“Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.” ― Criss Jami
If you had some kind of forewarning that you were about to enter into a relationship, that would consume you, to the point of your virtual destruction, would you still go through with it?
Unless you’re a masochist, the answer is probably no. Once you’ve been through a relationship with an emotional manipulator, it’s not something you will ever wish to repeat.
In emotionally healthy relationships you have both partners encouraging each other to stay through consistent acts of kindness, love and respect. They are dependable, responsible and maintain their own individuality and growth while encouraging the same for their partners.
Emotional manipulators operate on a different level. Because they themselves are emotionally damaged, they believe that they have to trick and manipulate their partners into staying with them and they do that through control. Early on a campaign of destruction in launched, meant to quash your autonomy and your self-esteem while isolating you from family and friends.
That’s why it’s important to identify these relationship patterns early. Early detection will allow you to know what you’re dealing with and to extricate yourself without investing so much time, effort, emotion and resources. I’ve compiled a pattern of behavior used by most Narcissists. When you recognize it, end it and get out as quickly as you can. Pass it on so others are aware of the patterns.
The Narcissist’s Pattern of Behaviors in Relationships
They Appear Larger than Life: There is something special and unique about them, something that stands out. Even if they don’t have much going for them, you’re convinced it’s only temporary and with your help they could really be something. They reveal a little vulnerability, a slight character flaw, that you find incredibly appealing. They dazzle you so much that you’re left thinking, why would a guy or girl like this want me? (They all seem to have at least one special feature that they display prominently) “the bait,” If it’s intelligence, they astound you with their superior intellect. If it’s beauty you’re overwhelmed that they’d pick lil’ ole you, when they can have anyone they want. What you don’t realize is that this is act one of a very well rehearsed play.
They Seem Laser Focused on you: In the early going, you don’t have to guess what they’re doing or thinking, because they are calling and texting you all the time. It seems as though they cannot get enough of you and you’re thinking, “Finally, here is someone that can give me the love I need and deserve.” They want to know everything about you. Even though you may have some self-esteem issues, you really like the you that they see. They like you so much that they’ve convinced you to start liking yourself and it all feels like a dream. You’ve got butterflies, you’re fantasizing about your future together. It’s like they’ve put you on a pedestal and that liking you is the in thing to do. You are feeling really happy and hopeful for the future.
They Love Bomb You: “I’ve never felt this way about anyone. I’ve never felt this connection to anyone before. I can’t believe what you’re doing to me, what you make me feel. I only want you. You’re the one.” Phrases like this allow them to deepen the connection and move really fast. This pretense is necessary to hook you and cement the relationship. What they want most is to hook you, that’s their end game. They will say whatever is necessary to have you thoroughly convinced that you will never meet anyone as wonderful as they are and that no one could ever make you feel this way.
They Seek Sympathy /Show Vulnerability: This is another deepening technique they use and if you’re a codependent, with a huge heart and a lot of empathy, then this one’s for you. They’ve got a story for why they’re f’ed up. Someone did them wrong. It’s never their fault and they are always the victims of another person’s cruelty. When you share something painful and traumatic with an empath, that’s their sweet spot. It triggers their fixer button and it encourages them to listen closely, open up and share their own stories. This further deepens the connection, it builds trust and it inspires, in the fixer, a need to care for, tend and heal the wounded soul they’ve become enamored with. A fixer takes on the added responsibility of helping to heal this hurt. It is also an excellent kind of future alibi for someone with bad intentions. (“I told you I was messed up.”)
They Start to Give You Subtle Warnings: “You’re too good for me. You can do better than me. I’m not good enough for you. You deserve better.” All of these may sound sweet, even a little humble, but this is as close as a Narcissist will ever get to telling you the truth. You’ll brush it off as a cute little endearment, but the reality is that these statements are warnings. They know who they are and what they’re up to and they know they’re keeping secrets from you. Don’t ignore this.
They Start to Play the Pull Away Game: After spending a lot of time convincing you that you are perfect, they start to pull away. They may disappear for hours, or days at first and you start to think that you’ve done something wrong to evoke this kind of change in them. It’s sudden and severe and comes out of nowhere. The fall from the pedestal they placed you on is earth shattering and you’re scrambling trying to make everything okay again. The more you try to communicate and smooth things over, the further they distance themselves from you. You are heartbroken and reactive and you’re desperate to right the ship and you’re doing things you wouldn’t normally do, in order to bask in their spotlight again and nothing seems to be working. You’re in full panic mode, desperate for someone to throw you a life line.
They’re In and They’re Out: This is a dangerous stage and it’s how addiction forms. Any good drug pusher will tell you the best way to get someone addicted to something is to give them a taste, get them hooked and then threaten to take it away. That’s exactly what’s happening here. You’re soaring when they come back, with promises of love and change and then you’re crashing when they abandon you again. This cycle could go on indefinitely, until one party decides to end it. They can and often do put one source of supply on a shelf, while they pursue another and then come back when their new endeavor fizzles out. The psychological warfare that they have perpetuated against you has rendered you addicted, dependent, broken and has robed you of your sense of self and your self-esteem. You’re a mess inside and you’re barely functioning and keeping things together. All you want is for them to come back. You’ll forgive everything they’ve done to you, just as long as they come back and give you another fix.
They Blame You/Deflect Responsibility: After they’ve played their hand and you’re still trying to get them to be the person you fell in love with, you’re catching them in a ton of lies. They’re acting strange and you can’t count on them for anything. They’re making you act nuts with their behavior and they point back at you and say, “See that’s why I’m doing this because you’re crazy.” They will convince you that your reaction to the abuse is the problem and not the abuse itself.
It’s exhausting for them to keep the smoke and mirrors going to keep you in a perpetual state of confusion. Once they’ve been discovered, you both know it will never be the same again. The game may continue, but it will never have the same intensity, because they can no longer keep pulling the wool over your eyes. The fact that you’re still around, wanting them back, surprises them and they believe that that gives them license to treat you any old way they want. You’ve shown them that you don’t respect yourself enough to walk away, so their treatment only gets worse from here on out.
