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.

Narc/EAs: do they know what they are doing?

(29 Posts)
TheNewWoman Wed 23-Nov-16 09:17:45

I'm pretty sure DH is one of these, but I really don't think he means to be. I think he just thinks his behaviour is his personality.

What I mean is I don't think he intentionally sets out to be abusive or damaging, but I think in his personality he sees things as a game and he has to win at all costs. Therefore he tries to manipulate to get what he wants and if he doesn't he gets petty / mean. I don't even think it occurs to him teh damage he is causing, just that he 'wins'.

As an example we shopped together and agreed meals this week. Today was going the be shepherds pie, but for (very sensible and explained) logistical reasons I wanted to swap today and tomorrow so we have fish today. Both are in date for a couple more days. He is refusing to budge insisting we have shepherds pie today - he has no reason, he is just being an arse. It's such a pointless petty thing I know (there is a bit more to it than this but I will out myself if I go into it).

I'm pretty sure I need to leave him (not over tonights dinner, but many many other things) but I've always believed in fighting for my marriage and we have many ups as well as downs. I'm just hoping there is some personality trait where this 'game playing' can be cured, as when he is not being an arse he's quite a nice guy.

TheNewWoman Wed 23-Nov-16 09:25:51

I should probably have phrased this better. Do you think they 'íntend' to cause the emotional damage they do, or is it that they must play the game and win at all costs without even thinking about the damage?

Potatoooooo Wed 23-Nov-16 09:28:19

Yes they absolutely intend to cause the damage. A narc loves hurting people, it gives them the thrill factor that they're coming out on top.

Potatoooooo Wed 23-Nov-16 09:31:25

I should say that narcs aren't looking to share love with people, they just give you what you want so that they can get what they want out of you. Does that make sense?
They use and abuse, there is no sense of "we" it's all "I"
Sure they can show a little sympathy now and again, but it's not because they actually feel bad for you, it's because they don't want to look like a shit care giver.

What else does he do that has similar traits? Does he manipulate? Does he have a lack of empathy?

mickyblueyes Wed 23-Nov-16 11:06:03

What Potatooooo says is spot on, especially the lack of empathy is the big one in terms of defining a Narc, they simply have none.

They also crave attention. If they can't get good attention they'll settle for bad, it's like a drug to them, I think a few psychologist refer to it as 'Narcissistic Supply'.

As for 'Dinner gate'...it's all about control, he wants to be in control over what you have for dinner. Any well balanced person would wither agree to swap the dinners, or give a valid reason for not to want to swap. You say it seems petty and I guess in reality it is, however those of us who have lived with, and dealing with the aftermath of these manipulative and controlling people will 'Get it" and won't regard it as 'Petty' Buy by the nature of you post it would suggest it goes a lot further than this and would suggest you find answers to this behaviour.

I suggest you read up on NPD (Narcisisstic Personailty Disorder), if you think you are dealing with of these disorder types then run for the hills.

TheNewWoman Wed 23-Nov-16 11:08:42

Thanks potatooooo. I think the worst things are that he can't forget/forgive. When he gets cross about something he goes on about all the bad things about that person (not just the incident) and can carry on sulking with them for days like his heart just hardens to them. He has walked away from family before and can just completely shut them out without it bothering him. He always looks to blame someone when something goes wrong rather than just moving on. I don't ever recalling him apologising or admitting he made a mistake. He does seem to revel in picking out the negative in friends etc and putting them down behind their back and seems to enjoy others failure.

I know I'm painting a really bleak picture, but he can actually be really nice 90% of the time, then he just goes into one of these phases and he's awful. It's really affecting the DC now.

mickyblueyes Wed 23-Nov-16 11:08:58

I would also add to what I said by not revealing to him you suspect he has some sort of Narcissistic personality traits of full blown disorder...read as much as you can, get on youtube and watch videos. You may well have a 'Lightbulb' moment and understand what you are dealing with. Good luck

spicyfajitas Wed 23-Nov-16 11:10:33

I think it's a bit of both. It really doesn't matter which. They cause chaos and destruction wherever they go. If you're sure it's that and not some sort of ocd then I would try to plan your escape route. flowers

TheNewWoman Wed 23-Nov-16 11:41:21

Thanks for this info, I will read up on it. He does lack empathy. Will a narcissist always be one? He wasn't like this when we met - I can almost pick when I first saw it I'd known him for about 6 years, I'd say it's got more noticeable in the past couple of years and his behaviour is more extreme.

