so sure if my exes would have been able to pull off what they did with me if they looked different.
I’m finally reaching a place of acceptance with how I look and undoing my mother’s years of abuse (she was obsessed with my looks and always tore me down when it was unwarranted). I’m also at a place where I don’t give a damn how a romantic partner looks. I don’t care if he’s 5’5″ or overweight. It matters none.
And like the old saying says, beauty fades and dumb is forever, anyway.
Well Bo the Somatic Boomerang had arms and pecs exactly like the guy in this photo. He was without a doubt, gorgeous to look at but hollow inside. Even my friend said, “If he didn’t look the way he did, I doubt I’d even be speaking to him” since she could see how shallow and pretentious he was.
Even I was like, “wow” upon sight of him. If he didn’t look the way he did he wouldn’t be having all these women pining for him. He also tended to gravitate towards women who were ‘mousy’ and not ugly or overweight but just sort of bland, although he would tell them how sexy they were to get them to want him. He was not with the supermodel types you might expect.
My friend told me that Bo said how he was overweight in his early 20s and seemed to view that time in his life with contempt. He was also in a long term relationship during that time and probably very unhappy not getting attention, being a natural narcissist.
Once he began lifting, getting his teeth fixed, even going tanning (ugh–I hate when people do this, it makes them look orange and it’s so bad for you)he found he could be the prize that all the women craved and so that’s what he does.
In the case of my friend, it turns out he never wanted her, only wanted her to want him and once she did, he moved onto new supply. (She admitted she was blinded by his charms or maybe just his arms? LOL.)
I’ve always been cautious about guys who look like Bo b/c this is how many seem to be.
Biff, my narc ‘friend’ was attractive (also obsessed with working out) but not nec. a ‘head turner’ like Bo was. Biff though could be very smart and observant and fool me, where as Bo’s bravado came off as fake.
Though to the women Bo ‘dates’–they’re all insecure and so worshipful of him and lacking in selfhood and personal goals that they can’t tell the difference, which is why he targets them.
As usual, you have nailed a really important issue. You are dead on right about the importance of my xN’s looks — to her and to me. And you are absolutely right that my willingness to put up with her was all tied into self esteem issues. I remember when she and I were first “together” (we are never really together with them), I felt so incredibly validated. She is an Asian beauty and I always fantasized about having a girlfriend like that. I thought exactly as you wrote in your post: if I have her, I must be hot shit. So all that negative self talk over the years was washed away I thought by the validation of this relationship.
Man did I learn a painful lesson. My xN can get men to do damn near anything for her. I have so many examples they make me sick. Just recently, as part of a follow-up Hoovering attempt after my recent trip she texted me that she had seen a cockroach in her bathroom and was terrified, so was going to have the doorman in her apartment building come up and kill it for her. Entitled much?! And notice the lack of boundaries — she always has clothes etc. scattered around her place and she has no sense of propriety, inviting a strange man into her place, and to do something that any grownup can do for themselves! Her in a nutshell: why do for yourself what a man will do for you?
And she once told me that she had her male fourth grade teacher completely in the palm of her hand, could veto him when he tried to give the kids a quiz, she set the recess times and activities etc. — yes, the “leveraging” of her beauty started VERY young, and was her primary tool in offsetting horrifically abusive parenting. I would be embarrassed to tell people about all the things I did for her when we were “together.” She was back to it when I saw her briefly recently, saying “I have to do presentation on X do you know anything about it can you help me like you used to?” i.e., can you basically do it for me?!
So yes @Narc, you’ve hit on a key point. As much as I wanted to blame my xN for the abuse I took, I had a big part in it. And my illusions about the importance of physical beauty were at the center of it.
Well, ok, lesson learned. If great beauty brings vanity and narcissism, no thanks. Been there, done that, suffered much. Give me someone real. If they have a good heart, are gentle and kind, that would look very good to me at this point.
@Cowboy — This conversation reminded me of another key moment that I experienced and am just learning from that I wanted to share (sorry for so many posts on this topic, but the light bulb keeps going off in my head!)
After I left my Narc and began healing a year ago, I went through that phase where it seemed like Narcs were everywhere. And it turned out that a male coworker of mine was dating a female Narc (I was able to deduce this when he told me about their problems). He was just in the beginning cycle of pain in his relationship at this time.