Not every type of Narcissistic relationship follows this pattern, but this is how it looks in the majority of cases. It’s important to get the word out, so that we can all be aware that this pattern exists and so we don’t get caught in the emotional trap.
Anyone that’s been through it will tell you it very nearly destroyed them and that they are still feeling it’s effect in some way. Know the patterns, call people on their stuff and walk away the moment you notice your needs aren’t being met. When someone starts to pull away from you, never chase after them, let them go. Recognize that their behavior is about them and not you.
It’s not necessary for you to understand why someone does what they do. You don’t need to analyze it to death. All you have to recognize is that it’s not what you want and that you’re not happy. That’s all you need to walk away.
Remember that when you give someone the keys to your power and make them the sole provider of your happiness the outcome is never going to end up in your favor. Keep those keys firmly in your own pocket, learn the signs and never tolerate abuse or disrespect.
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Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash
Great article! I agree, these people really need to be exposed for what they are, and support given to the non-narcissists who have dealt with them. That is long overdue. I am 54 years old and was raised by narcissistic parents (one of which had an extreme narcissistic mother), and 4 narc siblings. This behavior is nothing new, it’s been going on since the beginning of time, . SO thankful this is all being brought out into the light now. I saw very clearly their behavior growing up, but no support for it
1)ALWAYS the other person who was wrong,(never them!),
2) Everyone was judged by physical appearance ONLY! Not their character. “Looking good” was the most important thing.
2)Never apologized unless it would get you back into their grasp, Even then it was not a true apology for their behavior. Rather a “sorry you feel that way”.
3) TOLD me how I should and shouldn’t feel. wtf!? and somehow my feelings were always “wrong”. How can your feelings be “wrong”!?! There is blatant crazy right there!
4) Still talking to me like I was 16 years old (telling me what I “need!” to do, even though I was now a responsible adult and raising children of my own. No kudos to their influence on that, either.
5) The belittlement and criticism toward relatives and strangers was relentless!! The “daily bread” when I was growing up. The sheer coldness and insensitivity of the overt ones, and the two-faced “niceness” of the coverts were head-spinning.
I finally removed myself completely from their insanity when I was 38 years old. Never once looked back! The “parents” have both passed-on. Good riddance to them! Pretty pathetic they chose to be that way, but that was their choice. My compassion, sympathy, hope, trying(!) to understand what is going on in them that would cause them to behave that way, doing everything I could to TRY to have a supportive healthy relationship with them…just all died out in me. I “woke up fully”, in an instant, to their toxicity, and I was truly done. Changed my phone number. That was the first step. Shortly after that I moved ( I was renting), with no forwarding address. These people are EVERYWHERE….coworkers, supervisors, ‘friends”, neighbors, landlords, romantic interests, religious people, “spiritual” people….on and on. It is naive to believe there are more good people in the world, than narcissists. This world wouldn’t be the way it is if that was the case.. I think the best lesson we can learn from a narcissist is that our Love and Security is within us. Not outside. If we are caught up in their game, then obviously something in us is looking outwardly for love, security, approval. Which they seem to provide, but it is false, and very intermittently. Not to mention they can’t give what they don’t even feel inside themself. These people are the epitome of inner insecurity. They no doubt are a nightmare, and completely exhausting to deal with(!), BUT, it also can be a time of deep self reflection. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” said a very wise woman. What in me is consenting to that? That is where the true Healing begins.
I just came out of a relationship like this, my whole world was torn apart. It took a toll on my health I could not sleep or eat. I lost tremendous amount of weight. This man treated my like a queen, he cooked me dinners and I met his family and friends from work. He lead me to believe that was everything he ever wanted. I noticed his mood swings but didn’t want to acknowledge anything thought it was just normal after all the hardship he had gone through. He has been married 5 times and after we broke up he told me he got divorced from his fifth wife but never wanted to discuss it while we where together. I tried not to judge him based of his past but his past was giving the RED FLAGS that I ignored and didn’t want to see. i could not understand how this man (person) can manipulate a person so much and get off on it. Its been two months since my relationship ended, well he ended and he did exact as to what I have read, he talked to me cold in a very condescending way, blamed me for being angry at him all the time when in fact it was not that I was mad I was hurt big difference there. He started casually dating after me because he said he got lonely (LOL). My last straw was when he made the remark about me being angry at him. Something inside of me just snapped and i started doing research and everything that came up about narcissistic individuals was him on point. This man has but a strain in my relationship with my daughter that I’m trying so hard to get back to where it was. And yet with all this I don’t hate him just feel sorry for him because I know he will always be lonely!
Wow, this is an incredible article. I pretty much never leave comments but I feel compelled to do so in this case. I feel like everything I experienced and all the pain I endured from being involved with a narcissist has been acknowledged. This piece truly spoke to me and is almost an exact play by play of what happened to me. What he did to me nearly broke me and is the worst, most difficult thing I have ever gone though. It took so so long to get over him. He “love-bombed” me and accelerated intimacy. When I was with him it felt like nothing I had ever experienced with another person. But it was manipulation and flattery. And when he dropped me I had no explanation and it tore my life apart. But I still wanted him. So badly. I couldn’t understand why he made me think that he loved me only to leave me just as fast. And he did come back, after a whole year. I knew something wasn’t right but the way I felt completely overshadowed that and I let him back in. And he did exactly what this article claimed narcissists do. His once amazing, charastmic, magnetic personality was gone and he tore down my physical appearance, became angry, showed no empathy or regard for my thoughts/options/emotions, and only talked about himself and how smart, successful and good looking he was. He gas-lighted me and criticized me and somehow turned his own tantrum into being my fault. The things he said to me were so hurtful and outlandish and shocking that I was completely stunned and at a loss for words. And after that, I finally put everything together and realized he has pretty much all the hallmarks of an abuse narcissist. And let me tell you, the relief I feel is extreme. Knowing that he is a narcissist doesn’t take away any of the pain he has caused me, but it’s given me a reason to understand why it happened, whereas before I was left searching of answers and beating myself up. Part of me is glad that he came back into my life for a moment after he initially left me. Because it allowed me to see a side of him that I never knew, and finally helped me understand what he truly is. He’s not capable of love, or caring about anyone but himself. He has a history of being a player and a cheater. He talks himself up and he talks badly about women with whom he’s had past relationships. He abuses and manipulates others to serve his own ends and fill his ego. He treats people like puppets, and he’s the puppet master. It’s a game for him. Now I have closure. It still hurts, but at least I know it’s not my fault. I know that he will never truly find love or happiness with another person; he’s not capable of having a reciprocal, caring relationship. The way he treated me is not my fault. And if you are someone who has had their world shattered by a narcissist, know that you are not alone. Know that you have incredible worth and someone else will see that in you and love you for it. Really love you. Know that nothing they did to you is a reflection of how worthy of love you are. Respect yourself for being open and vulnerable to another person, and know that what happened between you two is a reflection of what a terrible person they are, and nothing to do with how great you are. Give yourself permission to feel pain for as long as you need to. This narcissist will tear apart every relationship they ever have and will most likely eventually end up alone, or constantly cycling through lovers. Be strong and don’t ever take them back into your life. No matter how much you want them, no matter how much you think you will never find another person as good as them, or just like them, ever again. You don’t want to be with this person, because they will only ever break your heart, damage your self esteem and leave you lonely, yet begging for more. Break the cycle of their toxic behavior and stay away from them to pretect yourself and your mental health. They have taken enough from you. More than enough. I personally felt like a part of my soul was taken away, and it’s taken an unbelievable amount of time to heal. It’s still not healed. Above all, be kind to yourself and know that this is NOT YOUR FAULT.
