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My Friend is Married to a Narcissist – To Tell or Not May 12, 2013

Posted by alwaysjan in Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
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I had to laugh when I saw this. It’s available through Zazzle.

I’m afraid I’ve been hunkered down in the trenches at school, so it’s been a while since I’ve posted. But, this week a discussion started up about the wisdom of telling a friend that they’re married to a narcissist.

Some of my regular commenters dished up a serving of humble pie and some things to consider before you speak the truth. As someone who’s been known to put both feet in my mouth, I can appreciate their reluctance to say yah or nay before you take this very big step.

When someone is involved with any emotional abuser (whether he/she be a narcissist or not), especially during the Idealization Phase, that adrenaline rush, the feeling that this person is The One, my soulmate, is overpowering. There can be a zillion Red Flags a flyin’, but the person will just put on their rose-tinted glasses, so those Red Flags fade into the background. Any mention of the N’s faults or quirky/odd behaviors will usually be explained away. The person “in love” with the N is telling you what they’ve been told. They want so badly to believe this is real. Even if the situation is clearly dodgy, they’re often convinced that contrary to all that’s happened before, they are the exception to the rule. Their love will cure all. If only.

One commenter last year had a neighbor whose husband fit the bill. There were children involved and she knew this woman’s life was miserable. But what to do? Talk to her face to face?  Leave an article about narcissism in her mailbox?

Let’s face it. Most of us don’t appreciate unsolicited advice, no matter how well intended. Even when someone is telling us the truth, our natural inclination is to become defensive. We perceive the advice as a judgement, an intrusion. How dare someone presume to tell us what’s going on in OUR life! And what do you know about this disorder? Since when are you an authority? I think you might actually be the one with the problem!

I do believe in many cases the person you’re telling already knows that the person they are with is damaged. Something is amiss. But they’ve been living in denial, often because they can think of no alternative or are reliving a dysfunctional childhood dynamic. It might be ugly, but it’s familiar.

So, let’s say you DO tell someone they’ve been sharing their bed with a no-good narcissist. If you think their eyes are going to light up and they’ll say, “OMG, that’s it! That explains so much. Thank you for figuring out what’s wrong with my life. Now, I’m off to call a divorce attorney. Can you watch the kids while I start packing?,” I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.

More likely than not, you’ll be told to mind your own business.”You know your life isn’t so perfect either?” You can expect to be shut out of this person’s life altogether. More likely, they’ll shoot the messenger and bury you in a shallow grave after they delete you as a facebook friend.

Maybe though, you’ve planted a seed? Maybe after your friend/neighbor calms down, they’ll google narcissism? Maybe. But don’t count on it.

I wouldn’t have the same trepidation telling someone new on the scene that a certain someone is bad news. Of course, it helps if you don’t appear to be speaking as the jilted ex. I believe if you speak from a place of honesty and wisdom, it is possible to “warn” someone. Whether that warning will be heeded is anyone’s guess, but at least you tried.

On some level, I believe those who’ve had a Close Encounter with a Narcissist want to spare others the pain. Sometimes it’s for selfish reasons. We really are afraid that the Narcissist will find happiness with someone else, but of course, this is only an illusion. We’ve seen through the Narcissist’s bag of tricks and want to expose them for who they really are/aren’t. I realize it’s natural to want to warn others, but at the same time you want to avoid looking like the crazy one. It’s a fine line to walk.

If you see a child playing on the train tracks and the headlights of an oncoming train, do you hesitate?  In this instance, I do think we have a moral obligation to speak the truth as we know it. The results might not be what we expected, but we at least we were true to ourselves.

If you’re reading this, I’m curious as to whether anyone DID say anything to you. If not, what could someone have said that might have helped? Or maybe nothing anyone said could have changed the course of what was to come next. You had to learn the hard way.

Thoughts?

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Comments»

1. Catherine Sherman - May 12, 2013

It’s a tough call to make. A person married to an N can’t easily walk away. But if this friend is asking for advice, it might be helpful to point out some of the N traits and how to deal with them, even if you don’t label the spouse as an N. Hopefully, the friend doesn’t kill the messenger. Since Ns can’t be cured, it’s a bad situation. You can’t say, “cut your losses and get out now,” can you?

After I complained about a long-time friend’s increasingly terrible behavior, my husband told me that this friend sounded like a Narcissist. I was surprised that he had given it any thought, because he rarely discusses people’s personalities or motives. After he made that “diagnosis,” he dropped the subject. I looked up the definition and was surprised to see that my friend exhibited many of the NPD traits. I was able to deal with her much more easily, which mostly consisted of backing away whenever she behaved badly. This was a little before the time you started writing about Narcissism, so your writing was incredibly helpful. The timing was also fortuitous. And not just with dealing with Narcissists, but with people in general. Many of us have a little N that threatens to rear its ugly head from time to time.

