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Am I dealing with a covert narcissist?
10

SussexSun25 · 06/08/2022 10:12

Hi

Sorry for the long post.

I’ve been married for 12 years, probably unhappy for at least half of those years (on and off). Have 11 year old twin girls plus 17 year old DD. DH is mainly a good dad and close to them all. At the start DH was fun, sociable and most importantly nice to me.
We never spoke about anything too serious or had many in depth conversations about feelings, our thoughts, the world, politics or any of that stuff which suited me fine at the time as I’m not a particularly serious person but as I get older I notice other people have proper conversations whereas we don’t really.

For a number of years now, DH has been angry and stressed, which I have put down to him having a stressful job in the hospitality industry which he actively dislikes, difficult customers and the pressure of a big mortgage (house he insisted on buying) and bills. I’ve even thought he might be depressed or have some other kind of anxiety/stress issue, although he has refused to see a doctor etc. I’ve always believed he is still a good person under all the stress.

Having read here about covert narcissists I am wondering if he is this.

Some examples of behaviour-

1 he will never criticise me directly or complain about anything I have done but then something will come out when he is angry or has had a few drinks (eg he will accuse me of constantly undermining or contradicting him or such like). I have my own opinions/views on things and think I should be allowed to share them with my husband - now, however, I am conscious of what I say in case it it seen as a contradiction;

2 he cannot stand criticism and takes it very personally, as another example there was one time he tripped going into the house (nothing serious), I laughed and he went apeshit at me.. (my brother did almost the exact same thing on another occasion and we fell about laughing which showed me the difference);

3 he will sulk with me for days on end sometimes, will continue to be nice to other people but just blank me/give me one word answers. When I ask what I have done he will say 'nothing', then when he comes out of his sulk he will say he was just worried about work etc;

4 he compares himself to other people who we know who are uber rich (not the norm) with multiple cars and houses etc. He acts as if he is living in poverty but earns a 6 figure salary, also feels that people on benefits etc are better off than him (which I think is ridiculous although saying that would again be challenging him...) and acts like he is the unluckiest person in the world financially. I have a FT stressful job in the NHS. I also earn a good salary and fully contribute to our outgoings although we handle our money separately;

5 I think he secretly feels that he is better than other people (although doesn't say this), his brother is similar in that regard and I blame his dad - who I think has always told both of them that they are better than everyone else (see him doing the same with my girls, which I don't like/discourage);

6 I feel like he blames me for everything which goes wrong - even small things in the house etc - and will rarely say that something is his fault or he was mistaken etc (whereas I feel like I say that all the time);

7 I always encourage him to go out and do things with his friends, which he doesn't do very often these days. Ostensibly he encourages me to go out and do things with my friends but when it comes to it he will often go into a sulk when I go out, be in a mood when I get back and won't ask me how it was etc. Was even in a sulk one time that I "get to go out to Sainsbury's" to do the shopping... So that all makes me feel guilty about doing my own thing although I am trying not to give into that;

8 I don't have many friends or family close by, I have tried to tell him that I'm unhappy/lonely etc and he just says he will try to be less stressed but engages no further than that.

When he is off work for any.length of time he can be very different and nice etc so that makes me think it is just his work issues which are the problem. He may be able to move jobs in a couple of years and so I have been trying to stick it out til then to see if things change.

I'm not sure how much longer I can live with this though, even if he moves jobs, I think we would struggle to get back to how we used to be as I feel very different towards him now (probably the same for him). But I don't feel like I can break up my family for this as my girls would be so upset and I also worry he would turn nasty.

So I suppose my question is will it get better if he changes jobs or does he have some underlying personality issue? And if he is a covert narcissist, how am I best to deal/respond to this?

Thx
Ax

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Lonelycrab · 06/08/2022 10:58

How much use it is to diagnose someone as a narcissist, I don’t know. Your husband does seem like hard work, and stressed for much of the time but then my own DF was exactly like that though my childhood. He had a high pressure city job. I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject after my ex discarded me, 12 year relationship too.

Narcissistic rage tends to be triggered by often small, almost trivial things, that was my experience, and is a completely different thing to being a bit annoyed or bolshy or moody. They’re foaming at the mouth with rage.

I went through quite a bit of gaslighting- this got worse and worse up until the discard. Proper sky is green stuff.


I also went through quite a bit of exploitation, financially and emotionally. I increasingly payed for everything whilst my partner spent nothing and saved. I offered support emotionally as a partner should, I never received any back in all those years. I was always at arms length and never felt they had my back.