Thank you for this article. As a male who just went through this for the 2nd time now with the same woman, I needed this. She followed everyone of these warnings. I allowed her back after she discarded me without warning viciously 6 months ago, and the same happened. I’ve been cheated on, dumped, we all have. It was never fun. But NOTHING compared to this experience. The abuse. The wild accusations of things when it was her doing those things not me.. The little lies I started to catch. The being verbally abused. The silent treatment for days as punishment. The uncomfortable feeling that some things sounded too good to be true. It was awful. And I didn’t recover in the 6 months she was gone the first time so i was so happy to have her back with her flimsy excuses for why she even left the first time. Wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. The worst….is not knowing what was real and what was being faked. I will never have those answers as that person was never truly forthcoming when cornered. I just feel bad for anyone else that experiences one of these. You’re not alone. We’re hurting too
Also might I add, the lack of empathy when I said please this is wrong you are destroying me I would never do this or that to you. Not one single ounce of empathy
Hi Dave, I’m still on a relationship with someone as you described. Read your story and feels like mine, the hardest part is that I’m still lying to myself sometimes or getting confused by this person and want to think he’s normal… but no one that loves you will give you this treatment. Then I also think about what is real and what is fake?
I’ve been with this person for almost 2 years and I never cried so much in my life, this is the worst situation I ever had to go through and I still can’t break up. He has all the patterns described, he did terrible things to me, and I keep here destroying myself.
At the begging, he seamed the perfect man, OMG he was amazing. He used to tell me ”I think your the on”, ”I never felt this way before” and bla bla bla. Then he suddenly disappears, stop messaging me. I was devastated, so I tried to contact him, he blocked me, insulted me, treated me awfully. Then he started to being ”interested” on me again. He will come and go, he applied the silent treatment, he will ignore me, mistreated me, devaluated me, insulted me, being even racist for me being from South America! He also threatened me with hitting me and forced me to have an abortion, abandoned me in that situation… so many other horrible situations of abuse.
He always will try to make me look like the crazy one, and that he acted that way because of my ”behaviour”, but because I know myself very well I know is just him trying to manipulate me. I also have found myself many times begging for his love, and being sorry for something it wasn’t my fault.
He also said he was abused by his father when a child and some other pity stories…
He moved to another city 800km away. But the worst thing is that we keep in contact. I wonder when I will be capable and strong enough to end up this toxic relationship.
At the beginning I used to have some therapy sessions with some psychologists, they all will say that I was looking for this, that I had to take part of the responsibility for putting myself on that situation, that I didn’t love myself that much and some other things that don’t apply when you’re treating with a person with a narcissistic disorder that is made for manipulation.
Thank you so much for this article. This exact thing has just happened to me! I met this guy, he was amazing and talented, in fact he told me that, several times! His arrogance, for some reason was extremely attractive.
Then, following days he messaged me, constantly. Telling me how gorgeous I am, that he doesn’t normally feel like this, that we had an instant connection. He said he needed to see me again, that he wasn’t going to give up. I’m not in a happy place, my husband has a brain injury, life is pretty tough. My head got totally spun by his constant flattery.
We met up…..we had an amazing night together. I was dizzy. The messaging continued…..and got more explicit! All the things he wanted to do.
Then I messaged him, and his tone totally changed. He told me I was giving him grief…..i wasn’t, they were just normal messages. I was really confused and hurt. I made a joke, and he seemed to take it really badly. Then, messages stopped…..so I asked what happened? He said let’s just be friends. I was devastated, no idea what I’d done, I felt sick…..i missed him, missed the attention and flattery, the high of feeling so special.
I don’t think he wants to be my friend, at all. I feel like I’ve been pulled into a massive game and gone from a massive high to a devastating low….hes made me feel dreadful.
Absolutely spot on. Run. This is a forever pattern. I’m spouse #3 & fully understand why. I was a 30 yr old virgin & gave him my everything. 3 yrs of marriage with his habitual lies, cheating, deception and self admitted mind games on me. Never again. Run the heck away! They will NOT change.
I would like to ask though, this vulnerability they show and this special feature that they display prominently are these both fake ? Do they show them in purpose to hook you ? Do they have these characteristics in the first place or they fake ? During love bombing, while I was still resisting to his pursue, I asked him how is it possible to say that you are so attracted to me, since, when you meet me you do not ever speak to me, and you have this attidute of superiority or something ? He replied to me : this is a defense of mine ! I am still wondering sometimes which of all were true and which fake.