One night, he invited me to hang out and his girlfriend was planning on coming. I agreed and brought another male friend of mine to accompany me on this hang out.
My co-worker’s girlfriend, of course, was very attractive. She looked like she stepped out of a fashion magazine. And while the four of us hung out, I could see that she was trying to charm my male friend, in front of her boyfriend.
Know what happened? My male friend pulled me away during the night to talk to me about this. He said that he did not like this woman and that he got the strong sense that she was crazy, and that he felt BAD for my coworker.
I asked him how long it took him to reach his assessment of this woman, that she was not a good person. He said about five minutes.
He then asked me why my co-worker was with her and what he saw in her. Now, this question came from a straight, single man, talking about an attractive woman!
He was completely immune to her charms. In fact, he was repulsed by her, despite how she looked. He was turned off by her personality, energy and behavior.
The male friend that I brought out that night is a good person and is extremely self confident (in a healthy way), and has good social skills. His red flags went up when he met this woman. He trusted his instincts and listened to them. Because he respects himself, he did not allow himself to be blinded by her beauty.
Point of this post: When we all become healthy, I think we’ll get to that place where my friend is at. When we respect and trust ourselves completely, we’ll be able to protect ourselves completely and spot a Narc or unhealthy person a mile away, no matter what they look like.
Wow, I don’t have much to say. You just described my last (so called) relationship! After researching and learning about narcissism, I feel so free of this maniac. Accepting that none of the relationship was real(on his part) is very sobering! The reality hits like a bat to the face! It feels really good to know the truth and be able to make sound decisions…. Happy and free over here!!!!!
Sounds silly, but I keep getting ants in my kitchen. All of the home remedies talk about baiting the ants with something sweet like sugar or honey, but mixing it with a poison like borax or baking soda. These ants go crazy for the sweetness but are poisoned! For some weird reason, reminds me of how narcissists operate in relationships. They bait us with sweetness until their poisonous qualities practically kill us!
It gook me a long, long time to realize that he only ENJOYED when I was pleasing him, love had nothing to do with it. Now he stalks since I left and I realize he’s a bear and I’m a garbage can – he’s just checking for more “narcissistic supply” (ego trip, attention, $, sex…)and not that he “misses me” or any nonsense like that. Makes it easy to go full “no contact”. Believe me when I tell you they ALL do have other women too – do not kid yourself, when you’re in “discard & devalue” with him, he’s “love-bombing” some poor other victim, AND simultaneously thrilling another poor soul by calling after she’s been neglected a while. Good luck ladies!
Candy I really like your analogy about the bear and the garbage can. It conjures up images of a bear sniffing around looking for something/anything to feed itself.
LOL that is an awesome comparison. Now I have this image of this super hot, buff dude who is just an angry, clumsy bear sniffing out my garbage can. But we all know bears have a lot more integrity! 😛
This is really on point for me as I finally go through a vicious divorce after a 34 year marriage. My husband had problems with cocaine years ago and alcohol intermittently recently, even though he insists he is not an alcoholic. He has been having an affair with a woman from high school for 8 years and I have known about it for the last five. He came back and forth four times and I let him. Each time, he swore he went n/c with her and he did not. Each time, we went to marital counseling and he lied to the counselor. He had a lot of not so repressed anger at me that I see now was picking at me in little ways. He wouldn’t have sex with me, making all kinds of excuses. He would start private counseling and then say the counselor was no good and quit. He wouldn’t celebrate my birthdays and other events important to me, saying that I wanted expensive things and nothing he would ever do would be good enough for me, so he did nothing. He never left until i “caught” him. This last time, May 12, he called me from a cell phone number I didn’t recognize. It turned out to be another cell he got just to communicate with her. Why bother? Why not just leave? Anyway, since that day he is pursuing divorce with a vengeance. He is giving me the silent treatment, saying I make him feel bad as a person while at the same time saying that I am the best person he knows. He thinks I have turned our son against him, but the truth is that we don’t talk about him and my son has made his own decisions. I never thought he would be cruel and cold, even in a divorce. After all, this was a 40 year relationship and it ended because, he was cheating and lying and deceitful. Now he is out to get the house (he is moving out of state but wants me to sell so he can get the money) and my retirement fund. He is acting completely childishly. I would love to see an entry by you as to why the silent treatment and why the cold nasty divorce when we weren’t fighting and he thinks I am “the best person” he knows. I have stuck with him through chaos and illness. His lawyer kept asking me if I wanted a divorce which I didn’t understand because, of course I do. Apparently he told the lawyer that I wouldn’t agree to divorce him! While I am heartbroken and miss my husband of many years, I now understand the why of everything. He used me and now he is done. He’s making the final leap to this next woman. So his true colors are showing in the divorce. The silent treatment really hurts but I know it is more abuse and control. Can you comment on this? After such a long relationship, does he really have no feelings at all? Is he just out to hurt me in the divorce?
