Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Narcissism - any experts out there?(33 Posts)
Have (after some advice on MN) been reading into narcissism and pretty sure H fits the bill. But not entirely. I am in the process of leaving and wonder if anyone else has advice about how to do this safely - given his narc tendencies.
The thing that sets him apart is his insight into his own behaviour. he has had copious amounts of therapy and insists he is "cured". So he often says that he would never do those things again, that he understands why he did it in the past and that this means he is fixed.
Of course he isn't - the sheer fact he thinks he is perfect and that he can offer advice to me about my mental health means that he is far from fixed.
This is a follow on from other threads I have going, but i wanted to focus on your experiences of narcs - especially when leaving. What can I expect and how do I avoid being dragged back in.
Right now I think I am being ignored because I am not a consistent "supply". I am basically not responding or I am questioning. I am pretty sure he has worked out that I am of no use to him. I am guessing he wants me to leave - but can't be the one to end it as that would make him look bad.
Does this sound typical?
Don't know why I am bothered to try and work out his tactics - but it interests me. Forewarned and all that.
I was with a NPD for a few years.
She made me feel like everything was my fault, brought me down at every opportunity, and referred to herself as 'superior'. By the end I was an empty shell. I was scared to speak or do anything in case it sparked an argument. Nearly two years on and i'm still not the same person, I struggle in social situations, constantly worry about everything and get stressed very easily.
To this day I still can't understand how she got away with it and thought every issue in her life was someone else's fault. I've had two of her exes contact me asking for help already. She did the same to them.
How did I get out? I stood up to her in the end. She threw some objects at me after losing her temper not being able to find her glasses (thankfully the lack of glasses meant she wasn't able to aim said objects well and I escaped unharmed, small victories eh )
I'm a placid person but on this occasion I lost it and told her what I thought of her.
I saw it in her eyes. The realisation that I was no longer useful to her. Click. She changed, just like that. She moved out a month later.
There are two types of Narc. Ones that know they are like yours night and ones that don't. I was with one for 3 years and your only option is to leave. They don't change. Go NC. Good luck OP. Strong decision xxx
Mine was a mercifully short relationship. I found him a bit scary to be honest. Obviously mentally unstable and a classic Narcissist. I never talked about what I finally realised (his NPD), I just finished it. Because I was a little scared of him I made it all about me kinda thing, as in I wasn't in right space and I think that probably mollified him (to see me as the one with MH problems!). He told me he always left people, no-one would ever leave him. Ha! I changed my mobile etc. So he couldn't contact me. If they have any way of contacting you again the likelihood is they'll turn up like a bad penny (they never let go of any potential supply) so you must make sure its over forever in your mind. It did take a while to heal and I rarely if ever think of him now. I did massively educate myself on Narcissism (there's millions of books out there on the subject as you probably know) and also the Narcissist spectrum, and I realised I had a friend on the spectrum and maybe one family member. But neither as extreme as this particular man who definitely had full-blown NPD and ticked every single box.
Thank you. Thankfully my H has never been violent - just with words. But we do have the typical good child/bad child thing going on. he also treats me like a wayward child.
But much of this seems to have been switched off of late. he just ignores me and barely says anything. Normally I would be waiting for a blow-up of some sort, but this feel different - like he honestly doesn't care. he is polite and accommodating but there is no connection. No nothing.
Normal behaviour would be silent treatment followed by telling me all the things wrong with me. But i don't think he can be bothered any more. I am too much effort because I just don't listen.
Recently i have taken to asking him to stop talking at me, then informing him that if he continues I will ignore him and then saying "you can carry on if you like, but I will not be responding or listening" Weirdly he would still carry on talking/ranting at me...
I think it has sunk in that I really don't care about his opinion of me.
There's no going back from this point, is there?
I have also suffered with severe anxiety - pretty much all day long every day. it affects my work, my eating, my health and my sleep. I hope I will recover from it. he thinks it is caused by my childhood. But it only came on in the last few years and I am 43.