In this article you describe exactly what happened to me. He was covert, very shy, without social skills, or interests, or ambitions. On the other hand he took care of his appearance a lot, younger than me. This combination attracted me as well as the love bombing. Texting me all day and night long while he couldn’t speak to me in close because he was embarrassed (according to his words). I found this adorable. He make me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world – and you know what ? I acted like one, so everybody in my surroundings started to look at me differently, like indeed I was more attractive than I ever thought I was. No self esteem at all. When he knew he hooked me he started to do strange things, like disappearing, reducing the text messages, the time he was on line etc. My instict warned me from the beggining, from the very first moment. But, I was feeling so bad about myself, I was from a bad marriage, that I said ok, let me give him a chance. The most strange incident though, which made me decide never ask him why he changed his behaviour towards me, was this : Some days before our break up I asked him to interrupt our communication (although I was dying inside hoping that something will change in him) and he tried to persuade me not to. Next days he was pressing me to meet him, so I agreed. We agreed to meet in a specific dark spot, because I was still during divorce proceedure and I didn’t want my children see me meet with anybody before I officialy let them know. He waited for me in a spot full of lights, like he wanted everybody to see me. I asked him why and he told me that he did that in order for me to see him which is very strange, because I waited for him in the place that we agreed. and I couldn’t have missed him. This minute I thought that he was not that clever anyway, but I didn’t know about narcissism by then. This strange thing was a huge flag. Probably he was trying to punish me. After that intimate night he texted me for one or two days and I stopped responding him because I felt sick with him, and had a strange feeling that everything between us was a control game. I hate being controled. He gave me silent treatment and I gave it back! My self esteem was crowling like a snake in the ground but I decided to keep my head high and until today when I see him I behave like nothing ever happened between us. The other thing I did, with much pain and efford, was to try and keep this beautiful self of mine alive, the person in me I saw through him. To become the lovable one, the one on the pedestal, in order nobody else ever takes advantage of me like that, which he did with my permission anyway. After 5 months I still miss him, but so be it, I believe that someday I will forget and forgive. Forget him, forgive me.
I started researching different disorders because the man that I was dating did not seem normal with his connection or his concern about anything we went through. I have known him on a personal level for a decade. I never felt that he loved me at all because he didn’t shown emotion or even concern with anything that would emotionally endure. I lost contact with him for almost a year and it was the worst mistake ever to with him again as a boyfriend. I have been sick trying to recover from injuries endured from a car accident. I was in the hospital about ten or more times.In 2018 he asked me to start dating on a series level. I told him only if he’s single because I do not want to be involved with anyone that is seeing another woman. We started dating exlusivley, I thought. At first we would get together and meet up at the park or he would come to my home. That was short lived because he started going days without contacting me. If I questioned why he havent contacted me. He would not even answer the question of why,but he would blow it off as if the question was not asked. Every day, he would withdraw from me more no matter how much I questioned him or brought it up. With every passing day I started feeling worse because Ive never experienced anyone like him. In July I was put in the hospital because they said I was showing signs of having a stroke. Not only did he not visit me,but I was out of the hospital before I heard anything from him. I actually text him and his reply was “Are you still in the hospital”? I was so tired and mentally confused putting up with him the way he was is all I could do. He came to visit me probably a week after that,but I felt just as bad when he left. I know everytime he leaves out my door, tomorrow is going to be even worse. He still wouldn’t visit me regularly or had plans to do so. He continued to say he’s spending time with his mom because she’s ill. The thing which was difficult to understand is he could fly out of town for business or personal,but he didn’t have time to see me when he was in town,because his mom was sick. Things got worse in August his son was killed during a drug deal gone wrong. I wanted to be the girlfriend that support him even though my reality was he’s wasnt including me in anything. I saw it clear,but I thought he was just so stressed that I was an after thought. He visited me on Monday,five days before his sons funeral. We talked and I was discussing me attending the funeral. He said ‘ Im not sure if I’m attending the funeral”. He said ” I cannot go to funerals of people that I love”. He said to me ” I couldn’t attend your funeral if you died”. Well, on that Wednesday I started getting calls from my family members. On his son Obituary was another woman which he was engaged to. I called him immedietely almost having a panic attack. This is what he said to me ” I don’t care who get mad because her name is on the Obituary its not going to change”. He also said to me “I didn’t do anything to cause you pain, the people that are calling you is the one’s causing you pain”. He did not care at all about the pain or embarrasment that he caused me. He went to funeral and his fiance was beside him for support. This was the part that told me I was dealing with evil at its finest. He told me “You, knew that I had someone anyway”, he wanted to convince me that I was losing my mind. This man is scary and the things Ive endured did not phase him. He said ” A name on an Obituary don’t mean anything, thats just paper”. I have panic attacks just thinking about some of the things that I could’t explain, but after reading Savannah’s article it all became clear. You saved me Savanah because I wanted God to take me because I thought I was going crazy. Every day gets a little better and positive reinforcement to my negative thoughts is my best friend.
Omgosh – this is a play by play account of the entire relationship with my ex boyfriend (who I work with and still do unfortunately). We started talking as friends online and at work and at the time I was very unhappy in my marriage. This guy was so understanding, I could talk to him about anything and we ‘clicked’, I thought he was amazing and he said the same to me. In fact, he said everything I wanted and needed to hear. After a couple of weeks of this intense connection I left my partner. Fast forward a few months and the relationship with this new person went through the exact cycle you’ve described. I ignored my gut feeling, all the red flags but long story short, I recently caught him red handed online sexting with another woman. We were in an ‘out’ stage of the relationship as he said he’s not good enough for me and too broken to be of any use to me.
We had agreed to be friends and see each other without any intimacy. But he’s been on a ‘hook up’ dating site the entire time we’ve been together. He showed no remorse when I confronted him, in fact was angry at me for catching him out, probably because it wasn’t the ending he had in his plan. I work with this man and am trying to put into practice the ‘grey rock’ technique but it’s an emotional rollercoaster at times. I’m determined to be strong and heal myself. I tell myself he is damaged and will live in the hell his mind is, and that’s his journey in life. Thank you for this article. It’s helped immensely.
I was contacted by a man who saw me on a singles page on facebook. His story seemed plausible, intelligent , accomplished…….. but shortly in, the red flags started. Fortunately for me, I have PTSD from a Narcissist, so I was open with my friends about this whole situation… wondered if it was cat fishing.