At the time of the discard I was professionally going through a difficult phase. Absolutely zero empathy was shown to my situation and I was treated with disdain that I was having any sort of problems.


One expert I read (Malkin) says the foundation of narcissism lies in the 3 e’s:

-empathy impairment

-exploitation

-entitlement


You need to have those three behaviours for it to be narcissistic.


I can’t say if the man you’re married to is a narcissist, I’m not qualified to do that, but those were some of the things I went through, they are enough for me to know what I think was behind their behaviour. Your husband sounds selfish and moody. But that in itself isn’t narcissism.


At the end of the day, it almost matters not what label you put on behaviour- if it is upsetting you, or the person makes you uncomfortable or feel unloved, that is not good enough. If they cannot or will not see your point, then you shouldn’t be with them. That’s just my 2p though. I’m not a psychologist.

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DragonflyNights · 06/08/2022 11:07

Why do you need to diagnose him? FWIW no he does not, he sounds like a selfish, entitled, pessimistic and shallow man who doesn’t like you very much.

And I doubt it will get better.

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SussexSun25 · 06/08/2022 12:31

Thanks for the responses, appreciate it and understand the point on why bother labelling it.etc.. Suppose I thought I might be able to figure out whether there is some underlying personality issue/disorder and (if so) if there is a more effective way of dealing with this and also whether this is likely to change/get better if his job situation changes...Maybe that's wishful thinking on my part. Just feel so sad when I see other people happy and thinking of how we used to be.

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Vainandjustrealised · 06/08/2022 12:44

True narcisstic personality disorder is a psychiatric disorder diagnosed by a doctor

Many people (high numbers of men) demonstate narcissitic traits and are not true 'narcissists' but certainly upset enough people in their way

It does not really matter if he is one clinically or not

He sounds like an entitled man child and I could not tolerate it

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Vainandjustrealised · 06/08/2022 12:45

SussexSun25 · 06/08/2022 12:31

Thanks for the responses, appreciate it and understand the point on why bother labelling it.etc.. Suppose I thought I might be able to figure out whether there is some underlying personality issue/disorder and (if so) if there is a more effective way of dealing with this and also whether this is likely to change/get better if his job situation changes...Maybe that's wishful thinking on my part. Just feel so sad when I see other people happy and thinking of how we used to be.

Well once the love bomb phase is over the discard is on the cards and this is now the reality of your relatioship

The reason why people stick around is for it to go back to how it was - they kind of have you by the short and curlies waiting for this to happen. It never does.

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DragonflyNights · 06/08/2022 12:48

I understand that - looking for some kind of underlying issue vs work stress makes sense. But it sounds like this has been going on a long time and you’ve raised it and it hasn’t changed. And even if it did, could you forgive all these years of being treated this way because your husband wouldn’t deal with work stress and instead used you as an emotional sponge to take his bad moods out on?

We all have stress and bad times in life, but not all of us take that out consistently on the people we claim to love. You’re looking back on better times but those times are sadly long gone it sounds. And he clearly has zero interest in bringing them back.

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Cheminaufaules · 06/08/2022 13:23

He sounds like he has a sense of entitlement and doesn't like the fact that he isn't leading the sort of life he feels he is entitled to lead.
Was he mollycoddled as a child?
It's interesting that he seems to improve when he is off work for any length of time. Could this be more about your positive influence on him rather than the reduction in the negative influence of work?

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SussexSun25 · 06/08/2022 20:18

Thanks all. Not sure why he is better away from.work, probably.less stress all round. DragonflyNights feel you have hit the nail on the head with your post, in that even if he does improve, I have a lot.of simmering resentment over being his emotional.punchbag for years, which I might not get over. Will have a think about things, just don't know where to go from here xx

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frozendaisy · 06/08/2022 20:27

Have you said "I miss the old us". "life is passing by and it's all so stressed and serious now with us all the time". "don't you miss it? Just enjoying our here and now and not chasing pots of gold at the end of the rainbow"

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Jewel7 · 06/08/2022 22:20

It sounds more like he has issues possibly from his past.
I wonder where his issue with criticism comes from.
Interesting when he is better when not working.
Have you spoken about how a more simple life could look?
Has he taken on more than he can handle with the house and comparisons of others lifestyles?
It sounds like some changes maybe necessary to get a better balance?

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