'I have also suffered with severe anxiety - pretty much all day long every day'
I'm not surprised. I'm no expert but both my parents are narcs so definitely have some experience! Get away from him would be my advice. It is utterly soul-destroying to live in the poor excuse for a relationship that you have with a narc. It can make a person seriously unhinged. No connection - absolutely spot on.
It sounds like you've done a great job of detaching from him and are no longer getting involved in his ridiculous games. Imagine living in peace and quiet without the silent treatment or being lectured to or having to second guess yourself every minute of the day. It will be like coming out of prison for you. You know that your anxiety is down to him, you know it is. Life can get so much better for you
You are wasting your breath rememberthetime. Remember Narcissists thrive on arguments and being right all the time. If he is ignoring you then he may think you are not even worth the effort of that. Honestly you need to get this headf* out of your life, and start to heal. If you keep away from him completely 100% in less than a year I am sure you will feel so much better.
I agree...xh of 20 years a narc and diagnosed pd.. You must not engage, plan an escape route, leave and go no contact . it is soul destroying and you will be spinning round and round.
Squirrel some money away, tell your gp and get some legal advice, you will recover x
Unfortunately we have two children - so no contact is not possible. But my daughter is on to him and already avoids him as much as she can. DS appeases him. I have the money and the means to go - just not sure what to say to him.
It feels so wrong to up and leave without talking it through. Surely that is damaging tot he kids and for me, it feels unfair to him. I want to do it with his blessing - that is ridiculous, I know. I am so used to him dictating my life.
'It feels so wrong to up and leave without talking it through'
Please try to remember that this is not a normal person you are dealing with. You are obviously a reasonable person so you are trying to behave in a reasonable way. However, if you were to have a discussion with him, how would you see it going? Would it be productive, healing, helpful? Or would it be utterly maddening and frustrating? This is self-preservation time. You won't get his blessing so do not go looking for it.
Look at the lessons your children are already learning. It seriously messes you up having a narc for a parent, I really mean that. You and your children need to live a life free of walking on eggshells and being scared all the time.
It has taken me 3 years to break free , your dc need to be away from him, he is not owed any explanation , he has controlled you for so long, please consider your future and that of dc, they will thank you, our life (albeit divorce), we are free of the gut wrenching horrible atmosphere, financial control and abuse, the best decision I have ever made next to divorcing him .
It is not possible to have a relationship with a narcissist and a narcissistic parent is a deplorably bad parent. It is precisely because of your children that you need to keep them away from him; he is already damaging them (your son in particular appeases him).
You cannot talk things through with a narcissist either; its a complete waste of time and effort. You think that because you are likely from a nice emotionally healthy family; your H is not from such a family and it is likely that his parents are narcissists as well.
www.positive-parenting-ally.com/narcissistic-parents.html is a useful link
Thank you for the link Atila. it was interesting to see that my H is a controlling parent and tends towards wanting to show how perfect a parent he is, by virtue of our children's talents. They are both gifted and talented which must really validate his parenting skills!
But even worse I recognised this style of parenting between him and I! I mean, he treats me like his child. An example is the fact he insisted that I thank him when I passed my driving test - because he had paid for half of it...
When I lost weight he wanted me to acknowledge the sacrifices he made for me to achieve the 4 stone loss.
It seems that anything i have achieved has been down to him in his eyes.
At times I have felt like his pet project. The most recent thing has been him wanting to work on my mental health - because he is such an expert.
But in the past it has been my weight, my confidence, my business/work, my housework, my parenting. Everytime i reach one of his goals he puts another right in its place and takes the credit for the achievement. Of course if I fail it is entirely my own fault.
He says he can see my behaviour and i cannot - but I can't possibly see his behaviour because he is totally aware of himself and everything he does.
is another trait the fact that he uses phrases like "I can tell you with absolute certainty that i am no longer trying to control you" " I have absolutely no desire to control you" "Controlling you is the furtherest thing from my mind".