He had to leave the country for work before we could meet. -I immediately had him investigated. He WAS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH ANY OF THE INFO HE GAVE ME.
Now the games really began but with my eyes wide open and calling him out on his actions openly.. Love bombing, vague references to needing money but he would be taking care of me when he got back, wanting me to be patient….being supportive of reworking on my business.
But I called him unexpectedly and his foreign accent was a bit off when he picked up the phone in a dead sleep……
I gave him the 2 weeks he said he would need before he could return. At the end, he sent an itinerary for when he was arriving and called as he boarded. Never heard from him after that….
But that was when my old reaction set in. First I tore him new buttholes. Then I was nicer and explained why this was affecting me… knowing he didn’t care, but needing to see my own pain expressed.
Fortunately my computer needed clearing for space etc (Thank God)and I found this article.
MOSTLY ALL BETTER NOW. My last email asked him why he needs to do this and does he even know that he has a problem. But that I do know that he does. We never met face to face, so extricating myself is just a matter of getting, my own self, back to not depending on someone else to help me with my business.
Thank you and the funniest thing is that the first grey movie is on tv,
I will build my new business on my own. And it is centered on biochemistry of the brain.
This really sounds like Catfishing to me. That is people that live in foreign countries looking for someone to scam financially. They feign a love interest and keep coming up with excuse after excuse of why they can’t get to you and they subtly let slip that they need money.
I have one hang up that I read over and over again a lot about a narcissist. That they isolate you from family and friends. Mine didn’t do this. He wanted me to spend time with others so he had time to text other women, investigate or plot, play games, etc. My N was very very covert. I’ve tried finding an identical story and can’t really. So much matches him but there are some things he did that I can’t find to read about anywhere in the toxic or cluster b type articles online by victims or professionals.
Nikki you’re absolutely right. After the initial cycle – they will blow hot and cold and ghost you.They are always on the hunt. They aren’t really in the relationship but they won’t let go of you either.
Nikki- mine was like that also. He did not isolate me either, he wanted his time so he could do things he didn’t think I would find out about.
I’ve left him. I love him. I feel like I’m dying inside….
I know.. I know. It’s awful that we don’t realize the type of relationship we are in has been doing things beneath surface, our brain chemicals and nervous system have been busy at work being manipulated while we are trying to manage the day to day feelings and thoughts we have about hurting so badly and at the same time the only thing that will make it feel better is to be in the arms of the very person who is hurting us. It is SO confusing and the most painful thing I’ve ever gone through.
Keeping busy so that tome passes helps. Don’t allow yourself to dwell. It’s torture.
Tell yourself that as hard as it is to believe at the moment, what you loved really is a false self that he portrayed. It wasn’t real, as real as it felt to you.
I STILL, knowing this, find myself saying “well maybe he isn’t ALL the way narcissisticly disordered, or maybe he only has SOME sociopathic traits, and that the experiences I had intimately with him, and all of those expressions and words of love, adoration, and cherishing me were heart felt.
The hard truth is that most likely not.
What was going on in his head wasn’t anything that was going on in mine.
When you do think of him and the past, try to remember conversations or experiences where he dropped a grain of truth in the middle of it all, and it sounded like it went with what you were saying or he was saying, and it seemed like he was feeling what you were feeling, but he wasn’t.
I remember first meeting my N, he would come over all the time, so excited to see me. He would call and say “Yes I’m finishing up and then I’m heading to your place babe, heading to Nikkiland!” And he’s chuckle.
I thought it was so sweet that he considered my place like a fun and carefree place to be…. that’s what I thought he meant.
In hindsight, he had told his friends how great the sex was and all I did for him. And that was a lot of what we did. “Nikkiland” And his chuckle took on a whole new meaning when I had all the pieces.
It was never what I thought from the start. I was too busy thinking he was thinking and feeling everything I was just because he told me that.
When he was left without being able to “add-on” to my conversation or statement of just anything, and was left to have to speak from his own thoughts and beliefs, he had very little to say of any depth that was outside of sarcasm and crude jokes. A lot of repeating and regurgitating what I had said to him.
He was and is an extremely broken man that became paranoid and deluded, partially from his own thoughts, and partially by a couple of equally if not more disturbed characters that were friends of his- just manipulating each other and spinning in circles while anyone who tries to get involved with them get hurt, blamed, and told they are the abusive violent ones. And sadly their minds really think that. The way their mind works is that they make up so many things in their mind about you, they start looking for anything to fit that regardless of how absurd. They then manufacture circumstances to make it fit.
Their minds are broken. And it hurts like hell to hear they are broken irrepairably.
You want so much for them have the character, integrity, and values they said they did, and they just don’t.
Please tell yourself that it doesn’t get better, and don’t go back and/or stick around until it all implodes or explodes. Because those are the two endings and only two endings when you are with someone like this. And you will be the one left shattered, and if he’s sadistic or sociopathic at all, he will do anything to hurt you, false police reports, false restraining orders, have you inprisoned, anything he can do to prove you are the bad person and not him. Especially if you find him out and he knows you did. The real them comes out quickly and you will feel what it’s like to know the black soul that lives behind the mask.
I try to keep this one in my thoughts. “It’s not necessary for you to understand why someone does what they do. You don’t need to analyze it to death. All you have to recognize is that it’s not what you want and that you’re not happy. That’s all you need to walk away.”.
Getting stronger every day. Keeping busy, doing things I ENJOY, and learning to be ok with being single.
Hi Nikki, do you live in italy by any chance? Please contact me if you can
My first thought when I began reading your post was, ‘when is an ommision not a lie?’
For years I battled with this one. He would omit the truth, therefore, not telling an out and out lie. When I called him on it, he would take a step back (I can still see it) look indignant and aggressively, in my face, ask me if I was calling him a liar? No bigger insult than being called a liar, apparently! He did lie and continues to do so. It’s in disguised forms. I was too afraid of him and the consequences of leaving, we had three children. In spite of the fact I would rant and rave, he knew I would give in…I was by this time a mental catastrophy, I knew I couldn’t cope on my own and give the best to our children, so I stayed. Unfortunately, I can’t go no contact but am getting there little by little whilst enduring listening to what a wonderful life he has. I am being helped by an amazing association who, through their ‘normality’ are helping me see things for what they are and reminding me that in spite of him (and perhaps this was what he couldn’t understand, I continued to invest my energy in bringing up our children well. Nope, oh dear, all the attention wasn’t on him. In fact the opposite because, he should have been shoulder to shoulder with me looking after our children, not sucking all the attention) I’m not jealous because I don’t believe him. I do feel sad, sorry for him, sorry for us, it could have been exceptional. Friggin idiot!