Cathy,
I do remember how your friend’s behavior had you wondering what on earth was going on. And I remember how your husband’s comment on narcissism sent you off to read up on this disorder. I’m afraid the people who knew the N I came in contact with had rather limited contact with him – no one really got up close, so they didn’t get the D&D that I was “treated” to. They just thought he was an a$$hole, never knowing that he had a personality disorder. I think the most freeing thing about reading about Narcissistic Personality Disorder is to understand that it can NOT be cured. This allows you to give up any notion of a “cure” and move on. Jan

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2. Mark - May 12, 2013

Sugest you read the following: The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists, The Unfoldment and The Untethered Soul just for starters. I was with a woman for 7+ years and after the engagement ring I was discarded. Never knew I had an expiration date. I take responsibility for filling the supply lines, but I thought this woman truly loved me. They are simply not capable of feeling anything. As Jan told me, “She’s a pretty package wrapped around and an empty box of human being.” How true that was. And be alert to “empathetic failure” as it is a very true signal you’ve been trapped by a true N. Good luck. I know it hurts but it does get better because it’s really a blessing to be set free. And per Jan’s advice, employ the no contact rule because they take great satisfaction from toying with you as they attempt to reel you back in. The amazing thing is, she’s angry with me!

Mark,
The “anger” is merely her projecting her own emotions onto you. I do believe that the lack of empathy was for me was what I found most troubling. It does get better with time and understanding, which you’re finding out. Best of luck! Jan

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3. Lynette d'Arty-Cross - May 12, 2013

A good friend of mine – a therapist – decided to tell me that in her professional opinion, I had married a narcissist (she hadn’t spotted any symptoms of narcissism before we were married – he was very adept at hiding them). I was nothing but grateful – I was finally getting a sensible explanation for why the man I had married suddenly became a totally different person within days after our wedding. She ( along with the therapist she had recommended to me) was also instrumental in helping me to extricate myself from that “relationship” and through the fallout. Sometimes, the messenger is thanked! great post, btw! :)

Lynn,
How lucky you were. As you say, Ns can be very good at hiding their true nature even from a trained therapist/psychologist/doctor. I have one friend who was told by a friend that the man she was involved with was a narcissist or possibly a sociopath. This woman was a close friend and had been married to a psychopath, so her observations were invaluable. Another friend was talking to her cousin who’d gone into therapy due to her marriage. Her cousin confided that the therapist thought her husband was a narcissist. When she ticked off the traits, my friend realized it was HER husband she was describing. Jan

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4. Tim - May 12, 2013

I think if you put on rose-colored glasses, red flags would naturally fade because of light physics.

I believe you know this because you’re wearing a pair. LOL A, Jan

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5. renetia - May 12, 2013

I posted an article to someone I know, highlighted all the important parts. I don’t know what came of it, but I hope it hit home. I would like to know why do people get more than one child from a narcissist? Didn’t they learn their lesson after the first time?

Renetia,
You did what you could. This is what I view as “planting the seed.” Maybe sometime down the line, the article will be reread and of help. Regarding children, my SIL had eight children with a N. She thought that by providing the perfect family, he would finally appreciate/love her? The only real love she received in the marriage was from her children, so that kept her going. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s why we refer to their behavior as “crazy making.” Jan

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6. CVL - May 12, 2013

My sister tried to tell me once that there was something wrong with my husband, I told her to back off. Many years after, I finally realized I was being horridly abused. I left the marriage 5 months ago and I’m starting to live again. My experience; it was hard to accept others telling me I was in a rotten relationship, I just woke up one day and found myself wasting away. There’s always hope, turn and walk away, it’s the only way to start living again.

Happy Mother’s day btw, it’s the best mother’s day I’ve had…away from my tormentor! ;-)

Happy Mother’s Day to you! Yes, everyone told my SIL that her husband was emotionally abusive. After 14 years and eight children, she could take it no more. It had also become increasingly obvious that her ex was an indifferent father.
Sometimes, just as with any addiction, you have to hit bottom before you can see your way out of a situation. Congratulations on moving forward toward the light.
Jan

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7. lesley - May 12, 2013

I wouldn’t have listened. After it was all done and dusted, one woman came to me and apologised for not saying something sooner about his track record….it helped to put things in context.