He talks in absolutes all the time about the things he claims he doesn't do any more. it sounds like saying "I am 100% not having an affair" when you have asked if they enjoyed their dinner. Talking in that way jars - its i like why even mention that you don't want to control me - of course you don't. its normal not to control people - you don't have to say so with such emphasis.
it feels like he has learned how to shut down a conversation with absolutes and so he uses it all the time. There is no response to "I absolutely never..." Complete denial.
My mother does the talking in absolutes thing. She says 'definitely', 'absolutely' and 'no way' all the time. It's incredibly wearing.
There is no communicating with a person like this OP. It just cannot be done. But it takes years to get your head around it because it's so intensely weird
please read my thread on relationships.........daughter returning to abusive ex, advice please.
this explains everything.
get out while you still have your sanity.
yes sorry but your attempts to be decent are futile.
Even if you go NC to preserve your sanity they will find a way to contact and unbalance you,
avoiding them at all costs so you can concentrate on the children are the only way forward but I am 2 years in and my narc ex is still as impossible as ever. This is despite repeatedly telling his solicitor I don't want direct contact with him and blocking him on everything.
OP Please understand you are in a potentially dangerous situation when leaving. Call Womens Aid for advice on how to do it safely, explaining you think your H is a narc. I think he is ignoring you because he is getting supply elsewhere, I'm sorry. All that stuff about behaving decently since his therapy is just hot air, telling you what you need to hear for him to keep control of you, believing he has changed and the future will be different.
I don't think he wants you to leave at all because that would mean he had lost his control of you. If he is true to type, he will be apoplectic when you do. He could talk down to you disapprovingly like a child or become violent. For someone who always has to be in a step-up position compared to others, he will hate that you are in that position, not him and set out to bring you down by several pegs.
Then Jekyll and Hide will be switching round faster than weathermen on a cuckoo clock, nasty and spiteful one minute then uber understanding the next, persuading you to stay. Be prepared to hear anything to make you stay, whatever he thinks you want to hear that will do the trick.
You don't owe him any consideration for his feelings when you leave. He sure as hell has no consideration for yours. It's all about yours and your DC's self preservation.
Expect character assassination to yours and his family and friends. Expect mind games to get you into trouble with the authorities as in The Archers storyline: police, social services, phone call from your GP regarding report of "your worrying schizophrenic-type symptoms" - I'm not joking - and your GP is not supposed to tell you who reported you, so scary.
Forewarn your family and friends. Ask them to block him on social media. Expect his family to never believe he is the one with the mental disorder, he will likely tell them you are and point to your history of anxiety (caused by him) to prove it. Keep physically away so he can't provoke you then twist things, telling everyone, including the police, possibly, that you attacked him. Go grey rock, contact only about DCs via email when unavoidable, using minimal words, via solicitor for everything else. Do not respond or engage, you know it will only feed his need for supply. Keep contact times with DCs set in stone so he can't dick you around varying them to control you. Consider sweeping technology for bugs, tracking apps, apps giving remote control of PCs. Change passwords. Stash money, get important documents and financial documents and things you cherish out of the house for safe keeping first.
You will come out the other side where the air and your head are clearer. You will get through this. In the meantime, be prepared for his mask to fall and the monster beneath to reveal the extent of his ugliness. I repeat: phone Womens Aid for detailed advice and if necessary, 999.
I think your diognosis of him being a 'self aware' narcissist is what's fuelling this idea of receiving a blessing
permission/ epiphany. This is who he is, who he's always been and you know deep down, that you're never going to receive a blessing from someone who always finds fault with you.
The blessing that you want is external but the blessing that you need, is internal.
God is it just me that finds the thought of a self aware narcissistic chilling terrifying?
I don't think they'd accept their behaviour as wrong, but simply use the definitions of their behaviour as further ways of manipulation....
Keepingon...your post is so helpful, thank you. But utterly terrifying too.These are all things I fear and probably what has kept me here so long. Thankfully I am much stronger lately (thanks to my wonderful counsellor) and believe I can handle the worst of it. At least I won;t be surprised.