An absolutely RIGHT ON article. Well written and the absolute truth. If you get into a relationship with one of these people, RUN!!
yes, I agree with everyone else. I am finally ending an almost 6 year relationship with a narcissist scumbag, liar, piece of s***. Luckily this has gone on so long I feel nothing now. I could smack him in the face if I saw him, but I’ll be the bigger person…as usual. I was married to one so I should have ended it much earlier. He’s also bipolar and an alcoholic. Good riddance to bad trash. I won’t even go into the details of his abuse for the last 6 years. Obviously he thought I was an idiot. If you see any of the traits in the article, don’t walk, RUN!!
Thank you for the reminder, Savannah. I’ve been free of mine for four years and am very wary now.
How are you? We had several Skype talkings and I can tell the healing process took a lot but now I feel really well..
I want to write to tell everyone how much good we can become as recovering codependent. In ricognizing the red flags.
It took me 3 weeks now.
I met him in a dinner with friends , he’s an artist I’m a gallerist .
He loved bombed me , with flowers and poems , everything perfect.
One day I met him with my 12 yers old son ( first time ) during an art exhibition . He not only ignored my son but called me right back to know if I liked the way HE was dressing…
Second red flag : the more time we spent together the more he speaks about his job and -of course How can I introduce him to power people in this world. We had a major fight because I refused to give the mobile n of one important client.
After that all his love diminishing , and he started pool away saying that he was very busy .. he deseappered and then came back.
I observed his behavior for a couple of weeks just to check all the above points you Savannah described in your post. Checking completed!! I left without internalizing . Because he’s the sick one nothing will be the same anymore .we all know! Big success for a real sick codependent like I was!!
Hahaha, well done!
Savannah – I have been reading your articles for several years now. You are as good as it gets and this article is just so accurate in terms of my experience that it feels like you were watching my 20 year marriage with a serial cheater who made me think I was crazy for thinking she could ever do such a thing. Gaslighting in steroids. Thank you for validating my feelings, and helping me get up again.
My ex-husband to a tee!!!
Hi Savannah, this article has hit the nail directly on the head so to speak. It is incredible how you are so blessed with such deep insight, and the ability to sum up narcissistic behavior as perfectly as you did in this article.
I have lived through every single one of these stages. Every single one! From the love bombing to the discard, which has caused me to live in my own emotional hell…still having my bad days. This mentally/emotionally diseased person that I’ve dated for 14 months played with my my mind like a fiddle. In the beginning, he promised marriage, living together and vacations. Then I noticed that his actions were not matching up to his words. And in the, end he told me that he could not love me the way that I wanted to be loved. Yes, this is the same man who wanted to marry me and told me endless times just how much he loved me. This was just 2 weeks before he ghosted me. This happened in early April. I’ve blocked him since that time and there has been No Contact between the both of us.
I never knew people like those existed until I googled some of his traits and found out that he fits the mold of someone with a personality disorder. Even though I am still in pain, I know deep inside that the ghosting was the best thing. More than likely, he has found himself another victim. At the end of the the day, I know that he will never be happy, since he is devoid of real emotions…..unless it is self serving. He is soulless. An empty shell of a man.
Savannah; Another great narc article. I have often desired that not only in ‘romantic & love’ narc relationships, you might include or mention that in new, ongoing, or ended ‘regular’ friendships, non romantic, we also get a lot of narcs coming into our lives who have very similar traits similar to the romantic narcs. As a straight man, I’ve had many male narcs become my ‘friends’ and then I have trouble down the road, it gets bad, then worse, and I go no contact. These narc ‘friends’ have very similar traits, and I often see in your narc articles many things that they have also done. But it’s kind of weird when I have to discount the romance part of narc articles. Would love to see you also write about ‘friendship narcissists’ Maybe you have already, but the romantic narc articles seem prevalent. Heck, I could write some long stories about really bad narc’s disguised as friends. One got so bad, I had to go no contact. Toward the end, I nicknamed him ‘Dracula’ Another one I sold an investment property to him across the street on an owner carry note (I’m playing bank) He started out such a good friend, called me a lot, get together visits, then things slowly deteriorated into him missing & forgetting things, odd behavior, some quick rude disrespectful comments on the phone. He would promise to help me with a few things, then forget, and then profusely apologize with his head hanging low in shame. Really long story short, after a long painful struggle of watching him slowly go to the dark side, and me going no contact, then him stopping payments on his home loan note to me, it was slowly revealed to me that he is a compulsive gambling addict. I’ve watched a once great friend & decent hard working neighbor, become a broke low life bum, and it was a great joy & relief when I was able to start the foreclosure process. It’s really ugly out my main window view seeing everyday him coming & going, strange people coming & going, the water & electric has been turned off & on about eight times in only 7 months. The reason I write this is that looking back since I first knew him, he has displayed maybe 70% or 80% of the narc traits that you write about. Thanks for having a comment section, and I really enjoy your fine articles 🙂
Hey Jeff: I have probably 300+ blogs I’ve written her several on friendships and work relationships. Check out one entitled the day I broke up with my best friend. It’s not easier. I think it’s harder to break up with a friend than a partner because you always expect your friends to be there.
Carrie, I keep going over the same ground, it’s pointless and your words have just put it into perspective. They sound very grounded, I don’t feel it but it’s really good to keep in mind and I’ll try to hold onto them. Thank you x
Another great article, and would have been my experience had I not been through my own therapy (mom is a narc), and done my own work and got myself to a place that allowed me to walk away (twice) in about a 6 month period of time. I consider myself very lucky. I know people personally, and in reading the comments on your blog as well as others, others have been through far, far worse and in some cases, now have to co-parent with their ex-narc, meaning they really can’t go no-contact (and it’s blissful once you get over the first few weeks of missing them).