She had no need to apologise though….I would have rationalised her warnings away(particularly early in the relationship)… I was intent on seeing his awful behaviour as the result of ‘faulty attachment’ in childhood,something I could manage or that could have been changed?
I think that getting over a Narc is a combination of accepting the absolute incurability of a cluster B Narcissism disorder and being prepared to do the work on yourself….that is…why did you enable this person into your life/or why did you stay in the relationship?
Both this acceptance and introspection can only be done by you….a messenger may open the floodgates but you yourself have to mop up the mess?
Les

Les,
As always, so aptly put! The prognosis for someone with NPD is so utterly bleak that you’d have to be crazy to continue on in a relationship with a N. Indeed, we need to do the hard work of mopping up the mess and understanding our part in it. Always, Jan

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8. bettylaluna - May 12, 2013

Nothing quite like the ‘ownership’ of learning from experience hey?…Personally I too believe it’s futile to try to help someone through the rose colored glasses phase, it’s just how this thing works…you’ll be labeled bitter, the enemy, jealous, EVERYTHING but walking in clarity…maybe just make a note to be there when she falls, whether it’s two years or two decades eventually depletion and misery takes it’s course…I personally think that is what’s behind the Zombie agenda, but that’s just me…great article! Thank you for the work you do…bit by bit each of us who have survived this have much to offer those who are in need of the support, everyone comes to their own truth in their own time…I clearly remember the days I’d be so good at justifying and defending the crap I was surrounded by…you couldn’t tell ME it wasn’t chocolate…UNTIL…at some point you either end up sober or dead…even if the latter is figurative. I thank God and those who gave of themselves bearing their own souls when I was too blind to see…

Bettyluna,
Yes, bit by bit. I’ve added your site to my blogroll. Jan

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9. shoutabyss - May 12, 2013

In my experience it’s hard to tell someone anything about their spouse. It is dangerous, dangerous waters. If they say something negative on their own about the best you can do is nod in agreement. Even if they ask for an opinion, it’s dangerous to provide one. I know many couples where things seem so lopsided you pray your friend will get out or they’ll do what’s best for both of them. At the end of the day, though, you can only do so much. The person involved has to be likeminded or the attempt will probably be wasted. Good luck dealing with it!

Shout,
So true…when I tried to tell your wife about you, she was in total denial. :) I couldn’t figure out which of your posts made it onto Fresh Pressed. One less thing to whine about? Haha! Jan

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10. Corinne - May 13, 2013

Hi Jan, Thanks for you eloquent post. I’m the one who posted the original question last week, and so I am very grateful to read everyone’s comments. I think I’ll break my comments down into separate parts just as a way of organizing my thoughts.

Planting a Seed. First, when I was involved with my N two years ago. Someone started telling me stories about him that truly went to how he treated people. She was someone who had been involved with him in the past. While she would not have used the term N (I would not have understood the term at the time anyway), she did use the terms “entitled” and “clueless.” At first, I thought she was exaggerating. But those stories stuck with me. After that whenever, he would put me down either directly or indirectly, I would think of her stories. Although I continued to justify his behavior to myself, I started to get a little more snarky with him. As a result, he turned the volume up on his nastiness and eventually caused me to walk away much, much sooner than I would have.

She did plant a seed. Of course, at the time, it was excruciatingly painful to hold such contrasting views of him in my head. Someone I loved so much yet at the sometime knew he was indeed clueless about how to treat people. I thought of him as having the emotional bandwidth of a little boy. So, even though I knew nothing about Ns, I knew both from my experience and the other woman’s that it would not be a long term relationship. Yet, for a long time, I continued to doubt myself: he had called me evil and here I was thinking such terrible thoughts about someone I thought I loved even though we did not seem to get along. We continued to be friends – no benefits – and eventually I asked him about the stories this woman had told me. He did not deny them, nor did he malign the woman, rather he attacked me for bringing them up and making him “feel bad” and “having ulterior motives for doing so.” That was the real light bulb for me.

I was in therapy at the time, and it was my therapist who told me about Ns. Anyway, I finally heard the diagnosis from a trusted source and was able to read up on it. It has been incredibly liberating. I will no longer doubt myself when I see those red flags, nor those who try to warm me.

However, I was not his spouse, nor was I living with him.

Corinne,
“Having the emotional band width of a little boy” really resonated with me. Yes, the N I got close to exhibited all of these traits. It’s a long story, but he knew someone who could do bodywork on my car. He could give me a ride home. But when I called him to come pick me up, he asked that I instead get a ride to his apartment. This was a first. Would you believe that he had an 8×10 photo of himself (when he had hair) hanging over the inside of his front door? That’s when the word narcissist popped into my head. Gee, I wonder why? I have to laugh in retrospect. You were so lucky to be in therapy with a therapist who knew about these emotional vampires. Jan

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11. Corinne - May 13, 2013

Warning the new target. Second, I agree about warning unsuspecting new targets. As I indicated in earlier posts, I warned a woman about my friend’s husband, an N. She was grateful, as indeed he had tried to kiss her at a party just a few days prior. She had been ready to give him the benefit of the doubt at the time.

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12. Corinne - May 13, 2013

Telling the wife of 30 yrs. Part 3. From my own experience, I feel very strongly about empowering others with knowledge. I was warned about my N, and am grateful it helped me escape. But 30 years is a long time, plus there are kids involved.

Telling my friend outright that her husband is a N would never fly. She would dismiss it immediately. My angle would have to be his infidelities. He is the one with all of the information and would twist anything I could dig up. She’s the type to shoot the messenger.