He is still saying almost nothing to me.
He could very well have moved on. It wouldn't surprise me. We went from sex 3-5 times a week to once in the past 2 months...If I could find out then that would give me the upper hand. But to be honest I just don't care enough anymore.
My only fear is telling the kids. If I have to do this covertly - how do I get them to understand. They are teenagers and I can't just pop them in a taxi and say we are ff on holiday to a new house. Do I rent a place, then leave then tell them they can come and join me. Or do I tell them first - I can't xpect them to keep a secret from him. I don't want them to feel abandoned. This is all about them, not me.
Son gets his a=level (year 1) results today.
Oh and he has installed keyloggers on my devices in the past. He says he wouldn't dream of checking up on me now. My therapist agrees that he would be unable to stay silent for too long if he suspected something. So we think, on balance, that I am safe from his stalking at the moment.
Once I make him aware things are moving on he may feel justified in doing whatever he wants to find out if I am going to take him to the cleaners or any other notion he might have. Facts are that I am a sane and rational person. I wouldn't be anything other than fair - yet he sees me through his eyes.
No no no. "He says he wouldn't dream of checking up on me now" means he is checking up on you every 5 minutes. He says this to manipulate you to trust him and be more relaxed with your security. You need to learn narc speak!
Be clear, you are living with the enemy. For him, information is power and control of you and your DCs. You do know he can trace your internet history over the wifi don't you, even if you are using private browsing? He will be looking for the slightest excuse to turn the situation on its axis and paint himself as the victim. Tread extremely carefully.
Do not expect a single favour from him once you end it, such as parenting or retrieving possessions from your home. There is a chance he might oblige but only to make him look like the better person.
I think you must get in there first with your DCs to explain, before their dad goes all out to win their hearts and minds - google parental alienation. Maybe "In my experience dad has an unstable personality. That means he feels entitled to have power and control over people, even his family, and to regard them as objects for his benefit. I didn't know it but some people can pretend they are a good person to disguise the fact they are not for years and years."
Have you heard the joke, how do you know if a narcissist is lying? Because their lips are moving.
LET'S WARN OUR TEENAGERS, embarking on relationships and joining the workplace, about these kinds of people. It is lack of awareness and then fear of calling them out which enables narcs to continue rampaging destructively through peoples' lives.
Frightening. I guess i just can't believe someone would act like this on purpose. I expect him to be reasonable, but if i accept he cannot be reasonable then he will even use that against me.
My guess is that i will be accused of not giving him the decency of trusting him not to do these things. But i know I need to protect myself just in case.
I think I am going to be walked over - but it can't be much worse than what I have put up with to date.
My plan is to tell him this weekend that I am looking at properties and expect to move out within weeks. And that we need to tell the kids. If he completely refuses then i will inform him that I will go ahead anyway and he now has the chance to do that parenting thing he is always on about.
I would caution against tipping him off you are leaving. Several weeks is a long time in which he can play mind games, hide your things, destroy your things, manipulate unsuspecting you into a scenario where he can twist what actually happened and report you to the authorities. A grand finale is typical, revealing all the wickedness he has been hiding behind his mask, but only to you so he can tell everyone else you are mentally ill when you try to out him. Have you phoned Women's Aid for advice yet? 0808 2000 247, available 24 hrs. Ask them or a solicitor (get a free half hour appointment) about your assumption it is you who has to move out. Rent a small storage unit and squirrel things out of the house if family/friend's house is not possible.
Ignore his nonsense, his assessments of you. They don't mean anything anymore. You don't have to wait for his endorsement before you tell your teenagers. You will know if they can keep confidences for a few weeks. You are two separate parties now, you don't need his approval. He has conditioned you to think you do.
Any intimidation phone 101 or 999 if you are really worried. Police forces are supposed to be much better trained in all forms of domestic abuse nowadays. There is better of awareness of emotional and psychological abuse since the new law. It's not ok and you don't have to put up with it. Fear is not part of any loving relationship.
Join the discussion
Please login first.