This article really does probably describe about 95% of narc relationships (of a romantic nature, it’s a bit different when it’s a parent but not any less abusive or destructive). I know without a doubt that, had I not walked away, my relationship would have followed the exact same pattern. That relationship, however, helped me understand my mother much better (from whom I was estranged at the time), and the relationship, coupled with my therapy over the years (on and off), helped me reconcile with my mother after an almost 10 year estrangement. In fact, I went to visit her in CA for a week (in June) and it was all good. Had I not had that relationship, I really don’t think I would have been able to reconcile with her (at least not at this stage of my life).
I came out of my relationship (a term I use very loosely to describe what it was), mercifully brief though it was, a very different person emotionally. I came out of it with a much better understanding of my own dependency issues, an understanding of my mother that had eluded me (even with therapy) that enabled a reconciliation, and an empowerment I don’t think I could have achieved without having had that experience. Many people won’t understand this, but my therapist explained it (I won’t explain it here – I’d probably lose a lot in the translation but I totally got what he was saying years after he’d said it) – why having that relationship helped me heal another relationship …
There really is a better life waiting for you post-narc, and you are far stronger and more resilient than you realize. And if that’s not enough, if YOU do the leaving, you will cause a narcissistic injury the likes of which you can’t imagine. I’m not about revenge – I left because I was unhappy and refused to tolerate the bullshit. But if you want to hurt them back – leave them. They’ll never get over it (I don’t care how many come after you, and there will be plenty). It’s a wonderfully empowering feeling and in the long run, you’ll be beyond grateful that you were the one who walked away.
Thanks for another great article Savannah.
My narc is finally someone else’s problem. On and off for 6 years the trouble was so bad that I lost all my friends. The lies are now laughable but I believed him for almost 6 years. We separated and he immediately found another widow who was wealthy. ( I am also a widow) he moved in with her while maintaining contact with me. Said she was “just” a roommate. OMG the man married her and posted on FB and when I called him to ask if it was true he LIED to me and screamed (which is another way I knew he was lying) that he had not married that “b@#$%ch!* Can you even imagine he wanted to string me along so that when the other woman found out about his problem he would have a fall back position. He hasn’t worked in a year and he totally uses her money to live. Pathetic!! Then comes crying to me when she calls him “less than a man”? He is dangerous and I could not be happier to finally be distanced from him.. however, it was not easy and I was addicted. I am not any longer and it feels so wonderful. There is meaning to life.
My suggestion is just like everyone else’s is to Run- not walk* from this type of human being they will bring you to your knees and stomp on your heart and head! Stay away!
When I first started reading about this particular mental disorder I had thought it was just about “looking good” or always wanting to be the center of attention. What I know now and what I have read it is a true mental disorder and they can not change…EVER! I thought I could change him to the point I thought God and put him into my life to “help” him. After 6 years I realized God would not do this to me. That was my awakening. Good luck to all that are trying to recover from this insidious “disease”. Your life will change for the better.
“They will convince you that your reaction to the abuse is the problem and not the abuse itself.” Gosh, Savannah, this is so exactly what happened to me with the narcissist I lived with for three years and growing up with my father. So well written. So true to my experience. As I read I realized my landlady does this, too! Its amazing how the patterns of abuse work so well in so many circumstances. After a year and a few months of being on tenterhooks, getting some nice feedback and then being told I must move out, then no, its ok. Then now she won’t fix things and it is my fault for having a need like a broken heater. Its that toxic intermittent reinforcement that is so fraught with anxiety and stress. I see the pattern now and am so grateful that I can see it. When I am told that if I have a problem I AM the problem I am starting to see that the gaslighting has begun. You always help me so much. I am gradually getting better and better at not participating in these toxic patterns. And this weekend I have decided to leave. The cute place is not worth it!
Yes, Debbie you are right. NO ONE can help them (don’t even try) only God can. The disorder is truly scary. Most would think it’s just a bad relationship and tell you to get over it, but it is truly a different type of relationship (even if it is with friends like this). RUN!
I wish I had had access to this kind of material much earlier in my life. It would have saved me a lot of time and heartache and saved what semblance of self esteem I had. After giving up on relationships I accidentally found someone wonderful, a reciprocal loving healthy relationship. We’ve been together many many years now. Still wonderful. Thanks for sharing your wisdom on this issue.
I’ve read many of your articles over the past few years. It took me longer than I ever imagined to disconnect completely from the narc I knew–we worked in the same office, which is an easy environment for a narc to play out all of their junk–and make their target look like the crazy one. The game changer for me was a job lay-off. The amount of emotional energy it takes to deal with one of these types is beyond words–definitely a personality disorder. I’ve since realized I’ve dated narcs most of my life. I am so thankful there are people/professionals like you getting the word out – there are so many suffering through this who know something is off with the person they are dating but they just can’t figure it out. No contact. Move forward and don’t look back. They need help and only God can help them.
This is exactly, stage by stage what happened to me. I was unhappily married, the neighbor was always making little gestures and eye contact with me. One night my husband was out of town and the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number so I thought I better pick it up in case my husband was hurt. It was the neighbor. He new my husband was gone. We talked for awhile about basic stuff and all along I didn’t want to be rude but was thinking “is my husband putting him up to this to see if I do something?”. We said good-bye and it seemed innocent enough but the next day the texts kept coming one after another all day long. He kept asking if he could stop by and I said no. This went on for three days and all along he filled my head with hopes and dreams and that he had been waiting for me for five years to get divorced and just could not wait any longer! This article is exactly my life for three years. I went through with the divorce after him convincing me I had married the wrong man, that he was my soul mate and I would never need or want anything ever again. I lost the house I had put my blood sweat and tears into. I lost my husband who in reality after comparing him to that psycho was the best thing that ever happened to me and I didn’t get to see my only son for 2 years only half of that time. It was insane and the games he played were non-stop! So bad that my head would pound every day trying to keep up with them all or one step ahead because I started to learn his behavior patterns. I was proposed to by this narc several times and two rings later all the while being led on and pulled away from over and over. I moved in and back out two times with the longest time being only four months! He kept in contact with his other ex’s including his wife and told me there is nothing wrong with have friends that are girls! He went out of town for work and went to bars and got so drunk he would have to leave his truck there and have other workers drive him back to the hotel. He would go to the bar as soon as I left town to visit my mom. But to everyone around us he was a nice single wealthy guy because he made sure he kept his dirty laundry a secret and was so convincing if anyone slandered him that it was useless. His relatives are the only ones that really know him and I felt that when they were around us. He is 53 now and I know he is still doing the same exact thing and I feel so sorry for the women he is doing this to now. He is a monster in the worst way and I think about it still after 3 years because he nearly destroyed me. My health was to the point I looked like a skeleton and I lost about half my hair from the stress he put me under. Luckily I made it out. I consider myself pretty tough mentally and he definitely broke me, but not enough that I couldn’t save myself. I come from a long line of tough women and he had his fun with me but he lost in the end and is still losing every single day because he has no idea what a truly good life really is.