Thank you for this article Savannah! Also thank you to the readers fo your blog that write about their issues with Narcissists!! I too was married to two men, the last being a Narcisisst but with addiction issues in the past. They both were not good husbands or fathers. For many years I thought “there must be something wrong with ME!!” Yes I am co-dependent, after all I am a RN, but last year reuniting with my High School “sweetheart”-we dated 1 1/2 years from senior year to college ten broke up. He swept me off my feet. Telling me it was like “we were never apart” in the beginning to discovering he lacked empathy. When he hung up on me after Christmas and wouldn’t communicate with me in any way (long distance relationship too)I found your blog. You have helped me see it wasn’t just me not having any barriers but these men I have had long term relationships were so toxic to me. I have friends who are “dying” to be with a man. I would love to one day find someone I can trust but I don’t know if that is possible now..I would rather be alone than go through this all again….
When you say he was angry and neurotic, in what sense? Was it ever directed at you or just situations in general? I knew a guy like this who did very much the same, he had a harem of female worshipers, (it was pathetic) and had what I thought was an unhealthy hatred for religion/atheism obsession.
He’d also say things like “I love making others feel stupid” which I found odd and mean-spirited.
He’d also get resentful whenever women found some other guy hot, despite being attractive himself and looking like the guy in this photo–as in, he’d make some critical remark about the guy. “He doesn’t know how to lift” or he’d pick on the guy’s facial hair, yet he had no problem posting pics of athletic women he found sexy despite having many women pining for him at once and making sure they saw it.
He also exaggerated his intellect and loved to skim the surface of things, like he had philosopher quotes tattooed on his body but when asked what he really thought about them he had no ideas of his own.
He liked to surround himself with women who wouldn’t ever challenge him. He could do the simplest task and receive a ton of asskissy congrats meanwhile he never bothered to compliment anyone else’s accomplishment lest that would only take attention from him.
Lola my ex’s angry and neurotic behavior was directed at me, other people and the world in general. He was neurotic in the sense that he had OCD, he was terrified of germs. His anger was always out of proportion to whatever it was that angered him. He would always make mountains out of molehills and his ability to project his issues onto others was of Olympic scale proportions.
@Lola — Ever see the movie “A Fish Called Wanda?” The more that you talk about what your ex Narc friend is like, I can’t help but think about that film.
Kevin Kline plays a hilarious character who believes he’s such a well-read intellectual, but he always misappropriates quotes from famous philosophers and everything he says is wrong. There’s a great scene where Jaime Lee Curtis yells at him, saying that the central message of Buddhism is not “Every Man for Himself” and that she looked up everything he has said to her and discovered it’s all incorrect.
Is he a grad student/student teacher by chance? He just reeks of it.
I have seen the movie several times. It is funny. This is actually a different Narc from my ‘friend’. My ‘friend’ narc, let’s just call him Biff. Biff would never be that ostentatious and nor would he ever say something like “I want to make others feel stupid”. He always had to be the good guy in every situation and so he liked to come across as empathetic which is one of the reasons he was so good at manipulating. But really he was a compulsive liar and had no regard for my feelings and zero empathy for the hurt his actions caused. He was much more underhanded and articulate. This made him great at gaslighting.
The other narc is a boomerang my female friend was involved with. He wasn’t a grad student–never finished college in fact, though he was evasive about this. Liked to brag about how much $ he made but that was only because he worked so much overtime. My friend thought he was a chemist or engineer but it turns out he worked for a lawn company spraying for weeds and bugs.