The obvious answer is to plant some seeds. She is, however, already aware of some of his strange behaviors, as well as his emotional abuse at the hands of his mother. Except for the infidelities or attempted cheating, she has a lot of the information already. As the adult child of an alcoholic she is used to strange behavior. Pointing out more weird behavior is not going to sway her much. Ironically, her upbringing has given her all kinds of defense mechanisms at her disposal that I have seen her put to use. When he puts her down she usually dismisses it or tells him he’s crazy. So, she seems to have strong boundaries against his verbal abuse. In a weird way, this works for them. (Please challenge me on this if you think I’m being naive.)

The cheating is probably a separate issue then. When he openly flirts with a woman in front of her, she notices but does not seem to react. He does a great job of coming back to her side and giving her some attention. In fact, the last time, I saw him noticeably giddy at finding a new source of supply, the N flirted with his wife as they walked home. I know from her that he often uses sex with her as a reward or as punishment. Maybe she’s rewarded for putting up with the flirting. I don’t know. I felt he was rubbing it in her face, playing yet another mind game, getting away with one more thing.

I’m pretty certain that she does not know anything about his infidelities. The N’s brother is openly involved in an affair and she and the N make a big show of how immoral that is and feel terrible about how that is affecting the Ns parents.

She would appear to be firmly entrenched in denial. Obviously, I am torn about whether to say anything. And if I did, how to even broach the issue.
Any thoughts are welcome.

Corinne,
Yikes! This is such a can of worms in some ways. On the other hand, it’s very black and white. But your friend seems to have impaired vision that perhaps began in childhood? She sees what she wants to see? His behavior sounds horrible, so it’s hard to believe that she tolerates it, but it’s always hard to understand why some people put up with sh*t that would send the rest of us scurrying. If you bring up his infidelities, you can plan on her being in denial and you being branded as a traitor for telling the truth. If you’re okay with that, than you might proceed. But be prepared for the worst – a virtual sh*t storm aimed at….you. I’m afraid everyone loses in this scenario, though don’t we all hope that ultimately we all will win by recognizing the truth? That is a possibility, but don’t expect her to be grateful for you telling her how it really is. Jan

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13. Corinne - May 13, 2013

Thanks Jan for your thoughts. I agree it’s a can of worms. However, reading your 2 comments above back-to-back gave me an idea. I don’t think I’ll share any facts I know about his cheating on her. Instead, I may suggest that she go to therapy. Right now she is having issues with her in-laws who have banned her sister’s kids from their house, because, the 5 and 10 year old forgot to call the in-laws “auntie” and “uncle.” There are two cultures at play here. My friend is hurt, but says she “doesn’t care, that it is all because he father-in-law is getting old.” Yes, the can of worms is quite large!

Corinne,
Sounds like a plan. May the Force be with you! Jan

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14. Corinna - May 16, 2013

I would agree that most spouses of N’s wouldn’t want to hear that piece of wisdom even though they should. As someone who was married to one, and had kids with him, knowing that he’s an N has not been much help. Without the kids I could have simply moved on and away from him and his destructive behaviors, but instead I am and will be forever linked to him through our kids. And since he’s so incredibly charming to everyone on the surface, no one knows what he has put me or my kids through, nor do they believe it when I tell them.

I think the best you can do is be there when they realize what is really going on and they finally see the wolf under the sheep costume. Few people understand (or believe) the true nature of being in a close relationship with an N, so your help then will be much appreciated.

Corinna,
I think the one good thing about knowing someone has NPD is that it does shut the door to the possibility of helping/changing them. They are what they are and there’s NOTHING you can do. You also realize it’s always been about them and not you, As someone said to me afterwards, “Jan, you were SO had.” That hurt as I’d like to think I’m nobody’s fool. Think again.
Always happy to be there to listen. I do believe you. Nothing surprises me.
Shrink4men is on my blogroll and is written for men dealing with crazy ex’s (usually Borderline or Ns). There quite a few excellent posts on custody/parenting issues. My sister-in-law’s children actively sought to remove their father from their lives as teenagers. They actually went to court and requested their father relenquish all parental rights in exchange for forgiving all the back child support he owed. He was only to eager to sign on the dotted line. Jan

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Corinne - May 16, 2013

Corinna, I would believe you and so would everyone else here. I think you have shared what many of us are/were afraid of, namely others thinking we’re crazy. The N has told us that very thing so many times, we start to believe it. I just remember how incredibly confusing life with an N was, how they snatch one’s inner power away as a means of control. I so want to empower my friend who has been married to an N for 30 years. Every time I see her, she brings up a new story about the N and I can see her struggling to make sense of it all. I realize that telling her outright about what I see will mean nothing to her, she is entrenched in her denial.

Do you think it would have helped you if a couple of girlfriends had sat down with you and encouraged you to go to therapy? Like a kind of intervention without naming the drug of N. It might take sometime before she accepts the facts, but at least she’ll get there and with a professional to help her. I just have a hard time giving up all hope that there is no means to help her, even if only in small and incremental steps.