This is also my story to the letter …. I am in psychiatric practitioner and I spent exhaustive hours researching Narcissistic Personality Disorder … they are sad people with complex pathology stemming no doubt from some childhood abuse. Once you’ve encountered this and got caught up in their dysfunction, you won’t let it happen again. You know the signs and they are the flags you learn to look for early in the relationship. The writer commented that “when someone doesn’t want you walk away and close the door! Just do it with all your might …. remind yourself over and over while you are closing the door … he doesn’t want you …. dig down find your power and NEVER stay with someone who doesn’t want you. This is critical to remember. It helped me to pull myself out … the one truth I always followed was to never stay with someone that didn’t love you. Its a truth that allows you to maintain objectivity in the face of great heartache … I always held that truth, that my self worth would always follow that rule. It forces you to go, to let go, to move on and feel your power again so in your heartache you find a new depth of strength and it pushes you forward … just keep saying …. “I will never be with someone who doesn’t love me, who doesn’t respect me.” Blessings!
Wow this sounds exactly like my story!!!! Doesn’t happen to be from MO does he?
I’m so glad you fought to get yourself back! It took me almost 2 more years to feel more like myself and still I know I’ll never be the same. I count my lucky stars that my husband is still in my world despite all the pain and suffering I have had him endure .. I wish these people could be outed in some serious way!
This pattern described is an exacting perfect summary. I still cannot describe the complexity that happened with the covert version of this pattern. Some of them have a supernatural ability to hide the game and appear as a true Self. Its as if their mastery of having the false self resonating with their true self is so harmonious and seamless that we (nor they) can detect the truth. This makes for a long slow deeper and more thorough loss of our power, identity and self worth with no sense of truth of self. Perhaps that is part of the heart break so hard to heal…. we have become like them in their confusion except we have no base to stand on and no immediate tools to cope with the new place we find ourselves in without years of preparation or compensating strategies they had. Did they just pull us to their level? To experience what they have been suffering. I will not join that club ever again…
This was my relationship to a T for nearly 2 years. I never thought “i” would allow someone to do this to me I was married 25 years – that was his pull, he knew I would put up with alot. And I was 55 when we met, really the games at this age.
Yes it did destroy me, the stages you mention above were all played out. I at first thought he was a player, which I despised but some how was attracted to the bad boy, and yes he wanted ME!
My story is long, but when I finally hit rock bottom, when my family had enough cause they couldn’t help, when I didn’t get a raise at work because I had a “bad” year, when I couldn’t eat and was in bed from depression – i finally googled something he was doing and BAM – here is where I finally found answers, I was not crazy. I read EVERYTHING and my aha moment came quickly. This is how I found your site as well.
So I found out what I was dealing with and I walked away, went no contact and that was it? Nope I was addicted to the drug alright and now going back, he treated me worst that ever, it was gradual, but he squeezed all he could out of me. The man is 56 and never has been married or in a serious relationship. He is a pig – yet the surprising part is he does have is”group” of friends that he shows this other side. They see some of his erratic behavior but for some reason put up with it, well honestly they meet a few times a year at beach resorts and party and he pays.
He knew I had his number, but funny he wanted me to. He left all the clues to have me find him out. It was brilliant. As I read in many articles the tears he sobbed were award winning, but now I see him as pathetic. I saw him last September – we live in FlA on the gulf coast and he called me to say I need to evacuate come to his mom’s house inland. Hmm, did he care? I went as I needed to go somewhere but as soon as I walked in I knew he did not want to be alone taking care of his mom during a hurricane. I left the next morning in a storm when I should not have been driving to get home.
My biggest problem is because I am changing and growing, I think surely others are. They are not. After my 25 year marriage I met a man I dated for 3 years, same thing but he was a kind narc. We even married , but when I saw he wasn’t working and I was paying for him, that ended in a year, oh and he didn’t want to live with me, he kept his house so he could have his play time. We would talk from time to time, and you know what same thing – he is still the same and he is 62. In the small dingy house across the street from his brothers. He was dating a woman seriously for years, and came crying to me that they broke up and kissed me. I contacted her and he was exposed.
I will never be treated like that. The past year and a half have been me alone, healing.
You are not alone.
I too have been in a bipolar type of relationship witha narcissist for almost 11 years.
We cycled in and out, again and again. together and apart. Oh my God! Did you hear what “I ” did?
I was the greatest, most loved, to a piece of trash in 6-9 months for 11 years. I was the most blamed, the bad guy. And when she had done this to another I was again, her fall back sucker. She knew i would be there for her.
I would bail her out,support her again, emotionally, spiritually,financially. and legally. She couldn’t stop her self.
She surrounds her self with a family who take advantage of this, and who do only things to egg her on into further problems. In the last 6 mo. we’ve been separated, she has $15,000.00 in charge card problem.
And of the lies and story telling, its unbelievable. We are in our early 60’s. Bi polar and narcissist are a dangerous people.
My words to you, i send comfort that you have been saved from this, with open eyes. as have I.
Healing means to be and see through this. It has been a long and overdue awakening for me.
Good luck, and God Bless you.
She’s right, I’m wrong, I’m sorry.