Biff would never admit he was a narc–he is perfect, after all–and nor would he ever take responsibility for his actions–my hurt was always my fault. The other narc, let’s just call him Bo for Boomerang–probably knew his actions hurt my friend but didn’t care. Bo would be more likely to admit he was a narc but he just wouldn’t care enough to change. Biff thinks he’s perfect and hence doesn’t ever need to change.
Definitely needed this one. Mine left about 2 months ago & recently called (a week ago). Guess she was smarter than I.
No more excuses. This article hit home the most….thanks so very much for your insight!
This article said everything I needed to hear. I feel at peace. Thank you
While my ex was not a boomerang narcissist in the sense of leaving for another person and coming back, he was a boomerang narcissist in the sense of his waxing and waning of closeness, and I totally got it when Rewind said she won’t get on the Ferris wheel again. And, yes, a snake is always a snake. It is a step on me that I noticed recently that I am finally interested in seeking new friendships and a new, healthy relationship with someone else. I finally realize that I am not the “damaged goods” I had always thought I was, damaged and having to take any crumbs I could get.
For all those women who are suffering in 2015 with a painful narcissist…I went through this last year, and it was hell. But I came through. It is so hard, but it will be over. Not only that: recently, his (N’s) ex wife rang me – he had lied to her (to mess her around, they’re getting a divorce). He had intimated we are still together, to hurt her, so she rang me, furious. I let her know I left his stuff outside my door a year ago, finding out that he was a TOTAL liar. Anyway, ladies: what this woman didn’t say about him. She said even WORSE THINGS ABOUT HIS CHARACTER than I had even spotted. MY point is is this; IF HE IS LIKE THAT WITH YOU, HE WILL MAKE EVERY WOMAN IN HIS LIFE MISERABLE. IT’S NOT YOU. IT IS, GENUINELY, HIM. YOU WILL COUNT YOURSELF LUCKY YOU GOT AWAY. She said,”he will play the game as long as it suits him, he is a total liar, he was involved in child abuse, he threatened her, he never supported his children, if he can’t love his children how can he love anybody else?” The list went on. WE ARE LUCKY TO GET AWAY FROM THESE MEN.
Add Substance abuse to the list of major issues. Thanks again Savannah
Savannah, your articles have saved me from further insanity. Narcissists are so tricky. Recently I heard from my ex again and I found myself saying I still loved him. I then had to question what was my idea of love. I was confused how I could love someone who was so hurtful and cruel. I realized I loved the things that we did, and being in a relationship but there isn’t a lot about him that I love and love should not be that hurtful. Love your articles, you have been my lifeline. Thank you….
Just what I needed to hear today as I head to court to begin the process of freeing myself from an emotionally abusive 35 year marriage. I will be leaving with a clear conscience knowing I did everything possible to make it work. It is so freeing to finally see the truth, not to mention the insanity of trying to live with a Narcissist.
This is directed to Victoria – You go girl! I just ended my own 35 year marriage to an abusive narcissist this past March. Stay strong – I’m rooting for you!
27 years married to a narcissist. out for 4 months. kids still with him. i feel like dying. how do you move on and stop crying?
Go girl! Spot on, Savannah!
The quality of acting was superb, driven, I concluded, by an inner depraved desperation that excludes humanity. I feel very sorry for what the woman he is soon to marry will eventually endure, for at the moment she must feel wonderful. At this stage in the idealisation phase, she will still be being seduced, groomed and duped into believing she has the man and the lifestyle of her dreams.
There’s a short poem by Wendy Cope that hits the nail on the head re the disbelief and subsequent discovery that it was all an act. I am reproducing it faithfully (I trust) from her collection entitled Two Cures For Love: – I won’t quote the publisher and date in case you think I’m on commission – I’m not, I’m just someone who reads a lot.
Defining the Problem
I can’t forgive you. Even if I could,
You wouldn’t pardon me for seeing
And yet I cannot cure myself of love
For what I thought you were before I
Cheers and thanks.
Spot on. I tried to be his everything for six years until I finally had enough. I continue to get the occasional nudge from him to see if he can get me back into bed, but I am wiser now and won’t get back on that Ferris wheel. Nut it has been hard because I do remember all his good traits. Nth is article is spot on. Thank you for the reminder that a snake is always a snake.
Thank you for all the wonderful articles, always insightful and something to consider. This article was spot on. Was your ex N an attorney in the Pacific NW, I swear we were involved with the same piece of work.