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Corinna - May 17, 2013

I would suggest being very careful about suggesting therapy. By the end, my inner voice so closely matched what my ex (the N) was telling me about how awful I was, that I tried to commit suicide. He had me believing that his behavior was my fault. The suggestion that I go to therapy was just one more thing that pointed to the fact that it really was all my fault. I was so thoroughly mentally beaten by my ex that I thought his craziness was a result of my being mentally ill even though I’m not! He’s so good at manipulating me that even now (8 years and much wisdom later) his phone calls and emails take me days to recover from.

Maybe you can instead have a movie night where you show the film “Gaslight.” A classic, and a good example of how one person can so effectively manipulate another into insanity. Good luck.

-Corinna

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15. Corinne - May 17, 2013

Corinna, You are so brave to share your story. It is so important for all of us to hear. And I thank you for sharing. I will take your advice to heart. Know that I would never suggest that there was anything wrong with her, even when encouraging her to go to therapy. I think your story underlines why it is so important for others to speak up when they know something is wrong. This should not happen to anyone. It is a very delicate matter and I appreciate all of your insights. Do you think, like an addict, those living with an N have to hit bottom before they see the light?

Corinne,
I have several friends/visitors to this blog who did learn about their partner’s personality disorder in therapy. One woman was in couples therapy and the therapist then asked to see her separately and explained Narcissistic Personality Disorder to her. But that can take time and $.
Instead of suggesting someone enter therapy hoping that eventually the truth will be revealed, here’s a thought. The next time she tells you something awful he did, you might want to say, “Wow, that sounds so much like something I read the other day. You should google Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” Be prepared to write this down, so she doesn’t just google narcissism which seems to be everywhere in the news and related more to how many facebook friends one has.
Four words – Google Narcissist Personality Disorder. Maybe it will plant a seed. Maybe I need to write a post entitled “Google Narcissistic Personality Disorder.” LOL Jan

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les - May 19, 2013

Hey all,
Corinne/Corinna,following your discussion… just wanted to add…. first to Corinne,totally get what your saying…but personally I don’t think that everyone has to ‘hit bottom’ before they see they light. Jan’s blog has many inspired/striving folk who caught on when their personal boundaries were being bashed…and acted.
I’m always referring people to the discussion on ‘Close Encounter with a Narcissist part three’ on the blog…as you see a remarkable interface from a group of us and emergence from the ties of the Narc during the summer of 2012?
It also introduced me as ‘Scottish Lesley’…and Jan and I will finally meet in July in Edinburgh…can’t wait!
It certainly got me out and kept me out….
Being ‘An Addict to an Narc’ is a different ballgame completely…and you’re so right ….does exist.
Sam Vankin’s partner refers to herself as an ‘Masochist’…what a relationship made in hell? Imagine it then pass the sickbag!
If you do the searches we all do ….you’ll find that Borderlines sit well with Narcs, other Narcs love other Narcs and of course those with co-dependency issues.
However, Narcs can hit anywhere at anytime…. I was in my forties,with adult child, long marriage behind me(and we ended as friends) and I was Narked by high end cluster B….and I’d done much work on myself,had boundaries…was a coper…?
Narcs are skilled,long experience at being what you need,clever,erudite,switching,morally bereft,entertaining,needy…swines?
Do not beat yourself up about being with a Narcissist. Let it go!
You are concerned and caring,intelligent and on the ball.Enough.
Corinna/
Your post moved me for many reasons but here’s the bit I feel acutely. You are a Mum/Mom…live it. You know them and value your kids right?
Let them be them but stand in the way of anybody who effs with that.
I partially left my husband (Who was no Narc) because of differences in parenting…my son is 23 now and great!
My ex husband had entrenched values that he would have passed on…We have a good relationship but my decision was the right one..my son is a qualifying law student working in social justice,lots of friends,emotionally intelligent and focused.
He is confident, kind and outgoing.
I had to go.I surrendered material security in doing so..bigtime.
Yet, I got myself back as well. People make these calls all the time,some do,some stay?
So your call is a good one.Trust your instincts.
Yes! to Gaslight the film…it’s brilliant, have you ever seen’ Of Human Bondage’ the film or read the Somerset Maugham novel…
Bette Davis is remarkable as the irredeemable female Narc.

With apologies for any Brit/Scot refs that are unintelligible…Jan usually translates!!!!!!!!
Light Shine,
Les

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Corinna - May 21, 2013

Indeed. My kids are the reason that I am here today. And I know I cannot let my ex do to them what he did to me. It is a hard battle though since people STILL think that I’m the crazy one. He is so adept at, as you say, being the person someone needs him to be.