FlyingElbows Wed 23-Nov-16 11:41:24

"It's really affecting the DC now." is the only thing which should matter to you. It is your job to save them from the life altering damage that a parent with a personality disorder (not wanting to armchair diagnose but I am the child of a personality disordered parent) or a parent who displays those type of behaviours can do. My mother meant everything she did because it's who she is. There's no cure for that, just endless destruction and wasted lives.

nicenewdusters Wed 23-Nov-16 11:55:58

Sorry I can't do a link, but you may find the website below interesting:

outofthefog.website/personality-disorders-1/2015/12/6/narcissistic-personality-disorder-npd

Narcissism is characterised by an extreme self-interest and promotion with an accompanying lack of concern for the needs of others

.....they typically do not perceive that anything outside of their own sphere of wants and needs matters. It simply doesn't occur to them to consider the needs of anyone else, or the long-term consequences of their own behaviours

* Living with a person who has NPD can have a devastating effect on the self-esteem, confidence and quality of life for family members, friends and partners*

mickyblueyes Wed 23-Nov-16 12:06:45

Narc's rarely change, accept what or who they are..they are usually too far up their own arses to accept their could be anything wrong with them.

Narcs go through stages in relationships...I've been through it.

Initial stage is the 'Lovebombing' stage. They appear to be everything you want in a partner. It can be really scary how much you appear to have in common. This phase is to get you hooked and once your in their snare then the mind games begin.

Second stage is the 'Devalue' stage. This is where you start to question things they say and do, they make you out to be the mad one (Gaslighting), over-reacting, over-sensitive etc...It happened to me, you start to question your own sanity, my self esteem and confidence dropped through the floor..I would have happily gone along with all this had i not discovered her cheating and left her.

This then provoked the final and most devastating phase - 'The discard' They move onto the next person (Narcissistic Supply) with frightening ease and very quickly, discarding you like an old bike.

I'm watching my STBWX doing the love-bombing on her new victim..all of a sudden she's into the things he is...Iron Maiden (Never bought any of their music), currently thinks she's going to be the next big cycling champion (Not ridden for 25+ years), loves cricket...she used to hate it with a passion.

Flying elbows is right about the children though, hopefully your husband is just a twat and not someone with a personality disorder, either way you need to set boundaries, if he fails to understand, accept or appreciate your boundaries then the problem is with him. Remember you deserve a happy life and so do your kids.

AttilaTheMeerkat Wed 23-Nov-16 13:05:40

"It's really affecting the DC now"

And that is a bloody good reason for leaving as soon as you are able. They should be your primary focus.

Narcissists will trample over any boundary you care to set them.

Hermonie2016 Wed 23-Nov-16 13:47:12

I don't think they know they do it as it's just integral with who they are. I suspect my stbxh has a personality disorder and like you we had many years of mostly OK behaviour . Early on he agreed with me on everything, to the point I was suspicious but he managed to allay my concerns. I realise he was able to read me so well so that he could mirror me. Now he will not agree on anything and he has to 'win'. He does not feel empathy, only his own feelings. He projects so accuses me of everything he would do.Listen for that, as it gives you an insight into how they are feeling

It has just got worse and worse, but it creeps up on you until you realise your life is a constant battle. My family would tell me that it's just not normal to have a battle over fish pie but your head is in a mess so it appears normal.

I feel afraid at times (not physically) as I realise I am with an emotionally unsafe person.
His mother definitely has a personality disorder so I'm sure there is a nuture and genetic link.
What are your h's parents like?

My H can be very charming and kind but it relates to when he wants to be kind, not when I need kindness or compassion.

user1479305498 Wed 23-Nov-16 14:01:56

I feel for you. My DH of 20 years has some of this too, although not the lack of empathy, he is a pretty compassionate person. he is however very argumentative and can be verbally aggressive , (I hate being in the car with him) Manys the time he called our son "a c***" when he was around 15/16 or so for poor behaviour and then stared at me saying whats the matter with you woman, why arent you backing me up. Problem was in many cases I felt he was well OTT, so I backed neither of them up! Or as you say about your dinner, weve had similar arguments about houses and where to live, all kinds of things, if he doesnt get his own way 100% , he goes into a strop, personally i find it very childish in a 52 year old and not very sexy!

Greypaw Wed 23-Nov-16 14:48:07

Whether he has NPD or not, it is very difficult for people to change their personalities or coping mechanisms. What he's showing is controlling behaviour, and your instinct that his behaviour is about game-playing rather than honest communication is most likely spot-on. Arguments with a controlling person are rarely about the thing that's being discussed; it's about who can win the fight.

Do controlling people or people with NPD mean to cause pain? Maybe sometimes they do, but I'd say a large part of the time the pain they cause to others is incidental. If feelings have to be hurt for them to obtain what they need, then it's not a sacrifice worth consideration. This is why people (at least those with NPD) won't feel remorse or empathy.