It is slowly dawning on my children that they cannot count on dear-old-dad for their needs, and that he is only interested in himself. The hurt is big for them sometimes, but mostly they are just very puzzled at his decision making. His life choices just seem odd to them– like making out with his new gf at their birthday party. Oy. If he wasn’t my ex, and their dad, it would be funny.

-Corinna

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16. Vivian - May 22, 2013

Jan: Read your column a few weeks ago and just now have some time to myself to respond. The question that you posed at the end of your thought provoking article: Yes, I was told by a friend who had previously divorced a N that she suspected my “interest” was a Narc. I totally disagreed. I told her he wasn’t clever enough…not book smart at all….After several months, she kindly suggested I read up on somatic narcissists and talk about the light bulb coming on…my entire soul was flooded with light and understanding. I like Les’ term morally bereft….emotionally bereft is more like the person with whom I had an encounter. I recall mentioning somewhere on Jan’s site about him watching in wonder and waiting to see if I would ever weep. He just had no experience at all with any emotions of that kind at all. It is called , “no conscience!” Good luck to all( Hi Frida and Les and Jan!) and thanks again Jan for all of your sage advice .Viv

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lesley - May 24, 2013

Hey Vivi,
Hope you are doing well…

You are dead right about the correction to ‘Emotionally Bereft’…and they do have that ‘head on one side’ wonder when we express emotion as if they are viewing a talking cat? Ha!

I do think it’s crucial to have ownership of the light bulb moment you mentioned…no-one can do that for you entirely- although your friend is to be thanked for her push in the right direction.

Sadly, if you check the forums around Narcissism there is so much ‘Searching’ for alternative solution,pathologies and saddest of all cures for Narcissism…
So much time being lost by victims in search of the incurable?

Three Cheers for the moment of enlightenment…
Have a lovely weekend,
Les

Excellent advice/encouragement as always, Les. I, myself, remember reading about clinical Narcissism. So many things clicked, but then again…I even considered Asperger’s as “Joe” was so emotionally clueless. But it always came back to NPD. I think it was when I read the description and traits on the Halycon blog (on my blogroll) that I truly had that lightbulb moment. Also, reading the chapter on Confusing Communication in the book Stalking the Soul. Oooh, that was the nail in the coffin. I was actually overcome with a sense of relief! Jan

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17. Corinne - May 22, 2013

Hi all,

Does anyone have any thoughts on what the narcissistic husband might do if I told my friend, his wife, what I see happening to her? He’s a somatic N. My friends are worried that he will lash out or take revenge on me and/or my family. They’ve been married 30 yrs and he’s got a nice thing going, wife takes care of every little detail of life so he doesn’t have to. Personally, I think Ns are cowards, but really don’t know what to expect.

Thanks.

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barb - May 22, 2013

Can always suggest some reading materials. Bring up a “friend” that you are concerned about. Unless she is truly unhappy and darn near screaming for help – it may do no good other than get filed in the back of her mind somewhere. I knew something was wrong with mine. Would have welcomed information. Found it on a forum somewhere and sat in my room – alone – for days in complete shock. Few years later, I finally filed for a divorce. He is in hoarding NPD panic. He’ll show me. Wants to charge me with identity theft. I don’t care. I need to get away.

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18. Corinne - May 23, 2013

Thanks Barb. Identity theft – I must say that’s rather rich. It’s exactly how they operate: assume an identity because they don’t have one themselves. Fight with all you have. They expect weakness. Show him that being human means being strong beyond anything a Narc is capable of!

Corinne,
I’ve been off the grid camping, just to remind myself why I only go camping every 20 years. Yes, I agree that most Ns are cowards. More bluster than anything else. Jan

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19. frida - May 29, 2013

hi everyone!
just adding my cents:
i would probably not have believed any messenger/kind soul pointing me towards NPD in the early stages of my encounter. partly because once you´re “in”, it plays on your own psychological trap-doors (rationalising, denial, vulnerabilities, what-have-you) but mostly because i guess most of us were/are under a very common misunderstanding of the term “narcissist”. those super-full-of-themselves, a hyperarrogant, extraconfident tank of a personality. a nuisance but harmless. well, woohoo! NOT! the real deal and meaning of “narcissist” just dawned on me when i googled (that search most of us did, eh?!) “emotional abuse” and then, some long nights later, that lightbulb went on.

and definately not harmless..that´s why i would gingerly suggest to be careful with exposing an N. even third party exposure. (tho i still daydream about it occasionally.) you never know what´s in the mix. i would agree most Ns are cowards but ultimately one doesn´t know how much psychopathy´s in the mix (the N in my life showed some rather, ahem, weird behaviour and i still wonder to this day if he´s got real murder in him. the bloody red flags were chilling enough.). it might turn out to be just powerplaying, controlling intimidation but i´ve seen and been thru stuff that made my gut feel “you´re lucky to be alive!” while my brain was already rationalising away “oh, come off it..he wouldn´t dare, he´s just playing you.” well, i still wonder and that unknown mix is all the danger..so, careful.

identity theft? hm, that aspect still bugs me..the N has been a real copycat..stealing my hobbies, interests, taste, style, literally words, sayings, complete phrases, even my works that i meant to s h a r e with him, etc.etc…and putting it out as his own. still does it. (kills me with rage still!) is it because they´re so empty and, because they once idealised you, want to be like you? or fill their void? or just mirroring you to draw you in? i can´t separate the one from the other. but it really angers me to see him still use my style and works to make him shine in the public eye and use my words, interests, phrases to draw new supply in..

other than that, shouts to everyone..les, jan, vivi..:) hope you´re all fine and nothing beats fresh coffee off a wobbly camp-stove! ;) peace! f.

Frida,
Yes, I’m constantly disturbed/distressed at how the term “narcissist” is tossed about so casually, usually relating to the rampant outbreak of “narcissism” on facebook. People envision a person who’s “so full of themself,” while with NPD, the person is actually an empty vessel.
Psychopaths and Sociopaths all rate highly when it comes to narcissism. It’s this overlap, or comorbidity, that has sparked all of the controversy over the new DSM-5. Unfortunately, most people associate psychopaths with serial killers, while the majority of psychopaths only kill people’s spirits. It’s so hard to know if the person is “just a N” or there’s something more going on…something even more sinister. So, if one does venture an opinion, one has to brace for the blowback.
Ah yes, the blatant stealing of your identity, which at the time seems to confirm that you’re in sync with the N. Copying is the greatest form of flattery?
Thanks for your always insightful input, Frida. Yes, the campfire coffee was good until I stepped in a hole and injured my OTHER leg! Came back a day early and spent Sunday night at the ER getting my leg “immobilizer.” ARGH!
Always, Jan

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20. trapped no more! - June 16, 2013

I haven’t been on here for a while, but a friend recently sent me this video. While I know that psychopaths and narcissists have different things driving them at the core of their problems, there are so many similarities. The beginning of this video and at around 15-16 minutes really resonated with me. The bee in the bottle.. That’s what I was (and his current girlfriend still is, despite finding out about his multiple other affairs, she is still with him).

Trapped No More,
I once likened Narcissists to being Baby Bear, with Sociopaths being Mama Bear and Psychopaths as Papa Bear. Now that’s one effed up family dynamic! Psychopaths have strong narcissistic traits, so in a sense they’re just further along the continuum. Now I’m going to watch the video. Thanks for checking back in. I’m off to see Lesley in Scotland in July. How cool is that? Jan

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21. Trapped no more! - June 17, 2013

Sorry to hear about your knee(s)!! Hope you have a wonderful trip to Scotland despite. Something to really look forward to!

TNM (as “Trapped” gives the wrong impression),
At least my right knee, which is now titanium, is doing fine. I’m spending most of my time in England then flying to meet up with Lesley for a couple of days. Her thoughtful and hilarious emails really helped me get through the 10-week recovery at home after my first knee surgery – we’ve moved way beyond narcissism. It’s been almost a year since that flurry of comments that involved you. Hope you are continuing to recover and thrive. Always, Jan

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22. Sara - September 26, 2013

I tried to warn someone. This man had cheated at least twice while they were engaged, one of them a 2 month affair where he was professing his love to another woman and bringing her into their new house. She didnt believe any of it, he made the other women out to be crazy and she married him 8 months later. I knew he was a full blown narcissist from experience. I have cut off contact from the situation. She is too much in denial and thinks marrying him fixes the issue. I tried!

Sara,
That’s really all you can do. When people are in denial, the “truth” only makes them dig in their heels. We all see what we want to see. Marrying someone fixes nothing. That’s like the belief that having children will help a marriage that is in trouble. It’s all rather sad actually. Removing yourself from the situation – even any news of the situation IS the best way to go. Jan

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23. Denise - December 20, 2013

I tried to warn the lady that I caught him cheating with. I sent her text messages from him professing to love me and wanting to be with me forever and pictures of the two of us kissing and holding hands as proof. She called me on the phone and we spoke for hours and I told her everything….she agreed with me on so many things and said that she was thru with him also. She was crying on the phone and I felt really bad for her.

She came into town and stayed with him during a time that he told me he was going out of town. She left groceries in the fridge and I told her what they were….she gasp/moan and said “there is no way that you are making that up….those are exactly the things I cooked for him.”

I called her a few days later to check on her and she had totally turned on me….she said that I was trying to destroy her happiness. She seemed like a sweet girl but she is still in the first stage and cannot believe that he is two different people.

He got mad at me for contacting her and stopped cursed me out and stopped contact with me.