Can I suggest an excellent book, "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" by Patricia Evens, which may be of use. It explains a lot about what is really happening and gives good strategies as to how you can protect yourself. There is also a website: www.verbalabuse.com

Greypaw Wed 23-Nov-16 14:50:05

By the way, forgive me but I feel I need to know this - who is cooking the food, and what would happen if you just cooked what you wanted to?

jeaux90 Wed 23-Nov-16 15:15:52

If he really is a narc then leave and don't look back. They are empty shells of people with no empathy or sense of consequence. I left my narc ex for my sake and my dd's future. They don't change. Mine even tried therapy and that therapist told me to run for the hills.

itsjustamess Wed 23-Nov-16 16:01:15

After many many incidents (police called, Domestic Abuse help line, me removed from our house by the police for my safety, numerous suicide threats etc ) with my exH I finally left and moved into my own place. I now have a new DP.

He is desperate to re-kindle our relationship & swears blind he has changed - I just need to give him a chance.

Last weekend I went away with DP (eldest DC knew where I was - youngest who lives with his Dad thought I was at my Dads). It obviously drove my exH potty knowing I was away so he phoned my Dad yesterday (not spoken in 7 months) on the pretext that he was concerned about my recent weight loss & what did my Dad think when he saw me at the weekend ? Has he changed NO will he ever NO

messeduptotally Wed 23-Nov-16 16:36:25

I often wonder whether I had narc tendencies with my xh; but I did/controlled everything because he couldn't be bothered or if I asked his opinion he didn't have one or said 'whatever', but I thought I had everyones interests at heart, we never argued until we split up - now we argue like cat and dog, he has no empathy about us splitting he just twists everything round back at me - is that projecting?
Was he just a manchild or was I a control freak?!
I think about it too much!

donners312 Wed 23-Nov-16 16:59:35

messeduptotaly, if you are wondering whether or not you are a narc or were with your ex husband then you are not a narc!

A narc would never reflect on their behaviour - it is everyone else fault!

"do they know what they are doing" the point is they don't care what they are doing they just want what they want and any impact of that on children or other peoples feeling is really just collateral damage (that they won't think twice about)

jeaux90 Wed 23-Nov-16 17:49:46

There are a few narcs who know they are, they are rare. A couple of them runs forums and writes books about how to escape from them!

messeduptotally Wed 23-Nov-16 18:27:36

Thanks donner he was definitely the narc then, it was always everyone else's fault never his, I'm glad I'm out of it.

Yourarejokingme Wed 23-Nov-16 19:13:00

Mine was too no thinking of others just himself.

He would not or choose to not understand boundaries
He did everything to stop me working making out I wanted to give up work (gas lighting).
For a year we where on the same page and then it went down hill from there and fast.
He never apologised for anything after that year.
He would berate the children and expect me to back him.
His rule was law.
Sexually it was all about his whims his control.
I remember one episode of my eldest not his child getting accepted for the rugby team and I was warned it would cost but I thought because he loved the sport we'd remember this we would find the money.
Oh no if he back chatted or even a slight to him he wasn't allowed to play at all. I went against him and he'd huff and I mean huff for days to make me see the error of my ways and my sons.
He'd turn people against me also and that took years to unravel. I have NC with him but he's still there in the back ground 20 years later. Why you ask because he didn't totally destroy me and he can't let that go. Narcs are like that.

Potatoooooo Wed 23-Nov-16 19:23:42

I think the worst things are that he can't forget/forgive. When he gets cross about something he goes on about all the bad things about that person (not just the incident) and can carry on sulking with them for days like his heart just hardens to them. He has walked away from family before and can just completely shut them out without it bothering him. He always looks to blame someone when something goes wrong rather than just moving on. I don't ever recalling him apologising or admitting he made a mistake. He does seem to revel in picking out the negative in friends etc and putting them down behind their back and seems to enjoy others failure.

What you've said, is bang on typical for a narcissist. They will and can shut family out without a blink of an eye. They will feel nothing. Because they can no longer gain a supply out of that person. They are very negative people, if you have something exciting, forget it, they will shut you down in an instance, they will find something negative about your positive and make it ALLLL about them.

They will plant a seed of doubt in your head and let it grow, they figure out your weaknesses and use them against you. This disorder is the cousin of psychopathy.

You won't ever change him, it's something you have to deal with either by going no contact or 'medium chill' - this means that you have very low contact, if contact is absolutely necessary.

Please go on a website called out of the fog. It has a lot of help and terminology on there. Be careful that he doesn't turn you into his flying monkey. Good luck.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now