I feel so sorry for the woman. I wish that I had,had someone to warn me. I feel sad that I lost 2 years of my life

Denise

Denise,
Unfortunately, you are the wounded messenger. I’m sure she initially was intrigued by your stories…she obviously had some doubts, but as you’ve discovered, she is in denial. It’s easier for her to turn on you than him, and that’s just what she’s done. So sorry. There are people who’ve spent DECADES trying to understand a narcissist. Be glad that you’ve served your two-year sentence and are free of this craziness. Hopefully, you’ve planted a seed of doubt, so that eventually she will see him for who he is/isn’t. Here’s to the future! >clink< Jan

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24. Carly - January 19, 2014

Thanks to all who posted here. This has been very helpful.

I have a good friend (male) I’ve known for 40 years. He just re- married a narcissist who left him six years ago after an 18 month marriage.

It appears that during their first marriage, he finally started standing up for himself, she got upset, marriage counseling didn’t work, and she packed up and left him with no warning while he was working out of town for a few days. He was devastated. They divorced.

She returned six years later and he was hooked right away. His family and I were horrified. I reminded him of all the bad things he told me she did during their marriage. Somehow I stumbled on an article about narcissism on the internet and it sounded like her.

I bought and mailed him two books on narcissism. I sent him numerous emails about narcissists and warned him to be careful.

He never responded to the emails. I doubt he read the books. They were remarried a year ago.

It’s painful and frustrating for his family and me to see how he’s being abused. I hate being powerless to help him.

All I’ve read about helping the victim of a narcissist says just be there for them and don’t complain about the narcissist or the victim’s behavior. I do that, but I desperately want to extract him from this terrible situation.

This site has given me direct responses to my question about whether or not there is anything I can do for him. Sounds like defensiveness and denial are almost impossible to overcome as an outsider.

I guess I’ll just keep in touch and occasionally let him know I think he’s a great guy. His mom and I are SO hoping this marriage doesn’t last any longer than the last one. Any predictions?

Thanks everyone. And good luck to you!

Carly,
You’ve done all that you can as a caring person. My SIL had the N out of her life for some time (though they had yet to divorce) and then he returned for an encore. We were all just horrified. But then he showed his true colors and the attorney was called. I’m sure this guy thinks that in six years time, this woman has changed. If only.
I’ve also met several men who were subjected to verbal and psychological abuse. I believe that often men are more reluctant to tell others what’s going on as they feel if makes them appear weak? They’re embarrassed/humiliated and afraid that no one will believe them.
It’s so hard to watch people willingly jump into the volcano. Your plan to keep in touch and let him know what a great guy he is sounds wise. Especially when she turns on him again which she will. Jan

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Carly - January 22, 2014

Thank you, Jan. I appreciate your comments.

I’m not sure what it will take for this marriage to end–considering what we’ve already heard–which has to be the tip of an iceberg.

His family doesn’t hear much about his wife. But they did hear his wife talking to him repeatedly in a very disrespectful way in front of guests at a party at his house. One of his adult children who was there was very upset about it, but didn’t tell him.

And I was shocked that he didn’t see through his wife several months ago. He and his wife had planned a casual day out together on her day off work. But he had to cancel it.

His elderly, widowed mother had a relatively serious problem that required a doctor visit. She wasn’t able to drive herself and didn’t have anyone else to ask for a ride but her son. He tried to reschedule the visit, but the doctor’s office couldn’t. He took her.

He later told his mother that his wife went crazy screaming at him for cancelling their plans that day, even though she knew why he had to cancel. He said it was awful and he never wanted to face that type of reaction from his wife again.

He’s also mentioned that his wife always has to get her own way.

If her selfish, abusive behavior hasn’t created any serious rifts yet, I don’t know what will.

Carly,
It sounds like the writing is on the wall, but he’s choosing not to read it? What you describe are BIG red flags. How sad that his mother can’t count on him for a ride or he’ll “get in trouble.” Jan

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Carly - January 23, 2014

Yes, it’s very sad. (By the way, I’m so happy that your SIL called the attorney! I don’t even know her and I feel relief.)

The problem is even after they divorced, my friend didn’t understand she has no feelings for anyone but herself. He probably still loved her and thought she was “normal.”

He’s a very thoughtful, sensitive, loving, but stubborn guy and this is his third marriage. He felt guilty for breaking his wedding vows after she left him the first time.

I told him even God couldn’t have made that marriage work.
But I’m sure he’s desperately trying to keep this one together by dodging the bullets and rationalizing the nastiness.

I just hope her continued verbal and mental abuse overcomes his ability to absorb such cruelty. If he finally yells back at her or tells her she’s selfish or thoughtless, that should be the beginning of the end.

Or maybe she’ll meet a rich guy at her job and move on to “greener” pastures. My friend is retired and has to watch his pennies. She is a Hoover when it comes to money.

I just keep praying he breaks free somehow.

Thank you again, Jan.

Carly,
You’ve got to wonder if people stay with people because “it’s the devil they know.” We often remember the good and minimize the bad. It should be interesting to see if this is basically a replay of the first time they were married. Sometimes people will put up with an abusive relationship because at least they’re not alone – they fear the great unknown and that often includes being alone. Jan

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